Parable of the Fingernails

fingernails

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How did it get so late so soon?  It’s night before it’s afternoon.  December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn.  How did it get so late so soon?
–Dr. Seuss

I was sitting at my desk today trying to prioritize the things that need to be done to finish the semester.  I looked down at my fingers and noticed my fingernails. They were a little too long, so obviously it was time to cut them again.  Not a big deal. But just a minute, didn’t I cut them just last week? That couldn’t be, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t that long ago that I cut them.

Now remember I’m a scientist, I know how fast fingernails grow.

3 millimeters per month, 0.1 millimeter per day, that means they grow 1 nanometer per second.

Now as Americans, we don’t have the concept of millimeters in our heads much less nanometers. A nanometer is about the width of a molecule. Which means a human hair averages about 100,000 nanometers wide…100,000 seconds for my nails to grow the width of a human hair.

Okay, outside of ‘nerdsville’ that means fingernails grow slowly. So, if you are using your fingernails as a timekeeper, you have a very slow clock.

It also means it was about a month ago that I cut my nails.

You’ve heard of these sayings:

  • Time flies when you are having fun.
  • A watched pot never boils.
  • Be there in a second…
  • Just a minute…
  • A minute is not long, unless you’re waiting for the bathroom.

These sayings allude to some interesting facts about our timekeeping. You see, time is not something we sense. There needs to be a receptor to have a sensation. That makes time invisible, but we are able to perceive time or intervals of time.

However, perceiving time involves some psychological and physiological tricks. If you are engaged in an activity, you lose track of time and so it flies by, and if you are bored, time seems to drag along. If you have an urgent need, the seconds seem to last for hours.

Oddly enough, when the brain becomes engaged, it seems to record more memories than normal. This acts more like a slow motion camera, so more details are remembered which acts to slow time down. An example of this is when someone is in a car wreck and the details are remembered in slow motion. Time has not been perceived at a different rate, just more details are recorded during the time interval.

So if the brain filters out details, we perceive time differently than if it records all details available. And if you record more details, then the world around you seems to run in slow motion.

That is one way to explain Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). If ADHD kids record more information with their brains for particular time intervals, then the world runs too slow for their attention system.

Or if you noticed that the years seem to go by quicker as we get older, it might be because we recorded more new information during our adolescence which slowed down the perception of time. Now our brains don’t need to record as much and time passes quicker. In order to recover some of that youthful perception, we need to add novel experiences and information to our lives. Then the years would stop zooming by.

That is what happened with my time perception the past few weeks. With the lack of novel experiences, time was whizzing by and I didn’t notice until I looked at my fingernails. The sight of my talons brought my world back into focus.

Or maybe it was just that I had so much to do trying to finish up the last weeks of the semester that I lost track of time. I probably just need to manage my stress, kick off my shoes and…hey, my toenails seem a little long…

dsb

 

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

‘I was gazing at a shooting star, wondering why it was getting bigger and bigger…then it hit me.’

This week contained the peak viewing for the Lyrid meteor showers. Meteor showers occur when the earth’s orbit takes us through the remnants of a comet tail. Comets are covered in ice or other frozen substances that flow off the comet as it orbits the sun. The dust from the tail makes up our meteor showers. The particles are usually smaller than a grain of sand and burn up completely in the atmosphere. The meteor is that flash of light as the dust vaporizes. If a particle makes it through the atmosphere then it’s called a meteorite (or maybe a meteoroid until it hits the earth).

While looking up some information on meteor showers for this year, I found a very unusual video of a skydiver’s near miss (really a near-hit…) with a meteorite. Well, if it was really a meteorite, that is absolutely amazing. There is still some doubt, but that would be scary. Could we get hit from above?

The answer of course is no… I mean the chance is so small that one astronomer stated “You have a better chance of getting hit by a tornado and a bolt of lightning and a hurricane all at the same time.”

Yet there have been people hit right? Well, just one documented case. An Alabama woman in 1954 was sleeping on her couch when a meteorite crashed through her roof and hit her in the hip (see account of incident here).

peekskill meteorite car

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But there was a dog killed in Egypt in 1911 by a meteorite. And one hit a woman in the UK in 2004, that boy in Florida in 2007…wait there have been more than 30 people and homes hit in the last 200+ years along with 6 animals and 7 cars…

That sounds like a lot of tornado/lightning/hurricanes happening…I’m getting scared.

These are reports from around the world, and that means several billion people involved…so maybe it’s not something to worry about.

Then last week a group took data from  the nuclear test ban monitoring station network that shows 26 asteroids impacting the earth for the past 13 years. The impacts ranged from 1 to 600 kilotons in power (Hiroshima was 15 kilotons) and were primarily in the upper atmosphere so no real damage occurred at ground level, but like little earthquakes precede the big one, that killer asteroid maybe out there.

A low atmosphere explosion over Chelyabinsk in 2013 was 500 Kilotons and caused building damage that injured over 1000 people. In 1908 a low atmosphere explosion estimated at 1.5 Megatons destroyed 850 square miles of forest and 1000 reindeer in Siberia. Another near miss…

The asteroid that finished off the dinosaurs was 10 Megatons and it impacted the surface of the earth. Life is changed when a killer asteroid hits. There is evidence of many killer asteroids hitting the earth in the past. And life goes on…

Killer asteroid

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What should I do about the killer asteroids?

There is nothing that can be done. Worrying or losing sleep over it is just wasting energy. The biggest ones can be tracked, but not diverted. The smaller ones are not able to be detected before impact. The earth is 70% oceans, so that is where most impacts occur. Again, worrying about nothing.

boy looking at stars

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I suggest instead, that we focus on those beautiful meteor showers. Take time to enjoy the magnificence of space. Focus on some quality time with your family and friends. In fact,the next major meteor event will happen next week, around May 5. This shower is associated with the tail of the famous Halley’s comet. Take time to teach your kids about the meteors and comets. And maybe explain about the asteroids also, but don’t make them too paranoid to enjoy the night sky.

dsb

 

A Pound of Flesh

Well, here it is the middle of April and my New Year’s resolutions have been crushed, twisted and destroyed. I have actually gained 8 pounds rather than lose any…

resolution

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lose weight

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Come on… this is simple, isn’t it?

It’s not rocket science and I do have a Ph.D.

Just use more calories than you take in.

That means eat less calories and/or do more activities. Eat Less and Exercise More, Got It!

Wait, what about nutrition? You know, the vitamins,minerals, fiber and stuff.

bacon burger

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OK. It’s not just calories, but some of what you eat. I remember there are bad foods out there, but they keep changing as new studies emerge (see blog last month) .

Maybe closer to rocket science that I first believed.

food pyramid

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So, maybe I need to utilize a plan, but which plan? The food pyramid……no that was done away with for the choosemyplate system.

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ChooseMyPlate is  a good plan. It has the 5 food groups in the best proportions to provide the proper nutrition. Yet it doesn’t give the actual foods to eat. I need something more. Like a real diet plan.

Where do you find a good diet?

Dr. Oz, Oprah, The Doctors, Morning News shows…they all tell you about different miracle diets. And most of them are bogus… without scientific validation.

Yet people use the diets and lose weight. Pick any diet and someone has lost weight on it. And someone else didn’t lose anything.

Low-fat, Low-carbohydrate, Balanced fat-carbs-protein. Pick the type and you can lose weight. It goes back to the statement: Eat Less and Exercise More.

As long as the diet you pick is not too extreme and lowers calories…it will work,

for some people.

A pound of fat equals about 3,500 calories. In order to lose the fat, your diet must create a calorie deficit and your weight will go down. Maybe not one pound for every 3,500 calories, physiology bodies just don’t work that way, but less calories will mean weight loss.

Along with calorie deficit, you need exercise. Exercise will burn more calories and build muscle which burns more calories.

A good place to look for diets is in U.S. News Best Diets report. You can find it HERE.

Look at the different diets and try some. Stick with the one that works for you. I personally like the protein diets (low-carbohydrate). I enjoy the meals and don’t feel hungry on this type of diet. You have to like eggs on this type of diet.

The studies seem to show that low-carbohydrate diets are easier to stick to for the long haul, but the evidence is not overwhelming. The is a lot of back and forth with the studies. So the best thing is to find a diet that you can stick with. It means changing your life habits.

The DASH diet ranks high on several websites. It is a balanced diet that  was designed to lower high blood pressure (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), so it is not intended for weight loss per se. It does lower blood pressure and usually weight if you lower calories.

Evaluate the different diet types and find one with some favorite foods. As long as you stick to the diet and it has adequate nutritional value, you will benefit compared to the average American.

It may not be rocket science, but it is also not as easy as falling off a log or picking up burger and fries on the way home…

dsb

 

Doppelganger

There are a few definitions of a doppelganger. I choose the one that defines it as a living person’s double, an unrelated twin. In some countries, the doppelganger is a bearer of bad news or an omen of death.

doppelganger

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I remember going to a leadership conference in Georgia with Allan,  a former BSM director from ETBU. We were having lunch with other attendees and striking up a conversation with the waitress. Allan remarked how she looked exactly like one of our ETBU students and how it would be great to get them together. At that statement, the waitress got a horrified look on her face. It turns out that in her culture, they believe everyone has a double in the world, and if you meet your double, one of you will die. End of witnessing opportunity…

If this omen of death belief were more widespread, then maybe the topic of cloning would be less alluring. Making your own doppelganger would have dire consequences.

Many people are still enamored with making human clones. At the beginning of the 21st century, several groups claimed to have successfully cloned  a human baby, but there was never any proof to their claims. Cloning of humans was banned by the United Nations, but not all countries follow the resolution. Most agree on banning reproductive cloning, but some want to continue human therapeutic cloning efforts. Last year was a giant step forward in human therapeutic cloning science (see Attack of the Clones blog), and some labs continue to try to reproductively clone humans. It is still not possible to clone a human with current technology.

We know there are natural clones. We call them identical twins. An egg is fertilized with a sperm and the resulting zygote, for some reason, splits in two and develops into two people. Clones who share the exact DNA with each other. So when we attempt to clone ourselves, we want to replicate that process. Just take our DNA and make another person just like us.

twins with flower

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The problem is that we are not just DNA. There is more to making a human than genetics. For instance, almost all of the cell contents come from the egg. Not just half the DNA, but all the organelles and cell proteins too. To clone ourselves, we need the exact cell contents that were in our zygote. That means our mother’s egg (the exact one we came from). And that’s weird on several levels.

Also, just the act of fertilization starts a timer for the genetics. Genes turn on and off at the proper timing to get development to work right. With cloning, we have to trick the cell into developing and it doesn’t work right 98% of the time. And the of the times that work, 80% are not normal.

Many of the abnormalities resemble genomic imprinting disorders. This happens when the DNA from mom and the DNA from dad don’t work right together. In most genes, having two copies working is perfectly fine, however in a small percentage, one set of genes needs to be turned off. This happens with conception, but not with nuclear cloning. The imprinted genes are not programmed properly in the clone leading to abnormalities. Genomic imprinting fits in the realm of epigenetics.

What about the clones with genetic defects? They will have high medical costs. Currently imprinting disorders that cause mental or physical abnormalities carry medical costs of several million dollars over the lifetime of the child. Who will cover that cost? The cloning laboratory? Insurance companies? Taxpayers?

Even with all the difficulties, scientists are still attempting to clone, and probably will succeed someday. So, what about the clone itself?

  • Will it be a zombie like person with only animal instincts to drive it?
  • Will it be able to think and learn like a human?
  • Will it have constitutional rights and protection?
  • Will it have a Spirit?

Remember that we have clones walking among us. Those identical twins. Do they have rights and thoughts and ambition and Spirits?

Of course they do.

So if we can manipulate DNA and produce a clone, we won’t nullify the humanity of the clone.

And does that mean that the Spirit lies within the genetics of humans?

Humans have a Spirit. Humans are genetic creatures. Therefore, Spirit and genetics have to be connected somehow. Maybe it is epi-epigenetics…

Makes my head hurt…it would be much easier to just avoid my doppelganger completely.

dsb

 

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

One of the most amazing organs in the body is the brain. (Tweet This)

A lot of people think that the functioning of the brain is the most distinguishing human feature. In other words, the way we think is what separates us from the other animals.

Our brain is so amazing that we tend to take it for granted.  It’s only when a problem shows up that we begin to appreciate the enormous amount of processing the goes on the brain.  Chemical imbalances, injuries or diseases focus our attention on those processes that are altered.

Most people are aware of some primary areas of the brain. These include areas for the six senses (see previous blog), and for muscle control. There are also association areas for the senses that provide perception and understanding of the sensory inputs.

When someone gets a stroke or tumor in one of the primary areas, they lose that sense or movement, but when the association areas get damaged, strange  amazing interactions can result.

For instance, damage to the primary visual cortex results in blindness. The person is not able to see images at all. Damage to the association area can cause a person to be blind, but in unusual ways. Certain people are able to look at an object and draw it, but not name it. Others can see the object, recognize the object by touch behind a curtain, but not name it. Others have no problem naming the object but draw some weird scribbles that they say is the object.

One deficit caused a woman to be blind to moving objects. If it was still, she saw it. If it moved, it disappeared to her brain. Her life was like a stop motion movie with snapshots of still objects, but sounds of movement all around her.

Some people have unusual deficits that cause the left side of objects to disappear. They see and draw only the right side of images. If you have them imagine standing on the street, they can remember only the buildings on the right side of the block. If they mentally move to the end of the block and look back, they see only the buildings that are now on the right, the invisible ones from a minute ago.

My mother-in-law suffered a stroke last Thursday (prayers are appreciated). Her deficits appear to be in the language areas of the brain. She has lost several spoken words from her vocabulary. She knows the word she wants to say, but it is not the word that comes out of her mouth. She hears the word from her mouth and knows it is wrong, but can’t make the right word come out. It is very frustrating.

In the late 1970’s, Steve Martin joked about teaching an imaginary son the wrong words, so that when the boy asked to go to the bathroom, it came out “mumble dogface in the banana patch…”

It’s not so funny when it happens in real life. The injured brain connects a different meaning to the spoken word. The patient is confused when others can’t understand the simple request they are making. They are trapped in a world of an unlearnable language. They can get frustrated and angry, lashing out with tantrums or becoming depressed.

Motor control can be affected in strokes or cerebral palsy. People find their body doesn’t respond to their brain. It might be speech  muscles or half the body in strokes, to malfunctions of entire body in cerebral palsy. They are trapped inside a shell that doesn’t function. Their thoughts and feelings are still normal, but the body just doesn’t perform. Again, frustration is the outcome of everyday efforts.

When the interactions of the brain are functioning well, we tend to forget how complex those interactions can be. We take for granted everyday activities such as walking, communicating, and thinking…until the activities go away.

dsb

The Time of Our Lives

“`If you knew Time as well as I do,’ said the Hatter, `you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.’
 `I don’t know what you mean,’ said Alice.
 `Of course you don’t!’ the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously. `I dare say you never even spoke to Time!’
 `Perhaps not,’ Alice cautiously replied: `but I know I have to beat time when I learn music.’
 `Ah! that accounts for it,’ said the Hatter. `He won’t stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he’d do almost anything you liked with the clock…”

mad hatter

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  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll.

Time is another one of those things we live with that is difficult to understand scientifically. We know about it, lose track of it, manage it, but when you try to define and explain it scientifically, it gets really weird.

The official unit of time is the second which is defined as the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom (told you it gets weird).

Time is considered by some to be the 4th dimension of space and is intricately bound with space. Time is relative to the position and speed traveling though space. For example, time on earth is different from time on the space shuttle (weird), and if you could reach the speed of light, time would stand “still”…

When we are working with time in our lives, we are looking more at the passing of time. We don’t want to define it; we want to keep track of it.

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We use clocks and calendars to standardize the passing of time, so everyone is on the same page when it comes to time. The passing of time is really noticing the recurring rhythms that occur in our lives. Some powerful rhythms of time are the daily solar cycle, monthly lunar cycle and yearly seasonal cycle.

 

sunrise tree

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Our bodies contain internal timekeepers called biological clocks. These clocks set the timing of several physiological rhythms such as hormones, digestion, cell division, tissue repair, activity, sleep, etc. The multiple clocks are regulated by a master clock in the brain which is synchronized to 24 hr daily rhythm by sunlight. If all our internal rhythms stay in-sync with the daily rhythm, we feel better and function better.

Years ago, we worked sunrise to sunset and stayed pretty well synchronized with the 24 hr rhythm. With modern society, we’ve  altered our environment with electric lights to give us more productive time during our night. We’ve extended our working day. We are no longer at the mercy of the sunset. We can work as long as we want into the night.

He (Time) won’t stand beating.

If there is anyone trying to beat time, it would have to be college students.  College students are not known for their time management skills.  They wait until the last minute to finish projects or papers.  This makes for a lot of late, sleepless nights trying to beat the deadlines.  And of course, the fun doesn’t begin until after 10 pm. Everyone knows the movies are a better at the midnight premieres. College equals sleep deprivation.

Time won’t stand beating.

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Another problem is the body’s own internal timekeeper.  The biological clock has to be overridden in order to pull the all-nighters.  The light at night unsynchronizes the biological clock from the sunrise. Our body rhythms begin to get out of sync. Then after the late nights during the week, we sleep in on Saturday and Sunday which disrupts our biological clock even more. Then we have  to get up for 8 am class on Monday. The body clock has synchronized to the later time schedule and has to reset several hours to get back to normal. We have given ourselves artificial jet-lag. And jet-lag takes several days to get over so by the time our clocks are resynchronized, its back to oversleeping on the weekend again. We try to beat the internal clock in order to maintain our lifestyle. (Tweet This)

Time won’t stand beating. You know the old saying. if you can’t beat them, join them…

Now, if you only kept on good terms with him (time), he’d do almost anything you liked with the clock…

Keeping on good terms with your biological time means adjusting your habits.

  • Keep lighting as low as possible during the nighttime
  • Try to get plenty of sleep each night (close to 8 hours)
  • Try to get up at the same time each day, even on weekends
  • Limit naps and caffeine during the afternoon

When you do find yourself at odds with your clock, try to get out in the sunlight during the morning hours. Morning sunlight will help resynchronize your clock to the daily rhythm.

dsb

Watch what you eat…

I finished the section about nutrition in class this week. The students received the introductory information which is pretty straight forward. Vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates haven’t changed much over the years. What has changed is which foods are the “bad” foods.

You know the ones, if you eat them you’ll have a heart attack, get cancer and high blood pressure while becoming obese.

Now while Americans do have big problems with these ailments, its difficult to pinpoint the food that is causing the most damage. Years ago, many different foods were demonized and we took them off our tables in an effort to be healthier. With further study, we found that now these bad foods turn out to be not so bad, some are even good for you. Here is just a small sample…

egg

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Eggs. They were taboo because they contain cholesterol. And everyone knows that too much cholesterol in your blood can clog your vessels and lead to heart attacks. However, it turns out that the egg’s cholesterol (dietary) is not the same as the clogging cholesterol in your blood. And the egg is packed with protein with several vitamins and minerals.

chocolate

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Chocolate. Remember when chocolate caused acne and made you fat? Well, now it turns out to be heart-healthy, but you have to come over to the dark side, at least most benefits seem to come from dark chocolate. There is a Swedish study that says chocolate lowers stroke risk and 90% of Swedish chocolate is milk chocolate, so maybe milk chocolate lovers still have a chance.

glass of milk

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Whole Milk. Now here’s one that hits right at my home. It wasn’t the milk that was bad for you, but the fat in the milk. So, the switch was made to skim milk. I had to slowly change from whole to 2% to 1% then skim. My boys grew up on skim milk, four gallons a week to be exact. They don’t even care for the whole stuff, too thick. Recent studies indicate that drinking whole milk reduces central obesity.

And to add insult to injury, the study didn’t say just add whole milk, but also real butter and real whipped cream. All these years without whipped cream… dairy fat is the hero now. Instead of removing these items from our diet, we need to make sure that we use them.

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Coffee. Back then it was caffeine fueled anxiety that would stunt your growth. There is still caffeine but it’s not as bad as we believed. It apparently enhances brain function. Plus there are many good antioxidants  and nutrients in coffee, and they actually add real whip cream on top of some cups.

Nuts. These were known to have good nutrition, but with a lot of fat. Now that we know there is good fat and bad fat, the nuts rise to the top of the pile. Tree nuts are usually recommended, but studies show that peanuts, which are really legumes (like beans and peas), are just as good. In fact, boiled peanuts seem to have a similar amount of the same antioxidant that is found in red wine, and you don’t have to hide a handful of peanuts from your pastor.

This is just a sample of foods that are now thought to be good for you. Just google or bing the phrase, “bad foods that are actually good for you” and you will get many hits that give these and other ideas on foods.

Just remember that too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Take each area mentioned above with moderation. Overuse can quickly throw the nutrition benefits and the calories into the negative column.

And keep checking with the latest nutrition research. Maybe some favorite taboo food is on the verge of changing from a zero to a hero.

dsb

 

To Infinity and Beyond…or at least to Mars and back

moon

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I was eight years old when man first stepped on the moon.  Space was the new frontier.   It was every boy’s dream to become an astronaut.  Everyone looked to space for the next adventure with more moon landings and a manned space station in orbit through the next decade.

star trek

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The television series Star Trek aired around the same time frame which fueled our imaginations even more. Many TV shows came along mixed with several movies about space travel, the most significant being Star Wars.  Unfortunately the general public focused more on Hollywood’s version of space rather than the science version.

The last man walked on the moon more than 40 years ago.  Since then, manned space exploration has consisted of low earth orbit missions with the space shuttle and the international space station.  Lack of public interest along with budget cuts have kept men from going back to the moon, but Mars has revived a new interest in space exploration.

mars-test

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200,000 people registered for four spots in a privately funded mission to Mars.

Some have said that we’ve had the technology to get to Mars since the1980s.  While I do think it’s sad that the interest in interplanetary travel is taken this long to come back, I’m not sure that the technology needs have been resolved.  It took only 3 days to get to the moon; a trip to Mars will take six to nine months.

While I’m not completely sure about the technology, I do know we don’t have the physiology to go to Mars.  The human body is not designed for space exploration.  The human body is “fearfully and wonderfully made” to operate in an environment of gravity and atmospheric pressure. In the weightless vacuum of space, humans run into trouble.

There are complex physiological changes that occur when humans live in a weightless environment, all body systems are affected to some degree.

Most people are aware that bones tend to lose minerals and muscles lose strength in space.  That means after the extended space flight to Mars, our muscles would be so weak we couldn’t even hold our bodies upright.

And if we could manage to climb out of the space capsule, our bones would break when we try to step onto the surface of Mars. “…one giant leap for mankind…aaaaugh!”

And by the way, our calls for help would take from 4 to 24 minutes to reach Earth depending on the orbits of the two planets. So we would tell Houston our legs broke, and wait up to 48 minutes for them to hear and return a response.

Most people don’t think about the weightless shift in body fluids.  Such a simple thing on Earth, our tissue fluids and blood tend to be in the lower part of our body.  With no gravity, the fluid tends to float up toward our head. This makes our body think we have too much fluid and too much blood pressure.  Our body will try to correct this by removing salt and water reducing blood volume by 10%. Our other body systems then have to compensate for the loss of blood function.

 

magnetosphere

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The extreme environment of space affects us in other ways.  On earth, we are surrounded by a magnetic field that protects us from cosmic radiation. That protection goes away the farther from earth we get. The moon astronauts were blasted with a 1000 times more radiation than normal so imagine traveling for months in space.

If you don’t die from radiation poisoning getting to Mars, the cancer caused by the radiation would get you later.

Without major innovations in spacecraft design, any trip to Mars is, at worst, impossible, and at best, a one-way trip. Even the privately funded mission has no intention of returning.  Oh, and about the 1980s technology thing, only 42% of the spacecraft sent to Mars have made it there successfully, about 30 crashes out of 50 attempts. And those were small ships with light, non-living cargo, not food and oxygen and equipment for humans to survive for a 2 year round trip.

While it is fine to dream big, when it comes to Mars, our minds have written a check that our bodies cannot cash…

dsb

In the Eye of the Beholder

valentine

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As we end the month of February, I was looking back at Valentine’s Day thinking about the different ways we show our feelings for our “Valentine”.

  • From flowers and candy to special meals
  • From stolen glances to poetry
  • From running 5Ks to icy dips in the water.

One event in New York featured literary speed dating at a bookstore.  To each his own…

What makes one thing attractive to one person, but completely different to others?
Some like blond hair with blue eyes, others dark hair with brown eyes.

Skinny as a rail or pleasantly plump? Tall, dark and handsome or sensitive and quiet?

We have mindsets in our lives about things like attraction. These mindsets are shaped by our upbringing, our heritage, and our culture.

Were you feeding cows or taking violin lessons after school? Were you playing baseball or lacrosse?

These influences as we grow help shape our preferences. Our minds becomes “set”.

mri brain scan

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There is brain chemistry involved.

  • Oxytocin may be involved with attraction and bonding.
  • Serotonin affects our moods and emotion.
  • Dopamine influences reward and pleasure.

But our experiences growing up have a major role in shaping our mindsets utilizing these chemicals in the brain.

Once our minds are set can we change them?

I would say yes. We have to look at the world from another perspective. Walk a mile in their shoes…so to speak. Then we have to ponder the other perspective. Is it worth changing my mindset?

If we hold to a biblical worldview, then there are a lot of “mindsets” that need to be adjusted. Many of our natural tendencies need to be regulated.

Our perspectives need to align with biblical principles.  Jesus brought a new way of thinking about Heaven and worship and earthly relationships. He spoke to religious people who held to one mindset, but needed to expand and change their mind.

Learn Relearn

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The bible says we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
We must exercise our brains. Meditate on the new settings. Set your minds on things above… Dwell on the important things. Whatever is pure, lovely …

Changing a mindset is difficult. We must step out of our comfort zones, boundaries put there by our mindsets.

We may acquire a new taste for food or music by trying new ideas. We might discover a new level of attraction to those around us. Maybe a deeper attraction to our spouse.

We might develop a closer fellowship with God. At the very least by adjusting our mindsets, we would discover beauty in unexpected areas of our lives.

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Biblical Creationism

I have had a lot of casual discussions this week surrounding the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate from a couple of weeks ago. Included in this time frame was a formal panel discussion at LeTourneau University (LETU). While the formal discussion was centered on the debate, the other discussions focused on the areas of what does the Bible say about origins, what do Christians believe about origin, and what do churches teach about origins.

As I mentioned last week, in my opinion the debate was not a true debate (formal debate style based on public education), but it did bring up some interesting points and evidences about the creation/evolution controversy. Yet in many of the web responses and in my casual discussions, the general public seemed to be on a different page with their questions and understanding.

Most people utilized information received  from the denomination of their childhood, and there was a tendency to only know one viewpoint for origins with little knowledge about other competing Bible-believing, God-fearing theories.

I would like to present a brief summary of 3 theories of origins that are held by Bible believing Christians around the country. This is not an exhaustive list of theories or web sites about those theories, just a sample with places to look for more information.

  • Young Earth Creationism (YEC)

This is the position that Ken Ham believes. His web AIG logosite, Answers in Genesis, and the website of the Institute for Creation Research are two places to gain more information about this position. icr-home2This position holds to a literal reading of Genesis with the age of the earth determined by piecing together the genealogical accounts in the Old Testament.  Creation occurred around 6,000 years ago during a 6 day event. The days were actual 24 hour days. The geology of the earth was developed from the flood of Noah. Many in the YEC camp believe that without this interpretation, you cannot believe the Bible, and therefore, it is foundational for belief in Jesus.

  • Old-Earth Creationists

This position holds that the Genesis account of creation is correct, but the timing is not 24 hour days. A good website for this is Reasons to Believe. reasons-to-believeThe account uses day-age definition which means that the Genesis day was describing an amount of time. The age of the earth is accepted as 4.5 billion years. The Big-Bang is accepted as the origin of the cosmos. The creation of life is not attributed to evolution, but God’s intervention. Especially when humans are concerned, God created man in His image and distinct from other animals.

  • Evolutionary Creationists

This position holds that evolution is God’s means of creation. God created the universe, the earth, and all life over billions of years. A website for this view is BioLogos. BIOLOGOS  This view rejects the idea that God started the universe and has no active participation in it. God is still active in the natural world and in human history.  While the evolutionary process is what drives life, it is not a purposeless process, God still functions in the process.

Within each of these positions there are different levels of belief:

  • Each view has conservative to liberal participants.
  • Each has arguments for its interpretation of the Bible.
  • There are supporting evidences given from science and history for their viewpoint.
  • None of them accepts the notion that there is no God.
  • Each of them acknowledges that it is the God of the Bible in control.

One thing I would like to see at ETBU is a chance to discuss these and other ideas about origins. Maybe in a discussion forum like LETU held last Monday. Maybe just sitting around the tables at the Student center or in lobbies of dorms.

As long as the environment can be nonthreatening so those who disagree can feel safe in discussing their concerns, I think we can get some stimulating dialogue that will help strengthen our faith. Then we will be better equipped to answer the agnostic/atheist when asked about our belief system.

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