Making good Mondays is like making coffee -

The week is before us - like the coffee pot - waiting to brew. Making it good is a matter of choice, luck, creativity, patience and acceptance of the outcome.

Currently at Making Good Mondays

Active elements on this page: Occasionally I will publish a new blog post, but I write mostly at other sites.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Heads up, science in the news --

"The brain as a significant consumer of energy and resources: Its weight may only be 2-3% of total body weight, but the brain at rest consumes about 20% of oxygen and 20% of glucose, and 20% blood flow goes to the brain," said the Hitachi guest speaker, Mr. Woolsey who is from the Washington University School of Medicine. He reviewed brain-imaging techniques and emerging treatments for brain disorders. For Woolsey, the brain is fascinating just as it is. “I think there’s nothing more exciting and compelling as a scientific frontier,” he said. “And that’s why I think the brain is the ultimate frontier.”

"One by one, Neuroscience is unlocking the brain's mysteries, speakers say at Hitachi lecture," is the headline from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS - 6/5/09). To quote more about the amazing mystery stories, this time from Mr. Koizumi:

The patient suffered from advanced Lou Gehrig’s disease and had been in a vegetative state for two years, never speaking, never showing a sign that she could hear. But Japanese scientist Hideaki Koizumi wanted to know more about her condition, and so he fitted the patient with a brain scanner—a thin cap with electrodes attached.

When he asked her to try to speak, the language production areas of her brain lit up the brain-imaging equipment. When he asked her to listen to what he said, the language comprehension area of her brain activated. As he prepared to ask her some questions, he told her that if she wanted to answer yes, she should imagine moving her hand in a certain way; to answer ‘no,’ she shouldn’t imagine anything at all.

Then, as he asked her questions, the researchers were stunned to find that the apparently unconscious woman was answering their questions. “We found that this patient has clear consciousness,” Koizumi said during his presentation at AAAS.

Larks and owls -- Most of us are able to classify ourselves by our sleep patterns, which are brain controlled. I am a lark. I always awaken early, sometimes too early, which is a form of insomnia. Here is another bit of news from the (AAAS of 4/23/09). It is titled, "the early bird's brain vs. the night owl's," To quote:

A new brain-imaging study may help explain why some people are most alert early in the day, while others hit their stride in the evening. Christina Schmidt at the University of Liege in Belgium and her colleagues report that our alertness and ability to concentrate are affected by both how long we've been awake and the time of day, since our circadian rhythms operate according to a day-night cycle.

. . . The results suggest that night owls generally outlast early birds, staying awake for longer periods of time before becoming mentally fatigued. After 10 hours of being awake, the early-birds showed reduced activity in brain areas linked to attention, compared to the night owls. They also felt sleepier and tended to perform more slowly on the task.

Patrick McGovern must have gotten up very early to figure this out -- What a fertile mind this guy has, in order to produce a "9,000-year-old brew hitting the shelves this summer." Again the news is from Scientific American (6/5/09). To quote:

This summer, how would you like to lean back in your lawn chair and toss back a brew made from what may be the world’s oldest recipe for beer? Called Chateau Jiahu, this blend of rice, honey and fruit was intoxicating Chinese villagers 9,000 years ago—long before grape wine had its start in Mesopotamia.

University of Pennsylvania molecular archaeologist Patrick McGovern first described the beverage in 2005 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences based on chemical traces from pottery in the Neolithic village of Jiahu in Northern China. Soon after, McGovern called on Sam Calagione at the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Del., to do the ancient recipe justice. Later this month, you can give it a try when a new batch hits shelves across the country. The Beer Babe blog was impressed, writing that it is “very smooth,” and “not overly sweet.”

Fascinating as brain science and old, old beer are, I agree with my good friend Betmo, who sent me this interesting link, saying "gotta love science." Read the amazing headline that reports, "Stem cells cultured on contact lens restore sight in patients with blinding corneal disease." The story is from Science Daily (6/5/09). To quote:

In a world-first breakthrough, University of New South Wales (UNSW) medical researchers have used stem cells cultured on a simple contact lens to restore sight to sufferers of blinding corneal disease.

Sight was significantly improved within weeks of the procedure, which is simple, inexpensive and requires a minimal hospital stay. . . The research team from UNSW’s School of Medical Sciences harvested stem cells from patients’ own eyes to rehabilitate the damaged cornea. The stem cells were cultured on a common therapeutic contact lens which was then placed onto the damaged cornea for 10 days, during which the cells were able to re-colonise the damaged eye surface.

Stem cell research made the cornea regeneration news possible. And stem cell research has been freed-up by President Obama. But problems remain in this exciting field. To conclude today's post, note this headline, "AAAS response to draft NIH stem cell research guidelines," from AAAS (5/26/09). I quote:

Federal funding for research involving stem cells derived from donated, excess human embryos from fertility treatments "will provide an opportunity to achieve important progress," the AAAS said in a 20 May comment on draft National Institutes of Health guidelines on human stem cell research.

Further, AAAS is "pleased to see NIH move quickly to issue guidelines that will enable scientists to move forward in this crucial field," AAAS chief executive officer Alan I. Leshner noted in his comment letter on behalf of AAAS.

But the AAAS letter also raised several concerns related to informed consent rules, a federal registry of stem cell lines, and the challenges of conducting public and private research within the same facility.

See Behind the links for further stories on the human condition.

Blogs: My news and political blog is at South by Southwest. My general purpose/southwest focus blog is at Southwest Progressive. And Carol Gee - Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for my websites.

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References on Spirituality -- Favorites from my old collection

  • "A Return To Love: Reflections On the Principles Of a Course In Miracles" by Marianne Williamson. Harper Collins, 1992
  • "A World Waiting To Be Born: Civility Rediscovered" by M. Scott Peck. Simon and Schuster, 1993
  • "Chicken Soup For the Unsinkable Soul" by Canfield, Hansen and McNamara. Health Communications, 1999
  • "Compassion in Action: Setting Out On the Path of Service" by Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush. Bell Tower Pub., 1992
  • "Creative Visualization" by Shakti Gawain. MIF Books, 1978
  • "Finding Values That Work: The Search For Fulfillment" by Brian O'Connell. Walker & Co., 1978
  • "Fire in the Soul" by Joan Borysenko. Warner Books, 1993
  • "Further Along the Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck. Simon and Schuster, 1993
  • "Guilt Is the Teacher, Love Is the Lesson" by Joan Borysenko. Warner Books, 1990
  • "Inner Simplicity: 100 Ways To Regain Peace and Nourish the Soul" by Elaine St. James. Hyperion, 1995
  • "Insearch:Psychology and Religion" by James Hillman. Spring Pub. 1994
  • "Man's Search For Himself" by Rollo May. Signet Books, 1953
  • "Mythologies" by William Butler Yeats. Macmillan, 1959
  • "Myths, Dreams and Religion" by Joseph Campbell. Spring Pub. 1988
  • "Passion for Life: Psychology and the Human Spirit" by John and Muriel James. Penguin Books, 1991
  • "Peace Is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hahn. Bantam Books , 1991
  • "The Heroine's Journey" by Mureen Murdock. Random House, 1990
  • "The Hope For Healing Human Evil" by M. Scott Peck. Simon and Schuster, 1983
  • "The House of Belonging" poems by David Whyte. Many Rivers Press, 2004
  • "The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth" by M.Scott Peck. Simon and Schuster, 1978
  • "The Soul's Code: In Search Of Character and Calling" by James Hillman. Random House, 1996
  • "The World Treasury of Modern Religious Thought" by Jaroslav Pelikan. Little, Brown & Co., 1990
  • "Unconditional Life" by Deepak Chopra. Bantam Books, 1992
  • "Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation" by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Hyperion, 1994
  • "Zen Keys: A Guide to Zen Practice" by Thich Nhat Hahn. Doubleday Dell Pub. Group, 1974

About Me

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A retired counselor, I am equal parts Techie and Artist. I am a Democrat who came to the Southwest to attend college. I married, had kids and have lived here all my adult life.