Saturday, July 11, 2015

Hypothesis: Toxins of Power Originate in Molecular Machines - 2

Universe of molecular machines
I. Introduction

A recent post at Dredd Blog points out that the physical universe, including the human brain and body, is composed substantially of molecular machines (The New Paradigm: The Physical Universe Is Mostly Machine - 3).

That post draws from, among other things, two books mentioned in the New York Review of Books, and a long list of Dredd Blog posts on the subject of molecular machines going back to 2009 (The New Paradigm: The Physical Universe Is Mostly Machine).

Those two books are: "Life’s Engines: How Microbes Made Earth Habitable", and "A New History of Life: The Radical New Discoveries About the Origins and Evolution of Life on Earth."

II. The Revolutionary Context

In a previous Dredd Blog post, the latter book had been discussed a bit, even featuring a video of the author, at a book signing in Seattle.

There, Dr. Peter Ward talked about the book contents, which indicated that the book was revolutionary (Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 42).

The first chapter of the first book I mentioned, the other book in the review, Life’s Engines, discusses how scientists missed the full picture of evolution:
The concept of genes and the basis of the physical inheritance of traits were totally unknown to Darwin, or anyone else at the time. [p. 19]
...
The concept of origin, as in the origin of life, was in the back of Darwin’s mind but not explicitly discussed in the book. [p. 20]
...
Even if Darwin had observed fossil microbes, he would almost certainly not have understood what their relationship to plants or animals was. Darwin, and virtually every other scientist in the nineteenth century, would have been profoundly surprised to learn that plants and animals had all descended from microbes over a period of time that was completely unimaginable in the nineteenth century ... [p. 21]
(Life’s Engines, Chapter 1, cf. Princeton University Press). The book also takes a revolutionary look at microbes, in terms of their part in evolutionary unfolding.

It pointis out how the establishment's scientific and religious communities at large missed the big little picture by not considering microbial life as the first order of inquiry:
In sum, the oversight of microbes, in both the literal and figurative senses, distorted our worldview of evolution for more than a century, and including microbes in our understanding of evolution is still a work in progress. [p. 12]
...
Microbes were missed because of our observational biases. They had been on this planet for billions of years before the first animal arose. Let’s meet the missing microbes and see how they played an outsized role in making this planet function. Without microbes, we would not be here. [p. 22]
(Life’s Engines, Chap. 1). Thus, the book points out, the two major sources for the science (Darwin) and faith (Bible) of origins had not discussed microbes (in fact Darwin was not even aware of either microbes or genes).

I don't want to be a spoiler, but I will address your attention to the second half of the title of the book "How Microbes Made Earth Habitable."

That indicates a revolution in scientific hypotheses and theories.

III. Ok, So What About The Molecular Machines?

The title of the New York Book Review piece, mentioned in Section I above, sets the molecular machine stage: "How You Consist of Trillions of Tiny Machines."

A concept that has been discussed on Toxins of Power blog for years:
Dr Clarke said: “There are a lot of fundamental questions about the origins of life and many people think they are questions about biology. But for life to have evolved, you have to have a moment when non-living things become livingeverything up to that point is chemistry.”
...
“Our cells, and the cells of all organisms, are composed of molecular machines. These machines are built of component parts, each of which contributes a partial function or structural element to the machine. How such sophisticated, multi-component machines could evolve has been somewhat mysterious, and highly controversial.” Professor Lithgow said.
...
Many cellular processes are carried out by molecular ‘machines’ — assemblies of multiple differentiated proteins that physically interact to execute biological functions ... Our experiments show that increased complexity in an essential molecular machine evolved because of simple, high-probability evolutionary processes, without the apparent evolution of novel functions. They point to a plausible mechanism for the evolution of complexity in other multi-paralogue protein complexes.
...
The most complex molecular machines are found within cells.
...
Writing in the journal PLoS Pathogens, the team from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences show how they studied the molecular machine known as the 'type II bacterial secretion system', which is responsible for delivering potent toxins from bacteria such as enterotoxigenic E. coli and Vibrio cholerae into an infected individual.

Professor Richard Pickersgill, who led the research, said: "Bacterial secretion systems deliver disease causing toxins into host tissue. If we can understand how these machines work, then we can work out how it they might be stopped."
(Do Molecular Machines Deliver Toxins of Power?). That there are molecular machines in organisms has been carried forward, on this blog, to also consider whether viruses may also have molecular machine components:
When is a life form not a life form? When it's a virus.

Viruses are strange things that straddle the fence between living and non-living. On the one hand, if they're floating around in the air or sitting on a doorknob, they're inert. They're about as alive as a rock. But if they come into contact with a suitable plant, animal or bacterial cell, they spring into action. They infect and take over the cell like pirates hijacking a ship.
...
Viruses are a curious lot. The standard drawing of the tree of life, the one you find on the inside back cover of biology textbooks, is divided into three branches: Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya. Viruses don’t make it onto the page.

That makes sense, some scientists argue, because they’re not alive. They can’t reproduce on their own; they require the cozy environment of living cells for their survival. Others disagree. Not only are viruses alive, they say, but genetic evidence indicates that they may have been the first forms of life on Earth, predating cellular life.
...
The processes responsible for the evolution of key innovations, whereby lineages acquire qualitatively new functions that expand their ecological opportunities, remain poorly understood. We examined how a virus, bacteriophage λ, evolved to infect its host, Escherichia coli, through a novel pathway. Natural selection promoted the fixation of mutations in the virus’s host-recognition protein, J, that improved fitness on the original receptor, LamB, and set the stage for other mutations that allowed infection through a new receptor, OmpF. These viral mutations arose after the host evolved reduced expression of LamB, whereas certain other host mutations prevented the phage from evolving the new function. This study shows the complex interplay between genomic processes and ecological conditions that favor the emergence of evolutionary innovations.
...
If not for a virus, none of us would ever be born.

In 2000, a team of Boston scientists discovered a peculiar gene in the human genome. It encoded a protein made only by cells in the placenta. They called it syncytin.
...
What made syncytin peculiar was that it was not a human gene. It bore all the hallmarks of a gene from a virus.

Viruses have insinuated themselves into the genome of our ancestors for hundreds of millions of years.
...
It turned out that syncytin was not unique to humans. Chimpanzees had the same virus gene at the same spot in their genome. So did gorillas. So did monkeys. What’s more, the gene was strikingly similar from one species to the next.
(Are Toxins of Power Machines or Organisms?). We are getting closer all the time, but, we must consider how molecular machines make, and then deliver, toxins of power.

IV. What About The Toxins of Power In Molecular Machines?

There is one ironclad and well known phenomenon deep down in any molecular machine, or any molecule for that matter, which can deliver what we can call a potential toxin of power:
"The analysis of the original proton wave packet involves an interesting phase problem, and, since the energy distribution is temperature dependent, the whole phenomenon is also temperature dependent."
...
"The tunneling times will depend essentially on the height and the form of the barrier. In DNA, the form of the double-well potentials regulating the hydrogen bonds depend not only on the base pair involved but also on neighboring pairs, their net charges, and the entire electric environment. The tunneling time is hence not only characteristic for a certain biological specimen but is also a function of the position in the DNA molecule involved. The tunneling time is very likely also temperature dependent, even if the protons are well shielded in the double helix. The main problem is whether the tunneling time is very short in comparison to the replication time, or whether there exist organisms where the penetration of the barrier is slow in comparison to the replication." 
...
"It should always be remembered that, in Born's interpretation of quantum mechanics, the quantity |¥|² represents the probability density for finding the proton in a specific position. The tunneling of the wave packet is hence a time-dependent process which is going to influence the properties of the genetic code.
...
"In this connection, it should be observed that the tunneling probabilities depend not only on the base pair involved but also on the electrostatic environment, the neighboring base pairs, etc., which may explain the occurrence of "hot spots."
...
At a DNA replication, the protons have to "choose sides," and the proton code immediately after a DNA replication represents actually a nonstationary state from the quantum-mechanical point of view. The time evolution of the system and particularly the penetration of the potential barrier in the double-well potential represents a loss of the genetic code which should perhaps be considered as the primary cause of aging. The aging is thus a process which goes on continuously in the DNA molecule but gets "manifested" at the replications.
...
Proton tunneling may finally be of importance in connection with the occurrence of spontaneous tumors. The growth of an individual is a highly refined balance between factors which enhance the cell duplication and other factors which limit this duplication so that the organism takes a specific shape. The entire process is stimulated and controlled by various enzymes, and there is a feedback from the environment about which we know, at present, very little. If there is a somatic mutation, i.e., a change of the genetic code in a DNA molecule in the body of an organism, the change may influence the protein synthesis and the balance between the enhancing and controlling enzyme actions in the growth cycle. Actually, the new genetic code may lead to the development of a "new individual" within the individual, i.e., a tumor."
...
"In this paper we have pointed out that, since the protons are not classical particles but "wave packets" obeying the laws of modern quantum theory, the genetic code cannot --in spite of all precautions-- be 100% stable. Due to the quantum-mechanical "tunnel effect," there is always a small but finite probability that the protons will change place, alter the genetic code, and give rise to mutations. This implies also that this transfer of protons over a distance of about 10-8 cm may be one of the driving forces in the evolution of living organisms on the earth."
(Stem Cell Malfunction A Quantum Toxin Source?, quoting the journal: Reviews Of Modern Physics, Vol. 35, No. 3, by Per-Olov Lowden, 1963). That is a purely abiotic dynamic, in terms of the core physics (cf. The Uncertain Gene).

Proton tunnelling can happen to any atom or molecule that is part of an utterly lifeless rock on planets, a steel beam in a skyscraper, a virus, a microbe, or other biological entities.

V. A Curious Example

Let's look at the corruption of a powerful group, which is ostensibly the most aware and knowledgeable group concerning human cognition.

They are the mind doctors.

Yet, it is coming to light that:
The largest association of psychologists in the United States is on the brink of a crisis, the Guardian has learned, after an independent review revealed that medical professionals lied and covered up their extensive involvement in post-9/11 torture. The revelation, puncturing years of denials, has already led to at least one leadership firing and creates the potential for loss of licenses and even prosecutions.

For more than a decade, the American Psychological Association (APA) has maintained that a strict code of ethics prohibits its more than 130,000 members to aid in the torture of detainees while simultaneously permitting involvement in military and intelligence interrogations. The group has rejected media reporting on psychologists’ complicity in torture; suppressed internal dissent from anti-torture doctors; cleared members of wrongdoing; and portrayed itself as a consistent ally against abuse.

Now, a voluminous independent review conducted by a former assistant US attorney, David Hoffman, undermines the APA’s denials in full – and vindicates the dissenters.
(Guardian: Psychologists and ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation; Full report: PDF). Some of the minds in the group became corrupted by toxins of power.

That infection then spread through the organization's governors under the meme complex dynamics which groups tend to foster (A Structure RE: Corruption of Memes - 3).

VI. Conclusion

This post is getting way to long for a single post, so I will close now and continue this series another day.

The next post in this series will consider the advent of wireless communication, propaganda, and other signalling.

That is, communication of various sorts as both a source of toxins of power, and as a remedial dimension for neutralizing toxins of power (a teaser is here).

For those readers who want to follow the overall evolutionary hypotheses about how the molecular machines evolved, consider (On the Origin of the Genes of Viruses, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13; The Uncertain Gene, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

The previous post in this series is here.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

What Next, Mass Depraved-Heart Murder?

Power corrupts
In this post I offer an actual example of cases where the toxins of power are at work under the covers.

One generally supposes that governments do all they can to protect citizens, especially during droughts or other global warming induced climate change events.

And that would generally be the case except when the toxins of power corrupt the cognitive ability, not to mention the heart of those exposed to power.

Mass-poisoning of the populace does not seem like a normal government function does it?

A federal lawsuit filed in California alleges just that:
Plaintiff Hopkins
"Every month, Occidental and Chevron directly pump 2.63 times more toxic waste water into the San Joaquin Aquifer than oil released into the Gulf during the entire BP spill. The California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) plans to allow them to continue for another 21 months. This lawsuit brought to stop the poisoning of the San Joaquin aquifer and to remediate the damage already done to the farmland of Kern County."
(Comm. To Protect Our Agricultural Water vs Occidental Oil & Gas, p. 1, emphasis added). I guess the case could also be called The People vs. The Bastids.

Defendants include officials in the California Government, from the Governor on down, as well as a boatload of Oil-Qaeda executives and operatives.

The complaint alleges Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) violations, constitutional violations under color of state law, and conspiracy to commit them:
"G. The Conspiracy

Beginning in 2011, the Oil Companies kept close attention to the EPA audit.

The Oil Companies knew that they ignored the regulations to protect underground water, and if the public knew of the risks, the Oil Companies would face massive liability for potential contamination of groundwater (historical and future). The Oil Companies also knew that they needed government approvals to engage in hydraulic fracturing. If the public knew of their failure to comply with underground injection control (UIC) requirements for waste water, the Oil Companies would be subject to greater scrutiny for hydraulic fracturing – waste water from fracking includes added chemicals.

The Oil Companies also knew that they needed landowners to approve the hydraulic fracturing, and if these landowners knew of these problems, landowners would not allow the Oil Companies to proceed with actions that would damage the farms and water supplies. By at least October 27, 2011, the Oil Companies agreed that no company would provide DOGGR with the documents to show protection of fresh water including (1) geological studies; (2) engineering studies; or (3) casing diagrams. This continues to the present day.

In early October of 2011, Occidental also directly contacted Governor Brown and told him to fire Miller and Chernow. Brown’s office then requested records about the permitting process as it related to Occidental. On October 14, 2011, Chernow sent documents regarding Occidental’s California operations to the senior officials handling the inquiry from Governor Brown. Chernow emailed that he was “willing to follow any direction as required. If direction is different than what the Department is currently pursuing, I would appreciate as explicit direction as possible.”

Less than a week later, on October 19, 2011, Occidental started reporting that “it cannot get the permits it needs for new drilling projects in California.” This was a misrepresentation of the problems arising from Occidental’s own decision not to follow the law.

On October 27, 2011, Occidental’s environmental engineer admitted to Chernow it had “the necessary information . . . However, he’s been told to stand down (by a lawyer is all I know) and not give us anything. There is apparently a meeting in Bakersfield at Oxy’s offices this afternoon to discuss whether they give us what we need or continue to give us nothing.”

Governor Brown’s office and his senior advisor, Cliff Rechtschaffen, scheduled a meeting with Miller and Chernow held the next day. Rechtschaffen notified them that DOGGR must immediately fast track permit approval. His team presented a document entitled the Temporary Assistance Program or TAP. Miller sought guidance from the United States Environmental Protection Agency about the list of demands.

The EPA representative reviewed and commented on it, and Miller responding by writing ... “I agree with your point that this has similarities to what was prepared by [Western States Petroleum Association ] WSPA.”

On November 2, 2011, Miller and Chernow went to another meeting which Rechtschaffen joined over the phone. Miller told Rechtschaffen the proposal violated the Safe Drinking Water Act. Rechtschaffen told her this was an order from Governor Brown."
(ibid, Complaint, pp. 25-27, line numbers removed, emphasis added). In other words, Oil-Qaeda guided the government officials to hide their illegalities.

This guidance of the California State Government by oil companies is not that rare (A Methanol Economy Way Out of Here - 6)

I know that government propaganda has hardened the public perception concerning "conspiracy theories," but the law is very well aware that conspiracies happen every day:
In fact, you might be surprised how many conspiracy theories are handled by the federal and state governments on a daily basis:
Over one-quarter of all federal criminal prosecutions and a large number of state cases involve prosecutions for conspiracy.
(Conspiracy Theory, 112 Yale L.J. 1307 (2003), Preface,  emphasis added). That is a lot of real, serious as a heart attack, beyond a reasonable doubt, and well documented occurrences of "conspiracy theories" going on in reality before the eyes of anyone who wants to see them.
(On The Origin of "Conspiracy Theory"). There is even the notion of conspiracy to commit "depraved-heart murder."

The case featured in this post is a civil case, but RICO can also be used in a criminal context:
"Defendants Brown, Nechodom, Kustic, Oviatt, DOGGR, WSPA, CIPA, OCCIDENTAL OIL AND GAS CORPORATION, CHEVRON U.S.A. INC., and others known and unknown, being persons employed by and associated with the Enterprise did unlawfully, knowingly, and intentionally conduct and participate, directly and directly in the conduct, management, and operation of the affairs of the Enterprise, which was engaged in and affected interstate and foreign commerce through racketeering activity that included numerous acts indictable under 18 U.S.C. § 371 (conspiracy to defraud the United States); 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 (intimidation of any person engaged in free exercise of speech or any Constitutional right); 1341 (mail fraud) , 1343 (wire fraud), 1346.43 (honest services), 1512 (b) (intimidating and threatening witnesses), and 1513(b) (intimidating and threatening witnesses)."
(ibid, Complaint, pp. 43-44, emphasis added; cf. Oil-Qaeda & MOMCOM Conspire To Commit Depraved-Heart Murder).

Hmmmm ....

Anyway, this blog will follow the above case as it develops, while elaborating on long standing Toxins of Power Blog hypotheses concerning the always mystical "toxins of power."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The "Genes of Culture" In Civilization

Van Gogh: "Ward of Arles Hospital"
I. The Evolution of Culture

How is the evolution of culture different from the evolution of individuals?

We don't miss a beat or a step when the notion of individual people having genes is discussed.

But that is not so when it comes to the "genetic make-up" of a culture.

The reaction to that would be "how could a society, culture, or civilization have genes" except within individuals of that culture?

That is a fair question.

We are not talking about adding up the unique, physical genes of all the individuals to thereby derive the overall quantity of "genes of a culture."

No, as will be discussed below, we are talking somewhat more about epigenetics, as well as memes and memetics than we are talking about physical RNA / DNA.

That said, neither are we talking exclusively about memes and memetics, because group dynamics are often talked about in terms of culture and observable characteristics swirling within that culture (see e.g. Comparing a Meme Complex to a Cultural Amygdala, Comparing a Group-Mind Trance to a Cultural Amygdala).

II. Where Do We Observe It?

A reviewer noticed that sometimes it can be a bridge too far to try to equate or link individual genetic dynamics to the dynamics of a group/culture:
But for the same reason that the book has a near-flawless takeoff, it crashes in the end. The way that Trivers structures the text requires that he zero in on a concrete example within each chapter’s more general subject. For biological concepts, this strategy makes the reading highly accessible.

But it backfires when Trivers uses it to apply his theory of self-deception in the areas of war, religion, and false historical narratives. These subjects are too broad, and his links to self-deception too tenuous, to be compelling. By having such specificity, Trivers pigeonholes his arguments and greatly simplifies issues that are not as black-and-white as he claims.
(Review of Folly of Fools, by Robert Trivers). It is difficult to build a bridge across that gap between individual, physical genetics and some of the troubling behaviors of groups.

That is why there are other "takes" on that same book and its theme: (Academia Edu, Deceit by Trivers, Deception, Is Trivers Deceiving Himself?, Trivers Wikipedia, Trivers von Hippel, evolution of self-deception).

One thing is for sure though, when self-deceit becomes a part of culture, it goes all the way to the bone:
The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists.

The report is the first to examine the association’s role in the interrogation program. It contends, using newly disclosed emails, that the group’s actions to keep psychologists involved in the interrogation program coincided closely with efforts by senior Bush administration officials to salvage the program after the public disclosure in 2004 of graphic photos of prisoner abuse by American military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
(American Psychological Association Ok With Torture). It is a bit disconcerting when the groups responsible for watching for, identifying, and then treating a social malady are overcome by that very social malady (Minds in Tumult, Presidential Psycho Team).

One of the dangers of the type of hypothesis that seeks to find and analyze the maladjusted behavioral dynamics inside the culture of a particular group, is a type of group-think influenced by the notion of "collective guilt" (The Psychology of the Notion of Collective Guilt).

Individuals can be slandered by it even though they are not individually guilty of the wrongs of the group itself (e.g. "all Islamic believers are evil therefore it is ok to torture or mistreat any of them").

It is important to remember that groups are composed of individuals who can and do differ, and therefore must also be considered in that light, i.e., as individuals as well being considered as group members.

Individuals in a group could metaphorically be considered as the individual genes of the group, which we know do have different characteristics.

It is clear, then, that as a preliminary matter we ought not paint everyone with the same group-brush merely because they are members of a group.

This is especially so when we now know the importance of epigenetics (One Man's Junk Gene Is Another Man's Treasure Gene?, The Uncertain Gene - 11, On The Origin of Genieology).

III. Where Does The "Cultural Deceit-Gene" Originate?

The phenomenon of deceit also happens way, way down in the unseen, tiny realm of individuals in groups which, for the most part, help us at every level of the ecosystem on Earth.

I am talking about a veritable universe of microbes and viruses: "there may be a hundred million times more viruses on Earth than there are stars in the universe"  (The Real Dangers With Microbes & Viruses).

At a higher level than RNA and DNA, individual microbes or even groups of them can go crazy to become pathogens.

But, they can also return to sanity (Microbial Languages: Rehabilitation of the Unseen, 2).

Perhaps, by sophisticated honesty via communication they can even be separated from the misbehavior which uses deceit as a technique of survival (On The Origin of Propaganda, 2).

IV. The Toxins of Power Are Hidden

Scientists differ on the dynamics of deceit, and whether deceit is a good thing or a bad thing for society, because for one thing the origins of deceit are hidden.

Some of the hidden details may be because the origin of maladjusted viruses and microbes is part of the history that was made well before humans came to be (Are Microbes The Origin of PTSD?).

In other words, are the catastrophes of history, which cause mass extinctions or mass damage to biological organisms, a source of pathogenic behavior (What Did The Mass Extinctions Do To Viruses and Microbes?)?

V. Conclusion

We need to resist allowing either our education or our knowledge to degenerate into a cultural trance which can morph into mob psychology.

A mob psychology that can threaten our very civilization (Why Sea Level Rise May Be The Greatest Threat To Civilization, 2).



The following video is a brief discussion of collective guilt by association:



Friday, April 10, 2015

Happy Birthday Kurt

Vonnegut in 1972
"Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum.

Plato says that the unexamined life is not worth living. But what if the examined life turns out to be a clunker as well?
-
Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.

Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.

It’s perfectly ordinary to be a socialist. It’s perfectly normal to be in favor of fire departments.

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here.


There’s only one rule that I know of, babies---‘... you’ve got to be kind.’
" - Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Abiotic Evolution: Can It Explain An Origin For The Toxins of Power? - 3

First, since this series has focused to some degree on stem cells (1st post, 2nd post), and since there was a big row/scrap about some scientific papers concerning stem cells (papers that were said to be flawed); today, I will update/narrow the line of reasoning in this series to the degree that these events might apply.

Note that this blog never agreed nor disagreed with the papers which indicated that stress could generate stem cells ("embryonic-like stem cells could be created by exposing bodily cells to stress" - Nature Retraction Notice).

That dust-up, in the journal Nature, is still ongoing to some degree, because there were some mysteries then which still remain in that ongoing scientific drama:
The investigation also has not explained one of the most notable features of the cells — their ability to form a placenta — something that embryonic stem cells do not generally do. “That is still one question that to me is still a mystery,” says Manuel Serrano, a cancer biologist who has worked with stem cells at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre in Madrid.

Serrano, like many of his colleagues, was intrigued by the papers, published in Nature in January 2014, reporting that adult cells could behave like stem cells after experiencing severe stress1, 2. To him, the premise made sense — there was ample evidence in the literature that stressed cells were prone to taking on new identities.
(Nature, "Questions Linger Over Stress-induced Stem Cells", emphasis added). There is little to no dispute that stress has an impact on organisms.

In fact, the stress involved in this drama being played out led to the suicide of one of the scientists involved (STAP Paper Co-author Sasai Commits Suicide).

Second, since we apply the toxins of power hypotheses to adults, we can ignore embryonic and other stem cells, to focus directly on adult stem cells:
Adult stem cells. These stem cells are found in small numbers in most adult tissues, such as bone marrow or fat. Compared with embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells have a more limited ability to give rise to various cells of the body.

Until recently, researchers thought adult stem cells could create only similar types of cells. For instance, researchers thought that stem cells residing in the bone marrow could give rise only to blood cells.

However, emerging evidence suggests that adult stem cells may be able to create unrelated types of cells. For instance, bone marrow stem cells may be able to create bone or heart muscle cells.
(Mayo Clinic, emphasis added). So, as these cells are going through the process of "shape shifting", what could cause that morphing process to be initiated, and what toxins could impact upon those cells, and the ones they were morphing into or creating, during and/or after the metamorphic process?

One of the country's top experts on stress (quoted often on this blog) has given stress a substantial amount of thought:
In 1900, what do you think were the leading causes of death in this country?

If you were 20 to 40 years old and a woman, the single riskiest thing you could do was try to give birth. TB, Pneumonia, influenza killed a lot of other people. But few people under the age of 100 die of the flu anymore. Relatively few women die in childbirth. Instead, we die of these utterly bizarre diseases that have never existed before on the planet in any sort of numbers—diseases like heart disease, cancer, adult-onset diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

Now, some of this has to do with nuts and bolts biology. But some of it has to do with issues that nobody ever had to think about before in medicine—totally bizarre questions like, “What’s your psychological makeup?” or “What’s your social status?” or “How do people with your social status get treated in your society?

And this one: “Why is it that when we’re feeling unloved, we eat more starch?” Figure that out, and you’ve cured half the cases of diabetes in this country.

Indeed, when you look at the diseases that do us in, they are predominantly diseases that can be caused, or made worse, by stress. As a result, most of us in this room will have the profound Westernized luxury of dropping dead someday of a stress-related disease. That’s why it’s so urgent that we understand stress—and how to better manage it.
(How to Relieve Stress, by Dr. Sapolsky; emphasis added). So, the stress addressed in the valid parts of the scientific papers that were recalled by the journal Nature for other reasons, and the subsequent testing (i.e. "embryonic-like stem cells could be created by exposing bodily cells to stress") are still worthy of further consideration.

A substantial number of related events that are causes of, or contributors to, our demise or death are also worthy of further consideration.

Why, then, would anyone question the potential impact of the constant exposure to stress on people who are sitting in seats of power?

Especially since astronomically smaller amounts of exposure to stress in "minor" events, such as traffic jams, can even have an impact:
For 99 percent of the species on this planet, stress is three minutes of screaming terror in the savannah, after which either it’s over with or you’re over with. That’s all you need to know about the subject if you’re a zebra or a lion.

If you’re a human, though, you’ve got to expand the definition of a stressor in a very critical way. If you’re running from a lion, your blood pressure is 180 over 120. But you’re not suffering from high blood pressure—you’re saving your life. Have this same thing happen when you’re stuck in traffic, and you’re not saving your life. Instead you are suffering from stress-induced hypertension.

We humans turn on the stress response with memories, with emotions, with thoughts, and the whole punch line is: That’s not what it evolved for. Do it regularly enough, and you’re going to damage your cardiovascular system. Increased blood flow hammers on the walls of your blood vessels, causing inflammation. Fat and glucose and cholesterol glom on and begin to clog your arteries. That’s bad news. You are more at risk for chronic fatigue, sleep disruption, muscle atrophy, and probably most importantly, adult-onset diabetes, this once obscure disease that’s just on the edge of being the number one killer in this country.

Chronic stress also does bad things to the nervous system. Stress kills neurons in the part of the brain called the hippocampus and weakens the cables between neurons, so they can’t talk to each other. This impairs the formation and retrieval of long-term memory. The opposite thing happens in the amygdala, which is where we see fear in a brain scanner. In the hippocampus, stress causes stuff to shrivel up. But stress feeds the amygdala. It actually gets bigger. Chronic stress creates a hyper-reactive, hysterical amygdala, and this tells us tons about what stress has to do with anxiety disorders.
(ibid, "How to Relieve Stress", emphasis added). Regular readers know that this blog has many posts concerning the impact which the amygdala has on behavior (e.g. The Toxic Bridge To Everywhere, Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala).

But, perhaps equally central to the analysis of what impact it has on those in seats of power, the frontal cortex is implicated too:
What about the frontal cortex? It’s the most human part of the brain; we’ve proportionally got more of it than any other species does. And what does the frontal cortex do? It does gratification postponement, self-discipline, long-term planning, emotional regulation. It’s the last part of the brain to fully mature—that doesn’t happen until you’re 25 years old, which explains a lot about the freshmen year of college.

This has a very interesting implication. If this is the last part of the brain to fully develop, by definition, then, it is the part of the brain least constrained by genes and most sculpted by experience. What does chronic stress do to the frontal cortex? Atrophy of neurons, disconnecting circuits. As a result, you make the most idiotic decisions, which are going to haunt you for the rest of your life, and yet you think they’re brilliant at the time. That’s another effect of chronic stress: Your judgment goes down the tubes.
(ibid, "How to Relieve Stress", emphasis added). That fits well with what we see happening in seats of power (e.g. The Peak Of The Oil Wars - 12, New Climate Catastrophe Policy: Triage - 11, The Ignoratti Preacher Says: "The Ice Age Cometh").

And since Dr. Sapolsky said "it [frontal cortex] is the part of the brain least constrained by genes and most sculpted by experience", it might help to review posts related to the impact that experience has on those in seats of power (epigenetic and cultural: One Man's Junk Gene Is Another Man's Treasure Gene?, Choose Your Trances Carefully).

Some of the observations the world makes based on Americans in power, when "judgment goes down the tubes", is to change their perspective on America:
In the early fall of 2014, I traveled from my home in Oslo, Norway, through much of Eastern and Central Europe. Everywhere I went in those two months, moments after locals realized I was an American the questions started and, polite as they usually were, most of them had a single underlying theme: Have Americans gone over the edge? Are you crazy? Please explain.
(The Life and Death of Bright Things - 2, emphasis in original). Stress causes death and lack of judgment, nevertheless its impact on those in power, in some ways, is said to still be a mystery:
The profound evolution of primate neocortex was influenced by the computational demands of living in a complex social environment (Dunbar & Shultz, 2007). For primates, a key factor creating structure within the social environment is power. In nonhuman primates, an animal’s power is partly determined by the degree to which they dominate conspecifics. Those that are able to exert dominance over others gain greater access to valuable resources like food and potential mates (Dunbar, 1980; Lewis, 2002; Watts, 2010). In human societies, power similarly creates “dependence asymmetries,” wherein the powerless depend heavily on the powerful for resources, whereas the powerful enjoy relatively unabated access to resources (Russell & Fiske, 2010). This asymmetry results in differences in how the powerful and the powerless process other individuals. Despite what we know about the effects of power on social information processing, the majority of the evidence is indirect, and the mechanisms underlying power’s influence remain a mystery.
...
Future research will be needed to determine the mechanisms through which power impacts motor resonance. Though it is dangerous to rely solely on brain imaging to infer mental activity (cf. Poldrack, 2006), extant neuroimaging data are crucial for generating testable predictions for this work. In this vein, one possibility is that the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS), a brain region that sends visual input to resonant brain areas, is inhibited or somehow deactivated by high power.
(Power Changes How The Brain Responds To Others, PDF; emphasis added). Clearly, there is mystery still out there to be considered by those laboring in the realm of serious research.

That reality lends some credence to this blogs focus on a broad area of potential sources for the origin toxins of power, from memes all the way to microbes, viruses, and molecules.

Since abiotic evolution still takes place in an area which impacts the relevant areas higher up in the hierarchy of physics, genetics, and biology, in closing today's post, let's take a look at that abiotic source once again:
"The analysis of the original proton wave packet involves an interesting phase problem, and, since the energy distribution is temperature dependent, the whole phenomenon is also temperature dependent."
...
"The tunneling times will depend essentially on the height and the form of the barrier. In DNA, the form of the double-well potentials regulating the hydrogen bonds depend not only on the base pair involved but also on neighboring pairs, their net charges, and the entire electric environment. The tunneling time is hence not only characteristic for a certain biological specimen but is also a function of the position in the DNA molecule involved. The tunneling time is very likely also temperature dependent, even if the protons are well shielded in the double helix. The main problem is whether the tunneling time is very short in comparison to the replication time, or whether there exist organisms where the penetration of the barrier is slow in comparison to the replication." 
...
"It should always be remembered that, in Born's interpretation of quantum mechanics, the quantity |¥|² represents the probability density for finding the proton in a specific position. The tunneling of the wave packet is hence a time-dependent process which is going to influence the properties of the genetic code.
...
"In this connection, it should be observed that the tunneling probabilities depend not only on the base pair involved but also on the electrostatic environment, the neighboring base pairs, etc., which may explain the occurrence of "hot spots."
...
At a DNA replication, the protons have to "choose sides," and the proton code immediately after a DNA replication represents actually a nonstationary state from the quantum-mechanical point of view. The time evolution of the system and particularly the penetration of the potential barrier in the double-well potential represents a loss of the genetic code which should perhaps be considered as the primary cause of aging. The aging is thus a process which goes on continuously in the DNA molecule but gets "manifested" at the replications.
...
Proton tunneling may finally be of importance in connection with the occurrence of spontaneous tumors. The growth of an individual is a highly refined balance between factors which enhance the cell duplication and other factors which limit this duplication so that the organism takes a specific shape. The entire process is stimulated and controlled by various enzymes, and there is a feedback from the environment about which we know, at present, very little. If there is a somatic mutation, i.e., a change of the genetic code in a DNA molecule in the body of an organism, the change may influence the protein synthesis and the balance between the enhancing and controlling enzyme actions in the growth cycle. Actually, the new genetic code may lead to the development of a "new individual" within the individual, i.e., a tumor."
...
"In this paper we have pointed out that, since the protons are not classical particles but "wave packets" obeying the laws of modern quantum theory, the genetic code cannot --in spite of all precautions-- be 100% stable. Due to the quantum-mechanical "tunnel effect," there is always a small but finite probability that the protons will change place, alter the genetic code, and give rise to mutations. This implies also that this transfer of protons over a distance of about 10-8 cm may be one of the driving forces in the evolution of living organisms on the earth."
(Stem Cell Malfunction A Quantum Toxin Source?, @ Review of Modern Physics). While we digest all this we need to remember that we are considering the impact of the type of stress which is induced or enhanced by exposure to power.

Today, I am saying that such impacts may reach all the way down to the abiotic dynamics that can cause mutations at the atomic level.

I am also saying that those impacts may reach up to higher level genetic dynamics, as well as upon even higher level adult stem cells as they function to repair the damage stress has caused to cells around them.

The previous post in this series is here.