Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Surgeon

There lies a deep gash, a wound so wet and fomenting in its essence that there are few brave and willing souls that would undertake closure. It lies weeping incessantly of the blood borne of its hard ambitions, wanton desires and gaping secrets. The flesh torn, the sinews disrupted, the nerves severed and the blood vessels ripped and contracted into a coagulated nondescript mass. This is the wound of the tormented souls. It aches of fervent fever, hot, restless and unmanageable. Eyes wander over it, feeling the grate and fret of the soul underneath.

They, the public, shield their eyes, or walk as if it does not exist, they wander around attracted by the invisible pull but repelled by its presence. Some offer words of comfort and then make hasty exits while others know not what to say. They bring self-purging alms to wash off the unruly and distasteful feeling planted by the visual of so heinous a sight. It is humanity in all it glory. Humanity is “feeling” the pain or the fever or the discomfort or the “whatever” that it cannot express but shivers to shake it off. But there they are all bundled together in the warm blanket of giving nothing but seeming to do so. Comfortable in the self-satisfied sense of having done some “good” for those less fortunate, all the while swimming in the delusion of philanthropy. These are never the ones to untie the bandage and care for the wound, only to view it at a distance and promulgate some arbitrary mechanism to wash the self-loathing flotsam.

It is always the one with the express desire to heal, to protect, to make things better, who propels into this ghastly drama. The wound washing, cleaning, ridding of all the infective elements that appear benignly innocent of action, yet are the destructive force under wraps waiting to pounce and destroy any attempts at cure, and then closing the wound to allow a healing to begin. The unsung hero walks in and then out of the drama, not meaning to stay one moment longer than necessary once comforted by the knowledge of his action and the patient’s foot on the first rung of the ladder towards recovery.

Healing is a self-sustaining ritual, mostly, yet it needs a catalyst, a friend, a real physician purged of all self importance and imbued with the desire to help and heal and not to become the cast member on the stage. Life is a stage with actors that don’t feel and directors that don’t understand and stagehands that live only for the staged moment. It is only the producer of the drama with the dream and desire to tickle the nerve strings of the audience. His is the lonely life that conquers all the inertia and fuels the life into the act. He determines the players that would make the act a success, as does the healer. For in him the success of the act is personal, not for glory but the artistic desire of creation and preservation. He is the grand puppeteer and not from the rubbernecking crowd that stalls the highway of progress but one of the few that grinds and frets through the details of work. He is much maligned but never aligns himself to any group or cause. He is the penultimate unreasonable man. Success to him is not at any cost but at some cost to self.

         Scanning Micrograph of Red, platelet and white cell

And so here he was again catapulted into the front and center of the harsh reality, the theater of life’s drama, as life oozed slowly from the darkened red exposed flesh of the wound. The spectrum of colors changed from bright to dark to black. The color itself was bleaching the life out of the flesh and leaving it to the remoteness of the dark shadow of the black caped Reaper. The patient lay drenched in the stupor of the life’s protective humors, his leg was swollen with the vitiating force of the body defenses. His left leg was half the size; He was barely in the realm of reality, teetering on the edge of here and there.

              Antoni van Leeuwenhoek who first used a microscope

 The nurses worked hard at dressing and bandaging the wound and yet it gaped and laughed back with impunity.

                  A Macrophage sensing the bacterium

Several of the white coats clustered around some leaving while others joining through the wee hours of the day, looking, learning and “feeling” the twinge of “it could be them laying there,” and then quickly shrugging the vulnerability and walking away to drown the thoughts that laid bare their fears, talking to themselves at the options that diminished steadily. Some gave suggestions to the Resident in-charge while others decided on a course of different antibiotics and some stood baffled at this runaway train of dermal hostility.

                A White Cell interacting with a bacterium

The white cells meanwhile continued to pour into the deepening gash of bacterial warriors, claiming more and more territory. Each barrier created by the white cells was breached by the ugly hard and vindictive bacterial beasts who also fought and clung for their own survival. The battle waging in and outside of that tortured skin was based on survival. 

                      A Polymorphonuclear  (PMN) Cell

The White cells (polymorphonuclear cells, macrophages) were fighting for the survival of the man, the human and within that representation his race as much as their own. 

                                   A Monocyte

They laid themselves down in trench after trench for the good of the human as the armed forces do for the better of the country. The lymphocytes akin to intelligence officers lay isolated and in a partially degenerated state confused by the overwhelming onslaught of the enemy forces- the bacteria. 

          Neutrophils (PMNs) and bacteria in the spinal fluid

This was representation of the crumbling immuno-surveillance of the body.

Meanwhile the foraging brutally self-serving bacterial beasts like the terrorist band of Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun and Hitler kept claiming more and  more territory for their own. The battle of the selves raged and the gash of charred destruction continued to grow.

                         A Bacterial Cell

The doctor, a surgeon by years of practice stood over the dressing and then after performing the ritual of disinfection he approached the wound, delicately removing the bandages. Enough with the antibiotics, this wound was recalcitrant in its anger. He would have to remove the offending tissue to allow the healing to have a shot at winning the battle. He slowly and with timed precision almost in perfect harmony snipped away at the bad tissue. His precise and deliberate motion was sometimes reflecting on the progress made and then contemplating the work ahead. There was no stealth, nor hurry in his motion. He asked the nurse for instruments and used them to their full potential. The angry wound relented as it reluctantly gave up the gangrenous tissue. 

A Macrophage opsonizing and phagocytosing the bacteria

Antigen Processing by the Immature T Cell and maturation with both cytotoxic and helper T cells

When after four and one-half hours of meticulous endeavor he finished with beads of sweat dripping from his aged brow, the raw edges glistened with color and resolve once again. The deliberation of his action allowed even those observing in the operating room to hold their breath in respectful admiration. Never a loud word or an inadvertent movement followed from the doctor’s efficient activity. It was a symphonic accord in words and deed.  His was an unblemished work of decency, of desire and of humanity. When all others had lost their way, he had not. He was like the spider slow and persistent in his action making the beautiful dew drenched web. Every motion of exactness and every action imbued with self-reliance, finishing his act with perfection.

                  Phagocytosis by the Macrophage

Hours later he sat with sweat dripping from the physical and mental nature of the recent duress. “Tough, that one. I knew if there was enough tissue, I could close the wound and debreed all of the gangrenous crud.”
“You can say that again. But you did that well.”
“I could have done I better. If I had…” he drifted into his mind of how he could have saved time for the patient under the anesthesia and not spent time scrubbing the bad tissue which ultimately had to be sacrificed anyway.
“If not for the completeness of the job this leg would have taken a life!”
“I know but one must always consider learning from the past.” He was in his sixties and moving towards retirement but the wealth of experience and knowledge that others could learn from him would be lost.
“You still have it, you know?”
“Not for long.”
“Don’t tell me you are going on that retirement bus again?”
“It might just be time for that.”
“Not yet. There are so many young ones who can learn from you.”
“I doubt that.”
“I heard a couple of young ones talking in the locker room, the other day and they were criticizing that scrubbing with me was extremely time-consuming for them.”
“There will always be those. But most respect you.”
“Really! How about the admin protesting that I occupy the OR more than others doing the same kind of surgery?”
“Your results speak for themselves. Never an infection, never a bad outcome, never anything deleterious, always a perfection”
“Unfortunately the young are in a hurry and the business side looks only at time with an eye to the almighty dollar. I thank you for your words but my time has come and gone.”
Just about then with his eyes downcast into a contemplation of his future, the sound of a single person’s applause broke the silence. It was joined by another and then another and pretty soon the Staff Office was deluged with the thunderous ovation from his young and old colleagues. Unbeknownst to him they had seen the magic in his hands, the will of his mind and the benefaction in his soul. They had seen him for who he was and what he had accomplished. They had recognized the meaning of his downcast gaze, the virtue of his selflessness and the helpfulness in his teachings. In their minds he had earned this applause.

He lives in a modest home, reading, writing and cooking. He grows a four-foot square of vegetables and enjoys the fruits of his labor- his grandchildren. I heard him say once at a party, “Why did I not think of this sooner?” and then in perfect harmony with his form he said, “I am sure all the patients are well taken care of, but I do miss taking care of them.”
But he is missed in the trenches of medical care. When wounds and injuries and bad organs and rotten flesh take hold of the essence of life then they cry out for him in their thoughts and wish.

The relics of time hold bondage to the past. Memory is the metaphor of the past while hope is the distance before us. We hope to see the likes of him.

"Words without thoughts never to heaven go"
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act iii, Sc.3

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Backward Causality or Back from the Future

The siren wails disturbing the peace of the landscape. Another heart needs repair or another lung emptied of excess water or another tired and chaotic rhythm of entropic humanity needs a kick-start to keep going. This is the passage of time. Time; the unsheathed sword of Damocles, 

                  The unsheathed sword hanging over Damocles

the cloaked specter with gnarly skeletal hands who rides the arrow of time all the while smiling at the inhabitants on this earth that merrily while it away. 
This time is a bafflement of sorts. It flows, like the river and yet it is immutable, immovable and irreverent to human behavior. It is one o’clock and then with the passage of 60 minutes of 60 seconds each, it is two o’clock.

                           Humans and the Time Dimensions

 The flesh is elastic and soft 

and then slowly it withers into a rigid canvas of wrinkles and discolored shades. 

The sun rises from beyond the horizon bringing with it light of day and sets with the passage of the day. So too the night fulfils its time of its appointed hours. And as each day passes it robs the observer’s life of time.

Can the future be foretold? Or can the past be reincarnated to its exact form? As memories accumulate and new shapes take form so does the past as it mingles with the present. The concept of past changes as does that of the future from day to day. There is nothing but thinking makes it so. The ethereal sense of wonder collapses into the real world of time. Time is an arrow in flight. 

All forms change and obey the second law of thermodynamics, 

which simply put, states that order converts to chaos and entropy.

 An iceberg melts into water and cannot reform back to its original form,

 nor tea mixed with milk in a cup, un-blend after being stirred.

Aboard the Enterprise,

teleportation and time travel by worming through holes in the fabric of space is a doable deed. Taking from Einstein’s Space time continuum and the association of the gravitational pressures of weight on space leading to rents in the fabric of space can create the Worm Holes whereby one can escape this time for that time and this space for that one. This analysis forces one to consider situations...where there is a net flux of lines of force, through what topologists would call "a handle" of the multiply-connected space, and what physicists might perhaps be excused for more vividly terming a "wormhole".—John Wheeler in Annals of Physic

                         NASA's diagrammatic representation of the Worm Hole

 But in reality no one is worming through any hole anytime soon.
The only fortunate person we know as per Lewis Carroll was Alice whose fall through the rabbit hole made her a visitor into a parallel universe of the Red and white Queens. 

Alice aside, this world unfortunately has only sink holes and financial holes of magnitude that devour great empires of life’s earnings.

                      Alice looks at the Rabbit Hole

                          Alice and the Rabbit  (Above 3 photos from the Alice in Wonderland movie website)

But given the Platonist viewpoint of a philosophical life of solitude, a physicist counters with thought experiments which lead to theories that are assimilated into a mathematical formula and voila – A Eureka Moment arrives: Time Travel is possible! Or is it? Are we deluding ourselves, fomenting thoughts of philosophy and mathematical expressions to steer ourselves away from the humdrum and calamities that exist in the here and now. Or maybe there is this potential chance of time-travel?

After all reconciling the worlds of the large with the worlds of the miniscule is a torture that has faced many a theoretical physicist. How do you have the seeable and viewable fact that an apple falls from the tree that even a third grader can tell you it is because of gravity. It only comes to rest, when the apple’s mass and motion, is countered by the mass and resistance offered by the earth’s force. This is simple and without contradiction, because we can see it and experiment it over and over again. But what of the Quantum Physics where the act of observation changes the object’s position and form? If you rescale that imagery into the large-scale Newtonian world then the act of observing a falling apple changes it from an apple (object) into a wave – Impossible to imagine, isn’t it?. This borders on the unbelievable but it is true only in the world of subatomic particles.

The act of observing a single photon will show a scatter through a slit onto the wall. Better yet place a lamp in front of a cardboard with two slits in it. The pattern of diffraction seen on the wall will show weak and dark bands. How can that be when there are only two slits and one light source  and far too many bands. Does light split as it enters the slits? Why does this happen? 

  The Single slit shows at least three bands vs. the double slit showing multiple bands

There in lies the curse of the Quantum Physics, which stipulates that the particle is both a wave and a particle until the act of observation!  A particle when observed as a particle will show up as a particle, otherwise it will represent a wave with it’s crests and troughs and the resulting interference patterns we see on the wall. True. But to reconcile that wave-particle duality with the observation of an apple that falls from the tree and still remains an apple is a conundrum that faces the physicists. How can two different sets of laws exist for the large and the small?

So what does this have to do with time? Everything. If time is ticking then every moment becomes a past. Just as photon is moving at 186,000 feet per second a tachyon is faster than the speed of light can be seen to travel backwards. Again is this Science fiction or fact?

   Feynmann's escaping Baryon e+ radiating back in time.

So the question is whether time can be manipulated to allow us to see the future or better yet can knowing the future change the present and therefore the past? Here we shall bring another theoretical concept, now proven by experimentation that atoms are entangled in their actions. This was discovered by the Quantum entanglement theory. (EPR paradox = Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen)

 Subatomic particles from the same atom separated in distance behave as if together when one is exposed to an act of observation the other changes it’s presentation as if the other has been witnessed also. Funny! It is like being in two places at one time. Einstein called it the “spooky action at a distance.” 

                  Einstein's "Spooky action at a distance."

And yet it is true, however confounding as the concept seems. The theoretical physicists have wreaked havoc with the simple distilled world of the birds and the bees, the here and the now, the this and the that. And yet, And yet the thought experiment was proven correct by scientists looking at the up and down spin states of the subatomic particles split from the same photon and revealing through experimentation that the act of observing one particle changed the spin state of the other to coincide, even though they were separated by distances. But don’t worry the next time someone looks at you you won’t change into a frog.
Again without losing sleep over that concept the interesting thing is that space however expansive does not seem to exist between small particles.
So having wrecked the concept of space lets try to destroy time also. Assuming one can drive through the Worm Hole and exist on another dimension of time is an awe-inspiring thought. And to drive the motion forward, Worm Holes do exist theoretically. So now it is only up to us to build a space-ship to fly to one such rent in the fabric of space and there we will be, another time and space. Unfortunately Stargates do not exist except in television or if they do they might be buried in Area 51 and held by some large-scale government conspiracy.

               Image from the TV series Stargate SG1

But can a person exist, by knowing the future of where he or she wants to go and in effect  change the present. The answer most will tell you – I don’t know! In fact, the imagery of motion, by athletes has been utilized to win Olympic Gold Medals. You can see them with their eyes closed as their minds whoosh through imagined space in the future to achieve their goals in the present. These are the gymnasts, skiers, sky-divers and the rest of the brave souls who constantly challenge limits.

“Mr. Walsh, I am afraid this disease is not responding to therapy.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means at this point we can offer you comfort measures only.”
“Can I see that young doctor who came in yesterday?”
“Sure, I will see to that.”
“Thank you.” He said and closed his eyes to the cruelty of this world. He knew that time was a friend and his enemy. Every second was precious and yet every second cheated him of something far more precious – life.
“You sent for me Mr. Walsh?”
“Yes doctor. Thank you for coming to see me. I was told that all therapies have failed. You were the only one who has given me hope and I am kind of looking for something, however little.”
“That is a deep subject, isn’t it? I did not mean to put you on the spot.”
“No, no. I was thinking of an option.”
“I’ll try anything.”
“Well there are studies of using high dose steroids which can alleviate some of the symptoms. But you do understand that cure is impossible.”
“Lets try it. How much time will it buy me?”
“Maybe, a few weeks.”
“I’ll take it.” He said. That was September of the year. Fall was on its way and the green leaves had turned a shade of brown. Soon the branches would bare their souls to the hard rigidity of the cold winter. This season’s passage was something he felt he had to see. He would fight the elements and brave the torture for the one possible reward that he wanted from time.

The winter was harsh and brutal with wind-swept drifts and cold chilly sleet driving from the Northwest sideways into the windowpanes making all sorts of clattering din. The passage of time was slow but oh so quick for him. He went back into the hospital in January of the new-year for a few days.

March was easier as the new buds took hold and the blossoms colored the terrain. As the birds sang their songs walking on the grass feeling for the grub below, pecking at the earth for a morsel of food, he arrived once again at the hospital dehydrated and now living beyond his allotted time.

“How are you feeling?”
“A little tired and low energy, but otherwise okay.”
“This is amazing. I never thought the steroids could do this.”
“One for the books doc. One for the books!” he said, his voice hoarse from a sore throat.

Summer began as it always does, full of promise, school vacations and trips. The tides of  high pressure gravitated and the haze permeated the atmosphere where the blue sky was always a dull brown. The traffic on the highway increased to accommodate the vacation going cars burdened with bicycles and kayaks and station wagons filled with clothes that did not find room in suitcases.

It was August when he arrived back in the Emergency Room. He was admitted to a private room. His body riddled with disease that found its way every outlet it could to express its domain. He was weak but still held on to life.

“This is truly one for the books Mr. Walsh!”
“Nothing amazing. Remember you said, if I can think of a future, it will happen?”
Well, I thought of it and it is happening.”
‘Anything I can do for you?”
“You have done more than I could have asked for. Thank you and may God Bless you and your family.”

That afternoon his daughter got married in the hospital chapel. He was present. That night he passed quietly into the undiscovered country as a contented soul.

The backward causality in this universe is also a physicist’s domain. Experimenting with laser they have been able to split the beam and found that on reassessment of the secondary waypoint after evaluating the tertiary waypoint leads to a 100 to 10,000 fold increase in intensity of the secondary way-points. In other words, observing the third time-line waypoint of the laser beam caused a change in the intensity of the secondary time-line waypoint. If the tertiary waypoint was not evaluated then there was no change in the secondary waypoint observed. This is considered backward causality, that a future assessment changes the present and therefore the past.

Some may consider this as an “imprint on the mind” but it is still an imagined future that lengthened Mr. Walsh’s life. Mr. Walsh imagined a future waypoint of seeing his daughter’s wedding and by doing so he changed the present to exceed all limits imposed upon him by nature and medicine. His imagined future changed his past.

Somewhere in the Amazon Forest a large tree uproots carrying with it a century old fauna. Sometime in Ancient Greece the Parthenon lost its plaster and not long ago the Sphinx was buried under the sand and excavated. Just as the genes lay the artwork of stripe of a zebra in-utero and the rural building, once a bustling paradise of industry now shuttered, falls into disrepair. Slowly but relentlessly the arrow of time marks its moment.

                             Parthenon in Greece

                                        Sphinx in Egypt

 From Order to Chaos in large things such as humans aging, cars requiring needed repairs, and airplanes going to the bone-yard. From simplicity and low entropy states to complexity in high entropy states is the order of things, yet biology defies this. A sperm and an ovum unite and create a complex human being. This self-organizing principle from simple to complex is also witnessed by the mass of cells called the heart where all the heart muscle cells beat in unison under the guidance of the AV Node. 

  The AV Node of the heart and the dissemination of the electrical pulse

The genetic tick-tock of manipulating proteins send signals of this initiation and the cross-talk between cells then unleashes the global paradigm of organized unity. This principle was first detected in chemistry by Bealosouv Zabhotanski Reaction (BR Reaction) which showed a self organizing chemical reaction state in space and time. But somewhere in that realm is the Einstein’s bubble pin-prick to make us stand up and reconsider that space and time of the past and future are all fabricated in the present and that wormholes if they stay open long enough can transport us to the past or the future. These travels of course bring the various paradoxes of “Back to the Future,’ 

but they are thought experiments with mathematics articulating, that, which cannot be explained, seen or viewed.

So let us live in the here and now and enjoy the joyous outdoors of sunshine and rain and snow, see the flowers bloom and the birds sing and forget that Quantum theory has any impact on the large-scale order of things except in the mind where individually all of us can manipulate the present by thinking of a great future.

Thought is only a gleam in the midst of a long night. But it is this gleam, which is everything.
– Francis Bacon

A clash of doctrines is not a disaster. It is an opportunity.
 – Alfred North Whitehead

You hold that time is badly warped,
That even light is bent;
I think I get the idea there,
If that is what you meant.
The mail the postman brings today
Tomorrow will be sent.
– Professor W. Williams (special relativity)

Now for the love of Love, and her soft hours;
Lets not confound the time with conference harsh.
-Anthony and Cleopatra Act 1 William Shakespeare

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Black Holes of Success

Black Holes after all what are they? Are they the manufactured thought of the human mind, as the biocentrists would say? Or are they the actual physics of nature consumed by the enthalpy and entropy of existence. It is believed to occur from a collapsed neutron star, from spent fuel, with a gravitational pull so confident that it vacuums the sights and sounds of the surrounding space. Somewhere at the tipping point into the black hole created by the collapsed Neutron star is a misconceived idea of an event horizon. That it exists is verified by radioinfereometry. That it represents an immutable slope into oblivion is refutable, since an observer viewing objects moving toward the event horizon would show the object coming to a standstill and not being stretched and ripped apart as common lore would have you consider. Moving the object over the event horizon requires a force with a magnitude that is infinite and speed well beyond the speed of light which is near impossible, especially the closer the object gets to the event horizon.
               A star being sucked into a black hole (Composite image from three telescopes)

A moment tipping on its event horizon teeters between existence and annihilation. Once tugged it is shredded into its subatomic components to create a visual ejected stream of plasma

Formation of the Black Hole and surrounding gas and plasma with the ejected high energy particles

 (if you supply enough energy, you eventually gets another phase change as the atoms gas become of the ionized i.e. electrons are stripped off the atoms of the gas. In this case, the gas becomes plasma, the fourth state of matter. Plasmas are plentiful in nature: a star exists as a plasma, as does lightning and even fire). This lost matter is in the form of radiation,

 The Electromagnetic Wave of Radiation

 (In radiation, the transfer of energy is not a molecular process at all. Instead, the energy is carried as an electromagnetic wave that is a wave consisting of oscillating electric and magnetic fields. The fields are self-perpetuating (and mutually perpendicular) because the changing electric field induces a magnetic field and the changing magnetic field induces an electric field.) maybe arises again in some other mathematically constructed multi-verse but that is a subject so grave  and deep that the light of understanding the core of this reason, seems to flicker and fade and flicker again and fade again from the minds of many astrophysicists.

 Bullet Storm of Matter - Antimatter inside the Milky Way Galaxy

Matter, is both dark and visible, all matter in our solar system and the universe belongs to the intergalactic gases (3.6%), Dark Energy (73%) and Dark Matter (23%) and at its most vulnerable self, matter within the black hole occupies the surrounding environs tugged into the swirling dervish of violent vortex where not even light nor X-Ray at their most prodigious speed and fluency can escape. Recent discovery of High Energy Particles detected by the Observatory in Utah and the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina (1600 water tanks spread over 1100 square miles) found the existence of these particles.

      Pierre Auger Observatory Water Detector in the field.

The Pierre Auger Observatory High Energy Particles revealed in one of the experimental data detected by the Northern Array of the detectors.

Such particles defy logic since all theories propound that amy proton when it collides with the earth's atmosphere would result in a collision with subatomic particles being released including muons and neutrinos (The deep beneath the surface Kamiokande Observatory in Japan detects the Neutrinos) These vagrant particles with high energetics may be a pulsar close to earth some 120 million light years and thus some scientist consider these particles to be the result of matter-antimatter collisions with escapes of these high energy particles. The Auger Observatory has seen 50 such showers called the "Auger 50". Their origin remains a mystery which when found will lead to another mystery of the Cosmos.

                     Aceribo, Chile Telescope.

 The visible spectrum of light can be seen clearly with giant telescopes like the one in Aceribo, Chile but they do not detect such high energy particles.

                              The engineering of antimatter

Even Einstein with his brilliance had another British Physicist Paul Dirac propose in 1928 that the “m” in E=mc^2 should have a negative value. This is what subsequently proved the existence of anti-matter by Carl Anderson in 1932 and the beginnings of the understanding of Black Holes.

                           Einstein's famous equation
Matter and Antimatter ejection from the collapsed star and the Black Hole

 The historical references to the black holes always begin with the stars that once shined their luminescence in the dark moonless sky bringing wonder and thoughts of love to a teenager’s mind. The stars spend their days fueling the visible sky by light with fissionable passion. At their apex they are bright with a prodigious store of fuel and it their weakest like red giants fading from their glory days. Great storms of integrity that unleash clouds of ionic display float through light-years of distance. It is this successful diligence of work that creates the moment and existence of the universe. Nothing exists without such created energy and all energy when once spent must lead to the entropic grave of oblivion from whose borne no matter returns.

                          The Birth of Stars (Hubble Telescope)

Success is like a star, shining, slowly gathering momentum as more and more energy is created, occasionally gifting the human kind with a bewildering wonderment of newness and achievement. It brings anew with everything good and bright and fresh. It is the same success that drives the fuel of human nature, to make a mark on life itself, to be remembered after the heart of the human being has seized its daily chore. It is success that thrives in the minds and thought of the future generations of what they too can achieve. It is success that is the constant reminder of what can be done. Yet it is also success that climbs the delicate vine to stardom and recognition. It is the same success, that when fatigued, the vine can and does collapse under its weight to the very base from  whence it took its first leap. It is that same success, which afforded all the bright and unobtrusive light, brings with it the ultimate scorn of the parasitic dwellers. It is that same success that collapses under its own weight and vacuums the starlight of innovation and invention. But like the Phoenix it rises from the ashes as an assemblage of new life. Such is this circle of life.

                  A Dying Neutron Star within  gases and plasma (A Composite Image)

Success is a much-maligned object of ridicule in certain circles. It is looked down upon, chastised or openly vilified. Yet, is it not success that fuels the competition of intellectual pursuit? Is it not success that makes us launch metal into space and beyond to explore the universe? Is it not success that burdens the mind to reach deep into the infinitely small hidden pockets of minute cells to discover how they tick? And is it not also the same success that drives us in submersibles to gather information from the crushing weight of the Atlantic Ocean so that we may fathom how life evolved? The answers to these questions may differ from the proclivity of a political, religious or social point of view but the true answer remains- It Is!

“So what of these stories? I am entombed in a tomb of my own making.” He spoke in a voice more a whisper then a statement of desire.
“Yes but…”
“No!” He held up his hand wishing to enter into the quiet of his mind’s enclave. After several moments he opened the door to more conversation. “Such blindness to reality. I thought it was an innate human endeavor to achieve and yet, now I am beginning to think differently. I no longer feel the world owes a lick of respect to the high achievers. For every Einstein, Mozart, Escher or Rembrandt there are thousands upon thousands who thrive on mediocrity –The curse of a Salieri. The crush of this weighty burden that falls on the shoulders of the few to carry the many on their shoulders is eminently foul!”
“But without those few the world would be a white canvas of nothingness.”
“Maybe.” He seemed to reflect on that for a moment.
“But greatness is always dependent on the unreasonable person who does not accept the status quo. He or she is written in the history books for all to know.”
“Yes, but at great personal peril, ridicule, verbal abuse and ostracism.”
“You should be proud of yourself, though. You have accomplished what most mortals can never hope to achieve in many lifetimes.”
“Yes but look where I am. An empty house with nothing but books and memories of what was and a mind emptied of desires of what could have been.”
“Your name is in every major medical book.”
“It is there and scores of other places where it is equally maligned.” The regret of being ridiculed for his success and fame, forced by a body of incompetent peers with self-fulfilling axes to grind, made his voice tremulous. Alone in this shell called a home without a family by his side. A family that had fled from the rigors of his mind and desire of his achievements,
“Look at all that humanity you have helped and the masses yet to benefit from your written treatises in science.”
“They’ll make something of that too.”
“This banner of injustice cannot claim permanence. It has to fall one day. Why such injustice?”
“They did not like my, how shall I say it, eh. Iconoclastic references.”
“I thought you were apolitical.”
“I am, but my words have been misconstrued as political and they must have hurt someone’s ego.” His mouth turned down at the edges lifted somewhat and a flicker of satisfaction rolled in. “But you know what, that is their problem. I speak and write what I understand.” He weighed that in his mind for a bit and then said, “ There are opinions that differ because they belong to different understandings, feelings, reasons, actions or just a different mindset, nothing wrong with any of that. That is how progress is made. That is how we go from the biped to the wheel, to the automobiles and trains and thence to airplanes and spaceships. It is the energy created from the two dissonant opinions that a commons note of melody is born. It is like matter and anti-matter come together to create new life. For all the antimatter that exists, it is the miniscule amount of matter however that makes existence visible and therefore real.

                      Subatomic Particles and below the image of particle collision from CERN

“Matter and Antimatter however cannot exist side by side. The convergence of these two leads to annihilation of both forms of matter. What remains is the spoils for the victor however small in dimension is displayed as the truth of reality. The explosion between matter and antimatter leads to a release of tremendous energy, which is more powerful, then existing fissionable material known today. It is 10 orders of magnitude compared tot TNT and 4 orders of magnitude greater than nuclear power. A Bright Flash1

“The dilemma that exists then is if all that anti-matter were to exist wouldn’t it just destroy all visible matter?” He paused for the impact of his words. “It appears based on the hypothetical science of baryogenesis that there exists a Baryon asymmetry, whereby there are vestiges of antimatter that still exist in the center of the galaxy that fuel the engine of new energy, birth of stars and clouds of gases. Most of antimatter it is believed was consumed at the moment of the Big Bang and the one Super-force split into four different forces (Gravity, Electromagnetism, Strong and Weak Nuclear Forces) as the matter cooled after the first micro-second of Universal Time and what matter remained cooled into clusters of galaxies.
   Composite Image from three telescopes (Visible, X-Ray and Infra red imagery) of a nebula with a central black hole

“It is a good and a bad thing that antimatter is not plentiful. It is good therefore we exist, and it is bad because it is fuel for energy. To create antimatter worth a measure would take the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) collider or the one at Brookhaven Laboratories one year to harvest a pictogram (one-trillionth of a gram) hence this source of fuel would become prohibitively expensive and in the end useless as a propellant for future star-ships, except if you were living in the fascinating world of Commander Worf in Star Trek.”

Linear time changes everything, even understanding. Thus as the antimatter of negativity buried itself in the folds of self security, the fog of insecurity and uncertainty lifted one day many months later. The cadres of self-serving beasts exchanged places. Those that felt the sting, from his words, lost power and others that did not feel bruised embraced it. The changing of the guard evicted the old paradigm of power and resurrected self-serving words and banners of a new paradigm. The cycle of politics once again greased, hurtled towards the inevitable change – but really, no change. The eclipsed sun once again powered reality. The black hole of oblivion once powered with its vortex of usurpation now blew out ionic plasma flow like an accretion disk, lighting the sky. The once cloaked and forgotten success raised its head and regaled in its glory. All was in harmony though only for a moment in time.

The glasses tinkled their rejoinder of happy tidings. “I hate to say it. But I told you so.”
“You did. I guess circles do come around to their point of origin.”
“What are you going to do?”
“”I have a job offer from Harvard which I have declined. I have chosen a little known university where, I can challenge fresh minds and make a difference.” The professor in him had taken new life again. “I will challenge them to challenge the status quo!”
“Lucky devils.”