9 September 2007
No regrets for the past – No limits for the future
You have performed perfectly, every moment of your life. You have balanced obligations to others against personal desires, thought against instinct, reason against intuition, spontaneity and impulse against plans and long-term goals. It is not possible that you could have done better than you have done.
In this moment, you have new choices and new freedoms that you never had before. You know now how to act from your whole person, how to be present and responsible and fully awake and ecstatic in all that you do, how to feel every passion the more intensely within a halo of joy and deep wellbeing.*
– Josh Mitteldorf
*No, I’m not there yet, but I
have seen a glimmer: Embrace the vast unknown with your sense of
wonder out front and a dispassionate, Zen eye on your terror.
8 September 2007
Report from the Third International Conference on Strategies for Engineering Negligible Senescence (SENS-3), Cambridge UK
Zheng Cui grew up in China during the worst excesses of Maoism, when his family was persecuted for earlier contacts with the West (long before the 1949 revolution). His grandfather was exiled to hard labor on a farm, his father was stripped of a University Professorship, and Zheng was barred from attending college. When American universities opened to Chinese students in the late 1970s, he became one of the first applicants.
Cui now heads a research team at Wake Forest Institute in Winston-Salem, NC.
Why don’t most humans get cancer despite big body mass, long lifespan and even some intentional exposures to known carcinogens (such as cigarette smoking)? The answer may come from a single male BALB/c mouse that unexpectedly survived challenges of highly lethal cancer cells in 1999. The survival of this mouse was very surprising since no other mouse of any strain had ever survived this type of cancer. Even more surprising was that about 40% of offspring of this mouse also survived many different cancer challenges, meaning that this cancer resistance is a genetic trait. This trait has now been passed on to more than 2000 offspring in more than 15 generations and in several different mouse strains.
Cui traced the cancer resistance to a kind of white blood cell, a ‘granulocyte’ which is loaded with highly-reactive chemicals. These killer cells seek out cancer cells, attack them, and blow up both cancer and killer cell, like a suicide bomber. His lab has succeeded in isolating these cells from the mice that have them, injecting them into mice that have cancer, and curing cancer in the receiving mice. Success rates are near 100%.
Some humans, Cui has discovered, also have these cancer-killer cells in their blood. (Curiously, they’re present in the summer, but not the winter.) There is a machine that extracts the cells from an identified donor and concentrates them. All the groundwork is laid for trying a cancer cure in humans.
7 September 2007
Science proceeds incrementally.
Georges-Louis LeClerc, Compte de Buffon questioned the dogmatic
approach to reality which he inherited, and built a bridge to
LeClerc was not a nerd.
He was an articulate, even poetic polymath.
Happy birthday Georges-Louis,
years old today.
6 September 2007
Jack Sim has been elected Global Fellow for 2007 by the Ashoka Foundation. Ashoka identifies and supports ‘social entrepreneurs’ worldwide, but especially in underveloped countries. With publicity and money, they promote efforts to create new, growing institutions for cooperation, efficiency, and friendliness to the environment.
“Through the World Toilet Organization, Jack draws
Someone had to do it.
5 September 2007
“When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them…Whatever politicians may do, let them first feel the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not for what is winnable, in a shamefully timorous Congress.”
4 September 2007
“Bruckner’s personal character has for too long been misrepresented as boorish and simple-minded. He did have a child-like religious faith, which lies at the root of all his music, and a becoming modesty. But the composer of those superbly organized and complex symsphonies, most of them over an hour in duration, was no simpleton. He was a late starter as a composer because of his determination to master his technique, and recognition only came late in his lifetime. The ‘Wagnerian’ tag on his symphonies led to their being regarded as elephantine monsters, but they are now widely recognized as being in the Austrian tradition of Schubert’s last symphony and are admired for their combination of contrapuntal splendour with intense melodic beauty and grandeur (but not extravagance) of orchestration. His Masses, also on a symphonic scale, are equally splendid, and in all his mature church music there is the radiance of a devout believer and the technical dexterity of a composer whose mastery of vocal polyphony stemmed from intimate study of Palestrina and his school.” – Oxford Bio
was born this day in 1824.
3 September 2007
WHEN all the shores of knowledge fade
Into the darkness, unafraid,
Upon the stillness we have made