September 15, 2015
Line up every virus on Earth end to end and they stretch for 200 million light years, far beyond the Andromeda galaxy. There are10 to the 31st power of viruses on Earth, ten million times the number of stars in the universe. There are 100 Trillion flu viruses in the body of a person with a three-day old flu. There are 10,000 times more viruses than people on Earth.
There are far fewer bacteria than viruses on Earth, by a power of 10, however, there are many millions of bacterial species on Earth. There are 20,000 SPECIES of bacteria in a quart of seawater and one million bacteria in a single gram of soil. Estimates of microorganism populations vary greatly in the scientific community. By the most conservative estimates there are two million species of oceanic bacteria, four million species of soil bacteria and four million species of atmospheric bacteria.
Scientists have no idea how many viruses and bacteria there are - there are only rough ways to count them, estimates among experts vary to a laughable degree. There is debate about whether a virus is even a living thing or whether bacteria can be identified as having different species There is only one single species of Homo sapiens - humans. The human population is a rounding error in relation to the total number of organisms on Earth. The total mammal population on Earth is a rounding error. We are few, like an algal bloom says Lynn Margulis. Here today - gone tomorrow?
Microorganisms have a collective consciousness. They invented proto-charismatic animals ( animals larger than a wasp) in order to populate emerging ecosystems on a warming earth after the great Sturtian-Marinoan ice age 650 million years ago. Charismatic animals are flexible, versatile, adaptable packages of microorganisms. Each package contains billions of bacteria and trillions of viruses, most of which are beneficial or benign. Fifty percent of the human genome is of viral origin. We are mobile homes to our vast populations of microorganisms. One credible theory of evolution asserts that speciation is caused by the mixing of microorganism genomes rather than by mutation-natural selection and that speciation is not, as Darwin proposed, gradual but abrupt, a punctuation event linking a million generations. Speciation does not appear to be gradual. There is much evidence that speciation happens all at once. Genomes merge, voila ! a new species. Further refinements to the cat, dog, alligator, tuna, Eagle, Bee and Beetle are the result of neo-Darwinian mutation-natural selection but speciation results from mergers and acquisitions.
The Earth is 5 billion years old. Life in the form of reproducing single cells has been evolving for 4.5 billion years. The Earth experienced the second of its 5 major ice ages 850-580 million years ago. The Sturtian ice age covered the entire globe in ice resulting in “Snowball Earth”. Microorganisms lived under a global ice sheet surviving near geothermal vents on the seafloor or in water under the ice. When snowball Earth began to thaw, an equatorial band of warmer blue water appeared exposed to direct sunlight. Life thrived here and soon became very densely concentrated. A reverse albedo occurred and the ice receded. The close packing of organisms in the narrow warm band of water forced the merging of genomes. Organisms and their genes merged, fused, incorporated, cohabited, recombined and matched creating an abundance of new species with myriad new capabilities - This emergence of multi celled life forms after snowball Earth is called The Cambrian Explosion. This explosion of variation on the theme of life occurred between 560 and 540 million years ago. This is the age of trilobites, clams, starfish and snails - our ancestors.
If the charismatic animal is a shrewd, aggressive ambulatory bag for harboring viruses and bacteria, the cell itself was a bag for bits of RNA, DNA for two billion years prior to the Cambrian explosion. Inanimate amino acids and proteins entered Inanimate globules of fat floating in the primordial soup. Concentrated populations of microorganisms forced mergers during and after an ice age. short strips of RNA squeezed into a hollow sphere of fat. these RNA filled lipid spheres did not multiply by orderly cell division they simply multiplied and the fat globules exploded when they got too full. This was an inefficient way to propagate even though the fatty cell membrane offered a bit of protection from the harsh environment of young Earth.
Inanimate hollow fat globules float around by the trillion in archaic seas. Inanimate nucleic acids, sugars, phosphates, aminos, proteins floated with them, merging in myriad combinations below deep ice sheets up to several miles thick or in equatorial bands of seawater exposed to the sun. DNA strands containing 5 or 15 or 1,500 base pairs get pulled apart and each strand finds new mates from the freezing, slushy soup of melting snowball Earth - replication! It’s still not alive. It was an accident. Short strands of RNA attract nucleotides floating freely in the soup becoming double helices - still dead. A fat glob fills with short strands of DNA a catalyst enters the membrane, the glob breaks into two, some DNA goes left, some goes right. Microtubules enter the scene after they have evolved for a billion years - still no life, a flagellum pushes around a dead glob of fat to keep its head warm. Another 500 million years of random mixing and matching. A metabolic component here and functional feature such as the light-sensitive protein there. Fat globs fill and explode for 300 million more years - 100,000 fascinating chemical-structural combinations occur - still no life - no reproduction of the package. Hold that thought - for 500 million more years of random mixing and matching - still dead as a doornail.
JBT - Rhizomatic design: ( in place of Darwinism, Neo-Darwinism, Creationism, Intelligent Design, symbiosis) Interaction between organelles, cells, organs cause change-evolution of parts giving rise to wholes.
The man-made machine heuristic; a tool to examine speciation. The taxonomic level of the Order( as in order-family-genus-species) using example of transportation vehicles: space, air, land, water, underwater. Rockets, jets, cars-trains, ships, submarines. Looking closer at the family of aircraft. there are several highly conserved features shared by all aircraft regarding their power to weight to lift requirements. There are conserved features regarding control surfaces: vertical stabilizer, ailerons, flaps. There are minor shared characters: landing gear and windscreens. The size and shape of the nose of an airplane is the result of many separate contingencies, each with its own map, plans, requirements. There is no specific “gene” for nose shape in an airplane. The nose shape and size are residual - they emerge from the mix. How does one tell a lion from a bear? The shape of their noses is a big cue. The mammal nose is the product of the evolution of 10,000 not-nose elements that evolved over eons in concert with one another. The nose is residual, not a thing in itself, although we see it as such. There is no single gene for noseness. Take one of many variables: volume. The 747 nose is the result of tens of thousands of decisions around aerodynamics and storage-packing challenges. When a person says they have never seen evidence for speciation i.e. a shared ancestor giving rise to a cat and a bear, this does not mean that one million mutations, all of which have undergone tens of millions of years of evolution have not been stored in the genome for ultimate observable expression as a lion or a bear. Who is to say when a 707 nose will evolve into a 747 nose? Reasons accrue for this expressed difference. More passengers, more need to conserve expensive fuel, longer runways available, stronger lighter materials available for construction. The resulting shape and volume of the nose though not trivial in regard to capacity to smell are minor in the overall causal cascade.
Who can say how many internal, gradual changes occur in one of Gould’s benthic snail fossils across eons prior to a shell’s abrupt vertical extension, his evidence for speciation? The shell shape may be trivial even though it is the only remaining evidence in the fossil record. It should be no surprise that it is an abruption, a punctuation. This shell shape difference doesn’t mean that evolution is abrupt, only that the appearance of the “nosecone” shell distention was abrupt.
Easily identifiable, outward features are conserved while organ system structures and their metabolic patterns undergo constant, relentless, feverish evolution 24/7/365. Why bother with the catness or bearness? Package details are beside the point. It is the stuff in the bag that means life or extinction. It will express at the exterior in the fullness of time if ever.
JBQ - Do methylations, citrullinations, phosphorylations get copied at cell division as they piggyback on the DNA molecule during mitosis during lifespan of an organ?
Madness is often ( always?) equated with unreason. The human neocortex is the seat of our reason. Does a virus interrupt neural links that comprise reason? Do viruses clog the rhizome of reason?
JBE ( Experiment) - Study effects of 100 species each of virus, bacteria, worms and protozoans on 25 brain areas re: mental disorders. This involves 10,000 labs around the world for two years. Let’s find out how many mental disorders of the DSM-5 big 900 are caused by microorganisms. A hysterical man sits in his psychiatrist's office with a brain infected by tapeworm cysts driving him to madness and the shrink asks to hear about the poor man’s relationship with his mother.
What are the VBP ( viral, bacterial, parasitic) effects on neuron-synaptic electrochemical communication? Can a single virus short-circuit a synapse? Perhaps a single virus can extend the gap between synapse ends thus making it impossible for electrical charge to pass this juncture thus stopping an afferent or efferent nerve impulse in its tracks. Identify chemical exude of 100 species of virus - test their effect on the following: neuron firing, neuron signaling, ability to form new thoughts, connect new thoughts to one another and to memory, connect sensation ( visual, audio, tactile, vomeronasal, taste) to memory, to connect sensation to reasoning ability, to higher levels of abstract thought - morality, ethics, altruism, math and language skills.
To Do: In examining those with mental illness: 1. Check for VBPs 2. Once the VBP has been identified after searching for many species, remove them.
JBQ - does viral DNA penetrate neurons? Is there a toxic viral exude with negative effect on cognitive function? Same for bacteria and worms. A brain is infected with pinworms, roundworms, schistosoma or tapeworms would be subject to physical dislocation of brain mass and suffer the effects of worm waste and the effects of its consumption of brain matter i.e. the total metabolic impact of the parasite.
JBQ - Is madness the result of the human brain testing an array of potential advantageous effects of viral, bacterial, parasitic involvement in brain function? If it helps - keep it. If the potential symbiont or gene sequence doesn’t help ( see: “madness”) omit it.
JBQ - Were the hippocampus, thalamus, cerebellum, pons, globus pallidus, putamen and amygdala once upon a time parasites of our archean neural nodules that proved useful? they each now have a unique structure and purpose in the brain having evolved from a tight little club of parasites formerly swimming freely in the Silurian sea. Each symbiont provided a selective advantage. Fish to itself “I’m going to have to begin coughing once I crawl up onto the land I’d better keep this little parasitic knot of cells ( future Medulla oblongata).
JBQ - what microorganism initiated the tendency in vertebrates to aggrandize one’s self, to strut around and flash feathers, sing, dance, howl, growl and roar? Drawing attention to one’s self was once considered madness among humans in medieval times and is now rewarded in all American children? “Raise your hand ( separating yourself from your classmates) if you know the answer.” What virus removed our fear of standing out from our fellows removing our prehistoric fear of being a tall poppy? Toxoplasma gondii virus removes fear of cats in mice. FACT: viruses are known to make certain types of fear disappear in some mammals. What viruses, what fears in humans?
JBT - If fear expression is the result of a methylated histone, perhaps a virus de-methylates this histone during lifetime, thus epigenetically reducing fear in a small segment of the population. This fearless population is our avante-garde. A deme’s fearless pioneers. Were pioneers of the Oregon Trail all infected by a midwest virus that reduced their fear of the unknown and or initiated wanderlust? Same question for Jamestown settlers, Pilgrims - all emigrants to North /America in 17th-20th century. Catch a virus - go directly to the New World, sever roots and explore, thus participating in a viral evolutionary experiment on the human brain. Get these brains out into new ecosystems for viral-bacterial proliferation. Do viruses remove fear in bacteria or larger parasites? Do worms feel fear? Are protozoans afraid of anything? If viruses are experimenting with the human brain, as humans set out for parts unknown, what part of the brain is involved? the neocortex, amygdala, brainstem, hippocampus? Travelling to the New World in the 17th century was definitely crazy-dangerous and wrought with doom.
Michel Foucault and others assume that human reason emerged during the Renaissance and came to flower during the 18th century - the “Age of Reason” These thinkers imply that ancient times and the Dark Ages were bereft of reason. This is a misconception. Every age is filled with as much reason as any other. The architects, engineers and administrators of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome and Gothic Europe were obviously reasonable men. Reason wasn’t invented in the 18th century by Voltaire and David Hume. It simply became more fashionable among a noble few as reason became a meme.
JBQ - Does DNA have more than one way of quieting or erasing a trait? Imagine a word you have written on paper - you can erase it or scratch it out or scratch it out and then cover up the whole mess with white out. Does the cell have a 2 or 3-tier system of gene suppression? - the scratch out, the cover-up and the erasure? Are there various levels of removal? Erasure from operation during a lifetime and erasure from the genome at germ cells i.e. gone forever. Once a gene has been omitted can it be reinstated a million years or a day later?
JBQ - Are viruses the primary mechanism enabling the evolution of human consciousness? Do viruses stir the cranial pot putting behavioral options on the table for natural selection - social selection? Are memes inherited via changes to neural chemistry? or simply learned / absorbed from parents, friends, teachers, television and the internet?
JBE - Explore viruses as DNA mutagens in the manner of UV radiation or traditional Neo-Darwinist mechanisms for mutation.
JBQ - How would the human brain conserve a positive viral effect on social behavior or any behavior? Is altruistic behavior, a notoriously counter-intuitive animal trait, a virus-borne aberration that has proved beneficial to the species, thus conserved? If so, by what chemical process and reproductive pathway? A proposal 1. Virus rearranges neural protein at amygdala 2. this modified protein geometry is somehow relayed to germ cells.
JBQ - Is melancholy a viral affliction? Melancholy, a recognized mental ‘illness” of the 16th-19th century, recast as depression in the 20th.
JBQ - Are Conservatism and Liberalism caused by different virus species? If so, can either be cured? Is religion a species-wide microorganism infection?
JBQ - Does inheriting a virus via sperm-head epibontics (piggybacking) have the same effect on a new life as if that virus caused a mutation at the DNA or initiated a heritable post-translational modification? Are the effects of a specific virus identical, independent of method of transport into new life? Are effects different and are the effects related to their means of arrival?
- Epibontic transport of virus “X” causes disease “A”
- Base pair disruption from virus “X” causes disease “B”
- Virus “X” initiates a histone phosphorylation that is inherited via “junk” DNA or inherited via a protein-coding gene causing disease “C”
Bottom line proposal: One virus may cause multiple health outcomes, for instance: “A” affects hippocampal function - long term memory “B” erases fear at amygdala “C” affects the nature of Structuralist language capabilities such as inborn tendency to comprehend grammar or ways of organizing the visual field re: size-closeness.
JBRT ( Russell’s Teapot logic: I can say anything and it’s up to you to prove me wrong - Bertrand Russell asserts that his teapot is orbiting Mars - he dares you to prove it isn’t.) All aspects of human consciousness, self-awareness, behavior, language, altruism, social skills that are related to the emergence of our outsize neocortex are initiated and modulated by microorganisms and resulting long term advantages are locked into the human genome by the acquisition in our DNA of viral, bacterial genes or by permanent and heritable post transcriptional modifications.
JBT - Mental illness is the ( now negative) manifestation of unprocessed, viral-initiated neocortical options presented by nature for possible use in future generations to positive social effect. It was crazy then - it’s normal now. This happens all the time. As new behavioral options become manifest in people, this unique behavior, that could have 100 different names, is all classified as schizophrenia. To Do: Look for 100 sources for 100 unique behaviors now all lumped together by psychiatrists as schizoid. Look at schizoid behavior as a source of new possibility for mankind. As in all evolution, 99% of the new is rejected outright. We are surrounded by the surviving 1% aka 9 million successful animal species. Nature makes an enormous number of mistakes. If one percent of schizophrenics manifest a productive behavior they are par for the course. Crazies are an important source of human evolution.
JBT - The gradient between reason ( the sun) and madness ( the cold dark void) is modulated by living organisms. A listener advances on madness with language. Language is life. Language modulates the gradient between madness(bliss) and reason.
Find a gradient and reduce it for money, fame and glory.
JBQ - What social gradient did Rock and Roll reduce? Was it strictly the gradient that always exists between adjacent generations and always subject to reduction or was there more to it? Rock and Roll reduced the terrible gradient between Black Americans and White Americans post JIm Crow, paving the way, more than any social force, for civil rights. Norman Mailer reduced the gradient between hipsters and squares.
“Random mutation hones already extant species that originated via symbiosis”-Lynn Margulis, Dorion Sagan
JBT - It is said that a gene has so and so number of base pairs yet the mechanism for transcripting-translating genetic information involves RNA reading the code off of one side only of a DNA molecule separated down the middle. The two sides of this sequence of now split apart base pairs, each side ( each column of bases) carry genetic information. Seems like one side of the DNA sequence could code for eye protein and the opposite side for glomerular cells ( kidney filters) so it’s never base pairs that code but rather sequences of bases stacked on one side of the now opened double helix. A gene does not have a number of base pairs. It has a number of bases - 3 bases per codon not 3 base pairs per codon. Verify. I’m failing to understand something here. It’s base(ic).
Analogy - Imagine a copy of “War and Peace” in your left hand and a copy of “Infinite Jest” in your right. Now shuffle these two doorstops like two decks of cards - this is a section of a strand of DNA. At transcription the pages of the two books are separated so that RNA has access to one of the books only ( say “War and Peace”), to one string of letters, one series of codons ( not both -as they are no longer linked at the center as base pairs but simply as strings of bases) The RNA reads from either “War and Peace” or from “IJ” not from both simultaneously,not from base pairs - just a sequence of bases. Genes are always characterized as having so and so number of base pairs when actually they are so and so number of bases - no pairs at this point and time of transcription. If the human genome has 3.2 billion base pairs wouldn’t it have 6.4 billion letters to work with? 3.2 billion bases per side of the double helix? Someone tell me what I’m not seeing here.
JBQ - What are the genes that govern our power to reason and dream? Perhaps not genes at all but methylations locked into heredity.
JB Universe model: 1. Imagine a sine wave at 30 to the minus 15th power cycles per second 2. Rotate this continuous wave to form a long series of pulsing 3-D volumes - expanding-narrowing-expanding 3. Now pack countless waves adjacent to one another, slipped for a snug fit. One cycle in one wave is our universe and we are halfway through our own cycle like a wave passing thru water - time being the wave and the universe being the water. 4. Bundle countless waves adjacent to one another out to infinity - like a muscle and its fibers, one fiber being the history of our particular sequence of universes-pulses. One pulse takes 30 billion years. Our universe is at the midpoint of its cycle.
Filling a primordial cell membrane after the Huronian global ice age 2.4 billion years ago was like filling a shopping cart while pushing it through ancient pet shop-nursery. “I’ll take some of these and some of those.” The wonders that grew from these early associations!....in ten million shopping carts.
The immune system and the cell membrane work together to prohibit entry of viruses into the organ cell. the membrane is the wall with many closely guarded portals the immune system is the military chasing down terrorists and killing them before they enter the cell. Does a cell membrane prevent the operation of the organism immune system i.e. does the cell membrane protect the virus from phagocytes once inside? Is the cell a safe harbor all viruses, friend or foe?
JBQ - Does DNA really split down the middle when it replicates during mitosis? Is splitting really necessary? It makes a cool explanation but does it really replicate in this way? Could DNA double helix not remain locked and activate a switch to attract like bases from the cytoplasm? It turns switches on and off for 1,000s of other DNA functions-processes why not replication? Stay locked into a double helix and signal moment for replication when free-floating nucleotides form a mirror molecule that floats away on its spindle?
JBQ - what percentage of a DNA molecule spreads apart in order to be copied by RNA during transcription in a specific organ tissue - kidney, liver, heart, etc.?
JBQ - Do we catch diseases when invaded by microorganisms or do we catch environmental toxins that destroy our resistance to organisms already present in our bodies?
Organisms hijack one another’s DNA. Viruses and bacteria are promiscuous. They are continually swapping DNA with one another and among themselves and higher organisms such as vertebrates. Half of the human genome has its source in microorganism DNA.
Evolution means: annex, attract, amend, absorb,merge, fuse, co opt, convert, incorporate, encompass, cohabit, combine, recombine, integrate, interface, tie-in, throw-together, hitch on, hook up, team-up, tack on, tie-in, transfigure, transform, plug in, bind, bond, blend, unite, absorb, swallow, subsume, meet, mix, mingle, marry, meld, merge, centralize, coalesce, converge, conjugate, consolidate, conjoin, cohere, fuse, federate, join, meld, weld, enfold, amalgamate, amalgamete! assimilate, agglomerate, transmute, re-style, re-fashion, revamp, revise, remodel, re-cast, re-shape, shack-up, play house…..ad infinitum…..oh !.... and DNA mutation.
- September 15, 2015 2:29pm