The Eternal

Det eviga - Wikisource:

"Väl formar den starke med svärdet sin värld,
väl flyga som örnar hans rykten;
men någon gång brytes det vandrande svärd
och örnarna fällas i flykten.
Vad våldet må skapa är vanskligt och kort,
det dör som en stormvind i öknen bort."

This is the first verse of a poem by Esaias Tegnér that was published in 1810. Tegnér was impressed by Napoleon. It could be interesting if the poem is read with Obama in mind instead. The Swedish Radio selected this poem for the New Years Eve celebration of 2009. Since most of the readers of my blog will not listen to P1 at that time, I take the liberty to point this out today.



Pantheism controversy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Jacobi claimed that Spinoza's doctrine was pure materialism, because all Nature and God are said to be nothing but extended substance. This, for Jacobi, was the result of Enlightenment rationalism and it would finally end in absolute atheism. Moses Mendelssohn disagreed with Jacobi, saying that there is no actual difference between theism and pantheism."

People have argued about what Baruch Spinoza meant with his pantheist philosophy before, namely at the end of the 18th century. The pantheist God concept in Religious Humanism anticipates an intermediate existence to a pure materialistic state and a personal being. There is no old man with a white beard but rather a force of some kind. There is hope that we, as we move along with science, will find out more about this existence. A pure materialistic concept is quite barren. It does not inspire creativity. There is no frontier for discovery. It does not deal with the unknown as it can be scientifically anticipated today based on our progress in science so far.

Furthermore, Religious Humanism sees Grace, Resurrection of Christ, Annunciation of Virgin Mary etc. as irrelevant symbols, as are Angels. Also there is no heaven or hell. There is, however, a sense that it would be nice to think that our life has a meaning of sorts, apart from being just another brick in evolution, that there is some sort of life after death, that our experience is being taken into consideration. The explanation for such a scheme remains of course unknown at present.


Religious Humanism and Evil

Some people think that evil is conquering the world. I don't think it is beneficial for people to think in that way. Prior to World War II there was a type of person that thought the nazis were invincible. They exist today as well. They think fascism is the way to go. They think you can beat people into obedience. They don't have any good arguments. They just use force.

Religious Humanism does not view evil as a separate force but rather according to standard scientific thinking as a type of behavior. People act in an evil manner. There is no devil.

Nature as seen by Darwin where the fittest survives has seen humans evolve. Therefore there is hope because humans can see that evil behavior is less favorable than good behavior.

Evolutionary speaking the teodicé problem might go out of fashion, eventually. Scientifically speaking we are at least able to stop the everyone-eats-everyone-else problem for ourselves which is part of the problem.

SR P1 today feature the program 'Teologiska Rummet' where they discussed the influence of the religious language, especially Biblical, on people of today. It has diminished and is being phased out from literature. It was much more prevalent in the 19th century literature. The classical myth is also gone as a strong influence in literature.

Today people are rather reassured by the detective series and novels where the good side win most of the time. There is very little Biblical influence in detective novels. There is also very little Biblical influence via the Church. As we develop in the future, I am convinced that a new 'scripture' eventually will develop. A new canon that gives people hope.

Ola Sigurdson, who appeared in the program, does not think it is good that religion is private. I'm not sure I agree. For the appearing multicultural societies it is necessary for religion to become privatized and for the church to be separate from the state. This does not mean that religion is marginalized, as Sigurdson argues, but rather that is depoliticized. Power and spirituality are to different matters, neurophysiologically speaking. Primates do power and they are not spiritual.

Personally I think it important with spiritual political leaders and non-power oriented priests.


Buccinator novi temporis

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) called himself a "trumpeter for a new time". What is interesting in Bacon's argumentation, where he investigates the phenomena that has kept science back since the time of the Greeks, is that he does not complain on the dogmatic Church. On the contrary he talks about a renewal of Man's conquering of Nature. He even cites the Bible in Genesis 1:28 "God blessed them (Adam and Eve) and said to them; be fruitful and increase in number, fill the Earth and subdue it".

Is this what made Europe special in the history of the world? We, as Christians, decided to subdue Earth. In Religious Humanism subduing Earth does not sound optimal. Living in harmony with Earth is probably better since conquering Nature, or God, cannot be a long term goal.

Bacon, a man of the establishment at the time, also said that "knowledge is power". It is probably wiser, and more correct, to state that "information is power" and leave knowledge as a term for bringing to light new knowledge of Nature.

The reason for why I want to point this out is that it is important to understand why new knowledge arrives. In the yearly program 'geniuses speculates' on SVT following the Nobel festivities some of the participants always makes the remark that curiosity into the unknown, not guided by earthly wishes, is what counts. At the same time it is important to popularize science with its profane fruits of technology.

It is not enough anymore to simply study Nature as it is untouched. The obvious example is Oerstedt's discovery of the new natural force electromagnetism by the use of Volta's battery. We need to create new objects that reveal new truths of Nature before us.

The other tenet of the Bible is also wrong, ie, "increase in number". There is definitely a limit to the number of humans that comfortably can inhabit Earth. I wish the Pope would grasp this simple truth and stop preventing the use of contraceptives. What one billion Catholics are supposed to do counts. He is not saving unborn human lives by jeopardizing life on Earth.


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

It has been a very interesting year indeed. Looking ahead it was good to hear a relaxed and self confident Fredrik Reinfeldt today in his Christmas Speech. There is no doubt in my mind that he today, with his experience and personal popularity, is the best candidate to lead Sweden during the next period.

I'm confident that the tide will turn in the favour of the Alliansen. I earlier thought that a positive outcome of the COP15 deal could boost the Red-Greens but it does not seem to materialize in this fashion. Reinfeldt had a horror story from the COP15 meeting of a Green party member that thought that the world should follow the scientists and that democracy was not important. There is a lack of realism in such proposals and this should translate to caution in our own election.

Religious Humanism

Op-Ed Columnist - Heaven and Nature - NYTimes.com: "Pantheism offers a different sort of solution: a downward exit, an abandonment of our tragic self-consciousness, a re-merger with the natural world our ancestors half-escaped millennia ago.
But except as dust and ashes, Nature cannot take us back."

It seems like Douthat thinks we are not part of Nature any longer? I guess this article is a skilled attempt by organized religion to bring down these pantheists as people of a lesser class. People that go to the movies instead of to the church. However, if certain charming tales in the Bible once stimulated the minds of youngsters, it is now correct that they have gotten competition in the form of movie art. I believe this competition is serious and healthy.

I myself am a pantheist but a pantheist that believes in a materialistic God concept of Nature. I'm aware that Richard Dawkins think I am an atheist. Christer Sturmark, the head of the Humanists in Sweden, seems to think I'm an agnostic. But they are both wrong, since I'm deeply religious and believe in a God that I do not need proof of its existence for.

As it turns out this belief has given me peace of mind, because I no longer have a problem of reconciling religion and science. On the contrary science is the study of Nature, ie., of God. Mankind's journey of scientific pursuit has transformed the world the last 450 years. It has influenced philosophy and almost made philosophy a subject of its scope. The true progress of science, something religion have lacked, has seduced people into considering that true knowledge rest in Nature. This translates into religion and belief in Nature, as Douthat points out.

For those of you that want to review our scientific progress you might find is useful to read short posts in my blog 'etiketted' as "scriptures". There are some thirty of them now that highlights the main discoveries since Copernicus in 1543 laid down the Heliocentric Theory.



Immunology began as the study of how bacteria and viruses were taken care of by the individual. In the beginning at the beginning of the 20th century it was very much an antibody affair but in the 1970s it became an intensely cellular story with its own hormone system so called interleukins.

It turns out that microorganism are neutralized by cells, so called phagocytes that ingest and degrade material. Antibodies are formed and can neutralize by themselves but also opsonize, ie, adhere to cells and make targets more tasty. There is also cellular toxicity of various kinds. Blood serum contains so called complement that can punch holes in bacteria.

The interesting problem in immunology is how we recognize specifically the target for neutralization. How can we recognize foreign from self? It so happens that we construct during our development a repertoire of molecules that can recognize targets by tolerizing the self molecules. The spleen and lymphnodes are involved in this.

Antibodies are Y-shaped proteins that are produced by a special type of white blood cells. In the two tips of the Y one finds so called hypervariable regions, ie, in these tips the amino acid sequence can vary a lot and thus it can form many different surfaces that can bind to the target. There is a special area in the genome of an individual that generates this variability.

Emil von Behring (1854-1917) described antibody activity against diphtheria toxin for the first time in 1890. Paul Erlich (1854-1915) laid down his side chain theory in 1900. He concluded that toxins must have chemical structures just like the dyes he worked with, the side chains of which gave rise to different colors. Recognition in the immune system must depend on shapes. In 1904 Almroth Wright (1861-1947) described opsonization by phagocytes.

In the 1920s, Michael Heidelberger (1888-1991) and Oswald Avery (1877-1955) described antigen (target) antibody complex formation and also showed that antibodies were made of protein. Then in the 1940s Linus Pauling confirmed the lock-and-key model of antigen-antibody binding. The Clonal Selection Theory came in 1957 by Frank Macfarlane Burnet (1899-1985). The theory explains how tolerance is created by selecting negative for self antigen. Lymphocytes with the specificity for self antigens are killed during development.

Data from Wikipedia


Atoms, Molecules and Molecular Interaction

Atoms were supposed to be indivisible, but in 1897 J.J. Thompson (1856-1940), a British physicist, found the electron, a negatively charged particle about 1/1800 the size of the nuclear particles. He then designed what was called a "plum pudding" model of how the atom was shaped that did not convince many.

In 1913, Niels Bohr (1885-1962), a Danish Physicist and then student of Rutherford, laid down a model of the atom based on quantum theory that significantly improved Rutherford's model. He suggested that electrons were confined to clearly defined, quantized orbits around the nucleus. An electron must emit or absorb a quanta to move between these orbits. When the light from a heated object was passed through a prism, it produced a multi colored spectrum. The appearance of fixed lines in this spectrum was successfully explained by these orbital transitions.

Gilbert Newton Lewis (1875-1946), an American chemist, then in 1916 claimed that chemical bonding between atoms involves the electrons in the orbitals. Bonding electrons were shared by the atoms.

In 1932, Linus Pauling (1901-1994), an American chemist, published a landmark paper where laid down his theory of orbital hybridization and analyzed the tetravalency of carbon. That year he also established the concept of electronegativity, and imbalance in the electron cloud that give rise to a partial charge, and developed a scale that would help predict the nature of chemical bonding. Electrons were by then known to circle around the nucleus in particular fashions called orbitals, they thus had forms where they spent most of their time, that explained the nature of bonding when considered.

Sir James Chadwick (1891-1974) found the neutron, the uncharged second main particle in the nucleus, also in 1932. Nuclear physics was now well on the way to the atom bomb.

However, what has become very important in medicine is to be able to visualize how molecules look in space and how they potentially interact. As I earlier mentioned, such knowledge can be used in the production of new antibiotics from knowing the structure of the ribosome to design drugs, new antibiotics, that bind non-covalently, ie, not via chemical reactions. Also other potentially new drugs that can bind to various receptors on cells, that when bound can give desired effects, can be designed in this fashion.

Data from Wikipedia


I'm sorry, this is amateur's night, because I will tell you about my joy yesterday when I found out that I can retain my own preference when it comes to cosmology.

I don't know about you, but I definitely prefer a universe that always has existed. The creation does not exist. The Big-Bang theory claims that time and space all starts at a given point. As I said this does not suit me at all. It is counter intuitive for me.

However, there are so called cyclic models of our cosmology that for example state that Big Bangs are followed by Big Crunches in eternity.

Albert Einstein was one of those that in the 1930s suggested this kind of cosmology. It was disproven but recent discovery of dark matter and dark energy have apparently made it more likely again.


Endocrinology started as a discipline in Europe by Arnold Adolph Berthold (1803-1861). He found that castrated cockrels did not develop combs and wattles and did not exhibit male behavior. Replacing gonads to the abdominal cavity of the same animal or another castrated bird cured the animal. It would however take until 1935 for pure crystalline testosterone to be produced.

Castration of animals, however, probably dates back considerably in time. Intentional production of eunuchs was first recorded in the 21st century BCE by the Sumerians. Such individuals have over the millennia performed various services such as courtiers, treble singers, religious specialists, government officials, military commanders, and guardians of women in harems.

The modern view of the presence of a hormone that acts on a receptor on the remote target organ did not come automatically. Berthold guessed wrongly that a substance from the gonad conditioned the blood that then acted on the body. The Chinese were however purifying sex and pituitary hormones from human urine by 200 BCE and used this for medicinal purposes, although no information of eventual effects were provided in the source.

Diabetes mellitus was first described by the Persian, Avicenna, in 1025 by noting that urine tasted sweet and by the increased appetite and lowered sexual interest. Graves' disease, or hyperthyroidism, the combination of goitre and exophtalmus, was first reported in the 12th century by the physician Zayn al-Din al-Jurjani. Robert Graves, an Irish physician, described it in 1835 and Carl Adolph von Basedow described it independently in Germany 1840.

These diseases did however not provide direct clues of a missing hormone. Such a description for Diabetes mellitus came in 1889 when Josef von Mering (1849-1908) and Oskar Minkowski (1858-1931) at the University of Strasbourg surgically removed the pancreas of a dog and found that blood sugar increased followed by coma and eventually death.

In 1922, Frederick Banting (1891-1941) and Charles Best (1899-1978), and John Macleod (1876-1935) at the University of Toronto, found that if one homogenized the pancreas and injected this into the blood of a diabetic dog the symptoms were reversed. This was not a trivial problem because of the presence of protein digestive enzymes in the pancreas. Banting knew form the literature that by ligating the main exit duct of the pancreas, cells producing the digestive enzyme trypsin were digested but cells from the Islets of Langerhans, that now are known to produce insulin, were not digested. Thus given sufficient time he could extract the insulin from the remains of the tissue. The Islets of Langerhans were discovered in 1869 by the German pathologist Paul Langerhans and constitute about 1-2% of the tissue. They are distributed all through the tissue.

In 1922, Banting, Best and Collip used bovine insulin in patients. It then went commercial via Eli Lilly, Hoechst and Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium in Denmark in 1923. In 1978 came the recombinant human insulin from Genentech with the advantage of having the correct amino acid sequence that minimizes immune reactions to the drug. It was approved in 1982.

Banting and Macleod got the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine 1927 for their work on diabetes. Banting shared the money with Best, who did not get the prize. The hormone insulin was later amino acid sequenced by Frederick Sanger (born 1918 ) in 1955. This was a result that led to the general conclusion that proteins had specific sequences of amino acids that in turn led to the genetic code. Sanger got his first Nobel Prize in chemistry 1958. The second Nobel Prize in chemistry he received for his DNA sequencing method in 1980.

Data from Wikipedia


The Chemical Revolution

In 1789 Antoine Lavoisier published his Traité Élémentaire de Chimie, or Elements of Chemistry. It became the same for chemistry as Newton's Principia of 1687 had been for physics.

Lavoisier is famous for the Law of Conservation of Mass 1783, which is similar to the first law of thermodynamics, in that the mass of a closed system stays the same over time. As I pointed out in another post, he also found oxygen and used this finding to bring down the flogiston theory.

John Dalton (1746-1844), born into a Quaker family and initially prohibited by law as a dissenter to study at English Universities, laid down an atomic theory around 1800 with the following main points:

The atoms of a given element are different from those of any other element. The atoms of different elements can be distinguished from one another by their respective relative atomic weights.

All atoms of a given element are identical.

Atoms of one element can combine with atoms of other elements to form chemical compounds.

A chemical reaction only changes the way atoms are grouped together. The atom is indivisible.

Dalton did not like the simplified notation of Jöns Jacob Berzelius (1779-1848) that became popular. Berzelius became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Sweden 1808 and awakened it after a dormant romanticism period in Sweden. He participated with the discovery of several elements.

In 1828 Friedrich Wöhler (1800-1882), a German chemist, accidentally synthesized the organic compound urea for the first time. It was a landmark discovery since it linked chemistry with the biological world and disproved and undermined the Vital Force Theory. He also found several elements.

The creation of the periodic table of elements in 1869 is generally credited to a Russian by the name Dimitry Mendeleev (1834-1907). The table illustrated recurring trends in the properties of elements.

In 1896 Henri Becquerel (1852-1908) discovered that certain elements emit radiation on their own accord.

Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937), a New Zeeland chemist and physicist, became known as the "father of nuclear physics". He discovered in 1911 that the bulk of the matter in an atom is concentrated in a positive core with the electrons moving around it. An unstable configuration, because of the repelling charges.

Data from Wikipedia


After bacteria was discovered and germ theory was accepted scientists turned their minds to the possibility of treating disease caused by bacteria and vira. If you want to kill bacteria selectively, ie, with low side effects, there has to be a principle for why this would be possible. A difference between bacteria and man.

Paul Erlich (1854-1915), a German medical scientist, and a student of Robert Koch, tested different dyes on human, animal and bacterial cells and found that he could find dyes that discriminated between these variants. He thus had an idea to work on to find selective toxins against bacteria. He thus started the field of synthetic chemotherapy in the late 1880s. In 1908 he developed Salvarsan together with his student Sahachiro Hata that was active against syphilis.

Enter industry, with Gerhard Domagk (1895-1964) a German pathologist and bacteriologist who got the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine 1939 for the first commercially available antibiotic, a sulfonamide called Prontosil (Bayer). Domagk was forced by the Nazi regime to turn down the prize because the 1935 Nobel Prize, given to a Nazi critic Carl von Ossietsky, had angered them and they had outlawed German citizens to accept the prize.

Sulfonamides were revolutionary at the time but were replaced by the cell wall toxic penicillin that had better effect and fewer side effects. Bacterial cell walls are unique to bacteria. Penicillin opened the field for naturally occurring antibiotics. The antibacterial effect of Penicillum spp was first described by John Tyndall in England in 1875. Unfortunately, his finding went unnoticed until Alexander Fleming found penicillin in 1928. Again its therapeutic potential was not used until Ernst Chain and Howard Florey, pursuing another naturally occurring antibiotic called gramicidin, became interested in penicillin. Chain, Florey and Fleming shared the 1945 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

Bacteria unfortunately have a tendency to become resistant against available antibiotics. Luckily this year's Nobel Prize in chemistry is awarded for the crystal structure of the ribosome. It so happens that the ribosomes of bacteria and those of humans differ significantly and that this has shown to be the basis for many of the naturally occurring antibiotics that bind and inhibit the bacterial ribosome and thus inhibits bacterial proteins synthesis which kills the bacteria. The detailed structure of the ribosome can now be used to develop a new generation of synthetic drugs that bind to new sites on the bacterial ribosome according to a lock-and-key model.

Data from Wikipedia


People have long had the feeling that there must be something that transmits disease from person to person and from the exterior from the experience during plagues and the like. One disease that was particularly deadly was small pox and people had tried to inoculate themselves with material from diseased persons for protection. There are stories from India, China and Asia Minor concerning vaccinations.

The name however, derives from latin for cow, "vacca", because of Edward Jenner's (1743-1829) discovery 1796 that a person that had had cow pox, a milder disease than small pox, might be immune to the real killer. It should be noted that people had been inoculated against the disease earlier and that a letter was submitted to the Royal Society of London in 1724 about the practice of inoculating with real small pox material, a rather more dangerous practice however. Small pox was deadly in 20-30% of cases and accounted for 8-20% of deaths in the 18th century.

Another clear cut evidence that something small was causing child birth fever that was highly deadly in the 19th century Europe was Ignaz Semmelweis' 1847 discovery that he could lower the deaths significantly with introducing hand hygiene in doctor's wards relative wards of midwives. His results where not taken seriously, however, before Louis Pasteur laid down the germ theory between 1860 and 1865. It is interesting that Antonie van Leeuwenhoek's discovery 1676 of bacteria from the mouth was not vigorously followed up and that microbiology did not develop during the 18th century rather than during the 19th century.

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) is considered one of the three main founders of microbiology, the other two being Ferdinand Cohn (1828-1898) and Robert Koch (1843-1910). Pasteur was born in Dole situated in the Jura region of France in a family of a poor tanner. He gained degrees in Letters and Mathematical Science before entering an elite College, École Normale Supérieur. He became professor of chemistry at the University of Strasbourg 1848. He married Marie Laurent, the daughter of the University rector in 1849. In his early career as a chemist he for the first time described chirality.

However, Pasteur was to become most famous as a microbiologist by firmly establishing the germ theory together with Robert Koch and others. He managed to convince Europe about this theory which had profound effects on the possibility for people to protect themselves against disease. Pasteurization of liquids, especially milk, in 1862 was such an example. Pasteur demonstrated that fermentation was cause by microorganisms and that the theory of spontaneous generation was wrong, ie, fermentation came from the exterior to, for example, a broth solution.

Pasteur also produced the first weakened rabies vaccine from dried spinal cords of infected rabbits. A college of his, Émile Roux, a French physician, worked with the vaccine on only eleven dogs before it was tested on a 9 year old boy that had been bitten by a rabid dog 1885 and who would most probably have been killed by rabies if untreated. The vaccination, which in the case of rabies is therapeutic, worked and the boy's life was saved.

This and Jenner's cow pox vaccination were performed despite the fact that viruses where not yet known. The first known virus, tobacco mosaic virus, was to be discovered in 1892 by the Russian Dimitry Ivanovsky. He used a filter invented 1884 by the French microbiologist Charles Chamberland called the Chamberland-Pasteur filter. Viruses are too small to be seen by an ordinary microscope.

Louis Pasteur was a man of faith. He wrote, for example: "Happy the man who bears within him a Divinity, an ideal of beauty and obeys it, and ideal of art, and ideal of science, an ideal of country, an ideal of the virtues of the Gospel." He was puzzled by the failure of scientists to not recognize God's existence from their observations of the world around them.

Data from Wikipedia

The Origin of Life--The Cellular Perspective

Well, Darwin's evolution theory begins with the first cell on Earth. It does not explain how this first cell was created. It is necessary to be very humble before this question and don't explain fast progress in its explanation.

In Göteborgs-Posten one reads today that Nobel Prize laureate Jack Szostak, who got the prize for his work on telomers, now have switched to origin of life work. So has Ada Yonath, who got this years Nobel Prize in Chemistry for research on the ribosome, according to Dagens Nyheter some days ago.

They have apparently different approaches. Szostak work in recreating simple life forms that would mimic early cells not present any longer on Earth. Yonath work on the possibility that protein biosynthesis might have started as an RNA story all together. Ribosomes have a core that seems to be standing alone in its task of synthesizing proteins. RNA has also been shown to act as an enzyme, so called ribozymes. Yonath and her team is trying to recreate this active principle.

The question is if we don't need an Einstein of Biology for solving this question. A person that will offer a totally new perspective. Because solving the riddle of how Nature created the first cell seems impossible. It can be compared to sitting down in a comfortable chair and waiting for a Boeing 747 to materialize in front of you by itself. You would not want to be in a hurry.

It might be that our present mechanical paradigm for how cells and how our bodies work, that we acquired at the outset of the scientific revolution, somehow is not going to take us all the way. What is comfortable to know, however, is that since we are here it must have happened. There must be a way to explain the creation of life.

Perhaps someone will find out how a chemical "evolution" occurred. Finding a today unknown principle for how the components of a cell where created in Nature. Such a principle would reduce the problem of creating the first cell to one of waiting for the Boeing 747 to materialize from its parts. That would not take as long time as would waiting for both the construction and the production of its parts.

So who would you bet your money on for having the largest impact, Szostak the geneticist or Yonath the chemist? The above reasoning would lead to the origin of life being solved more likely in the chemical domain. However, there are problems in the evolution theory that are unsolved as well. We don't know, for example, how the human brain became so large, so fast, a few million years ago. When it started to think like a human, ie, when human life began.


Enzymes and Cellular Metabolism

Lavoisier (1743-1794) had exclaimed around 1780 that "la respiration est donc un combustion", ie, respiration is then a combustion. Which is to say that a fire is burning within all living things, a highly controlled fire. Life was beginning to look like chemical reactions in tight control.

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), the French chemist and microbiologist, came up with a good clue when he was studying fermentation of sugar to alcohol by yeast:

"alcoholic fermentation is an act correlated with the life and organization of the yeast cells, not with the death or putrefaction of the cells".

He called his vital principle for "ferments".

The German physiologist Wilhelm Kühne (1837-1900) coined the word enzyme in 1878 and it is derived from the Greek word for "in leaven". The German Eduard Buchner at the University of Berlin in 1898 continued the yeast experiments and demonstrated that a yeast extract, that did not contain any living yeast cells, did ferment sugar for which he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1907. An intense activity in biochemistry ensued in the early years of the 20th century. Enzymes, made from protein, catalyses chemical reactions in cells.

Sir Hans Adolf Krebs (1900-1981) was such a worker, a German born British physician and biochemist, that discovered the urea cycle and the citric acid cycle, or the Kreb's Cycle. He got the Nobel Prize for this in 1953. These cycles are a series of enzymatic reactions that are often feed-back controlled of products and substrates.

The citric acid cycle produces energy from glucose, a six carbon sugar, when coupled to the so called glycolysis, or Embden-Meyerhof pathway, first discovered from Gustav Embden (1874-1933) and Otto Meyerhof (1884-1951).

Thus energy in the form of so called ATP, adenosine-tri-phosphate, is produced from sugar via its "combustion", yes oxygen is consumed, via the glycolysis, citric acid cycle and the so called oxidative phosphorylation. This is the internal fire. ATP is then used by all kinds of reactions in the cell for life support.

In the early 1940s the link between the fermentation of sugars and the formation of ATP was finally conclusively proven by the Danish physician Herman Kalckar (1908-1991). The ATP generating mechanism was solved by the so called Chemiosmotic Theory from 1961, the ATP synthase is driven by a proton gradient as suggested by Peter D. Mitchell (1920-1992). Highly controversial at first, he got the Nobel prize for it in 1978, almost 200 years after Lavoisier made his exclamation.

Data from Wikipedia

The DNA Double Helix and above all the Genetic Code

Starting in 1953 the paradigm shifts from function-to-structure to structure-to-function. People had been observing inheritance and found that there must be a defining principle in the structure of a gene. Now the hope was turned to what might appear when the structure of DNA was elucidated at the molecular level.

James Watson (born 1928), Francis Crick (1916-2004) and Maurice Wilkins (1916-2004) received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for "their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material". Rosalind Franklin should also be mentioned. The structure of DNA had been solved with the help of X-ray crystallography. It consisted of a double helix of two intertwined strands complementary to each other, a positive and a negative.

It was earlier known, 1950, that the four nucleotides in DNA was not present in stable proportions, they varied, but that adenine seemed to be present in the same amount as thymine and guanine in the same amount as cytosine by the work of Erwin Chargaff (1905-2002). These pairs form through space bonds in the double helix. It could be concluded now that DNA carries a specific sequence of base pairs. Information must reside in this sequence thus explaining the heredity principle of a gene, a sequence of base-pairs in a double helix.

It now became clear that during a cell division the two strands split and served as a precursor for the next double helix to form. In 1941 it was demonstrated that genes code for proteins. It now remained to explain how the information of the protein was encoded in the DNA.

It could be concluded that the "codon", ie, the smallest unit in the code, should be a triplet since one needs at least three bases to form all used 20 amino acids from four bases (4^3). The first elucidation of a codon was performed by Marshall Nirenberg and Heinrich J. Matthaei in 1961 at the NIH in Bethesda. It was possible to use a cell free extract to produce phenylalanine from a poly-uracil strand of RNA, since DNA forms via RNA. The codon for phenylalanine was then UUU. Similar techniques were used to elucidate all 64 codons.

Needless to say, these results yielded a revolution of scientific activity called molecular biology and resulted in the actual sequencing of the complete human DNA in 2001.

Data from Wikipedia

The Chromosome Theory of Inheritance

This was a unifying theory of genetics that in 1902 stated that chromosomes were the carriers of the genetic material, the genes of Mendel. It also stated that chromsomes were linear and that genes were distributed along them. It was proposed independently by Theodore Boveri (1862-1915) and Walter Sutton (1877-1916).

At this time many researchers were working in genetics as Mendel's data had just resurfaced and cellular biology was making headway in the study of chromosomes in both mitosis and meiosis. Mitosis is when a cell divides in two and thus separates its pairs of chromosomes. Meiosis is when germ cells form via division and the cell stays with the half number of chromosomes ready for fertilization. It was therefore possible for both Boveri and Sutton to come up with and publish correct theories without hard core proof. Truth was in the air.

Boveri had some own data at his disposal though. He showed that sea urchins had to have all chromosomes to develop embryologically. Sutton's work with grasshoppers showed that chromosomes occur in matched pairs of maternal and paternal chromosomes which separate during meiosis.

However, Thomas Hunt Morgan (1866-1945) is credited for furnishing hard core proof in 1910 in the form of genetic linkage studies in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, a species that he made into the pet animal of geneticists. He was the first scientist to get the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in genetics in 1933 "for his discoveries concerning the role played by chromosomes in heridity".

Morgan received his PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 1890 and studied embryology at his tenure in Bryn Mawr. Following the rediscovery of Mendelian genetics in 1900, Morgan began studies on mutations of fruit flies. At Columbia University he was then able to prove that genes are on chromosomes. He had thus, among other things, opened the quest for the biochemical identity of the gene.

As I earlier noted Miescher had found DNA 1869, a weak acid in extracts from nuclei of white blood cells, but this finding had not caught enough attention because it was not functionally defined. Because it was not until 1944 that Oswald Avery, Colin McLeod and Maclyn McCarty isolated DNA, then called the transforming principle.

Data from Wikipedia

A Note on the History of Science in Wikipedia

History of genetics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "'Animals engage in a struggle for existence; for resources, to avoid being eaten and to breed. Environmental factors influence organisms to develop new characteristics to ensure survival, thus transforming into new species. Animals that survive to breed can pass on their successful characteristics to offspring.'"

I have found that conventional wisdoms in the West on who did what first often is contradicted in Wikipedia of notes that introduce Arab, Hindu or Chinese discoveries that predate them.

The above citation is what can be read in the Book of Animals by the Afro-Arab writer Al-Jahiz from the 9th century of the common era. This would be the first published evidence for the struggle for existence and predates Darwin's book On the Origin of Species from 1859.

What is important then seems to be the context in which an idea is fostered. Breeding of animals is for example clearly described in the Bible, which would predate Al-Jahiz, but did not have a scientific context to develop in.



Aristotle (384-322BCE) who did work on developing chick eggs, described the two principally possible routes to development, preformation and epigenesis. Aristotle favored epigenesis, ie, when the embryo starts as an undifferentiated mass and parts are added in a specified order. Preformation was however also became popular and stated that either the male or the female provided a miniature individual.

Aristotle, who was rather patriarchal, thought that the semen provided the "form" or the soul and that the first part that developed was the heart.

William Harvey (1578-1657) began working on embryology inspired by his teacher Girolamo Fabrici (c:a1533-1619) and set out to confirm Aristotle's epigenetic theory. His book On the Generation of Animals was published 1651 and contained data on deers and chicks. He was not able to see any embryo in a deer until after six or seven weeks after mating. He did confirm epigenesis but many of his followers turned to preformation.

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) who improved the microscope and first saw microorganisms indeed discovered spermatozoa in 1677.

In 1759 Friedrich Wolff (1733-1794) published a celebrated treatise Theory of Generation. He claimed that organs were not preformed but were added step by step. The mammalian egg was discovered during the 19th century, 1826, by Karl Ernst von Baer (1792-1876). Together with Heinz Christian Pander and based on Wolff's work he described the three germ layers ectoderm, entoderm and mesoderm. The human egg was not discovered until 1928.

Von Baer was born in present day Estonia and educated in Tallin and at the University of Tartu. He also studied in Berlin and Vienna. In 1817 he became professor in Köningsberg University and full professor of zoology in 1821 and in anatomy in 1826. In old age he unfortunately diligently argued against Darwin's evolutionary theory.

In the second half of the 19th century microscopes allowed cell nuclei to be visualized and it was seen that nuclei from sperm and egg fused after fertilization. This ended the idea that sperm stimulated the egg by physical or chemical means. It was a German botanist Nathanael Pringsheim (1823-1894) who was among the first to study sperm egg fusion in freshwater algae in the 1850s. At about the same time DNA was discovered in 1869 by Swiss biochemist Friedrich Miescher (1844-1895) but the finding was dismissed as unimportant. Chromosomes were also found. All this time Gregor Mendel's results from 1865 lay dormant.

Data from Wikipedia and from here and here.


So, for a while people were content to believe that planets circled the Sun in elliptic orbits. However, there was more to learn for the diligent observer. By the end of the 19th century, it was known that the orbit of the planet Mercury could not be accounted for by Newton's theory of gravitation.

This issue was solved in 1915 by Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and his General Theory of Relativity. According to this theory, gravitational attraction between two masses warps the space time. Space time is difficult to perceive since it represents the three Euclidean dimensions plus the dimension of time.

In relativistic contexts time cannot be separated from the three dimensions because the rate at which time passes depends on the velocity of the object relative the speed of light and also on the possible presence of strong gravitational fields that slows the passage of time down.

General Relativity predicts and explain many observed phenomena. It provides the foundation for the understanding of so called "black holes" in space. General Relativity is also part of the framework of the Big Bang cosmology.

General Relativity theory does not, however, provide solutions for all questions either. It can for example not be reconciled with the laws quantum physics to produce a complete and self-consistent theory of quantum gravity. Relativity theory deals with the large scales whereas quantum mechanics deals with the atomic world.

I have included this study of gravitation for illustrating how new questions appear all the time as one move along in science. So far, there is no end in sight. This should make us restless and inquisitive.

Data from Wikipedia

Light--an explanation

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), a Scottish physicist, achieved the "second great unification in physics". He synthesized all previous unrelated observations, experiments and equations of electricity, magnetism and even optics into a consistent electromagnetic theory.

Maxwell demonstrated that electric and magnetic fields travel through space in the form of waves and at a constant speed of light. He thought this might not be a coincidence and in 1864 he wrote A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field where he first proposed that light was in fact undulations in the same medium that is the cause of magnetic and electric phenomena.

Maxwell is considered the 19th century physicist with the greatest influence on 20th century science. Both particle and wave theories about light had been proposed earlier. Maxwell was inspired by the work of Michael Faraday (1791-1867) who had shown that a magnetic field rotates the plane of polarized light.

Soon after Maxwells publication of 1864, Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894) confirmed the theory experimentally and showed that electromagnetic radio waves behaved like light. This opened the field for today's communication revolution.

In 1853 Maxwell undertook an evangelical conversion having attended Presbyterian and Episcopal services as a youngster. Evangelicals emphasize being born again, have a high regard for Biblical authority and put an emphasis on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As an evangelical he held an anti-positivist position.

Maxwell started out at the University of Edinburgh between 1847-50. He then studied at Cambridge University between 1850-56 after which he got a position at Aberdeen University. The most productive years of his life, after barely having survived a bout of smallpox in 1860, he spent at Kings College, London between 1860-65. He unfortunately died young at 48 in abdominal cancer. He was survived by his wife Katherine whom he married in 1859.

Data from Wikipedia



After Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) in this highly unlikely fashion with Galvani's bioassay had gotten his clue as to how to build the first battery, a device was now in place for discovering one of the now known four forces in nature--electromagnetism.

It did not take that long time. In 1820 Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851), a Danish physicist and chemist, was preparing for a lecture when he found by chance that the magnetic needle on a compass moved when he turned on and off a battery. He had discovered that there is a circular magnetic field around a conductor carrying a current.

Apparently mariners had known that compass needles moved when there was lightning in storms and an Italian legal scholar, Gian Dominico Romagnosi, had discovered something similar and published it in a local Italian newspaper in 1802. However, Oersted was the person that made it a scientific issue. He is credited by giving name for the CGS unit for magnetic H-field strength Oersted (Oe).

Oersted had during his early years met with Johan Wilhelm Ritter, a German physicist who thought there was some connection between magnetism and electricity. He was also influenced by Kantian ideas concerning the possible existence of deep relations between natural phenomena. Oersted became a professor at the University of Copenhagen in 1806.

A leader of the so called Danish golden age, Oersted was a friend of Hans Christian Andersen and a brother of politician and jurist Anders Sandoee Oersted who served as prime minister of Denmark 1853-54.

An intense activity of research was initiated by the finding and André-Marie Ampère (1775-1836), a French physicist and mathematician, that set up a single mathematical form to represent the magnetic forces between current carrying conductors. The SI unit ampère (A) used to be defined as the current that gives a certain force, 2 dynes, between two parallel wires distanced 1 cm apart.

Data from Wikipedia

Political Science Break until January 1, 2010

Heard Reinfeldt on the news today. He claims it is going to be a referendum on the "work-line" in September. I really hope this will work.

On the positive side is Reinfeldt's popularity as prime minister and the job-well-done he received from Europe. On the negative side is the double on the 'Försäkringskassan' and the lack of relative clout on the climate issue.

I guess the COP15 is going to be like it will be. I have made my conclusions about what to do. The world population issue must have priority and in the light of the dismal results on CO2 suppression from the Kyoto protocol miracles are needed for serious effects in the near future.

President Obama is moving his troops to Afghanistan and will hopefully get somewhere in Congress with his Cap and Trade and Health Care bills.

I will take a healthy break from politics until January 1, 2010 and continue with my work on Religious Humanism in the mean time.


Spiritual Energy and Astrology?

For those of you that thought Astrology had disappeared since Johannes Kepler there is new information from the Pew Forum of an increase in people that believe in a spiritual energy in physical things like mountains, trees and crystals and in astrology (the position of stars and planets can affect a person's life) in the US. As much as 25% of people that have a conventional religion believe in such a fashion. Such pheomena need not be supernatural.

I find this very interesting because of my own religion Religious Humanism which is a kind of pantheism. The poll claims that more and more younger persons believe in this fashion so it is a trend that is coming in in this way. If the whole Universe is God, it might indeed have an affect on you that is unknown today.

Perhaps it is a sign of people respecting the unknown more than earlier. Respect for the power of science as a means of finding out more. That there is indeed more to find out.

It is otherwise conceivable that people might start to think that we will reach a new plateau of learning and like the Greeks be followed by a stage in history where not much new findings became known. I have heard from distinguished scientists that we just have this or that left to explain and I find this very odd.

The poll also describes that more and more people attend services of other denominations and even other faiths. This might mean that faith is becoming more of a private issue for the individual and that the congregation is losing influence or is substituted with other organizational forms.

If the development is the same in Europe, this would mean that we would get less and less problems from the religious differences of people.

Thanks to Charles M. Blow at the New York Times for the reference to the poll.

The Elliptic Planetary Orbit

Around 1605, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) found out from the astronomical observations of Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), a Danish nobleman from Scania (Skåne then Danish), the following empirical relations:

Kepler's Laws

1. The orbit of any planetary orbit is an ellipse with the sun at one focus.

2. A line joining the planet and the sun sweeps out equal areas during equal intervals of time.

3. The square of the orbital period of a planet is directly proportional to the cube of the semi-major axis of its orbit (the semi-major axis of the ellipse is half the major axis which is the longest possible axis of the ellipse running through both foci).

Almost a century later Isaac Newton was able to derive Kepler's laws from his own laws of motion and the law of gravitation with the help of Euclidean geometry.

The "divine" perfect circle of planetary motion was crushed.

Kepler was born in the Free Imperial City of Weil der Stadt, now close to Stuttgart. Childhood small pox left him weak and with poor vision so that he could not perform astronomical observations himself although introduced to astronomy early and with a profound love for it. Kepler began as a theology student at the University of Tübingen but was becoming an excellent mathematician but also a skillful astrologer casting horoscopes for his friends. Carl Sagan has called him the first astrophysicist and the last scientific astrologer. At the time both the disciplines of astrology and astronomy was in existence.

In a student disputation he defended heliocentrism both from a theoretic but also from a theological perspective, maintaining that the sun was the principal source of motive power in the universe. Despite his interest in becoming a protestant minister, at the age of 23, two years earlier than Galileo, he became a professor of mathematics and astronomy at the School of Graz (later University of Graz). He actually later helped Galileo with observational support of the heliocentric theory when he was in trouble with the Catholic Church.

In 1600 Kepler and his family was banished from Graz as a result of the counter reformation. They refused to convert to Catholicism. He then returned to Tycho Brahe in Prague where he had had an earlier not so successful stint of collaboration. Brahe had been secretive with his data. Brahe was one of the last astronomers that worked without the telescope. When Brahe died in 1601, Kepler replaced him as the imperial mathematician with the mission of completing his unfinished work. Kepler had now access to the extensive observations of Brahe and his group and the following 11 years were the most productive in his life.

Data from Wikipedia


Galvanism and the Voltaic Pile

The phenomenon of electricty has been known at least from 2750 BCE in hieroglyphic texts by means of shocks from electric fish. Thales of Miletos made descriptions of static electricity in 600 BCE. In 1600 the English physician William Gilbert distinguished magnetism from static electricity formed by rubbing amber. The word electricity comes from the greek word "elektron" for "amber". Benjamin Franklin proved the lightning was an electric phenomenon in 1752 with his kite experiment.

Luigi Galvani (1737-1798) discovered 1780 that a frog muscle hanging in a brass hook twitched when he touched it with an iron scalpel. He believed the energy came from the muscle and called this "animal electricity"--a new form of electricity which is not a bad description.

However, the contemporary colleague Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) disagreed and thought it had to do with the two different metals connected with a moist intermediate. He proved this experimentally and published it 1791. In 1800 Volta invented the first battery based on this principle which was called the Voltaic Pile. Batteries were later used in the early telegraphs in the latter part of the 19th century.

Nothing was of course known about the mechanism for the twitching of the muscle at the time. But with today's knowledge it is possible to say that Galvani was in part correct when he said the twitch came from the muscle itself. Because the current in the muscle, elicited by the potential from the two different metals, must have given rise to an action potential in the muscle which then caused a contraction via the biochemical system in the muscle. Galvani thus had initiated the field of muscular and neuro physiology.

Galvani studied to become a physician like his father in Bologna. Before medicine he studied theology for a while. He married Lucia Galleazzi in 1764. He became the president of the University of Bologna 1772. He published his discovery as late as 1791 and must have been considered unusually old for making a brake-through in science.

Volta was from Como in Italy and educated in the public schools on site. He became physics professor in the Royal School in Como. He became professor in experimental physics in 1779 at the University of Pavia where he stayed for 24 years. In 1794 he married Teresa Peregrini with whom he raised three sons.

Data from Wikipedia

The Paradox of Israel's and Europe's islamophobia

Isi Leibler's column: Europe has forsaken Israel Columnists Jerusalem Post: "I also noted that in contrast to the American people who overwhelmingly support Israel, opinion polls taken in Europe confirm that the prevailing consensus perceives Israel as a rogue state posing a greater threat to world peace and stability than even Iran or North Korea. I also related to the craven European appeasement of the Arabs and their willingness to sacrifice Israel on the altar of expediency."

Israel is currently discussing on who they should lean to in the future, the EU or the US. Caroline Glick earlier wrote about the affinity Israel has for Europe which however is not reciprocal. Isi Leibler also argues for trusting the American public rather than the Europeans.

The strange thing is that Israel is faced now with the same problem that is appearing in Europe--an assertive Islam. This can be seen in Europe by recent aftershocks from the Swiss minaret discussions. Here in Sweden a foreigner averse party is steadily gaining ground and such parties are already present in Norway and Denmark. The foreigner is Muslim. This means that Israel and Europe share the same problem with the Muslims but are still at odds with each other, seemingly a paradox. Helping Palestine is giving the Europeans perks in appeasing Muslims at home.

Leibler reviews a book by Christopher Caldwell, a Financial Times journalist, that gloomily warns for the imminent conquering of Europe by the Muslims. These kinds of thought is of course what fuels the current islamophobia in Europe. Old Europeans have less than two children per family and Muslims more children per family. The battle of Europe has begun, if one believes Leibler. Leibler's solution is for European governments to forcefully maintain their Judeo-Christian heritage. A reflex that is understandable from the perspective of the Jewish people, ethnically very homogenous.

However, why would it necessarily be bad if there was a merge of the two cultures within the security paradigm of the EU? It is not going to be a replica of the Middle East nor will it be a replica of Europe at the time of the two World Wars. It will be something new and exciting. Charlemagne writes about the imminent decline of Europe relative the rest of the world in his latest column. I'm not sure I agree. Europe has a lot going for it. However, things will not turn out for the better if we return to foreigner averse behaviors of old times.


Note on the "standing ovations" speech in Oslo by Barack Obama

RealClearPolitics - Opinion, News, Analysis, Videos and Polls: "RCP Average

Right Direction 34.5% Wrong Track 59.5%" as of today.

It should be compared with data from the same source from November 4, 2009

Right Direction 39% Wrong Track 56%

The Lid Opened a Little?

EUobserver / Racism at 'shocking' levels in EU, landmark report says: "Using language rarely found in the dry reports of EU agencies, the FRA described as 'shocking' the rampantly racist, anti-immigrant and Islamophobic experiences of minorities as they go about their daily lives."

Here is another one in Spiegel Online where Dennis Meadows, a US economist who wrote a book in 1972 that used modelling with that era of a computer to conclude that lifestyles had to be changed. He claims it is too late now and that we just have to hold on and see what happens. I recognize myself a little with this view on the matter. He says we don't have to save the Planet it will save itself. What we have to worry about is our civilization. Man survived the ice age. Africa now have to move to Siberia, instead of everyone moving to Africa.

Considering these two articles together it becomes evident that why it is so silent out there is because people are saying conflicting things. On one hand we have to globalize more so that the world population will start to decrease after 9bn. On the other hand people cry for blocking growth to save the climate. "Business as usual" is not good, they say. But Meadows says it is too late. If he is right there is no problem. The problem is perhaps that the climate fundamentalists claim that we can save the planet if we do this and this. Meadows says the only thing that would help is changing lifestyles.

Then the very unpleasant truth surfaces mercilessly. Should we go back to the caves and all live as they do in Afghanistan instead of trying to change their lives? The glory of our civilization was all a hoax. Or should we hope that the industrialized countries will come up with solutions also for the rest of the world. Meadows says that we should not have 18 pairs of shoes. What happens if it is not enough for people to have the three pair of shoes that he prescribes to save our civilization? Well, for the time being we would have to accept an outsideship and one main goal would be to eliminate it using science.

If science is the solution it is very bad that it is being discredited and politicized currently. It is bad that the schools in the Western world suffer from an apparent lack of motivation which is perhaps not so strange if doomsday prophets continue to sing their songs in the vein of the interview with Meadows. What remains important, however, is that for prosperity to rein it is necessary for individuals to work freely and searching for a solution to the world outsideship that is just going to be another hurdle on the track.

I must say that I come down more on the hopeful side of 'business as usual' than on the gloomier sustainable growth side because the whole system evolves from hope and the current situation. Eventually when we solved the population crisis by globalizing completely, which results in lower birth rates, sustainability must ensue.

Are we dumber now?

Sverige har hamnat på efterkälken Brännpunkt SvD: "De senaste 20 åren har en enda svensk fått ett Nobelpris (Arvid Carlsson, medicinpriset år 2000). Under de 20 åren dessförinnan, 1970 till 1989, fick nio svenskar ta emot Nobelpris."

I would like to introduce another perspective in this debate. It is reasonable to suppose that today's kids are not less intelligent than their predecessors. Then why are they not as good in mathematics or physics? Are they occupied with something else as for example "rollspel", ie, games where you try to outsmart your friends?

It takes time to learn how to con people and it is not beneficial for the ambiance in school which can be seen in the increasing problem with "mobbing". My question is if the children of today have grown up without their traditional family bonds? Without their parents guidance? Is it really a problem with the school but rather with "skolorna"?

Bush was a 'realpolitiker' before 9/11

The September 12 Paradigm Foreign Affairs: "This was roughly the policy Bush pursued during his first nine months in office, and the rest of the world quickly got the message. According to a Pew Research Center poll released in August 2001, 70 percent of western Europeans surveyed (85 percent in France) believed that the Bush administration made decisions 'based only on U.S. interests.'"

Robert Kagan writes in Foreign Affairs Sept/Oct 2008 that Bush and Condoleezza Rice distinguished themselves as realists before the 9/11 catastrophe. The democracy generation came as a motivation for the organization of Iraq post 2003.

In a post Dick Erixon discusses Bush the idealist who fight for democracy in the world and seems to want to make a bet on the outcome in Afghanistan compared to that in Iraq after 2003. He suggests that Obama is going to have to become like Nixon, who removed the troops from Vietnam. Today's Vietnam then being Afghanistan.

Erixon refers to a debate on SVT where he defends Bush "ideology" of bombing in democracy across the world. He combatant Göran Greider is somewhat shocked and I must agree that I never thought it was a good idea to bomb North Korea and Iran. I never liked John McCain's "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" either.

At the time I very much liked the idea of making Iraq and Afghanistan democratic. However, I have awaken from this erroneous assumption that this would indeed be possible. I think it is very wise of Obama to leave Afghanistan beginning July 2011, I take his word for it, and let the Afghans establish whatever equilibrium they care to engage in. There is not going to be a democracy as we talk about it in Scandinavia in either Iraq or Afghanistan for many years, if ever. In Afghanistan a grand question mark seems to be if a centralized government is going to be possible at all which would be the prerequisite for stability.


Another type of solidarity

Jan Thurins tankar: Leta efter resultat för wallström: "Det är naturligtvis bra att smutsa ner så lite som möjligt men det verkar som om vi kommer att nödsakas att ta en risk med en ökad temperatur för att de fattiga på jorden skall få det bättre.

Solidaritet kräver denna risk.

Jag har inte sett någon dra denna slutsats och gör det därför själv. Jag tror det är att fördedra att se på problemet som ett måttligt risktagande snarare än som en analkande domedag.

Jag inbillar mig att det är fler än jag själv som gör denna bedömning."

Remembered that I had written the above after reading Johan Norberg's column in Metro today. Norberg was apparently one such person but I have not seen anyone else since I wrote the above in March 25, 2008.

OK! Don't talk about the bad stuff. Instead focus on the good stuff and the bad will disappear?

Charlemagne's notebook The Economist: "And the results of sober, sustainable growth are not the same as those from a consumption-based society. How will we find sources of alternative jobs? The ecological revolution has to create a lot of jobs."

I love a sunny story. Tax money is going into this right now but as I wondered earlier why is the civil society not following suit? Jacques Delors, who is a socialist, and who said the above, believes in green technology as does Obama and seemingly everyone else. I have heard people say this is a new industrial revolution. Thomas Friedman at the New York Times writes today that we don't have anything to lose from going head over heel into this new phase in our life. Even if man is not culpable for climate change what could we possibly lose from cleaning up the place.

When I talked about the trans-Atlantic axis as a unified force into the next level the other day, I had sustainable growth in mind. China might forcefully follow suit trying to outshine the US in world opinion as the good guy on the block despite its need for growth. After all they are not bogged down in two war zones.

But why the gloom? Why is not everyone dancing on the roof?


It is apparently not possible to discuss why people risk their lives in Afghanistan?

Reading around a little to see what has become of the debate on the US-NATO effort in Afghanistan. Swedes are apparently there because others are--solidarity. This is not a good enough reason for me.

There was at least one free thinker, Jan Guillou, who wrote a column in Aftonbladet. He writes that we have no reason to stay in Afghanistan any more with military personnel. This is very true. Last Tuesday night Obama removed the Swedish reasons. There is to be no nation building which means that the European arguments all disappeared. No democracy, no women's liberation and no schools for little girls. That's why I was a little surprised over the quick mobilization of 7,000 men. After all, I had been reading in a European think-tank report that EU should set up a more independent way in Afghanistan.

Hamid Karzai also countered with the news that it will take 15 years for Afghanistan to afford keeping their own troops and asked for the money in advance. After all, this is the latest news--build up the Afghan forces so they can take care of themselves.

In a post yesterday I tried to link this to the possibility that the newly discussed animosity about Muslim ways might be involved in the decision. There is an article in TimesOnline today that discusses the severity of this issue in France. The French don't like minarets either to approximately the same degree as the Swiss. The minaret debate is so sensitive that the socialists have boycotted it. Sarkozy says religious people have to be more discrete in their devotion to minimize conflicts. This goes for all religions. France is currently investigating in a large national effort what their French identity is.

It seems like Adam Cwejman wants to do the same in Sweden. He does not have any faith in the plural society and is afraid that we brake the Swedish norms. I think we should look instead for common European norms and then find that our immigrants will understand better why they have to understand these. Cwejman has a point though. I have experience with integration in the US and there people immigrate into diasporas that even interact in their original languages. However, there is a common language that everyone speak as well. In Europe we don't have that in the same way making integration more difficult.

Cwejman claims Sweden is a very peculiar place in the world which makes me think if we should not be more interested in finding out how we can integrate into Europe rather than just focusing on how immigrants can become Swedes. It would be to much to ask that they first become Swedes and then again Europeans.


A Populistic Account of Europe?

Op-Ed Columnist - Europe’s Minaret Moment - NYTimes.com: "The European elites assumed that the divide between Islam and the West was as antiquated as scimitars and broadswords, and that a liberal, multicultural, post-Christian federation would have no difficulty absorbing new arrivals from more traditional societies."

Sometimes it is difficult getting the feeling of the mood of Europe in faraway Sweden and perhaps a world writer in New York can catch the sentiments more clearly? Europe is much more "the lid on" than the US. Ross Douthat takes the minaret vote of Switzerland to the extreme and paint a tense and gloomy future of Europe. It is along the same lines as that venomous report that predicted that organized crime might take over an East European country that appeared the other day.

One thing that makes me think that he is more right than I originally thought is that NATO so easily raised troops for the fight against Muslim extremism in Afghanistan now recently joining Obama's 33,000 men to AfPak. As a friend of the US, I would have told the Americans that they should let go of 9/11. Al Qaida got you, and I mean got you badly. However, there is no real enemy to revenge on. Saddam Hussein was another matter. He was a liability for the region with his attacks on his neighbors.

Now, the Europeans seem instead to be willing to go to war again with 5,000 to 7,000 men. Are they fighting their own demons? Or do they show solidarity with the American people?

The Environment?

Ett mirakel krävs i Köpenhamn Brännpunkt SvD: "Klimatförändringen kan inte lösas isolerat utan måste ses som en del av en större kris, i form av överutnyttjandet av många viktiga ekosystem. Klimatavtalet måste följas av ett avtal om hållbar utveckling. Ett sådant avtal förutsätter helt andra spelregler för ekonomin och världshandeln än dagens."

Continuing my read-up on climate change. Johan Rockström, Director of Stockholm Environmental Institute, and Anders Wijkman, Tällberg Foundation, seemingly want the world to be governed in another fashion. The Economist with its Special Report on Climate Change delivers a calm and nice appraisal of the situation. Yes, climate change can technically be taken care of and yes, it is affordable. The question is how, apparently.

However, it is interesting to note that energy companies like BP and Shell lowers their investments in renewables currently. Is this because there is large amounts of money invested in 2010 and 2011 as stimulus money and they want to see what's happening with these tax funds? Or is it because profits are nowhere in sight, for a while? Solar electricity cost ten times as much as coal electricity.

It is questionable if climate change will make the world centralize government. It seems more likely that a fight on preeminence in green technology is going to ensue. At least the Chinese seems to think like that. Hu Jintao will run China like a green technology company, the engineer he is, and try to win market shares. He currently, alone in the world, sits on a pile of money and invests galore. In my ignorance I can't help wondering why BP and Shell don't take him up on this?



Spinoza was born 1632 in Amsterdam by Jewish parents that had fled from the Iberian penisula being so called marranos, ie, Jews that publicly were Christian but in the dark retained their Jewish faith. However, due to Spinoza's free thinking he was demoted from his Jewish congregation 1656 with the words: "He'd be damned during the day, and during the night. Damned when he is asleep, damned when awake. Damned would his entry be and his exit. May the Lord never forgive him".

It still matters where you live on Earth but things have improved. I respect people of faith, but, like the Humanists, I have little understanding for the cumbersome dogmatics that one encounters in the standard Abrahamitic religions. It is a wonderful literary heritage but my adoration stops there. As the first posts in my blog "etiketted" "scriptures" clearly show, religion have been countering the development of science and prosperity by reason over the 350 years from Spinoza's departure from the established religion of the day. My faith of today is similar to that of Spinoza. It is a faith free of interference to scientific and philosophical thinking. Perhaps it will be possible for me to write about my faith today. It wasn't for Spinoza.

In the program 'Konflikt' on the radio P1 yesterday the prospective joining of Turkey with the EU was discussed. It seemed that a person speaking for Turkey's entry used arguments of islamophobia rather than recognizing distinctive differences in the freedom of the press and the democratic set-up as the reason for the unlikely entry of Turkey any time soon. I don't think the religion Islam is a problem in Europe as long as it is not political Islam. Faith should be private. It should not be a state matter. It is the responsibility of the Muslims to keep it private.

The decision of Switzerland to ban the minaretes is similar to the de-veiling of Muslim women. There are situations where a veil is not recommended, like in the upbringing of other people's children, but other than that the liberal stance of allowing for Islam and its attributes should encouraged. The sounding of church bells could be as annoying as the howling of a muezzin.

Carl Bildt was interviewed in the radio program. Being a strong proponent for early entry of Turkey into the EU, he argued for the increased safety for Europe in having open doors for Turkey in this direction rather than Turkey opening doors in the other direction. However, it seems to me that Turkey might be able to improve Iran by example, a feat that the West is completely unable to do. There are signals in the literature lately that Turkey already in principle have given up membership in the EU and instead is directing its attention elsewhere. If they really believe in democracy they can influence others, otherwise they will fail. It is a good test. A failed democratic state the size of Turkey in the EU would be a disaster.


East Jerusalem?

Ulf Bjereld: "Dokumentet antyder också att EU skulle kunna erkänna en palestinsk stat, om palestinierna bestämmer sig för att utropa en sådan, även utan att en israelisk-palestinsk freduppgörelse har uppnåtts."

EU is apparently about to take a stand in the question about the fate of East Jerusalem. According to the Israelis it belongs to Israel since the six day war 1967. After all Israel was attacked and the attacker lost the fight as well as some territory which in essence then must be regarded as fair. Tzipi Livni, the opposition leader in Israel has discussed the issue with Nicholas Sarkozy and said that she thinks it would be unfortunate if the EU made up its mind in advance in such a way.

I have a feeling that should the EU support a Palestinian state even without a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine they would become in principle at war with Israel and this must be very unfortunate.

Carl Bildt writes on his blog today that he thinks such a move will enhance the possibility of restarting peace negotiations. The position of the US was according to a Canadian journal that the status of East Jerusalem is a topic for discussions. A person like Caroline Glick at the Jerusalem Post thinks that Jersalem belongs to Israel and that a state usually does not give up its capital city. At least not and surviving.

The existence of Muslim buildings on the temple mount is a proof that conquerors tend to take charge of a conquered land. Therefore Israel is now in charge of East Jerusalem. Otherwise there would not be any Muslim buildings on the site. The difference is that Israel defended itself.


The discovery of oxygen 1773 which was made in an era where Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-1786) and Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794) all contributed to the discovery. Lavoisier, despite being a member of the French Academy of Sciences was beheaded during the French Revolution. The judge said "The Republic needs neither scientists nor chemists; the course of justice cannot be delayed". Priestley due to his unitarianism and support for the French Revolution had to flee to the United States, his house and church torched by a mob. Scheele, although probably the first to discover oxygen, did not get credit for it since Priestley did publish it earlier. Scheele, like Linné, made Sweden a front nation in science during the 18th century.

Robert Boyle (1627-1691) showed in the end of the 17th century that air was necessary for combustion. He was among the founding members of the Royal Society in London 1660, the first institute dedicated to scientific pursuit.

These scientists in essence all worked to disprove the 1667 theory of phlogiston. It was believed that a fire-like element called phlogiston was contained in combustible bodies, and released during combustion. The theory was an attempt to explain combustion and rusting which is today understood as oxidations.

Lavoisier was the first to publish the disproof of the phlogiston theory. Priestley and Scheele did not use their discoveries of oxygen to bring down the phlogiston theory. This is a very important discovery since the understanding on the metabolism of biological cells rest on oxidation and the continuation of Harvey's discovery of the systemic blood circulation follows from this understanding. Ibn al-Nafis (born 1213) was also closing in on biological oxidation but could not have understood it completely since he only discovered the lung-heart circulation and not the systemic circulation that brought something in the air to the tissues in the body.

People believed in vitalism, a doctrine where the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from biochemical reactions. It was not until Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)demonstrated that biochemical reactions took place in biological tissues with fermentation in yeast that this paradigm changed. Lavoisier had also worked with Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749-1827) demonstrating that respiration in essence was a slow combustion of organic material using inhaled oxygen, "la respiration est donc une combustion". He had used a calorimeter to investigate respiration and heat production in a guinea pig.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is also believed to have discovered that a portion of air is consumed during combustion and respiration. However, many with him have obviously realized that humans and animals cannot live without air.

Data from Wikipedia


Charles Darwin

We are right now passing the 150 year anniversary of Charles Darwin's epochal book On the Origin of Species from 1859. Darwin lived between 1809 to 1882.

Darwin started out in life as a unitarian, ie., he, like Newton, did not believe in the trinity but well in God. However, as his life progressed he became less and less religious and around 1849 he took a walk instead of joining his family at Church stating "absurd to doubt that a man might be an ardent theist and an evolutionist". He had started to lay down the theory of natural selection already in 1838. In 1879 he wrote "I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. I think that generally... an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind".

I firmly believe that many scientists will have a problem with the trinity, ie, that God exists as three persona, Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. That unfortunately leaves Jesus out of the picture and severely dents Christendom since the resurrection would not occur.

His father, himself a physician, sent the young Darwin to University of Edinburgh 1825 to study medicine but Darwin did not like it. His father then sent him to Christ College, Cambridge 1828 for a Bachelor of Arts as the first step of becoming an Anglican parson, a priest in an independent parish. He became a close friend and collaborator to botany professor John Stevens Henslow. People around him saw scientific work as religious natural theology. He graduated in 1831 and after some further studies of Natural Theology Henslow suggested that he'd go on HMS Beagle that sailed around the world during five years.

During the trip he was acquainted with new geological concepts of creation taking place a long time ago and thus he slowly came out of his literal belief in the Bible. He collaborated all the time with Henslow on collecting plants. After returning home he became Secretary of the Geological Society in March 1838. In October 1838 he wrote:

"In October 1838, that is, 15 months after I had begun my systematic enquiry, I happened to read for amusement Malthus' on Population, and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everyone goes on from long-continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones would be destroyed. The result of this would be the formation of a new species. Here, then, I had at last got a theory by which to work..."

He proposed to Emma Wedgwood on November 11 the same year. An accomplished soul. After a fellow scientist Alfred Russel Wallace had arrived at the same conclusion on natural selection Darwin published his On the Origin of Species in 1859. By the end of the next decade most scientists agreed that evolution occurred, but only a minority supported Darwin's view that the chief mechanism was natural selection. An intense debate on the implications for theology ensued.

Afghanistan, and what to do?

Gates Says Afghan Drawdown Timing Is Flexible - NYTimes.com: "Obama administration officials tried again on Thursday to reassure members of Congress anxious about the military buildup in Afghanistan, telling them repeatedly that American troops can begin to withdraw in July 2011. But the lawmakers seemed more interested in how long the withdrawal would take"

The reason I liked Obama's new plan for Afghanistan was that it represented an exit strategy. Having watched the discussion in the aftermath of the speech I agree with lawmakers--I, like perhaps the majority of the American voters, want security on the endpoint, no flexibility.

A discussion have evolved in the literature the last couple of days and that is whether or not the gut feeling of people can be trusted in the case of a situation where the experts apparently can't give you much of security in the estimate. What we hear in the above citation is not the judgement of the president but of his expert the minister of defense. Perhaps it is more interesting to know if Obama's real intention with the current plan is to end the war? Following the advice of the people is then obviously the safest bet. The leader cannot be blamed and national stability is maintained.

Ian Buruma brings up a slightly different question namely that the gut feeling of people can't be trusted in referendums. However, Buruma seems to think that a person's judgment is different from his gut feeling. In the above reasoning I equal polls with referendums. After all they are quite similar. It is of course interesting if there is a difference in the ability of a person to select a representative and to make a judgment of a matter. If people are better in judging people than matters, Buruma might be right. If not, it seems like he is against democratic principles.

Getting back to the problem of should I stay or should I go, Obama's problem is to decide if it is the interest of the United States or that of Afghanistan that is foremost. The same goes for NATO. Will we be seen by the world as hopelessly belligerent banging our heads against the wall in far countries or as peacefully minding our own business. The opinion of India, China and Japan is actually beginning to matter quite a lot. This question is so much larger than if occasional terrorists emerge that, as from elsewhere in the world, will have to be stopped at our borders.


The reason why people are not in such a hurry?

Mike Hulme: The Science and Politics of Climate Change - WSJ.com: "The citizens they rule over have minds of their own. In the U.K., a recent survey suggested that only 41% believed humans are causing climate change, 32% remained unsure and 15% were convinced we aren't. Similar surveys in the U.S. have shown a recent reduction in the number of people believing in man-made climate change."

I guess this is the reason we don't think the philosophers should rule the world like Plato said.

An earlier meeting of climate scientists in Copenhagen

Hopes of climate change accord 'are sinking' - Times Online: "“We all hope that Copenhagen will succeed but I think it will fail. We won't come up with a global agreement,” Professor Anderson said. “I think we will negotiate, there will be a few fudges and there will be a very weak daughter of Kyoto. I doubt it will be significantly based on the science of climate change.”"

It seems that Hansen in the earlier post alludes to the statement that COP15 will not be based on the science of climate change. Perhaps I have been fooled to believe that there is a relationship of trust between the political domain and the scientific domain that seems to be non-existent?

The cited meeting last March was one of climate scientists only that wanted to bring forward a status report on climate change for politicians in COP15.

First Climategate, then a farce?

Climate scientist James Hansen hopes summit will fail - Times Online: "A leading scientist acclaimed as the grandfather of global warming has denounced the Copenhagen summit on climate change next week as a farce"

Well, I thought I'd take the opportunity to learn a little about where the climate change debate is standing during the COP15 meeting. However, I'm surprised over the heavy attacks towards the meeting. It indeed seems confusing now. On the radio somebody said that there is no opposition anymore against the main tenets of climate change, ie, the temperature rise and the culpability of mankind. I'm apparently supposed to draw the conclusion that yes something should be done but there is no consensus on what exactly?

Now a so called grandfather of climate change is against the meeting itself and an icon like the cap and trade system. He wants to tax carbon directly instead. He is apparently telling people to start the same civil unrest as during the Vietnam war in the US in the process.

COP15 is an interesting feature. It is a measurement of what the world currently can muster on collaboration in the face of supposed danger. Should I draw the conclusion that there is not sufficient danger? Or is it that it so happens that the world is just emerging from a financial crisis that would make a suggestion to tax carbon directly economical suicide.

Is James Hansen a clown rather than COP15 being a farce?


There is Hope for America

It is 1:47 am and I'm waiting for Obama's speech which is supposed to begin at 2 am. According to The New York Times and The White House web site Obama's message will be troop increase plus exit strategy in as short time as after July 2011. The fast exit is supposed to follow a quick build-up for the increased pressure of next summer. I read somewhere that the intensity of fighting has gone up each year and that it is more extensive during summer.

A Gallup poll shows that the approval for Obama's handling of the Afghanistan war is down to 35% in November 20 and that it has fallen from 56% in mid-July via 49% in mid-September. It is falling at the same rate among Republicans, Moderates and Democrats. These results are however before the information of build-up and exit.

It is 2:42 am and I found a copy of the text to the speech. There is no essential new information. They enter fast with 30,000 new soldiers and begin withdrawal after 18 months. I don't think I could have expected a faster exit than this. The speech gives me a feeling that Obama definitely wants to be out of Iraq and Afghanistan before the next election.


In the wake of "Climategate"

Richard S. Lindzen: The Climate Science Isn't Settled - WSJ.com: "Is there a reason to be alarmed by the prospect of global warming? Consider that the measurement used, the globally averaged temperature anomaly (GATA), is always changing. Sometimes it goes up, sometimes down, and occasionally—such as for the last dozen years or so—it does little that can be discerned."

Well, I took the liberty of reading the Wikipedia article on Dr. Lindzen, a meterologist at MIT, and he is apparently one of these in the field that people have severe problems contradicting. It is not only The Wall Street Journal that contribute with scepticism towards current conclusions on climate change The Economist is also noting in the wake of "Climategate" that the science involved are predictions that constantly need upgrading for better reflecting reality.

They claim: This newspaper believes that climate change is a serious threat, and that the world needs to take steps to try to avert it. That is the job of the politicians. But we do not believe that climate change is a certainty."

In the Wikipedia article, however, one finds a note that tells that the politicians with the Kyoto agreement didn't do much, next to nothing, to stabilize the CO2 levels. This is a Lindzen argument which he claims there is no controversity about.

Politicians have therefore not so far had much luck in combating climate change. Even if the CO2 problem is not fruitfully contributing positively to our climate, reductions of all kinds will of course dirty down our planet less and therefore have other positive effects.

Readers of Le Figaro don't want minarets either

Le Figaro - France : Faut-il interdire la construction de nouveaux minarets en France ?: "Faut-il interdire la construction de nouveaux minarets en France ?

30/11/2009 Mise à jour : 17:31 Commentaires 348 Votants 43293 Ajouter à ma sélection oui.73.76%.non.26.24%"

74% of readers don't want minaretes and there are 43,000 voters. This does not look promising.