Friday, August 11, 2017


Ever hear of quantum tunneling? 

An interesting phenomenon to say the least; proximity invites such a phenomenon, where one packet tunnels into another sphere to change the dynamics of the other, when in the reality Newtonian world of gravity and not gravitational waves, it would never be able to surmount such a barrier. It is like ghosts walking through the walls. Now why is that important? This is the question that must dawn the synaptic flow of every mind. Indeed, as a thought tunnels itself via words to another’s mind, it can change the thinking. And yet when you add the entanglements between different spins of these bits of matter the attachment between concepts, ideas spread and overtake us all even when there is no direct contact between the speaker of the thought and the receiver. A term used in German vocabulary calls it zeitgeist. Such powerful memes spread ethereally or so we are lead to believe.

The mind remains the metaphorical matter of such concepts.  So we floss each other’s ideas with memes that echo from our lips and sometime with subtle actions and with sometimes nary a meaning. The echoes keep coming incessant like the waterfall, crashing and changing the human actions. What is it about us that makes such non-rhyming couplets become music? 

The world changes slowly, imperceptibly hurtling into the abyss of an entropic future where form is glory and substance slowly fades to dissolve. The present seems sometime, to become the dystopian future of the past. Clearly we feel powerless in this game of change and yet we propel inexorably forward towards it with each passing linear moment.

One such delectable moment, where it is hard to pinpoint when this became the de facto principle in the field of medical oncology remains unclear. The use of PFS or Performance Free Survival slowly became the underpinnings of drug benefit in medical oncology. Not only that PFS also became the modus operandi for the FDA to give approvals to drugs that showed a PFS improvement of a miniscule of 4 months but no absolute OS in a small “n” studies.  After many studies failed to show a clear and present improvement in Overall survival or OS in patients, now some are starting to cry foul as drug costs outweigh drug benefits. The cost of cancer medicines seem to climb the ladder of “no worries.” As long as the third party payers pay, well, who really cares? It is the joyous world of memes and meaningless get-rich-quick-and-stick-it-to-others selfies world. It unfortunately realizes the old adage, wherever there is great need and ignorance, predation lives. 

Other important measures that have confabulated the mind, if not decimated thought completely is the statistical bent that harrows the medical literature; the issue of “significance!” Using p-values to show significance continues its daily quest to win over the scientific community at large even though fewer “scientists” actually sit down and figure out the reality behind the headlines.

So what of this tunneling issue. Unfortunately, this generation is poised to become the most prolific quantum tunnel-ers in the history of science. We continue on our quest to obfuscate and create new and complex rules in order to hide the real facts under the burden of statistical fiat. Might it be time, now that the “cost-containment” is the zeitgeist of the day and heads are ready to roll? Might we hurtle accidentally into the real reality away from the Matrix? Yet through it all, one might consider that the "Tunnelling" effect just might happen with good information as it readily does the bad version. One can dream, can't one?

Or maybe not! Given the rise of the machines such as IBM’s Watson whose glorified technical abilities will launch science in general and medicine in particular to new heights is nothing better than a Bayesian Trap of a sophisticated yet superficial search engine. A rare but accelerating form of sophistry. For, it is based on the shards of preexisting information and deciphering a new set of rules of the ever changing biology is not currently within the realm of this Artificial Intelligence that uses past data to give reams of mathematical information couched in Confidence Intervals, and probabilities framed upon known knowns. And Quantum Tunelling is becoming a large a factor here as well, petabytes of data notwithstanding. ( ) But imagine if you will, where this data resides if quantum tunneling were to happen between what is "good" and "actionable" data with the proliferating snake-oilsmen virtuoso bits? Ah life will get even more interesting as the guardians of the computing gate bow down in worship of this slowly bit-by-bit mutating beast. Such stuff as dreams are made on.

So you see, dear reader, if you are still with me through this Alice’s inspired rabbit hole, the art of the spread of the zeitgeist is more than the gain of wisdom, it is simply regurgitated information couched and spread as knowledge. What is then is nothing more than what information tunnelling makes it to be. The world changes by the memes that control the eyes and ears of humans.

And while “an honest tale spreads best, plainly told,” this one is a complex series of moving parts that humans have lost control of for a while. How should we, or better yet can we control the ever stretching and mind-bending future that seems to lay out before us without us even entertaining a thought. It seems we are propelled by the unseen force of this quantum-packet-magic, ethereal and invisible, to slowly play out like Shakespeare’s fool upon the stage and then be heard of no more. And as Benjamin Franklin might have hinted at, obliquely of the growing act of these agents in the future of his world, “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do.” We have an ever-burgeoning library of them.

The essence then, must be to use our faculties for their best and think critically for ourselves, lest the rabbit hole leads below into the molten core, where heat vaporizes all.

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