An uplifting news item, poem, thought or quotation each day.
Archive of past entries

26 June 2005

Depression can make simple tasks seem daunting. When we're in love, great ambitions seem within reach. If we make major life decisions when depressed, we can be hemmed in and limited afterward. If we set our course when in love, we bequeath to ourselves a legacy of inspiration.  Afterward, we are stretched and challenged to grow into our dreams.

-Josh Mitteldorf

25 June 2005

But silent musings urge the mind to seek
Something, too high for syllables to speak;
Till the free soul to a composedness charmed,
Finding the elements of rage disarmed,
O'er all below a solemn quiet grown,
Joys in th' inferior world, and thinks it like her own:
In such a night let me abroad remain,
Till morning breaks, and all's confused again;
Our cares, our toils, our clamors are renewed,
Or pleasures, seldom reached, again pursued.

A Nocturnal Reverie, by Anne Finch (1661-1720)


24 June 2005

"The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness."

"People who develop the habit of thinking of themselves as world citizens are fulfilling the first requirement of sanity in our time"

"Inevitably, an individual is measured by his or her largest concerns."

The lifelong concerns of Norman Cousins—writer, editor, citizen diplomat, promoter of holistic healing, and unflagging optimist—were large indeed: world peace, world governance, justice, human freedom, the human impact on the environment, and health and wholeness.  Born this day in 1912, Cousins edited the Saturday Review, served as president of the World Federalist Association, and wrote about his own experience conquering cancer with laughter.

"Laughter is a form of internal jogging. It moves your internal organs around. It enhances respiration. It is an igniter of great expectations."

...and a gesture of humility:

"No one really knows enough to be a pessimist."

23 June 2005

A Failure of Einstein's Imagination?

In developing Relativity theory, Einstein took it as fundamental that travel backward in time is impossible.  His logic was that circular chains of causality permit contradictions.  For a shorthand, we speak of the Grandmother Paradox: What if you went back in time and murdered your own grandmother in the crib?

So great is physicists' reverence for Einstein that it has taken 100 years to question his judgment.  But in an article published this week, two dissenters have credibly questioned the logic that forbids time travel.  "It seems to us that time travel is very much in the spirit of quantum mechanics, and in fact, it seems quite arbitrary and outside the spirit of the subject to forbid it." 

The key to avoiding the paradox is the logical possibility that the present 'already' contains the influence of the future on the past.  Indeed, time travel is pre-ordained.

"According to our model, if you travel into the past quantum mechanically, you would only see those alternatives consistent with the world you left behind you. In other words, while you are aware of the past, you cannot change it. No matter how unlikely the events are that could have led to your present circumstances, once they have actually occurred, they cannot be changed."

"This also has enormous consequences on the paradoxes of free will. It shows that it is perfectly logical to assume that one has many choices and that one is free to take any one of them. Until a choice is taken, the future is not determined. However, once a choice is taken, and it leads to a particular future, it was inevitable. It could not have been otherwise. The boundary conditions that the future events happen as they already have, guarantees that they must have been prepared for in the past. So, looking backwards, the world is deterministic. However, looking forwards, the future is probabilistic. This completely explains the classical paradox."

Article by Daniel Greenberger and Karl Szovil.
New Scientist summary

22 June 2005

"Remember: it is not that those who cultivate wholeness and virtue in themselves do not encounter difficulties in life. It is that they understand that difficulties are the very road to immortality: by meeting them calmly and openly, however they unfold, and joyfully developing themselves in response to them, they become as natural, as complete, and as eternal as the Tao itself."

Lao Tse, Hua Hu Jing
translation by Brian Walker

"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials."
- Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BC - 65 AD)

21 June 2005


Between forest and field, a threshold
like stepping from a cathedral into the street—
the quality of air alters, an eclipse lifts,

boundlessness opens, earth itself retextured
into weeds where woods once were.
Even planes of motion shift from vertical

navigation to horizontal quiescence:
there’s a standing invitation to lie back
as sky’s unpredictable theater proceeds.

Suspended in this ephemeral moment
after leaving a forest, before entering
a field, the nature of reality is revealed.

- Ravi Shankar (not the musician)

20 June 2005

In experiments with mice, a new drug delivery technique targets cancer cells with chemotherapy agents while sparing the body’s normal cells from their toxic effects. All cells display molecular receptors on their cell walls that pick and choose which molecules to allow inside. The new technique pairs molecules that cancer cells especially like with chemotherapy poisons in a structure called a dendritic polymer The cancer cells are fooled into drawing the entire structure inside, where it releases its payload.

Chemotherapy agents are the best treatments we have for cancer to date. They are more toxic to the cancer than to the rest of the body. For many patients, they are a form of life-saving torture. Their effectiveness is limited by the fact that doctors must prescribe a dose that’s large enough to kill the cancer without being large enough to kill the patient. The new technique has the potential to transform the terms of this compromise, so that much more toxin is delivered to the cancer with much less side-effect for the patient.

James Baker, the University of Michigan professor who directed the study, explains: “This targeted binding gave us a million-fold improvement on drug uptake for cancer cells...It will probably allow us to detoxify cancer therapy, so that instead of being a killer, cancer will become a chronic illness like diabetes - tumors will be reduced or killed off completely after large doses of this targeted treatment.”

New Scientist articleCancer research article.