Fennel & Grapefruit Salad Rolls

25 April 2007

citrus and fennel are on friendly terms.

8 large spinach leaves
2 large fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1/4 red pepper,  finely sliced
1 ruby grapefruit, peeled, membranes removed
8 small round sheets of rice paper

1. soak the rice paper in cold water for a few minutes. drain sheets, one at a time, and work on a damp cloth.
2. place the spinach leaf, 1/8 of the red pepper, fennel & grapefruit. Roll as you would an eggroll and serve.

Introducing Biological Rhythms

25 April 2007

A Primer on the Temporal Organization of Life, with Implications for health, Society, Reproduction and the Natural Environment.

Introducing Biological Rhythms by Willard L Koukkari & Robert B Sothern

Chronobiology for an early review

“Be ruled by Time, the wisest couselor of all.”

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”
Benjamin Franklin

“To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die: a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up.”
Ecclesiastes 3:2-3

Ch 1 – The Study of Biological Rhythms

Ch 2 – General Features of Rhythms: Terminology and Characteristics

“What is time, then? If nobody asks me, I know; if I have to explain it to someone who has asked me, I do not know.”
St. Augustine

“… a special term called acrophase is used to designate the distance in time of the peak (=acro) phase of the mathematical curve from an arbitrary reference point. Similarly, the lowest point on the fitted cosine is called the bathyphase.”

“Results from studies… identified the hypothalamus of the brain as the location of the primary oscillator.”

“Anatomically, [the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN)] is located above the optic chiasm, where the two optic nerves cross, and includes two clumps of nuclei, each containing about 10, 000 neurons.”

“… oscillations occur throughout the body, but to delineate them form those of the SCN, they are referred to as peripheral oscillations, and the tissues where they occur as peripheral tissues.”

“Peripheral oscillations may differ from those of the SCN in a number of ways, including the phase that can be delayed by about 4 h from the SCN.”

“The daily light-dark (LD) cycle serves as a major synchronizer of circadian rhythms, which means that organisms must have photoreceptors.”

“melanopsin is an opsin-like protein…”

“Non-image-forming photoreception mediated by melanopsin is now recognized as a major component in the synchronization of circadian clocks.”

“… it has been known that photic (light) information is conveyed from the eyes to the hypothalamus via the retinohypothalamic tract (RHT) where its neural projections terminate in the bilaterally paired SCN.”

“growth movements of plants directed toward… light.”


Due to the gratiation effect of the Moon since its formation 4.45 billion years ago (bya), the Earth’s day has bee slowly becoming larger*
Time Scale Duration of one rotation of hte earth (h)
4.5 bya 6.0
4.4 bya 10.0
4.0 bya 13.5
900 mya 18.17
400 mya < 22
245 mya 22.75
100 mya 23.5
today 24.0
225 my hence 25.0
* As the Moon has slowly moved away from Earth, its effect on the Earth’s day length has also been slowing down. One secon dis added to our day every 62, 500 years.

“There is a genetically determined, endogenous basis for biological rhythms in all living organisms. Periods are grouped into three main categories: ultradian ((< 20 h), circadian (20 – 28 h), and infradian (> 28 h)… the SCN and pineal are examples of primary circadian clocks located in the brain.”

Ch 3 – Physical and Biological Time

“… the Earth make one complete rotation on its axis n about 23 h 56 min.”

“Not only is the Earth rotating, it is revolving around the Sun. As a result, the location of the Earth relative to the Sun has changed by about one degree. The span of time of 23 h and 56 min is called the sidereal day (=360 degrees), while our clocks are based upon the solar day (360 + 1 = 361 degree). of 24 h.”

“The seasons of the year… provide time cues via photoperiodism…”

Linnaeus Flower Clock

link to large Linnaeus’ Flower Clock

“The timing systems in both prokaryotes (cyanobacteria) and eukaryotes (fungi, plants, and animals) have a number of key molecular components. These include, among others, clock genes, cycling proteins, and photoreceptors. Photoreceptors are part of an input pathway that receives and transmits signals from external environmental synchronizers to a central clock that generates rhythmicity. In turn, an output pathway transmits temporal signals from the clock to biological variables that that oscillate. These oscillations are the overt rhythms of variable such as activity cycles, leaf movements, spore formation, and enzyme activity.”

“Some scientists contend that early building blocks or biological molecules may have been deposited on Earth from meteorites and comets originating elsewhere in the galaxy.”

“The rotations and revolutions of the Earth account for the natural synchronization of circadian and circannual rhythms, as well as for the changes in duration and timing of light and dark spans in photoperiodism. Two types or groups of clocks are paramount in the study of biological rhythms… One group includes the mechanical, electrical, and atomic clocks of society… The other… is biological, present in the cells of organisms and having a mechanism that is based upon feedback loops, genes, and cycling proteins.”

Ch 4 – Photoperiodism

“Photoperiodism can be defined as a response of an organism to the timing and duration of light and dark.”

“In locations where changes in day length are more pronounced (e.g. higher latitudes) the peak in human conception was found to coincide with the vernal equinox.”
[most notably with the full moon - sounds a little like Easter, no?]

Examples of human behaviors or disorders that have ben found to correlate with the time of year and photoperiodism
Location of peak(s)
Alcoholism Spring
Bipolar and shizoaffective illness, violent episodes Jun & Dec (Israel)
Chronic fatigue syndrome Winter worsening
Depression (rating) Winter months
Depression (hospitalizations) Spring & Autumn
Eating disorders Winter more severe
Acts of hostility* and individual violent crimes** Summer in N&S hemispheres


Menarche (first menstruation) Dec-Jan & Aug-Sep
Mood Winter worsening
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Winter
Schizophrenia (hospitalizations) Jul-Aug (UK)
Sexual conception increases near Vernal Equinox
Sleep problems Winter
Suicide Spring
* opening dates of wars in both hemispheres. Onset of wars near the equator showed a near-constant montly rate throughout the year.
** Includes offenses against the human body, sex offenses, forcible rape, and aggravated assault.

“The normal development, reproduction, and activities of organisms are often dependent upon the duration and timing of light and dark spans, which in nature are associated with the seasons. This process is called photoperiodism, a complex and diverse process that is a basic principle of biology and is intrinsic in the temporal organization of life.”

Ch 5 – Biological Osciallations and Timers; Models and Mechanisms

“Within the realm of life, there is a structural organization, a hierarchy of components, extending from subatomic particles (e.g. electrons, protons) to organisms and ecosystems. how these components function (physiology) individually and in networks, depends not only upon the presence of the correct components and where they occur, but when. individual components and site of action are represented by structural units, while ‘when’ represents the temporal organization of life and the measurable unit known as time.”

Ch 6 – Tidal and Lunar Rhythms

“… cycles of the tide (12.4 h), the lunar day (24.8 h), and the lunar month (29.5 days). Biological variables that have these approximate periods are often referred to as having circatidal (12.4 h), circalunidian (24.8 h), and circalunar (29.5 days) rhythms.”

“the mean solar day is 24 h, but the lunar day is 24.8 h, which explains why the Moon appears to rise an average of 50-51 minutes later each day.”

“Overall, the quality of full moonlight appears to be quite close to that experienced just after sunset, a significant feature since photoreceptors of oscillators, such as the phytochromes, cryptochromes, and other pigments, depend not only upon the total energy of the visible spectrum, but rather upon the energy of specific wavelengths. Furthermore, it is the light present at dawn and dusk, not the changes in irradiance during day and night that organisms utilize for circadian photoentrainment.”

Table 6.6
Variables in humans reported to vary with the phases of the Moon


Moon Phase


births last quarter to new Moon increased births
accidental poisonings near new Moon increased for women
meal and alcohol intake near full Moon meal size increases, alcohol intake decreases
urinary retention near new Moon increased retention
psychopathology in schizophrenia near full Moon deterioration
aggressive behaviour full moon increased aggression
psychiatric admissions first quarter increased admissions
myocardial infarction near new Moon maximal incidence
animal bites near full Moon increased incidence
gout near new and full Moons highest peaks

“Unlike the situation for terrestrial plants, the response of various animals to moonlight is more definite.”

“A global view of the Earth reveals two hight tides and two low tides occurring simultaneously. one high tide occurs approximately in line with the Moon overhead, and the other on the opposite side of the Earth. Similarly, the low tides are present also at these times, but located 90 degrees from the high tides.


“While the gravitational force accounts for the bulge on the side that faces the Moon, a centrifugal force dominates in producing the bulge on the opposite side.”

“… the path followed by the moon as it completes one full revolution of 27.3 days (= 1 tropical month) around the Earth varies from 28 degrees 30′ north latitude to 28 degrees 30′ south latitude.”

spring and neap tides

“During the new Moon phase… the gravitational pull of the Sun combines with the gravitational pull of the Moon to cause much higher tides… called spring tides when the gravitational pull of the Sun is at right angles to the gravitational pull of the moon (near the first and third quarter phases of the Moon), the high tides are lower than normal and the low tides are higher than normal. These conditions are referred to as Neap Tides. The duration between two successive neap tides is about 14.8 days, as is the duration between two spring tides.”

“for many marine invertebrates, especially those found within or near the tropics, rhythms in reproductive events such as mating, egg, and sperm formation, spawning and hatching (release of larvae) have periods and/or phases that appear to be associated with the phases of the Moon. The events may occur only fortnightly, monthly, or just once a year.”

“Often the fortnightly and monthly cycles may be liked to an annual and/or photoperiodic cycle, that may be biologically linked or mathematically correlated to the other two cycles.”

“Recurring changes in the color of cells, tissues, and organs are found in diverse groups of organisms and often associated with the time-dependent physiological processes.”

“The Swedish Chemist, Svante Arrhenius, reported that menstruation, as well as epileptic seizures exhibited a periodicity between 25.9 and 27.9 days… results from a number of more recent studies indicate that the mean period of the menstrual cycle is about 29.5 days.”

“Variables in seeds, stems, and leaves have been associated with lunar cycles. Results from studies of the daily imbibition (absorption( of water by bean seeds have shown a circannual rhythm, as well as a circaseptan rhythm with a phase relationship to the lunar cycle – peaks preceded each lunar phase and imbibition was greatest from just before full Moon through the last quarter.”

[n.b. growing with light vs growing with water]

“Another lunar association has been reported for elongation of stems (cm/day)… where periods of 14.7 days and 29.5 days were found…”

“The most common external cycles associated with our environment, and thereby possibly serving as synchronizers for biological rhythms, are the 12.4-h tide, the 24-h solar day, the 24-8 lunar day, the 29.5-day lunar month, and the year. There are other environmental cycles…”

Ch 7 – Sexuality and Reproduction

“… sexuality and reproduction are part of all four integrating disciples of biology: evolution, genetics, development, and biological rhythms…”

“One of the many interesting features of the menstrual cycle s social synchronization, whereby the phases of the rhythms of several individuals become synchronized… Apparently, the synchronization is dependent upon socialization, and indications re that the causal agent [are]… pheromones.”

“Phases within the menstrual cycle have been closely associated with times of sexuality, or lack thereof, which in turn can be strongly linked to the rhythmic levels of biological molecules, as well as to society, culture, and religion.”

“… human males also have a ‘gonadal’ rhythmicity ranging from ultradian to circadian to infradian in many primary and secondary aspects related to their sexuality.”

“Sexuality and reproduction have a temporal organization, with variables that span the ultradian, circadian, and infradian domains of biological rhythms. These oscillations are present throughout a genetically-based structural hierarchy that extends from organelles to ecosystems.”

Ch 9 – Veterinary Medicine

Ch 10 – Society

“Social Synchronization refers to a behavioral rhythm being regulated by an external source generated by another individual or some other social condition. It occurs not only in humans, but many other species, as well…”

“Daily exogenous cycles of feeding may synchronize circadian rhythms.”

“The effects that light pollution has on humans are often mediated by the hormone melatonin [MLT]… In addition to synchronizing circadian clocks, MLT has strong antioxidant properties. MLT has also been found in plants.”

“Exposure to artificial light of moderate intensity (180 lux) during the middle of the night has been shown to phase-shift human circadian rhythms of ML and cortisol levels, which shows that the circadian entrainment mechanism of humans, like those of other mammals, is sensitive to low levels of light.”

“Light thus has the ability to ‘act like a drug’ and, as such, has become a public health issue. Areas possibly affected by changes in melatonin production include endocrine functions associated with puberty, psychiatric illness, stress-related disorders, immune responses and carcinogenesis.”

“While prior human exposure to artificial light at night came from sources such as flames of an orange red fire or the yellow light of candles, gas lamps or incandescent bulbs, today’s lights emit more blue light…”

better lighting practices
* full-spectrum lighting during the daytime indoors
* non-blue lighting at night, indoor & outdoor
* night workers should wear orange lens glasses when outside in the AM (called Blue Blockers, they prevent MLT suppression)

[the authors dismiss an early theory of chronobiology]
the human body undergoes three cycles
23-day cycle of the physical
28-day cycle of the emotional
33-day cycle of the intellectual

“The cycles repeat themselves throughout one’s lifetime and are only all back at the same starting point every 58 years plus 67 or 68 days. (23 days x 28 days x 33 days = 21, 522 days)”

“However, the 23- and 28-day rhythms are considered more important than the 33-day intellectual cycle, and they start a new biorhythmic year with a simultaneous upswing every 644 days (1 year, 9 months).”

see Ayurveda and the 3 embryonic membranes
and Gestation Time and Health

Ch 11 – Clinical Medicine

“… virtually every body function in humans has been shown to display a circadian and/or other rhythm in healthy individuals which persists into old age, often with a reduction in amplitude.”

“The many naturally occurring daily and other body rhythms that have evolved as adjustments to environmental changes due to the solar day and year and lunar month have a regulating influence on the ‘normal’ functioning of the body’s many processes. Humans and other animals have genetically based biological clocks that are present in individual cells, resulting in semi-autonomous oscillators…”

“[A 19th C German study found] a predictable range [of body temperature] that extended from a low of 36.2 degrees C between 02:00 h and 08:00 h to a peak of 37.5 degrees C between 16:00 h and 2100 h…”

“… growth of human head and body hair was reported to increase through the summer months, reaching a maximum rate in September, and then decreasing to a minimum in January.” [n.b. presumably in the Northern hemisphere]

“The annual pattern of depression and suicidal behavior generally shows a major peak in the spring, with sometimes a secondary peak in the late fall.”

“The daily external environmental cycle of a light span followed by a dark span synchronizes circadian rhythms. The cycle provides a signal sent to the pineal gland, which is located near the hypothalamus in the brain of humans and other animals, to produce melatonin during darkness and to inhibit its production during light.”

Ch 12 – Autorhythmometry

quoting German physician CW Hufeland
“That period of twenty-four hours, formed by the regular revolution of our earth, in which all its inhabitants partake, is particularly distinguished in the physical oeconomy of man… it is, as it were the unity of our natural chronology.”

Code of the Samurai

25 April 2007

Bushido Shoshinsu by Taira Shingesuke

Code of the Samurai
Bushido Shonsinsu
by Taira Shingesuke [Daidoji Yuzan], translated by Thomas Cleary

1. as long as you keep death in mind at all times, you will also fulfill the ways of loyalty and familial duty.

2. Ordinary principles:
i) knighthood
ii) weaponry
Emergency principles:
iii) army principles
iv) combat principles

3. for warriors it is essential to keep the spirit of combat in mind twenty-four hours a day…

4. appropriate and just behaviour; fear of disrespect

5. on the warrior’s path, only three things are considered essential: loyalty, duty, valour.

6. warriors… should select an appropriate mentor

1. keeping in mind the heirs in one’s family, and treating them as respectfully as the direct ancestral line.

2. warriors… should always be frugal and careful not to overspend

3. houses should reflect well on the patron, the outsides respectful & healthy, the inside simple

4. equip your subordinates

5. as a warrior you should not abuse or mistreat the other three classes: farmers, merchants, artisans

6. remain modest when discussing money

7. be dependable, but not meddlesome or a busybody

8. as a warrior… you may die heroically startling enemies and allies alike, honored for all time

9. Big Talkers are braggarts, with deeds done. Critics are big talkers without life experience. both are undesirable.

10. face death with dignity, acceptance, pride

1. warriors who lend money to their overlord shouldn’t gripe if it puts them out

2. your body and life are not your own; they are your overlord’s

3. it is best not to speak thoughtlessly

4. the official duties of warriors are combat & construction

5. be clear, confident & decisive. don’t hold back.

6. knights should become knowledgeable about the origins of the overlord’s house; ancestors, blood relatives official relatives; distinguished colleagues.

7. loyalty, duty, courage are detergents to keep a warrior’s heart clean

8. work under the umbrella of one’s lord’s authority

9. stay mindful. don’t become lazy

10. don’t do a half-assed job, because your employer doesn’t praise you

11. vengeful ghosts: young warrior with great potential killed too young by an accident/illness then possesses a favoured knight to induce the overlord to wrong by
i) blocking his eyes & ears
ii) transferring sympathetic knights away
iii) captivating his mind with women
iv) incurring secret expenses such that he can’t pay them back
v) during peace, convince him of need for expansion
vi) lead him to carousing, drinking, debauchery

12. you should acquire a cultural education as a matter of course

Basil & Sundried Tomato Salad Rolls

24 April 2007

pine nuts add nice texture

16 large basil leaves
6 sundried tomatoes, reconstituted & finely sliced lengthwise
4 TB pine nuts

marinated carrots
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 TB balsamic reduction
1 tsp olive oil

8 small round sheets of rice paper

1. soak the rice paper in cold water for a couple of minutes. drain sheets, one at a time, and work on a damp cloth.
2. place two basil leaves, 1/8 of the tomatoes, 1/8 of the carrots, and 1/2 TB pine nuts on each rice sheet. Roll it up with closed ends as with egg rolls.

Soba in Lime-Tahini with Mushroom Sauce

23 April 2007

Mid-Far East Noodles with sesame.

salad elements
3 leaves radicchio, shredded
3 TB fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped finely
1 tsp persimmon vinegar
3 sundried tomatoes
1/2 C boiled water for soaking

mushroom sauce
3 TB grapeseed oil
12 shallots, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
15 white mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 tsp wasabi powder
1 tsp shoyu
3 sprigs fresh dill
3 TB Chinese cooking wine
reserved sundried tomato soaking water
1 TB sesame oil

soba sauce
juice of 3 limes
3 cloves of garlic
1 TB coarse rock salt
3 TB tahini
3 kaffir lime leaves
soba noodles

1. soak the sundried tomatoes in the just boiled water.
2. heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat, add the shallots and garlic, fry for 3 minutes or so, then reduce heat to low-medium and fry for 15 minutes.
4. turn heat to medium-high, add mushrooms, and saute 10 minutes. Add wasabi powder, shoyu, dill, Chinese cooking water, and the soaking water from the sundried tomatoes – keep those for later. Stir it and heat throughout.
5. remove from heat, blend until smooth, return to low heat, adding water or mushroom broth to thin.
6. boil water with 3 kaffir lime leaves. Add soba noodles.
7 pound garlic and rock salt together with a mortar & pestle until it becomes a paste. Combine in a bowl with lime juice and tahini.
8. remove kaffir leaves, drain soba, rinse, dry, then toss with lime-tahini dressing.
9. add sesame oil to mushroom sauce, stir to mix, and remove from heat.
10. slice reconstituted sundried tomatoes into thin strips.

to serve
pile the pasta in the centre of the plate, drizzling extra lime-tahini sauce on top.
arrange shredded radicchio, sundried tomato and fresh parsley to please the eye. Sprinkle with sesame seeds & sumac.

Hare Brain Tortoise Mind

22 April 2007

more success by thinking less

Hair Brain Tortoise Mind – Why Intelligence Increases when You Think Less” by Guy Claxton, 1997.

quoting Rainer Maria Rilke
“Everything is gestation and bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living in the artist’s life.”

Ch 1 – The Speed of Thought

“The mind… works at different speeds. Some of its functions are performed at lightning speed; others take seconds, minutes, hours, days or even years to complete their course.”

“Roughly speaking, the mind possess three different processing speeds. The first is faster than thought. Some situations demand an unselfconscious, instantaneous reaction… There is a kind of ‘intelligence’ that works more rapidly than thinking. This mode of fast, physical intelligence could be called our ‘wits.’”

“Then there is thought itself: the sort of intelligence which does involve figuring matters out, weighing up the pros and cons, constructing arguments and solving problems… We often call this intelligence ‘intellect’ -”

[author uses the term d-mode, where "d" stands for "determination"]

“But below this, there is another mental register that proceeds more slowly still. It is often less purposeful and clear-cut, more playful, leisurely or dreamy. In this mode we are ruminating or mulling things over; being contemplative or meditative… These leisurely, apparently aimless, ways of knowing and experiencing are just as ‘intelligent’ as the other, faster ones. Allowing the mind time to meander is not a luxury that can safely be cut back a life or work gets more demanding. On the contrary, thinking slowly is a vital part of the cognitive armamentorium. We need the tortoise mind just as much as we need the hare brain.”

“Some kinds of understanding simply refuse to come when they are called. As the Tao Te Ching puts it:

Truth waits for eyes unclouded by longing.
Those who are bound by desire see only the outward container.”

“This thrid type of intelligennce is associated with what we call creativity, or even ‘wisdom.’”

“There are a number of reasons why slow knowing has fallen into disuse. Partly it is due to our changing conception of, and attitude towards, time… A tribal meeting at a Maori marae can last for days, until everyone has had time to assimilate the issues, to have their say, and to form a consensus.”

“Modern Western culture has so neglected the intelligent unconscious – the undermind… – that we no longer know that we have it, do not remember what it is for, and so cannot find it when we need it.”

[summary of d-mode - the hare-brain]

* is much more interested in finding answers and solutions than in examining the questions.
* treats perception as unproblematic.
* sees conscious, articulate understanding as the essential basis for action, and thought as the essential problem-solving tool.
* values explanations over observation.
* likes explanations and plans that are ‘reasonable’ and justifiable, rather than intuitive.
* seeks and prefers clarity, and neither likes nor values confusion.
* operates with a sense of urgency and impatience.
* is purposeful and effortful rather than playful.
* is precise.
* relies on language that appears to be literal and explicit.
* works with concepts and generalizatoins.
* must operate at the rates at which language can be received, produced and processed.
* maintains a sense of thinking as being controlled and deliberate.
* works well when tackling problems which can be treated as an assemblage of nameable parts.

“When the mind slows and relaxes, other ways of knowing automatically appear.”

Ch 2 – Basic Intelligence: Learning by Osmosis

[quoting A.N.Whitehead]
“Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.”

“[Jean] Piaget implicitly accepted the cultural assumption that d-mode was the highest form of intellience, and… inadvertently made suer that schools… saw their job as weaning children off their reliance on their senses and their intuition.”

“… we are able unconsciously to detect, learn and use intricate patterns  of information which deliberate conscious scrutiny can’t  even see… let alone register and recall.”

“Of course there are limits to the powers of observation and detection even of the unconscious brain-mind. There must be a great deal of potentially valuable information in the world that is too faint or subtle even for the undermind to detect.”

“Learning by osmosis echoes the insight of the Japanese proverb ‘Don’t learn it; get used to it.’”

Ch 3 – Premature Articulation – how Thinking Gets in the Way of Learning

[quoting Paul Lewicki]
“Our non-conscious information processing system appears to be faster and ‘smarter’ overall than our ability to think and identify meanings… in a consciously controlled manner. Most of the ‘real work’ [of the mind] is being done at a level to which our consciousness has no access.”

“Know-how is… formatted differently to knowledge in that it grows by osmosis; manifests itself in specific domains of expertise; capitalises on serendipity; and is organised idiosynchratically.”

[n.b. member, dis-member, re-member, articulation, feet]

[quoting Aldous Huxley from "Island"]
“Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he has been born – the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access t the accumulated records of other people’s experience; the victim insofar as it… bedevils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things.”

Ch 4 – Knowing More than We Think: Intuition and Creativity

“This process [of the undermind, as different from learning by osmosis] seems to reflect not the acquisition of new information so much as the mind’s ability to discover, over time, new patterns or meanings within the information which it already possesses, and to register these consciously as insight or intuition”

“As with learning  by osmosis, it turns out that slow intuition is good at uncovering  non-obvious relationships between ares of knowledge; at seeing the ‘pattern that connects’ experiences that are superficially disparate. Intuition proves its worth in any situation that is shadowy, intricate or ill-defined – “

[quoting George Spencer Brown]
“To arrive at the simples truth, as Newton knew and practised, requires years of contemplation. Not activity. not reasoning. Not calculating. Not busy behaviour of any kind. Not reading. Not talking. Not making an effort. Not thinking. Simply bearing in mind what it is one needs to know. The gradual formation and development of an idea over a long time, perhaps from the tiniest of beginnings, and its delivery unwilled into the consciousness.”

Ch 5 – Having an Idea: the Gentle Art of Mental Gestation

“There are a number of metaphors that creators use to describe their process, but none more common than that of gestation… Gestation has its own timetable: psychologically, as biologically, it is the process par excellence that cannot be hurried. And it cannot be controlled; once the process has been set in motion it happens by itself…”

“First, one needs to find the seed – and this process, for the creator, requires curiosity: an openness to what is new or puzzling. One must allow oneself to be impregnated.”

[quoting AE Housman]
“If I were obliged to name the class of things to which [poetry] belongs, I should call it a secretion…”

“… the seed will not germinate unless it makes contact with a ‘body of knowledge’ of a right kind, in a congenial state.”

[Test subjects 'successful intuitives' common qualities]
“They explore uncertainties and entertain doubts far more than other groups do, and they live with these doubts and uncertainties without fear.”

[quoting Milton Rokeach]
“Differences between people characterised as rigid, and other characterised as less rigid, may be attributable… to personality differences in time availability… Time availability makes possible broader cognitions, more abstract thinking. and consequently greater flexibility.”

quoting Carl Viesti
“regardless of their size, monetary utilities do not appreciably increase performance on insight learning tasks, rather, their presence may interfere with such performance.”

“The next quality which encourages creative intuition we might call ‘feeling it kick.’”

“how gestation turns out depends particularly on the ability to turn on the borderlands between conscouisness and the unconscious a kind of awareness that is welcoming without being predatory, and perceptive without being blinding. Crucially, skilled intuiters seem to be able to watch the emergence of their creations without chivvying them, neatening them up or trying to turn them too quickly into words.”

“… through any form of contemplation that invites you to observe without interfering with the crepuscular world that lies between consciousness and the undermind; between light and dark; between waking and sleep.”:

“There is whole variety of ways in which people differ with respect to intuition – and therefore an equal variety of ways in which we can set about trying to improve the hospitality of the conditions, both inner and outer, within which intuition can blossom. Being a ‘mother of invention‘ is an art we can all learn.”

[quoting the Tao Te Ching]
“who can wait quietly while the mud settles?
who can remain still until the moment of action?
observers of the Tao do not seek fulfillment.
Not seeking fulfillment they are not swayed by the desire for change.
Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind rest at peace.
Let ten thousand things rise and fall
while the self watches their return.
they grow and flourish and then return to the source.
returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.”

Ch 6 – Thinking Too Much? Reason and Intuition as Antagonists and Allies

“Jonathan Schooler’s general point is of enormous significance. Some of what we know is readily rendered into words and propositions; ad some of it is not. Some o four mental operators are available to consciousness; and some of them are not.”

“We think what is thinkable; not what is ‘true.’”

“But we do not need d-mode just for communication. there are times when we need its analytical powers to test and rein ideas that have been thrown up by the undermind.”

[as per Graham Wallas "The Art of Thought" developed from Poincare]
“The classic formulation of scientific creativity… sees it as emerging from the interplay between four different mental modes or phases: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification.”

“The creative mind possesses a dynamic, integrated balance between deliberation and contemplation.”

Ch 7 – Perception Without Consciousness

[quoting Leibniz]
“At every moment there is us an infinity of perception, unaccompanied by awareness or reflection; that is, of alterations in the soul itself, of which we are unaware because the impressions are either too minute or too numerous.”

“… the undermind is keeping a continual check on what is happening below the horizon of conscious awareness, detecting what might be important or dangerous, and deciding when to butt in to consciousness with a ‘news flash.’”

[quoting CS Pierce & Joseph Jastrow "On Small Differences in Sensation"]
“… we gather what is passing in one another’s minds in large measure from sensations so faint that we are not fairly aware of them, and can give no account of how we reach our conclusions about such matters… Such faint sensations ought to be fully studied by the psychologist and assiduously cultivated by everyman.”

“… so that it is possible to increase one’s conscious sensitivity to what had previously been going on at an unconscious level.”

“Similar effects are obtained when stimuli are hard to detect, not because they are faint or fleeting, but because they occur in peripheral than central vision.”

“When perception is cautious, it becomes possible to override and control our impulses. When we are unconscious of having been affected, we are less able to be vigilant.”

“… having recognised something once makes it easier to recognise again; there is a residual effect of the first recognition that facilitates the second.”

Ch 8 – Self-Consciousness

“… the more the self is involved, the more cautious consciousness has to be…”

“[Under hypnosis], the relationship  between conscious and unconscious becomes unusually labile and permeable.”

Ch 9 – The Brains Behind the Operation

“One way in which experience affects the long-term flow of neural communication is through physical dendritic growth… The total number of synapses can increase. But synapses are also capable of becoming easier for an impulse to cross.”

“Since before birth, experience has been constantly binding the brain’s neurons together into functional groupings which act so as to attract and ‘capture’ the flow of neural activation. And these centres of activity in their turn become strung together to form pathways along which neural activation will preferentially travel, so that the brain as a whole develops a kind of functional topography.”

Ch 10 – The Point of Consciousness

“Interesting intuitions occur as a result of thinking that is low-focus, capable of making associations between ideas that may be structurally remote from each other in the brainscape”

“The ability of the brain to allow activation to spread slowly outwards from one centre of activity, meeting and mingling with others, at intensities that may produce only a dim, diffuse quality of consciousness, seems to be exactly what is required.”

“… if an idea is activated unconsciously, its associative ripples may extend out more widely than if its activation is concentrated to a degree that produces clear consciousness.”

“Felt meaning is embodied. When we sense significance deeply, it affects us physically.”

“Conversely, as the focus of activation tightens, the image of the world that is created becomes more abstract, more intellectualised, and less rich in meaning and feeling.”

Ch 11 – Paying Attention

“The process of detection and identification of disease these days is often devoid of this leisurely resonance of attentive observation with the working knowledge of a lifetime’s experience.”

“The successful detective trains her awareness on the outside world, in order to find meaning in the minutiae of experience.”

“Mindfulness… can be cultivated [by] slowing down the onrush of mental activity, and trying to focus conscious awareness on the world of sensations…”

Ch 12 – the Rudiments of Wisdom

“… the wise counsellor finds a perspective that integrates and transcends the opposing positions.”

“Wisdom often involves seeing through the apparent issue to the real issue that underlies it.”

[quoting Nelson Mandela]
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightness us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not be? … As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

“Wise judgements take into account not just ethical depth but the social and historical repercussions that may ensue.

“If a predicament can be solved by d-mode, it does not need wisdom.”

“Wisdom arises from a friendly and intimate relationship with the undermind.”

“… Buddhism goes so far as to say that wisdom resides in the recognition that all the activities and contents of consciousness are merely manifestations of unconscious processes.”

Ch 13 – The Undemind Society: Putting the Tortoise to Work

“The need for creative responsiveness to changing conditions is now widely recognised in the pressurised cabins of business boardrooms.”

“A creative workplace needs to encourage people to engage with their work mindfully and to think about what they are doing.”

“This concept of the unconscious – … – is very different from the notions of the unconscious that twentieth-century European culture generally admits.

Multi-whole grain bread

22 April 2007

2 C. lukewarm water
1 TB (scant) yeast
drop of molasses or beet syrup
2 C. flour

1 C. each cooked whole barley, oats and rye berries
3 TB molasses or beet syrup
1 TB vegetable oil
1 TB salt
2 C. buckwheat flour
5 – 6 C. bread flour

dusting of cornmeal

1. add the yeast to the water with the molasses. Wait until frothy, 10 – 15 minutes, then stir in the flour. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for 30 – 45 minutes.
2. punch down the dough, which should be doubled in bulk. Add all of the ingredients, but only 1 cup of the buckwheat flour.
3. stir in the rest of the flour, 1 cup at a time. Typically, you will have to abandon the spoon to use your hands and knead it for 20 – 40 minutes.
4. cut into 2 loaves, and place in loaf pans dusted with cornmeal, and let rise another 30 minutes or so.
5. Bake at 375 F for 45 minutes (they will sound hollow if tapped when cooked).
6. cool at least 30 minutes on a bread rack.

Smoked Chili

21 April 2007

without Carne
3 TB vegetable oil
2 red onions, minced finely
5 cloves garlic, minced finely
2 TB apple cider vinegar
1 – 5 TB smoked chili powder

1. heat the oil over medium heat.
2. Add the onions and fry until translucent and soft.
3. Add garlic. Fry a bit more.
4. Add apple cider vinegar and chili powder. Fry and stir until blended.
5. Add water as needed, turn down heat, simmer to thicken.
6. Add cooked lentils or beans, and simmer until done.

Coconut Carrot and Yam Soup

20 April 2007

1 head of garlic, top trimmed
2 TB neutral-flavoured cooking oil
1 leek, cleaned and sliced
1-inch piece of ginger, pureed
2-inch pieces of turmeric, pureed

4 medium yams
7 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 oranges, zested and juiced
2 cups of coconut milk
extra light soup stock
salt to taste

spice mix:
2 TB coriander seeds
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
3 whole cloves
8 allspice berries
1 dried chipotle, seeded if need be
3 TB+ dried hot chile, stemmed and seeded

pumpkin or squash seeds

corn bread

1. preheat oven to 350 F.
2. place the garlic in a vented baking dish or a nest of foil. Drizzle the oil over it. If using foil, seal it leaving a vent for steam.
3. Roast the whole yams and garlic for approximately 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile, grind spice mix in a spice mill.
5. Heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and fry until soft.
6. Add ginger and stir it up. Fry a bit longer.
7. Add orange juice.
8. Add turmeric and spice powder.
9. Remove yams and garlic from oven, let stand to cool. Peel and chop the yams. Add them and carrots to the pot.Add coconut milk and simmer for an hour.
10. Puree the soup in a food mill, or by hand if you’re a die-hard. Serve.

The Elegant Universe

19 April 2007

music of the strings – who’s ever heard of an orchestra with a spheres section?

The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory by Brian Greene

Part I – The Edge of Knowledge
Ch 1 – Tied Up with String

“… particle properties in string theory are the manifestation of one and the same physical feature: the resonant pattern of vibration – the music, so to speak – of fundamental loops of string.”

“The discovery of the [Theory of Everything aka T.O.E.] – … – would provide the firmest foundation on which to build our understanding of the world. It’s discovery would mark a beginning, not an end.”

Brian Greene
Edward Witten
Albert Einstein

Part II – The Dilemma of Space, Time, and the Quanta
Ch 2 – Space, Time, and the Eye of the Beholder

“The most accurate measuring devices in the world confirm that space and time – as measured by distances and durations – are not experienced identically by everyone.”

“Special relativity is not in our bones – we do not feel it.”

“Regardless of relative motion between the source of photons and the observer, the speed of light is always the same.”

“Einstein proclaimed that all objects in the universe are always traveling through spacetime at one fixed speed – that of light.”

“… light does not get old; a photon that emerged from the big bang is the same age today as it was then. There is no passage of time at light speed.”

[re: muon particle accelerated to near light speed]
“Since the mass of the muon increases without limit as its speed approaches that of light, it would require a push with an infinite amount of energy to reach, or to cross the light-barrier.”

Ch 3 – of Warps and Ripples

“… gravity is mysterious. It is a grand force permeating the life of the cosmos, but it is elusive and ethereal.”

“Gravity, according to Einstein, is the warping of time and space.”

“In Einstein’s view, the gravitational tether holding the earth in orbit… is the warping of the spacial fabric caused by the Sun’s presence. [mass]“

“Moreover, each of us – like any massive object – also warps the spacial fabric in close proximity to our bodies, although the comparatively small mass of a human body makes this a miniscule indentation.”

quoting John Wheeler
“mass grips space by telling it how to curve, space grips mass by telling it how to move.”

“… the mathematics of general relativity shows that in the case of a relatively slow-moving body like the earth revolving around a typical star like the sun, the warping of time actually has a far more significant impact on the earth’s motion than does the warping of space.”

“When no mass is present, space is flat… if a large mass comes on the scene, space will warp, … spread outward from the massive body [like ripples], ultimately settling down into a warped shape that communicates the pull of the new body.”

“… Einstein was able to calculate how fast disturbances to the fabric of the universe travel… precisely the speed of light…”

“… the closer [one] gets to the sun the slower [one's] clock will run. It is in this sense that gravity distorts time as well as space.”

“… feeling accelerated motion is the same as feeling gravitational force…”

“…. mounting evidence indicates that there is a very massive black hole, some two and a half million times as massive as the sun, sitting in the center of our own Milky Way galaxy.”

“black holes of whose masses may well be billions of times that of the sun.”

“… either the fabric of the universe is stretching or it is shrinking, but it is not simply staying put. The equations of general relativity show this explicitly.”

“… there s simply no space outside the primordial pin point… Instead, the big bang is the eruption of compressed space whose unfurling, like a tidal wave, carries along matter and energy even to this day.”

Ch 4 – Microscopic Weirdness

“… all matter has wave-like character.”

Ch 5 – The Need for a New Theory: General Relativity vs Quantum Mechanics

Part III – The Cosmic Symphony
Ch 6 – Nothing but Music: the Essentials of Superstring Theory

“… the length of a typical string loop is about the Planck length…”

“Just as the different vibrational patterns of a violin string give rise to different musical notes, the different vibrational patterns of a fundamental string give rise to different vibrational masses and force charges.”

“According to string theory, the properties of an elementary ‘particle’ – its mass and its various force charges – are determined by the precise resonant pattern of vibration that its internal string executes.”

Planck Tension
Planck Energy
Planck Mass
Planck Scale

“… the Planck mass; it’s about equal to the mass of a grain of dust or a collection of a million average bacteria. And so, the typical mass-equivalent of a vibrating loop in strin gtheory is generally some whole number times the Planck mass. Physicists often express this by saying that the ‘natural’ or ‘typical’ energy scale (and hence mass scale) of string theory is the Planck scale.”

“… even though they are spatially extended they can be described consistently in the framework of quantum mechanics… [A]mong the resonant vibrational patterns there s one that has the exact properties of the graviton, thus ensuring that the gravitation force is an intrinsic part of its structure.”

Ch 7 – The “Super” in Superstrings

“… every electron in the universe, always and forever, spins at one fixed and never changing rate.”

Ch 8 – More Dimension than Meets the Eye

9 or 10 dimensions of Space, 1 dimension of Time
3 sensory dimensions, 6 or 7 infrasensory dimensions

“… extradimensional geometry determines fundamental physical attributes like particle masses and charges that we observe in the usual three large space dimensions of common experience.”

“According to string theory, the universe is made up of tiny strings whose resonant patterns of vibration are the microscopic origin of particle masses and force charges. String theory also requires extra space dimensions that must be curled up to a very small size to be consistent with our never having seen them.”

“… the fundamental properties of the universe are determined, in large measure, by the geometrical size and shape of the extra dimensions.”

Calabi-Yau Manifold

Ch 9 – The Smoking Gun: Experimental Signatures

“… a fundamental property of string theory is that it is highly symmetric, incorporating not only intuitive symmetry principles but respecting as well, the maximal mathematical extension of these principles, supersymmetry.”

Part IV – String Theory and the Fabric of Spacetime
Ch 10 – Quantum Geometry

“On scales as small as a Planck length, a new kind of geometry must emerge, one that aligns with the new physics of string theory. This new geometrical framework is called quantum geometry.”

[re: Garden-hose shaped 2-d universe with superstrings wound around it]
“The new possibility of wound-string configurations implies that the energy of a string in a Garden-hose universe comes from two sources: vibrational motion and winding energy.”

“… it proves convenient to separate the vibrational motion of strings into two categories: uniform and ordinary vibrations. Ordinary vibrations refer to the usual oscillations…; uniform vibrations refer to even simpler motion: the overall motion of string as it slides from one position to another without changing its shape.”

“All string motion is a combination of sliding and oscillating – of uniform and ordinary vibrations.”

“First, uniform vibrational excitations of a string have energies that are inversely proportional to the radius of the circular dimension.”

“Second…, the winding mode energies are directly – not inversely – proportional to the radius.”

“These two observation establish that large valves of the radius imply large winding energies and small vibration energies, whereas small values of the radius imply small winding energies and large vibration energies.”

“… For any large circular radius of a Garden-hose universe, there is a corresponding small circular radius for which the winding energies of strings in the former universe equal the vibration energies of strings in the latter, and vibration energies of strings in the former equal winding energies of strings in the latter. As physical properties are sensitive to the total energy of a string configuration – … – there is no physical distinction between these geometrically distinct forms for the Garden-hose universe.”

“… string theory claims that there is no difference whatsoever between a ‘fat’ Garden-hose universe and a ‘thin’ one.”

“… if the spatial shape of a dimension is circular, there are two different yet related operational definitions of distance in string theory.”

“The first definition uses strings that are not wound around circular dimension, whereas the second definition uses strings that are wound.”

“According to the light string modes, the universe is large and expanding; according to the heavy modes it is tiny and contracting.”

“… it might be possible for two different Calabi-Yau shapes, chosen for the extra curled-up dimensions in string theory, to give rise to identical physics.”


“… mirror symmetry proclaims that particular pairs of Calabi-Yau spaces, pairs that were previously thought to be completely unrelated, are now intimately connected by string theory.”

Ch 11 – Tearing the Fabric of Space

“A wormhole… is a bridge or tunnel that provides a shortcut from one region of the universe to another.”


Black holes provide another compelling example in which the fabric of space is stretched to its limit.

Ch 12 – Beyond Strings: In Search of M-Theory

“First, M-theory has eleven dimensions (ten space and one time).”

“The second feature… is that it contains vibrating strings, but it also includes other objects: vibrating two-dimensional membranes, undulating three-dimensional blobs (called “three-branes”)…”

Ch 13 – Black Holes: A String / M-Theory Perspective

“… distinguishing features? One… is the black hole’s mass… Research has revealed that [others] are the electric and certain other force charges a black hole can carry, as well as the rate at which it spins.”

“… mass, force charges, and spin- … distinguish one elementary particle from another.”

“The similarity of the defining traits has led a number of physicists over the years to the strange speculation that black holes might actually be giant elementary particles.”

“… the new massless pattern of string vibration arising from the space-tearing conifold transition is the microscopic description of a massless particle into which the black hole was transmuted.”

“… as a Calabi-yau shape goes through a space-tearing conifold transition, an initially massive black hole becomes every lighter until it is massless and then it transmutes into a massless particle – such as a massless photon – which in string theory is nothing but a single string executing a particular vibrational pattern.”

“… [studied] kinds of black holes… and elementary particles are actually two phases of the same underlying stringy material.”

Ch 14 – Reflections on Cosmology

Part V – Unification in the Twenty-First Century
Ch 15 – Prospects

= = = =

Superstring Links


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