What about… #29 

Today’s post isn’t really about books, but I have to start by speaking about one that I’ve just finished. The latest novel by Dan Brown; Origin.

I have to say that I was a little disappointed. The book’s topic (about which I’ll speak further) isn’t the problem but having read all of his novels, I find this one a remake of Inferno or The Da Vinci Code or even The Lost Symbol. Robert Langdon; which is the main Charater of most of Brown’s stories, fleeing a danger with a women to try to resolve an enigma.

Usually there is something innovative which makes every book a new story, such as in “Inferno” Robert Langdon, lost his memory and was shot. In “The Da Vinci Code” everything was unexpected. In “The Lost Symbol” Robert Langdon was unexpectedly called to a meeting place to find just a severed hand waiting for him. But this one looks like a bit of every past books, Robert Langdon is in the same kind of trouble he was in every other book! Nothing unexpected.

What I DID like about this book is that it speaks a lot about art, history and science.

Now the main topic of this book is the Origin of men and its future. An atheist scientist called Kirsch made a phenomenal dicovery which cost him his life before he can share it with the world. Robert Langdon and a woman called Vidal must do the impossible to broadcast the discovery even though they are threatened to be killed by someone who wishes to stop them spreading the news, that the creation can exist without a God.

Kirsch as a believer in the Darwinian theory (but not entirely satisfied as Darwin didn’t explain how life arrived on earth in the first place) made his own reasearch.

The idea is that Life can create itself with the right ingredients and conditions; it’s a paradox when we’re aware that the univese is a world of Entropy or should we say Chaos. Let me give you some details:

We build a castle of sand by the sea, when a wave hits the castle it disorganize the sand castle into scattered grains: no more castle.

Things are irreversible, when you put a hot mug of coffee on the table, it gets cold. The coffee never magically reheat itself.

Entropy is just a fancy way of saying that things fall apart. An organized system, inevitably deteriorates. Sand castles never spontaneously appear in the universe, they only disappear.

So Kirsch enhanced a technique used in 1953 by two scientists Muller & Urey who tried to recreate the Primordial Soup, trying to create life within a flask of non living chemicals.

Chemists after them tried repeatedly using different combination of ingredients, different heath patterns but nothing worked.

But what is a Premordial Soup? After duplicating the chemicals that existed in the early oceans and atmosphere – water, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen – Muller and Urey heated all of this to simulate the boiling seas. Then they shocked it with electric charges to mimic lightning and they finally let the mixture cool just as the planet’s oceans had cooled. Of course that didn’t work. So in addition to this, Kirsch added electromagnetism to a 64 year old flask belonging to Muller and Urey and that’s it; he created Primitive organism.

According to him the Premordial Soup needed electromagnetism to put chaos in order, to create life. Therefore, if life simply happened as an inevitable by product of the laws of nature we have to conclude that because life spontaneously appeared here on earth, it almost certainly did the same thing elsewhere in the cosmos. Meaning man is not unique and man is not alone in the universe.

My first reaction was the same as Robert’s in the book: if the laws of nature can actually create life, then who created the laws?

We don’t need life to happen by product of the laws to believe that other lives exists in the cosmos. Who didn’t wonder what’s up there, gazing at the night’s sky?

Those billions of stars and what’s in between, hold such mysteries that we’re unable to provide all the answers needed to cease to be amazed at what we look at. The sky (universe) is an unfriendly place for any earthly living creature, and the “luck” as some atheists would say, has put us in the perfect planet that sustains life in all sense. But of course among the multitude of different stars, it is unthinkable that we’re the only living beings in such a vast creation. What’s out there is so far that we’re not (yet) able to reach out for them. After all…. after seeing all those Alien movies saying that they are monsters wanting to destroy us in any possible way….. I’m not sure that they are so far from us for no reason. In reality, I believe that we have our own issues here, for land, for beliefs, for ethnicity… can you imagine if we had Aliens as well to negotiate with? We’re not mature enough to handle something smarter, stronger and maybe taller than us. We’re still savages fighting among ourselves, what’s out there are other creations either more peaceful or more rebellious and either of these, we’re no match for it.

Some people don’t believe in extraterrestrial life, why not?

The universe is big enough for all of us, and surely what is beyond our knowledge is far more real and powerful than what we’re aware of. We don’t need to go into other galaxies to search for life, our own has 200 to 400 billion of stars. Can you put a percentage on how many of these are such as ours? Let’s say 1%, that gives us 2-4 billion of possibilities where a developed form of life exists.

Next time you look at the skies, be sure that somewhere out there, another form of life is gazing at the same stars you’re looking at. We’re not alone, we share the same universe, the same questions, the same Creator.

If I were interested in the origin of men, among all the books available I would read this one, which is very interesting and surprising.

What about …. #21

We all fall sick once in a while, we have to take what is necessary to get on our feet again, and for that we’ve got two types of medicine, the Chemical and the Herbal. Once someone told me that “every Chemical medicine is natural, because what we call Chemical, comes from nature itself”.

Actually I think that’s true, let’s say for instance that you have a headache, you might take an aspirin (or a paracetamol / ibruprofene, they’re all non inflammatory drugs, in which the major ingredient is the Salicylate found in the brark of the willow tree) which consist of about 90% acetylsalicylic acid, along with a minor amount of inert fillers and binders, or you might drink a decoction of a willow tree’s bark. Both will give you the same result, in approximately the same amount of time. But we must chose between the passion of herbalism and its preparation or the practicity of the drug already in a tablet. Herbal medicine vs Chemical medicine is what we’re going to focus today.

Let’s start with a bit of History: Since the beginning of times people cured themselves with plants; wounds, colds, pains, etc…were taken care of quite easily, obviously not every disease had its cure but most of them had. Greeks and Egyptians were the most renowned for their healing theories. Lots of stories are known from the middle age, the preparations were made by a herbalist which were mostly men at the time. Women who possessed the knowledge were treated as witches in most places till the 19th century when women began to stand up for themselves. Very few women were renowned for their knowledge in the 12th century; there was Dorotea Bucca head of the university of Bologna in Italy and Abbess Hildegarde of Bingen in  Germany.

Still, women couldn’t practice herbalism without apprehension, “The superior learning of witches was recognised in the widely extended belief of their ability to work miracles. The witch was in reality the profoundest thinker, the most advanced scientist of those ages… As knowledge has ever been power, the church feared its use in women’s hands, and levelled its deadliest blows at her”. Matilda Joslyn Gage, 1893,

During the 16th and 17th century, all across Europe, in every town and village, women were killed, en masse, as witches. The killings went on for two centuries and touched everyone’s lives. They spread fear, destroyed networks and resistance and did not stop until the population was sufficiently subordinated and the emerging state, capitalist social relations and church had got its claws into the lives and psyches of the people. The beginning of the western medicine started in Iran. The best university of medicine was in Isfahan, at the time of Avicenna in the 11th century. Muslims and Jews students learned together, they spread their knowledge wherever they went. Medieval European medicine became more developed during the Renaissance of the 12th century, when many medical texts both on Ancient Greek medicine and on Islamic medicine were translated from Arabic during the 13th century. The most influential among these texts was Avicenna’s The Canon of Medicine, a medical encyclopedia written in circa 1030 which summarized the medicine of Greek, Indian and Muslim physicians until that time.

Herbalism is a way of curing diseases in a natural way, as all the plants are not harmless, a herbalist is necessary to find the right plants and to prepare them in the right way. The plants are gathered, dried for a few days and then, either they are stored as they are or they are used to prepare the medicine and then stored for further necessities because sometimes it takes up to a month depending on the medicine and taken many times a day. Knowledge, patience and passion are required for the job. But as I said, all plants are not harmless such as these Marijuana, Cannabis and Hashish.

I would say that the chemical medicine (also called drugs) started with Pasteur in the 19th century, this kind of medicine is obtained through extraction from medicinal plants, but more recently also by organic synthesis. Much more diseases are cured, and in a easier way to take. Lots of expenses are needed and it takes years of learning and research to find a cure.

For instance, Sometimes a part of the body can’t make enough of a certain substance, and this can make a person sick. When someone has type 1 diabetes the pancreas can’t make enough of an important chemical called insulin, which the body needs to stay healthy. If the body makes too much of a certain chemical, that can make us sick, too. Luckily, medicines can replace what’s missing (like insulin) or they can block production of a chemical when the body is making too much of it. Many people also take chemical medicines to control illnesses that don’t completely go away, such as diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure. With help from these medicines, people can enjoy life and avoid some of the worst symptoms associated with their illnesses which can’t be found in the Herbal medicine. Finally, there are important medicines called immunizations, and they are usually given as a shot. They prevent people from catching serious illnesses.

So the pros and cons of these two kinds of medicine are:
I think that for the love of Nature and what has been given to us through those little harmless leaves and roots, it’s better to use Herbal medicine as long as the disease isn’t life threatening, but for much more serious diseases, the chemical medicine is mandatory.  Now the choice is  yours, do you prefer to heal Naturally or Chemically?