August 15, 2009

From S. Sureshkumar :

Re: A new way to fix a broken heart? (July 28): I am aware of a traditional practice in this part of the country where a concoction consisting of heart and lungs [of young goats] and some cardiac function improving herbs are extracted in alcohol and given to heart patients to improve cardiac functions particularly after heart attacks--so I cannot subscribe to the claim that this is a first of its kind, though that may be true for the formal sector doctors, and in our hospitals. But if you take traditional practices over cebturies and millenia, this is not true.

Sureshkumar S., Scientist and Adviser
Trivandrum, India

From Wendy Salter:

Re: “Dream therapy” set for a comeback? (July 28): After reading your post on ‘Dream Therapy - set for a comeback’ I felt moved to add my six-penneth.

I am a life-long avid dreamer. (And there is a reason why some people are and others not) Until my meeting with a dream-psychologist in 1991, who suggested that I could work with my dreams, I had regular nightmares, some recurring. With just the knowledge that my dreams may hold useful information, from which I could learn the nature of my unconscious mind and emotional health, my nightmares ceased. I kept a dream journal for many years after that. I came to understand that my nightmares were replaying my emotional fears, and when I understood what they were, and worked on alleviating those fears, the nightmares were no longer needed.

I then started lucid dreaming and having out-of-body experiences. At first, they were fairly anxiety- laden, (it takes practice) but in time they became more informative and relaxed. This led me to the understanding that my ‘consciousness’ was separate from my unconscious reactions. My dreams became conscious. I could ask a question and receive an answer in the morning, which proved helpful and elucidating. I can look into the future and have had more than just a few experiences of dreaming of a place, in detail, and colour, and then walk into that exact scene some weeks or months later.

I will now tell you something that may break your interest in what I have just written, or not, because it is fairly unconventional.

I believe that the mind does not reside in the body. I believe that the mind is a ‘free-form consciousness’ that uses the brain as a processor to supply images, sounds, and others senses to which the physical body can relate, for the purpose of down-loading information which is not physical, which we may call ‘understanding’. I believe that the language of the free form consciousness is numerical, geometric and scientific, and symbolic, ie it uses what we know to describe what we don’t know.

For every single thing in existence, there is another expression or meaning of that thing, which is not physical. I also believe that during my out-of-body experiences I have learned knowledge and gained wisdom, which I have not learned from studies in my physical life and I believe that this information is relevant to the understanding of the human condition, the relationship of the human to the natural world of our planet, and beyond, to the solar system and the galaxy and the outer universe(s).

I can dream for other people. I can ‘see’ things that are physically invisible. I can dream while awake, otherwise known as meditation, being psychic, clairvoyant, visionary, having seership, or seeing with the third eye. All these practices have been know for millennia, and it is a study of mine to understand why those who experience it, know it and believe it to be true and understand its worth; and those who can’t do it, do not. There is one simple answer. The human needs to have attained a certain level of evolution to be able to do it. (I also know that some people do it badly, do it for the wrong reason, and abuse it)

As for the condition of the psychotic, schizophrenic, or mentally deranged, I believe that these people have this ability, while their level of evolution is not yet able to direct it positively. There are manifestations of the whole spectrum of the human belief system, emotional state, and level of knowledge, and degree of conscious evolution. Drug-induced psychosis can open up the free-form consciousness in a state of fear. In these circumstances, their experience will be extremely frightening.

There is one other aspect. the free-form consciousness can run all the time, 24 hours a day. The waking state consciousness has physical frames of reference, within which the mind experience can be contained. The dream state has no such frame of reference. The psychotic etc has this dream state/no frame of reference but in the waking state. It may be that the drugs which induce the psychosis block the brain functions which process the incoming mind experience. The phyto- (and synthetic) chemicals which can cause altered brain function and altered mind states, probably had a purpose which was entirely self-protection for the plant. They blocked the intentions of the animal/human who was about to destroy it, rendering it useless, essentially because they are poisons. The side effect of leaving the free-form consciousness without a brain processor is interesting, and another discussion.

PS I am not and never have been psychotic, nor suffer from any mental disorder. I have had an emotional breakdown, following a prolonged period of grief. I have had many experiences in an altered state of mind under controlled conditions, without the use of any plant or drug, for the purpose of study. I used cannabis ‘grass’, ie the plant form, for a short period, just to experience it, but have not used any other drug.

From Nancy Pyle:

Re: %#$!? Swearing may actually reduce pain (July 12): The article does not suggest that the opposite was tried -- neutral language first, swearing later. It may be that the second time you put your hand in ice-water, it is harder to bear than the first time. Was there a control, or is this a joke?

N. Pyle
Daisy OK

From Antonio Saraiva:

Re: Particle smasher may reveal extra dimensions (Feb. 1, 2008): I found that the Boltzmann constant times the charge of the electron is equal to the Planck constant under light speed: k·q = h/c. It´s not a coincidence because it was derived from my theory of units unification. The units are correct.

From David Michael:

Re: Poop balls reveal secrets of lost world (July 19): Rest assured the dung beetle is still a hero on our farm on the Southern Tablelands of NSW, Australia. It cleans up thousands of tonnes of cattle dung every year and helps control blowfly populations to such an extent that we don’t have any flyblown sheep. It’s one of the biggest assets we have.

From Warren Harding:

Re: Reflection is key to jewel beetle colors, scientists say (July 24): This sounds like the car paint we call “Chameleon” here in New Zealand. It’s been around for at least 8 years. It’s very expensive (something like $1,000/litre) but you do see it from time to time especially on show cars. As I understand it, you first paint your car black, then apply this paint which is clear in colour. Something to do with the thickness of the clear coat and the distance the light travels through it including the reflected path length makes the reflected colour different depending on the angle of incidence (which affects the path length). I think that’s how it works. So I don’t think this is a new idea unless this works a different way.

From Steven Carlo:

Re: Reflection is key to jewel beetle colors, scientists say (July 24): I have a huge interest in the area of biomimetic coloration and have a joint grant with Drexel University investigating such structures. However, despite being included in Nature, this work is not new or ground breaking. Vakusic (Univ of Exeter), Schauer (Drexel University), Zi (Fudan University), Parker (Oxford) and of course the researcher whose work was published, Srinivasarao (NC State) have all published great works in this area. I do not wish to discredit this work. The data on this particular beetle is new, but it is nothing which hasn’t been known for a number of years, in fact Srinivasarao wrote a great article in 1999 on biomimetic coloration!

From Jarrod Bailey:

Re: Monkeys live longer after eating lighter: study (July 9): So restricting the calorific intake of monkeys by 30% provides some of them with longer life-spans. Was this knowledge worth incarcerating intelligent and sentient creatures for decades, and keeping half of them permanently hungry? And aside from the ethical problems, what about the scientific merit and usefulness of the conclusions? Studies using human subjects - the real species of interest - have already been done. So what can monkey studies add to these? And how many people will use this knowledge and willingly go hungry to live a little longer anyway? This is bad science, cruel science and wasteful science. The funders and publishers of this ‘research’ should be as ashamed of themselves as those who conducted it.

Jarrod Bailey, Ph.D.

From Jim McClarin:

Re: Scientists look to bat caves for “fountains of youth” (July 1): In “Scientists look to bat caves for ‘fountains of youth’“ Gerald Weismann either took extreme metaphoric license with his taxonomy or had a dolt-out-of-the-blue brain cramp when he uttered, “since bats are rodents with wings. ”

“Maybe Juan Pon­ce De León was­n’t too far off the mark when he searched Flor­i­da for the Foun­tain of Youth,” said Ger­ald Weiss­mann, editor-in-chief of the jour­nal. “As it turns out, one of these bat spe­cies lives out its long life in Flor­i­da. Since bats are ro­dents with wings, this chem­i­cal clue as to why bats beat out mice in the ag­ing game should point sci­en­tists to the source of this elu­sive foun­tain. ”

Bats belong to the mammalian order Chiroptera, mice and other rodents belong to order Rodentia.

From Mark Fiorentino:

Re: A “theory of everything” is said to solve its first rea (July 8, 2009): String Theory will not lead us to the Final Theory of Everything. Never in the history of Science has a theory failed to produce anything worthwhile over such a long period of time and yet still be so strongly supported. We are a group that is challenging the current paradigm in physics which is Quantum Mechanics and String Theory. There is a new Theory of Everything Breakthrough. It exposes the flaws in both Quantum Theory and String Theory. Please Help us set the physics community back on the right course and prove that Einstein was right! Visit our site The Theory of Super Relativity:

From Sara Klein:

Re: “Stolen” memories investigated (Jan. 21, 2006):What if you have a memory, or a few, that aren’t yours, and you’ve never met the person/people? Is that possible or complete dreamland?

From R. Gerald Smith:

Re: “Guilty look” in dogs mostly owners’ fantasy, study finds (June 15): Alexandra Horowitz may be a wonderful psychology professor, but she quite obviously knows virtually nothing about canine behavior. Her study concernig dogs feeling guilty is incorrectly done on so many levels that it’s hard to know were to start. A couple of points:

Of course the dogs “look guilty” when scolded by their owners; it’s call submissive behavior. The dog is reacting to disapproval by the head of it’s pack. It has practically nothing to do with the dog’s previous behavior. If the dog didn’t respond in that way to it’s owner’s disapproval, that is a dog that isn’t “people oriented” and would not respond very well to training. It considers itself the head of the pack.

If the elapsed time from the canine behavior until the scolding is more than a minute (actually much less) the dog makes no connection between the behavior and the negative stimulas. It probably doesn’t speak much English and hasn’t the foggiest notion why the owner is scolding it (and it doesn’t matter) - it only senses disapproval from the head of it’s pack.

Please don’t publish such drivel and call it a valid study. It’s a bad joke, at best.

R. Gerald Smith