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Thread: The pace of human evolution

  1. #11
    Senior Member rdf's Avatar
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    With such interest and enthusiasm, Wise, I would hazard to guess you have many more years than 10 ahead of you. You seem similar to me, in that you'll probably work 'til you die. I'm interested in Cosmology, but don't know if one has to be a physicist first, then go on from there to study Cosmology. I'm looking into it...I'd like to know some answers about the Universe before I pass on, and who knows? Maybe I'll stumble onto something evident but not yet noticed. That would be satisfying.

    Not sure of your age Wise, but you don't seem like the type who'd be happy retired. It sounds good when you're working 40 or 50 years straight, but sometmes working becomes a part of a person. My dad never retired, even with cancer and chemo and all the ill effects of both - he wasn't the plasterer he was before the cancer, but he still climbed up on the scaffold and spread the mud pretty much until he died.

    But then again, some find retirement just what they expected, and enjoy it. I guess it's up to the individual.

    To tell the truth, all the years you've been working for a SCI cure, it seems to me it could sour a man, what with the funding and political issues throwing wrenches into the gears of a future cure. I wouldn't blame you if you moved on to something else, you've done more than your share for those of us so injured. There is no doubt about that. I hope you're able to spend the rest of your life with the same enthusiasm you've shown thus far...still working in some area of science, or retired and loving it, it's all good
    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young
    Interesting question.

    A lot of the coursework is just to give you the language and vocabulary. There is so much information and discovery coming out that there is no way that one can absorb even a tiny fraction of it. For example, as you know, I have developed an interest in lithium and what it does to cells. In order to understand it, I wrote a 70-page (single-space) review of 380 selected papers that were published on the subject in 2008. It took me about 3 months to put it together. While I was reading it, I was musing about what experiments I would and saw many of these ideas already coming out in papers the next week. In certain subjects, when it is mature and there are enough groups working on it, progress comes pouring out seemingly effortlessly and it is a beauty to behold. The reason why lithium is so fascinating is because it seems to have so many effects on so many systems that I am convinced that lithium is a natural messenger (like calcium) that cells evolved their enzymes for. It turns out that lithium stimulates stem cells but suppresses growth of cancer cells. The question why is leading me to read papers that are quite distant from spinal cord injury but, every once is a while, I find a paper that jerks me right back.

    I would love to spend some time studying the role of stem cells in cancer. I have this theory that some cancers are providing a niche for circulating stem cells, telling the stem cells to make more cancer cells. This explains why chemotherapy that kills stem cells effectively reduce tumor size but does not kill the tumor cells. In fact, many tumor cells are quite resistant to chemotherapy and stem cells are most sensitive to chemotherapy. As the chemotherapy is stopped and circulating stem cells recover, the tumor grows again.

    What I am saying is that there are a lot of really interesting biological problems that I would love to tackle. I would love to know why the eyes of flukes always migrate from the right to the left side, and why the eyes of flounders always migrate from the left to the right. How do cells know that they are on the right or on the left? I would really like to spend a year or two studying the neurophysiology of neuropathic pain in rats after spinal cord injury, to see if I can find the mechanism so that we can develop drugs rationally for that condition instead of just throwing drugs empirically at the problem. It goes on and on. I guess it is good to have a lot of ideas but too little time to do it all. For many years, I had never thought about not having enough time to do it all. Now, of course, I realize that I only have perhaps 10 or so years of active science left inside me and I would like to focus on something.

    Wise.
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  2. #12
    My landlord for my practice is 84 and still going full speed running his own biz one floor up. He´s taken vacation twice in his life. He´s the kind of guy who would drop dead inside a week or two if he stopped working. You should hear his Luftwaffe stories. Unbelievable.

    As for human evolution, if we don´t destroy ourselves through global war or are destroyed by natural means (asteroid impact, super volcano, black death part two) and our technological knowledge continues to advance at the current rate, we will eventually modify ourselves to further our own evolutionary traits favorable to our own survival. We currently do this with plants en masse today, helping them to survive in more arid conditions, or to produce substances that help repulse bugs from eating them, or to make bigger produce. I can easily see future humans living much longer, having super tuned immune systems, with selected traits that advance human abilities and further our own technological advancement. The thought of modifying ourselves in today's human society is, for the most part, rejected by many. But I believe we are living in a time morally equivelent to the Victorian Age when it comes to human genetics. What humans now think about the issue will more than likely be considered laughable or a natural reaction caused by a lack of knowledge by future generations.

    We may as a species currently be evolving anti-Darwinistic by protecting the weak (arguable as to how good of a job we are doing) from death, but could this actually be a natural stage in the development of advanced sentient beings by allowing the weak traits to be studied and analyzed and eventually be eliminated as knowledge increases? Ahh...to be alive in a thousand years and know the answer.
    "So I have stayed as I am, without regret, seperated from the normal human condition." Guy Sajer

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike C
    My landlord for my practice is 84 and still going full speed running his own biz one floor up. He´s taken vacation twice in his life. He´s the kind of guy who would drop dead inside a week or two if he stopped working. You should hear his Luftwaffe stories. Unbelievable.
    Movie director Sidney Lumet, now 84 finished up Before the Devil Knows You're Dead just last year. He's got forty films to his credit including some classics which have become part of the artistic reference points of the western world. He has a commentary track on the DVD of "...the Devil..." as well as a bonus feature in which he talks about the film, his craft and working/life ethic as well as interacting with some of the actors in the film.

    From the clarity and energy of his speech he is obviously very much alive and, if you're as much into film as I am, you get the impression that spending time in conversation with him would rarely fail to be rewarding.
    "The world will not perish for want of wonders but for want of wonder."
    J.B.S.Haldane

  4. #14
    Our globe is teeming with variations that haven't even been categorized yet. Prodigies and exceptions that challenge our knowledge of what the human brain and body are capable of. Unless a person bears an usual phenotype, society won't take notice. Unless it causes sickness or disease, the medical world won't know about it. There are quite a few documented cases of human beings possessing extraordinary abilities which are what special qualities granted by mutations are termed. Like those children born with a mutation that grants them exceptional hearing clarity. And the 100% blind kid who can locate objects in a room as well as a seeing person and can safely skateboard along a busy street or that woman I read about years ago who stumped the medical world because she supposedly posessed a blood type that didn't require oxygen. And those chimeras who's very existence calls into question the notion of separate and distinct genders. Imagine the types of human beings considered normal today had their genes become dominant. Our knowledge of the extent of human mutations and variations is far from complete.
    Last edited by antiquity; 08-23-2008 at 06:17 PM.

  5. #15
    Antiquity, you are eloquent. Wise.

    Quote Originally Posted by antiquity
    Our globe is teeming with variations that haven't even been categorized yet. Prodigies and exceptions that challenge our knowledge of what the human brain and body are capable of. Unless a person bears an usual phenotype, society won't take notice. Unless it causes sickness or disease, the medical world won't know about it. There are quite a few documented cases of human beings possessing extraordinary abilities which are what special qualities granted by mutations are termed. Like those children born with a mutation that grants them exceptional hearing clarity. And the 100% blind kid who can locate objects in a room as well as a seeing person and can safely skateboard along a busy street or that woman I read about years ago who stumped the medical world because she supposedly posessed a blood type that didn't require oxygen. And those chimeras who's very existence calls into question the notion of separate and distinct genders. Imagine the types of human beings considered normal today had their genes become dominant. Our knowledge of the extent of human mutations and variations is far from complete.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by rdf
    With such interest and enthusiasm, Wise, I would hazard to guess you have many more years than 10 ahead of you. You seem similar to me, in that you'll probably work 'til you die. I'm interested in Cosmology, but don't know if one has to be a physicist first, then go on from there to study Cosmology. I'm looking into it...I'd like to know some answers about the Universe before I pass on, and who knows? Maybe I'll stumble onto something evident but not yet noticed. That would be satisfying.

    Not sure of your age Wise, but you don't seem like the type who'd be happy retired. It sounds good when you're working 40 or 50 years straight, but sometmes working becomes a part of a person. My dad never retired, even with cancer and chemo and all the ill effects of both - he wasn't the plasterer he was before the cancer, but he still climbed up on the scaffold and spread the mud pretty much until he died.

    But then again, some find retirement just what they expected, and enjoy it. I guess it's up to the individual.

    To tell the truth, all the years you've been working for a SCI cure, it seems to me it could sour a man, what with the funding and political issues throwing wrenches into the gears of a future cure. I wouldn't blame you if you moved on to something else, you've done more than your share for those of us so injured. There is no doubt about that. I hope you're able to spend the rest of your life with the same enthusiasm you've shown thus far...still working in some area of science, or retired and loving it, it's all good
    rdf,

    I find that I tend to have a 7 year concentration span on a project. For example, I started pushing for the NASCIS in 1983 and the paper was published in 1990. I started the Journal of Neurotrauma in 1984 and turned it over in 1991. I began the Neurotrauma Society in 1989 and began to lose steam in 1996. I guess when I start to run out of ideas and start to repeat myself, I think about moving to another project.

    Actually, when I think back on it, it is not true. There are commitments that I have made that are much longer. For example, I have been married to one person for 35 years. I stayed at NYU Medical Center for 20 years. CareCure is my third longest project to date... It began as spinewire in 1996 and switched to CareCure in July 2001. So, I have been administering and moderating the site for over 12 years.

    What are your longest projects?

    Wise.

  7. #17
    Sort of along these lines, but I believe that human evolution will
    move faster than we can cure certain diseases.

    Like AIDS for example. There are a small number of Nairobi prostitutes
    who have a natural immunity to HIV/AIDS. They have constantly been
    exposed to it for years without contracting the virus. It's not understood
    why, but it's true. And as long as these people continue to reproduce, the
    size of the AIDS resistant population will obviously increase and possibly
    beat the virus altogether.
    Last edited by Buck503; 08-29-2008 at 03:43 AM.

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