December 22, 2007

From Charles Shults:

Re: Life’s building blocks formed on Mars: study (Dec. 11): I have been researching this subject for years. Here is a short summary of some of the findings. You can verify all of this through the direct links to the NASA/JPL web site. I have also won two lawsuits against NASA and they were ordered to turn over their MER operating guides and image processing guides to me, both of which you can download from my site along with DoD form 254 relating to the JPL.

I hope that you will take the time to check my information completely. I can answer any questions that you might have about the subject. Take note of the fact that neither rover has any type of water sensor, yet this is a “follow the water” mission. They also have no sensors for organic matter of any type, nor do they have sensors for peroxides (which NASA still insists exist in the Martian soil). It is chemically impossible for hydrogen peroxide, the precursor chemical, to exist in the soil of Mars at all. This is due to the presence of iron sulfate (otherwise known as melanterite) at a concentration of as much as 20% of mass. Iron sulfate salt spontaneously and instantly decomposes peroxide on contact.

Isn’t it odd that of all the scientists at NASA, none of them seems to know simple chemistry when it comes to this matter?


From John Stepp:

Re: Why we feel “slow motion” during crisis (Dec. 11): I think this has only happened to me a few times; in every case it has seemed to have saved me from injury. In each case the first thing I see is that everything has turned red; a very mono chromic red. Then things seem to flicker a bit and I realize that I have a lot of time to figure out how to avoid the danger (getting run down by a VW micro-bus, getting beat to death by a mugger, etc.) I have always thought that it might be related to the berserker rage (well, a much nicer version) because when this sort of thing happens I stop feeling pain.

There is an Internet personality that (supposedly) can call this state up at will (and I don’t doubt it) but giving out his name would be invading his privacy.

From Joseph Spenner:

Re: Why we feel “slow motion” during crisis (Dec. 11): Towards the end of the article, you mention why “Time speeds up” as you grow older. I believe there to be a different theory. The passage of time is proportional to how long you have been around.

Simply put: A 10 year old child will perceive 2 years the same as a 40 year old man will perceive 8 years. It’s all relative to how long you’ve been around. Thinking back to when I was a child in the 70s, my brother graduating high school in 1975 seems to have occurred ages before 1977 when we moved to our new house in another part of the city. I would have been 10 years old, and 2 years would have been 1/5 of my life. This was only 2 years! However, today, when I think back to August 1992 when I graduated from college, it doesn’t seem very long ago, even though it was over 15 years!

So, I suspect the passage of time is consistent with the percentage of your life that time spans.

From Erica Elliot:

Re: Why we feel “slow motion” during crisis (Dec. 11): I was under the impression from earlier studies, that time and our perception of it was linked to melatonin level depletion, is that not so any longer?

From Tom Quinn Kumpf:

Re: Why we feel “slow motion” during crisis (Dec. 11): As a veteran of Vietnam, a martial artist, and a photojournalist who has been in threatening situations more than a few times, I must say that I believe the researchers of why we feel slow motion during crisis are far too simplistic in their conclusions.

While I have “memories” of slow motion during rocket attacks and fire fights in places like Vietnam, Somalia, and Belfast, I “know” that I “experienced” slow motion during such incidents. What I also know is that those “experiences” were not a slowing down of time, but a speeding up (or extreme heightening) of whatever senses I needed to survive at that particular moment in time. In those situations, and once when a guy collided with my van causing it to roll over, my sense of sight sped up so that I saw things happening around me in slow motion, while my brain completely shut down my hearing and sense of smell. Shortly after the danger had passed, I could smell spent explosives and gasoline and hear people shouting around me (and how strange it was that my radio suddenly came back on after I knew the van had finished rolling).

I think the researches would have served themselves much better had they spent their time interviewing people who have experienced “real” crisis situations. Jumping backwards off a high tower may be scary (I wouldn’t have been able to do it) but that kind of experience is exactly as they described it, “safe but harrowing.” I would liken it to martial arts tournament play. There too I have experienced a slowing of motion when someone is throwing a strike or kick my way, but the slowing down of motion is nothing like what you experience during combat or a sudden car crash. I knew, as did the volunteers, that chances of actually be hurt or killed were slim to none. The play, like the jumping, was controlled at all levels, even if you didn’t know where the next strike was coming from. You’d get “pumped” but the senses do more radical things when the world is blowing up or flying by uncontrollably, especially when you know other people are dying around you.

Likewise regarding the phenomenon of time speeding up as we get older. My experiences have always supported the expression “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Memories might in fact affect perception, but so too perception surely affects memory. To put all your focus on memory (shoe, shoe, flower, shoe?} cancels the most important aspect of remembering; the experience. My summers seemed to have lasted forever only when I was bored or not enjoying myself. Then as now (at age sixty) everything slows down when circumstances are bad (recently living through an “eternal” ten-hour flight delay) and seem to fly by when circumstances are enjoyable. Not the other way around.

In any event, thanks for producing such a great newsletter. Although I may sometimes disagree with what I find there, the reports and articles are always interesting and informative.

From Fred Colbourne :

Re: Why we feel “slow motion” during crisis (Dec. 11): “People are not like Neo in The Matrix, dodging bullets in slow motion.”

Well, I’m not convinced by this experiment and I’ll tell you why. In 1970, I was working for the UN in Central America. One evening, I was invited to a fiesta some distance from the capital city. We arrived just after dark and my hosts got out of the car and walked off into the night. I followed the sounds of their footsteps and soon saw a slit of light as a door opened and they entered. When I got to the door, I pushed and walked in. It was dark in the hallway, so dark I could not see what was pressed up against my chest and lower face. But I could smell the machine oil and feel the barrel of a submachine gun pressing on my upper lip.

Time seemed to stand still and I looked to my left down a long hallway where a woman stood holding a small child in her arms. I remember thinking, well it may not be as bad as it seems if that woman is this man’s wife. I said: Es su nino alla? I had only a couple of weeks lessons in Spanish and had been in the country only a matter of weeks. So I really don’t know what part of my brain generated these words in what could only have been only an instant. He said, “Si, pasen adelante” and introduced me to his wife and child. Then, assuming I was an arms supplier, he thanked me for the weapons that lined the walls of his storeroom and took me on a tour of the place. He switched on the lights in the entrance hall where I read, “Guardia Civile” in huge letters over the inner doorway, flanked by photos of local guardia and their foreign trainers together with Nazi regalia, just like the Boys from Brazil. But this was not Brazil and I was not the CIA man he thought I was. Turned out my hosts were national police, organizers of death squads. And they were mighty sore that one of their own was stupid enough to bring in a foreigner who might blab about what he saw.

What I remember most was time standing still in that moment of crisis when my brain seemed to pull together what I needed to “dodge the bullets”. So I am skeptical when I read of an experiment that concludes the sense of slow motion in a crisis is merely an illusion. Something happens, but this experiment has not captured the phenomenon.

Fred Colbourne

From Robert Adler:

Re: Global warming to worsen malnutrition: report (Dec. 12): In light of all of what the world’s scientists are telling us about the perils of global warming and climate change, the aggressive “business as usual” stance of the current US administration is now putting the whole world at risk. With the US Congress unable to act effectively in the face of President Bush’s intransigence and a determined Republican minority in the Senate, it behooves the world community to act independently. I strongly support recent comments by European leaders saying that they will not attend the sham climate talks that the Bush administration wants to host unless the US joins the rest of the world in advancing the process started at Kyoto, rather than continuing to block real progress. I think it is crucial that someone, somewhere, calls President Bush’s bluff.

Robert Adler
Science Writer
Oaxaca, Mexico

From Charles Sifers:

Re: Global warming to worsen malnutrition: report (Dec. 12): I subscribe to your service (among others) because I am looking for the latest in new science announcements. I realize that Global Warming hysteria is the new rage, but it is hardly science.

Everything we read and hear is based on computer models, and to date, not a single model has been accurate in its prediction. Is there any reason for a science source to continue to promote something that has no basis in real science?

If you feel like you absolutely have to post some researchers computer simulation, could you at least post a real scientists’ rebuttal? If you are not aware of what real scientists are saying about the issue, I’ll be happy to forward those to you when I receive them. I expect you will check those sources as well as you check the sources that you post, now.

Please provide a link to which I can start contributing. I assure you that I would not share that with anyone, as I would hope that you would treat mine inn the same regard.

Thank you, and I look forward to contributing to the dissemination of real science.

From Dennis McAllister:

Re: Why we feel “slow motion” during crisis (Dec. 11): I don’t approve of the conduct of the experiment. I had two crises experiences, both involving my car going into a sudden spin, first to avoid a deer on a dark night, the second to avoid a very slow truck pulling in front of me.

First, let me say that my reflexes and analytical speed are far above normal and my analytic ability tests in the extreme. While young, I drove hydroplanes, which seem to be in a constant skid and require fast reflexes.

In the first instance my mind/visual system provided me with separate, individual pictures, interspersed with no picture. - kind of like a fast, mechanical, slide show.

In the second instance, I was in the right lane of a two lane elevated on-ramp between two freeways when a slow pickup moved from a full slow moving left lane into my empty right lane. I hit the brakes and kept getting closer to the truck. I aimed slightly to the right. After a while I started spinning and pointing to the left. I spun the steering wheel rapidly. Eventually I turned to straight ahead and then to the left, heading for the low railing about 70 feet above the freeway below. I was still skidding and braking. I realized that I needed to change what I was doing. I made the decision to hold the steering wheel still and take my foot off the brake. I stopped skidding, but was still moving. I quickly turned the steering wheel to the left and pointed the car straight ahead. I finally had slowed down and the pickup had speeded up so that I came within on two feet of it. In this instance I did not experience the same visual effects as I had 30 years earlier. I guess my speed was 65-70 and the truck was going 25-30.

At no time did I feel that time had speeded up. I just thought it was an interesting experience. In the first instance I surmised that my mind was working faster than my visual system could construct pictures. This may be the result of the hyperactivity of amygdala alluded to in the article.

Dennis McAllister
La Mesa CA 91942

From Nancy Ruth Jarbadan:

Re: Why we feel “slow motion” during crisis (Dec. 11):

“This is re­lat­ed to the phe­nom­e­non that time seems to speed up as you grow old­er. When you’re a child, you lay down rich mem­o­ries for all your ex­pe­ri­ences; when you’re old­er, you’ve seen it all be­fore and lay down few­er mem­o­ries,” he re­marked. “There­fore, when a child looks back at the end of a sum­mer, it seems to have lasted forev­er; adults think it zoomed by.”

I’ve heard another, similar explanation as to why this is so. As you get older, a “one year” span of time becomes a smaller percentage of your total experience. For example, for a 5-year-old looking back on the past year, that year is 20% of his or her total time experience. Thirty-five years later, for the now 40-year-old looking back on the past year, that year is only 2. 5% or his or her total time experience. Since, as one ages, the passage of each year becomes a smaller percentage of one’s total time experience, a year-in the-life of an adult seems to pass much more quickly than a year-in-the-life of a child.

December 21, 2007

From Jacob Silver, Ph.D., President:

Re: Sunless but livable planets may be detectable (Sept. 10): Sunless planets, with sufficient radiation heat to keep water liquid, would still not be able to have photosynthesis. Thus, the only life forms possible would be archea, or simple anoerobic bacteria.

Jacob Silver, Ph.D., President
Huron Mountain Research Services, LLC
P.O. Box 425
Marquette, MI 49855

From Jacob Silver:

Re: Google’s kinship with the mind (Dec. 5): The observation that the human mind seems to mimic the process used by Google simply raises the question: Did not humans create Google?

Jacob Silver, Ph.D., President
Huron Mountain Research Services, LLC
P.O. Box 425
Marquette, MI 49855

From David Gunderlach:

Re: Researchers trace origin of an “altruism gene” (May 29, 2006): it is quite inspirenig to talk about think about an altruistic gene. But I never heard that a plant desided to act in an altruistic way. In my eyes has altruism something to do with the free will of human beings. That’s why I would rather not use the word altruism in connection to a biological process of a plant.

David Gunderlach
(Student/psychology/OpenUniversity GB)

From Charles Douglas Wehner:

Re: Google’s kinship with the mind (Dec. 5): The article describes how the “popularity rating” may be used by the mind to catalogue data. This is exactly what I have already discovered when studying the fundaments of data compression.

For life to be possible, animals must be able to recognise their own species. For example, ants must be able to recognise and breed with ants, but have such a tiny brain that the algorithm has to be extremely small and elegant.

What emerges is that the recognition process is due to “data clumping”, and is in the algorithm not in the physical structure of the brain. When data reappears, it clumps better. If it reappears again, the clumping is better still. The most recent “clumps” are at the forefront of consciousness (the top of the memory in a computer algorithm). The older clumps that have not been “refreshed” become more and more buried by the other data.

You can see an absurdly simple program actually identifying the “Chomsky Universal Grammar” here. In this case, it is nouns. For pictures, the algorithm recognises the nouns “row”, for a row of pixels. It also recognises “horse”, and tracks with the horse as it moves across the field of vision. For sound, it recognises the noun “sinusoid”.

The machine is not thinking, and is neither aware nor conscious. It is simply generating a “link” to oft-repeating data. That is the lowest level of awareness that is possible.

It is so fundamental, that I have described the arithmetic-logic as the “(new) Calculus of Sets”, where a clump is a “differal”. Just as differentiation delivers the rate of change of numbers, so “differation” delivers the rate of change of pattern. Patterns that rarely change and keep repeating deliver big clumps with good compression. New data causes a surge of data, exactly like the “theta storm” of a roused mind.

From Betty J.Rodman:

Re: Google’s kinship with the mind (Dec. 5): My comment is that the mind does not work like Google search, but rather that Google search may work a little like the mind. Your comparison may make it easier for some people to grasp an understanding into the complexity of the mind, but it is by no means a real way to gauge the workings of the mind. In fact it is an over-simplification of it. The mind itself is far more complex than anything that we can conceive of, create, or invent with our minds. Google search, as awesome as it is, doesn’t even come close.

Betty J.Rodman H.H.C.P.
M.I.N.D.S. consultant
Holistic Counseling
Falmouth, MA 02540

From Rudolf Scheutz:

Re: Google’s kinship with the mind (Dec. 5): Computer-/communication networks are the most dangerous endeavor mankind has begun so far. It is not very difficult for unauthorized non/humans to read, create, modify and delete data on them. (There is no one-one correspondence between a human and an electronic thing). Traditional information may be electronically contaminated. Very bad further effect: this is a creativity killer. I have done hundreds of empirical tests. So the University of California, Berkeley researchers did a bad, false comparison.

Dr Rudolf Scheutz
University of Salzburg, Austria
IT Services

From Linda Probert:

Re: Where dreams are made (Sept. 10, 2004): I have read your article on dreaming and brain injury with interest. It may be of interest to your readers that in 1957 I had an adverse reaction to a whooping cough vaccine at the age of 11 months. I was comatose with a left hemi-paresis for 2 days and then apparently recovered. I was subsequently diagnosed with epilepsy and treated with drugs until at the age of 42 when I underwent a right temporal lobe removal which cured the epilepsy overnight. I have always worked full time and never had any sick leave due to my problem. My short term memory significantly improved after surgery.

However, I have never dreamed normally, although I can remember a few nightmares which I can still recall from childhood.

If anyone has any comments on this information, compared to the stroke victim report, I would be interested to hear from them.

From Savely Savva:

Re: Study suggests how DNA building block might have formed (Nov. 2, 2007): The electric/electromagnetic interactions -- the only currently known in chemistry -- obviously cannot explain emergence of the pre-life organic molecules, let alone life itself. Searching for the yet-unknown fundamental physical interaction(s) responsible for life can be and must be the subject of physics. See

December 20, 2007

From Marshall Gordon:

Re: Why poor kids may make sicker adults (Nov. 7): It would seem that one can infer not only personal ‘long term health problems’, but societal ‘long-term health problems’, as the poor would tend not to be able to handle work-related problems that they find stressful, which would be many situations more than those with a healthy stress-regulatory mechanism in operation.

From Felix Tymcik:

Re: What? Where? When? Some animals may know (Aug. 12): generally the opinion that a being cannot think because it cannot express itself in an understandable for us way is egocentric – it rather shows our own ignorance than the animals qualities. It would never come to my mind that this little bug under my shoe didn’t mind to be squashed. I can see a kind of – comparable to ours primitive – intelligence, in flies, rodents, fish and whatever crawls, swims and flies around us. There is certainly not much philosophy behind their thoughts, but they feel and are aware of their own existence, see the world from their very own viewpoint, according to their genetic programme (basic conditions=karma).

It is nice to see science getting closer to that conviction, leading to compassion. Add thoughts of parallel universes (beginningless continuity), the insight of meditation and you have the fundament for the principles of Mahayana Buddhism.

From Felix Tymcik:

Re: Gaping “hole” in the cosmos found (Aug. 23): logic dictates that outcome equals input, as far as I understand it. If rays actually leave a cluster of galaxies with a slightly higher potential than they entered with, as stated in the second last paragraph, that would mean that dark energy works selectively – by greasing the way out (by shielding off gravity) but not influencing incoming rays.

Did I get that right?

From Sandra R. Coulson, B.A, C.O.M.:

Re: First reversal of aging in an organ claimed (Nov. 29): I am a Certified Orofacial Myologist in Denver. , and the recent past president of the International Association of Orofacial Myology. I am on your mailing list and am very interested in the outcome of your study regarding skin aging. My practice is devoted to the muscles of the face and the changes that can occur when they are exercised. For forty years I have been changing the facial contours and teeth with exercise, so a breakthrough in the process of skin’s aging is absolutely exciting! I will eagerly follow your research and thank you for my inclusion

Sandra R. Coulson, B.A, C.O.M.
2121 S Oneida St. Suite 633
Denver, CO. 80224

From Betty Rodman:

Re: Why poor kids may make sicker adults (Nov. 7): Many times studies are conducted on things that have obvious answers. Why must there be so many Duh! moments in science. You do not need a scientific study to explain why growing up in poverty produces a sicker adult. (It’s adding insult to injury.)

December 02, 2007

From Stephen Mikesell:

Re: A “Big Bang” of plant evolution (Nov. 26): The Soltis’s attribution of the mystery of diversification of flowering plants to a new evolutionary trait such as a water-conducting cell, of course, follows Darwin’s own thinking:

The parallel, and, taken in large sense, simultaneous, succession of the same forms of life thorughout the world, accords well with the principle of new species having been formed by dominant species spreading widely and varying; the new species thus produced being themselves dominant, owning to their having had some advantage over their already dominant parents, as well as over other species, and again spreading, varying, and producing new forms. —Darwin, The Origin of Species

It seems to me that one should furthermore not just look at traits in themselves within the plants, but of the relationships that these new traits engender -- as all traits basically are embodiment of relationships, simutaneously external and internal to the organism, or else they would not experience selection. Maybe this is old hat, but the relationship engendered by flowering plants to highly mobile, selective pollinators would be a powerful force in the mutual radiation and differentiation of both flowering plants and pollinators.

From Catherine Greenup:

Re: Breakthrough may let scientists make stem cells on demand (Nov. 20): I hope this will prove to be a real break through for the millions suffering from various neuro diseases that cause devistation to the lives of the sufferers and their families; continuing often for decades of terrifying decline whilst the illness takes its evil course.

I myself suffer from Multiple Sclerosis; so my husband and I have first hand experience of the terror of these chronic illnesses. We have to try to LIVE these illnesses as best we can with so many barriers set in our way from many quarters.

We’ve all got our fingers and toes crossed for future real treatments and even dare to hope for a cure. We wish everyone well whom are involved in such precious research and I for one know you will succeed one day because failure is not an option that anyone can find and hope or faith in life in the present.

From Daryl Krupa:

Re: “Noah’s flood” spread farming, researchers say (Nov. 19): That link contains a few misleading statements.

1) “A decade-old theory holds that about 7,500 years ago, a deluge filled the Black Sea... ” “Although some researchers dispute the theory... ”

That hypothesis had two main proponents: William Ryan and Walter C. Pitman III.

Ryan is one of the researchers who not only disputes the “theory”, but has discarded it and replaced it with first one, then another, Black Sea flood scenario, which both explicitly deny that there was any significant change in Black Sea level 7,500 years ago.

Rather, he agrees with the detractors of the original idea that the evidence that they used to attempt to show that a flood event had occurred 7,500 years ago only indicates that water deep below the surface became saltier, centuries after any possible sudden rise in Black Sea level.

That original idea is no longer discussed by marine scientists.

2) “A catastrophic rise in global sea level led to the flooding of the Black Sea and drove dramatic social change across Europe”...

No catastrophic rise was demonstrated in the recent study by Turney and Brown.

3) “The deluge “could have led to the displacement of 145,000 people”, they explained.

There is no explanation attached to that claim, because there is no way of knowing how many people would have been displaced by the flood in their scenario.

4) “The trigger for the hypothesized flood would have been the collapse of the North American Ice Sheet some 8,000 years ago”...

They claimed that a “collapse” of the North American ice sheet raised global sea level 1.4 metres, but the event they refer to lasted six centuries, over which time global sea level slowly rose much more than 1.4 metres.

What they meant was that an ice-dammed lake partially drained into the sea about 8400 years ago, halfway through the “collapse” period, which drainage had once been calculated to have raised global sea level by 1.4 metres, but more reliable calculations have since indicated that the resultant global sea level rise was perhaps half a metre.

The “collapse” was a progressive erosion of the ice in the Hudson Bay basin by splitting-off of icebergs and their floating out to sea through Hudson Strait, rather than slower creep of the ice away from the high point of the ice dome centred on the Hudson Bay basin.

It was not a sudden event.

5) “This would have raised sea levels causing water to violently breach the Bosporus Strait, which previously dammed the Mediterranean and kept the Black Sea as a freshwater lake.”

There is no physical evidence whatsoever of any kind of a dam across the Bosphorus Strait at any time.

Ryan and Pitman postulated its existence as a necessary mechanism for delaying the entry of Mediterranean water into the Black Sea basin for 1 1/2 millennia after it should have been able to enter that basin. It was never anything more than a convenient fiction.

Ergo, the “violent breach” could not have occurred.

Ryan does not claim its existence in his revised flood scenarios.

6) “The Australian and U.K. researchers created reconstructions of the Mediterranean and Black Sea shoreline before and after the hypothesized sea level rise.”

The Black Sea reconstruction was based on a computer modelling exercise that related to a scenario that originated with that modeller, a scenario which has not been discussed by marine scientists.

That scenario was not based on the available evidence.

“They estimated that nearly 73,000 square km of land, an area about the size of Ireland, was lost to the sea in one 34-year period.”

Here they refer to the area around the Black Sea that was supposedly flooded, but that measurement, and the time span of 34 years, do not relate to real conditions.

7) “Controversy has dogged the flood hypothesis from the start, although it has support from evidence including signs of human habitation found well beneath the sea.”

That is a reference to the outlines formed by linear arrangements of low mounds on the Black Sea floor, found by Bob Ballard at his Site 82, which was declared by him to be a “human habitation”.

Ballard has not been back to that site since the wood he collected from it was dated to Napoleon’s time.

The outline is pointed at one end, rounded at the other, with a rectangular arrangement of low mounds near the rounded end, making it look much as one would expect a Crimean-War-era shipwreck to look.

No scientists are now claiming that Site 82 contains evidence of a terrestrial human habitation site.

Ballard’s Site 82 contains no support for a flood hypothesis.

8) “The authors of the Quaternary Science Reviews paper are sticking close to the original deluge hypothesis, proposed by marine geologists William Ryan and Walter Pitman in 1996.”

The authors of the paper are not sticking closely to the original Ryan and Pitman deluge hypothesis, because the authors calculate that a flood happened about 700 years earlier, at about 8300 years ago, when conditions were not suitable to the original hypothesis.

Rather, that modelled average of two radiocarbon dates (unsupported by any theory) matches the timing of the flood in Ryan’s first revised scenario, which does not allow the original scenario to occur.

The authors cite Ryan’s second revision as a source of information, but conveniently ignore Ryan’s latest calculation in that revised scenario that a sudden flood event in the Black Sea basin could not have occurred later that 9400 years ago.

The scenario [proposed by Turney and Brown is original with them, and is not supported by physical evidence.

Turney and Brown do not seem to have understood, and may not have read, the most relevant publications on this subject.

Their “Rapid Communication” (not a properly peer-reviewed scientific article) is not a reliable source of information, and the claims contained therein may be safely ignored.

From Arie S. Issar:

Re: “Noah’s flood” spread farming, researchers say (Nov. 19): We would like to draw your attention to our book already published by Springer (See attachment), in which we claim that the Biblical Flood was in Mesopotamia.

In Chapter 5. The Early Bronze Age - The Urban Revolution and the Dawn of History we write the following:

After a relatively short warm and dry period and a retreat of the front line of agriculture, a colder and wetter climate affected again the Fertile Crescent. For the Mesopotamian plain it brought in its wake not only surplus of food and unprecedented population growth but also great floods which destroyed many cities, a commonplace experience which was apparently memorialized in the ancient Babylonian myths and the Biblical story of the Flood.

Prof. Arie S. Issar, Emeritus
Jerusalem, 96348, ISRAEL
Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research
J. Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Sede-Boqer Campus, 84990, ISRAEL

From Tom Pritchard:

Re: Breakthrough may let scientists make stem cells on demand (Nov. 20): A year or two ago I had a letter to the editor published in The Daily Star (of Oneonta, NY) inviting anyone from the medical/scientific community to respond to my suggestion that placental and umbilical cells could be harvested at birth and used for others or kept for the originating donor should the need arise in the future. A local retired surgeon, Bob Davidson (of fundamentalist leanings), affirmed my suggestion observing how logical and easy that would be to do. I’ve never read any literature or news stories relating to my concept and was wondering where the larger world scientific community is on this possibility?

December 01, 2007

From Jack Fulton:

Re: “Noah’s flood” spread farming, researchers say (Nov. 19): it is interesting the time period seems to coincide with the Biblical references to the ‘age’ of the Earth. Perhaps there might be a connection for there are multiple aspects in the Bible itself which appear to be a simile or metaphor. Also, from what I’ve read, the Hopi, here in the U.S. also have the flood story in their history of who they are. Is it possible they migrated here after that period? However, I also wonder that if it was a collapse of the ice causing the flood in eastern Europe, would it not have made it more difficult to migrate here?

From Ken Wright:

Re: Drastic diet may extend human life, study finds (Nov. 15): While I appreciated the article I did see where you didn’t go far enough. Yes it is true that if we eat less we will have a healthier lifestyle but where it didn’t go far enough is the question of “What we should eat and how much?”

The correct amount we should put into our stomachs is how much food we can place in our cupped hands. Because that is approximately the size of our stomachs. This quantity is pre-cooked. (Maureen Solaman. All your health questions answered). Next we have to ask, “What do we put into our systems?” Rev. Dr. George Malkmus in his book “Gods Way to Ultimate Health.” Talks about a diet that that is totally raw food energy combined with juicing. It is a 500 page manual on healthy eating and combines fresh raw vegetables juiced as well as solid raw fruit and vegetables. This diet is absolutely amazing and is what our bodies were originally designed to eat and drink. This diet has been tested and re tested scientifically for its authenticity. It is simple and it works. I myself have tried it and in fact I am on it at present. I have multiple health problems and should have died years ago. I am 68yrs. old but people say I only look in my 50’s I have a full head of hair with only a litte grey in it and I am increasing in health all the time. Although I am not fully healed yet I am along way ahead of what the doctors have prescribed for me.

I had terminal prostrate cancer which the Doctors said they cannot operate, a very unstable angina which airline companies refuse to allow me to board because I was too bad a risk, and various other problems. The other question is the problem with blocked veins and arteries. Most of the stroke and heart problems arise from these arterial routes being blocked, and this is a major problem. I am happy to inform you that I have had fewer angina attacks since I have been monitering what I have been putting into my mouth and am able to walk a short distance which may not sound very much to you. But when you consider the state of my skeleton it is a miracle. I have ostio arthritis of the lumber spine, the right hip and knee and have worn all the vertebraes from the neck down to the tail bone. So all in all, I am getting better and hope to have a long and sickness free life. Malkmus also goes into the problem omeat, fish, fish, and chicken. He allows these things but only sparingly as we get sufficient protien in the vegetables.

From Alberto Leon C.:

Re: What’s in a name? Studies link initials to success (Nov. 14): Congratulations for your report. It´s very interesting and makes to think, but, sorry, seems your study results, are very local and partial, maybe just focused on a first sight-culture style and background. Also it is not very new in latin American countries. By centuries, there is an old creed in Spanish:” From noble origin it´s name comes...” There are some points that your issue doesn´t mention ( and very possible Drs. Nelson and Simmons already previewed). Anyhow I mention in honor to my hobby “to understand” the Semiotics of Cultures:

1. Meaning: In my personal thinking, all depends of what the culture guides you. “K” for latin persons does not mean nothing.

2. Background: In old Mexico (coimng from early XIX century), to utilize nomograms was well accepted for the poets and always was related to a “well public known” author, that was not needing to write his or her complete name to be recognized. To sign in that way was a “very high status situation” for the author. . . Even today it means “enough popularity”... Very often I receive mails like this: “DO this or that... Thanks. . B.” ... and the author hopes I understand it´s status, popularity or authority

3. Culture: I work for Japaneses, and the first name does not mean nothing for them. Many of them always skip it, or consider it´s not polite to call using it... The last name, is the truly important one if really is an important family name.

4. Education: Even more, in my country more than the name itself, is the way how a child is educated and guided in the life abouth his or her name, and such makes more influence on his or her appreciation of name. Truly! 5. Tradition I agree your explanation that name meaning guides, but not about the weigth and meaning itself. I can say so in a country where, 50% of men are called “Jose”, and 50% of women are “María” Some of them are proud of the name, because they feel some link with the family name or the valuable traditions that they learned related to their name (that includes an strong guidance through religion, and regionalty), and many others seem very embarrased to utilize it, because

they think it´s too common and unpersonal in their very competite world and activities, and it can jeopardize their status or the way they get relationship with others and their enviroment...

6. Utility Also all depends about how the name is pronunced along your life. Certainly I see you are right in the fact that name makes an image of you: But, additional to your idea, the persons make the name to mean in a way or other... My family name LEON, for many elders, including my parents, means “Tradition” (coming from old Iberic Spain), but for others is a comic way to be a big cat (lion) or for the Japaneses I work, it means “aggressive guy”... and not for many persons means what I want to show: An Chemist and Science and Astronomy hobbist. In other hand, I´d learned to pronunce my name in a more soft way ( Leeonnnn, using a soft nose noise), to make the persons to understand I´m not a though guy... and for my bankers, and bussiness customers I use to point a dry “Lion”, that means I´m sure what I negotiate. I mean, in my common life, I modify the name depending of circunstamces, not the name to me...

By the way, coming back to your explanation, yes, as a “noble cat”, first impression is I´m proud of my fear family name, but the other 50% of time, my human reaction is conviniently to modify it in a more “personal” way and need...

So, the semiotics esence of your study is very interesting but the meanings will always be in danger of change, depending of the person and circunstances...

From Cecil Taitz:

Re: Why poor kids may make sicker adults (Nov. 7): The above discussion appears to contradict the thoughts of Professor Nick Lane in his book OXYGEN p333 where he writes:

A surprising number of longevity genes turned out to be linked with frailty earlier in life. In other words, people who are ill a lot in their youth are more likely than most to survive to a ripe old age, as long as they don’t die first. Yashin and De Benedictis attributed this durability of the weak to adaptation, or as Nietzche put it, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. So long as we avoid really serious illness, a weak disposition might perhaps lend itself to persistent immunosuppression, which reaps its reward in old age.

My query is whether so-called’ poor kids’ would fall under the above category?

Auto Autos

Re: Competition drives robotic car technology forward (Nov. 5): Delighted to see the progress on driverless cars. For some time I have thought that it is the only way to go with driverless cabs available on call from any point to any point within cities, and significantly more economical that owning your own car.

John Seldon

From Savely Savva:

Re: Genes affecting generosity may be found (Oct. 31): In many presented articles one or another control function of the organism implicitly or explicitly is ascribed to genes. It is a total nonsense -- see Are you brave enough to present an alternative view?