An Autonomous Agent

exploring the noosphere

Category: biology (Page 1 of 17)

Scale – Geoffrey West

Scale, by Geoffrey West, is a thought provoking book about coarse grained quantitative network theories which concern the entire human species and its interaction with the environment. Although verbose — as I think the intended audience is upper high school and entry-level college — it is clear in its depictions and explanations. This book is an important summary of really profound work and research performed at the Santa Fe Institute. And it is a great introduction to understanding power laws and scaling in biology and network topologies.

Order Out of Chaos – Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers

A little bit of quantum physics, chemistry, biology and philosophy all rolled up into one important book. Order Out of Chaos (La Nouvelle Alliance as originally published in French) by Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers is a paradigm changing book. The first parts of the book are an excellent overview on the historical development of science – the evolution of dynamics and the discovery of thermodynamics and their relationship is particularly fascinating.

Once the reader gets to the later parts, it becomes somewhat abstract and the reader may not be able to get through it without a background in chemistry and physics. Chapter Nine, when the phrase “Order Out of Chaos” is developed, is difficult. Despite this, it is much more accessible than a scientific paper on the subject. It may take two or three reads to fully absorb the ideas presented. Overall it is one of my favorite reads.

Some important conclusions from the book:

  • The arrow of time objectively exists and it arises from non-equilibrium and irreversibility at the microscopic level.
  • The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics can be understood as a selection principal. It operates as a negative on allowable initial conditions, in other words it restricts systems with certain initial conditions from existing.
  • Time travel to the past is not allowed by thermodynamics because time reversal requires infinite information concerning the initial conditions of the system, an impossibility to an observer in the universe. This implies that information is closely connected to irreversibility and time.
  • Thermodynamics can be expressed from dynamics through the idea of correlations and internal-time operators. Thus, dynamics has been extended once again (general relativity, quantum mechanics, and chaos theory).
  • The universe as a whole is in a non-equilibrium state and it is an irreversible process with pockets of reversible dynamics.
  • In general, one of the goals of the authors is to make dynamics and thermodynamics consistent with each other.

Endocannabinoid System

Posted here are three great lectures on cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System in the human body. The first lecture, by Dr. Robert Melamede is my favorite. Melamede frequently references Ilya Prigogine’s work and provides an understanding of the Endocannabinoid system based on a “far from equilibrium” perspective. For the more physics and math inclined readers, this is a wonderful connection.

Dr. Robert Melamede – Endocannabinoid System

 
The Endocannabinoid System in Health and Disease – Dr. Ethan Russo

Quick summary:

  • Endocannabinoid System composed of three components: 1) endocannabinoids, 2) CB1, CB2 and TRPV1 receptors, and 3) regulatory enzymes
  • CB1 is the most abundant G-protein-coupled receptor in the brain
  • Cannabinoids modulate how fast things move through the gut!
  • CB1 is the “psychoactive receptor” and CB2 is the immunomodulatory receptor
  • CBs 10-fold more potent than morphine in WDR neurons mediating pain
  • All humans have a baseline Endocannabinoid System, influenced by genetics or some life event; in some people the system becomes deficient – disease and other issues arise in the body
  • Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED)
  • THC notoriously increases appetite, why aren’t users more often obese? THC alters the microfloral balance in gut, prevents weight gain
  • Cannabis very effective in Fibromyalgia
  • Migraine info at 41 min
  • Migraine related to CED

Cannabis and Cannabinoids – Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather

Quick summary:

  • Compared to the flower: oils, edibles and other extracts lose many of the cannabinoids and terpenes
  • Cannabis is an adaptogen – can give you whatever your body needs to regain its homeostasis
  • CBDs with THC works optimally, together it gives a greater than additive effect, i.e. better than consuming each individually; plant flower and all it contains is overall better than the extracts
  • At 1 hour and 2 min in the lecture, entire list of cancers which exhibit cannabinoid sensitivity and in many cases the tumor goes away with cannabinoid treatment

New Theories on the Origin of Life with Dr. Eric Smith

Dr. Eric Smith’s lecture on the origin of life really challenged everything I thought I understood regarding how life functions and possibly originated on Earth. Make sure to watch the question and answer at the end for some good points regarding panspermia and Miller’s experiments.

Paul Stamets Videos

Paul Stamets speaks about the power and importance of mushrooms:

Younger Stamets talking about Psilocybin Mushrooms:

Great Lecture about Fungi:

Mushrooms as medicine for humans (and bees!):

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