måndag 31 januari 2011

How brains are built.

Dana Foundation has an interesting article, How Brains are Built.

More information also at How Brains Are Built: Principles of Computational Neuroscience

“If I cannot build it, I do not understand it.” So said Nobel laureate Richard Feynman, and by his metric, we understand a bit about physics, less about chemistry, and almost nothing about biology.

Nima Arkani-Hamed is ready to throw Feynman in the ancient thinking garbage. How many fancy ideas are there? How long before we start to really consider also biological systems as effects of the physical reality, and LEARN from them? How many wrong assumptions in biology must go the same way as Feynmans famous ideas? Beginning from the physics of the nerves.

We must accept that much of what we 'know' is wrong, built on assumptions alone.

torsdag 27 januari 2011

Research Digest blog:

Reminder of disease primes the body and mind to repel other people

showing that a disease-themed slide show makes people feel less sociable and extravert, and primes their motor system for repelling other people. reminders of disease makes us view ourselves as less outgoing and gregarious, especially if we're the kind of person who's already fairly neurotic about infection.

If these effects are real, you'd expect them to have some effect on actual behaviour.

'...It appears that humans have evolved a mechanism that responds to environmental cues of disease and modulates attitudes and behaviours in functionally appropriate ways,' the researchers said.

A body memory? This could also collaborate with the immune system. Our thoughts are real, Damasio showed us once. They have as big impact as real happenings.

Mortensen, C., Becker, D., Ackerman, J., Neuberg, S., & Kenrick, D. (2010). Infection Breeds Reticence: The Effects of Disease Salience on Self-Perceptions of Personality and Behavioral Avoidance Tendencies. Psychological Science, 21 (3), 440-447 DOI: 10.1177/0956797610361706

söndag 23 januari 2011


Josephine Briggs leading NIH effort to study alternative approaches

January 21, 2011. MemberCentral .
Science AAAS Member Josephine Briggs directs the NIH's program on complementary and alternative medicine. A physician trained in kidney neurology, she's working to bring scientific rigor to a field many consider "pseudoscience." CME/CEU Video Lecture with Dr. Briggs, NCCAM website .

What are they researching?
The placebo-effect A recent national survey of 679 physicians, funded in part by NCCAM, found that about half the physician respondents prescribed placebo treatments on a regular basis. Most (62%) said they think the practice is ethical. The surveyed physicians were internists and rheumatologists—specialties that commonly treat patients with debilitating chronic conditions. Mostly over-the-counter analgesics (41%) or vitamins (38%), and some used antibiotics (13%) or sedatives (13%) as placebos. Physicians most commonly described the treatments as medicine that is not typically used for the patient's condition but that might be beneficial.

A patient's visit to a provider—may produce its own placebo effects that can bring about significant symptom improvement. The part of the encounter that plays the greatest role in the placebo effect appears to be the physician-patient relationship.

Maybe it's all placebo? August 24, 2010.
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) showed a positive outcome for tai chi in the management of the troubling symptoms of fibromyalgia—a condition with which many patients struggle and for which conventional medicine has little to offer. That is why this study is so provocative—can a CAM modality really affect this condition?

Tai chi is one CAM practice that clearly illustrates the challenge of conducting clinical research in CAM. As an accompanying editorial in NEJM notes, it is a complex intervention involving multiple components: exercise, breathing, meditation, relaxation, and a practitioner. How do you control for all of these variables when designing a study? Some CAM proponents will say that it is the combination that makes the intervention work; many conventional researchers will say you must isolate the components to identify the active "ingredient." Critics will say it all just the placebo effect—you expect the intervention to work, and so it does.

This is a clear example of the challenges facing NCCAM and the researchers we fund—to develop methodologies to study complex CAM interventions upholding the rigorous standards of research and at the same time respecting the traditions and practices inherent in CAM. NCCAM recently held a workshop on research controls and methods to begin the dialogue that will lead to better studies in this area. Understanding the complexities of doing CAM research and developing the tools with which to study CAM more effectively is also a theme for our next strategic plan.

In the meantime, we are also interested in understanding and exploring the many components of the placebo effect: what role does expectation play? How important is the patient-provider interaction in health? What is the mind-body connection and how can it be harnessed to promote health and well being?

A randomized trial of tai chi for fibromyalgia.
Prescribing tai chi for fibromyalgia—are we there yet?

Among the other subjects:
Cold and flu, H1N1, Swine flu, Echinacea, Red yest Rice, Mercury-detox, Creatine, Antioxidant Supplements for Health: An Introduction, Colloidal Silver Products, Omega-3 Supplements: An Introduction, Operation False Cure, Menopausal Symptoms, Introduction to Probiotics, Grape Seed Extract, St. John's Wort and Depression, Introduction to Acupuncture, Introduction to Naturopathy, Grape Seed Extract, Glucosamine/Chondroitin Study, B Vitamins and Berries and Age-Related Neurodegenerative Disorders, Calcium and Vitamin D, Sleep disorders, Diabetes , Cancer, Back Pain II, Chronic Pain , Ear Candles/Candling , Acupuncture for Pain, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Antidepressant Effects of Magnetic Stimulation, Hepatitis C: A Focus on Herbal Supplements, Herbs, Ayurvedic Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine: An Introduction,

And also
Be an Informed Consumer … Do Your Homework, Natural Product Integrity, Meditation, Reiki: An Introduction, Symptoms Matter, Paying for CAM Treatment, and more common things.

Have a look.

Love addiction.

There is a beautiful post written by Brain Blogger, Addicted to Love. In a new study published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse (number 2), investigators examined and compared the clinical, psychological and biological details of love, passion, sex, gambling, and substance dependence. It turns out that an addiction to love is almost indistinguishable from other addictions.

Some abstracts:

Timmreck TC. "Overcoming the loss of a love: preventing love addiction and promoting positive emotional health." Psychol Rep. 1990 Apr;66(2):515-28. The term "love addiction" has been applied to persons who obsessively seek to regain the pleasurable love state which existed with a former love relationship. Dysfunctional emotional conditions such as distrust, feelings of rejection, loss of self-worth, deep-seated anger, feelings of failure, loss, and an array of other emotional distress and self-defeating behaviors arise in the emotionally hurt person. Emotional distress must be dealt with. Rational self-counseling and psychotherapy can be effective in helping a jilted person work through periods of distress and may help to reestablish emotional well being and good mental health. Counseling can assist the person in moving into new relationships, help the hurt person abandon dysfunctional behaviors and feelings, and aid the client in resuming a normal life.

Reynaud M, Karila L, Blecha L, & Benyamina A (2010). "Is Love Passion an Addictive Disorder?" The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse PMID: 20545601
After describing the clinical distinctions between "love passion," "love addiction," and "sex addiction," we compare clinical, neuropsychological, neurobiological, and neuroimaging data on love, passion, pathological gambling (PG) and substance dependence.
There are no recognized definitions or diagnostic criteria for "love addiction," but its phenomenology has some similarities to substance dependence: euphoria and unrestrained desire in the presence of the love object or associated stimuli (drug intoxication); negative mood, anhedonia, and sleep disturbance when separated from the love object (drug withdrawal); focussed attention on and intrusive thoughts about the love object; and maladaptive or problematic patterns of behavior (love relation) leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, with pursuit despite knowledge of adverse consequences. Limited animal and human studies suggest that brain regions (e.g., insula, anterior cingulated [ACC], orbitofrontal [OFC]) and neurotransmitters (dopamine) that mediate substance dependence may also be involved with love addiction (as for PG). Ocytocin (OT), which is implicated in social attachment and mating behavior, may also be involved in substance dependence. There are no data on the epidemiology, genetics, co-morbidity, or treatment of love addiction.
There are currently insufficient data to place some cases of "love passion" within a clinical disorder, such as "love addiction," in an official diagnostic nomenclature or to firmly classify it as a behavioral addiction or disorder of impulse control.

Waller KL, MacDonald TK. "Trait self-esteem moderates the effect of initiator status on emotional and cognitive responses to romantic relationship dissolution." J Pers. 2010 Aug 1;78(4):1271-99. Epub 2010 Jun 1. We hypothesized that the effect of initiator status on post breakup distress would vary as a function of trait self-esteem, such that individuals with low self-esteem would experience more distress after being rejected by their partners, whereas, among individuals with high self-esteem, initiator status would not predict distress. We used a prospective design in which university students (N=66) were assessed for emotional responses following the dissolution of their real-life romantic relationships, as well as a laboratory design in which students (N=190) imagined breaking up with their partners. As predicted, participants with lower trait self-esteem exhibited greater distress after experiencing or imagining a romantic rejection than after ending or imagining themselves ending their relationships. Conversely, distress experienced by those with high trait self-esteem did not differ as a function of who ended the relationship. Implications for understanding self-esteem processes and the effects of romantic rejection are discussed.

Slotter EB, Gardner WL, Finkel EJ. "Who am I without you? The influence of romantic breakup on the self-concept." Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2010 Feb;36(2):147-60. Epub 2009 15.12 Romantic relationships alter the selves of the individuals within them. Partners develop shared friends and activities and even overlapping self-concepts. This intertwining of selves may leave individuals' self-concepts vulnerable to change if the relationship ends. The current research examines several different types of self-concept change that could occur after a breakup and their relation to emotional distress. Across three studies, using varied methodologies, the authors examined change in both the content (Study 1a and 1b) and the structure of the self-concept, specifically, reduced self-concept clarity (Studies 1 through 3). As predicted, individuals experienced self-concept content change and reduced self-concept clarity post-breakup. Additionally, reduced clarity uniquely predicted post-breakup emotional distress.

Bechtoldt MN, De Dreu CK, Nijstad BA, Zapf D. "Self-concept clarity and the management of social conflict." J Pers. 2010 Apr;78(2):539-74. In 4 studies we examined the relationship between self-concept clarity and conflict management. Individuals with higher self-concept clarity were overall more active and showed more cooperative problem-solving behavior than people with low self-concept clarity. There were no relationships with contending or yielding. The positive relationship with cooperative behavior was mediated by less rumination (Study 2) and moderated by conflict intensity (Study 3). Specifically, it applied to relatively mild conflicts (Study 3). Finally, Study 4 extended these findings to the group level: Dyad members with higher self-concept clarity engaged in problem solving, whereas dyad members with lower self-concept clarity did not. We conclude that higher self-concept clarity associates with proactive problem solving in social conflict.

De Dreu CK, van Knippenberg D. "The possessive self as a barrier to conflict resolution: effects of mere ownership, process accountability, and self-concept clarity on competitive cognitions and behavior." J Pers Soc Psychol. 2005 Sep;89(3):345-57. ...propose that people have difficulty managing conflict because they quickly develop ownership of arguments and positions they use in the dispute, that these arguments and positions become part of their (extended) self-concept, and that any opposition or counterargumentation therefore becomes an ego-threat. Four studies reveal that individuals value arguments and beliefs more when these are associated with the self and that anticipated or real opposition triggers ego-defensive cognition and behavior, including competitive communication, retaliatory responses, negative perceptions of the partner, and attitude polarization. These effects were weaker when epistemic needs were raised through process accountability or when individuals had high rather than low self-concept clarity. The authors conclude that because people develop ownership of arguments and make these part of their self-concept, conflict is difficult to manage and bound to escalate.

Stucke TS, Sporer SL. "When a grandiose self-image is threatened: narcissism and self-concept clarity as predictors of negative emotions and aggression following ego-threat." J Pers. 2002 Aug;70(4):509-32. ... relation between narcissism, self-concept clarity, negative emotions, and aggression based on theoretical assumptions proposed by Baumeister, Smart, and Boden (1996). Narcissism and self-concept clarity were examined as predictors for anger, depression, and verbal aggression following ego-threat, which was operationalized by a bogus performance feedback on an intelligence test. The second study also examined the mediating effects of participants' negative emotions to provide an additional explanation for the aggressive reactions after failure. As expected, narcissism and self-concept clarity were significant predictors of negative emotions and aggression after failure. In accordance with our hypothesis, high narcissists with low self-concept clarity reacted with anger and aggression after failure, whereas less narcissistic individuals with high self-concept clarity showed feelings of depression and no aggression. The results also indicated that aggression was always directed toward the source of the ego-threatening feedback. Additionally, anger and depression could predict the aggressive response after failure but they did not mediate the relation between narcissism, self-concept clarity, performance feedback, and aggression.

McGregor IS, Callaghan PD, Hunt GE. "From ultrasocial to antisocial: a role for oxytocin in the acute reinforcing effects and long-term adverse consequences of drug use?" Br J Pharmacol. 2008 May;154(2):358-68. Addictive drugs can profoundly affect social behaviour both acutely and in the long-term. Effects range from the artificial sociability imbued by various intoxicating agents to the depressed and socially withdrawn state frequently observed in chronic drug users. In this review we focus on the 'social neuropeptide' oxytocin and its possible role in acute and long-term effects of commonly used drugs. Oxytocin regulates social affiliation and social recognition in many species and modulates anxiety, mood and aggression. Recent evidence suggests that popular party drugs such as MDMA and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) may preferentially activate brain oxytocin systems to produce their characteristic prosocial and prosexual effects. Oxytocin interacts with the mesolimbic dopamine system to facilitate sexual and social behaviour, and this oxytocin-dopamine interaction may also influence the acquisition and expression of drug-seeking behaviour. An increasing body of evidence from animal models suggests that even brief exposure to drugs such as MDMA, cannabinoids, methamphetamine and phencyclidine can cause long lasting deficits in social behaviour. We discuss preliminary evidence that these adverse effects may reflect long-term neuroadaptations in brain oxytocin systems. Laboratory studies and preliminary clinical studies also indicate that raising brain oxytocin levels may ameliorate acute drug withdrawal symptoms. It is concluded that oxytocin may play an important, yet largely unexplored, role in drug addiction.

Koob GF, Le Moal M. "Drug addiction, dysregulation of reward, and allostasis." Neuropsychopharmacology. 2001 Feb;24(2):97-129. ...developments in the neurocircuitry and neurobiology of addiction from a perspective of allostasis. A model is proposed for brain changes that occur during the development of addiction that explain the persistent vulnerability to relapse long after drug-taking has ceased. Addiction is presented as a cycle of spiralling dysregulation of brain reward systems that progressively increases, resulting in the compulsive use and loss of control over drug-taking. The development of addiction recruits different sources of reinforcement, different neuroadaptive mechanisms, and different neurochemical changes to dysregulate the brain reward system. Counteradaptive processes such as opponent-process that are part of normal homeostatic limitation of reward function fail to return within the normal homeostatic range and are hypothesized to form an allostatic state. Allostasis from the addiction perspective is defined as the process of maintaining apparent reward function stability by changes in brain reward mechanisms. The allostatic state represents a chronic deviation of reward set point and is fueled not only by dysregulation of reward circuits per se, but also by the activation of brain and hormonal stress responses. The manifestation of this allostatic state as compulsive drug-taking and loss of control over drug-taking is hypothesized to be expressed through activation of brain circuits involved in compulsive behavior such as the cortico-striatal-thalamic loop. The view that addiction is the pathology that results from an allostatic mechanism using the circuits established for natural rewards provides a realistic approach to identifying the neurobiological factors that produce vulnerability to addiction and relapse.

Koob GF, Le Moal M. "Addiction and the brain antireward system." Annu Rev Psychol. 2008;59:29-53. ...this model may generalize to other psychopathology associated with dysregulated motivational systems. In this framework, addiction is conceptualized as a cycle of decreased function of brain reward systems and recruitment of antireward systems that progressively worsen, resulting in the compulsive use of drugs. Counteradaptive processes, such as opponent process, that are part of the normal homeostatic limitation of reward function fail to return within the normal homeostatic range and are hypothesized to repeatedly drive the allostatic state. Excessive drug taking thus results in not only the short-term amelioration of the reward deficit but also suppression of the antireward system. However, in the long term, there is worsening of the underlying neurochemical dysregulations that ultimately form an allostatic state (decreased dopamine and opioid peptide function, increased corticotropin-releasing factor activity). This allostatic state is hypothesized to be reflected in a chronic deviation of reward set point that is fueled not only by dysregulation of reward circuits per se but also by recruitment of brain and hormonal stress responses. Vulnerability to addiction may involve genetic comorbidity and developmental factors at the molecular, cellular, or neurocircuitry levels that sensitize the brain antireward systems.

Feltenstein MW, See RE. "The neurocircuitry of addiction: an overview." Br J Pharmacol. 2008 May;154(2):261-74. Epub 2008 Mar 3. ...we will give a broad overview of various theories of addiction, animal models of addiction and relapse, drugs of abuse, and the neurobiology of drug dependence and relapse. Although drugs of abuse possess diverse neuropharmacological profiles, activation of the mesocorticolimbic system, particularly the ventral tegmental area, nucleus accumbens, amygdala and prefrontal cortex via dopaminergic and glutamatergic pathways, constitutes a common pathway by which various drugs of abuse mediate their acute reinforcing effects. However, long-term neuroadaptations in this circuitry likely underlie the transition to drug dependence and cycles of relapse.

Kalant H. "What neurobiology cannot tell us about addiction." Addiction. 2010 May;105(5):780-9. Epub 2009 Nov 17. Molecular neurobiological studies have yielded enormous amounts of valuable information about neuronal response mechanisms and their adaptive changes. However, in relation to addiction this information is of limited value because almost every cell function appears to be involved. Thus it tells us only that neurons adapt to 'addictive drugs' as they do to all sorts of other functional disturbances. This information may be of limited help in the development of potential auxiliary agents for treatment of addiction. However, a reductionist approach which attempts to analyse addiction at ever finer levels of structure and function, is inherently incapable of explaining what causes these mechanisms to be brought into play in some cases and not in others, or by self-administration of a drug but not by passive exposure. There is abundant evidence that psychological, social, economic and specific situational factors play important roles in initiating addiction, in addition to genetic and other biological factors. Therefore, if we hope to be able to make predictions at any but a statistical level, or to develop effective means of prevention, it is necessary to devise appropriate integrative approaches to the study of addiction, rather than pursue an ever-finer reductive approach which leads steadily farther away from the complex interaction of drug, user, environment and specific situations that characterizes the problem in humans.

What does this tell us? We must use the reward system in the treatment, and love is an important factor. Maybe deficit of love is the reason? So the cure would be to find good substitutes for love?

This is about almost every disturbance we can have, and it also invokes on homeostasis regulation and therefore on our health.

Relations are important.

måndag 10 januari 2011

On biosignatures, digital life and ETs.

A biosignature common to both life on Earth and digital life that would give hint of how alien life would look like? Life would leave an indelible stamp on the chemical make up, suggested Lovelock. The processes of life would create a fog of chemicals unlike anything that could form in an ordinary chemical equilibrium.

Life changes its surroundings. The atmosphere and the life it supported would form a kind of self-regulating system that could itself be thought of as a living organism-the Gaia hypothesis. Life maximize the fi tness, and adaption.

We have no ETs but we could look at evolution? Biosignatures ought to be present in any system that has evolved, also digital life in Si.
Dorn et co looked in various samples at the distribution of biomolecules, such as amino and carboxylic acids. They compared terrestrial sludge, which is obviously teeming with life, with the outcome of experiments to synthesise amino acids, which have no life. And they even looked at the composition of meteorites.

Their results are interesting. They found that the distribution of biomolecules in the absence of life generally reflects the thermodynamic cost of making them. So there are far more simple amino acids than complex ones, for example.

However, samples containing life do not follow this pattern. Where complex biomolecules play a role in the processes of life, and therefore confer some kind of advantage, they are much more common than can be explained by thermodynamic arguments.

Concentrations of related monomers in abiotic samples tend to exhibit specfii c patterns dominated by small, easily formed, low-formation-energy molecules, governed by reaction kinetics and thermodynamics. Organisms, on the other hand, contain catalysts (e.g., in terrestrial biota, enzymes) and expend energy to synthesize speci fically those molecules they need for survival and competition. In the presence of life, therefore, some speci fic complex and high-formation-energy molecules are synthesized rapidly because they convey a fitness bene fit.

Artificial 'Life'.

They did a similar analysis on a system of artificial life called Avida. In this world, the building blocks of life are elements of computer code that carry out simple instructions. Connect several instructions together and you have a complex "molecule". If these molecules have a code that allows them to copy, they can reproduce. Environmental factors such as the rate of mutation are controlled externally by computer scientists who also inject a constant stream of code that organisms can consume as they evolve.

The same kind of stamp on their environment was found. Certain bits of code are preferentially selected so that they are far more common in an evolved system - the "monomer abundance distribution biosignature", common in all evolved living systems? A universal biosignature of evolution - an evosignature.

While evolution undoubtedly plays a crucial role in the development of life, it also plays an important role in other processes as computer simulations. The signature should be unique. This discussion highlights is the difficulty in defining life in the first place.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1101.1013: Monomer Abundance Distribution Patterns as a Universal Biosignature: Examples from Terrestrial and Digital Life.

What is competition?
This say that the complexity is advantageous. In what way?
Complexity is seen in high-molecular complexes and use of energy, made easier by enzymes (dipoles?). What does this statement contain?

Complexity means differentation. More molecules mean more information and a more unik 'stamp' or Self. Self is a dissipative structure that can percieve (react on changes) externally and internally. So differentation creates a barrier, or Self, as a signature. This is made against the kinetics and termodynamics, as a self-organization. This needs a feed of external energy.

1. So this is another way to say Life is out of equilibrium systems.
2. Creation of barriers and Selves increase the collection of information and adaption. This is maximation of the negentropy.
3. Adaption = stress reduction. This disturbation of thermodynamics is allowed to cost, but minimally. The least action principle for the Self may be prevalent.
4. Action can be the difference between kinetic and potential energy as some kind of function of mass x time. The principle of Least action, responsible for choosing one of a number of possible solutions. The optimal solution corresponds to minimum variations of its external kinetic energy, translational velocity and time, provides realization of principle of Least action. This is resonance? Variations in the resonance is minimized. These oscillations require virtual or dark matter?
5. Living systems have a reaction, an output, of positive or negative energy, that regulates the energy consumption.
6. The environment is unstable, and it helps creating variations in the complexes. Evolution generates variation as an insurance against unstable conditions. Epigenetic changes that inject an Heisenberg Uncertainty into genetics. Methylational variation. A kind of built-in randomness generator that creates greater phenotypic diversity. Stability = rationals?

At conditions, when q = 1, the external translational velocity of particle is zero (zero-point oscillations). This is optimal.
The second law of thermodynamics also means decreasing of kinetic energy, and diminish the energy difference. That's why Nature works against it and creates negentropy, but at the same time increase its effects too. The second law doesn't rule biology at every time scale.

Consequently, the 2nd law of thermodynamics, as well as Principle of Least Action, can be a consequence of minimized variations in resonance. Forced resonance creates a regulating force that do the synchronization.

In TGD (I quote) one must distinguish between two kinds of self organizations corresponding to the entropic bound state entanglement and negentropic entanglement. Biological self-organization could be therefore fundamentally di erent from the non-biological one. The succes of the p-adic mass calculations suggest that even elementary particles live in the intersection of real and p-adic worlds so that one should be very cautious in making strong conclusions. Certainly the intentional, goal-directed behavior of the system in some time scale is a signature of negentropic self-organization.

p-Adic length scale hypothesis could be understood as a resonance in frequency domain - most naturally for massless particles like photons. The secondary p-adic time scale for favored p-adic primes must be as near as possible to the proper time distance between the tips of CD (self and subselves). Mersenne primes satisfy this condition. Also log(p) is in this case as near as possible to log(2n) and in the sense that the unit of negentropy is maximized. This argument might work also for Gaussian Mersennes if one restricts the consideration to Gaussian primes.

This would give windows of action or interference with the quantum world. These windows are determined by rational/algebraic constraints. The fundamental biorhytm as p-adic/algebraic oscillation (incl. Golden Mean) means a direct connection between life and death, = interference/stability.

Evolution is present already at elementary particle level? This is the case if elementary particles reside in the intersection of real and p-adic worlds (dissipation and resonance?). The success of p-adic mass calculations and the identi fication of p-adic physics as physics of cognition indeed forces this interpretation. In particular, one can understand p-adic length scale hypothesis as reflecting the survival of the cognitively fittest p-adic topologies (= windows).

Kaivarainen has his window in the energy gap created in bivacuum between virtual and real world. Pitkänen has the Zero Energy Ontology as a similar creation. In both the important signal comes from the virtual/dark side.

Antimatter as the muon antineutrino is the predominant mass- quite counterintuitively. Could it be so?

Wonderful world!

lördag 1 januari 2011

Famous men say....

Sir Michael Atiyah oct 2008 in Mind, Matter and Mathematics. The Royal Society of Edinburgh Presidential Address.

I once sat next to the famous Austrian logician and friend of Einstein, Kurt Gödel, who said to me that the trouble with modern physicists is that they no longer aim to ‘explain’, they just ‘describe’. That in a nutshell is the lost battle of the philosophers. Moreover, mathematicians appear as the villains in the play. They have taken the place of the philosophers and equations become the ultimate reality.

And from his paper together with Gregory W.Moore. sept. 2010. A Shifted View of Fundamental Physics.
But, if we need new ideas, where will they come from? Youth is the traditional source of radical thoughts, but only a genius or a fool would risk their whole future career on the gamble of some revolutionary new point of view. The weight of orthodoxy is too heavy to be challenged by a PhD student.
So it is left to the older generation like me to speculate. The same friend who likened string theory to poetry encouraged me to have wild ideas, saying ”you have nothing to lose!” That is true, I have my PhD. I do not need employment and all I can lose is a bit of my reputation. But then allowances are made for old-age, as in the case of Einstein when he persistently refused to concede defeat in his battle with Niels Bohr.

How many of those old guys think as him? If they only would talk maybe the situation would be better.

Remarkably so his conclusion is a shift, a speculative new idea. The idea is to introduce in a natural geometric way operators which shift (i.e. retard or advance) the basic operators of mathematical physics. This includes the Dirac, Maxwell and Ricci operators (occurring in the Einstein equations of GR). The shifting involves just two key physical parameters; r >/about 10^−5cm, and k/hbar, about 10^−28cm^−1, where r measures the timeshift and k measures the magnitude of the shift. There is a natural quantization condition where λc is the Compton wavelength of a stable fermion. Of course, this has a quantum- mechanical aspect and involves Planck’s constant hbar. The constant k is at first sight arbitrary (except that it clearly must be very small). However once we introduce our shifted Ricci operator we find that k2/hbar^2 is related to the cosmological constant. Thus the two key constants r, k are determined by physical observations at the atomic and cosmological scales respectively. This is a satisfactory situation. It is also reminiscent of some of the ideas of T. Banks.

Where has T Banks got it from? It sounds to me a lot like a hierarchy of Plancks constants, and yet nobody else than Matti Pitkänen has talked of it, in TGD, as far as I know.

T. Banks, “TASI Lectures on Holographic Space-Time, SUSY and Gravitational Effective Field Theory,” arXiv:1007.4001 [hep-th].