The Body Electric - book review

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The Body Electric, by Dr Robert Becker and Gary Selden, is an excellent investigation into how electrical signals control healing and general cellular function in the body. The first two-thirds of the book documents how the author, a physician and researcher in the United States, discovered how DC signals in the body, through the Schwann cells around the nerves, are critical in cellular repair and wound healing. He shows how salamanders are able to regrow their tails and bone fractures heal themselves. Clever use of current stimulation at very low levels can have a wondrous effect on wound repair, breakages and other healing effects. He shows that proteins and other cellular components act as semi-conductors, allowing rapid but low level electron flow through the body.

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The author then goes on to study how cancer growth and cancer removal are both heavily influenced by electron flow in the body. For example, he shows that when a salamander's tail is cut, its process of regrowth also heals cancerous growths in its own body, even if those cancerous growths were crafted on to it from another animal. This situation, 'cancer removal while the host is in a heightened healing state' is similar to another scenario, where a person in a high fever can actually be cured of his or her cancer. This phenomenon was discovered by the American physician William Coley, something I wrote about in an earlier blog article.

In the final few chapters of the book, Dr Becker then switches to the matter of electromagnetic pollution, from microwaves, cathode ray tubes, overhead power lines, mobile phones and other sources of radiation. During the book, Dr Becker has explained how all cellular processes on Earth, including our own bodies, are highly sensitive to magnetic fields, including our Earth's magnetic field, and all its subtle fluctuations. In the chapters of electromagnetic pollution, he puts forward a lot of evidence that the sheer mass of electromagnetic pollution we are now receiving is definitely affecting our mental states, our fertility, our cancer growths and other serious health issues. Read More...

Big brains, baldness and a hybrid

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A while back, I read a very interesting scientific paper published in the prestigious science journal Cell. The authors of the paper studied the differences in the DNA between humans, primates and rodents, all mammals but species with significantly different behaviour. The authors found that the genetic changes needed for humans to have their bigger brains, and for those brains to work, include an extensive and specialised set of genetic alterations. What's more, humans have gained all those required genetic changes in a very short time, genetically speaking.

What especially caught my eye in this paper was how often the word 'remarkable' was used. Scientific papers are almost always dry, sober reports, their authors do not want to sound emotional and flighty, and so it is illuminating that the authors saying remarkable in two particular paragraphs. Here they are:

“It has long been noted that brains of various extant and extinct primates display remarkable variation in size, organization, and behavioral output (Noback and Montagna, 1970; Armstrong and Falk, 1982; Byrne and Whiten, 1988; Matsuzawa, 2001). This is particularly true for the evolutionary lineage leading from ancestral primates to humans, in which the increase in brain size and complexity was remarkably rapid and persistent throughout the lineage (Jerison, 1973; Walker et al., 1983).” Page 1.

“It is remarkable that 17 out of the 24 primate-fast outliers [rare or exceptional genetic changes] are linked to the regulation of either brain size or behavior.”

The third ‘remarkable’ is of special significance, for it touches upon a very strange story.

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According to the official line, based on Darwin's Theory of Evolution, homo sapiens (us) naturally evolved from Homo Erectus in about one million years. They in turn evolved from Homo Erectus in about one million years. Homo Erectus had a brain capacity of 850 cm³ and Homo Habilis had a brain capacity of 600 cm³. Chimpanzees have a brain capacity of up to 500 cm³. Humans, the last in line of these species, have a brain capacity of roughly 1400 cm³.

This sounds, at first glance, to be a reasonable progress of development. Bigger brains enable tool use, group coordination, planning etc. The only problem is that the odds of gaining the required genetic changes to have these big brains through natural selection, in the time described, are vanishingly small.
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