Poetry – Memory

Memory

I am a collage of memories –

Some sharp and full of colour,

Others hazy in misty greys,

Some manufactured and adapted,

And most forgotten.

My life is made up

Of ionic changes,

In membranes,

Down fibres,

Trapped in the maze of my brain.

My personality

Is electricity.

Opher 18.5.2016

Memory

What are we?

What is our identity?

Is it our consciousness?

Is it our memory?

The essence of what and who we are is contained in our brains.

That brain is made up of billions of cells with long strands of interconnecting neurones. They form a meshwork of firing that contains our thoughts, dreams, memories, actions and personality. Our consciousness is contained within the chemical reactions on membranes that create ionic changes that cause nerves to fire.

We understand what happens on a subcellular level but that does not explain the reality of consciousness. We are fooling ourselves if we think that. I do not put any spiritual significance to it. I merely reflect that I am boggled by the whole process.

For me the working of the brain, the wonders of cellular activity that creates consciousness, is as spectacularly awesome as the nature of the universe itself. Our consciousness is the wonder of life.

Poetry – Atoms and Energy

Atoms and Energy

Atoms and energy

The power of the mind,

Staring into Black Holes

To see what we can find.

Electricity and patterns

Recording all we see;

Delving into mysteries

With wonder, awe and glee.

All for the sake of knowing

How the wonder works –

Electron and quasar,

Supernova and quarks.

Opher 22.5.2016

Atoms and Energy

The greatest thing about the apes we call humans is our inquisitiveness. That is what makes us so successful. We have to know how everything works.

Questioning is the way to be.

Once you accept anything as the truth you are dead.

It is miraculous that in the space of a couple of hundred years we have travelled from a primitive life-style with candles and horses to the wonders of atomic energy, space travel and mobile phones.

What clever apes we are.

Perhaps too clever for our own good.

The jump has been so quick that many of us cannot cope. We still think with primitive minds, tribally and with vicious cruelty. We’ve got a way to go in order to catch up with our technology.

There are even whole countries of people trapped in the pre-science days of superstition.

Let’s hope that we can peer into those areas of ignorance, tinker and understand, and use science to solve all the problems we are creating by suffocating nature through sheer weight of numbers.

This is a simple little ditty.

Vaccination and Antivaxxers.

As a Zoologist I used to teach this. I’ll keep it simple.

A vaccination is a process of stimulating your immune system so that it fights off a specific disease.

Your body has antibodies that are specific to the antigens (proteins) on a virus. If you have not encountered that virus before you will not have any antibodies to fight it. A small percentage of people, through mutation, will have a natural immunity.

When you become infected with a virus your body starts to defend itself. It learns to produce antibodies to destroy the virus. It alerts T-cells to recognise the virus antigen protein and attack it. This takes time. While your body is learning to do this you are ill. If your immune response is too slow you may suffer damage to organs or even death.

Some viruses are deadly, others less so. Some viruses will permanently damage the brain, heart, kidneys or organs. They can leave you paralysed, blind, deaf, with a weak heart or damaged brain. Some may leave you infertile or cause cancer.

No viruses are good. Childhood viruses like Measles kill children, cause deafness or blindness. Mumps causes infertility. Scarlet Fever damages the heart.

In the past we were ravaged by virus outbreaks – smallpox killed millions, polio paralysed and crippled millions. But we developed vaccines and now they are eradicated and controlled. The death-rate in children has come right down. We no longer see the same level of damaged bodies.

We introduced vaccination programmes to protect our children and ourselves against polio, tuberculosis, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox and have completely eradicated the terror of smallpox due to vaccination.

We no longer have people ravaged and crippled by polio, blind and deaf from measles, or getting cervical cancer.

There are a number of types of vaccination.

Live strain – injecting a harmless strain of a virus that produces antibodies that attack a lethal virus.

Dead Strain – injecting lethal viruses that have been killed by irradiating or chemicals.

Component – injecting a part of the lethal virus – usually its protein sheath.

Conjugate – injecting a combination.

Some Facts

You cannot boost your immune system to fight a particular virus. If you do not have the antibodies or T-cell response to a particular antigen you will become ill with it. You can boost your immune system to work effectively and produce an immune response quicker – but that might not be quick enough.

Vaccines cause a reaction. That is what they are designed to do. They stimulate your body into producing the antibody response. This can make you feel a little sore or even make you ill for a few days – but nowhere near as ill as if you caught the disease. Most vaccinations have no visible reaction.

A tiny percentage of people have a more severe reaction. Compared with the risk from the disease this is insignificant.

Antivaxxers

Plenty of scare stories and conspiracy theories have circulated regarding vaccinations.

Andrew Wakefield in 1998 was funded by lawyers bringing lawsuits against vaccine companies. He published a paper in the lancet that received widespread publicity claiming there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. This led to a big drop in vaccination. The findings were later completely refuted. There is no link. Unfortunately the damage had been done. There is no link at all to autism.

Certain religious groups refuse to have their children vaccinated on the grounds that it is contrary to god’s will – as if god is happy having children die or being severely crippled or damaged.

There are a number of completely stupid conspiracy theories that suggest that some tracking device is being injected by the Lizards who run the ‘Deep State’ so they can keep tabs on your movements. These ideas are idiotic.

Some people have a disbelief in science.

Some people believe that they have strong immune systems, never go down with diseases and would fight it off. They are wrong. Diseases and immunity is very specific. If you haven’t got the antibodies you will get ill.

Some people believe that vaccination is all some means of the massive pharmaceutical companies making big money. They do. It is wrong. Which is why I think that governments should be responsible – not private companies. But that is no reason not to be vaccinated. Vaccination works. People shouldn’t make money out of it – but, ironically, many of the antivaxxers are the most outspoken when defending privatisation and oppose Obamacare. They are quite happy to let these companies make big profits out of sick people.

Covid-19

The new vaccines against Covid-19 operate by injecting some mRNA into the body. This produces the protein sheath of the virus (which is completely harmless). The body’s immune system recognises the protein and creates T-cell responses and antibodies against it. If the real virus invades it is mopped up straight away.

The safety checks are to ensure that it does not trigger an allergic response.

Covid-19 kills, it causes permanent damage to organs (lungs, heart,brain and kidneys). While it mainly kills the elderly it can still greatly affect those a lot younger. Long Covid and the Suzuki syndrome severely affecting children are major risks.

The damage to peoples’ jobs and the economy is enormous.

It is a lottery. While most people seem to get it mildly some react very seriously, requiring hospitalisation and even ventilation. This puts enormous strain on our health services. Many health workers have died.

The only way out of this is a vaccination programme that will create herd immunity so that the virus no longer spreads or, like smallpox, can be eradicated altogether.

If too many people start believing the conspiracy theories or false stories about vaccination and do not get vaccinated then there are going to be a lot more deaths, a lot more severely damaged people and we are going to be in lockdown forever.

As for me – I’ve been vaccinated against anything and everything – BCG, MMR, Flu, yellow fever, typhoid……… the list goes on. My kids were all vaccinated. I knew it was my responsibility to keep them safe.

Vaccination works. Science is good. It is not by chance that these infectious diseases have been greatly reduced. It isn’t a product of better hygiene or healthy eating – it’s the vaccination programmes.

As soon as the vaccine becomes available I shall be first in line. I want to be safe. I shall urge my children and grandchildren to get vaccinated. I want them to be safe too.

If you have any questions or want to discuss this further then please leave a comment. I’m open to debate.

Poetry – The Molecule That Thinks

The Molecule That Thinks

Welcome to the quantum world,

To the molecule that thinks.

Guiding your awareness

Down a million missing links.

It would be a shame

To have such majesty

Without a trillion minds and eyes

With which to think and see.

I am the quantum molecule.

I can do anything!

I taught humankind

To play and dance and sing.

Opher – 22.10.2020

I was on my daily walk thinking about the majesty of the vast universe and thinking that what a waste it would all be if there were no eyes to see it, no minds to appreciate its beauty.

We live in a wondrous universe. Nature is fabulous.

The more we learn about quantum worlds and the behaviour of atoms the more weird it becomes. The reality we think we live appears bogus.

Then when we consider the weirdness of awareness, of minds and intelligence, it is even weirder.

We think we are so clever and superior. Yet all plants and animals are sentient. They are aware.

Maybe it is our molecules, our protein, that is the seat of awareness. Perhaps atoms are conscious?

We live in a quantum universe. There is much to understand. We’re on the threshold. We are ignorant savages.

Who knows?

Quantum can’t get much weirder. Can it?

Poetry – A Tessellated Dream

A Tessellated Dream

 

I live in a world of strings

Lost in a few dimensions.

Reality is lost to my eyes

As I inhabit our inventions.

The macrocosm and microcosm

Are invisible to me

And time is fleeting

In this reality.

For there is no such thing

As substance or stability

The illusion is convincing though

I struggle to really see.

I’m very leery of the m-theory.

Things are not what they seem to be.

All time exists as a single moment

And in the quantum universe

Things exist and don’t exist

It’s really quite perverse.

This world may not be as it seems

As we splutter out of these tessellated dreams.

 

Opher – 5.9.2020

Poetry – The Universe

The Universe

 

All time exists in one moment,

All matter and energy,

Emerging from nothing.

 

All laws creating in an instant

All the universe

Exploding into something.

 

Life – a pinnacle of complexity

Disobeying entropy

To organise itself.

 

Nature a sophisticated mystery

Of interconnection;

A multitude of wealth.

 

All life a magnificent culmination

Of awe and wonder

In a cascade of forms.

 

Mutating and evolving

Into a mighty web

Whose majesty defies the norms.

 

Opher 21.8.2020