Beyond Biology

Three disparate things that I read recently made me sit up and take another look at the threat that biotechnology poses to the future of humankind. The first was an announcement made by scientists of the J Craig Venter Institute on their work on genome transplantation that enabled them to transform one kind of bacteria to another type. This is the first time in history that a completely synthetic organism has been created. The second was a declaration made by Sir Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and former President of British Association for the Advancement of Science – considered to be one of the most eminent scientists of today. He states “I have staked one thousand dollars on a bet: That by the year 2020, an instance of bio-error or bio-terror will have killed one million people.” The third was that scientists at the Shanghai Second Medical University have created the first human/animal Chimera (animal containing genetic material from parents of two or more distinctly different species) fusing together cells from humans and rats.

The first piece of information shows that biotechnology is racing ahead at breakneck speed and has the ability to change things in a fundamental way. This ability has already been translated into the development of drugs and other products – biotechnology now produces 40 per cent of the drugs that the US Food and Drug Administration approves of every year.

The second indicates that scientists of the calibre of Sir Martin Rees believe that it is likely that this ability could be used with malicious intent. Bio-weapons are the ideal weapons for terrorist and/or anarchists. The cost of setting up a laboratory for biotech research is significantly smaller than that of developing nuclear or chemical weapons. The manufacture of lethal toxins requires modest equipment, essentially the same as is needed for medical or agricultural programmes: the technology is “dual use”.

Research teams have been able to reconstitute the polio virus, as well as the 1918 pandemic influenza virus (that killed somewhere between 20 to 40 million people) using only published DNA information and raw material from mail order services. This knowledge and technology is already dispersed among hospital staff, academic research institutes and factories. Bioterrorism is thus a real possibility in the next decade with the invention of ways of killing that had previously existed only in the realm of science fiction.

Sir Martin Rees also mentions the possibility of error on the part of otherwise responsible laboratories and agencies. Ed Hammond of the Sunshine Project in Texas that monitors the use of biological agents says that lab accidents happen a lot more frequently than the public knows. In recent years, the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease in the UK (2007), the death of a lab worker at Texas A&M ( 2006) due to brucellosis after cleaning a high containment container, the exposure of 3 researchers at Boston University Medical Centre (2004) to tularaemia or rabbit fever have occurred.. All these laboratories are well run and subject to many regulations. The same cannot be said for other laboratories in different parts of the world. Perhaps the worst bio-error took place in 1979 in the former Soviet Union when weapons-grade anthrax escaped from a facility in Sverdlovsk, now known as Yekaterinburg, killing 68 people. The accident was covered up by the authorities and came to light only in 1998.

If there is a major outbreak in the future, there may be severe clamping down by governmental authorities on the kind of research and agents that can be used in experimentation. This however would not have impact on research in rouge laboratories or by anti-social elements.

The Human Chimera experiment in China is one that could not have been able to be carried out in any other country in the world. Most do not, at least at present, have the scientific capability. Those that do, such as the US and Western Europe have strict codes of ethics and regulations in place that expressly forbid such experimentation. Even between the US and Europe however, there is a vast difference in the regulatory framework. In the US, products of biotechnology have been extensively tested and marketed. In the EU, few biotechnology products have received regulatory approval while most have faced a de facto moratorium.

Many countries do not have any kind of regulatory framework relating to biotechnology or restrictions on the kind of research that can be carried out. Frightening experiments could be conducted, without the knowledge of the rest of the world, or authorities within the countries themselves. These could even attract groups to set up research facilities in the future- the same principle that attracts groups and individuals to tax havens such as Barbados, St Kitts, Canary Islands etc.

The advancements made in the field of biotechnology have the potential to change the life of humankind for the better by impacting health, eradicating disease and creating miracle drugs. But we need to also ponder seriously on what we need to do to prevent Sir Martin Rees’ wager coming true.

The Renaissance, the All Seeing Eye and the Constitution of the United States of America

The All Seeing Eye of ancient Egypt, depicted upon the Great Seal of America, represents a fractal logic concept of political Liberty that is now re-emerging into a new global understanding. The ancient concept revealed its lost mystery when the science of quantum mechanics was extended into the evolutionary life-science of quantum biology. There is now an obvious advantage that various religious denominations and secular institutions, might gain, by sharing a moderate rigorous ethical understanding of the optic principles upholding spiritual reality, existing within a holographic universe.

The ancient Mystery Schools of Babylon and Egypt shared a common denominator with other ancient Eastern philosophies, which helped bring Western Classical Greek life-science into existence. This essay focusses upon the ancient civilisations of Egypt and Greece, but it is relevant to a multitude of global spiritual aspirations, based upon that common denominator. It is namely, an intuition to employ fractal logic reasoning in spiritual matters. That intuition is now re-emerging as a fundamental aspect of the new quantum biology science of life.

During the Egyptian 1st Kingdom, geometrical knowledge was needed to resurvey boundaries of rich fertile farms, lost during the the annual flooding of the Nile. Another, separate sacred geometry existed, one that extended its logic into the infinite world of fanciful immortal Egyptian gods. During the 2nd Kingdom, this ancient fractal geometrical logic became the basis for integrating concepts of mercy, compassion and justice into Egyptian political law. When the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, went to study political ethics at the Mystery Schools of ancient Egypt, he successfully devised an experiment in harmonics, known as the Comma of Pythagoras. This aspect of the Pythagorian Music of the Spheres discoveries, associated ‘Liberty’ with the political mathematics belonging to The Eye of Horus, the All Seeing Eye.

The only geometrical logic known to extend to infinity is now recognised by science to be fractal logic. Since the 5th Century until now, the Western religious World-view prohibited any life-science to be linked to such pagan logic. This was shown to be superstitious ignorance when optical nanotechnology revealed the Platonic fractal optics to be functioning within the human DNA. The NASA High Energy Astrophysics Division has published papers arguing that the Classical Greek Era’s science of life was based upon fractal logic. The fractal concept of political liberty is depicted on the American one dollar bill, and it refers to the Comma of Pythagoras experiment. However, at the time of the drafting of the Constitution of the United States of America, a grave scientific error occurred, resulting in an unbalanced scientific confusion.

One of the founding fathers of the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton, explained this problem. He did indeed, write that Liberty was associated with physics and geometrical principles. However, the Constitution was based upon Sir Isaac Newton’s published physics principles. Newton’s unpublished Heresy papers were not discovered until last century. Sir Isaac Newton’s conviction of the existence of a “more profound natural philosophy to balance the mechanical description of the universe…”was based upon Platonic physics and mathematical principles.

The Christian Church outlawed the balanced World-view political liberty concept during the 5th Century, some thirteen hundred years before the drafting of the American Constitution, Newton’s balancing fractal World-view, now at the cutting edge of quantum biological politician science, had been omitted, leaving a confused understanding of Pythagoras’ mathematical proof, which concerned itself with human liberty within a material universe balanced by the functioning of a spiritual or holographic reality. The relevant technologies are now known to be essential prerequisites for healthy biological growth and development through space-time

During the reign of Pope Cyril of Alexandria during the 5th Century, a Christian mob burnt several centuries of fractal logic research scrolls at the Great Library of Alexandria, raping and murdering it’s custodian, the mathematician Hypatia. St Augustine, at that time, officially recorded that her fractal logic mathematics was the work of the Devil. In his book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon wrote that Hypatia’s death marked the beginning of Western Civilisations’ Dark Ages.

Western civilisation is only now beginning to emerge from the Dark Age corruption of Plato’s spiritual optical mathematics (revised for physics by the father of optics Ibn Al Haytham during the 11th Century). That lost logic is now an indisputable component of the new Platonic-Fullerene Chemistry of fractal quantum biological medical science, now emerging throughout Europe and America. Fullerene Chemisty, is based upon the holographic engineering principles of Plato’s spiritual optics as is noted by Harvard University’s Novartis Chair, Professor Amy Edmonson, in her online essay The Fuller Explanation.

The Christian Church hierarchy, long a sworn enemy of political democracy concepts being based upon spiritual fractal logic science, has not yet relinquished its role in the corruption of such physics logic. This attitude denies open debate in the affairs of global politics. in complete contempt of the 3rd Century BC Platonic Science of Universal Love, of which the Knights Templar and later Freemasonry (rightly or wrongly) linked to the teachings of Jesus Christ, as in the Jefferson Bible, held within the American Congressional Library.

Civilisation can be seen to be still in the Christian Dark Ages, This is collaborated by the fact that Cambridge University, since 1932 up until the present time, internationally requires the basis of fundamental student Core Curriculum studies, to be linked to the essay by the philosopher F M Cornford. entitled Before and After Socrates. This essay contains the ridiculous claim that Plato can be considered to be one of the greatest fathers of the Church, when his fractal logic spiritual mathematics was cursed by St Augustine as being the work of the Devil.

To add insult to injury, Western culture forbids the linking of life science to fractal logic because 20th Century science was governed by an inadequate understanding of the second law of thermodynamics, which demands the complete destruction of all life in the universe, forbidding any Platonic fractal-life science to exist. That law, still governing modern science, was derived from the Church’s 13th Century unethical (later witch burning) policies of St Thomas Aquinas. Reverend Thomas Malthus used Aquinas’ policies as the basis of the East India Company’s ruthless economic policies, which, during the 18th Century, were cited by Charles Darwin as being synonymous with the second law of thermodynamics, now enforcing a financial Hell on Earth.

During the 1980s the Science-Art Research Centre of Australia used ancient geometrical logic to prove the existence of new life-science physics laws associated with the Pythagorean Music of the Spheres. The proof mathematics were reprinted from Italy’s leading scientific journal, Il Nuovo Cimento, as an important discovery of the 20th Century by the world’s largest technological research institute, IEEE Milestone Series in Washington. Despite that published fact, most scientists refused to consider the claim that the work was based upon the forbidden fractal life-science logic.

However, in the eminent science book, The Beauty of Fractals-Images of Complex Dynamical Systems, by H Peitgen and P Richter, a chapter about extending quantum mechanics to quantum biology is entitled Freedom, Science, and Aesthetics, written by Professor Gert Eilenberger, the Director of a German scientific institute. Within his profound article he wrote about the bridging of “rational scientific insight” with “emotional aesthetic appeal” through optical fractal logic. This appears to echo the ancient geometrical fractal reasoning of Pythagoras, when he associated the All Seeing Eye optical mathematics with the concept of political freedom.

The Church surely, is now honour bound to cease its corruption of science practices. The earth does revolve around the sun and was never the centre of the universe. Spiritual reality now refers to ethical or God-like holographic reality and we can all pay homage to the devout Christian scientists who were later punished for trying to explain about the Platonic Science of Universal Love, once taught throughout Italy during the1st Century BC, as recorded by the historian Cicero.

Professor Robert Pope © 2011

14 Homeschool Science Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

As homeschooling parents we give our children so many advantages as they move into the middle and upper grades and then to college. But, I believe there is one area where we can significantly improve the way we prepare them. That area is science.

Having taught science to several thousand homeschooling and college students over the past 25+ years, several things stand out to me. I’ve put together a list of 14 concrete steps we can take to better prepare our budding scientists.

Mistake #1 – Not starting to formally teach science early enough.

Start formally teaching science by the sixth grade. Students need the development that happens in those three years (sixth, seventh, and eighth grade) to prepare them for high school level science.

Mistake #2 – Generalizing the names for, and thus the way we teach, science. Call it Biology, Chemistry, Physics, etc. and not “General Science”, “Physical Science”, etc., even in the young grades. Doing this virtually eliminates the intimidation that comes with “Physics” etc in the high school years and clarifies what you’re teaching in the middle grades.

For example, at College Prep Science, rather than a homeschool year of “Physical Science,” we teach a semester of “Pre-Physics” and a semester of “Pre-Chemistry.” Rather than a homeschool year of “Life Science,” we teach a semester of “Pre-Biology” and a semester of “Pre-Anatomy and Physiology.”

Mistake #3 – Not doing enough testing.

Testing in the sciences prepares our students for the rigors of high school level science, college science, standardized testing, and assures that they are learning the material and that they are learning how to take tests. Of course it should be age appropriate but we should be testing.

Mistake #4 – Not doing timed tests.

I know that very few homeschooling families give their students timed tests and I think we are doing them a disservice. Gently beginning timed science tests in the middle grades gives students confidence, eliminates the anxiety associated with timed tests, and trains them to do well on standardized tests and on timed tests in college.

Start gently in the middle grades and slowly progress from there. For example, if you’re giving a student a 15 question test that you think will take them about 10 minutes to complete, tell them they have 25 minutes to take it. When they finish with plenty of time to spare it gives them confidence and relieves anxiety. The amount of extra time you give can be altered as they get older. Students actually do better on timed tests because they are focused on the test – knowing they have to work steadily. I always tell students, “If you are prepared and work steadily you will have plenty of time to finish this test.”

Mistake #5 – Teaching science year-round.

I know that many parents are proponents of year-round school (no summer break), but I believe it’s actually counter-productive. From experience with thousands of students I believe that students need to know they can work hard for a prescribed period of time and then have a total break from classes for two or three months.

Mistake #6 – Not starting the high school sciences early enough.

I know it’s easy to put off starting the high school sciences, but it’s important, especially if the students may be a college science major. Critical decisions should be made going into 8th grade. The critical factor is being ready for standardized testing and being able to fit in the needed sciences in the high school years. High school Biology should be taken in the 9th grade for most students and in the 8th grade for capable students who will likely be science majors.

Mistake #7 – Not beginning to take the ACT early enough.

Success on this standardized test is critical for college admissions and plays a direct role in how much financial aid a student will receive. Taking these tests twice per year beginning in 8th grade gives students experience and confidence which enables them to do well when they take this test for the final time in the spring of 11th grade. See my separate article on this topic.

Mistake #8 – Not specifically preparing to take the “Science Reasoning” section of the ACT. Homeschooled students score lower on this section of the ACT than on any other section. This is a section of the ACT that can be quite intimidating but can be mastered with preparation. It’s especially important if you are planning on a science major in college. See my separate article on this topic.

Mistake #9 – Not training students to meet deadlines.

As homeschoolers in general, this is a critical weakness and I think it’s even more important that we address this in the sciences. Beginning in the middle school grades, give your students firm deadlines that need to be met for assignments, tests, papers, etc. and stick to them. Besides being good training for academics, it’s just good life training too.

Mistake #10 – Not training students to write good lab reports.

As a college professor, I saw the pain of students who came in as science majors without good lab report writing skills and experience. Students get better at this with experience – there’s no substitute for that. Lab reports are simply the written summary of the scientific method. It takes lots of practice to develop the skill needed to do well on these.

Mistake #11 – Not creating a lab manual for every science class.

A lab manual is a collection of observations, data collection, and lab reports from a class. This gives students one place to neatly keep all of this information and gives them a sense of accomplishment. It’s impressive to have them lined-up on a shelf from all of their science classes. It’s also required by some states or umbrella groups for homeschoolers and some colleges want to see lab manuals as evidence of labs being completed.

Mistake #12 – Not encouraging exploration.

Encourage and give your students opportunities to be curious about God’s creation around them. Then, encourage them to experiment to answer questions about anything. This doesn’t have to be ground-breaking research but just simple things. Then, encourage them to write things down in a notebook. That may be the beginnings of a budding scientist at work.

Mistake #13 – Being squeamish on Creation.

Despite what you may hear in the media and elsewhere, God wrote the book on science. We need to boldly teach our students about God’s creation. Science and the world around us support biblical creation.

Mistake #14 – Not using graphing extensively.

Graphing, when done regularly through the middle and high school grades has a unique ability to develop critical thinking skills in students that not only benefit them in math, science, and academics in general, but also in life! We encourage families to have students construct one graph daily as part of their homeschooling day. They can graph anything. Let them run with it and you will be surprised at how creative they are. The resulting skills can be very, very beneficial.

Top 10 Popular Science Books

1. Annals of a Former World, by John McPhee

In patient, lyrical prose, McPhee takes the reader on a geologic journey through the United States. This volume was originally published as 4 books; each is centered on a road trip the author took with a geologist, observing the earth next to Eisenhower’s great US highways for clues into its geologic past. Annals has this–no borders, idealistic, On the Road for geologists kind of feel (though a bit more grown-up.) I pick up Annals every once in a while when im in a relaxed mood, when im looking for a good example of literary science writing. Highly recommended as a companion for camping trips, if you can fit it into your pack.

2. Surely You’re Joking, Mr, Feynman, by Richard Feynman

A string of excerpts from Feynman’s life/career, Surely You’re Joking is probably the popular science book I have read through the most times, not because it is short, but because it is at once compelling, understated, and full of indispensable scientific concepts. Richard Feynman has an uncanny ability to make physics easily digestible, his lectures are a testament to that and Surely You’re Joking is no exception. Feynman’s easy prose makes the reader feel like physics is understandable, as if he has laid out a diagram of the universe on his living room floor–no one is an outsider. It’s delightful. Feynman’s in my ‘top 5 people I would give my right pinky finger to meet’ category.

3. A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson

The second heavy volume on the list, A Short History is packed with nearly everything. It takes a look at the science behind a lot of things–beauty, cells, evolution, the universe. Bryson rejects the traditional notion of a ‘textbook’ with this book, making science seem relevant in our daily lives AND putting this knowledge in the context of the universe–in space and time. Capturing the detailed nooks where science is often concentrated AND eliciting the wonder of the wider perspective is an accomplishment–savor it wherever you can find it. Great in audio book format.

4. The Richness of Life, collection of essays by Stephen Jay Gould

The idiosyncratic Gould has written articles in Natural History and many other science magazines for decades and is one of the most widely read modern science writers. In this collection of articles, Gould’s highly intellectual, witty, and pin-accurate prose explains evolutionary theory, racism or baseball with a scientist’s eye, but in a way that engages the layman. Gould’s dedication to science shows in every piece. Delightful.

5. The Canon, by Natalie Angier

Someone at the New York Times science desk once told me–“Natalie Angier is the queen of metaphor.” I have to agree. The Canon is the best example of her witty prose winding the reader through simple scientific questions with difficult answers. In this book, Angier tackles what she has deemed the basic scientific concepts everyone should know: thinking scientifically, probabilities, calibration, physics, evolutionary biology, chemistry, molecular biology, astronomy and geology. Phew. I have to say–this could have been very text-book, but because of her writing style, is masterful. I actually have had many non-scientist friend recommend this to me, which is always a good sign.

6. Universe in a Teacup, by K.C. Cole

Where can you find a book that successfully intertwines the discipline of mathematics, with the concepts of truth and beauty? Universe is just such a book; K.C.’s most popular and in some ways seminal volume. Metaphors she uses pack a punch. Her prose style is somewhat poetic, and in Universe, she proves adept at explain things like chaos or phase transitions are illuminating–not just because you finally understand some science concept that always seem so obscure, but because Cole has also given the you a new way to think about mathematics and the world alongside your new understanding. (Full disclosure–Cole was my academic mentor)

7. The Code Book, by Simon Singh

Packed with information about the history of codes, how to break them, and who figured it all out, this book has a kind-of James Bond appeal. Various scientists and politicians have acted as code-makers and code-breakers from antiquity until modern day, and codes are increasingly important in computer technology and national security. The stories behind the codes are so fascinating i hardly even realized that i was learning about the mathematics of code theory in the process.

8. Enduring Love, by Ian McEwan

Ok, so not everyone would categorize this as a popular science book, but Ill include it anyway. Enduring Love is a fiction book, partially written from the perspective of a former scientist, but more importantly, it is a suspenseful story that lets the author’s attitudes towards life bleed through each and every page. Ian McEwan is a well-know rationalist who believes that science is just as much a part of culture as anything else–a position with which I very much empathize. This is a literary tale, sure, but McEwan manages to mention scientific ideas all over the place, integrating science and its ways of thinking into the lives of his complex characters and slowly revealing situations. It’s a page-turner.

9. The Double Helix, by James Watson

Though scientist James Watson doesn’t have a Stephen Jay Gould command of language and metaphor, The Double Helix still stands as an absolutely riveting account of the series of events that lead up to the discovery of DNA’s structure. In the book, scientists Watson, Crick, Maurice Wilkens, and Rosalind Franklin become fascinating characters in a race to figure out what DNA looks like at a molecular level. Each has their own motivations. Each has their own complications. All but Franklin eventually received a Nobel Prize for this work (she died before the award could include her.) A quick, easy read.

10. In the Shadow of Man, by Jane Goodall

A classic book–easy read, no jargon. Goodall’s observations of chimpanzee’s in the wild first brought to light one of man’s most recent ancestors–the chimpanzee. This book chronicles some of Goodall’s groundbreaking research through her own observations about chimp behavior. Once immersed in the book, I couldn’t help but think–we are all just apes, evolved from or related to one another. Puts things in perspective.