October Update

Bought a standard poodle puppy.  Bringing him home October 5, so October will be full of housebreaking, and FUN.

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WONDER OF THE MOMENT

Entries in energy (2)

Thursday
Apr122012

Super Big, Super Mysterious

I get a spiritual thrill when I contemplate some of the incomprehensible sizes and quantities in our universe.  Gribben’s Watching the Universe provides plenty of examples.

         The heat and light energy we receive from our sun results from nuclear fusion.  That means fusion of hydrogen nuclei to form helium nuclei in a three-step nuclear reaction.  The fusing nuclei lose mass, and the mass becomes photons of energy shining out into space and upon us!  (E=mc2

         In this fusion process, every second, the sun loses 4,500,000,000 kilograms of mass.  The sun can afford such a steady, gigantic loss of mass because its total mass is 2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms.

         Those photons resulting from nuclear fusion on the sun do not reach us instantaneously.  The heat of the sun is so great, each photon experiences innumerable collisions that drive the photon back and forth, so that it will be a million years before any new photon makes the full trip out of the sun.  A million years before that photon reaches outer space, and sometimes the surface of the earth.  So the photons warming us and making vision possible came from fusion reactions that happened a million or more years ago.

         But a 3% of the energy we receive from the sun, results from the neutrinos that fly out of the sun instantaneously during fusion reactions.  Nothing stops them because neutrinos are without mass and without charge, though they do have “spin.”  Neutrinos travel at the speed of light and don’t collide with anything as they zip through matter and empty space.  Every second, 100,000,000,000 neutrinos pass through every square centimeter of everything on earth.

         And finally, how is it that human brains can discover the laws of mathmatics and physics?  How on earth can human brains use those laws to design research and experiments to figure all this out about the sun?  Wow, I feel as if I’m floating in a mysterious, majestic ocean of cosmic truth. 



Friday
Apr012011

Genes Teach Us About Parkinson's Disease, Part 2

In my last post I was describing how, according to TheScientist

(2/1/11), genetic forms of Parkinson’s Disease can teach medical researchers possible causes for non-genetic forms.

         In certain genetic cases, a gene involved in releasing neurotransmitters is mutated so that it makes too much product.  When this happens, the excess product seems to result in fibrous bundles found in the brains of Parkinson’s sufferers.  But even with the normal gene, over-production can occur.  And such over-production seems to be connected to problems with mitochondria, the cell organelles that produce energy molecules from food.  So dysfunctional mitochondria may be associated with Parkinson’s disease.  Possible treatments might need to start with mitochondria.

         In certain other genetic cases, genes are mutated so that they produce to little or no product.  Interestingly, these genes also have to do with mitochondrial function.  Again, these genes point to possible treatments.

         To me, what is really intriguing about all this, aside from the possible paths to alleviation of the disease, is the connection with energy pathways in the neurons involved in Parkinson’s Disease.  When researchers finally are able to clarify the “mitochondrial connection,” what will they find?  Exactly how does energy production change dopamine production?  What else might be involved?  It will be fascinating to find out