alt.thinking.hertz •Weird •

Weird Science - Extracts from Weird Page

These are extracts from the weird page of Jamal Munshi ->

His page is well worth a look...

Oops - Lots of the links on this page are broken - a result of lifting 'local links' to pages on his site.  If you are keen to follow a link, then try a search engine like infoseek where you can search for a given term and then search again within those results.  I find this a good way to track down a page which you know exists somewhere!

Anyway, Jamal's page contains lots of short paragraphs, all weird, some paranoid, some true, some totally off the walls.  What I've done here is to pick out some of the paragraphs that interested me.  I've added my own comments on a lighter background.

  1. Frightening Stuff
  2. Weird Creatures
  3. Cures and Compounds
  4. Mind / Brain
  5. Misc

war is killing us
in 1975 the dod's biological warfare crew developed a "synthetic agent" that attacks the immune system of the victim. between 1982 and 1989 we shipped this and other "biologicals" to saddam hussein who used them in the gulf war. when the allied troops went home they took this illness with them to over 20 countries around the world. the symptoms are aids-like. the illness is mysterious, without treatment, fatal, and communicable. it is spreading through blood transfusions, sex, and perspiration, and by contact with equipment and clothing that were exposed. the human race today stands at a precipice. (btw: joyce riley says that the gulf war records will prove her right. according to the baltimore sun the military has lost the records.) (btw2: aids may be another byproduct of the 1975 "synthetic agent" project.)( btw3: but read this assessment of the gulf war syndrome by the nih .)

It is widely accepted that Saddam Hussein has Anthrax, Aflatoxin and other bio-weapons and that he revels in an ability to harm others. (For first hand accounts of the man and his regime browse )

Much of the plausibility of the 'war is killing us' claim rests on whether the DoD did do as described. I have heard technically minded people express doubt that the DoD in 1975 could engineer an immune system attacking 'agent', and rule out the possibility that AIDS could be an engineered virus.

The arguments usually rest on the fact that even now we know very little about how to design proteins for specific purposes. Secondly in 1975 our ability to cut and splice DNA sequences was nothing like what it is now. Could biological agents really have been engineered with the technology available then?

Conspiracy theories about AIDS are additionally often met with the further arguments that AIDS is a 'totally new' virus, and that given its occasionally long latency period, developing it would have taken hundreds of years of experiments.

So lets have some counter arguments:

  • It is very easy to 'engineer' bacteria with specific simple properties such as antibiotic resistance, without any access to DNA splicing technology. Bio-engineering can be an awful lot less high-tech than one might think.  One does not need cut-and-splice technology to make new bacteria or new viruses.

  • The uniquenesss of AIDS can be met by noting its similarity to BZV, a bovine virus.  The similarity of sequence is strong enough to be seen by eye when the sequences are written out.  It is far too high a level of similarity to have arisen by chance - there must be common ancestry.

  • The long latency can be met by pointing out that in mice, or in rapidly proliferating human cell culture, the life cycle would be much shorter than in humans.  Long latency is also something that can be selected for after selection for immune suppression.

On the biotech side it is also possible to specifically target the immune system. The key is to use 'nude mice', that is mice with deficient immune systems. 

An account of how AIDS could have been engineered - including some of the political dimension - is produced by the Strecker group. The report has extensive references to scientific literature and suggests a complex picture - with military research interlinking with non-military research particularly into animal models for infectious immunosupressive cancers.  The Strecker report leaves open the possibility that AIDS arose as an accidental byproduct of research into immune suppressive cancers, but does come down firmly in favour of the virus being created 'in the lab'. 

The objections on the net on scientific grounds to the Strecker report which I have seen only re-iterate the 'scientific counter arguments' of long latency and lack of knowledge as to how.  For me they are not convincing as refutations of the Strecker claims.

As a background on plagues on a global scale, Philip Ziegler's "The Black Death" (1969) ISBN 0 14 00.6076 6. is well worth reading. Ziegler estimates that around one third of the population were wiped out. There were many waves of the diseases, and there were several types, not just one.  Perhaps so too with the new plagues?

designer virus
a virus designed to kill rabbits in ebola fashion is mutating and out of control in australia.
kinky fish
a tropical fish found off okinawa normally live in groups of one dominant male and several submissive females. if a larger male comes along, the dominant male changes into a subservient female by restructuring its brain and genitalia. if the bigger male leaves or dies, the once dominant male will change back to a male. the restructuring process takes four days. (discovered by matt grover, univ of idaho )
scary algae
there is an algae called pfiesteria piscida . they can smell fish and when they do they change into an active amoeba-like creature which attacks and eats the fish multiplying rapidly. then they go back to their dormant algal state. infected fish and shellfish are toxic to humans. eating or even breathing these toxins may cause memory loss and personality changes in addition to pain, nausea, and vomiting. when the feeding and reproducing are good they can form coastal swarms known as red tides.
(btw: p. pscida is responsible for giant fish kills in the estuaries of north carolina. rodney barker has written a book about it. he thinks that the creature has been around for millions of years and was awakened by pollution from swine and turkey farms. fish "bearing lesions and swimming in a disoriented manner" are also observed in the chicamacomico and pocomoke rivers in maryland.)
the side blotched lizard
the sexuality of these lizards goes like this. there are three kinds of males. in descending order of aggressiveness and ascending order of intelligence they are orange males, blue males, and yellow males. oranges keep large harems. blues keep small harems. and yellows impersonate females to sneak into the harems for a quickie. the dumb oranges fall for this trick but the blues don't. so the population cycle goes like this. oranges predominate and have most of the females. yellows impregnate the orange harems. orange population declines and blues predominate and build harems that are protected from yellows. oranges muscle in and take over females from blues. orange predominates. and so on. (curt lively, indiana university, bloomington)
shamanism and botany
the amazon indians may look like savages but they have medical technology that is at least 50,000 years old and it is in many ways superior to ours. our 'discovery' of a cure for herpes consisted in learning from them what they have known for a thousand years. shaman medicine consists of plant material drawn from the rain forest. both the shamans, that carry this knowledge, and the rain forest, that carries the medicine, will become extinct in the next thirty years at the current rate of encroachment by cattle ranchers and well meaning christian missionaries. (mark plotkin, ethnobiologist) (btw: we think of the soil as containing nutrients and the stuff of life so we clear forests to reclaim land. but the life of the amazon is in the canopy and not in the soil. so in 'clearing the forest' we are throwing the baby out with the bath water and creating wasteland.)

To my mind there is nothing wrong per se. with using scientific methods in combination with traditional medicinal approaches. For example, drugs companies have Natural Products divisions which send expeditions throughout the world to collect botanic samples and, using techniques that are modern versions of what herbalists once did, preparations for testing are made from these samples by extraction into oils, alcohol and water.

It is the fact that the pharmaceutical industy exists in the context of a profit-motive industrial context that has the undesirable consequences. It is in the pharmaceutical industry's commercial interest to 'rediscover' and patent traditional medicines, and this they do. (They do also genuinely discover new drugs).

The most damaging aspect of the 'profit-motive' is that repeat business, paliatives, are much more profitable than cure. There is therefore a strong pressure to formulate drugs that supress a symptom rather than researching underlying causes. Is this the drug industries fault though?

One spectacularly commercially successful drug is the anti-ulcer drug 'Zantac' which became a billion-dollar-a-year drug. Nowadays it's widely accepted that the bacterium Helicobacter Pylori can be a root cause of such inflamations and there are plenty of antibiotics to tackle it. If you're intersted in the story, as well as Zantac search for Tagamet (the first anti-ulcer drug) and Losec (another competing product).  Alta Vista may be a better search engine than infoseek for this - I'm told it's better for science.

urine heals
to build up your immune system or to fight off aids, cancer, or anemia, drink the urine of a pregnant woman. (robert gallo in nature medicine .)

Of course, the smart response to 'Urine Heals' is "Are you taking the piss?".

The Australian aborigines collect and use menses as a preparation to promote healing (see the book "Mutant Message"). An important aspect of this kind of 'traditional' medicine that comes over clearly in this book's description is that it has other elements which go beyond a purely chemical approach. We can recognise the value of the state of mind of the person being treated in their own recovery and that for setting broken bones, traditional approaches that do not immobilise the limb may have advantages. However, it seems likely to me that there are other aspects of healing that we just do not see because we do not know how to look.

With the scientific background we tend to look for single stranded explanations.  Urea is found, not surprisingly, in urine. Pharmacists are aware that Hydroxyurea is a clinically useful anti-tumour agent. It inhibits riboneucleotide reductase which is essential for DNA production and so also for cancerous cell proliferation. It is tempting to regard this as 'the explanation' for any protective effect of urine, if such there is.

However a 'systems' approach may give more insight. In a pregnant mother there is a high rate of new cell growth. There are new waste products that must be disposed of.

Given the ubiquity of interlinked feedback mechanisms, if the waste products aren't being disposed of, whatever causes them must be slowed down to prevent poisoning. So, from a systems point of view, we expect other compounds in pregnant mothers urine besides Hydroxyurea to slow cell proliferation.

The build up of certain waste products act as an indicator of cell proliferation. It could be a viral infection or a cancer, and one subsystem that will be primed to respond to such build up is the immune system.

If this interpretation is right, then a consequence is that it could be a bad idea for a mother to bottle her urine when pregnant for later drinking to pep-up her immune system. The fact that it's her own urine could confuse her immune system - and make it 'think' that she was having another baby and suppress possible antibodies against child.

we sleep to dream?
there is no evidence that the body needs rest. even if it did it wouldn't get it from sleeping. there is no evidence that sleep provides rest. in sleep deprivation experiments subjects function normally. in the limit they begin to dream on their feet.
kill joy
dissolve a tablespoon of joy dish detergent into a cup of water and place this soapy solution into a spray bottle. now spray a fly with it (or any other insect like a mosquito or a yellow jacket). the soapy solution dissolves the oil in the insect's exoskeleton. the skeleton loses its rigidity and collapses. the insect falls to the ground and makes a desperate attempt to breathe. within seconds it dies of asphyxiation. (discovered by jamal)
bald no more
mix together a cup of nettles (u can buy this at your natural good store), half a cup of chopped onions, and three cups of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and let this concoction sit for a few days until the alcohol is green. massage a tablespoon of the green liquid into your scalp each day if you are balding. balding will cease. the recession will be over. (judy miller read this in the sf chronicle)(jamal's note: not only has my recession stopped but i am actually growing hair right in the middle of my bald spot.)
sick of tv
if you broadcast a tv signal that flashes between red and blue at a certain frequency you can cause the viewers to have convulsions and seizures. this effect was discovered by a japanese cartoon show called pokemon .
pole reversals
undersea rocks solidify so quickly that they retain their magnetism and record earth's magnetic history. the record shows 14 magnetic pole reversals in the last 5 million years. but nobody knows why the magnetic poles flip around like that; or what makes the earth a magnet in the first place. (btw: gregg braden thinks that the pole reversals imply that the magnet weakens and goes through a "zero point" in between reversals and that we are approaching such a condition now (1997). if true it could explain why so many migratory birds, with navigational magnets in their heads, have been getting lost lately.)
rube goldberg pen
in the late '60s we spent over a million dollars developing a zero gravity pen that works in space. the russians use pencils.

Does anyone know of any article on the web comparing American and Russian technology, particularly in the context of space programs? Here are some of my thoughts:
  • Russians took a more evolutionary aproach to design. American designers tended to go back-to-the-drawing board for each cycle.
  • American rocketry included substantial use of solid fuel rockets; Rocket propulsion is a slow burning explosive, and Americans had expertise in solid explosives developed as a spin off from nuclear bomb research.
  • Russian designs tended to use more analogue and mixed analogue and digital control systems. Russians had great expertise with miniature valves and even their IC designs reflect a more analogue approach. In effect they took the evolution of valves further than the US where transistors displaced valves sooner.
  • Russians had expertise in working with certain metals, in particular in welding Titanium.
  • Americans had better computer simulation equipment, and their innovations included engines hung suspended from wings and twisted wings.

fly vision
glass is opaque to flies. corollary: their visible range must be ultra violet or higher. (discovered by jamal in his tireless effort to find the truth about flies.)

This is 'suspect science' rather than weird science.  How does Jamal know that glass is opaque to flies?  One needs to examine the test in detail and check that it is sight that is being measured.  It is probable that flies can respond to the air movement that precedes the fly swat; how does one check what sense is being used?

One reason I suspect glass is transparent for flies is that glass is transparent for bees.  They frequently fly in to French Windows we have - not quite a proof that bees can see through glass though, for they could be flying into what they see as a reflection.   However, when crawling on a window (the bees that is, not me) I can easily catch them with a glass tumbler put over them, but not with an opaque mug.  This strongly suggests that glass does not block out the light they see.

odd chirality
of the many amino acids possible, life on earth is composed of only 20 and all of them are of the left sided variety. equal amounts of left and right mirror images of these molecules form in the laboratory but not in living things. molecular leftness is part of a cosmic pattern of life. (john cronin, arizona state university)

Left Handed Universe?

The claim that chirality in cells is somehow odd is a load of bollocks.  Rather, the existence of an 'ambidextrous cell' would be extraordinary.  Biology will over time adopt either left or right chirality if it doesn't start out with it. 
If cells were totally even-handed about chirality cells would have to be more complex and much less efficient than they are.

One way to see this is by considering how proteins are made. The even-handed cell would need to produce two versions of each protein, one using R-amino acids wherever the other one used L-amino acids. This creates a problem for the cell.  It can't afford to mix L and R forms randomly in the same protein because then the 3D protein structure would be random and specific shapes are required for proteins to fold and to function correctly.  The cell would have to segregate L and R amino acids, or at any rate it would have to have two protein production lines, one for the L-proteins and one for the R-proteins. 

Besides the problems of increased complexity, the cell would also be operating at half the efficiency. When a chiral molecule interacts with an enzyme in this even handed cell it has half the chance of a 'correct fit' that it would have in cells as we know them.  There would be strong selection pressure for cells to adopt one or other chirality for it would double their efficiency.  Even a small shift one way or the other would bring an efficiency gain.

This doesn't explain why 'L' was favoured over 'R'.

The 'decision' to use all L-Amino acids rather than R-Amino acids could be explained as just chance. A system using L-Amino acids got off the ground first, and everything that followed saw more L-Amino acids in the cellular environment.

a brief history of mars
about 150 million years ago mars was full of life. some martian 'humans' resemble native americans. their civilization was similar to that of the ancient egyptians. they built pyramids, cities, and canals. then something terrible happened. a large meteor grazed their atmosphere and started a chain of events that reduced the planet to its lifeless form that we know today. advanced beings called 'greys' from another part of the galaxy rescued the martians. the greys gave them technology that enabled them to live underground and to travel thru space. the martians are tired of living underground and a massive exodus to earth is imminent. some martians are already here. they live underneath a mountain in new mexico. courtney has seen all of this by using a technique called '
remote viewing ' .( courtney brown )
the pits
in downtown butte montana is an abandoned mine called the berkeley pit that once supplied copper to wire up the country for telephones and electricity. today it is a 28 billion gallon cesspit so poisonous that birds that accidentally land there die within minutes. it can only be viewed at a distance wearing protective gear.
the human race is in a pathetic condition. it all started with the industrial revolution. technology is to blame. what makes us tick is the existence of attainable goals that require effort. technology has taken that away; and we have sunk into an emotional abyss. leftism and political correctness are symptomatic of our condition. ( unabomber )

Is it possible that we can uninvent weapons technology - including the kind of bomb making technology used by the unabomber? 
It doesn't seem likely to me. 
The knowledge that homemade sugar and fertiliser bombs are possible, that an A-Bomb is possible, or that biological weapons are possible makes it inherently easier to rediscover the techniques, were the detailed knowledge of 'how to do it' somehow got rid of.
Society is lagging in understanding how to use technology.  Technology is not at fault, there are many technologies that enrich life.  Far from removing our will to achieve goals they extend our reach and make more ambitious goals achievable.
What is needed instead is a selective and emotionally sophisticated change in the way we use all kinds of technology.  The place to start is in the feedback systems, the way information travels.
We need to know what is in the food we eat.  We need to know what our use of technology is doing to the environment.  We need to understand how our moods and minds are influenced by deliberate techniques such as advertising and the selective sharing of and timing of 'news' information. 

alt.thinking.hertz •Weird •
"Weird Science - Extracts from Weird Page" page last updated 5-July-2003