Discerning Real Genius – With a non-Exhaustive List?

Genius is a term that is spoken with a certain reverence and may be reserved for people who seem “nerdy.” However, when I hear the word genius, I envision someone who looks like Ann Druyan or Stephen Hawking or Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Each of these individuals have a certain stylized manner of talking and a seemingly unique personality of presentation. In an age where vanity is prized because of Face Book or Twitter or other form of vain expression, it is too easy to be caught in the trap of appearances. Appearing to be a genius but not walking the talk — is a folly of Selfie Generation.

So, how does anyone discern between fake from real?

The answer to the question for any single person comes from observations of actions and their effects upon the immediate surroundings. For people cited above, their reputations are built from the fruits of their labors. They paid their dues for their successes. Lets first delve into reputations and what can be attained from a good reputation while touching briefly upon bad reputations.

Reputations, good or bad, come by word of mouth. Whether by gossip or pleasant news, individual’s reputation tears down or enhances his self-esteem. However, what needs to be born in mind is we can direct our own destinies. Self esteem, while important, is not the sole arbiter of destiny. Moreover, word of mouth is the cheapest avenue by which to build one’s future. However, in a world in which one’s vanity may be tied to self esteem, it is important to remember our goals or achievements are determined by other means. Achieving goals that are not tied directly to how a person sees himself is harder to achieve. However, it is far better to build one’s self esteem through achievement that builds self pride that translates into self esteem.


Polymath (and genius) are words that few hear on a daily basis. In short, someone is a polymath if he possesses deep and broad knowledge. Being a polymath means you may well be a genius. While few of us ever meet someone who possesses such character, let me indulge you with some individuals who have fit the description in the past and present –Lao Tze, Mozart, Cab Calloway, Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Bill Gates, Richard Dawkins, Freeman Dyson, John Lennon, I.M. Pei, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Langston Hughs, Hemingway, Eudora Welty, Al DiMeola, and Stevie Wonder(perhaps a Renaissance Man? – it still soon to know) fit the bill of polymath (and genius) — to name just a few. While it is not completely fair to lump genius and polymath in the same category, polymaths are considered geniuses. (However, I will lump the two together for sake of argument in contrast to Renaissance people.)

Then, again, there is another term – Renaissance Man (or Woman). That person goes well beyond genius or polymath. And, the following individuals should be considered Renaissance individuals —Archimedes, Confucius, Buddha, Thomas Aquinas, Sir Thomas More, Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, Roald Hoffman, Benjamin Franklin, Carl Djerrassi, Muhammad Ali, Steve Jobs, Bono (from the Rock musical band- U2), Leonardo da Vinci, Jane Goodall, Gloria Steinem, and Neil deGrasse Tyson (just to name a small handful). The primary reasons for such consideration are the following– each person went far beyond their own field of initial endeavor for an all-encompassing genius (in other areas). They were geniuses who went well beyond their initial endeavors.

While the lists (above) seem short, I believe one can get a sense of what terms genius/polymath and Renaissance Man/Woman actually encompass. While some of the names are not familiar all readers — I will fill a few details:

Cab Calloway is jazz musician from the golden age of jazz (he, like Duke Ellington) were genius musicians (and polymaths within music). Their style of music predated “white jazz music” of that time. In fact, with the exception of Gershwin, most mainstream music was inspired by men like Calloway and Ellington. (And, there are many who were not mentioned.) Stevie Wonder, of course, is a contemporary musician. He, like Calloway, and Ellington, I have grouped into genius (and not Renaissance Men) because they have been “shorted by a racist culture” – sadly so.


The American Heritage Dictionary defines the terms, polymath and Renaissance Man/Woman:

polymath, n. A person of great or varied learning. Greek polumathēs : polu-, poly- + manthanein, math-, to learn.

Renaissance man/woman, n. A man/woman who has broad intellectual interests and is accomplished in areas of both the arts and the sciences.


Sadly, knowledge does not determine status in our world. People with status come from different walks of life. However, if there is one factor that determines status in today’s world it is a large public following. To gain a public following, someone needs notoriety or a “reputation.” A reputation is built from the words of others- and sometimes, a reputation can ruin someone’s life.

In a culture where vanity is now prized over substance — how would you want to be remembered by those who love you and you love the most? It is a fair question!

Welcome Back to the Stone Age: Life During the Impeachment of president Trump

I have been keeping an eye on the impeachment proceedings. I openly state I am not a fan of the current administration — nor any of their actions or policies.

Keeping in mind that Mr. Trump is a polarizing figure, lets attempt to take a better look at potential outcomes from his divisive actions.

                        The Issue at Hand — Divisiveness

Only the strong thrive! The true winners in life thrive under adverse conditions! Suck it up! You go it alone with no one to help you.

When all of the present Administration’s actions are taken p a whole, they have seemingly divided much of American public between Conservatives and Progressives. However, if one takes a good look at who still support the president– many of these individuals have a lot of money,  or seemingly are afraid of losing their status.

Furthermore, what comes to my mind is that these individuals are much like him in deed — if not attitude. They rarely venture to see “How the Other Half Lives” to borrow a phrase from the late Michael Harrington.

When you are poor and have few resources, it is easy to become isolated from peers and those who willingly assist you for your betterment. Unfortunately in times such as these, you have few resources and you will lose hope and eventually the faith that you can rise above your circumstances. That sounds much like a game-plan of tyrants and authoritarian dictators.

In the present era, the rugged individual is praised and lauded by deal makers and certain politicians, alike. One of the biggest issues I have about the rugged individual is that he never truly existed. Perhaps for a few moments, this person thrived while  in the throes of battle… only to go down to defeat from a knife in the back.

All of us in some way or another rely on others– whether directly or indirectly, no one acts alone. If Mr. Trump successfully allows the ‘other half’ to lose faith in themselves, many will turn desperately inward and some will turn to his ilk for help. It is a losing situation.

However, if one observes actions of the Chief Executive of U.S., that is precisely what seems to occur at the present moment. Looking dispassionately upon the results of #45’s actions, it seems as if many of us are left to our own devices as he exerts more control over his personal finances. He acts as if no one mattered except his cronies and himself. Emoluments clause aside, he seemingly acts as if he is the only one in the room (let alone the country, itself).

If he is allowed to go further, he presents a threat to all– both friend and foe alike. We risk an extinction of sorts–

A Potential Solution– Change the Discourse  of Public Discussion?

Former-president Obama was a uniter in many ways–he was community advocate and worked tirelessly to draw individuals from diverse  backgrounds into a common cause. That, in so many words, is the solution to problem at hand. It is,  “We the People who need to seek a Better Union among All of Us” need to come together like brothers.  The divisiveness can be broken if we recognize that we much to gain if we unite as did the Founding Fathers in 1776 to defeat tyranny.  I don’t advocate armed conflict– but we as individuals don’t have put up with bullies nor dictators. I believe there are so many parallels between our plight and that of the colonists that we fail to see that we can tell them NO — I Refuse to Listen to Bullies and Refuse to be Treated as Chattel. Laws have been broken by occupiers in the Executive Branch. We don’t need to be like goats drawn to slaughter.

[Featured image – Stone Age Huts]

Peace

John

Opinion – Rage Against the Light

The Dying Light?

Decisions made in haste yield pain.

Decisions made by the U.S. Administration to launch a space force are ill-conceived but are not ill-advised. Everyday, astronomers and their co-workers find reasons to continue the astronomical legacy started so long ago by ancient Greek, Chinese and Mayan civilizations. While the astronomers of long ago tied astronomical events to earthly happenings, I have to ask myself: what does the present Administration have to gain with a space force? One response to the posed question- the mining of asteroids and other planets for their resources. As the earth becomes depleted of its natural resources, it seems logical to look for resources elsewhere. Moreover, the mining of asteroids for resources could not have come at worse moment in history. The earth ecology is reeling from decades of over mining, abuse towards its living creatures, and a generalized misunderstanding of Earthly stewardship. Understanding the general principles of stewardship would have been optimal prior to launching the Space Force. I cite one overarching reason— the orbits of asteroids within the asteroid belt are governed by gravitational tugs and pushes from the Sun and the outer, gas giant planets. I caution it is speculative (while not wildly speculative).

— while carelessly blasting away (with explosives) at the asteroid belt —or removing or hollowing-out asteroids may disrupt disrupt their individual orbits— I am referring to a greater number than a small handful of asteroids. It could start a cascade of meteors or NEOs that may disrupt earthly routines. I regard the the announcement by the Trump administration as reckless— those are the words that I can say without hesitation.

Furthermore, the announcement comes as the present administration comes under increasing scrutiny. The formal launch of the program occurred the first seven months of 2019. It is the hallmark of the present administration to lie and obfuscate issues that are otherwise critical to the western governments and to the earthly populations.

 

As a US citizen, a writer, and concerned human being, I am dismayed and fearful of the potential damage this president can do to the earth.

Greener Mars – When We Become Martians?

The latest edition of the American Heritage English Dictionary defines terraform as: a verb that means to transform (a landscape) on another planet into one having the characteristics of landscapes on Earth. [Latin term, terra earth: see terrace + form]

Mars, the red planet with a mythology that speaks volumes, is daunting. While there are notable stories surrounding Martian lore, it is the realities faced by NASA and other space agencies . Mars seems like a littered graveyard of crashed probes. Up until 2014, a full third of any earth launched rockets headed to the planet never made soft landings.

Countless visionaries and entrepreneurs voiced their desires to terraform Mars. While no country or entrepreneur has attempted to send missions to Mars to terraform it, attempts may ensue before the end of the 21st century. However, success in terraforming Mars hinges on important priorities.

  1. Successful understanding of Martian soil and rock (regolith).
  2. Successful manipulation of plant genomes to be radiation-resistant and withstand Martian cold.
  3. Plants need adequate sources of water.
  4. Martian soil may need adequate amending to ensure proper minerals within the soil.
  5. Astronauts must stay on Mars for an extended period of time to successfully implement the endeavor.

Scientists across the world have experimented with simulated Martian soil and performed computations for the past 25 years in the hopes of unlocking the secrets of Martian soil. If you recall Andy Weir’s book, The Martian or its movie adaptation, the lead character is stranded on Mars and grows potatoes to sustain himself until rescued. While Martian farming may occur in the lives of our children, it is decades until it becomes practical.

So, let’s get to the point – how can we terraform Mars?

There are, at least, two methods by which we can farm Mars:

1. Oxygenate the atmosphere first and then proceed to utilize the resources of Martian regolith with genetically engineered plants.

2. Use Greenhouses to grow crops and resources – vegetables, fruits, and hemp. Other uses of synthetic plants center upon genetic manipulations of plant biology to produce medicinal alterations and other commodity-like stuffs.

While the first method seems daunting, it has a sense of a pioneering spirit to it. It will take multiple generations to implement according to published studies. According to Cyprien Verseux and co-workers the first step is to seed multiple acreage of the Martian surface with cyanobacteria to begin an oxygenation of the atmosphere. It is postulated that early Earth had little to no oxygen and cyanobacteria or a related species of bacteria oxygenated the earth’s atmosphere. Life as we know it sprung forth. Professor Verseux and co-workers published their study in the International Journal of Astrobiology in 2016. Their studies delve into greater details of how engineered cyanobacteria can generate hydrogen fuels and potentially greater undertakings to help a Martian colony. In this fashion, multiple missions from NASA, Jaxa, or ESA tend to the endeavor.

Putting greenhouses on the Martian surface to facilitate colonization appears simpler than attempting to turn the Martian planet from rust-colored to an appealing shade or blue-green. NASA utilized the moon to put boots upon it and successfully proved they can do it almost routinely in the 1970s. Furthermore–from the Space lab in the 1970s to the ISS of present times, the international community proved it can work cooperatively to nobler ends. Thus, we get a better sense of the issues in the journal, Genes in 2018. The group of three Australian scientists paint a fascinating look at synthetic plant biology, in the article titled, The Multiplanetary Future of Plant Synthetic Biology.

The present outlook of international cooperation for space ventures appears cloudy from chaotic, nationalistic policies. It behooves nations of the world to band together. Perhaps, in the next decade, the world will understand and re-commit to space exploration as a peaceful undertaking.

Science fiction writers love Mars. Ray Bradbury, Andy Weir, and H. G. Wells encouraged readers to dream and fantasize of Martian aliens or desolate landscapes. The truth of Martian colonization maybe stranger than what he have dreamed or thought we could anticipate –it is a destiny well worth achieving. It may well turn the world stage away from war and terrorism to cooperation and peace.

SOURCES TO EXPLORE
Briando Llorente, and co-workers. The Multi-planetary Future of Plant Synthetic Biology. 2018. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes9070348f

Cyprien Verseux, and co-workers. Sustainable Life Support on Mars–the potential roles of cyanobacteria. 2016. https://doi.org/10.1017/S147355041500021X

American Heritage Dictionary https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=terraform

NASA log of International Martian missions– https://mars.nasa.gov/mars-exploration/missions/historical-log/

It is in the Water — and Much More?

By John Antone Jaksich

Flint, Michigan has suffered without clean water for more than four years. Leaded water is the least of their worries? Image by John A. Jaksich

Water is crucial to life, it can be a vehicle that carries disease as well. A specific case is the agent known to cause a deadly form of pneumonia- legionella. The bacteria first gained notoriety in the late 1970s. In 1976, cases of an antibiotic resistant pneumonia struck in Philadelphia. Individuals attending an American Legion convention were struck ill. There were fatalities. The disease became known as legionnaire’s disease since it affected convention-goers at the American Legion convention.

While the above diseases are associated with Third World countries, they occur with greater frequency in the USA. Their occurrence is correlated with a neglect of social services and insufficient funding of infrastructure. However, there is a more hideous culprit; it is confluence of circumstances associated with an increasing temperatures, too. Copyright image by John A. Jaksich. All Rights Reserved.

While the cause of the pneumonia was mysterious, it took more than one year to pin down its mode of action — or how individuals were sickened. To this day, illnesses associated with legionella are not completely understood. [There are at least two known diseases associated with legionnaires’ bacteria: pneumonia and Pontiac fever.] However, through painstaking detective work, some common factors appeared: water and air conditioning units were involved. More mysteriously, the water was shown as plain tap water. Eventually, epidemiologists narrowed the causative factors as an aerosolization of bacteria-carrying water. Shockingly, chlorinated drinking water does not remove the bacterium in all cases. Normally, water is chlorinated to remove all traces of bacteria, but chlorination failed in this instance.

According to the U.S. EPA – “… if more prevalent bacteria and viruses are not present in the drinking water, then chlorination would have removed Legionella, as well …

So, we ruminate on potentially deadly diseases transmitted via a life-giving substance – water. The primary problems we face with water are poor infrastructure management. In fact, if we survey the potential number of diseases associated with water — the number and variety may astound us? From listeria to cholera to legionnaire’s to mosquitos infected with zika and west nile virus, it is a neglect of infrastructure coinciding with drastic climate change that proves problematic. It is no coincidence that rises in atmospheric and ocean temperatures trigger more cases of illnesses. To use an-oft quoted expression, we have a “perfect storm.”

While many individuals within the mainstream can not or don’t know how to accept that we are undergoing a drastic change, our fates appeared sealed with squabbling politicians whose only concern is money and wealth.

PARTS OF FLINT, MICHIGAN CONTINUE TO HAVE BAD WATER. IT HAS BEEN MORE THAT FOUR YEARS SINCE THE NEW WATER TREATMENT FACILITY HAS COME ON-LINE. DEATHS IN FLINT, FROM THE BAD WATER, CAME FROM LEGIONNAIRES’ DISEASE.

While Flint, Michigan continues to struggle with bad water, scientists and policy-makers continue to scratch their heads. The deaths in the poverty-stricken city are pushed to the back-pages of newspapers and not covered by the nightly news. The questions to ponder (according to this author), since Legionnaires’ is associated with higher temperatures, the likelihood of completely removing the bacterium from the water supply was not 100 percent.

Scientists now know that the legionnaires’ bacteria thrive in higher temperatures — even in chlorinated water.

Bibliography and sources

Water Purity and EPA standards: https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/national-primary-drinking-water-regulations#three Accessed October 7, 2019.

Frontline PBS: Flint’s Deadly Water. aired: September 10, 2019 https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/flints-deadly-water/

Aaron J. Prussin II, and others. Ten Questions Concerning the Aerosolization and Transmission of Legionella in Built Environment, Building Environment Journal 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29104349

Ronald S. Martin, and others. Isolation of Legionella pneumophila form hte blood of a patient with Legionnaires’ disease. Canadian Medical Association Journal 1984. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6388781

Opinion- Can the Chemical Sciences Stand Alone without a Physics Foundation? —

Does chemistry owe its existence to physics or is chemistry an independent discipline to itself? Many physicists believe that all the other sciences can be derived from Physics. To some chemists, physics and chemistry are distinct from one another— but question does not have a  complete resolution. To the late physicist, Richard Feynman, all of the sciences are derived from physics. And, if one ever gets to listen to any of his lectures, he can be rather convincing! However, there are a good four decades since his lectures were recorded. And, chemistry continues to develop. 

While physics and chemistry are rightfully a quantitative and an investigative sciences, chemistry is recognized for its creative and inventive ways. And, yes chemistry does have quite a bit in common with physics. However, it is argued that object of chemistry is the creative, craftsmanship of changing and combining of elements and molecules. It is the correct combinations that eventually lead to life and many of the molecules that we see on Earth.

Just like the alchemists, modern chemistry continues searching for a proverbial philosopher’s stone. This stone could be argued as being the commonality that links all combinations of molecules, atoms, and elements that allows for reactions to occur.

The Evidence Supporting Chemistry to be a Fundamental Science?

If there is any argument to be made for why chemistry fundamentally differs from physics— it would be mathematics and the experimentation behind it. And, it is here that we find reasons for constructing a mathematical edifice for its reactivity.

Understanding and utilizing reactivity hinges on knowing what kinds of chemicals will react to form ‘what different types of molecules.’ That descriptive aspect of chemistry is known as chemical kinetics. It utilizes a classification scheme for reactivity, its basis is how mechanistic descriptions are utilized.

Mechanistic descriptions utilize the manner by which molecules and reacting molecules orient themselves to give the most likely products. These mechanistic descriptions finally bore scientific results when experimental evidence was shown in many cases to match theoretically derived hypotheses. However, it is in the creative craft of reactions and synthesis where we may attempt to find resolution to the conundrum.

Thus, the fundamental problem of chemistry is to understand chemical changes.

Where do we find a fundamental ways  to describe chemistry without physics? –It isn’t easy…

Quantum mechanics famously explains chemistry. And to the bane of some physicists, the Uncertainty Principle asserts that electrons are a slippery slope to pin down. Finding the position of an electron does not allow one to find it’s velocity. Chemists, on the other hand, describe chemical reactions in terms of electron pushing.

And therein lies the potential solution. Describing chemical reactivity in the fundamental terms of quantum mechanics is the means to develop chemistry (without fundamental physics — mechanics, ). Don’t measure the immeasurable electron, measure atom movement spectrally. 

In the early 1980s to 1990s, experimental evidence accumulated by physical chemists showed that reaction dynamics could be pinned down with femtosecond spectroscopy. The primary developer was Dr. Ahmed Zewail

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1999. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2019. Thu. 9 May 2019. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/1999/summary/>

The recognition that atoms or reacting molecules can be measured with spectral results is now a foundation by which chemistry is fundamental.

Knowing chemical reactivity without classical physics to aid ihe descriptions is half the battle-

While it may take several generations of scientists to move the chemical sciences further into a foundational grounding without physics, it is moving slowly in that direction.

Prejudice Comes in Many Stripes?

Many of my posts in 2018 dealt with the civil rights and the ways people  gave themselves a sense of coping and justice. Possessing the ability to tolerate hate and injustice is one of the hallmarks of inner peace and serenity. 

So, I will write and comment on the issue in the context of Border walls to the South and the injustices faced by Hispanics and others.

So, let’s start–

 

When the Christopher Columbus landed in Hispaniola in 1492 – he brought disease, death, and suffering to two continents of the Americas. While he may have believed that Catholicism could save the Indian and liberate the land for Spain, the parochial outlook of Columbus is not over emphasized.

As related in the book 1492, the Americas were a land of plenty to the original Americans. The original Americans knew how to steward the land properly. They burned acre upon acre of foliage and tree and deposited the ash into the soil. The subsequent ash enriched the soil — the Indian planted native crops and subsisted upon vegetation and bison.

The bison, to the Indian, were not as numerous as depicted in accounts by many of the early settlers. The Indian knew to not slaughter all of the bison — but enough remained, so that in subsequent seasons, new bison replaced the hunted bison.

When the first settlers came upon the virgin forests of Kentucky and the thousands of head of bison in the Ohio river valley (and beyond), they encountered an anomaly. Thousands upon thousands of Indians had lived in the Ohio river valley and in the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. They were gone– but why and how?

Popularizations of savage Indians being slaughtered by settlers tells a reckless half-truth — the Indians disappeared. Yes, they died at the hands of settlers -but not only by the gun. It was through small pox, the plague, and viral infections that settlers brought with them from Europe.

Not much is made of the fact that European horses brought small pox and the settlers brought tuberculosis, as well. These two diseases decimated the Indian populations east of the Rockies.

The settlers — in their brand of wisdom — did not realize the Indians had been on American continents for thousands of years prior to their arrival. However, the Indians possessed wisdom and not ignorance as suggested by some.

The Truth?

While the settlers utilized their own brand of wisdom garnished from experience and the Bible, the indian understood the land and the wisdom gained by working the land. Over thousands of years, the original Americans learned that they could not cruelly take and not replenish the resources of their homes. 

Presently, civilization stands at a nexus point –a crossroads where the continuation of not replenishing the land and it resources could spell extinction for some. As some who fail to understand that it is wrong to not replenish the land, they may disappear in an ironic act of karma. However, karma, for all of its irony and bitter truths, is a law of our own Earth –or how we act through our miss-perceptions of existence. Karma is chauvinistic view of our world and the Universe.

While I have as yet not found karma to be the accurate justification for losses and gains, it is humanity’s personal law of retribution and existence. Scientifically speaking, there is no physical evidence for a law of karma –only an ignorance to one’s actions and the effects of the actions taken. Thus, when some speak of karma coming to their assistance, individuals invoke propagating ignorance. And perhaps, their own extinction is at stake, as well if they’re not careful. 

 

While it may never pan out for some – what is real and true in the physical world are the laws of science- biology, physics, chemistry, and their allied fields.

 

What of Bigotry?

Well, at the roots of bigotry are hate, ignorance, and false pride; or, in certain contemporary terms, narcissism. Narcissism is an interesting term — it is bandied about in many venues. From evil-bosses and sexist chauvinists to political leaders and ex-lovers, we hear about and see a lot of it. 

This is where “change can take place” – real and unabashed change. This present age of hated, whether personal or overt, presents reasons for some to affect change.

How?- let me list a few:

  • set an example for others 
  • gently confront or correct others in their misdeeds
  • write and expose to the wider public the persons responsible
  • act in concert in a group setting — when was the last time you noticed a group of individuals act kindly and compassionately towards hate?
  • get the right authorities to act –if they exist, to enforce laws that violate basic, human rights

Bigotry can not co-exist with truth, love, and justice — they are polar opposites.

Peace-