Dr Thiyagarajan Babu* (Accepted paper by IOSR Journal- Exerpts)

Tears and perspiration are the accepted process of eye organ and skin respectively for any human beings owing to emotional issues and physical strain or both. There were copious literatures accessible on the products linked with the tears and perspiration processes. Huge volume of literature quoted tears was secreted by the lachrymal glands involving complex body mechanism. Similarly the role of sweat glands and duct glands were put up with for perspiration process. I am to contradict those literatures as the tears and perspiration are formed at the inner layer of the eyes and outer layer of the skin respectively involving chemical reactions with an atmospheric molecule. The plain common sense poked me this discovery as they were produced outside the body hence the mechanism of tears and perspiration needed better explanations scientifically. My simple two instruments namely pH meter and ORP (Oxidation Reduction Potential) meter unopened this mystery that tears were formed with an outside molecule and lachrymal glands secreted products that protect eyes as cellular water. The sweat formation was a similar process outside the skin but with a function of antibiotic secretions wherever sweat glands were present (E.g. armpit). Nasal fluid formation was also found to be involved with the identical process. My theory ultimately concludes that all animals are prone for watery secretions outside the body especially eyes.

Human consume water and the ordinary water was converted as cellular water to help various tissues function and also reduce the surface tension. The water we consume varies to a large extent from the water that soaks the cells and tissues in the human body. It is necessary; therefore, the body cells reduce the surface tension of water we consume to pass nutrients through cell walls, and to pass toxins out of the cells. If we cannot adapt water into the structure of cellular water, it goes by from end to end and human cells may be shrunken want of water. The ordinary drinking water and the cellular water around the cells have different surface tension around 73 dynes/cm and 45 dynes/cm respectively (Source: The water that soaks the cells greases the cornea and conjunctiva besides keeping the cornea moist to give out as a conduit for the entry of polymorphonuclear leucocytes into the cornea. Above and beyond, the cellular water provides antibacterial action and eliminate toxic stuff from the ocular plane. Lachrymal gland secretion that was covered (Wu K, Galina VJ, 2006) over eyes were just a tear film made of cellular water. They were not shed exclusively as tears as the surface tension of cellular water and the tears were varied.

These water molecules have distinctive properties (Fig.1) and made up of minute blend of three nuclei and eight electrons. Cells are filled with two-thirds of water, whilst the remaining third part was made up of extracellular water. The extracellular water was found in the blood plasma and in the interstitial fluid so as to pack the cells. Molecules have certain energy levels and they can be calculated by sensing the molecule's energy switch over through absorbance or emission (Nic, M.; Jirat, J.; Kosata, B., 2006).

These water molecules have a tetrahedral geometry in which the angle between electron pairs (and therefore the H-O-H bond angle) is 109.5.° However, because the two non-bonding pairs remain closer to the oxygen atom, these exert a stronger repulsion against the two covalent bonding pairs, effectively pushing the two hydrogen atoms closer together. The result is a distorted tetrahedral arrangement in which the H—O—H angle is 104.5° (Lide, David R, 2003).
Negatively ionized hydrogen atoms are not found in ordinary water. All water contains hydrogen atoms with a positive charge. The hydrogen protons that are found in ordinary water control the pH or acid-alkaline balance. The negatively charged hydrogen protons are the most powerful electron donors known to chemistry. These atoms are extremely powerful free-radical scavengers. This can be measured with a pH meter. Negative hydrogen ions are normally found in the fluids of healthy living systems rather than water that are found in ordinary mineral or tap water.
Whenever there was a strain of any kind internal or external, the billions of human cells were pressurized and this led to many molecule's energy exchange through absorbance or emission or and human physio-chemical alterations. Biological redox reactions are a result of hydrogen being the essential electron donor, and oxygen being the essential electron acceptor. This can be measured with an ORP meter.
In the human system the biological activity of proteins (of which enzymes are an important subset) is critically dependent not only on their composition but also on the way these huge molecules are folded; this folding involves hydrogen-bonded interactions with water and between different parts of the molecule itself. Anything that disrupts these intra-molecular hydrogen bonds will denature the protein and destroy its biological activity (Source: Water Structure and Properties).
It is worth mentioning that the source of Hydrogen molecules were not only the hydrogen-bonding always involved with water; plus the two parts of the DNA double helix are held together by H—N—H hydrogen bonds (Greenwood, Norman N.; Earnshaw, 1997).
Hence, a huge source of Hydrogen molecules exist in the human system..
Thus, the Hydrogen molecules were prone for diffusion when there were pressures in the cells besides their weak property due to its lightest nature unlike other stable molecules like Oxygen. Hydrogen molecules diffuse through the tissues like bullets because of huge number of molecules in search of an exit in the human system.
More and more Hydrogen molecules were built up in the cell in addition to internal and external pressures.
Oxygen as a compound is present in the atmosphere in trace quantities in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) result of light-independent reactions or Calvin cycle (Bassham J, et al., 1950). Due to Oxygen’s electro-negativity, it forms chemical bonds with almost all other elements at elevated temperatures to give corresponding oxides.

The present thinking, influenced greatly by molecular modeling simulations beginning in the 1980s, is that on a very short time scale (less than a picosecond), water is more like a "gel" consisting of a single, huge hydrogen-bonded cluster. On a 10-12-10-9 sec time scale, rotations and other thermal motions cause individual hydrogen bonds to break and re-form in new configurations, inducing ever-changing local discontinuities whose extent and influence depends on the temperature and pressure (Source: The chance of disintegration of Hydrogen bonds in the cell was pretty imperative because of their weakness and survival time.
Hydrogen is the lightest element of all and its monotomic form (H1) is the most abundant chemical substance (75 per cent of the Universe's baryonic mass) (Finkel. T, Holbrook, 2000). H2+ is composed of two positively charged protons and one negatively charged electron and lack electron–electron repulsion (Fig.1). Being the lightest gas Hydrogen diffuses in the cells as rapidly as possible. Notice that the hydrogen bond is somewhat longer than the covalent O—H bond. This means that it is considerably weaker; it is so weak, in fact, that a given hydrogen bond cannot survive for more than a tiny fraction of a second. This property was one of the great clues for tear formation.
(i) Eyes and Tear Mechanism
Eyes were prone for all kinds of pressures both internally and environmentally as more than ninety per cent of human decisions lay on vision. Once there was a pressure that had to be released which was a natural law. Strain in eyes region inevitably pressurizes the tissues around and that triggers the release of millions of Hydrogen molecules. The lightest Hydrogen molecules were fired like bullets from different tissues and line-up like battalions in search of an exit as said earlier. The exit being the eyes inner layer they make a cloud of Hydrogen molecules. Why did Hydrogen released like bullets? In this context “Hydrogen Bomb principles should be remembered.
A thermonuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon design that uses the heat generated by a fission bomb to compress a nuclear fusion stage. This indirectly results in a greatly increased energy yield—explosive "power". It is colloquially referred to as a hydrogen bomb or H-bomb because it employs hydrogen fusion (Hansen Chuck, 1988). “Hydrogen Bomb” was created by uniting the two Hydrogen molecule nucleuses. If such things happen in human cell due to unimaginable molecule pressure and abnormal elevated cell temperature then, cells would bulge and tear away. Hence the powerful neurotransmitters signal the brain instantly to rush the high potential hydrogen molecules out of cells as fast as possible in order to avoid any collision of two hydrogen molecules in the cell. Released Hydrogen molecules due to various pressure, "stick" to the surface of the tear film (secreted by the lachrymal gland) moving through it. This layer of Hydrogen molecules forms the “Hydrogen cloud” want of negatively charged particles at the the innere layer of eyes. At the surface of the eyes, it was essentially static due to the friction of the surface. The Hydrogen molecules, with its boundary layer were in fact the new shape of the eyes that the rest of the molecules form the new water molecules with the atmospheric Oxygen. This boundary layer could separate from the surface of the eyes’ inner layer, essentially creating a new surface and completely changing the flow path of tears. They get the contact of atmospheric stable Oxygen which was electromagnetic negatively charged molecules. The first tear molecule was formed with a plucking feeling in the human eyes. This led to further bonding of positively charged Hydrogen molecules with negatively charged Oxygen molecules. The chain reaction continues and the tears start shedding due to gravitational pull. As the drops get bigger, their weight deforms them into the typical tear shape.
In general, the liquids drift to the bottom upon mixing. Therefore outside the tear film the cellular water and the tears mix together. And this was the reason many scientists reported tears carried innumerable products and quoted incorrectly as tears were the lachrymal secretions.
I just compare this process with the process of rain drop lets formation in the sky. There was no sac like lachrymal gland to imagine in the sky in order to secrete huge water molecules so as to rain. The atmospheric Hydrogen and Oxygen molecules get associated in the sky forming rain causing clouds and temperature and atmospheric pressure ignite the clouds to drizzle and rain due to gravity. Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then precipitated—that is, become heavy enough to fall under gravity (Robert Penrose Pearce, 2002). The same process happens in human eyes with respect to tears as well as sweat.
I put forth once again strongly that the lachrymal gland secrets only the cellular water to protect the eyes through the tear film.
(ii) Nasal Fluid
Nasal is the part where plenty of Oxygen is always available as human being breath through nasal pipe. Tears sometimes passes through a small opening on the inner side of the eyelid into the nose. Hot and spicy foods stimulate the weak Hydrogen molecules in the cell leading to similar symptoms. It is important to mention nasal fluid does not include filtration, as does the formation of urine by the glomerular kidney (source:
(iii) Perspiration Mechanism
I further clearly substantiate with another process called “Perspiration.” Due to lack of stable Oxygen molecules in the blood, human tissues receive the at most pressure and this led to release of Hydrogen molecules through skin pores in a chain. Chemical bonding that arises from the mutual attraction of oppositely charged Hydrogen and Oxygen molecules. Therefore, Oxygen molecules did not usually exist on own, but will bind with ions of opposite charge to form a water molecule from the atmosphere. Each drop coalesces with adjoining sweat drop leading to increase in drop size and the volume of sweating on the human skin. Human beings were aware that sweat were formed in a line before they sweat and that was the way millions of Hydrogen molecules were pumped out through millions of skin pores. There was no need for scientific depiction of duct lines as sweat glands as many scientists projected till date.
This theory is going to disprove hundreds of years old biochemical tears theories, sweat theories and nasal fluid theories (William H. Frey II, 1985; Benjamin Milder, M.D. 1987) and ought to cease the thousands years of cry on cry, sweat and nasal fluid mechanism. The scientists would realize their erroneous projections since long years and comprehend now that tears were not secreted by lachrymal glands, perspiration was not due to sweat glands and nasal fluid was nothing but tears through a small opening on the inner side of the eyelid into the nose. Tears obviously contain some of the products of cellular water as tear droplets were associated with tear film. Darwin reported in his book “Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals” (Darwin, C., 1872) where observations of recently captured elephants showed no tearing and "the native hunters asserted they had never observed elephants weeping.” I am to contradict his views as release of the Hydrogen molecules create the tears and any animal like Elephant, Whales, Monkeys etc, could develop tears.
I could add many more conclusions associated with my discovery like closing of eyes stops the contact with atmospheric Oxygen and tear formation gradually reduces. A ride on the bike along fresh breeze which was a best source of fresh Oxygen triggers Hydrogen pumping and tears appear profusely in the eyes of the rider. The fire lit before the crying baby limits the availability of atmospheric Oxygen and the baby stops crying for the matter anyone. The dead bodies were advised to burn for the reason it would limit the atmospheric Oxygen availability stopping the sobering kin and kith of the family at grave yard. My list is pretty long and I rather reserve them for future references.
This breakthrough “Noble theory” would certainly create a rush of fresh breeze in the minds of scientists as well as common men / women refreshing for a better scientific thinking towards brighter future. The challenge now lies in the hands of the scientists to prove my theory as many ways as possible and crack all the old hard nuts in the store as literature related to tears, sweat, nasal fluid and scores of literature on water. Good Luck.
Dr Thiyagarajan Babu
* Scientist (Ministry of Textiles)

1. Wu K, Galina VJ, da Costa SR, Sou E, Schechter JE, HammAlvarez SF. Molecular mechanisms of lacrimal acinar secretory vesicle exocytosis. Exp Eye Res., 2006; 83 84-96.
2. Nic, M.; Jirat, J.; Kosata, B., eds., "spectroscopy". IUPAC Compendium of Chemical Terminology (Online ed.), 2006; doi:10.1351/goldbook.{file}. ISBN 0-9678550-9-8).
3. Lide, David R. "Section 4, Properties of the Elements and Inorganic Compounds; Melting, boiling, and critical temperatures of the elements". CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (84th ed.). Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press. 2003; ISBN 0-8493-0595-0.
4. Greenwood, Norman N.; Earnshaw, Alan Chemistry of the Elements (2nd ed.).Butterworth–Heinemann, 1997; ISBN 0080379419, p. 28.
5. Bassham J, Benson A, Calvin M, "The path of carbon in photosynthesis". J Biol Chem, 1950; 185 (2): 781–7. PMID 14774424.
6. Finkel T, Holbrook NJ. Oxidants, oxidative stress and the biology of ageing. Nature, 2000;408:239–47.
7. Hansen, Chuck (1988). U.S. nuclear weapons: The secret history. Arlington, TX: Aerofax. ISBN 0-517-56740-7.
8. Robert Penrose Pearce, Meteorology at the Millennium. Academic Press, 2002; p. 66. ISBN 978-0-12-548035-2. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
9. William H. Frey II, Ph.D, The Mystery of Tears Muriel, Langseth, Minneapolis: 1985; Winston Press.
10. Darwin, C. (1872). The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, 1979; London: Julian Friedman Publishers.

Camp Activity: Film Canister Rockets

Have some fun over holiday break with these experiments!

It’s almost time for winter break for many families, which means that some parents will be scrambling around for activities to do with their kiddos. In our house that’s never a problem because we homeschool and are used to doing activities all of the time, but for many moms and dads who work or just aren’t used to being “on” all day, it can be a challenge. Fear not; here is an activity that will keep your kiddos—and you!—amused all afternoon. You could even use it for camp, or a 4-H activity like we do.

Gather together some construction paper or cardstock, enough empty film canisters with lids for each participant (you can use the same lid each time if needed), tape, some water, and some effervescent tablets. The hardest part will probably be the film canister for most people, especially if you take all digital photos; you can see if your local teacher supply store has some for purchase, too.

Flipping your canister lid-side down, make a round rocket top sides for your rocket. You can decorate it, add stickers, whatever you like with the paper/cardstock. This isn’t necessary but it’s a very fun part for the artsy kids—and you can even use this in your modification steps (more on that later).  

When you’re finished, take your rockets outside to a safe flat launching surface. Add water and effervescent tablets into the cans and quickly—very quickly!—seal them and step away. You don’t want to get smacked in the face when these things launch!

Your rocket will hopefully pop up in the air and come back down; sometimes they don’t pop much. You can experiment with modifications and variables. What if you add weight (with more decorations) or subtract it? What if you use a whole tablet, a half tablet, or even a quarter tablet for your “fuel”? How about adding or subtracting water, using another brand of tablet… Encourage your kids to come up with new variables to test. You can also measure whose rocket travels the farthest or average out the distances for a math activity.

Finally, be sure to clean up your mess and don’t leave any film canisters or paper in your launch area—especially if it’s at a public place like a park! Our 4-H team were absolute pros at picking up after themselves and it’s just another lesson on being a good citizen and environmental stewardship.

Spiders say, “No means no!”

The arachnids have a mechanism to prevent rape.

It seems as if everyone is talking about the anti-rape condom in South Africa, which was actually introduced a couple of years ago. What bothers me about this is not how late it’s making the news rounds, but how it’s being hailed as a rape preventative device when, in fact, it’s not. It doesn’t prevent rape from occurring; it only makes it very painful for the attacker.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m in favor of punishing attackers and making them wary of rape just in case a woman is wearing one of these teeth-filled devices—but women shouldn’t have to do a damn thing to prevent rape. Rapists should. Women should not have to alter their lives in order to not be raped; we should instead live in a world where such attacks do not occur in the first place.That said, I recently discovered that another member of the animal kingdom has the same idea, if not a bit more advanced; scientists have recently discovered that some female spiders create their own body plugs to prevent penetration from male spiders if the attention is unwanted. Since female spiders in the giant wood spider species are often accosted by several competintg males who want to mate—to the point where some of the males will even rip off their own genitalia and “plug” the female with it in an attempt to pass on his genes and prevent other males from doing so—they have developed a defense mechanism to prevent themselves from being attacked by unwanted males. They actually grow their own “plug,” which allows them to refrain from sexual activity with any unwelcome spiders who approach them.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could grow our own plugs, ladies—or leave our vaginas at home, as Wanda Sykes once suggested? It would certainly make things much more uncomplicated, allowing us to roam the park at night, go out alone for fun, and generally live without fear. Sure, there’s still the threat of anal and oral rape, but maybe if we seemed asexual the men who hate women and need to control them so much wouldn’t want to rape them in the first place.

In the meantime, a lot more rapist-blaming and a lot less victim-blaming would be quite nice. If we could all speak up on behalf of rape survivors and make it known that it is their rapists’ faults, not the fault of their bodies or their clothing or their single-at-the-bar status, that they were attacked.

Elvis clone mice are just rumors...for now

Many of us born after 1970 mourn, among other things, never getting to see Elvis perform. Perhaps that’s why earlier this week bloggers began excitedly reporting that artist Koby Barhad had used DNA taken from Elvis’ hair to clone Elvis mice. Elvis mice! In 21 mouse years would they suddenly begin composing “Heartbreak Hotel?”

The sites (here, and here, among others) reported that Barhad—artist, not scientist—was able to engineer these celebrity rodents using only three Internet services:

  • Elvis hair purchased on eBay (always reliable)
  • Gene sequencing technology from Genetrack Biolabs
  • A mouse cloning laboratory called InGenious Targeting.

Unfortunately what bloggers didn’t notice was that Barhad hasn’t actually cloned anything from the Elvis hair yet. The project is still in the planning and testing phases, reports MSNBC Cosmic Log’s Alan Boyle. Wishful thinking bites again.

According to Boyle, Barhad is currently conducting tests on one gene (a variant of the human ACTN3) thought to contribute to athleticism. So far Barhad has identified DNA tests that seem to accurately determine the existence of that gene. His next step will be to engineer mice with it. The final step would be to do the same for some of the genes taken from the eBay hair.

In interviews with Boyle and with Wired’s Ian Steadman, Barhad stated that his main focus for the genetic engineering art project is to bring forward the questions we all have about the moral, ethical and legal implications of genetic engineering, showing us that although he may be playing with science, his ultimate goals are artistic ones.

When he finally completes his Elvis mice, he plans to display them in a series of rooms that represent different aspects and phases of Elvis’ life. For example, since fame inflated and distorted Elvis’ ego, Barhad wants to create a room with a funhouse mirror, inflating and distorting the Elvis mouse’s image.

Boyle made a follow-up call to Barhad Thursday morning, and strangely, Barhad said that his real goal is not to make an Elvis mouse-clone, but a mouse-clone of his very own self using his very own DNA.

Well, now whose ego needs a funhouse mirror?

Evidence of oldest Americans uncovered from a prehistoric toilet

We humans dream of changing the world, of leaving marks in the annals of time for a bolt of insight or hard-won accomplishment. Yet some go down in history for strange, unexpected, even unwanted deeds. Certainly prehistoric Americans living in Oregon never thought that in the year 2012 they would become famous for dropping their guts in a cave.But that’s precisely what’s happened. Archaeologists have found pieces of dried feces (in science circles called “coprolites”) in Oregon’s Paisley Caves, where they believe to have found a prehistoric toilet of sorts. What makes these coprolites and their long-ago owners famous is their age: with carbon dating of the DNA scientists were able to pinpoint some pieces that appear to be 14,500 years old, making them the oldest direct evidence of humans in America discovered to date.

Equally interesting, but perhaps less unappetizing were four weapon-like projectile points, pictured above, uncovered in other parts of the caves. These projectiles were made in the “western stemmed” style, not the Clovis style, which archaeologists believed was the first projectile weapon style in America.

"It looks like you've got a separate group of people on the landscape, and these people are making different kinds of arrowheads or spear points," says archaeologist Dennis Jenkins of the University of Oregon. Jenkins and his colleagues think the western stemmed points are as old as, or older than, the earliest Clovis points previously discovered.

This especially surprised scientists because previously they had believed that western stemmed points developed from and after the Cloves points. Now it appears that the two technologies were developed by two separate groups of humans at roughly the same time. These projectiles are evidence that not one but two “technologically divergent, and possibly genetically divergent” groups made up the original Americans.

Being famous for your long-lasting coprolites is perhaps better than not being famous at all. But if winning fame and fortune means doing my business in the same cave where I make my tools, suddenly mundane obscurity sounds good enough for me.

CERN uncovers new particle in the fabric of space, likely the elusive Higgs boson

It’s not every day that scientists discover a particle, or that Steven Hawking loses a physics-related bet. But today history was made: scientists at CERN laboratories announced they have uncovered a brand new particle. And it resembles the highly-theorized Higgs boson particle, which, if found, would complete the Standard Model of particle physics and answer questions about the fundamental laws of the universe.

Oh, and Steven Hawking, who bet Michigan University’s Gordon Kane that the Higgs boson particle would not be discovered, is out $100 today.

But what exactly is the Higgs boson particle?Scientist Don Lincoln of Fermilab compares the Higgs boson to a water molecule. Barracudas moving through water experience little resistance because of their thin shape, whereas whales experience a lot of resistance. Likewise, some subatomic particles have a large mass while others have little or none and can move through space quickly. But because those with a large mass experience resistance, the theory states that, like water molecules dragging against a whale, there must be particles embedded in the fabric of space which are dragging against large-mass particles. These mystery particles would be Higgs boson particles, which until now have existed only in theory.

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, where Higgs boson experiments have been taking place since 2010, is a 17-mile long tube underneath France and Switzerland that sends particles careening toward one another to a collision in the center. If the Higgs boson exists it would appear during the moment immediately following such a collision. Unfortunately for scientists, that moment only lasts .00000000000000000000001 seconds, which isn't nearly enough time to see the Higgs. So instead they have been examining what they can see: the particles which emerge after the collision. The hope was that these after-collision particles would exhibit patterns that indicate the existence of the Higgs boson particle.

Well, a pattern has finally emerged, CERN scientists announced today. They have discovered a brand new boson particle. Whether or not it is the Higgs boson particle depends on who you ask. The CERN director general called it “a particle consistent with the Higgs boson” (my italics). British physicist Jim Al-Khalili said, “if it looks like the Higgs, smells like the Higgs and is exactly what we expected from the Higgs, then it’s the Higgs.” But senior physicist Olivier Buchmueller said, “If I were a betting man, I would bet that it is the Higgs. But we can’t say that definitely yet.”

Peter Higgs, 83, who first theorized the existence of the Higgs boson particle and for whom it was named, was in the room today when CERN announced the boson's existence. "To me, it's really an incredible thing that it's happened in my lifetime," he said, tears in his eyes.

One thing is clear. If the particle is the Higgs, physicists can rejoice: they’ve found the last piece of the Standard Model of particle physics. If the particle is not the Higgs, but a different boson, the Standard Model will have to be re-examined, or even tossed out.

Love and drug addiction

This according to another brain scan study that will tell us what we already know.

Once again, psychologists are analyzing brain scan technology so that they can tell us something we already knew; love starts as sexual attraction. We all understand that there’s an initial sexual attraction when we meet a person with whom we will ultimately fall in love. What else would it be that gets you to look in the first place? However, brain researchers at Concordia University have used fMRI scans to track the progression of love and lust (and drug addiction, coincidentally) in the brain, tying them together in a narrative that, of course, we already know. Here it is anyway.

Neuroscientists analyzed the results of over 20 studies from the USA to Switzerland to determine whether there’s a cognitive basis for the emotion of love (long held by skeptics to be ephemeral and indefinable) With a precursor, provided by The Observer via io9, brain scan studies are notoriously inconclusive and overstated. That said, there does seem to be some cognitive progression into love from other centers of the brain that may not exhibit it initially. In other words, our brain isn’t as compartmentalized (with all of those “centers”) as we may have thought, and there’s a cognitive process from one to the other, even for something as opaque as love.

Here’s what they found, principally around two areas of the brain: the insula and the striatum. In the striatum there are areas that light up whenever anything pleasurable is experienced: sex, food, drugs, long-distance running. Of course, this is where sexual desire seemed to be more active in the mind. On the other hand, love lit up and area of the striatum that is more aligned with conditioning from a reward/response repetition, like drug addiction.

Here’s my takeaway: love is simply an addiction to your partner. It starts with a sexual attraction (as we all know but often can’t admit), and then that person makes you feel good in other ways. These constant feelings of “good” with your partner create a kind of addiction, and your partner becomes your “fix.” Puppy love, then, is simply a young mind that is less resistant to those addictive tendencies. What happens when you fall out of love? Your partner isn’t giving you a strong enough fix anymore, and your addict brain goes looking elsewhere. Still, there are plenty of other variables (religious, social, cultural) that are going to be impacting these decisions at all times as well.  Still, knowing that the brain research backs up what we all fundamentally know is true, is reaffirming.

Early birds happier than night owls?

A new study shows that people that consider themselves "morning people" tend to be happier.

I am a self-described night owl. Creatively, socially, physically, I feel like I hit my peak after the sun goes down. Although this may sound insane, I don’t feel like I even achieve a baseline cognitive functioning until about noon, and use copious amounts of coffee to push that back to about 10 a.m. A recent study published in the journal, Emotion, found that this may mean that I am less happy, overall, than my more morning-oriented peers. This would certainly explain why I seem to resent early-birds.

Researchers at the University of Toronto undertook the study because data in the area was lacking, mostly having researched only young adults that are famously night-owlish. However, even what little research there was seemed to indicate that morning-people report feeling more happy and positive, overall. It also may explain why, as people age, they tend go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. Of course, being a slave to a day job that starts at 8 a.m. probably forces that transition a little.

The researchers took a look at two different populations, a significant sample of adults aged 17-38, and a slightly smaller sample of adults aged 59-79. Using a questionairre, participants indicated their overall emotional state, health, and preferred time of day. Age and preferred “time of day” seemed to be inversely proportional. As teenagers, only about seven percent reported being a morning person, whereas in the senior citizen category, seven percent reported being night owls.  

The correlation shows a transition as we age of preferring more daylight to less. Of course, one needs to factor in generational changes, work days, and other factors that may play a role in why we seem to prefer daylight in the twilight of our lives. Still, the reported feelings of “happiness” stayed constant between the groups, with morning people reporting a better emotional state across age groups.

Renee Biss, a graduate student involved in the study, made an effort to explain one of the overarching reasons for this correlation. She hypothesized that evening people’s, “biological clock is out of sync with the social clock. Society's expectations are far more organized around a morning-type person's schedule." She called this phenomenon “social jet lag,” indicating that because morning people tend to be alert, and active at earlier times (when standard work days and the social machine at large gets moving), they enjoy a kind of synchronization with everyone else around them.

Work schedules, office hours, and services tend to operate according to a morning-person’s internal clock. More nocturnal people, like myself, often don’t engage until later in the day, when the regular “business day” is winding down. With this information in hand, I propose that night-owls band together for “circadian equality,” challenging governments and businesses to adjust their schedules to more adequately serve night owls, late-nighters, and evening types equally to our more dawn-oriented brothers and sisters. I’m going to start this campaign with my boss, asking him to let me come to work around noon.

Real Mermaids!

You had me going there, Animal Planet.

Though I have been boycotting Animal Planet ever since I witnessed a nauseatingly anti-choice ad on the channel, recently we had to cut most of our channels due to a lack of funds, so it’s one of the channels we now have left out of the science channels I enjoy. While flipping through the channels last night, we ran across a program called Mermaids: A Body Found.

And let me tell you, folks, I went through some crazy emotions in fifteen minutes.

“There’s no way,” I scoffed at first. Yes, I’m very much into cryptozoology, and I’ll entertain the ideas of Bigfoot and Nessie—but a freakin’ mermaid? No way. That’s too unicorn-y for me. If it’s not dangerous, then why wouldn’t we already have caught one, after all?

Then these official-sounding scientists started reciting some information that I knew to be true—the story of unidentified noises made in the ocean called bloops, which sound like the noises whales or dolphins make but much more intricate. They also mentioned all the whale beaching we all know about, which may end up being the fault of the Navy—and if they are, I want them prosecuted for all of these deaths. I really, really do. And for about two minutes, I considered that something crazy incredible was going on here—that we would get to see a real body, unveiled for the first time, which is why the major news outlets hadn’t covered it yet.

But these scientists were way too well-rehearsed; there was no stuttering nor any long-winded explanations that you get when it’s a real documentary. I’m not a scientist, but I’m a blogger and a researcher, so you can bet I was looking this stuff up within five minutes. Not only is the show largely science fiction (the bloop recording and the whale beaching were the only true parts, it seems); the very “doctors” interviewed were actors, too.

I love conspiracy theories, Animal Planet, but I want them presented as such—not as facts in a pseudo documentary! Documentaries should be completely true—and anything aired on a science channel that’s not should be clearly labeled as such. When you speculate about something, you disclose it; you did that so well in one of my favorite specials, The Future is Wild. It was a bunch of theories without a lot of proof—which is what this “body found” deal really is.  

You know, this could have been a really cool show if you’d done it like that. But as a pseudo documentary, it sucked; it was lazy storytelling on your part. Who wants to watch a fake documentary?

So was there really a body found? Who the hell knows? What I know is that I’m tired of these “gotcha!” specials. I’ll still watch it if you tell me it’s a bunch of theories; just don’t blend it together as if it’s all completely true. If you want to see something really cool that’s actually real, check this out.

Brains Scans Predict Behavior, Chisel Away At Individuality?

The usefulness of fMRI scans in predicting and manipulating our thinking and behavior may have large social and religious impacts down the road.

Our brains, once thought to be the greatest mystery of our humanity, are now becoming a roadmap by which we can be understood, even predictable. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or fMRI scans, are real-time measurements of the activity within our brain. Researchers have used these types of scans to determine our thoughts, teach us through brain-wave manipulation, and now it seems they can even predict our behavior. Although brain science is managing to unlock many of the secrets about human thinking and behavior, it begs the question, “Are we losing something in return?”

Scientists at Dartmouth College conducted a behavioral study using 58 incoming freshmen women and fMRI scans. The women were weighed beforehand, and then sent through the fMRI scanner while being shown various images of people, animals, landscapes, and food. The researchers logged the various ways in which their brains would :light up” based on the different images they were seeing, and then sent them on their way. Six months later the women were asked to come back and take a survey based on their behavior over the preceding months. What they found was that the fMRI scans of various areas of the brain were highly predictive of behavior. Those women whose brains were highly active in the nucleus accumbens (the “reward center” of the brain) when they saw images of food were more likely to gain weight. Those women that lit up at images of sexual themes were more likely to be sexually active.

There have been a number of studies, involving other parts of the brain, that have shown that brain scans can predict behavior. Scans of the self-awareness center have found that these types of brain imaging exercises can even be more predictive of a person’s behavior than the actual person. Likewise, scans of an individual’s frontal cortex can actually predict pessimism and optimism. The Dartmouth team’s focus was primarily on how physiology and environmental triggers can effect “willpower”, or our conscious attempts at modifying our own behavior. The results show that behavior is powerfully innate, and requires conscious effort to change it.

On a deeper level, however, the more accurate and incisive these kinds of studies become at predicting and manipulating our thinking and behavior, the less we seem to have of our own innate selves. It’s discouraging to think that our minds, the motherboards of who we are as people and what we do as individuals, might come down to a series of electrical impulses and chemical cocktails. Simply tinkering with those formulas might be able to change who we are as individuals, and the more we understand about how to do that, the less we seem to be innately and even spiritually human. Perhaps, in the future, spirituality will simply reflect these advances in physiological understanding, reframing people less as pseudo-magical manifestations and more as carefully constructed biological computers. Of course, where does morality fit in a world measured simply in chemical reactions and complex compounds?