Saturday, January 30, 2010

Spy vs Spy

Caricatures from the MAD magazine.

The hazy gaze of the slippery snake affixed on its prey as it moves with slithering stealth to accomplish its goal to retrieve survival rations. The forked tongue measuring the chemical balance while the thermal imagery scans the heat and distance from the prey. It is the means to an end. It is survival. Yet in its most lucrative sense the display of predator and prey is a dance of life. The weak and meek run and hide in elaborate places of refuge throwing confusion and dust to the many talents of the reptilian foe. Some morph with the surroundings while others change color and still others reduce their thermal heat. Nature is in full blossom all the time with a thrill-a-moment in every moment. Not every moment however belongs to the predator either.

The King Cobra.

As the Cobra in its imperial stance gobbles the prey it becomes a prey in itself because of all the digestive processes in play in so doing it raises it’s own temperature by 1 degree Celsius. Ah yes the wonders of nature stair chasing up and down the food chain. So what constitutes the predator or as a matter of fact the prey is relative. All is a matter of survival. The stealth of one is the misfortune for another. The herbivores deplete the leaves and foliage laying bare the branches to the brown barrenness while the carnivores chase down the next lower rung on the animal/mammal train and catch, kill and eat to survive. Yet there is some very elegant mimicry used in the animal and plant kingdom to preserve their kind. Some trees will release a poison
The Yew Tree - Berries and plant causes fatality to humans and animals.

to ward off the locusts while some fish will change color and merge with the underwater terrain to cloak against the predator. Sometimes the predator uses the same cloaking devise to “fool” the prey like the “Klingons” before they attack the “Enterprise”. These are the banalities of nature all in broad display for the intellect of the mind. Stealthy as a spy, life survives one moment at a time.

As all morphing, cloaking and mimicry is available to the animal and plant kingdoms it is also available to the human cell - the very foundation of the human species. The cell has a wide array of capabilities that would amuse and embarrass the most artful criminal or perceptive detective. It is a wunderkind in its own right. This minimalist, this totalitarian, this contained, this city of function, self preserving and self replicating piece of machinery is also the beneficiary of the  “cloak and dagger” non-fiction award. The cell will ingest and process and then liberate materials to pass information to others. It will morph and sometimes cloak to hide its plan of attack against an enemy (ie. Bacteria, viruses). It will also sometimes float its own boat through the generational channel of the placental divide to signal to the future generation of the potential of alarm and harm and sometimes create that chaos on the new found shores of inhabitance.
The photomicrographs illustrate the ingested dead material in the bottom two frames with normal frames on top.

The summer perihelion sun had crested across the Tropic of Cancer and the northern hemisphere was found gazing at the beautiful display of the fall colors. As the sap of life was choked out from the leaves and they lost the virtue of oxygenating the planet, a woman in her late twenties unbeknownst to her lay tormented from the acts of self-destruction. The outside world envious at the dramatic change knew little or paid no heed to this person as each organized functional cell fought to survive whilst each protective immune laden cell sought to destroy. This was anarchy, a revolution, a mutiny all combined in one. While this war raged inside with chaos, riots and commotion in this person, the outside world showed little damage except for a rash of rashes and a slew of complaints of “Rheumatism”.

“Smart woman,” He said.

“How so?”

“Well her questions besides the obvious were poignant. For instance one of the first ones was, did it have anything to do with the pregnancy?” He waited for the impact.

“And the answer was less than obvious?”

“Oh no, I went into detail with her. I told her the theory about a hard labor could force the cells from traveling back and forth across the placental vessels and populate the blood stream of the mother or the child. The fact that more than a few dozen cells of the harvested cells from the peripheral blood can evoke an immune response against the ‘non-self’ cells which can start the cascade the symptom complex of the Lupus like syndromes.”

The cellular interaction after the cell dies and the potentialities.

“Its still a theory though?”

“Yes but points heavily towards some reason. It is equally as much within reason as the virus theory and the immune response or the bacterial and parasitic theory and the immune response. All these immune responses are a result of some assault on the human body. The mother as this one noticed the symptoms after the pregnancy and some children early in their youth develop the syndromes of the collagen vascular disease.”
The Lupus Band Test where immune cells try to destroy the skin cells.

“I see your point there. However the concept is unproven thus far and there are other proposed causes.”

"Yes there is the necrotic cell clearance issue with the dead cells presenting their antigens to the Immune cells and the clearance of the CD44 by the dead cells. But the pathogenesis that makes a lot of sense may be a combination of all three possibilities."

“Maybe the direct cause and effect is difficult to prove but we have some ancillary data.”

“What’s that?”

“Now that the DNA probes are common, they had a 25 year-old woman diagnosed with acute leukemia and after a few weeks her new born came down with the same leukemia. The leukemia cell was identified through genomic sampling to be the exact same kind as the mother”.

“Interesting but deadly unless we get a handle on how to turn off the leukemia switch.”

“We are well on our way in doing that. It’s a matter of time when that circuit breaker will be tripped.”

“I hope soon.”

‘We all do.”

Transference of viable information via open or surreptitious conduits has long been the premise of espionage. Most time the battle lines are drawn between counterintelligence. Sometimes however the spy for some lucrative self-serving need will give off his own national secrets as Robert Phillip Hanssen 
Robert Philip Hanssen - Soviet Spy - Convicted for Treason.

did to the Soviet Union over 22 years and finally as all unreasonable things find the balance of reason he was arrested in 2001 at a drop site in the park, 
Ellis Drop Site.

and now serves a life term in prison. Similarly the cell from one body’s domain filters through surreptitiously uncloaked or cloaked and escapes the machinery of the non-self recognition. Once in the blood stream it finds a niche in some dark, obscure corner of the marrow where emboldened by what is sees, it picks up secrets from the normal cells of the paternal or the offspring’s body of how to go about parading itself in the highways and byways of this new vascular empire. From then it is just a matter of division and creation from one, the many.

Life is a complex trial between unimpeded growth and the fight for survival. The victory belongs to the astute, the ready and the fighters. Relenting a smidgen is allowance to travel prematurely to the undiscovered country. The battle lines have been drawn for ages and as man has fought through the infectious causes successfully, the war remains far from over. The viruses and bacteria mutate at a faster rate than do humans for survival. Self-propagating cells vertically through generations may be an attempt in that direction by the body to promote protection to the progeny. That is a self-serving fiction since the facts belie different reality so far. Yet we heed Shakespeare’s lament:
“And now may seem as wise as virtuous by spying and avoiding fortunes malice.” Henry VI Part 3, Act IV

Saturday, January 23, 2010

When Intuition fails

 Or it can also be called: When Intuition fails Aerodynamics (For Pilots and those aspiring to become pilots).

It failed on that fourth Saturday of May. The night was pitch-black. No clouds, but no moon either. The land below glowed intermittently with lights. It was a 150 miles flight and somewhere in its 148th mile the gremlins of disaster stepped in.

Approach End of the Runway

At first there was a chilling, spine tingling hiccup from the engine. The pilot induced airport lighting glowed in stark linear converging lines of the airport. The faint glow from the street lamps arcing around the airfield and the rest was a large black of nothingness.

Approach End of the Runway at Twilight

The second hiccup from the engine followed the first moments later and the airplane hesitated as the thrust was removed momentarily and it felt like hitting an invisible cloud of resistance. The engine monitors showed little deference to this malady imposed by the firewall forward motor. The propeller blades momentarily lit up from the decreased RPM and the aircraft landing lights. The rabbit lights now flashed the direction to the runway.

The third and the final hiccup came at 600 feet over the ground and ¾ mile from the Runway Touch Down Zone (TDZ). Everything went silent. The hiccups stopped, the propeller continued wind milling in front of the windshield, each blade visible in the reflection, but the drone of the engine was gone. The MP (Manifold Pressure) and the RPM (Revolutions per Minute) needles sank to rest on their pegs.

Aircraft Approach onto the Runway at Night 

He could make it to the runway. The aircraft swooned forward without the thrust. He instinctually pulled on the yoke. The aircraft nose rose in the air and momentarily the wing accommodated the request and the VSI (Vertical Speed Indicator) went from -600 FPM (Feet per Minute) to a 0.

The airspeed indicator unwound from the 120 at cruise now hovered around 70 knots. The Glide Speed was somewhere at 78 knots or so. Somewhere he had recalled that the longest glide was a bit slower than the true Glide Speed, but he was not sure now what that number was so 70 knots felt good. The soul of the needle vibrated within its shell to hold true to the number 70 above the white arc, vacillating wildly as the vestiges of the remaining thrust from the receding momentum of the aircraft and the unchallenged rising drag made the weighty metal of the aircraft yield to the forces of gravity.

He was now over the Rabbit lights and the approach end of the Runway and even the Runway boundary lights were visible.

Rabbit Lights Leading to the Runway Diagram

The altimeter read at 300 feet. He could make it with just a little more pull and nudge of the yoke. The airspeed needle was bouncing between 60 and 65 knots. The aircraft was still flying but sluggishly, slowly the nose felt heavier needing more input decisions from the pilot.

Streams of sweat poured down his back. He felt the cold chill of reason advising the consequence of a botched attempt. If he forced the nose to the ground, he would most certainly crash, destroy the aircraft and the runway lights, cause a big deal with the insurance company and he might not be able to get coverage again, so if he could just tweak the aircraft gently and let the main wheels hit even before the runway, it would be a controlled crash but he would be home free. The silence was deafening and he could hear his pulse in loud waves crashing within his ears. He kept reminding himself to do the first thing, “Aviate.” Fly the plane! But the airfoil aerodynamics were testing the lower limits of the flight envelope and the aluminum aircraft was suddenly turning into all Aluminum.

Aircraft on Approach to Runway

After all he had some 6000 hours of flying behind him and experience had taught him something. The sweat of doubt kept pouring while the chill of fear clutched at him.

The speed decayed to 59 knots and he was 200 feet above ground with three of the last remaining Rabbit lights to go.

Aircraft Accident on Approach

“Damn,” he muttered harshly, “did I switch tanks?” He pressed the Boost Pump Switch to on and with one hand straining on the yoke the other one turned the knob to switch to the opposite tank. The cylinders ignited just as the angle of attack was breeched past the 17-degree limit.

Angle of Attack is between the Airflow and the Wing Angle

Diagram Illustrates the excess Angle of Attack leads to separation of Air from the Wing causing loss of Lift

Aircraft Disaster

The next morning, the sun reluctantly lit the unhappy event of a lost life and bent metal. A family aggrieved into sobs of what it could have been and officials shaking their heads in sorrow over what was avoidable. The right wing tank was half full of fuel while the left one was bone dry. It was a starvation of an unpracticed habit of planning for emergencies – the rites of passage to being an unsafe pilot.
The subtleness of intuition arises from the confines of the soul, garnished with experiential references and it forces the hand of the body’s spontaneity through instinct. Both these richly imbued elements of daily life are governed by the knowledge of the mind. Any amount of experience can, in a flash of a moment if allowed, subjugate to the whims of the former two, leading to disaster.

GA Aircraft accident on final before the runway

Intuition drives the Instincts and the mind with its seat of knowledge governs and moderates the final decision, never the other way around. Practicing Emergency Procedures periodically would have saved the day and another uneventful landing would have been accomplished. Going through a mental checklist of decisions in order of their rightful sequence and no calamity would have struck. Even in moments of panic the oft-practiced sequence would have accomplished the desired outcome.

The devil that makes us match the angle of bank to the slope of the cloud against the attitude Indicator’s display of the Real Reality is the same devil that conspires for bad outcomes when constant practice and proficiency are lacking. Thus acquisition and constant practice of knowledge is the only solution to a safe outcome in aviation and life.

Learn! – Gain knowledge.
Practice! – Gain Instinct.
Live! – Gain Intuition.
Let Intuition and Instincts be guided by Knowledge.

What To Do
Be thoroughly familiar with your airplane and be current in it, or get a check ride.
Pre-plan all aspects of your flight — including weather. Fly your plan.
Use services available — FSS, Weather Bureau, etc.
Pre-flight your airplane thoroughly.
Use your checklists.
Have more than enough fuel for takeoff, the planned trip and adequate reserve.
Be sure your weight loading and C.G. are within limits.
Be sure articles and baggage are secured.
Check freedom of all controls.
Maintain appropriate airspeed in takeoff, climb, descent and landing.
Avoid other aircraft wake turbulence.
Switch fuel tanks before engine starvation occurs.
Practice engine out, emergency landing gear extension and other emergency -- procedures at safe altitude — preferably with a check pilot.
Use caution in mountainous terrain.
Keep your airplane in good mechanical condition.
Stay informed and alert, fly in a sensible manner.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Leonardo’s Temple

(A Mathe-magical Whirligig Axis of Life – From Movie Stars to Spiraling Galaxies)

You could drive by and never notice the essence of this plot of land. There was a tiny shack in the left rear corner of the lot.  It was small with a chimney billowing light gray smoke. The house had a window and a door facing the front and a similar window facing the sides. From those windows the entire field of green and yellow and white was visible. You would miss it because unless you stopped and looked at the grandeur of the entirety, it was a piecemeal disaster. The yellow and white were wild flowers growing as nature would tend to them, interspersed with tall grass. The shack was vintage with wooden rafters weathered and curved straining at the nails that held them in place. The windowpanes were spotless however. A small mound to the right of the house was residence to a swarm of ants that kept their nightly vigil trekking food back and forth snaking tiny paths along the side. There were straight paths cut through this landscape perpendicular to each other. Each subdivision of the tract had a different color based on what grew there. The varnish of asymmetry from near grew dull as the colors of symmetry brightened from afar. The chaos was carefully hidden in the perfection of the whole. A Mandelbrot Fractal!

This was an amazing tract of land. No doubt tended to by man, as the first light glimmered above the high terrain back-drop of the hill. The tops of the fir trees lit up with the golden hue. The elongated shadows traced across the landscape over the wild flowers, the bushes and the one-lane road that bore limit to this nature’s feast.

“What do you want?” The gruff voice from behind the screen-door was startling.
“Your property is so beautiful, I had to mention it.”
“Eh!” he grunted, his face framed by the half-screened door. He was old maybe in his seventies. Thin and tall with long gray hair that came down to his shoulders and a moustache and beard that matched and merged to comport his visage.
“What do you want?” He said again.
“You’re not selling anything?”
“Oh!” He seemed taken aback. The screen door opened with a slight hesitation, “You want to see the field?”
“I’d love to.”

He came out in his pale brown dungarees. He walked around the field carefully winding his way via the partitions crafted to separate smaller tracts from others based on what was being grown. He showed me a beautiful patch of strawberries, another of pineapples. There was a larger patch of sunflowers. In the corner behind his house was a rectangular piece of land with bare earth and on it was an aviary. The bees calmly buzzed in their world of honey entering and exiting as they hunted for nectar. There was even a small patch of cauliflower with purple colored leaves in full blossom.

“Your paradise?”
“I have never seen anything like this.”
“You seem like a man who likes nature. What do you do?”
“Oh!” he said with a mild surprise,  “A doctor?”
“A man of science. Good. Of the ten or so people who have stopped by all have been scientists of one sort or another. Never a doctor has knocked on the door. Come on in. Like some Butternut squash soup? I just made it.”
“Smells delicious.” And it was, heavenly.

The house was a two-room bungalow with a bathroom. The gathering room as he called it was sparsely furnished lending to limited societal interaction. A lone straight back wooden chair and a loveseat. There was a table next to the far end with a stool next to it, presumably for eating. A small stove with a covered pot on the burner heating up the smell of soup that permeated the enclave and an equal size empty sink completed the kitchen. But what caught the eye were the walls. There were photographs of various plants in blossom. Beautiful yellows, reds, violets, blue and magenta colors stared down. There were flowers and bushes and even trees in various shades of blossom.

“My photos. I develop them in the back room.”
“Wow. These are beautiful.”
“Anything catch your eye.”
“Let me share with you an open secret. No one really knows and maybe no one cares to know. This piece of property is subdivided according to the Golden Ratio. You know what that is?”
“Yes a little. It is based on the Fibonacci numbers.”

“Precisely. You see nature has the Golden Ratio in most plants. The Fibonacci numbers have a sequence of 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55 and so on. Each number is the addition of the previous two. The Golden Ratio is the division between any two sequential numbers. 55 divided by 34 gives you 1.618. Or a line AB with a point C within it and the ratio of the length of the line CB to AC is similar to the ratio of AC to AB. Mathematically it is written as: (1+Square root of 5) /2 = 1.618

“So what I did was to divide my property in the Golden Spiral based on the Ratio. Each tract of land gets progressively bigger and each subdivision grows different vegetable, fruit or flower. Like the nautilus.” His moustache stretched with the smile beneath it. He was pleased with himself.

The Nautilus and the Golden Ratio

The Sea Shell

“Incidentally all the fruits and flowers that grow also have the principle of the Golden Ratio. For example you noted there were the strawberries, cabbage, the sunflowers etc. Their growth pattern is nature’s design of beauty and symmetry, example the bees, their reproduction is based on the Fibonacci numbers. The male bee reproduces without the female while the female needs the male and the breeding results in the Numbers. Fibonacci actually came up with the Numbers by basing it on the rabbits growth rate.”

The Reproduction of Bees.

“I am impressed. What made you do this?”
“I am a mathematician. I worked in the Los Alamos lab in New Mexico and retired a few years ago.”
“All these were grown on this property?”
“Of course, by rotation. Keeps me fed and independent.”
In the middle of the photographs was a lone photo of a woman. It was black and white, faded by age but held in reverence by its position.

“That is my wife. She passed away a few years ago. Since you are a doctor this might interest you too. I found out that each heartbeat has the Golden Ratio in it. The distance between the T wave and the QRS complex is Ratio based. Also the arm and the hand lengths are based on the Fibonacci Numbers and the Golden Ratio. True!” He pulled out some charts to elucidate his point.
“I didn’t know that.”

Electrocardiogram (EKG)

“The ratio of the systolic and diastolic blood pressure falls close to 1.61 and where the ratio is disturbed such that it is 1.7 or 1.5 the life is shortened by disease as happened with my wife.” He grew wistful as the past flooded his mind. The silence was short and abruptly abandoned as if awakened from sleep. He said, “Great works of architecture such as the Parthenon in Greece and the Notre Dam Cathedral were based on the Ratio, as were the Pyramids in Egypt, as well as great works of art like DaVinci's Mona Lisa.”

The Parthenon

Mona Lisa


“To go from the known limits to the limitless space, even the spiral galaxies observe the Ratio. As we peer down from space the hurricanes observe similar laws even down to the waves that crash on the shores observe the 1,1,2,3,5,8 numbers when viewed from their side profile. It is the Golden thread that weaves the fabric of the universe and our lives.

A Hurricane and the M51 Galaxy

“The axioms of mathematics have deciphered some of the nature’s codes. We have a lot more to learn but use them for our benefit is what separated us from animals. Even in music, Mozart’s 5th Symphony is based on the Ratio. It is indeed considered one of the Masterpieces along with Beethoven’s Fifth, also based on the Ratio.”

Mozart's 5th First 9 Notes

The Piano's Musical Octave (2,3,5,8)

“Any other areas of anatomy or physiology that this Ratio appears?”

The Human Hand and the Golden Ratio.

“Now I got your curiosity tweaked. Yes. The branching of the lung tissue and even the neuronal growth and interconnection in the brain seem to have some relationship although that is your field of endeavor. But what is most interesting is that the DNA itself is based on the ratio. The cycle length of the DNA is 34 angstroms and the width is 21 Angstroms. Now here is the kicker, there are 21 microtubules that separate a dividing cell and each microtubule has 5 and 8 rows of right and left moiety. 

The cell dividing Microtubule.

In 1990 Jean Claude Perez while working for IBM discovered a DNA supracode which he termed as “Resonances” controlling the self-organization of the nucleotides Thiamine, Cytosine, Adenine and Guanine (T,C,A,G), which make up the steps in the double helix ladder of DNA.  

The DNA Supracode.

He discovered if you consider 144 contiguous nucleotides it results from 55 T bases and 89 C A G bases, all Fibonacci numbers.

The DNA and the Golden Ratio.

“ A.L. Goldberger from University of California in 1984 reviewed the irregular branching of the human and animal bronchial tree of the lung and found the Fibonacci scaling there too. It appears that Nature in her simplicity and expediency employs the Ratio to create elegance. Just as Leonardo DaVinci did with Mona Lisa and the most beautiful people defined by the present day media  (Audrey Hepburn, George Clooney, the latter data was published in December13 2009 article in the British Medical Journal by Hanno Ulmer

Audrey Hepburn

George Clooney

have faces that show the Ratio between the mouth, the nose and the eyes all bear the beauty of symmetry and the rules of the Ratio. As a mathematician, I don’t know whether the Ratio was waiting to be found or we created it to fit our world. However given the widespread dispersion of it in the universe, I call this Ratio the Fingerprint of God.”

Leonardo of Pisa (Fibonacci)

It is easy to find beauty when one has an open mind. Nature throws colors and architectures of grand beauty waiting for us for our wide-eyed enrapture. But even more we have the tools established by a brilliant mind that of Leonardo Pisano (aka Fibonacci) to explore our world and employ Nature’s own formulae to create a haven. Perfection exists not in the toil but the knowledge. Beauty exists in perfection.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Three Magic Words

She looked at him, her eyes wide with desire, the pupils in their staccato rage of focusing from side to side upon every feature of his face, but mostly each eye. He held her hands in both his and knew there was something he wanted to say to her but did not know how she would respond. It was late night and the minute hand of the clock tower nearby inched slowly towards the midnight hour. She knew she had to leave but she wanted to stay and hear him say the words she most wanted to hear. Their fingers interlocked in silence, palms sweaty and the first vapor trail of the warm breadth visible in the cold air. She shivered and he drew her closer but still no words. She had to go. She left.

“So what happened? She left?”
“Just like that?”

“Yes.” He said. This was a wistful word for a lost moment. He was now in the eightieth year of his life. He still sat with a straight back. His chin shaven jutted out with authority that he was used to. He was a retired three-star general in the army. His face weathered and permanently tanned from the limitless sun exposure. It was chiseled in straight angles and hard contours of determination and authority. The brown eyes deep set under a heavy brow and sloping forehead that ended in a crop of thin marine style haircut. His movements in the chair brought him discomfort and it reflected on the deepening furrow around his eyes. Here was a man who could take discomfort, yet this intense pain affected his steely stare.

“What is in this injection?”
“It is called Strontium.”
“An isotope of Strontium?”
“As a matter of fact it is Strontium90.”
“Hell that is a nuke!”
“It has medicinal qualities of alleviating pain from bone cancer.”
“So tell me how?”
“It emits some beta energy which destroys the cancer cells and that reduces the pressure on the periosteum lining of the bones that reduces pain.”
“Strontium90. Huh, never knew that I would be lining my interior with the stuff that Johan Gadolin discovered centuries ago.”

                                                   Johan Gadolin

“Actually it works relatively quickly and reduces discomfort markedly in a majority of patients.”
“Where does this Strontium come from?”
“It is delivered to us directly from a lab.”
“Well son, let me tell you about Strontium90.” He shifted slowly in his chair and the words started flowing. He wore his professorial hat now, not the commanding general's laced with golden braids. His voice had a Goldilocks deliberation to it. Not to slow to embarrass nor too quick to lose interest. It was just right in theme and tenor.

“You see, we all have a little bit of Strontium in us. Strontium is a byproduct of Uranium 235 after it fissions. U235 as you know is the enriched version of U238 the more stable isotope. U235 has a half-life of 700,000,000 years. U238 however has a half-life of 4 billion years. The fissile component of fast energy in U235 when enriched to 80-100%% grade leads to “weapons/bomb grade” status. In Nuclear reactors the enrichment is up to 40%.

“As the U235 decays and emits beta energy it collides with another beta particle and fission occurs. If this continues past a critical point called critical mass, it leads to a chain reaction and we have a pure Uranium 235 Hiroshima

 and a Plutonium 239 Nagasaki. “Fat Man” bomb.

 The former is easier to control for instance it requires about 33 pounds of U235, 2 Neutron release and 81 generations of fissions to create, what 13 pounds of P 239 with 3 Neutrons and 51 generation of chain reaction would yield in equivalence. 

The latter (P239) is a byproduct of a nuclear reactor – easier to obtain but difficult to control, with a half-life of 24,000 years. 

While only 2% of the Hiroshima bomb underwent the fission most was lost due to pre-detonation or non-fission. In the Nagasaki bomb the external ring of hexagonal density pressure sensors which encased the P239 device were designed to simultaneously explode and “push” the Neutron flow within thus causing the chain reaction. 

In the nuclear reactor the chain reaction is contained and sustained by the 60% U238 that absorbs the energy and also by using heavy water, Carbon, Lithium and Molybdenum moderators.

“In the Reactor, U235 emits its energy particle and the 8% byproduct is Strontium90 with a half life of 65 days. Strontium90 has a fission energy yield of about 6%. It is also the isotope du jour for the Russian Nuclear Reactors. The decay and release of the fast gamma particle leads to a byproduct of Yttrium90, which has a half-life of 64 hours. Yttrium90 is not a energy yielder as Strontium nor Uranium. A Nuclear reactor is a controlled sustained sets of explosion with a predetermined yield of energy that heats up the water converting it into steam that drives the turbines that creates electricity that rides the power lines and drives your daily home needs.” 

“How do you know all this?”

“I was in Nuclear Physics field when I decided that serving the country in the army was a better use of my life, knowing what I knew to protect and defend our country.”


He fell silent. His left eye arched in contemplation for a fleeting moment and then all muscles relaxed as past decisions met with approval.

“I didn’t know we have Strontium90 in us?”

“There is a reason behind that. The US and Russia exploded Nuclear warheads in the beginning. The explosion released Megatons of energy. Some of the byproducts blew through the tropopause of the atmosphere and circulate around the earth as micro-satellite particles eventually becoming the nuclei for raindrops. These then fall on the earth and are absorbed by the plants. Animals eat the plants and man eats both plants and animals. Strontium90 being extremely mobile gets into the underground water supply too and there you have it. The Northern Hemisphere soil has more of it than the Southern Hemisphere.

“For a Jar-head to know all this, troubles your grafted image but then looks can be deceiving, remember I was a nuclear physicist first.”

“Wow. I had no idea. I do know that Strontium salts help with osteoporosis and are incorporated in the bones to increase bone density and it may be the same affinity…”

“So tell me what does Strontium90 do inside the body?” He asked.

“Oh that I can help with. You see Strontium competes with calcium in the bone and gets embedded in the bone. There is a competition between the two. 70-80% of the Strontium90 is eliminated by the body in urine and feces, while 1% is affixed to the bones.”

“So doesn’t that cause problems?”

“We think there is an extremely low risk of lymphomas, leukemias and bone marrow diseases from that. There is some thought that a disorder like Myelodysplastic Syndrome now on the rise may be in part a consequence of that.”

“So you are going to cause cancer within my cancer?”

“Not really. The time delay between exposure and causation is several years.”

“How do you know?”

“The dosage is small. Incidentally the byproduct Yttrium90 is being used in the treatment of Malignant Lymphomas that is a disease of the lymphocytes and lymph nodes, by hybridizing it with a mouse monoclonal antibody it becomes branded as Zevlin and another called Bexxar with good results. 

In fact there are new studies where doctors at MD Anderson in Houston Texas have used lipid pellets filled with Yttrium90 successfully to destroy cancer in the liver by arterial embolization.”

Hepatic Angiogram

Direct Delivery of Strontium90 into the Hepatic Artery

Liver tumor prior to therapy

Liver tumor after Yttrium 90 infusion

Photomicrograph of Liver tissue with encapsulated Yttrium90

“What about side effects?”

“For the Embolism method there is an 11% risk of stomach bleeding due to erosion of the lining which is preventable.”

Stomach ulceration due to therapy

“That is encouraging, so the side effects are dose-dependent?”

“Sort of.”
“Not known, Huh?”
“Unfortunately that is true.”
“Well, I don’t have that long. What the hell.”
“You will feel better.”
“I hope you are right.”

Four weeks later he was walking without pain. He stood straight with one arm on the windowsill. The light of the day cast a shadow on his face, which had softened furrows. The relief was measurable and now a smile emerged from his thin lips. “It worked. Life is worth living again.”

“I am glad.”

“You know when you said that Strontium competes with the Calcium, it made me think and investigate a little.”

“What did you learn?” His voice that of a three-star general and professor all in one.
“Lately there are studies showing the benefits of Vitamin D and Calcium against Breast cancer and Colon cancer. Interestingly enough the ingested foods we eat contain Strontium90 from the soil. A fairly large amount of the stomach and intestine lining is affected by the Strontium90 as it passes through and it is also present in breast milk up to 4ppm vs. the whole body content being 0.5ppm. This gives an interesting premise that Calcium/Vitamin D use competes with Strontium90 thus forcing more Strontium90 excretion, hence the reduction in the cancer occurrences and more protection from malignancy as the new studies are advocating.”

“You should publish that.” He rammed his right fist into the left palm.
“It is only a theory. One would have to get proof.”
“So get it.” He said it with conviction. There was no arguing the difficulty with him. Hard work and dedication were his life.


“I wanted to thank you for the help. Your treatment worked wonders for me.”

“I am glad. But I did have a question that has been bothering me.”

“What is it?”

“What happened to the girl?”

“I married her 10 years later. Dogged pursuit of a love, what I thought was unrequited was requited with equal measure from her side. We met again after college and after finishing my tenure as a nuclear physicist. She followed my life as I did hers and then one day I got the courage to ask her out and said the three magic words.”

“Bold eh?”

“I am a jar-head, what do you expect? You think I was going to let her go the second time. Never!”

Isn’t it strange? Sometimes the lack of expression of simple words can create huge divides that remain until the bridge is built to pass over the crevice with those same words.

Isn’t discovery weird? Sometimes a poison can act as ointment to heal a wound it might have caused.

Isn’t complexity just a state of mind rather then a few simple things stitched together?

Life is simply elemental!