The Body Psychic

Our Biology Responds To Events Before They Even Happen

by:    CE Staff Writer
In Brief

  • The Facts:Multiple experiments have shown strong evidence for precognition in several different ways. One of them comes in the form of activity within the heart and the brain responding to events before they even happen.
  • Reflect On:Do we have extra human capacities we are unaware of? Perhaps we can learn them, develop them, and use them for good. Perhaps when the human race is ready, we will start learning more.

Is precognition real? There are many examples suggesting that yes, it is. The remote viewing program conducted by the CIA in conjunction with Stanford University was a good example of that.  After its declassification in 1995, or at least partial declassification, the Department of Defense and those involved revealed an exceptionally high success rate:

To summarize, over the years, the back-and-forth criticism of protocols, refinement of methods, and successful replication of this type of remote viewing in independent laboratories has yielded considerable scientific evidence for the reality of the (remote viewing) phenomenon. Adding to the strength of these results was the discovery that a growing number of individuals could be found to demonstrate high-quality remote viewing, often to their own surprise… The development of this capability at SRI has evolved to the point where visiting CIA personnel with no previous exposure to such concepts have performed well under controlled laboratory conditions. (source)

The kicker? Part of remote viewing involves peering into future events as well as events that happened in the past.

It’s not only within the Department of Defense that we find this stuff, but a lot of science is emerging on this subject as well.

For example, a study (meta analysis) published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience titled “Predicting the unpredictable: critical analysis and practical implications of predictive anticipatory activity” examined a number of experiments regarding this phenomenon that were conducted by several different laboratories. These experiments indicate that the human body can actually detect randomly delivered stimuli that occur 1-10 seconds in advance. In other words, the human body seems to know of an event and reacts to the event before it has occurred. What occurs in the human body before these events are physiological changes that are measured regarding the cardiopulmonary, the skin, and the nervous system.

A few years ago, the chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Dr. Dean Radin, visited the scientists over at HearthMath Institute and shared the results of one of his studies. Radin is also one of multiple scientists who authored the paper above. These studies, as mentioned above, tracked the autonomic nervous system, physiological changes, etc.

Scientists at HeartMath Institute (HMI) added more protocols, which included measuring participants’ brain waves (EEG), their hearts’ electrical activity (ECG), and their heart rate variability (HRV).

As HMI explains:

Twenty-six adults experienced in using HeartMath techniques and who could sustain a heart-coherent state completed two rounds of study protocols approximately two weeks apart. Half of the participants completed the protocols after they intentionally achieved a heart-coherent state for 10 minutes. The other half completed the same procedures without first achieving heart coherence. Then they reversed the process for the second round of monitoring, with the first group not becoming heart-coherent before completing the protocols and the second group becoming heart-coherent before. The point was to test whether heart coherence affected the results of the experiment.

Participants were told the study’s purpose was to test stress reactions and were unaware of its actual purpose. (This practice meets institutional-review-board standards.) Each participant sat at a computer and was instructed to click a mouse when ready to begin.

The screen stayed blank for six seconds. The participant’s physiological data was recorded by a special software program, and then, one by one, a series of 45 pictures was displayed on the screen. Each picture, displayed for 3 seconds, evoked either a strong emotional reaction or a calm state. After each picture, the screen went blank for 10 seconds. Participants repeated this process for all 45 pictures, 30 of which were known to evoke a calm response and 15 a strong emotional response.

The Results

The results of the experiment were fascinating to say the least. The participants’ brains and hearts responded to information about the emotional quality of the pictures before the computer flashed them (random selection). This means that the heart and brain were both responding to future events. The results indicated that the responses happened, on average, 4.8 seconds before the computer selected the pictures.

How mind-altering is that?

Even more profound, perhaps, was data showing the heart received information before the brain. “It is first registered from the heart,” Rollin McCraty Ph.D. explained, “then up to the brain (emotional and pre-frontal cortex), where we can logically relate what we are intuiting, then finally down to the gut (or where something stirs).”

Another significant study (meta-analysis) that was published in Journal of Parapsychology by Charles Honorton and Diane C. Ferrari in 1989 examined a number of studies that were published between 1935 and 1987. The studies involved individuals’ attempts to predict “the identity of target stimuli selected randomly over intervals ranging from several hundred million seconds to one year following the individuals responses.” These authors investigated over 300 studies conducted by over 60 authors, using approximately 2 million individual trials by more than 50,000 people. (source)

It concluded that their analysis of precognition experiments “confirms the existence of a small but highly significant precognition effect. The effect appears to be repeatable; significant outcomes are reported by 40 investigators using a variety of methodological paradigms and subject populations. The precognition effect is not merely an unexplained departure from a theoretical chance baseline, but rather is an effect that covaries with factors known to influence more familiar aspects of human performance.” (source)

The Takeaway

“There seems to be a deep concern that the whole field will be tarnished by studying a phenomenon that is tainted by its association with superstition, spiritualism and magic. Protecting against this possibility sometimes seems more important than encouraging scientific exploration or protecting academic freedom. But this may be changing.”
 Cassandra Vieten, PhD and President/CEO at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (source)

We are living in a day and age where new information and evidence are constantly emerging, challenging what we once thought was real or what we think we know about ourselves as human beings.  It’s best to keep an open mind. Perhaps there are aspects of ourselves and our consciousness that have yet to be discovered. Perhaps if we learn and grow from these studies, they can help us better ourselves and others.


THe Intelligence of Plants

Plants Are Far More Intelligent Than We Ever Assumed

Like higher organisms, plants appear able to make complex decisions. A new study shows that plants may be able to initiate a survival mechanism by aborting their own seeds to prevent parasite infestation.

Plants have previously been shown to draw alternative sources of energy from other plants. Plants influence each other in many ways and they communicate through “nanomechanical oscillations” vibrations on the tiniest atomic or molecular scale or as close as you can get to telepathic communication.

Plants exhibit intelligence with an intrinsic ability to process information from several type of stimuli that allows optimal decisions about future activities in a given environment.

Stefano Mancuso from the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology at the University of Florence, Italy, and his colleagues are starting to apply rigorous standards to study plant hearing (Trends in Plant Sciences, vol17, p323). Their preliminary results indicate that corn roots grow towards specific frequencies of vibrations. What is even more surprising is their finding that roots themselves may also be emitting sound waves. For now, though, we have no idea how a plant might produce sound signals let alone how they might detect them.

Scientists from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the University of Gottingen have now shown from their investigations on Barberry (Berberis vulgaris), that it is is able to abort its own seeds to prevent parasite infestation.

The results, as reported in a news release, are the first ecological evidence of complex behaviour in plants. They indicate that this species has a structural memory, is able to differentiate between inner and outer conditions as well as anticipate future risks, scientists write in the renowned journal American Naturalist — the premier peer-reviewed American journal for theoretical ecology.

The European barberry or simply Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) is a species of shrub distributed throughout Europe. It is related to the Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) that is native to North America and that has been spreading through Europe for years. Scientists compared both species to find a marked difference in parasite infestation: “a highly specialized species of tephritid fruit fly, whose larvae actually feed on the seeds of the native Barberry, was found to have a tenfold higher population density on its new host plant, the Oregon grape”, reports Dr. Harald Auge, a biologist at the UFZ.

This led scientists to examine the seeds of the Barberry more closely. Approximately 2000 berries were collected from different regions of Germany, examined for signs of piercing and then cut open to examine any infestation by the larvae of the tephritid fruit fly (Rhagoletis meigenii). This parasite punctures the berries in order to lay its eggs inside them. If the larva is able to develop, it will often feed on all of the seeds in the berry. A special characteristic of the Barberry is that each berry usually has two seeds and that the plant is able to stop the development of its seeds in order to save its resources. This mechanism is also employed to defend it from the tephritid fruit fly. If a seed is infested with the parasite, later on the developing larva will feed on both seeds. If however the plant aborts the infested seed, then the parasite in that seed will also die and the second seed in the berry is saved.

When analysing the seeds, the scientists came across a surprising discovery: “the seeds of the infested fruits are not always aborted, but rather it depends on how many seeds there are in the berries”, explains Dr. Katrin M. Meyer, who analysed the data at the UFZ and currently works at the University of Goettingen. If the infested fruit contains two seeds, then in 75 per cent of cases, the plants will abort the infested seeds, in order to save the second intact seed. If however the infested fruit only contains one seed, then the plant will only abort the infested seed in 5 per cent of cases. The data from fieldwork were put into a computer model which resulted in a conclusive picture. Using computer model calculations, scientists were able to demonstrate how those plants subjected to stress from parasite infestation reacted very differently from those without stress. “If the Barberry aborts a fruit with only one infested seed, then the entire fruit would be lost. Instead it appears to ‘speculate’ that the larva could die naturally, which is a possibility. Slight chances are better than none at all”, explains Dr. Hans-Hermann Thulke from the UFZ. “This anticipative behaviour, whereby anticipated losses and outer conditions are weighed up, very much surprised us. The message of our study is therefore that plant intelligence is entering the realms of ecological possibility.”

But how does the Barberry know what is in store for it after the tephritid fruit fly has punctured a berry? It is still unclear as to how the plant processes information and how this complex behaviour was able to develop over the course of its evolution. The Oregon grape that is closely related to the Barberry has been living in Europe for some 200 years with the risk of being infested by the tephritid fruit fly and yet it has not developed any such comparable defence strategy. These new insights shed some light on the underestimated abilities of plants, while at the same time bringing up many new questions.

April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.


QUadruple Strand DNA

Scientists Discover Quadruple Helix: Four Strand DNA In Human Cells


dnaThe human race knows very little of itself, almost like a race with amnesia. As we continue to move forward through time, new discoveries are made that make old theories obsolete and false. It’s a good lesson that shows us how we can attach ourselves to “truths” and believe them whole-heartedly, often forgetting that truth is constantly changing and new paradigms of perception always lurk around the corner.

Decades after scientists described our “chemical code” of life using the double helix DNA, researchers have discovered four-stranded DNA within human cells. The structures are called G-quadruplexes, because they form in regions of DNA that are full of guanine, one of the DNA molecule’s four building blocks. The others are adenine, cytosine and thymine. A hydrogen bond is responsible for holding the four guanines together. The four stranded DNA usually presents itself right before cell division.

The discovery was published online in Nature Chemistry, and you can take a look at it here. The study was led by Shankar Balasubramanian at the University of cambridge, UK.

For us, it strongly supports a new paradigm to be investigated – using these four-stranded structures as targets for personalized treatments in the future.We have found that by trapping the quadruplex DNA with synthetic molecules we can sequester and stabilise them, providing important insights into how we might grind cell division to a halt — Shankar Balasubramanian

The study went on to show certain links between concentrations of four-stranded G-quandruplexes and the process of DNA replication, which is crucial to cell division and cell production. G-quadruplexes, (when targeted with synthetic molecules responsible for trapping and holding these DNA structures) prevent cells from replicating their DNA, thus blocking cell division. Scientists believe that this discovery could possibly lead to a stop in cell proliferation at the root of cancer

We are seeing links between trapping the G-quadruplexes with molecules and the ability to stop cells dividing, which is hugely exciting. The research indicates that G-quadruplexes are more likely to occur in genes of cells that are rapidly dividing such as cancer cells. It’s been sixty years since its structure was solved but work like this shows us that the story of DNA continues to twist and turn” – Shankar Balasubramanian

We now know that G-quandruplexes form in the DNA of human cells. If anybody had mentioned this earlier, they would probably be labelled as crazy. Maybe we could take this as a lesson and accept the fact that there are always new discoveries to be made about our biology, as well as the nature of our reality. For all we know, our DNA could be multidimensional in nature? It could be 12 stranded DNA? Maybe we have yet to discover it?  Maybe a majority of our DNA, and the biological functions it serves are largely undiscovered. Maybe some portions of our DNA have yet to be activated? The more we discover about our own biology, the better, as we are witnessing with the discovery of the G-quandruplex.


Bruce Lipton on Coming Together

Our Drive To Bond

love.jpgThe following is an excerpt from The Honeymoon Effect: The Guide to Creating Heaven on Earth by Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D., recently published by Hay House. 

It is beyond our imagination to conceive of a single form of life that exists alone and independent, unattached to other forms.
—Lewis Thomas


If you’re a survivor of multiple failed relationships, you may wonder why you keep trying. I can assure you that you don’t persist just for the (sometimes short-lived) good times. And you don’t persist because of TV ads featuring loving couples on tropical islands. You persist, despite your track record and despite dismal divorce statistics, because you are designed to bond. Human beings are not meant to live alone.

There is a fundamental biological imperative that propels you and every organism on this planet to be in a community, to be in relationship with other organisms. Whether you’re thinking about it consciously or not, your biology is pushing you to bond. In fact, the coming together of individuals in community (starting with two) is a principle force that drives biological evolution, a phenomenon I call spontaneous evolution, which I cover in depth in the book of the same name.

There are, of course, additional biological imperatives designed to ensure individual and species survival: the drive for food, for sex, for growth, for protection, and the ferocious, inexplicable drive to fight for life. We don’t know where or how the will to live is programmed into cells, but it is a fact that no organism will readily give up its life. Try to kill the most primitive of organisms and that bacterium doesn’t say, “Okay, I’ll wait until you kill me.” Instead, it will make every evasive maneuver in its power to sustain its survival.

When our biological drives are not being fulfilled, when our survival is threatened, we get a feeling in the pit of our stomach that something is wrong even before our conscious minds comprehend the danger. That gut feeling is being felt globally right now—many of us are feeling that pit in our stomach as we ponder the survivability of our environmentally damaged planet and of the human beings who have damaged it. Most of this book focuses on how individuals can create or rekindle wonderful relationships, but in the last chapter I’ll explain how the energy created by “Heaven on Earth” relationships can heal the planet and save our species.

That’s a tall order, I know, but we have at hand an extremely successful model for creating healing relationships that will ultimately lead to the healing of our planet. As the ancient mystics have said, “The answers lie within.” The nature and power of harmonious relationships can be seen in the community of the trillions of cells that cooperate to form every human being. This might at first seem strange to you because when you look in the mirror, you might logically conclude that you are a single entity. But that is a major misperception! A human being is actually a community made up of 50 trillion sentient cells within a “skin-covered” Petri dish, a surprising insight I’ll explain further in Chapter 3.  As a cell biologist, I spent many hours happily studying the behavior and fate of stem cells in plastic culture dishes. The trillions of cells within each skin-covered human body live far more harmoniously than feuding couples and strife-ridden human communities. This is one excellent reason why we can learn valuable insights from them: 50 trillion sentient cells, 50 trillion citizens living together peacefully in a remarkably complex community. All the cells have jobs. All the cells have health care, protection, and a viable economy (based on an exchange of ATP molecules, units of energy biologists often refer to as the “coin of the realm”). In comparison, humanity’s job—figuring out the logistics of how a relatively measly seven billion humans can work together in harmony—looks easy. And compared to the 50-trillion-celled-cooperative human community, each couple’s job—figuring out how two human beings can communicate and work together in harmony—seems like a piece of cake (though I know that at times it seems like the hardest challenge we face on Earth).

I grant you that single-celled organisms, which were the first life forms on this planet, spent a lot of time—almost three billion years—figuring out how to bond with one another. Even I didn’t take that long! And when they did start coming together to create multicellular life forms, they initially organized as loose communities or “colonies” of single-celled organisms. But the evolutionary advantage of living in a community (more awareness of the environment and a shared work load) soon led to highly structured organisms composed of millions, billions, and then trillions of socially interactive single cells.

These multicellular communities range in size from the microscopic to those easily seen by the naked eye: a bacterium, an amoeba, an ant, a dog, a human being, and so on. Yes, even bacteria do not live alone; they form dispersed communities that keep in constant communication via chemical signals and viruses.

Once cells figured out a way to work together to create organisms of all sizes and shapes, the newly evolved multicellular organisms also started to assemble into communities themselves. For example, on the macro level, the aspen tree (Populus tremuloides) forms a super organism made up of large stands of genetically identical trees (technically, stems) connected by a single underground root system. The largest known, fully connected aspen is a 106-acre grove in Utah nicknamed Pando that some experts contend is the largest organism in the world.

The social nature of harmonious multiorganism societies can provide fundamental insights directly applicable to human civilization. One great example is an ant, which, like a human being, is a multicellular social organism; when you take an ant out of its community it will die. In fact, an individual ant is really a suborganism; the true organism is actually represented by the ant colony. Lewis Thomas described ants this way: “Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment. They farm fungi, raise aphids as livestock, launch armies into war, use chemical sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves, engage in child labor, exchange information ceaselessly. They do everything but watch television.”

Nature’s drive to form community is also easy to observe in mammalian species, such as horses. Rambunctious colts run around and irritate their parents just as human children can. To get the colts in line, their parents nip their offspring as a form of negative reinforcement. If those little bites don’t work, the parents move on to the most effective punishment of all—they force the misbehaving colt out of the group and do not let it return to the community. That turns out to be the ultimate punishment for even the friskiest, least controllable colt, which will do anything in its behavioral capacity to rejoin the community.

As for human communities, we can fend for ourselves as individuals longer than a single ant can, but we’re likely to go crazy in the process. I’m reminded of the movie Cast Away in which Tom Hanks plays a man who is marooned on an island in the South Pacific. He uses his own bloody hand to imprint a face on a Wilson Sporting Goods volleyball he calls “Wilson” so he can have someone to talk to. Finally, after four years, he takes the risky step of venturing off the island in a makeshift raft because he’d rather die trying to find someone to communicate with than stay by himself on the island, even though he has figured out how to secure food and drink—that is, how to survive.

Most people think that the drive to propagate is the most fundamental biological imperative for humans, and there’s no doubt that reproduction of the individual is fundamental to species survival. That’s why for most of us sex is so pleasurable—Nature wanted to ensure that humans have the desire to procreate and sustain the species. But Hanks doesn’t venture off the island to propagate; he ventures off the island to communicate with someone other than a volleyball.

For humans, coming together in pairs (biologists call it “pair coupling”) is about more than sex for propagation. In a lecture entitled “The Uniqueness of Humans,” neurobiologist and primatologist Robert M. Sapolsky explains how unique humans are in this regard:

“Some of the time, though, the challenge is we’re dealing with something where we are simply unique—there is no precedent out there in the animal world. Let me give you an example of this. A shocking one. Okay. You have a couple. They come home at the end of the day. They talk. They eat dinner. They talk. They go to bed. They have sex. They talk some more. They go to sleep. The next day they do the same exact thing. They come home from work. They talk. They eat. They talk. They go to bed. They have sex. They talk. They fall asleep. They do this every day for 30 days running. A giraffe would be repulsed by this. Hardly anybody out there has non-reproductive sex day after day and nobody talks about it afterward.”

For humans, sex for propagation is crucial until a population stabilizes. When human populations reach a state of balance and security, sex for propagation decreases. In the United States, where most parents expect their children to survive and also expect that they themselves won’t be out on the streets with a cup when they’re old, the average number of offspring per family is less than two. However, any population that is threatened will initiate reproduction earlier and reproduce more—they’re unconsciously doing the calculation that some of their children are not going to survive and that they’ll need more than two children to share the load of helping to support them when they’re old. In India, for example, though the fertility rate dropped 19% in a decade to 2.2, in the poorest areas where families face tremendous challenges to survive, the rate can be three times higher.

But even in societies where the drive to reproduce is curtailed, there is still an incentive for coupling because the drive to bond trumps the drive to procreate. Couples who don’t have children can create wonderful relationships and many make a conscious decision not to have children. In Two Is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice, author Laura S. Scott explores why some forgo the experience. Scott starts off the book with a conversation with a friend’s husband, who was at the time a new dad:

“So why did you get married if you didn’t want kids?” Huh? Love . . . companionship, I blurted. His question startled me, rendering me uncharacteristically short of words . . . He cocked his head and waited for more, his curiosity genuine. In that moment, I recognized just how strange I must have seemed to him. Here was a person who could not imagine life without kids trying to understand a person who could not imagine a life with kids.

Scott started researching the subject and found that according to a 2000 Current Population Survey, 30 million married couples in the United States do not have children and that the United States Census Bureau predicted that married couples with children would account for only 20 percent of households by 2010. Scott also did her own survey of couples who are childless by choice and found that one important motive for not having children was how much the couples valued their relationships. Said one of the surveyed husbands, “We have a happy, loving, fulfilling relationship as we are now. It’s reassuring to think that the dynamic of my relationship with my wife won’t change.”

Perhaps if more people realized that coupling in higher organisms is fundamentally about bonding, not only about the drive to reproduce, there would be less prejudice against homosexuality. In fact, homosexuality is natural and common in the animal kingdom. In a 2009 review of the scientific literature, University of California at Riverside biologists Nathan W. Bailey and Marlene Zuk, who advocate more study about the evolutionary impetus for homosexual behavior, state, “The variety and ubiquity of same-sex sexual behavior in animals is impressive; many thousands of instances of same-sex courtship, pair bonding and copulation have been observed in a wide range of species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, mollusks and nematodes.”7 One example is silver gulls; 21 percent of female silver gulls pair with another female at least once in their lifetimes and 10 percent are exclusively lesbian.

Since we’re driven to form bonds, whether they are homosexual or heterosexual, we need to understand how Nature intended us to bond, which is the topic of this book. Until we successfully learn how to couple, how can we follow the example of cells to create larger cooperative communities? Until we successfully learn how to couple better, the next stage of our evolution, wherein humans assemble to form the larger superorganism humanity, is stalled. If ants can do it, so can we humans!

The good news is that the story of evolution is not only a story of the survival of cooperative communities but also a story of repeating patterns that can be understood through geometry, the mathematics of putting structure into space. Humans didn’t create geometry—they derived it from studying the structure of the Universe because it provides a way of understanding the organization of Nature. As Plato wrote, “Geometry existed before creation.”

The repeating patterns of the new geometry, fractal geometry, reveal a surprising insight into the nature of the Universe’s structure. Even though we know in the pit of our stomach that we are at a crisis point, fractal geometry makes it clear, as I’ll explain later, that the planet has been in dire straits before. Each time, though there were casualties along the way (most notoriously dinosaurs), something better emerged out of the crisis.

The mathematical computations involved in fractal geometry are actually quite simple; equations use only multiplication, addition, and subtraction. When one of these equations is solved, the answer is reinserted into the original equation and solved again. This “recursive” pattern can be repeated infinitely. When fractal equations are repeatedly solved over a million times (computations made possible by the advent of powerful computers), visual geometric patterns emerge. It turns out that an inherent characteristic of fractal geometry is the creation of ever-repeating, “self-similar” patterns nested within one another. The traditional Russian matryoshka doll provides a great image for understanding fractal patterns. A symbol of motherhood and fertility, the doll is actually a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size that nest into each other. Each doll is a miniature though not necessarily exact replica of the larger ones.

Just like Russian nesting dolls, the repeating patterns in Nature make its fractal organization clear. For example, the pattern of twigs on a tree branch resembles the pattern of limbs branching off the trunk. The pattern of a major river is similar to the patterns of its smaller tributaries. In the human lung, the pattern of branching along the large bronchus airway is repeated in the smaller bronchioles. No matter how complicated organisms are, they display repetitive patterns.

These iterative patterns help make the natural world more comprehensible. Despite the evolution of increasing complexity in the structure of cooperative multicellular communities, the amazing fact is that in the physiology of humans—the organisms that are presumably at the top of the evolutionary ladder—there are no new functions that aren’t already present in simple cells at the bottom of the evolutionary ladder. Digestive, excretory, cardiovascular, nervous, and even immune systems are present in virtually all of the single cells that comprise our bodies. Show me a function in your human body and I’ll show you where it originally arose in the single cell. These repeating fractal patterns mean that everything we learn from Nature’s simple organisms applies to more complex organisms as well as to us humans. So if you want to understand the nature of the Universe, you don’t have to take on the whole thing—you can study its components as I did when I was a cell biologist. Fractal geometry’s repeating patterns provide a scientific framework for the principle that mystics call “as above, so below.” We are clearly part of the Universe, not an add-on afterthought whose job is to “conquer” Nature.

A biosphere built on the repetitive patterns of fractal geometry also offers an opportunity to predict the future of evolution by looking back on its history. In contrast, conventional Darwinian theory holds that evolution is initiated by random mutations, genetic “accidents,” which implies that we cannot predict the future. But following in the footsteps of cells, our future should be one of more and more cooperation and more and more harmony so that humans (starting with pair-bonded twos) can learn to cooperate to form the larger evolved communal organism defined as humanity.
Instead of cursing our bad luck in relationships, we need to recognize that our efforts at bonding are a fundamental drive of Nature and that these bonds can be cooperative and harmonious. We need to heed Rumi’s sage advice: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” When we start living in harmony with Nature (and with ourselves), we can move on to creating The Honeymoon Effect in our lives, where relationships are based on love, cooperation, and communication. In the next chapter, we’ll explore the most fundamental form of communication among organisms: energy vibrations.


On Continuing Human Evolution

Human Evolution Enters an Exciting New Phase

Image: Kevin Dooley/Flickr

If you could escape the human time scale for a moment, and regard evolution from the perspective of deep time, in which the last 10,000 years are a short chapter in a long saga, you’d say: Things are pretty wild right now.

In the most massive study of genetic variation yet, researchers estimated the age of more than one million variants, or changes to our DNA code, found across human populations. The vast majority proved to be quite young. The chronologies tell a story of evolutionary dynamics in recent human history, a period characterized by both narrow reproductive bottlenecks and sudden, enormous population growth.

The evolutionary dynamics of these features resulted in a flood of new genetic variation, accumulating so fast that natural selection hasn’t caught up yet. As a species, we are freshly bursting with the raw material of evolution.

“Most of the mutations that we found arose in the last 200 generations or so. There hasn’t been much time for random change or deterministic change through natural selection,” said geneticist Joshua Akey of the University of Washington, co-author of the Nov. 28 Nature study. “We have a repository of all this new variation for humanity to use as a substrate. In a way, we’re more evolvable now than at any time in our history.”

Akey specializes in what’s known as rare variation, or changes in DNA that are found in perhaps one in 100 people, or even fewer. For practical reasons, rare variants have only been studied in earnest for the last several years. Before then, it was simply too expensive. Genomics focused mostly on what are known as common variants.

However, as dramatically illustrated by a landmark series of papers to appear this year — by Alon Keinan and Andrew Clark, by Matt Nelson and John Novembre, and another by Akey’s group, all appearing in Science, along with new results from the humanity-spanning 1,000 Genomes Project — common variants are just a small part of the big picture. They’re vastly outnumbered by rare variants, and tend to have weaker effects.

The medical implications of this realization are profound. The previously unappreciated significance of rare variation could explain much of why scientists have struggled to identify more than a small fraction of the genetic components of common, complex disease, limiting the predictive value of genomics.

‘The genetic potential of our population is vastly different than what it was 10,000 years ago.’

But these findings can also been seen from another angle. They teach us about human evolution, in particular the course it’s taken since modern Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa, learned to farm, and became the planet’s dominant life form.

“We’ve gone from several hundred million people to seven billion in a blink of evolutionary time,” said Akey. “That’s had a profound effect on structuring the variation present in our species.”

Akey isn’t the first scientist to use modern genetic data as a window into recent and ongoing human evolution, nor the first to root rare variation in humanity’s post-Ice Age population boom. The new study’s insights reside in its depth and detail.

The researchers sequenced in exhaustive detail protein-coding genes from 6,515 people, compiling a list of every DNA variation they found — 1,146,401 in all, of which 73 percent were rare. To these they applied a type of statistical analysis, customized for human populations but better known from studies of animal evolution, that infers ancestral relationships from existing genetic patterns.

“There were other hints of what’s going on, but nobody has studied such a massive number of coding regions from such a high number of individuals,” said geneticist Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania.

Akey’s group found that rare variations tended to be relatively new, with some 73 percent of all genetic variation arising in just the last 5,000 years. Of variations that seem likely to cause harm, a full 91 percent emerged in this time.

Why is this? Much of it is a function of population growth. Part of it is straightforward population growth. Just 10,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, there were roughly 5 million humans on Earth. Now there are 7 billion. With each instance of reproduction, a few random variations emerge; multiply that across humanity’s expanding numbers, and enormous amounts of variation are generated.

Also playing a role are the dynamics of bottlenecks, or periods when populations are reduced to a small number. The out-of-Africa migration represents one such bottleneck, and others have occurred during times of geographic and cultural isolation. Scientists have shown that when populations are small, natural selection actually becomes weaker, and the effects of randomness grow more powerful.

Put these dynamics together, and the Homo sapiens narrative that emerges is one in which, for non-African populations, the out-of-Africa bottleneck created a period in which natural selection’s effects diminished, followed by a global population boom and its attendant wave of new variation.

The result, calculated Akey, is that people of European descent have five times as many gene variants as they would if population growth had been slow and steady. People of African descent, whose ancestors didn’t go through that original bottleneck, have somewhat less new variation, but it’s still a large amount: three times more variation than would have accumulated under slow-growth conditions.

Natural selection never stopped acting, of course. New mutations with especially beneficial effects, such as lactose tolerance, still spread rapidly, while those with immediately harmful consequences likely vanished within a few generations of appearing. But most variation has small, subtle effects.

Visualization of the distribution of potentially harmful genetic variation across protein-coding portions of the human genome. The top section represents variation that predates the human population explosion 10,000 years ago. The bottom represents variation that arose since then. Image: Fu et al./Nature

It’s this type of variation that’s proliferated so wildly. “Population growth is happening so fast that selection is having a hard time keeping up with the new, deleterious alleles,” said Akey.

One consequence of this is the accumulation in humanity of gene variants with potentially harmful effects. Akey’s group found that a full 86 percent of variants that look as though they might be deleterious are less than 10,000 years old, and many have only existed for the last millennium.

“Humans today carry a much larger load of deleterious variants than our species carried just prior to its massive expansion just a couple hundred generations ago,” said population geneticist Alon Keinan of Cornell University, whose own work helped link rare variation patterns to the population boom.

The inverse is also true. Present-day humanity also carries a much larger load of potentially positive variation, not to mention variation with no appreciable consequences at all. These variations, known to scientists as “cryptic,” that might actually be evolution’s hidden fuel: mutations that on their own have no significance can combine to produce unexpected, powerful effects.

Indeed, the genetic seeds of exceptional traits, such as endurance or strength or innate intelligence, may now be circulating in humanity. “The genetic potential of our population is vastly different than what it was 10,000 years ago,” Akey said.

How will humanity evolve in the next few thousand years? It’s impossible to predict but fun to speculate, said Akey. A potentially interesting wrinkle to the human story is that, while bottlenecks reduce selection pressure, evolutionary models show that large populations actually increase selection’s effects.

Given the incredible speed and scope of human population growth, this increased pressure hasn’t yet caught up to the burst of new variation, but eventually it might. It could even be anticipated, at least from theoretical models, that natural selection on humans will actually become stronger than it’s ever been.

“The size of a population determines how much selection is going to be acting moving forward,” said anthropologist Mark Shriver of Penn State University. “You have an increase in natural selection now.”

An inevitably complicating factor is that natural selection isn’t as natural as it used to be. Theoretical models don’t account for culture and technology, two forces with profound influences. Widespread use of reproductive technologies like fetal genome sequencing might ease selection pressures, or even make them more intense.

As for future studies in genetic anthropology, Akey said scientists are approaching the limits of what can be known from genes alone. “We need to take advantage of what people have learned in anthropology and ecology and linguistics, and synthesize all this into a coherent narrative of human evolution,” he said.

Geneticist Robert Moyzis of the University of California, Irvine, co-author of a 2007 study on accelerating human evolution, noted that the new study only looked at protein-coding genes, which account for only a small portion of the entire human genome. Much of humanity’s rare variation remains to be analyzed.

Moyzis’ co-authors on that study, geneticist Henry Harpending of the University of Utah and anthropologist John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin, also warned against jumping to early conclusions based on the new study’s dating. Some of what appears to be new variation might actually be old, said Hawks.

Even with these caveats, however, the study’s essential message is unchanged. “Sometimes people ask the question, ‘Is human evolution still occurring?’” said Tishkoff. “Yes, human evolution can still occur, and it is.”

Citations: “Analysis of 6,515 exomes reveals the recent origin of most human protein-coding variants.” By Wenqing Fu, Timothy D. O’Connor, Goo Jun, Hyun Min Kang, Goncalo Abecasis, Suzanne M. Leal, Stacey Gabriel, David Altshuler, Jay Shendure, Deborah A. Nickerson, Michael J. Bamshad, NHLBI Exome Sequencing Project & Joshua M. Akey. Vol. 491, No. 7426, Nov. 29, 2012


Frequency, Medicine, and Math

Math as Medicine: Using frequency domain to predict, enrich and promote optimal health

Posted by Jay Pee on 29 November 2011

Math as Medicine:  Using frequency domain to predict, enrich and promote optimal health
In order to provide predictability and safety, the concepts of math and medicine often act conjointly to quantify, define and model medical practice. Studies conducted by the non-profit Institute of BioAcoustic Biology, located in Albany, Ohio, USA, has consistently demonstrated that math can be much more than a measurement tool; math, as frequency, can be the solution to therapeutic predictability and resolution.
Just as there are Pathways of compounds called Chemistry; there are Mathways of subtractive frequencies call Sonistry that can be used to create a numeric matrix of biomarkers capable, individually and collectively, of being predictive, diagnostic and prescriptive.
To date there is no universally accepted modality that has the potential to assist in our survival of biological, radioactive and pandemic threats; rid us of vaccination damage/residue and support our dwindling immune responses.  In many instances, by the time the cause has been identified, it is often too late to provide remediation.  Frequency based medicine has the ability to provide a prompt and direct correction.
Travel to outer space can be overcome with mobile frequency-based solutions that have shown efficacy to overcome bone loss and muscle atrophy. BioAcoustic Biology has been shown to be able to predict reactions to medications, chemicals and allergens.  Muscles traumatized from stroke and/or muscle signaling disorders have recovered.  Documentation confirms that these changes sometimes occur within a few minutes as muscles gain strength and mobility.
Parkinson’s has become a diagnosis covering a variety of situations and possibilities.  Biomarkers gleaned from groups of persons identified as suffering from Parkinson’s have shown that the cell signaling issues are actually from a multiplicity of causes; allergens, inability to process certain amino acids, genetic factors, tetanus pollutants, DES residues, radioactive isotopes, vitamin deficiencies, closed receptors…the list seems endless.
Our brain communicates using the language of math expressed as frequency.  As these signals reach the brain, the biofrequencies are sorted, routed and assigned an interpretation and responsibility. Our Brain and our Biology are hardwired to respond to these basic principles of math.
Strange, yet profound, BioAcoustic Biology will explain how a physician might instruct a heart patient to “Mix 24 with 27, listen for 20 minutes and call me in the morning”.
BioAcoustic Biology is an area of scientific endeavor that is in the process of becoming scientifically established: a protoscience.  Visionary leaders will see this novel idea as a prophecy for a new medicine which can provide conclusions based on observation and information.  Those who wish to support the status quo will see this paradigm as a threat but will find it hard to argue with the consistent and efficacious outcomes that continue to accrue. This protocol remains in a research mode as of the date of this paper.Math as Medicine:  Using frequency domain to predict, enrich and promote optimal health
In order to provide predictability and safety, the concepts of math and medicine often act conjointly to quantify, define and model medical practice. Studies conducted by the non-profit Institute of BioAcoustic Biology, located in Albany, Ohio, USA, has consistently demonstrated that math can be much more than a measurement tool; math, as frequency, can be the solution to therapeutic predictability and resolution.
Just as there are Pathways of compounds called Chemistry; there are Mathways of subtractive frequencies call Sonistry that can be used to create a numeric matrix of biomarkers capable, individually and collectively, of being predictive, diagnostic and prescriptive.
To date there is no universally accepted modality that has the potential to assist in our survival of biological, radioactive and pandemic threats; rid us of vaccination damage/residue and support our dwindling immune responses.  In many instances, by the time the cause has been identified, it is often too late to provide remediation.  Frequency based medicine has the ability to provide a prompt and direct correction.
Travel to outer space can be overcome with mobile frequency-based solutions that have shown efficacy to overcome bone loss and muscle atrophy. BioAcoustic Biology has been shown to be able to predict reactions to medications, chemicals and allergens.  Muscles traumatized from stroke and/or muscle signaling disorders have recovered.  Documentation confirms that these changes sometimes occur within a few minutes as muscles gain strength and mobility.
Parkinson’s has become a diagnosis covering a variety of situations and possibilities.  Biomarkers gleaned from groups of persons identified as suffering from Parkinson’s have shown that the cell signaling issues are actually from a multiplicity of causes; allergens, inability to process certain amino acids, genetic factors, tetanus pollutants, DES residues, radioactive isotopes, vitamin deficiencies, closed receptors…the list seems endless.
Our brain communicates using the language of math expressed as frequency.  As these signals reach the brain, the biofrequencies are sorted, routed and assigned an interpretation and responsibility. Our Brain and our Biology are hardwired to respond to these basic principles of math.
Strange, yet profound, BioAcoustic Biology will explain how a physician might instruct a heart patient to “Mix 24 with 27, listen for 20 minutes and call me in the morning”.
BioAcoustic Biology is an area of scientific endeavor that is in the process of becoming scientifically established: a protoscience.  Visionary leaders will see this novel idea as a prophecy for a new medicine which can provide conclusions based on observation and information.  Those who wish to support the status quo will see this paradigm as a threat but will find it hard to argue with the consistent and efficacious outcomes that continue to accrue. This protocol remains in a research mode as of the date of this paper.
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Quantum Physics & Biology

Weird World of Quantum Physics May Govern Life

Clara Moskowitz, LiveScience Senior Writer
Date: 05 June 2012
The bizarre rules of quantum mechanics may in fact enable many of life's fundamental processes, scientists say.
The bizarre rules of quantum mechanics may in fact enable many of life’s fundamental processes, scientists say.
CREDIT: agsandrew | Shutterstock

NEW YORK — The bizarre rules of quantum physics are often thought to be restricted to the microworld, but scientists now suspect they may play an important role in the biology of life.

Evidence is growing for the involvement of quantum mechanics in a wide range of biological processes, including photosynthesis, bird migration, the sense of smell, and possibly even the origin of life.

These and other mysteries were the topic of a panel lecture June 1 held here at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, part of the fifth annual World Science Festival.

uantum mechanics refers to the strange set of rules that governs the behavior of subatomic particles, which can travel through walls, behave like waves and stay connected over vast distances. [Stunning Photos of the Very Small]

“Quantum mechanics is weird, that’s its defining characteristic. It’s funky and strange,” said MIT mechanical engineer Seth Lloyd.

These oddities generally don’t affect everyday macroscopic objects, which are thought to be too hot and wet for delicate quantum states to withstand. But it seems nature may have found ways to harness quantum mechanics to power some of its most complex and vital systems.

“Life is made out of atoms and atoms behave quantum mechanically,” said cosmologist Paul Davies of Arizona State University. “Life has been around for a long time — 3.5 billion years on this planet at least — and there’s plenty of time to learn some quantum trickery if it confers an advantage.”

Bird brains

One area where clues are implicating quantum mechanics is the internal compasses of birds and other migratory animals. Many bird species migrate thousands of miles every year to return not just to the same region, but to the exact same breeding spot.

For ages, scientists have puzzled how birds could achieve such a feat of navigation, assuming they possess some ability to sense direction based on Earth’s magnetic field.

“We see clearly they can detect the magnetic field,” said University of California, Irvine, biophysicist Thorsten Ritz. “What we cannot do is say, ‘This is the magnetic organ.'”

Mounting evidence now suggests birds may be relying on quantum entanglement — the strange ability of particles to share properties even when separated, so that if an action is performed on one, the other feels its consequences.

Scientists think the process is made possible by a protein inside birds’ eye cells called cryptochrome.

When green light passes into the bird’s eye, it hits cryptochrome, which gives an energy boost to one of the electrons of an entangled pair, separating it from its partner. In its new location, the electron experiences a slightly different magnitude of Earth’s magnetic field, and this alters the electron’s spin. Birds can use this information to build an internal map of Earth’s magnetic field to figure out their position and direction.

“It’s certainly very plausible,” Lloyd said. “It sounded kind of crazy when I first heard it. We don’t have direct experimental evidence, but it does make sense.”

The theory gained support from a recent experiment with fruit flies, which also contain cryptochrome. When this light-detecting protein was extracted from the fruit flies, they lost their magnetic sensitivity and became discombobulated.

Sniffing scents

Another case where quantum mechanics may come to the rescue is the sense of smell. At first, biologists thought they understood smell through a simple model: Odor molecules waft into the nose, and receptor molecules there bind to these molecules and identify them based on their particular shape.

But scientists realized that some odor molecules that have identical shapes have completely different smells, due to a minute chemical change, such as a single hydrogen atom in the molecule being replaced by a heavier version of hydrogen called deuterium. While this affects the weight of the molecule, it doesn’t change its shape, so it still fits into the receptor molecule in exactly the same way.

How, then, can olfactory systems sense the difference? The answer may lie in quantum particles’ ability to act like waves.

“The theory is that even if the shape of the molecule is the same, because it’s got this slight difference, it vibrates in a different fashion,” Lloyd said. “And this kind of wavelike nature, which is a purely quantum kind of effect, somehow this receptor is able to sense this vibrational difference.”

Missing pieces

Physicists are probing more and more unsolved mysteries of biology, hoping that quantum mechanics may provide the missing piece of the puzzle. They even have hope that it could shed light on one of the most intractable questions in all of biology: How did life get started?

“We want to know ‘How did non-life turn into life?'” Davies said. “Life is clearly a distinctive state of matter. What we would like to know is if that distinctiveness is fundamentally quantum mechanical.”

But in their excitement to try the quantum key in the locks of biology, some scientists are wary of overreaching.

“Quantum mechanics is strange and mysterious,” Lloyd said. “The origins of life are strange and mysterious. That doesn’t mean that they’re all the same thing. I think one should be careful saying that all strange and mysterious things have the same origin.”



Evolution & Facial Features

Evolution Is Written All Over Your Face

ScienceDaily (Jan. 11, 2012) — Why are the faces of primates so dramatically different from one another?

Primates from Central and South America. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of California – Los Angeles)

UCLA biologists working as “evolutionary detectives” studied the faces of 129 adult male primates from Central and South America, and they offer some answers in research published Jan. 11, in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The faces they studied evolved over at least 24 million years, they report.

“If you look at New World primates, you’re immediately struck by the rich diversity of faces,” said Michael Alfaro, a UCLA associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and the senior author of the study. “You see bright red faces, moustaches, hair tufts and much more. There are unanswered questions about how faces evolve and what factors explain the evolution of facial features. We’re very visually oriented, and we get a lot of information from the face.”

Some of theprimate species studied are solitary, while others live in groups that can include dozens or even hundreds of others.

The life scientists divided each face into 14 regions; coded the color of each part, including the hair and skin; studied the patterns and anatomy of the faces; and gave each a “facial complexity” score. They studied how the complexity of primate faces evolved over time and examined the primates’ social systems. To assess how facial colors are related to physical environments, they analyzed environmental variables, using the longitude and latitude of primates’ habitats as a proxy for sun exposure and temperature. They also used statistical methods to analyze the evolutionary history of the primate groups and when they diverged from one another.

“We found very strong support for the idea that as species live in larger groups, their faces become more simple, more plain,” said lead author Sharlene Santana, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar in ecology and evolutionary biology and a postdoctoral fellow with UCLA’s Institute for Society and Genetics. “We think that is related to their ability to communicate using facial expressions. A face that is more plain could allow the primate to convey expressions more easily.

“Humans have pretty bare faces, which may allow us to see facial expressions more easily than if, for example, we had many colors in our faces.”

The researchers’ finding that faces are more simple in larger groups came as a surprise.

“Initially, we thought it might be the opposite,” Santana said. “You might expect that in larger groups, faces would vary more and have more complex parts that would allow one individual to identify any member of that group. That is not what we found. Species that live in larger groups live in closer proximity to one another and tend to use facial expressions more than species in smaller groups that are more spread out. Being in closer proximity puts a stronger pressure on using facial expressions.”

“This finding suggests that facial expressions are increasingly important in large groups,” said co-author Jessica Lynch Alfaro, associate director of the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics. “If you’re highly social, then facial expressions matter more than having a highly complex pattern on your face. ”

The evolutionary biologists also found that when primates live in environment with more species that are closely related, their faces are more complex, regardless of their group size. This finding is consistent with their need to recognize individuals of other closely related species that live in the same habitat to avoid interbreeding, Santana said.

Santana, Lynch Alfaro and Alfaro present the first quantitative evidence linking social behavior to the evolution of facial diversity and complexity in primates, and they also show that ecology controls aspects of facial patterns.

As species live closer to the equator, the skin and hair around their eyes get darker, the biologists report. They also found that regions of the face around the nose and mouth get darker when species live in humid environments and denser forests and that facial hair gets longer as species live farther from the equator and the climate gets colder, which may be related to regulating body temperature.

“This is a good start toward understanding facial diversity,” Alfaro said. “There was not a good idea before about what aspects of faces were shaped by which evolutionary pressure. Sharlene [Santana] has been able to say what social complexity, social behavior and ecology are doing to faces.”

In the future, Santana, Lynch Alfaro and Alfaro may use computer facial-recognition software to help quantify the faces in a more sophisticated way. They also plan to study the faces of carnivores, including big cats.

Previous studies, they noted, have found that primate species with moustaches and beards (such as No. 11 and No. 9 in the accompanying image) tend to look poker-faced; they don’t move their faces much when they communicate, compared with other species (such as No. 4).

Alfaro praised Santana’s ability to answer some of these difficult evolutionary questions.

“Sharlene has tested ideas that have been virtually impossible to test before,” he said. “She has found a clever way to implicate the degree of sociality as contributing to the diversity of faces. Social behavior explains some aspects of facial diversity.”

Santana also devised a way to test a theory that has been in the biological literature for decades but had never been tested before. As a lineage diverges and species accumulate, a series of changes in facial coloration and body coloration emerges. The theory she was able to test suggests that once a species evolves to have a certain color, such as hair color, the change is irreversible and it cannot evolve back to a previous color in its lineage. Santana found this theory to be wrong.

“The idea in biology that evolutionary change is irreversible is rejected very strongly by our data,” Alfaro said.

Lessons for human faces?

Does the study have implications for the evolution of human faces?

The findings do suggest, Alfaro said, that an important factor in shaping human faces is the premium on making unambiguous facial expressions.

“Humans don’t have all these elaborate facial ornamentations, but we do have the ability to communicate visually with facial expressions,” Alfaro said. “Does reduced coloration complexity create a blank palate for visual expressions that can be conveyed more easily? That is an idea we are testing.”

Santana’s research is funded by fellowships from the National Science Foundation and UCLA’s Institute for Society and Genetics.


Hybrid Sharks

World-first hybrid shark found off Australia

By Amy Coopes | AFP 

Scientists said on Tuesday that they had discovered the world’s first hybrid sharks in Australian waters, a potential sign the predators were adapting to cope with climate change.

The mating of the local Australian black-tip shark with its global counterpart, the common black-tip, was an unprecedented discovery with implications for the entire shark world, said lead researcher Jess Morgan.

“It’s very surprising because no one’s ever seen shark hybrids before, this is not a common occurrence by any stretch of the imagination,” Morgan, from the University of Queensland, told AFP.

“This is evolution in action.”

Colin Simpfendorfer, a partner in Morgan’s research from James Cook University, said initial studies suggested the hybrid species was relatively robust, with a number of generations discovered across 57 specimens.

The find was made during cataloguing work off Australia’s east coast when Morgan said genetic testing showed certain sharks to be one species when physically they looked to be another.

The Australian black-tip is slightly smaller than its common cousin and can only live in tropical waters, but its hybrid offspring have been found 2,000 kilometres down the coast, in cooler seas.

It means the Australian black-tip could be adapting to ensure its survival as sea temperatures change because of global warming.

“If it hybridises with the common species it can effectively shift its range further south into cooler waters, so the effect of this hybridising is a range expansion,” Morgan said.

“It’s enabled a species restricted to the tropics to move into temperate waters.”

Climate change and human fishing are some of the potential triggers being investigated by the team, with further genetic mapping also planned to examine whether it was an ancient process just discovered or a more recent phenomenon.

If the hybrid was found to be stronger than its parent species — a literal survival of the fittest — Simpfendorfer said it may eventually outlast its so-called pure-bred predecessors.

“We don’t know whether that’s the case here, but certainly we know that they are viable, they reproduce and that there are multiple generations of hybrids now that we can see from the genetic roadmap that we’ve generated from these animals,” he said.

“Certainly it appears that they are fairly fit individuals.”

The hybrids were extraorindarily abundant, accounting for up to 20 percent of black-tip populations in some areas, but Morgan said that didn’t appear to be at the expense of their single-breed parents, adding to the mystery.

Simpfendorfer said the study, published late last month in Conservation Genetics, could challenge traditional ideas of how sharks had and were continuing to evolve.

“We thought we understood how species of sharks have separated, but what this is telling us is that in reality we probably don’t fully understand the mechanisms that keep species of shark separate,” he said.

“And in fact, this may be happening in more species than these two.”


Reflections on Lynn Margulis

As Above, So Below: The Worldview of Lynn Margulis

earth.jpg“In the arithmetic of life, One is always Many.”

Lynn Margulis, biologist and Distinguished Professor of Geosciences, composed a grand and powerful view of the living and the non-living.  Integrating the work of obscure Russian scientists, DNA pulled from cell organelles, computer-generated daisies, and the hindguts of termites, her vision was wider in scope and more profound in depth than any other coherent scientific world view.  At the time of her death on November 22nd, 2011, it is a vision that remains misunderstood and misconstrued by many scientists.

Much of this view came from her uncanny ability to first lean forward and see the smallest inhabitants of the Earth; to hover there, and then to leap back at the speed of thought to conceptualize the entire planet. Lean forward, then stand back.  This inner movement, this seeing from soil to space, marked a unique scientific endeavor.

This perspective was earned only through walking through diverse areas of study — geology, genetics, biology, chemistry, literature, embryology, paleontology.  Those fields, are sometimes separated by an untraversed distance at universities: they are housed in separate buildings which may as well be different worlds.  In Margulis, they found agreement and discussion with each other; they were reconnected, just as they are intrinsically connected in nature.

This journey led her to emphasize in all her scientific work two phenomena — the fusing of distinct beings into a single being: symbiosis; and the interaction of organisms and their environments to create relational “loops” that led to regulation of many Earth systems: Gaia Theory.

Taken separately these concepts have the ability to redefine, respectively, how we understand organisms and the environment.

Taken together, they can redefine our consciousness.

* * *

After the Earth was born, give or take a few hundred million years, there were bacteria.  Bacteria were here first and are with us still, comprising a major part of the biosphere.  They are unseen with the naked eye, they lack nuclei (for this reason, they are called prokaryotes — “pro” = before,  “karyon” = nucleus). Their forms were legion and their metabolisms were (and continue to be) strange.

Where life could exist, it did exist in these tiny forms.  One of these forms,  thermoplasma, was an amorphous blob. It enjoyed heat and sulfur.  The stuff we now associate with the devil, this bacterium was quite fond of.  Another bacterium was the spirochete.  Familiar to us now as the type of bacteria that cause syphilis and Lyme disease, the spirochete is a curl of an organism; a tremulous and crooked line with no front or back.  Margulis studied these strange beings through literature and microscope.  From some corner of her intellect, they called to her.

The thermoplasmid and spirochete of early Earth were neighbors and, in a sense, enemies.  Each one would try, when it encountered the other, to consume it.  This was a popular notion at the time: meet and consume. Soon enough, encounter after encounter between the two beings led to an unprecedented event: The beings came together to eat each other and decided on marriage instead. Just what changes happened to cause this friendly ingestion is still unknown.  What is known is that the spirochete didn’t digest the thermoplasmid and the thermoplasmid did not digest the spirochete.  As Margulis was fond of saying, “1 + 1 = 1.”  There was a union of the two, resulting in an entirely new being.  They were inseparable, literally.  The thermoplasmid had a rotor now, and the spirochete had a “head”.  A head and a tail: for the first time, beings haddirection.  Cultural philosopher William Irwin Thompson examines this emergence in his book, Coming into Being. It isn’t that spirochetes couldn’t pursue a coordinate before — but the asymmetricality of the new, combined entity, resulted in a new way of being, completely without reference in the history of life:  One end, distinct in form, ingested the food; the other end did the rowing.  Both absorbed the nutrition.  This was a giant step in the evolution of consciousness, and is echoed by all true evolutions in consciousness:  the rise of a new way of being, inconceivable to the world that came before.

And soon, other mergers were taking place.  Soon, oxygen-breathing bacteria were incorporated by endosymbiosis into this being.  Where once oxygen was poison, now it flowed through without harm.

Cyanobacteria, green and photosynthetic, were incorporated in some of these cells as well.  Both these symbioses remain visible today — as the mitochondria in all cells (the oxygen-breathing bacteria that became mitochondria) and chloroplasts in plant and some animal cells (the cyanobacteria that led to chloroplasts).  These are ancient partnerships that have never dissolved, and which continue to pulse with rhythm, and our existence depends upon them.  Human cells reflect these unions, and we breathe plant-respired oxygen.

Margulis, inspired by the work of little-known biologists, revealed and proved these mergers for us.  At first, her worked was rejected and scoffed at.  It did not fit the still-dominant neo-Darwinian paradigm that tells us all evolutionary novelty comes from natural selection acting on genes and the gradual accumulation of random genetic mutation.  But eventually these symbioses were accepted because they could not be ignored.  In a stunning display of reluctance, despite mounting evidence, the spirochetal origin of the undulipodium (sometimes incorrectly called or mistaken for the “flagellum” — though the undulipodium and flagellum are not similar either chemically or structurally) is still contested and sometimes dismissed.

What is unquestionable: bacteria make up the living architecture of our bodies.

They evolved into our cells, and also remain “free-living” in our digestive system.  Their spiraling remnants are in our gums, our brains.  This means our physical selves are universes composed of the movemenst, biological agreements, and interactions of these beings.

What can this mean for the individual?  What happens when we are simultaneously songs and compositions of notes?  “Identity is not an object; it is a process with addresses for all the different directions and dimensions in which it moves…” Margulis once stated, with her colleague Ricardo Guerrero.

And what happens when we are notes, songs, and the notes again?  What happens when we shift our perspective and see that we are cells made out of cells?

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