Thursday, March 30, 2006

Training the Immune

Training the Immune System.

The immune system is capable of handling most diseases , but is primarily reactive . The initiative is with diseases causing rapid changes in the targeting markers . Two new powerful techniques , which works very well in synergy , have emerged :

Method :
1. Isolate some disease causing cells (ie cancerous cells , HIV , etc)
2.Slow the activity in the cells , thereby halting cell-wall changes , by using H2S concentrations graduated from (say) 75 ppm to 80 ppm.
3. Kill the cells using hypochlorous acid ( bleach ) .
  1. Inject the lot back into the organism  .

  2. Repeat quickly.

Rationale :

1. The effect of H2S is well documented .
It slows the metabolism of the whole cell , including the cell-wall .

2. The effect of hypochlorous acid ( bleach ) :
Refer to
Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy , Do1:10.007/s00262-006-0127—9
New Scientist  of 4 March 2006 p17 .

Cancer cells killed by hypochlorous acid (HOCl) ( bleach ) is five times more likely to be recognized as malign by dendritic cells than those killed by other means . This is an experimental fact .
The reason seems to be that one of the main methods by which the immune systems
kills deviant cells is by an injection of hypochlorous acid ( bleach ) . The fragments of hypochlorous acid mark the fragments of target cells as enemies to the immune system .
It is interesting to note that this seems to indicate a rapidly changing cell-wall structure for cancer cells , as there is a enemy-recognition , but not a very big one . This suggests the changeable cell-wall frozen at the moment of death does not encompass a large variety of the surface-configurations the cell can assume .

Hence we suggest a H2S concentration gradient up to stasis level to halt the various cell-wall permutations at various configurations at the moment of the hypochlorous acid kill . This should increase the immune system’s  enemy recognition percentage .

The question remains why would the technique be more effective with H2S than without it ?
The answer is that these intractable diseases , by definition , has evolved anti-attack mechanisms . One of these would certainly involve rapid change in the surfaces of the cells . The cells in the treatment sample would quickly diverge from the body’s system  . The body’s system would change slower because of signaling molecules (refer to quorum effect ) .
Thus , by immediately slowing the treatment sample by a graduated H2S concentration , killing it and immediately re-injecting , the immune system gains recognition of the enemy and hopefully some degree of advance on it .

The suspicion arises that a very simple molecule like HOCl is like other similarly simple molecules (nitrogen oxides , CO2 , etc that are used by living organisms as powerful signalling molecules .

HOCl kills any cell we know of . The only defense seems to be a thick shield . Is this wholly due to it’s reactive nature , or is there also a receptor site for it ? Immune cells kill by injecting it through a synapse-like structure . Thus , the targeting mechanism and the lethal payload share a linkage . This structure can learn through evolution .

Evolutionary speaking , the immune system will first try to kill by apoptosis as this is more economical . If this fails , then it will try to kill the cell by HOCl injection . If this fails and the system is still under stress , the chances are that it is a disease that is changing cell-walls quicker than the matching changes in the synapse-like immune cells mechanism .

The immune system will evolve two strategies :
First , try to decrease the change-speed in the attacking organism (first because this is older in evolutionary terms .)
Then , increase the learning speed of the immune system . Can you see where this is heading ?

Strategy 1 . Decrease in the change-speed in the attacking organism (whether internal like cancer  or external like flu ) is handled by H2S type mechanisms . Hence the importance of sulfur ( see my previous notes ).

Strategy 2 . Increase the immune system’s learning speed.
Erk. This is a bit humbling .
On a basic level , Iodine seems to fill the requisite niche for a simple thing that has profound effects on the immune system , and thus on the nervous system .

The mechanism controlling the long-term , planet-wide distribution of sulfur and iodine is the algal organisms in the upper levels of the oceans . These are very temperature-dependant .

As the planetary temperature rises , the average concentration of sulfur and iodine falls because the algae retreat to the poles . Diseases increase . The immune systems first try the H2S route (because this is older ) , then try increasing the learning speed . We see this as intelligence .

Thus , we can see the pulse of intelligence in human affairs after the end of the last ice-age as a direct result of the increase in diseases caused by the decrease in sulfur and iodine concentrations .

An example: It is generally thought that the increased fishing off African waters caused the Africans to eat more bush-meat , thereby increasing their exposure to exotic diseases . But they have been eating the same for thousands of years . The critical lack is iodine

To sum up , human increased intelligence can be seen as an immune-system response to periods of warm inter-glacials . Since there is small evolutionary pressure to decrease intelligence , the effect ratcheted up . At present , humans can be seen as part of the planetary response to the relentless warming of the sun .

In other words , a planet like Earth which started off slightly too cool about 3 billion years ago , reached ideal life-temperature about 2 billion years ago and has gradually heated up as the sun became hotter (it is now 25% hotter than 3 billion years ago) .

The life-systems on the planet formed a complex feedback system which kept the system at livable temperatures . (Cf  Daisyworld , Gaia  and similar models) .

It is important to realize that the insolation from the sun fluctuated . The higher influx from sol left less leeway on the upper end of the boundary for living organisms on earth . A bit hotter , and living things did not as well with as a bit cooler .

So , as the sun became hotter , the earth’s thermostat evolved to be cooler (to leave room for fluctuations on the hot side). Please note that no conscious agency is necessary . Living learning mechanisms like discussed above evolved and became more intelligent with each heat-burp .

Till eventually , we get the present situation . Humans will have to cool the planet or become extinct . This can be seen to be (nearly) inevitable from the first planetary configuration . Another way of looking at it that humans are a part of the life systems on the planet ensuring its continuation .

Humans are a result of the heating of the planet , not the cause .

Intelligence is inevitable on any planet around a star on the main sequence .


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Mouse Rage Road Rage

Mouse Rage , Road Rage , Divorce and the Amygdala

Have you ever flared with visceral fury at a sticky mouse ?

The sequence of events is interesting :
  1. A mental discontinuity , as the consciousness is bypassed for immediate threat countering . (the flare)

  2. A hormonal flood (the visceral fury bit).

  3. A closely following (milliseconds) override as the threat is assessed and dismissed.

  4. A gradual relaxation of body-mind systems if the stimulus does not recur soon

  5. If it recurs soon (ie about 5-10 minutes) , within the long-term potentiating learning period , the amygdale learns more and more that this is a threat . The reaction becomes stronger and more widespread with every learning repetition.

What is similar between driving a mouse and a car ?
The visual system is very alert , but body-mind is in a mild obsessive-compulsive behaviour state  ( lower serotonin and elevated dopamine ) . Eg , feeling relaxed while concentrating .

Why the flare ?
This relaxed , concentrating and visually alert mental state is found in mammals usually when the response to perceived threat is not fight-or-flight , but fight only .

Some situations:
1. Post-coital (as discussed before) (Protect your genes!)
2. While eating . (Protect your food!)
3. While or after feeding cubs. (Protect your genes!)

This was hard-wired in during mammalian evolutionary history .

The Amygdala.
This brain organ is hardwired for threats to food and genes ,  and also learns threats for which immediate response is required . (The panic button).

Its forte is immediate response , bypassing any smarter but slower data processing .

It’s drawback is that it learns wrong responses to things which are not a threat .

Fast and twitchy beats slow but sure in the survival game.

The Amygdala is not smart or complicated  , but fast . And it learns very , very quickly  ( even once can be enough in a traumatic episode )

So , hardwired in is the mental state :
( VisuallyAlert + low serotonin + high dopamine )  +  Threat  (  Aggressive Attack

Every repetition of the threat reinforces this response , especially if the repetitions fall within the nervous system’s long-term potentiation thresholds ( 5 – 10 mins ) .
Eg , in corporal punishment , there was usually waiting period of 5 mins between lashes : not sadism , but pragmatic learning in action .

A problem is that other things associated with the primary stimulus  get learned as well . Things unrelated to any threat can trigger the response .

This brings us back to road / mouse rage .
The mental state :
( VisuallyAlert + low serotonin + high dopamine )  +  Threat  (  Aggressive Attack
gets reinforced with every repetition  . The amygdala gets sensitized  to this process . You might be exposed to one or two road-rage stimuli a week , but a sticky mouse happens often inside the 10 min threshold . The system gets more and more sensitized.

Interruptions of the ( VisuallyAlert + low serotonin + high dopamine ) state starts getting treated as threats .

An example is hubby relaxing , watching TV after dinner , and wife interrupts . He snaps aggressively at her , without knowing why . The situation escalates from there  to the divorce court .

Associated items get learned as threats just as well as the primary threat . One of the reasons for the extreme bitterness of divorces : each partner triggers extreme threat and anxiety responses in each other . They don’t know why , so they rationalize ,

(Anxiety attacks can be seen as such an associational threat. )

Victims of a security system run amuck .

Reprogramming the Amygdala.

As can be seen from the above , the sensitization grows greater with age . The man might try a new wife , but the same problems surface in different guises . Learned helplessness becomes more prevalent and the system tends to paranoic catatonia . Anything new but with vaguely similar elements to previous threats triggers a threat response .

(Interestingly , this might be why the immune system forgets . Some auto-immune diseases might be due to an inability to forget . Maybe some of the techniques below might help . I refer you to the close similarity between immune-cell interactions and synapses .)

The amygdala needs to unlearn some tricks and desensitize on others . You don’t want to do without cops , but you only want the ones which are not trigger happy .

This does not work  , as the amygdale operates through bypassing all the slow smart feedback processes .

Un-learning  and re-learning.
We have the luxury here of two experimental facts that shows that reprogramming the amygdala is possible :

1.Virtual-reality (primarily visual) cures of phobias ( fear of snakes , heights,etc .) has taken place .  So a purely visual input has an effect . This is to be expected from the “VisuallyAlert” component in the original mental state .

2. Direct chemical intervention in the long-term memories .
It has been found experimentally that long-term memories in neurons can be repotentialized by presenting the original stimulus . This is to be expected from an evolutionary viewpoint if the organism is past the infantile (neural-pruning) stage .
Use of chemicals like some of the beta-blockers then erases the long-term memory .

Of interest here is that one of the main problems with amygdala-induced anxieties is that the same chemical messengers is used in the inter-brain communication as in the brain-body communications . This means that a threat response in the amygdala is mirrored in the body , and then feeds back to the amygdala . This is then again fed back into the body : the result is an anxiety attack and/or shock . The beta-blocker was originally developed to break the loop in the body , but it seems that it works by erasing the long-term memory .

There is one teeny problem here : a neuron carrying  no memory or a duplicate memory will probably be marked for apoptosis  . We do not want this . So the therapy should include a simultaneous long-term  memory re-learning process . This should also rejuvenate the hippocampus .

What can we do now?

All this sounds like it will take a big lab , lots of white coats and meetings , government approval before some emasculated version might crawl out and cheep at the universe .

Luckily , we already know one easily duplicated stimulus : mouse rage .

We can design a program to do this and be fun too.
Boredom will be a problem , so we use a 3x3 tic-tac-toe grid to soak up the brain’s pattern recognition and counting mechanisms .

The brain’s basic numerical processor can only count to 3 (to be more precise , it can handle < , = , > ) .  The pattern recognition is much more complex , but we want to combine the two .

Basically , it is a Sudoku type grid, but each of the 3x3 elements are spread through time , instead of through space .

We only need pattern recognition , so we only need the traditional “ x” and “o” .
The algorithm:
  1. Create a tic-tac-toe that is not a solution (ie no horizontal,vertical or crisscross pattern) . For evolutionary reasons , humans are much more adept at picking out interrupted patterns . And that does not get simpler than xxo .

  2. Move the cursor to the nearest x or o that breaks the pattern (the Y square). As it gets near , freeze the cursor and only resume movement if the mouse is moved over it’s little square again . This is the stutter . Don’t worry if it does not cause a rage flare . We are not trying to reinforce the mechanism , but reprogram it at subliminal level . Mark the target square element programmatically

  3. Immediately after the stutter ,

  4. Move every element in the tic-tac-toe one right and one down in wrap-around .

  5. Test if it is solution , If not , loop to 4

  6. If it is no solution , try to click on what you think is the Y-square within 30 seconds .

  7. If it is correct , count one CorrectY , else count CorrectN .

  8. Loop to 4  until 6 minutes have passed .

  9. Show score and count set .

  10. Loop to 1

  11. Proceed until Halt

  12. Show scores and sets as a time sequence .

Any suggestions?


Sunday, March 26, 2006

The revenge of Gaia

The revenge of Gaia .
The revenge of Gaia

A book by James Lovelock ( ISBN 13:978-0-713-99914-3 )
This a good summary and call to arms .

He argues that an extreme sense of urgency for remedial steps is necessary , as a major discontinuity ( or tipping point )  looms in about 30 to 40 years at present projected rates of global warming . The Global temperature would rise by about 3 degrees within this time , then suddenly suddenly rise within a year or two by about 8 degrees Celsius after this threshold is reached .

This is the Algal die-off tipping point .
If the global temperature rises by  3  degrees Celsius (ie a total 500 ppm CO2 concentration) global warming causing the rapid extinction of most algae in surface temperate and tropical oceans will result . This would cause a decrease in CO2 downdrawal and decrease in cloud-cover due to lack of DMS condensation nuclei for droplets . The combined effect bounces the global temperature up by at least 8 degrees in a very short time .

Other lesser positive feedback warming effects which are already operative :

1 . Melting of Siberian and Canadian permafrost is releasing large volumes of trapped methane and CO2 . ( Methane is 24 times more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2 ) . Large peat fires is to be expected as dry-out progresses , releasing even more CO2 .

  1. Melting of Arctic ice is reducing reflection of light , raising temperatures in arctic regions .

  2. Melting of glaciers . Less flow-off during summer leads to less vegetation and more warming .

  3. A temperature rise of 4 degrees will see the vanishing of all tropical forests ( The why is tied to the evaporation rate . Even present temperature rises are enough to cause dry-offs in marginal areas , leading to very large fires in the Amazon , Indonesia , Malaysia.) Human exploitation exacerbates this effect .

  4. The slowing-down of the Gulf-Stream due to the large-scale influx of fresh water from the melting of the arctic and Greenland ice masses . Actually , the whole planetary ocean current system is affected , but nobody knows to what effect .

  5. Solar dimming effect ( due to solar reflection by sulfur pollution aerosols ) decreases . The effect can be very pronounced : apparently , the week-long banning of all flights over the USA after 9/11 caused a whopping 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature over the north American continent .

  6. Human activities .

  7. Rising ocean levels and extreme wheather is killing vegetation , the rotting of which releases their carbon content as methane or CO2 .

Negative feedback factors:
  1. Large scale volcanism : rapid melting of large volumes of ice will destabilize the tectonic balance , especially in the North Atlantic and North Pacific .

  2. Lowering of oxygen concentration due to alagal die-off .
3. Humanity will have to supply the rest . All the natural restorative mechanisms seems to result in the extinction of humans .

What does this mean for humans?

The Business as usual scenario:
For about 20 years , things will get slowly worse . More extreme hurricanes , droughts , floods etc . Famines , water-famines and increasing oxygen-famines cause large-scale environmental refugees . Resource wars and genocidal wars increase in frequency and intensity .

The present resource-rich nations withdraw core-survivors to highland areas in the arctic and Antarctic regions . (Notice present fortifications in Urals and bio-banks in Norway and Sweden) The sea-level rises within a decade by at least 7 m as the Greenland ice melts at around 2050 . Antarctic melts are uncertain , but it would be prudent to relocate at least 200 m above present sea-levels .

All regions between Canada-NorthernEuropeSiberia and TierreDelFuega-NewZealand-Antartica become uninhabitable ( or at best , like the sub-sahel at present) . The Hadley-cells in the atmosphere broaden and shift the trade-wind further to the poles . Huge storms , hurricanes , floods , tornadoes . The risen sea-levels means huge expanses of shallow seas over Western-Europe , Eastern-US , Amazon , with concommittant  heating fuelling the storms .

The cooling caused by the cessation of the Gulf-stream on Western-Europe will be initially offset by the global warming ( the estimated effects cancel out : -8  by +8 degrees , but the rising sea-levels will drown most of the West-European plains (return to Tethys Sea) . The shallow seas trap heat and generate unbelievable storms .

The inevitable volcanism caused by the shifting tectonic stresses of lifting ice-masses will cause a short-term cooling , but even bigger storms . Super-volcanoes? Can anybody survive the energy fluctuations ?

Human intervention .

All this seems very pessimistic . Unless something drastic is done , it seems all too possible that no one will survive . Business as usual is not sufficient . Extinction is not only a real possibility , but a high probability .

Essentially , humans will have to increasingly manage the planet . Services supplied free and without conscious thought by the planet (call it Gaia ) ( like breathable air , potable water , edible food , safe domiciles , anti-boredom) , will have to be done by humans if they want to avoid extinction .

The Morality.

Humans have enormous power at the moment . They can easily control the problems of the planet . They have the technology and a lot of the necessary knowledge .

What they lack is a moral basis to mobilize it all .

There is a curious paralysis of the will .

They ask themselves :
“Is it the right thing to do?”
They are quite willing to sacrifice themselves if they are convinced it is the right thing to do (history is full of this) .

But they ask themselves:
Shall we loose a human disease on all the Universe ?
Will humans be like a plague ? At the moment they are contained on one planet . They think they have nearly destroyed their biosphere . Is it moral to release uncontrolled positive feedback forces ?

This is a very general way of looking at it:

The key here is variety and transformation .

Large numbers lead to variety . Variety lead to both conflict and co-operation .

Conflict and co-operation are fractal in combination . Elements have conflicts between  boundaries of co-operation , and these boundaries are in turn the elements of conflicts between bigger boundaries of co-operation , and so forth .

This gives sufficient scope for transformation .

Essentially , this means that any sufficiently large number of elements is bounded : Competitive elements are bounded by  co-operative boundaries , and co-operative boundary-elements are bounded by competitive boundaries . And so forth .

It means you can screw up big time , but you can’t destroy the universe .

Conversely , inaction in a complex situation spinning out of control is the worst possible response .

The moral thing for our society is to intervene .

That perennial problem “ Does the end justifies the means ? “ can be shown to be bounded .
You can try to analyze the effects of any decision in its competition environment until its co-operation boundary , then on all co-operation boundaries , then on all competition environments after that , etc . You will very rapidly reach reach a fuzzy boundary . Like a chaotic system into the future .
An example is climate . Climate and competitive humans is predictable (it is , after all , what we did above with global warming) . However , if co-operative humans are added , the end-result is unpredictable .You cannot say “this end justifies the means” , but only that “my striving towards these possible ends justifies some of these means “.

It is my considered opinion that the right thing to do is not to limit human numbers .

This translates into :
1.No artificial plagues .
2.Release energy technology .
3. Use present technology to the utmost , but in all areas .

Humans will have to manage the planet.

This means building up knowledge of how ecology works . Actively regulating the energy inflow to the planet , as well as the outflow .

These things Mother Earth used to do for us for free . But we’re slowly growing up . Time to stand on our own feet .

For instance , managing the energy inflow to the planet is trivial . Numerous umbrella-type plans are available . All require large masses in orbit , which can be done (and will be if things get bad ) by Orion type thrusters .
There is sufficient variety on the planet at the moment to make it inevitable .

It sounds like a lot of work , but there are a lot of hands . The terran biosphere , excluding humans , can be very closely approximated . If humans are included , decent first and second order approximations can be made .

Humans can run their biosphere .


Saturday, March 11, 2006

FutureWatch Predict

FutureWatch : Prediction ranking by Google

Search engines like Google cannot examine and rank the future , but they can certainly rank past predictions about the future .

Benefits : the continual feedback will lead not only to the identification and ranking of predictors ,  but hopefully make existing ones take more care (eg think-tanks) . The creation of verifiable marketplace for predictors will lead to much better prediction systems , something a high-tech society desperately needs .

Existing systems:
This ranking is already done to some extent by money ( eg Warren Buffet in investments)  . This is also the only category where the accuracy of predictions is routinely measured  .

Political elections also can be seen as to a measure of the accuracy of a politician’s predictions .

There are a large number of other prediction systems : think-tanks , futurologists , science-fiction writers , scenario-planners , politicians , climatologists , astrologers , mediums , tarot , numerology , etc , etc .

The problem in a fast-changing , high-tech society is that irreversable  changes might take place before this evaluation process has caught up .

Argument for a new system:
It is clear that some individuals and organizations are better at prediction than others . The reason  why might be unclear , but some consistently outperform others .
The problem is to find them . This is the same as ranking them for accuracy above chance . A formidable undertaking .

A large statistical base with built-in feedback is required for any method .
Until now , only money was available as a reliable ranking mechanism .

A Google-type voting ranking system seems another viable method .

Google does not have to decide whether a predictor is better : superior predictors will draw more links , and poorer ones less .

Categorization :  some suggestions
By time and by type.

Scientific : Climate , population , etc
Etc , etc

Initial set-up problems:
This could be costly (if not impossible) .
Ask for help from your users .
Set up the categories .
Ask the predictors and the users to evaluate each other . This is viable only if a statistically large amount of data can be assembled .

Commercially interested predictors and users have an obvious interest in blowing their own horn and shooting down the competition .

But there is also a large class of vitally interested users in predictions : civil services , farmers , etc .

To repeat , this exercise would only be possible on a large statistical base .

But it will be very lucrative .

Andre Willers