Friday, September 30, 2022
This is confirmation of high frequency activity predicted by a high information density DARK MATTER spirit system underlying the 3D physical brain as we have predicted. This ripple strongly suggests a periodic sampling and storage activity linked to TIME pages.
We do need to rethink the implications of neuronic activity which may well be a physical impulse path providing juice with the actual descision system completely independent of all this.
It takes a long time for the neuron path to deliver its energy and it may well be a lagging phenom. It is not obvious if our brains operate that slowly.
My point is that setting aside the neuron MEME, we can rethink memory and information processing in conjunction with our brains and start to rely on our spirit body to do the processing and memory management.
How We Remember Last Weekend
High-frequency oscillations that ripple through our brains may generate memory and conscious experience.
BY MARCO ALTAMIRANO
September 28, 2022Share
One of the most difficult questions for the science of memory deals with the most obvious fact about memories: we can, well, recollect them. The problem is that no one knows exactly how we call to mind, and with such ease, that party last weekend, with all the samba dancing and clinking of ice in glasses, the scent of circulating hors d’oeuvres, the jolt up the spine from catching a lover’s eye across a crowded room. All these emotional and sensory elements, we know, are registered in distinct areas of the brain—but how is it that we can reminisce and conjure them all up at once, recalling the mental event as a single experience?
A group of scientists based at the University of California, San Diego, have found a promising mechanism that may explain not just how recollection works, but also, more broadly, conscious experience itself.
In a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, lead author and neurophysiologist Charles Dickey identified patterns of ripples—brief high frequency oscillations in neural activity—that synchronize across the human brain during spontaneous waking and memory recall.1 These ripples fan out across distant areas of the cerebral cortex (the wrinkly surface of the brain) that are responsible for the sensory elements involved in any mental event, and extend to the hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped structure key to memory. Many studies had previously investigated ripples in the rat hippocampus and their relationship to memory, but Dickey only recently identified ripples in the human cortex.
There are several competing theories about networks of neuronal activity that may facilitate communication between different areas of the brain to give rise to conscious experience.2 But this may be the first observed mechanism that could potentially solve the so-called “soft problem” of consciousness—the quest to identify the physical processes in the brain that underpin mental events. The soft problem is in contrast to the so-called “hard problem” of consciousness, the question of how something physical like the brain can possibly generate the rich, clearly mental quality of lived experience.
RIPPLE: Instead of a single ghost in the machine, we may host an infinite number of ghosts, in the form of an incredible procession of ripples, which fan out across the brain. Illustration by Kateryna Kon / Shutterstock
“We have to solve the soft-problem of consciousness first, and the hard problem doesn’t really impede that search,” said Eric Halgren, senior author of the paper and director of the UC San Diego lab where Dickey did his graduate research.
The difficulty behind the soft problem of consciousness is that there isn’t a readily identifiable locus of consciousness, though many possibilities have been proposed over the centuries. Rene Descartes, the 17th century philosopher, thought the seat of consciousness was the pineal gland, a small gland in the center of the brain, but we now realize it’s probably responsible for producing and regulating melatonin for our sleep cycles instead. Two hundred years later a German physiologist named Johannes Müller suggested the medulla oblongata, the stem-like structure at the bottom of the brainstem, was responsible for consciousness. (We now know it’s chiefly responsible for involuntary functions like heartbeat, breathing, vomiting, and sneezing.)
This mechanism could solve the “soft problem” of consciousness.
Later, the English physiologist William B. Carpenter nominated the thalamus, a boot-shaped structure in the middle of the brain, as the hub of consciousness, and then celebrated biologist Francis Crick considered the claustrum, a neural structure that appears like a crown of thorns around the cortex. It turns out that both the claustrum and the thalamus may indeed play important roles in certain features of consciousness, but their candidacies as coordinating centers for consciousness remains largely conjectural.
The largest hurdle for the search for consciousness in the brain was somewhat inadvertently discovered by 20th-century neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield, who was treating patients with severe epilepsy by lesioning the malfunctioning areas of the brain that were instigating seizures. During his surgical procedures, Penfield noticed that certain movements or perceptions could be manufactured by stimulating different areas of the cortex; stimulation via an electrode on your forehead could produce the smell of a bandage, while one on the back of your head might make you see the Buddha and wiggle your pinky. This presented a problem of brain geography that is sometimes called “the binding problem”: how do distant areas—the ones involved in, say, the smell of bandages and the ones involved in the throbbing pain of the wound under the bandage—communicate with one another to produce a seamless experience? Enter brain ripples.
Brain ripples are so named because these high-frequency oscillations of neural activity appear as ripples on stereogram readouts of the cortex called electroencephalograms.
“The cortex is where we have all our sensory areas, so experiences are primarily a cortical phenomenon,” Dickey said. “The idea is that an experience happens, and this affects the firing of synapses between specific sets of sensory neurons, strengthening their connections.” He added, “Ripples may modulate this synaptic activity to consolidate the memory within the cortex.”
Ripples unify our experience by the moment, playing a memory like a song.
“What’s really interesting about brain ripples as a mechanism for studying consciousness and memory is that they’re primarily temporal,” Halgren said. Ripples emanate and multiply across the cortex spatially, but in the way that music fills a room. Ripples form fleeting but repeated patterns. They come and go like memories and experiences themselves.
While these specific kinds of human cortical brain ripples are newly discovered, the purely theoretical underpinnings of them have been around since the late 1970s. One popular theory of consciousness is known as “binding-through-synchrony,” which postulates that a synchronization of neural activity is what organizes different sensory cues from different regions of the cortex into coherent experience. The theory has been around for decades, but evidence for it (beyond some experiments with the visual systems of cats) was limited.3 Brain ripples are the first observable and testable mechanism that could corroborate the binding-through-synchrony hypothesis.
What could this mean for consciousness and the study of the mind? The mechanism of brain ripples seems to suggest that consciousness may not have a center, or a fixed unifying organ controlling it. Instead, they suggest a decentralized consciousness, where frequencies accompany and hold our thoughts like ghostly electrical consorts, appearing and disappearing as quickly as they do. Instead of a single ghost in the machine, we may host an infinite number of ghosts, in the form of an incredible procession of ripples, unifying the entirety of our experience by the moment, playing a memory like a song, taking its notes from the distributed and diverse functions of our sensory apparatuses.
In the end, perhaps the search for consciousness was impeded for so long because we were searching for the wrong kind of thing, something physical or structural rather than phenomenal—a pineal gland instead of an electric signature, a neuro-chemical ghost that pulses across the cortex.
The real test for whether brain ripples underpin conscious experience might include cortical stimulation experiments in humans to test if certain kinds of experiences can be induced by ripples (or, conversely, if conscious experiences can be interrupted by disrupting cortical ripples). If further research concludes that ripples do in fact coordinate the communication of all the different parts of the brain responsible for an experience of, say, a beach in August (with its hot sand everywhere, the blazing sun and cooling ocean, and drying off while waves whoosh nearby), then Dickey’s study could be an immense step forward for solving the soft problem of consciousness.
Marco Altamirano is a writer based in New Orleans and the author of Time, Technology, and Environment: An Essay on the Philosophy of Nature. Follow him on Twitter @marcosien and Instagram @cocomarquito.
Lead image: GoodStudio / Shutterstock
1. Dickey, Charles W., et al. Widespread ripples synchronize human cortical activity during sleep, waking, and memory recall. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 119 (2022)
2. Maillé, S. & Lynn, M. Reconciling Current Theories of Consciousness. The Journal of Neuroscience 40, 1994–1996 (2020)
3. Fries, P., Schröder, J., Roelfsema, P.R., Singer, W., & Engel, A.K. Oscillatory Neuronal Synchronization in Primary Visual Cortex as a Correlate of Stimulus Selection. The Journal of Neuroscience 22, 3739–3754 (2002)
All money is money because it mediates transactions and the store of value concept is certainly incidental. Throw a suitcase of either papre money or gold into the Marianas Trench and in either case, it is lost and is no store of value.
Both fiat cash produced and guaranteed by the state and crypto currency produced and guaranteed by digital security serve that purpose and criminal behavior is constrained by both.
This is a huge experiemnt and it is working well actually. We now need to see the creation of fiat money brought under the control of the rule of twelve..
Cryptocurrency as Money—Store of Value or Medium of Exchange?
Cryptocurrency enthusiasts generally have a great appreciation for the Austrian school of economics. This is understandable since Austrian economists have always argued for the merit of privately produced money outside government control. Unfortunately, an erroneous understanding of the development and functions of money has emerged and become increasingly dominant among at least some proponents of bitcoin—a narrative that is at odds with the basics of Austrian monetary theory.
In this view, which can perhaps be traced to Nick Szabo’s essay emphasizing collectibles, the primary and predominant function of money is as a “store of value,” or this function is on par with the medium-of-exchange function. According to this view, a commodity must first “transmit value” over time. It can then be used as a medium of exchange before finally becoming established as a unit of account.
This account gets the emergence and function of money backwards: the primary and indeed sole essential function of money is as a medium of exchange. Its status as a “store of value” (more on this phrase below) is incidental, while the function of unit of account is nonessential, as there have been many money commodities throughout history that were never used as units of account.
The Austrian tradition, from Carl Menger to Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard, has always insisted that money is in essence a medium of exchange, with any other so-called functions being incidental and, in the case of “store of value,” metaphorical. In what follows, we explain this position.
To understand the nature of money, we first review the theory of value. Austrians have always emphasized the subjective nature of value. It is not something intrinsic to goods but always relative to the acting individual and his potential choices. At the moment of choice, he confers value on an object by preferring it to other objects. An object can be valued either for its usefulness in directly achieving the acting individual’s end (as a consumer good), for aiding the production of consumer goods (as a producer good), or as a medium of exchange.
The key point is that value is a subjective notion and is only meaningful in a choice situation. Subjective value cannot be transmitted across time, and therefore there is no such thing as a “store of value” in a literal sense. A thing can of course be stored for later use, but its value cannot be stored in the same way that its physical integrity can be preserved. At any given time, however, subjective value plays the central role in the formation of market exchange rates, i.e., prices.
An exchange only ever takes place when the exchanging parties both prefer what the other has more than what they give up in return. In a monetary economy, most exchanges are between money and nonmoney goods and services, but the same principle of reverse preference rankings holds true: the seller of a good prefers the sum of money he receives to the good and the buyer prefers the good to the sum of money he must surrender for it.
In a society with consistently repeated exchanges, an integrated system of market prices is established. A thing’s market price is then the same as its market value. To call something a “store of value” is really a way to say that its market value is expected to remain the same or increase over time. The difference between money and other goods is that the market value of money cannot be expressed as a single price but must be expressed as a whole range of prices. This range of prices is the purchasing power of money. When we speak of money as a store of value, we really mean that we expect it to have a stable or increasing purchasing power with respect to all other goods.
A key argument of the “store of value” proponents is that money is the good that best served as a store of value and therefore gradually emerged as the most common medium of exchange. This idea has very little to do with Menger’s account of the origin of money. It is not the best store of value that emerges as money but the most marketable good.
The movement from direct to indirect exchange develops as market actors discover that goods differ in how widely demanded they are and begin to exchange their goods for more widely demanded—more marketable—goods instead of engaging in direct barter. A few goods gradually become dominant media of exchange based on the characteristics that make them useful for this purpose: high value per unit weight/volume, divisibility, durability, transportability. The precious metals were until the twentieth century used as money precisely because their qualities made them the most suitable commodities for the purpose.
Notice that there’s been no mention of money being a store of value in this discussion of Menger’s theory of money so far. In fact, he explicitly argued that it was wrong to attribute to money qua money the function of store of value:
But the notion that attributes to money as such the function of also transferring “values” from the present into the future must be designated as erroneous. Although metallic money, because of its durability and low cost of preservation, is doubtless suitable for this purpose also, it is nevertheless clear that other commodities are still better suited for it. Indeed, experience teaches that wherever less easily preserved goods rather than the precious metals have attained money-character, they ordinarily serve for purposes of circulation, but not for the preservation of “values.”
That the monetary metals are also good stores of value is only an accidental feature; it is not essential to their monetary function. Qualities that make a commodity a so-called store of value are likely to also make it a good medium of exchange. Thus, durability is important for any monetary commodity, and it is obviously essential for anything to be a “store of value” for any length of time.
In fact, as Mises explained, the function of store of value, insofar as it can be said to exist for a certain money commodity, is embedded in the commodity’s primary function as a medium of exchange: “Money is the thing which serves as the generally accepted and commonly used medium of exchange. This is its only function. All the other functions which people ascribe to money are merely particular aspects of its primary and sole function, that of a medium of exchange.”
We need not get into a deeper discussion of the demand for money—it is obvious, as Mises goes on to mention in the chapter just cited, that people keep a reserve of money, and that all money is always held by someone somewhere. This too, however, does not indicate that money necessarily serves as a “store of value.” As William H. Hutt explained in a classic article (later elaborated by Hans-Hermann Hoppe), money’s use in a person’s cash balance is as a reserve of purchasing power against unforeseen contingencies.
We keep cash on hand for emergencies or to avail ourselves of unforeseen profitable opportunities. But even bad money—i.e., money declining in purchasing power and which therefore cannot meaningfully be said to be a “store of value”—serves this purpose. Holding money simply means holding on to it until the day in the uncertain future when you expect you will be able to exchange it for something you value more.
Bitcoin enthusiasts who align with the Austrian school of Menger, Mises, and Rothbard err when they ascribe fundamental importance to the “store of value” function of money at the expense of the “medium of exchange” function, the latter of which is the only essential aspect of money. Likewise, downplaying the importance of active usage of cryptocurrency, which also entails increased business demand, in favor of a “HODL forever” mentality, goes against Mises’s recognition that “business usage alone can transform a commodity into a common medium of exchange.”
This is a huge volume which allows large devices to be tested and operated. This is another century of technical evolution.
It will be interesting to see what comes out of this.
IBM scientists cool down the world’s largest quantum-ready cryogenic concept system
Project Goldeneye pushes the limits of low-temperature refrigeration while laying the groundwork for the quantum industry’s ability to scale to larger experiments.
Pictured: Pat Gumann, IBM Research staff member, and Goldeneye technical lead, adjusts the bottom of the "super-fridge,” a dilution refrigerator larger than any commercially available today. (Credit: Connie Zhou for IBM.)
Project Goldeneye pushes the limits of low-temperature refrigeration while laying the groundwork for the quantum industry’s ability to scale to larger experiments.
We create knowledge by exploring reality’s frontiers: we study the coldest, the furthest, the lowest and highest energies, and the smallest things in the universe. But reaching these frontiers is no small feat — typically, it requires building all-new apparatuses that push the limits of modern technology. That’s why we built the world’s largest dilution refrigerator by experimental volume.
The super-fridge — internally known as project Goldeneye — is a proof-of-concept for a dilution refrigerator, capable of cooling future generations of quantum experiments. Today’s dilution refrigerators are limited in a number of ways: the size of the quantum physics experiments we can fit inside them; the number of input/output ports; their cooling power. Goldeneye may not be slated for use with any of the IBM Quantum processors we're developing today, but building it taught us important lessons on how to overcome these challenges.
Goldeneye is a testament to the fact that a small team of people armed with passion and dedication can move a seven-ton “mountain” of steel and electronics. The super-fridge contains 1.7 cubic meters’ worth of experimental volume, meaning it can cool a volume larger than three home kitchen refrigerators to temperatures colder than the outer space, versus previous fridges, which are in the range of 0.4-0.7 cubic meters.
These temperatures are required for performing state-of-the-art physics experiments and potentially running large quantum processors.
the super-fridge is a proof-of-concept for a dilution refrigerator capable of cooling future generations of quantum experiments.
Today, we’re excited to announce the culmination of Project Goldeneye’s mission: we successfully cooled it to operating temperature (~25 mK) and wired a quantum processor inside. Goldeneye will soon move to our IBM Quantum Computation Center in Poughkeepsie, NY, where the team will be exploring large scale cryogenic systems to best develop the cooling needs of tomorrow’s quantum data centers, such as the Bluefors Kide platform under development for use with IBM Quantum System Two. We hope that its innovative design, with an eye toward ease-of-use, will inspire the next generation of vacuum and low temperature refrigeration technologies.
How to build the world’s largest, coldest fridge
Studying and controlling quantum effects requires that we have access to the temperature regime where the effects are most visible — temperatures close to those at which there is zero energy, called 0 Kelvin (K) or absolute zero. Dilution refrigerators are experimental cryogenic devices that cool a space volume to the milli-Kelvin (mK) regime, using a mixture of two helium isotopes, called helium-3 (He-3) and helium-4 (He-4).
Dilution refrigerators perform this cooling by using a number of steps to remove heat from the helium isotope mixture, and then use vacuum pumps to circulate and dilute He-3 into the He-3/He-4 mixture until a target temperature is reached. Until recently, all dilution refrigerators were “wet” systems, requiring already-cold substances like liquid nitrogen and other cryogenic fluids to begin the cooling. Today’s fridges are more commonly “dry,” employing a mechanical component called a cryo-cooler to provide the initial 50 K and 4 K temperatures for pre-cooling the helium mixture.
These are advanced pieces of machinery, and thus challenging to scale. Project Goldeneye features an all-new construction of the frame and cryostat — the main, barrel-shaped component responsible for the cooling — to maximize experimental volume while reducing noise and achieving the temperatures required for cooling experimental quantum hardware. The design is modular, which made prototyping, assembly, and disassembly a much easier lift for just a team of four IBM engineers. Other large dilution refrigerators may require larger cranes and a dozen or more technicians for assembly and disassembly.
The cryostat also features a clamshell design, allowing the outer vacuum chamber to open sideways and eliminating the need to remove the entire external shell to access the hardware inside. Most dilution refrigerators in use today require a team of operators to function properly, but Goldeneye’s fully automated system includes a specially designed jib crane that could one day allow even a single person to run the fridge — which can be monitored remotely with the help of an open-source visualization platform.
L: Interior of Goldeneye experimental superfridge. R: IBM Quantum’s Goldeneye team.
The inside of the cryostat features the ability to install a set of 10 internal plates for mounting components in its top and bottom half: five “regular” units on top and five inverted units on the bottom. It can also hold up to six individual dilution refrigerator units, enabling close to ~10 mW at 100 mK cooling power, and over 24 W of cooling power at 4 K temperatures. Finally, the weight of the entire system — 6.7 metric tons — also helps dampen vibrations, reducing the need for other commonly used dampening techniques.
Most importantly, it works. After just three years from project inception to our recent 25 mK milestone, we were able to perform one final characterization exercise: we put a qubit chip inside.
This test demonstrated the performance of Goldeneye through the eyes of a qubit by measuring qubit frequencies and coherence times — how long they can retain quantum information. We were able to reproduce coherence times of around 450 microseconds, similar to those measured on other commercial dilution refrigeration systems. We did not observe a decrease in the qubit’s performance despite the different internal environment and much larger experimental volume.
And despite its size, Goldeneye is efficient. It requires less space than present-day, large-scale dilution refrigerators1 in order to accommodate an equivalent amount of quantum hardware. It would require 10 times the lab space to deploy equivalent hardware in today’s state-of-the-art fridges.
We don’t know if the fridges used to cool future quantum computers will actually be this large. IBM Quantum System Two, which we will deploy next year, will first be realized with Bluefors’ Kide cryogenic platform, a smaller, modular system that we anticipate will allow us to already connect multiple processors together Expanding the IBM Quantum roadmap to anticipate the future of quantum-centric supercomputing. Read more.through 2025. However, having access to Goldeneye allows us to consider many different ways of scaling up our quantum processors even beyond 2025, and will help us further conceptualize the cryogenic infrastructure of tomorrow's quantum data centers.
IBM Quantum System Two: Design Sneak Preview
Most importantly, every time we push a technological boundary, we learn something new. By simply constructing Goldeneye, our team has tested the limits of cryogenic science, while teaching us what kinds of large-scale quantum experiments may soon be feasible. The lessons learned from this project will likely go towards a future IBM Quantum System Three as we continue to chart the course of quantum for the world.
21 separate species so far and no end of hybridization all around. Quite a story for a critter that ultimately became truly global.
Recall that the Age of discovery never found an empty valley without a population until we hit the ice.
One other thing. Mankind is now engaged in a global hybridization that ultimately includes all of us. The five century long European expansion and the present ongoing migrations everywhere is naturally producing massive hybridization and thos hybrids strongly oppose any opposition.
The arrow of time is toward a pretty interesting human being retaining DNA from all over. Recall we all have two parents, four grandparent, eight great grandparents, sixteen great great grand parents and thirty two great, great, great grandparents. That is more than enough for less than two centuries to join a massive pool of DNA together.
It is also why minority populations are subsumed so easily and ultimately almost disappear.
Six recent discoveries that have changed how we think about human origins
Published: September 21, 2022 12.39pm EDT
Professor of the Archaeology of Human Origins, University of York
Penny Spikins received funding from The John Templeton Foundation, grant 59475, for the production of Hidden Depths: the origins of human connection (White Rose University Press).
Wax model of male Neanderthal head with long hair, headband and beard
Neanderthal adult male, based on 40,000 year-old remains found at Spy in Belgium. IR Stone/Shutterstock
Scientific study of human evolution historically reassured us of a comforting order to things. It has painted humans as as cleverer, more intellectual and caring than our ancestral predecessors.
From archaeological reconstructions of Neanderthals as stooped, hairy and brutish, to “cavemen” movies, our ancient ancestors got a bad press.
Over the last five years discoveries have upended this unbalanced view. In my recent book, Hidden Depths: The Origins of Human Connection, I argue that this matters for how we see ourselves today and so how we imagine our futures, as much as for our understanding of our past.
Six revelations stand out.
1. There are more human species than we ever imagined
Species such as Homo Longi have only been identified as recently as 2018. There are now 21 known species of human.
In the last few years we have realised that our Homo sapiens ancestors may have met as many as eight of these different types of human, from robust and stocky species including Neanderthals and their close relatives Denisovans, to the short (less than 5ft tall) and small-brained humans such as Homo naledi.
But Homo sapiens weren’t the inevitable evolutionary destination. Nor do they fit into any simple linear progression or ladder of progress. Homo naledi‘s brain may have been smaller than that of a chimpanzee but there is evidence they were culturally complex and mourned their dead.
Neanderthals created symbolic art but they weren’t the same as us. Neanderthals had many different biological adaptations, which may have included hibernation.
2. Hybrid humans are part of our history
Hybrid species of human, once seen by experts as science fiction, may have played a key role in our evolution. Evidence of the importance of hybrids comes from genetics. The trail is not only in the DNA of our own species (which often includes important genes inherited from Neanderthals) but also skeletons of hybrids.
One example is “Denny,” a girl with a Neanderthal mother and Denisovan father. Her bones were found in a cave in Siberia.
3. We got lucky
Our evolutionary past is messier than scientists used to think. Have you ever been troubled with backache? Or stared jealously after your dog as it lolloped across an uneven landscape?
That should have been enough to show you we are far from perfectly adapted. We have known for some time that evolution cobbles together solutions in response to an ecosystem which may already have changed. However, many of the changes in our human evolutionary lineage maybe the result of chance.
For example, where isolated populations have a characteristic, such as some aspect of their appearance, which doesn’t make much difference to their survival and this form continues to change in descendants. Features of Neanderthals’ faces (such as their pronounced brows) or body (including large rib cages) might have resulted simply from genetic drift.
Traditional ideas of a ladder of progress have been replaced by an understanding of a much greater complexity to our evolutionary past. Paleo River Copyright Charlotte Corden, illustrator, Author provided (no reuse)
Epigenetics, which is where genes are only activated in specific environments, complicate things too. Genes might predispose someone to depression or schizophrenia for example. Yet they may only develop the condition if triggered by things that happen to them.
4. Our fate is intertwined with nature
We may like to imagine ourselves as masters of the environment. But it is increasingly clear ecological changes moulded us.
The origins of our own species coincided with major shifts in climate as we became more distinct from other species at these points in time. All other species of human seem to have died out as a result of climate change.
Three major human species Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, and Homo neanderthalensis died out with major shifts in climate such as the Adams event. This was a temporary breakdown of Earth’s magnetic field 42,000 years ago, which coincided with the extinction of the Neanderthals.
5. Kindness is an evolutionary advantage
Research has uncovered new reasons to feel hopeful about future human societies. Scientists used to believe the violent parts of human nature gave us a leg up the evolution ladder.
But evidence has emerged of the caring side of human nature and its contribution to our success. Ancient skeletons show remarkable signs of survival from illness and injuries, which would have been difficult if not impossible without help.
The trail of human compassion extends back one and a half million years ago. Scientist have traced medical knowledge to at least the time of the Neanderthals.
Altruism has many important survival benefits. It enabled older community members to pass on important knowledge. And medical care kept skilled hunters alive.
6. We’re a sensitive species
Evolution made us more emotionally exposed than we like to imagine. Like domestic dogs, with whom we share many genetic adaptations, such as greater tolerance for outsiders, and sensitivity to social cues, human hypersociability has come with a price: emotional vulnerabilities.
We are more sensitive to how people around us feel, and more vulnerable to social influences, we’re more prone to emotional disorders, to loneliness and to depression than our predecessors. Our complex feelings may not always be pleasant to live with, but they are part of key transformations which created large, connected communities. Our emotions are essential to human collaborations.
A socialised wolf enjoying affectionate contact. Vilmos Vincze / Wikimedia Commons:, CC BY
This is a far less reassuring view of our place in the world than the one we had even five years ago. But seeing ourselves as selfish, rational and entitled to a privileged place in nature hasn’t worked out well. Just read the latest reports about the state of our planet.
If we accept that humans are not a pinnacle of progress, then we cannot just wait for things to turn out right. Our past suggests that our future won’t get better unless we do something about it.
Thursday, September 29, 2022
Our future will be about global forestration everywhere. There is also no need to be clumsy about it either. We just need to start and make it everyones priority.
We have the technology and soon enough the manpower and cheap energy that makes it all easy. We can start everywhere to prove it out, but can make ove the Sahara first..
Bad practise is to clear lands and use fuel needs to spread the damage. We can obviously do way better.
Improved Understanding of Deforestation
September 28, 2022 by Brian Wang
A new study in the A collaboration between many of the world’s leading deforestation experts finds that between 90 and 99 percent of all deforestation in the tropics is driven directly or indirectly by agriculture. Yet only half to two-thirds of this results in the expansion of active agricultural production on the deforested land.
The study provides a new synthesis of the complex connections between deforestation and agriculture, and what this means for current efforts to drive down forest loss.
This new result of 90-99% tropical deforestation from agriculture is higher than the old studies showing 80 percent.
The fact that agriculture is the main driver of tropical deforestation is not new. However, previous estimates of how much forest has been converted to agricultural land across the tropics varied widely – from 4.3 to 9.6 million hectares per year between 2011 and 2015. The study’s findings narrow down this range to 6.4 to 8.8 million hectares per year and helps explain the uncertainty in the numbers.
Several critical evidence gaps
The study highlights three critical gaps where a stronger evidence base is needed to better target efforts to reduce deforestation;
1. A globally and temporally consistent data product on deforestation is needed.
2. Except for oil palm and soy, we lack data on the coverage and expansion of specific commodities to know which are more important, with our understanding of global pasture and grazing lands being especially dire.
3. We know comparatively very little indeed about tropical dry forests, and forests in Africa.
Climate Change and Trees
There were once six trillion trees on the planet, now there are only three trillion and we’re still losing about ten billion trees per year. That leads to a changing climate, a shrinking habitat for wildlife, and harder lives for billions of people. The scale of the problem calls for radical action.
Mass tree planting efforts need to study when to plant trees, which trees to plant and studying how to support the trees.
Restoration and reforestation needs a long-term commitment of resources and many years of monitoring.
The work needs to be done in areas where the surrounding people will not just cut down the new trees for firewood.
Yogic practise gently stresses the whole body which we know produces physical response and thus better outcomes over the long term. Of course, if you are already wonderfuly healthy, it is likely that this will continue. so these observations may well be self fulfilling.
I do think that meditation is indicated as the path forward for an extended life and the posible access to the INNER SUN.
Otherwise we are still children inching forward.
Yoga's Age-Defying Effects Confirmed by Science
Posted on: Wednesday, September 21st 2022 at 3:30 pm
Written By: Sayer Ji, Founder
While yoga's longevity promoting effects have been the subject of legend for millennia, increasingly modern science is confirming this ancient technology for spiritual and physical well-being actually can slow aging and stimulate our regenerative potential.
Yoga has long been believed to be a life-extending practice, with yogis maintaining a level of strength and flexibility late into life far beyond what is considered normal or easily attainable in cultures that don't practice yoga or related mind-body integrating disciplines.
You can observe an example of yoga's age-defying properties below in the video of Swami Yogananda Maharaji Ji, which at the time of his filming was 104 years of age:
I've written before about the many evidence-based health benefits of yoga, based on the primary literature abstracts on our database featuring an impressive 75+ health benefits associated with yogic practice. But I have not yet explored the anti-aging, or better said, longevity-promoting properties of yoga per se, which considering the increasingly aged population in the US and many other developed nations abroad, is highly relevant to the health care concerns of today.
It turns out that 2014 was a watershed year in proving the amazing potential of this at least 5,000 year old practice in helping to decelerate and in some cases reverse various age-related declines in body wide health.
One particularly powerful study published last year in the journal Age titled, "Age-related changes in cardiovascular system, autonomic functions, and levels of BDNF of healthy active males: role of yogic practice", found that a brief yoga intervention (3 months) resulted in widespread improvements in cardiovascular and neurological function.
You can check out the details here:
Indian researchers studied healthy active males of three age groups (20-29, 30-39, and 40-49 years) by randomly assigning them to practice one hour of yoga daily for 3 months.
The observed significant differences between the younger and older participants in the study, specifically: "Significantly higher values of heart rate (HR), blood pressure (BP), load in heart (DoP), myocardial oxygen consumption (RPP), and total cholesterol (TC) were noted in senior age group." The yogic practice resulted in significant reductions in all of these parameters (HR, BP, DoP, RPP and TC).
Also observed in the older participants were decreases in high frequency (HF), total power (TP), all time domain variables of heart rate variability (HRV), and skin conductance (SC) -- all of which increased following yogic practice.
Higher levels of catecholamines ("stress hormones") and low frequency (LF) power of HRV were noted in advancement of age, both of which decreased following yogic practice.
Additionally, the senior age group had highest levels of cortisol and adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), both of which decreased following yogic practice.
Finally, brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), serotonin, and dopamine were low in higher age group, but these increased following yogic practice; an indication of improved brain function and cognition.
The researchers concluded: 'This study revealed that yogic practices might help in the prevention of age-related degeneration by changing cardiometabolic risk factors, autonomic function, and BDNF in healthy male."
This study, however, is not the first to show improvements in age-related physiological declines.
World's oldest yoga teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch at 93
A Plethora of Health Benefits For Age-Related Ailments Through Yoga Practice
There are a number of promising studies revealing the age-defying potential of this ancient practice. Here are some additional benefits confirmed in 2014 alone:Age-Related Respiratory Problems: A 2014 study from the journal of Human Kinetics titled, "Do 12-week yoga program influence respiratory function of elderly women?", found that a 3 month yoga intervention in 36 elderly women (average age 63.1) significantly improved pulmonary (respiratory) function.
Age-Related Brain Cognitive Decline: A 2014 review in the Journals of Gerontology titled "The effects of an 8-week Hatha yoga intervention on executive function in older adults", involving a two month Hatha yoga intervention in the elderly (average age 62.0) resulted in significant improvements in "executive function measures of working memory capacity and efficiency of mental set shifting and flexibility compared with their stretching-strengthening counterparts."
Age-Related Hormone Insufficiency: A 2014 study published in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine titled "Effect of regular yogic training on growth hormone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate as an endocrine marker of aging," found that a 3 month yogic intervention in men (average age 42.8) and women (average age 44.75) resulted in improvements in the level of growth hormone and DHEAS, two essential hormones that drop off precipitously as we age.
Age-Related Sleep Problems: A 2014 study published in Alternatives Therapies in Health and Medicine titled, "Yoga for improving sleep quality and quality of life for older adults", found a 12 week yogic intervention (yoga 2x a week) resulted in significant improvements in the quality of sleep in older individuals (average age 60).
Age-Related Depression: A 2014 from the Chinese Journal of Nursing titled, "Systematic review of yoga for depression and quality of sleep in the elderly," found that not only did yoga improve sleep as found in the study above but also significantly reduced the depressive symptoms of elderly participants...after 6 months. "
This is just a small sampling of the literature. There is older research revealing that yoga has even more benefits for aging populations. We encourage our readers to go straight to the source itself: pubmed.gov and do some researching.
That said, yoga isn't really about research, its about directly experiencing it and engaging in regular practice. We hope this article encourages those unfamiliar with the practice to give it a try and to reassure those who are already regular practitioners that they are indeed validated in their yoga efforts and experiences. f
Understand that this is all business as usual for the entire big pharma industry and doctors are led into it all quick enough.
It obviously needs to be lucretive for the doctors and likely a lot of it stays off the books allowing the doctors to get tax free noney which is seriously attractive when your visible revenue is taxed and otherwise abused.
Walking home with a pocket full of large bills makes for a really nice day.
Drug giant Biogen agrees to pay $900million to settle allegation it BRIBED doctors to prescribe multiple sclerosis medicationBiogen allegedly paid prescribers kickbacks to dole out its drugs to treat MS
A whistleblower said the company sent false payment claims to the government
Multiple sclerosis does not have a cure but there are several treatments available
PUBLISHED: 12:24 EDT,
27 September 2022
Scandal-hit drug giant Biogen will pay nearly $900 million to settle allegations that it bribed doctors to prescribe its multiple sclerosis drugs.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm — which turned over $1billion profit last year — was charged with offering pricey kickbacks to medics who doled out Avonex, Tysabri and Tecfidera between 2009 and 2014.
Biogen was accused of giving medics lavish meals, speaking fees, and sham consulting deals in exchange for the prescriptions
The scheme resulted in false payment claims to the federal healthcare program that covers seniors as well as Medicaid, which covers the very poor and disabled.
The bribery charges were raised by former employee Michael Bawduniak, who argued Biogen violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act.
He will receive about $250million for his role in bringing the allegations to light.
The Cambridge-based biotech company agreed to pay $900M to settle claims it bribed doctors to overprescribe its drugs for multiple sclerosis.
Biogen's Avonex is an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat MS.
‘The settlement announced today underscores the critical role that whistleblowers play in complementing the United States’ use of the False Claims Act to combat fraud affecting federal health care programs,’ said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.
Biogen will also be compelled to pay the federal government $844,000 in addition to $56m to 15 states that joined the lawsuit.
MS is a severe disease in which the body's own immune system attacks the central nervous system.
It occurs when the immune system attacks myelin sheathing surrounding health nerve cells.
The immune system's attack on the CNS results in nerve damage that disrupts communication between the brain and the body.
MS can cause myriad symptoms such as fatigue, blurred vision or loss of vision, weakness, and numbness.
‘We thank Mr Bawduniak for uncovering this behavior and bringing it to light,’ said US Attorney Rachael S. Rollins for the District of Massachusetts.
‘This matter is an important example of the vital role that whistleblowers and their attorneys can play in protecting our nation’s public health care programs,’ Rollins added.
Multiple sclerosis is a serious disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks the central nervous system, having deleterious effects on the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord.
The resulting nerve damage disrupts communication between the brain and the body and can result in permanent disability.
There is no cure for MS though there are several available treatments.
Monday’s settlement is the latest setback for Biogen, which suffered a considerable blow last winter when Medicare, a program with around 65 million enrollees, announced it would cover the cost of a costly Alzheimer’s drug in very limited circumstances.
The monthly intravenous drug Aduhelm was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June 2021 against the counsel of 10 out of 11 of the FDA’s panel of independent experts who argued that scant evidence that the treatment works to slow cognitive decline did not outweigh the health risks.
The drug was expected to be out of reach for many patients due to its staggering price tag.
Biogen initially priced the drug at $56,000 for a year’s supply but halved that price amid outrage over the cost and its implications for increased Medicare premiums overall.
Biogen did not admit wrongdoing in the case that was settled this week, maintaining that ‘its intent and conduct was at all times lawful and appropriate and Biogen denies all allegations raised in this case.’
Understand what she is saying is naturally understood by all humanity across its normal distribution. that is also why Trump actually landed around 80 % of the real vote and why we are presently been governed under a different arrangement.
The so called NWO is a CCP - NAZI combine infiltrating global governance and with which there is an undeclared WAR. They and their running DOGs presently dominate the news through the MSM. Their PLANDEMIC is designed to slaughter around 5,000,000,000 fellow citizens of the globe. The combine is a deep minority movement focused about the so called New World Order. (NWO).
Before this will all be over, they will all be hunted down, banded and demoted to farm labor.
I retain faith in the final outcome which will see the global emergence of the TRUE CHURCH ruled by the RULE of TWELVE and the total cessation of global poverty.
Giorgia Meloni, Italy: “without roots and an identity you are a slave …. The perfect consumer”
A moment of hope in Civilization. Some elections appear to produce a result the unelected EU powerbase is not happy with. The speech trending on Twitter today after the historic win by the ultra far right fascist extremist who is practically Mussolini’s granddaughter (so they want you think, in echo’s). As an insight into the new PM of Italy, and also into the “free media” that portrays her as a danger to democracy, listen to her words.
Giorgia Meloni’s speech at the World Congress of Families 2018
I believe the state should incentivize the natural family based on marriage…
every choice has consequences and you accept responsibility for them…
I reject a society where every desire becomes a right.
On parents being the ones who know whats best for their child but only when it comes time to turn off the life support:
Why is the winner always the one who wants to disconnect the plug? Why is the winner always death?
Why do we spend all our time fighting all types of discrimination but we pretend not to see the greatest ongoing persecution, the genocide of the world’s Christians. Why?
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The last 2 minutes of the speech is multiplying across Twitter today:
Why is the enemy the family?
Why is the family so frightening?
There is a single answer to all these questions. Because it defines us. Because it is our identity. Because everything that defines us is now an enemy for those who would like us to no longer have an identity, and to simply be the perfect consumer slaves. And so they attack national identity, they attack religious identity, they attack gender identity, they attack family identity. I can’t define myself as Italian, Christian, women, mother, No. I must be citizen x, parent 1, parent 2. I must be a number. Because when I am only a number, when I no longer have an identity or roots, then I will be the perfect slave at the mercy of financial speculators. The perfect consumer.
Through evolution we know the incentive for parents to look after offspring is woven right through our genes. No other individuals have a greater natural vested interest in the welfare of children. Scientifically then, it follows that civilizations based on families will be most likely to succeed. Yet to say the banal and obvious is a threat to the power of the Big-State.
Meloni is of course a hero of feminists a neo-fascist now:
The media cartel repeat the new message of hate. Has the pre-programmed, non-independent nature of “the Free Press” ever been more obvious? “God, homeland, Country” is not just an obvious slogan, but code for Mussolini.
Like a Mafia threat: the unelected bureaucrats try to intimidate the Italian voters before the election: “we have tools”.
Just in case anyone missed the casual mob threat issued a few days ago.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen issues threat just before elections in Italy, warning that if conservative parties win, such as has been seen in Hungary and Poland, then the EU has “tools” for dealing with them. Currently, the EU is looking to cut €7.5 billion in funding for Hungary and is blocking EU Recovery Funds from both Hungary and Poland.
Science too has become a consumer slave
It seems a long way from a science debate. But science — the human industry, lives within the milieu of civilization. Instead of a search for truth, like the individual consumer slaves Giorgia Meloni refers to, science itself has become a consumer slave to the cartels of power. Only a few days ago we were talking about the $130 trillion dollar cartel of Big Bankers and Biggest Government, an unholy alliance accountable to almost no one. Theoretically those assets colluding to punish legal energy corporations are worth five times more than the entire GDP of the USA. Who runs the world? The EU and UN are unelected bureaucrats, clearly acting with impunity against voters. But the big financial institutions still depend on state protection of their monopolies. That’s why the antitrust laws being used by US State governments are so important. Elections matter (especially ones done with voter ID like in Italy).
Obviously the power of Big-Government, like the EU, or the UN grows if the power of nation-states and families shrink and it’s threatened by free speech and real science.
h/t Scott of the Pacific, OldOzzie, TdeF, David Maddison, Johnny Rotten
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Atheist Oncologist Returns to Faith While Treating Cancer Patients: Science Proves the Existence of Higher Power
This is new. On the moment of death we see the actual soul looking back. Talk about exceptional and repeatable proof.
Once again we are describing what is a physical impossibility similar to my observation of the INNER SUN when I was meditating.
The observers had zero doubt that they were looking at the soul. Better yet it was the whole spirit body making its existence obvious as it got ready to leave the 3D physical body behind.. Yet we expected this was plausible already and now we have a clear observation..
Atheist Oncologist Returns to Faith While Treating Cancer Patients: Science Proves the Existence of Higher Power
Dr. Stephen Iacoboni, oncologist, co-founder of St. Mary's Regional Cancer Center in Walla Walla Washington, and co-director of the Kennewick General Hospital Hematology-Oncology Program (Courtesy of Dr. Iacoboni)
Dr. Stephen Iacoboni is part of the baby boomer generation. Born in 1952, he came of age during the 1960s when the country was flushed in the bubble of the ideal American Dream.
“I was raised as a Roman Catholic, and I was very faithful,” said Iacoboni, “but there are some inherent contradictions with Christianity, and when you’re young and idealistic, you don’t understand that humans are imperfect, and so you blame them for things that are just part of being a frail human with faults.”
Iacoboni’s disillusionment came in the early ’70s, when the societal problems festering in America’s inner cities rose to the surface with civil rights protests and anti-war movements against the Vietnam War.
Anti-war demonstrators, wearing black armbands, fill the steps of the United States Capitol Building and hold hands on the day of the National Moratorium in Washington DC, to protest against the continuing war in Vietnam, on Oct. 15, 1969. (AFP/Getty Images)
“I was raised to be patriotic and believed that everyone was equal; I became a young adult and [realized that] people of color don’t have the same rights and [we’re] slaughtering innocent people in Southeast Asia [in the Vietnam War],” Iacoboni told The Epoch Times during a phone call.
The United States withdrew from Vietnam once the casualties were too much for the country to bear.
In the aftermath of the lost war, Christians, who mostly held conservative views were blamed for the anti-communist policies that led to the United States’s eight-year intervention in the Vietnam War that led to mounting casualties, traumatized veterans, and stories of brutal killings Vietnam civilians by the U.S. military.
While Christians faced attack in the public forum for pushing the war agenda, modern science was spouting exciting new discoveries, framed in narratives that denied the existence of a higher being.
“Science of the ’60s and ’70s had come out and said, ‘well, we have solved the riddle of life: the riddle of life is divisible to biochemistry, that everything that you do, every thought that you have, every emotion that you have, is based on the DNA and you’re just a chemical machine.’”
From the late ’50s to ’70s, discoveries in DNA molecular biology exploded.
In 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick found that the DNA’s structure was a double helical structure. Jérôme Lejeune demonstrated in 1959 that diseases are genetic with a study showing that Down syndrome is attributed to being born with an extra chromosome 21 in every cell.
By 1965, the first transfer RNA (tRNA) was sequenced and it was discovered that RNA sequences in sets of three corresponded to specific amino acid that link together to form proteins.
“I was a chemist at the time and … I was young and well educated and stupid, meaning I wasn’t wise. I wasn’t able to see the fallacy in that argument, and the argument went all the way to saying that there is no reason to believe in the God of Abraham.”
Dr. Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins, 46, of Greenwich, England, stands with a model of a DNA molecule during a news conference in the New York office of the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research on Oct. 18, 1962. (AP Photo/Anthony Camerano)
Iacoboni was given a book in medical school that shaped his younger years and influenced many medical students of that time. The book was “Chance and Necessity,” written by biochemist Jacques Monod, a Nobel laureate and an atheist.
Monod shared the award with François Jacob and André Lwoff in 1968. The three of them proved that information carried in the DNA is translated into proteins by means of a messenger, which we now know as messenger RNA (mRNA).
They also showed, using lac operon (required for the transport and metabolism of lactose) from Escherichia coli, that whether the actions of enzymes (proteins which speed up chemical reactions) were activated or suppressed was self-regulated by the DNA.
Monod used this finding to solidify his argument that biomolecular actions are controlled solely by our DNA and, therefore, there was no higher entity.
Despite the debunking of his argument over 30 years later by another atheist scientist with the discovery of epigenetics, Monod’s argument against the existence of God persisted, and the legacy of despair he left for man remained.
“The ancient covenant is in pieces,” Monod wrote, “man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below; it is for him to choose.”
As an impressionable young adult at the time, Iacoboni took Monod’s arguments as fact. Disillusioned about the world, the anti-religion narrative from both politics and science made sense to him.
“Because ‘Christians are hypocrites,” said Iacoboni, “their religion is based on a fairy tale about something that happened a long time ago, and now we have proof in science that there is no God.’”
For Iacoboni at the time, it was easy and probably more comfortable letting go of God than believing in something the respected seniors in sciences were wholeheartedly denying.
“When you’re 20 years old, it’s not that hard to let go of God because believing in God requires certain constraints.”
“[The ’70s was] the time of free love. There was birth control … Everyone was looking for change.”
However, Iacoboni would soon find that his departure from faith in his early 20s would end up requiring a long and emotional road back to where it all began.
Coming Back to Faith by Treating Cancer Patients
“In the first decade of the 21st Century, somewhere around 2000 to 2010, I very slowly came around [and returned to faith].”
Iacoboni’s book “The Undying Soul,” published in 2010, told of his emotional journey back to faith as he treated cancer patients, documenting his very first patients while he was still a fellow, to when he became a practicing specializing oncologist.
Iacoboni practiced his fellowship in MD Anderson, which remains to this day, a world-renowned university-based teaching hospital, and one of the premier cancer research facilities in the world.
“I belonged at Anderson—philosophically, I mean. As a young, atheist intellectual, fresh out of med school and full of hubris, I chose oncology because I wanted to prove that science and logic could triumph over anything—even cancer,” Iacoboni wrote in his book.
MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, on Oct. 1, 2018. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
However, he would soon realize, starting with the very first patient he treated at Anderson, that more often than not, modern science could not stop the cancer from leaching away his patients’ lives.
Even worse, Iacoboni soon realized that while treating patients was the hard part, what he was confronted with and ill-prepared for was that his patients wanted an emotional healer and guide; they wanted him to help them face their deaths.
“Being an atheist, of course, I had no answers.”
“[As the] atheist doctor dealing with patients who are largely agnostic, the dying is very hard on everybody,” Iacoboni said, “my patients who would not allow themselves to have faith were very, very tormented on their deathbed.”
This reality agonized Iacoboni. He knew something was missing and in the middle of his career began searching for answers to help his patients on the emotional journey.
Things started changing for him once he started practicing in a small rural town, a place where almost all of his patients belonged to a faith.
The first patient who led him on his journey back to faith was a man from Ukraine named Pavel. Pavel was a simple farmer. He tended the livestock and crops near the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine. When the Chernobyl disaster happened in 1986, the radiation turned his tomatoes yellow, green beans red, and his wheat shriveled up.
Yet Pavel’s wife and the other women ground the grains into flour for bread and they ate the strangely colored vegetables. Pavel and his family had no choice. They either ate what they planted, or they starved.
It was therefore not surprising that Pavel developed radiation-induced leukemia from the contaminated food he ate.
Pavel’s local hospital in Ukraine was ill-equipped to treat his cancer, but he had Russian relatives in Washington. After telling his story at their church, the church passed it to the state and their congressman, who was Tom Foley—at the time the Speaker of the House. Foley secured compassionate dispensation and a passport for Pavel and he was then flown into Washington for treatment.
Iacoboni was Pavel’s doctor, and though his family could provide no money for his treatment, knowing all of the sacrifices made to bring the man to his office, Iacoboni was determined to do all that he could to help Pavel.
However, Pavel was already in the advanced stages and would soon be on borrowed time. His first blood test showed that he was severely anemic with his red blood cell volume at 10 percent with the normal range 38-45 percent.
Yet, upon meeting the man, Iacoboni was taken aback by how happy the man was with no obvious sign of illness.
At their meeting in the hospital room, Pavel jumped out of bed and shook Iacoboni’s hand so hard that he could feel the calluses on his palm.
As Iacoboni recalled in his book:
“And then, slowly and ceremoniously, he bowed his head.
“I found myself taken aback by such formal deference. I assured him by word—and then, discovering he spoke almost no English at all, by body language—that no bows were necessary.
“Pavel smiled slightly, offering me an expression that spoke as clearly and plainly as possible: this isn’t about what’s formal or necessary, it’s about appreciation…
“And, in a word, grace.”
Iacoboni put Pavel on blood transfusions for the anemia and then started chemotherapy. Pavel achieved remission, but only for 9 months as the drugs slowly lost effectiveness.
Soon the leukemia took over and spread all over his body. Pavel’s spleen grew from the normal size of a potato to a watermelon.
Pavel was dying.
However, throughout the 9 months Iacoboni treated Pavel, he was amazed to find that not only was Pavel not anxious about death, he was anticipating death with eagerness and wonder.
Pavel was a Christian, like the many people in the town. Iacoboni has treated many Christians who, in their death, found no comfort in their faith. Pavel’s faith, however, served him very well.
“Unable to speak to me in words, he communicated through the light in his eyes, his easy smile, and his contented attitude. He interacted with everyone this way, not just me.”
On his own spiritual journey and while looking for answers, Iacoboni was drawn to Pavel’s grace and strength. Iacoboni knew his optimism and smiles were not a façade. Cancer strips away all kinds of veneers, and he has seen all sorts of patients.
Even as the damage from leukemia became obvious, Pavel remained gracious and did not complain of the pain he was in. While many patients may put up a brave front and act stronger and healthier in the clinic to have Iacoboni support them in their denial of death, Pavel did not.
“His optimism never felt forced in any way. When his dying body sagged, and his energy began to ebb, he didn’t fight it. He just let it happen,” he wrote in his book.
Eventually, the final days came for Pavel and Iacoboni had to hospitalize him. Even on his deathbed, Iacoboni was amazed to find that Pavel was smiling, comforting his friends and relatives.
It was hard for Iacoboni to communicate with Pavel, given their language barrier, so he stayed with Pavel through the final three or four hours by the bedside trying to understand this small simple man so full of grace and strength.
“During that vigil I observed for the very first time in my career the rare and overwhelming beauty of a spiritually contented death,” he wrote.
Contrary to all the patients Iacoboni had treated during the past 15 years, Pavel chose to die naturally without sedatives.
This allowed Iacoboni to stay emotionally connected to Pavel to the end. Pavel kept his eyes open, and Iacoboni watched him intently.
Then in the final minutes, Pavel’s gaze changed, it looked “unwordly”—a look of serenity and selflessness Iacoboni had never seen before.
At first Iacoboni thought that Pavel was becoming comatose, but his pulse was going strong and breathing unlabored.
Then Pavel’s “unwordly” expression changed slightly, and just enough to startle Iacoboni with the conviction that he was being watched by another sentient entity.
“Someone other than Pavel the man—his ego or his persona. But who…or what…could it be?” Iacoboni asked in his book.
The truth seemed to be leaping out at him, yet it was difficult for him to accept it.
Iacobini stared and held his breath. He did not know how long it took him before he relaxed and finally admitted. He wrote:
“Yes my friend, I see…’it’…”
“…I see your soul.”
“In that moment of epiphany, of recognition and actualization…Pavel let go. His eyes closed, his breathing stopped and the room fell still.”
That night, Iacoboni learnt with conviction an answer to the question that was haunting him after each death of his patients.
“Never again would I wonder if there was something more.”“The Undying Soul” by Stephen Iacononi. (Courtesy of Dr. Iacoboni)
Pavel was the first, important piece in Iacoboni’s journey back to faith.
“Now when I tell patients that they’re going to die I no longer think I’m sending them to hell. I’m just explaining to them the natural process of the world we live in, and we need to flow with it and face death itself,” said Iacoboni.
Telos: How Science Proves the Existence of a Designer
In 2010 Iacoboni began working his book “TELOS: The Scientific Basis for a Life of Purpose.” The book was finally published in 2022.
He expected if he had spent all his time writing the book, “Telos” would have taken him 6 months, but as a practicing oncologist, it took him 10 years.
While Iacoboni returned to faith emotionally—as documented in “The Undying Soul”—he was also researching intellectually, trying to understand why what he was taught was in complete opposition to what he was experiencing.
He soon found that the science he had a firm belief in was flawed and missing key evidence for its theories, even though the theories are touted as fact.
Throughout the book, he follows the theories of life from various great philosophers and scientists including Aristotle, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and many more until the readers come to an understanding of the present day.
Pioneers of modern science, including Monod and Bertrand Russell, all argued that life was accidental and that humans were alone in the world with no higher entity.
“Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; his origin, his hopes, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental co-location of atoms,” wrote Russell.
Though these arguments made believers of their doctrine feel liberated, it also led them to the “unyielding despair” Russell faced, just as many of Iacoboni’s early patients experienced.
For, if their bodies and lives were accidental happenings, it eliminated their sense of purpose, the point of living.
“The infamous atheist Bertrand Russell said in a similar tone at a young age, ‘I considered suicide, which I would have done, but for the fact that I found mathematics to be so very interesting,'” Iacoboni wrote.
Contrary to what he was taught, Iacoboni observed nature and noticed life to be brimming with purpose and intention.
It was full of telos, meaning end or an ultimate purpose.“Telos: The Scientific Basis for a Life of Purpose.” (Courtesy of Dr. Iacoboni)
“The best example of this [purpose-driven life] in the world is the emperor penguins. They walk 60 miles on ice to get food and they fill up their stomachs and they walk 60 miles back and regurgitate the food for the chick,” said Iacoboni.
“Why do they do that? Why doesn’t this penguin say I’m not walking 60 miles to feed some stupid chick. I’m just gonna fill myself up and then I’m gonna relax, they don’t do that.”
Not only do emperor penguins endure this physical labor to breed their young, Iacoboni’s book also showed that they have an innate understanding of thermodynamics in incubation:
“Emperor penguins, which huddle together in an Antarctic blizzard, each one rotating in their turn from the center to the other rim of the circle and back again, sharing the cold and shielding each other in the most hostile environment on earth. Nobody trained the penguin to perform this complex maneuver or explained to them that by cooperating in this way, they would be better able to survive than if they just went it alone. The indwelling knowledge to act with such purpose was already inside them, inherent in their behavior.”
Their inherent drive to rear their young significantly surpasses their natural desire to survive. This understanding of their own physique, and how they should function came completely innate to them.Emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) in Antarctica. (National Science Foundation)
Iacoboni gave many examples of these innate drives in his book. He observed how newborn giraffes within 10 minutes of birth stand up on their feet and suckle from their mother, performing a task innate to themselves.
Where did this innate understanding come from?
Iacoboni argued that it was “designed” into the organism.
When we design something, we imbue it with a specific purpose and intention, and seeing that life is filled with a natural drive that surpasses survival alone, Iacoboni argued that there must be a higher designer, regardless of whether we can see this individual or not.
“If you walk down the beach … and you find a sandcastle and nobody is around. You would have to ask yourself the question, what is this thing doing here? Did the sand, the wind, and the water make this thing? Self organized with blind forces? Or did someone with a designing intellect put it together?” asked Iacoboni.
“Those are the only two possibilities right? And I don’t think there’s hardly anybody who’s not impaired, who would say ‘the sand and the wind built a sandcastle.’ They would say ‘no, some dad and his kids built a sandcastle, they played and they went home.’”
That is the same mindset Iacoboni established in the way he looks at life. Though we may not see the dad and the children building the sandcastle, we see the intellect and design in the temporary sandy construction, and in living beings, Iacoboni can see the design and intelligence too.
Sharks have a structure called the Ampullae of Lorizini that no other animals have. It is a unique network of mucus-filled pores across its front and sides that allow the shark to catch prey. Most sharks have a very poor sense of sight, and they cannot swim that fast either, so what it wants is to be able to catch a prey in distress. That’s what its ampullae does; it can detect turbulence at a distance.
One may, like Charles Darwin, argue that it arose out of evolution, meaning that sharks once did not have ampullae but then gained it through mutation (random change in the DNA).
That may sound great in theory, but reality often tells a different story.
“The problem is if you have random mutations you don’t go anywhere constructively. Everything is destructive,” said Iacoboni, “In medical fields, we know what mutations do, they kill you.”
In humans, mutations are the basis of genetically inherited diseases and cancer. Apart from creating drug-resistant bacteria and viruses, most mutations for animals and plants lead to disease.
Further, sharks have 16,000 billion pairs of DNA, so it is also a question of chance to not only have the mutations useful, but also that there must be combinations of mutations in the appropriate area, given that the other mutations elsewhere do not kill the shark first.
Even in the hypothetical scenario that the ampullae did come from mutations, it raises the question of survival for the shark without an ampullae, with poor eyesight and an average ability to swim. How would it have survived over many generations to gain the ampullae?
If the shark had good eyesight and could catch prey without the ampullae, then the sharks that are living now should be both keen in sight and with ampullae, having the sharks gradually lose their eyesight contradicts the theory of survival of the fittest where the one with the most beneficial traits survive and pass on their traits.
Therefore, Iacoboni argued that the other plausible reason is that it was all designed, with all the functions and purpose naturally fused into the final model of life.
“Organisms are about organization,” Iacoboni wrote, even the very etymology of the word organism is rooted in order, and design.Like a whirl of shiny flakes sparkling in a snow globe, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope catches an instantaneous glimpse of many hundreds of thousands of stars moving about in the globular cluster M13, one of the brightest and best-known globular clusters in the northern sky. This glittering metropolis of stars is easily found in the winter sky in the constellation Hercules and can even be glimpsed with the unaided eye under dark skies. M13 is home to over 100 000 stars and located at a distance of 25 000 light-years. (NASA)
A ‘Call to Arms’
TELOS is a “call to arms,” said Iacoboni. It is not simply an exercise, nor a read, but rather the recognition that a higher creator exists. Faithless individuals are doomed to the same misery and chaos experienced by Monod, Russell, and other atheist scientists cited in his book.
“I’m not interested in naming God, I’m not a theologian,” Iacoboni said.
“I only want you to believe in a supreme designer and understand that there’s a greater purpose that permeates life and that you need to get in touch with if you want to have a life worth living.”