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New Biology – Are Science And Spirituality More Interlinked Than We Think? PART II

Additionally, many would presume that diseases spur either from toxins, or as a result of inherited genes. This is not the case. Only 5% of diseases are hereditary, the majority instigating as a result of the mind. Consider the following:

A man found a black mark on his neck; he thought nothing of it. 22 years later, that black mark remained and a companion of his told him that it was a sign of lung cancer. He went to get it checked out. His friend had been right. He died two weeks later.

Is there not something to say here? The misfortune of lung cancer is put upon a man, who is only diagnosed 22 years later. He manages to lead a happy life in oblivion to his illness, but upon hearing the bad news, negative thoughts and fields of energy begin to take over, perhaps even become programmed into his subconscious mind in the limited time of 14 days. It is most likely that he so strongly believed that he would die very soon of the cancer that it became a truth, so much so that his body gave up the fight two weeks later.

When an individual says that they will get breast cancer because they have inherited the gene, this is strictly untrue. A predisposition to cancer means that the gene, which will most likely lead to the illness is present, however it does not guarantee the presence of said illness in the individual. If what the individual had said were true, why then, did they not begin to develop breast cancer from the moment they were born? The gene was not activated. And if it has been proven that the largest cause of disease is the mind, is it not dangerous to presume that one will get cancer if one has “the gene for it”? Perhaps the man with lung cancer would have died much later had he never found out.

Now, I do not mean to throw you off track by giving a very small introduction to physics, as I am no physicist myself. The two theories of physics that I want to discuss are Newtonian physics (Newton) and Quantum mechanics (Einstein). Newtonian physics is something that most biologists are very fond of, and essentially what they abide by. It focuses on all material things – matter. This is a very straightforward and clear way of thinking, whereby one step follows the next, and where anything that isn’t physical is ignored. Quantum physics, on the other hand, concentrates on the concept that all things are made up of three miniscule particles: protons, electrons and neutrons. These particles are waves of energy, and are therefore invisible. Quantum physics interlinks many different concepts and theories so that, contrarily to Newtonian attitude, there is no clear and strict direction of thought to be followed – it is holistic. So whereas Newtonian physics focuses on all solid, material and visible things, quantum mechanics focuses on energy; what is invisible. Is it fair to decipher our universe and everything on it by ignoring what it is principally made up of (energy)? The New Biology shows us that there will continue to be gaps in our knowledge and limits to our research unless we begin to consider quantum mechanics.

If we were to follow the line of quantum mechanics, for this purpose, we can conclude that every separate entity is in fact merged to create one complex system (reference to Gaia’s hypothesis, Lovelock 1965). Hence one entity affects the next and so on and so forth. The energy, thoughts and signals, emanated by one enter the next.

To conclude, if our brain and our environment control our cells so much more than we thought, but perhaps much less consciously than we thought, should we not be putting much more effort into the state of our mind and the state of our environment in order to maintain a healthy life with a flourishing community of cells? Perhaps the Western society of today places too much emphasis on pharmaceutical companies and not enough in what we consider to be Eastern remedies – those that are more spiritual and concentrate fundamentally on the self-renewal of cells.


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New Biology – Are Science And Spirituality More Interlinked Than We Think? PART I

In the laboratory, a cell is cultured in a medium and contained in a Petri dish. If the cell is dying or unwell, we simply have to remove it from that Petri dish and put it into another, where the medium and other environmental conditions have been altered slightly. Once this step has been accomplished, the cell automatically and autonomously regenerates itself.

Our human body is in fact a highly organized colony of cells. That in which the cells bathe is their medium: the blood. The blood carries messages, signals and hormones emitted by the brain. These enter and affect the cells, allowing us to conclude that the brain controls the wellbeing and the state of its body’s cells.

 For example, when under stress, the pituitary gland in the brain receives signals (via the control centers in the hypothalamus) and causes the secretion of cortisol from the adrenal glands into the blood stream. This steroid hormone has a direct impact on cells, depending where and what function they have. Brain cell production hugely decreases, the immune system is suppressed, and it aids fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.

So in the same way that an unwell cell in a Petri dish needs to be put into a new medium (different quantities of X & Y nutrients) in order to replenish, poorly cells in the human body would need the blood’s concentration of certain molecules to be altered in order to restore the cells’ welfare. However, similarly to the environment surrounding the Petri dish needing to be controlled for the health of the cell, the environment surrounding our body’s cells also needs to be controlled. By ‘environment’ I mean both our surroundings and our brain. The brain is after all the filter that allows environmental information to be passed through to the body. This could account for something as simple as a temperature change, or something far more complex such as the fields of energy and thoughts created from other organisms in the environs.

On that note, let us introduce the Brain MRI Scan. It consists of a large donut shaped magnetic tube in which the patient places their head while lying on a table. Put simply, it is able to receive fields and waves sent by the brain. However, the magnet does not share any physical contact with the patient’s head. This tells us that whatever electrical activity that takes place in the brain is emitted to its vicinity, thereby being processed by the brains of other individuals nearby. Hence, we can conclude that the thoughts and state of an organism will affect those of another. Therefore, in an environment where people are competing (under Darwinian theory) for survival of the fittest, stress and destructive fields of energy will be present and cause the detriment of cells. Surely this is not the key to evolution?

Hold that thought, and focus instead on this activity that takes place in the brain. As some of you may already know, the brain can be divided into two distinct categories: The subconscious mind, and the conscious mind. The subconscious is responsible for all our habitual behavioral patterns, such as waking up in the morning and brushing your teeth. It is essentially a preprogrammed set of information. The conscious mind is the creative part that is active when we focus on something that steers away from our daily routines. For example, when instructed to produce a painting from a blank canvas.  Less than 5% of our brain’s work takes place in the conscious mind, so in effect we are not nearly as in control as one would presume.

It is possible, however to train (and re-train) your brain to erase certain programs that are in your subconscious, or indeed to create new ones. In the past, Jesuits would take responsibility for children up until the age of 6-7. They would teach them their beliefs and their ways, and eventually return the children to the security of their families. Bizarrely enough, they were spot on in their methodology. Our subconscious mind processes and takes in information from the environment (and those present in it) up until the age of 6, at which point it has collected and created its own set of preprogrammed information. 

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The Molecule Of Life, Part I

Many people live under the false pretext that life on Earth comes down to the presence of the nucleus and its DNA. If we were to abide by this assumption, we would presume that an enucleate cell (lacking a nucleus) would not be able to function as it does normally. However, this is not the case. Experiments were performed whereby the nucleus of a cell was removed in order to see what would happen. The cell not only survived but also continued to carry out its normal living functions and processes. So the brain of the cell had to be present elsewhere.

Now consider humans. Without our brains we die. This leads us to question what it is exactly that the brain does to keep us alive. Well, it assesses our surroundings, taking in environmental information and transforming this data into signals that can be understood and acted upon in the body. It is also potent in its omission of some environmental signals as well as with the emission of messages sent by the body. Does the brain’s function sound familiar? Think back to GCSE biology, and the role of the cell membrane: “The cell membrane controls the movement of substances into and out of the cell”. So essentially, the human brain has the same role as the cell surface membrane.

This links back to one of my previous articles on the impact of genetics versus that of epigenetics. Naturally, the genetics of a cell comes from its DNA information in the nucleus. The influences of the environment, however, enter the cell via the cell surface membrane. Does that not validate the importance of epigenetics over that of genetics, now that we have established that the cellular brain is in fact the plasma membrane and not the nucleus?

Let’s now go back to the title – the molecule of life. What is it that triggers life processes to occur? And once the occurrence of a reaction has been triggered, what is it that enables the process to be carried out? Surely not the DNA as it does not leaves the nucleus, and we well know that reactions do not occur in the nucleus of the cell. Rather, they occur in the cytoplasm, where hundreds of proteins are present.


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The Brain: A Secret History – Moral Issues Produced By Experimental Psychology

Michael Mosley, once again, presents this 3-part BBC series on the history of the development of the brain, focusing on the extent to which some scientists are willing to go in order to test their hypotheses. These, sometimes disturbing, experiments (experimental psychology) have opened up an important topic for discussion – the moral problems posed by some tests which, though have benefitted us greatly by providing with the knowledge into how the mind works, have imposed a lot of cruelty on its subjects. This documentary gets the story from the partakers and scientists and (excitingly) reveals the original films showing this research, essential in medical history.

The first episode, Mind Control, touches on the subject that has circulated around numerous times: is there such a thing as free will? The early experimentations expose how one’s reflexes can be trained. This is what Ivan Pavlov suggested through his “Pavlov’s Dog” (shown above). This was then used to modify behaviour such as changing the sexuality of a homosexual (as was not acceptable then) by him viewing soft straight porn whilst electrodes implanted into his brain activated the pleasure centres in order for him to relate that pleasure with heterosexual actions. A new degree of mind control then emerged which was used during wars: brainwashing (such as the type which the Koreans used against the Americans). 

The second episode was my favourite because it was on a subject I’m deeply interested in and have been trying to find more about: Emotions. I haven’t been successful in figuring out much because our sentiments is the topic that is very “grey” in medicine as no one can be truly confident about it. Mosley centres on a few specific emotions, thought to form the basis of our feelings. The first is fear which resulted in the most controversial experiment in medical history: John Watson researched to see if fear could be induced into children from an early stage (“Little Albert” experiment due to the child being named Albert) by showing them an object and banging a loud noise nearby so they would associate the object with fear. His theories are now used in practice to fulfil the opposite aim: manage phobias by gradually increasing exposure to what you fear.

Love was the emotion that was thought to be impossible to study; the conventional hypothesis was that it was produced by carrying out your basic needs (ie. food). Harry Harlow was the first to test this presumption by providing baby monkeys with 2 substitute “mothers”: 1 made of wire but with a feeding system whilst the other only had clothing on it. According to the theory, the monkey should go to the one which can feed it but what occurred was once the monkey had fed, it went to the mother which could provide warmth and comfort of touch. A scientist who helped with the procedure supported it 100%, claiming that it was worthwhile a monkey-model of depression was produced from leaving monkeys in complete isolation, some even in a restricted area (“The Well of Despair”) for a year. Aggression was tested by an adult being deliberately violent in front of a child which led to the infant imitating the parent (and this experimental evidence is often used when debating violence in TV/video games). Moreover, the importance of emotions was illustrated in this programme because 1 man, whose emotion-controlling section had been removed during surgery, stated deaths wouldn’t bother him; the only thing preventing him from becoming a serial killer is the memory of not being one.

The closing episode is called Broken Brains, where abnormal brains are made of use of to work out aspects of the usual brain. For instance, localisation (deducing which parts of the brain was responsible for which functions) became known after Paul Broca realised which part of the brain controlled speech after removing the brain of a man who could only say one word. Mosley also investigates surgeries gone wrong such as where a woman got Alien Hand Syndrome (where her left hand continuously attacked her as the right hemisphere tried to overpower the left).

The one question which has been posed throughout the series has been “Should the disturbing experiments have been done?” which is an important discussion that imposes decisions about future research. Michael Mosley leaves with his opinion: “Yes. I do believe that the knowledge gained was worth the price that was paid.”

(Clicking on the episode will link you to where it can be watched)

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Inside The Human Body – A Journey Through Our Internal Universe

“Travelling through the body, tiny clusters of hairs loom as large as a forest and hidden chambers of the heart rise up like a vast cathedral”

Inside The Human Body is a BBC documentary, presented excellently by Michael Mosley, which reveals how our body performs astonishing procedures so as to continue living. What really grabbed me about this programme was the use of the most modern technology to create graphics and animations, supported by the newest scientific studies, allowing a visual illustration in order to take the viewer on the journey through all the processes occurring inside us.

This 4-part series revolves around one specific topic in each episode, starting off fittingly right at the beginning: Conception. Here it demonstrates the likelihood of a sperm fertilising the egg by following their pathway with the use of computer-generated graphics; the race being like the “X Factor for sperm: millions will apply – 85% of them will be useless” and the body of the woman creating clever obstacles so that only the best are chosen, the ones that survive. It also reveals the formation of a human face (for the first time in television history):

In the second episode, First To Last, Mosley depicts the fight of existence; how the body carries out innumerable little wonders to keep it living such as regulating your body temperature and when the body ultimately stops working. Building Your Brain, the next episode, portrays the development of the brain as you grow: it turns out that the older you get, the fewer brain connections there are which causes Michael’s son, 16, to claim “so it’s just downhill” (quite rightly so!), but this adjustment is necessary (and explains the reason teenagers take many risks). The final episode, Hostile World, demonstrates the methods the body uses to defend against all the different infections, revealing how we grow completely new skin every 3 months.

Not only does this show contain all the scientific detail about our body but, to exemplify this science, each episode is full of numerous life stories about extraordinary people from all parts of the world who have challenged their bodies as much as possible. It includes a woman pregnant with her 16th child (and wanting more!), the oldest conjoined twins, a woman who has eaten solely Monster Munch crisps for over a decade (even the same flavour), a young girl fluent in 11 languages, the “Ice Man” who can swim in freezing glacial lakes for up to 15 minutes, a blind man who rock climbed, fishermen who can see clearly under water and even witnessing a man taking his last breath. Moreover, it allows some surgeries to be seen such as the separation of the malfunctioning right side of the brain from the left of a 1 year old, arm transplants for a man who was in a fire accident and a heart surgery to regulate the contractions.

Unfortunately, I only watched this show very recently after a friend showed it to me so couldn’t recommend it earlier so all 4 episodes have aired already. Nonetheless, there are repeats happening and they can be watched on BBC iPlayer (only 5 days left before it deletes them though!) but all of them are on youtube:

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Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus?

Ever wondered why women are so overly emotional and why men run away from making a decision to which they’ll actually commit to? The answer is simply in the biology of our body.

Decision making and cracking problems is controlled by the frontal lobe of the brain which is considerably bigger in the females which explains why men can’t make quick, easy decisions like women can.

As everyone knows, women are much more emotionally intelligent than men. I bet all the men hate how women can remember each and every detail of a previous fight whilst they just have a general idea (if that). This skill of summoning every feature of emotionally charged events is due to the amygdala in the limbic system. This system is generally larger in women meaning they’re more in touch with their feelings so have a better ability to express them. This capability to connect with people easily is why it’s usually the females who have jobs as caretakers for children. However, a negative aspect is that women are more at risk to depression; their attempts at suicide are triple that of men. Nonetheless, the success rate of suicide for males is triple women’s due to means such as hanging being used, instead of overdosing.

Intelligence. I know that’s what everyone’s been waiting to read about; the all important question – which is the smarter sex? It has been scientifically proven that there are 4% more brain cells and 100 extra grams of brain tissue in men than women. Now you could either perceive this as men being cleverer (which you’ll most probably do if you’re one yourself) or, the other theory, which I personally prefer, is that guys need the extra “brain power” to help them perform the same actions. Girls may not have as many brain cells, but they have more connections amongst them formed by dendrites. This, combined with them having a bigger corpus collusum, allows the transmission of information between the right (creative) and left (logical) side of the brain to be more rapid causing the female sex to be more balanced, rather than males (who are mostly left brained).

So, in conclusion, women are overall better than men (not being biased or anything…)

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Science Behind Hypnotism

I bet the first thing that came into your mind when you read the word hypnotism was a picture of a strange spooky man swinging a pocket watch from side to side who’d make you carry out all his evil little deeds for him.

Forget about that because, in reality, a person is never a slave; they always have the free will to not act upon a command. Whilst it is also perceived that the pocket watch is supposed to cause you to fall into a dream-like condition, the person is even more alert now.

How a person scientifically goes into a trance-like state is via the subconscious part of the brain. This is the part which is always awake, even when you’re sleeping (which is when it dominates the conscious part). It does the “behind the scenes” work, like controlling all the activities done automatically (breathing, habits etc).

This is when the pocket watch finally begins to make sense: it makes you focus all your attention onto one object so that everything else is tuned out which relaxes you, allowing the conscious mind to be less active so the subconscious part takes over. This means the hypnotist deals with just the subconscious which contains all your memories meaning they can pull out ones you didn’t even think you had and also create new ones. This also helps to explain why hypnotised people are prepared to act silly; the conscious mind is the one which is in charge of restriction and holds the fear and embarrassment whereas the subconscious is full of creativity and spontaneity. Why a hypnotist has power over your senses and emotions is also because the subconscious manages these so they can activate any sensations, for example the experience of having ice cream. In this way, hypnotism was used in early days to cure mental disorders and ease pain.

The physiological evidence can be seen in the measurements of the electrical activity in the brain via electroencephalographs (EEGs); these show waves similar to those of sleeping/dreaming. Moreover, there is a lower activity in the left side of your brain than your right when hypnotised which makes sense as the left regulates reason whilst the right controls imagination.

Everyday uses of these include psychiatrists and even putting your baby to sleep with the regular rocking; who knew we’d all been hypnotised at least once in our life!

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