"The mind is a compact, multiply connected thought mass with internal connections of the most intimate kind. It grows continuously as new thought masses enter it, and this is the means by which it continues to develop."

Bernhard Riemann On Psychology and Metaphysics ca. 1860

Today's Elites

Thursday, March 31, 2011

DNA is more intelligent than Einstein's enemies

It appears that contrary to Mr Heisenberg's qualms about the know-ability of the quantum world, DNA is quite able to choose the quantum spin it reacts with. Providing once again more evidence for appropriate animadversion to the methods of statistical mechanistic empircism.To wit:

Biological Molecules Select Their Spin
02 Apr
Quantum Physics

New findings could help build better biomedical devices

Do the principles of quantum mechanics apply to biological systems? Until now, says Prof. Ron Naaman of the Institute’s Chemical Physics Department (Faculty of Chemistry), both biologists and physicists have considered quantum systems and biological molecules to be like apples and oranges. But research he conducted together with scientists in Germany, which appeared recently in Science, definitively shows that a biological molecule – DNA – can discern between quantum states known as spin.

Quantum phenomena, it is generally agreed, take place in extremely tiny systems – single atoms, for instance, or very small molecules. To investigate them, scientists must usually cool their material down to temperatures approaching absolute zero. Once such a system exceeds a certain size or temperature, its quantum properties collapse, and “every day” classical physics takes over. Naaman: “Biological molecules are quite large, and they work at temperatures that are much warmer than the temperatures at which most quantum physics experiments are conducted. One would expect that the quantum phenomenon of spin, which exists in two opposing states, would be scrambled in these molecules – and thus irrelevant to their function.”

But biological molecules have another property: they are chiral. In other words, they exist in either “left-” or “right-handed” forms that can’t be superimposed on one another. Double-stranded DNA molecules are doubly chiral – both in the arrangement of the individual strands and in the direction of the helices’ twist. Naaman knew from previous studies that some chiral molecules can interact in different ways with the two different spins. Together with Prof. Zeev Vager of the Particle Physics and Astrophysics Department, research student Tal Markus, and Prof. Helmut Zacharias and his research team at the University of Münster, Germany, he set out to discover whether DNA might show some spin-selective properties.

The researchers fabricated self-assembling, single layers of DNA attached to a gold substrate. They then exposed the DNA to mixed groups of electrons with both directions of spin. Indeed, the team’s results surpassed expectations: The biological molecules reacted strongly with the electrons carrying one of those spins, and hardly at all with the others. The longer the molecule, the more efficient it was at choosing electrons with the desired spin, while single strands and damaged bits of DNA did not exhibit this property. These findings imply that the ability to pick and choose electrons with a particular spin stems from the chiral nature of the DNA molecule, which somehow “sets the preference” for the spin of electrons moving through it.

In fact, says Naaman, DNA turns out to be a superb “spin filter,” and the team’s findings could have relevance for both biomedical research and the field of spintronics. If further studies, for instance, bear out the finding that DNA only sustains damage from spins pointing in one direction, then exposure might be reduced and medical devices designed accordingly. On the other hand, DNA and other biological molecules could become a central feature of new types of spintronic devices, which will work on particle spin rather than electric charge, as they do today.
Prof. Ron Naaman is head of the Nancy and Stephen Grand Research Center for Sensors and Security, and his research is supported by Rachel Schwartz, Canada. Prof. Naaman is the incumbent of the Aryeh and Mintzi Katzman Professorial Chair.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Cat's Out Again

 “The human toll here,” Larry Kudlow declared, “looks to be much worse than the economic toll and we can be grateful for that.” 

Question for Mr Kudlow: How did you calculate the loss of human life? In yen or dollars? The bailing out of the vast pyramid of gambling debt from the city of London and Wall Street that is currently costing untold human suffering throughout the globe should, I think, make Ludlow and his ilk smile to themselves considerably...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Amazing True Stories

"Some respond to Japan earthquake by pointing to global warming"

This shocking news just in: Loss of gray matter proven to be caused by global warming!

Cui Bono?

"Speaking at Cambridge Science Festival next week, Professor Ed Bullmore will describe how new ways of looking at the network organisation of the human brain show that it has a surprising amount in common with the worm brain, computer chips, stock markets, and many other complex systems."

Apparently, by some remarkably ironic twist of fate, Professor Bullmore has the most apropos appellation that anyone might possibly imagine.

A Brilliant Bit of Hypothesizing

Bravo! This bit of astounding detective work certainly has the ring of truth to it. By combining two principles which are prevalent in all classes of biota,viz: least action and asymmetry, these researchers have broken new scientific ground. This builds upon the rigorous touchstone work of Louis Pasteur and provides further evidence to the overarching rule of biophysical hypothesis formation resulting from the premise that that which distinguishes the organic from the inorganic spheres is critical.

Nanotubes: Cellular membranes on supply

March 11, 2011
Nanotubes: cellular membranes on supply
Nanotube formation in a vesicle containing two droplets (PEG - dark, and dextran - green). The membrane is labelled in red. After deflation of the vesicle, nanotubes form within the PEG-rich phase and accumulate at the interface between the two droplets. (a-c) Vertical cross sections of the vesicle; (d) top view of the nanotubes located at the interface. © Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces
(PhysOrg.com) -- When unfolding a tent for the first time, you may wonder how the huge tarpaulin fits into a bag the size of a football. Biologists wonder about something similar: when a cell divides, the surface area of the cell membrane grows. Moreover, when molecules are brought from one organelle to another inside the cell, membrane-enclosed transport vesicles are formed. So that membranes can be made available quickly, they are stored within the cells in the form of nanotubes, tubular membrane structures – similarly to a tarpaulin that has been folded together. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam have now discovered a mechanism used by cells to generate stable membrane nanotubes.
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Tubular membrane structures can be found in many areas of a cell: in the Golgi apparatus, a type of sorting station in which transport vesicles are formed; in the mitochondria, the power plants of the cell; or in the endoplasmic reticulum, a type of duct network within cells. The tubes have a diameter ranging from a few nanometres (one millionth of a millimetre) to a few micrometres (one thousandth of a millimetre). The thinner the tubes, the greater the surface to volume ratio. They are therefore ideal for storing a lot of membrane in rather small spaces. Researchers believe that  can use energy to pull  from cellular membranes. “However, motor proteins are not always found in the areas of the cell where membrane nanotubes are formed,” says Rumiana Dimova, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces and co-author of the study. For this reason, she believes that there must be another mechanism to generate stable nanotubes.
The Potsdam-based researchers may have now found the answer to the riddle. “The mechanism generates stable nanotubes without forces having to be exerted on the membrane. It therefore seems to work without the need for motor proteins,” says Dimova. Part of the mechanism is based on a phenomenon that is omnipresent in the world of membranes, the so-called osmosis. If certain molecules are present in a larger concentration outside the cell than inside the cell – i.e. they form a so-called hypertonic solution – then water will flow out of the cell and the cell will contract.
The researchers in Potsdam have reproduced such concentration differences using artificial vesicles the size of a cell, which contain a mixture of two polymers, namely polyethylene glycol (PEG) and dextran. “Biopolymers are found in a similarly high concentration in living cells,” says Dimova. “For this reason, we consider the vesicle to be a good model of a cell.” The researchers transferred the vesicle to a hypertonic solution, which caused the vesicle to release water and to shrink in volume.
However, what happened was completely different to a scenario in which, for instance, a beach ball is deflated and then simply collapses into a flat pancake. The outflow of the water caused the concentration of the dissolved polymers in the vesicle to rise. This, in turn, caused the two polymers to separate. As a result, two separate droplets of different sizes formed in the vesicle, much like the shape of a snowman with one large sphere (mainly containing PEG molecules) and one smaller sphere (predominantly containing dextran molecules).
Using a fluorescence microscope, the Potsdam-based researchers observed that membrane nanotubes formed in the PEG-rich area and accumulated at the interface between the two droplets. The scientists showed that about 15 % of the membrane surface had been stored in the tubes. The resolution of the microscope was not sufficient to be able to determine the diameter of the tubes. However, the researchers estimate it to be about 240 nanometres.
The researchers also have an explanatory model for the emergence and stability of the nanotubes. They found that solution flows of different densities are triggered when the polymers are separated. These exert forces on the membrane and thus contribute to the formation of the tubes.
The next question the scientists asked was what causes the membrane tubes to remain stable. A theoretical analysis of the observed membrane shapes revealed that stable tubes only emerge if the two sides of the membrane have an asymmetrical, molecular structure. This asymmetry is caused by the interaction between the membrane and the biopolymers. There is a high concentration of PEG molecules on one side, whereas on the other side there are no such molecules. Because the PEG interacts with the lipid  within the membrane, the membrane attempts to curve inwards. The formation of nanotubes accommodates this behaviour of the cellular membrane. The researchers observed that the nanotubes disappear again if the vesicle is allowed to inflate once again through osmosis.
“For natural cells, it is easy to generate asymmetry – similarly to what we have seen in our experiment,” says Dimova. The bio-physicist therefore believes that the newly discovered mechanism could be used in living  to store the membrane surface. However, proof of this is still pending.
More information: Yanhong Li, Reinhard Lipowsky, Rumiana Dimova, Membrane nanotubes induced by aqueous phase separation and stabilized by spontaneous curvature, PNASDOI:10.1073/pnas.1015892108
Provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (news : web)

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Woo, woo

LSE director quits over Libya links

Oh my word. It looks like Sir Davies (if that is what he is) had taken the title of a song of another graduate of the wretched London School of Economics Mick Jagger too much to heart. I refer of course to Sympathy for the Devil... Bully!

(By the Bye. One mustn't forget the cozy relation that the British upper crust always seems to have with many other assorted nasties in that neck of the desert. Viz: the Al Yamamah- BAE scandal which they have so meticulous­ly covered up for state security reasons, you understand­. And don't forget that the same tattered excuse was used to cover up the "suicided" David Kelly who was exposing Blair's skull- duggery. Etc., etc.)

Sherrod Brown apologizes for Hitler comment

Alas, cowardice in the face of an enemy...
One would hope that more Democrats start coming to their senses and throw off this delusion of not wanting to hurt these bullies' self esteem by aptly characterizing them as Sherrod Brown has done. The question is when will they start aptly characterizing Obama as nothing but Wall Street's cats-paw at best and their useful idiot more pointedly?

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