Archive | September, 2012

Leo Szilard and the Foundation Mark Gable

16 Sep

“Gloire et louange à toi, Satan, dans les hauteurs

Du Ciel, où tu régnas, et dans les profondeurs

De l’Enfer, où, vaincu, tu rêves en silence!

Fais que mon âme un jour, sous l’Arbre de Science,

Près de toi se repose, à l’heure où sur ton front

Comme un Temple nouveau ses rameaux s’épandront!

Charles Baudelaire, in Les Fleurs du Mal [1]

Science is in danger of survival. Technology and Burocracy took its place. How to create anew the conditions that give birth to the wonderful discoveries of the last century that endure until the 1950’s with the discovery of the laser? This is an actual and fundamental problem that strikes our civilization.

“Only daring have made the main contributions  to Science. Notwithstanding this, the contemporary heavy administration in the
system of modern scientific education and scientific research still suppresses  everyone who wishes to develop new and productive ideas. That is why the  freedom  of scientific work and the free initiative of original studies should  undeniably be defended, because only these factors were and will be the most  productive sources of great progress of Science”—Louis de Broglie, Necessity of  Freedom of Scientific Work, Annales de la Fondation Louis de Broglie, vol. 4, nº  1, p.62 (1979)

Fermi-Szilard neutronic Reactor. Image credit:Wikipedia

But here we are talking about a singular man of science. Leo Szilard, the great physicist of Hungarian ascent after Hiroshima left physics to dedicate his interests to biology and science-fiction…Szilard was born in Hungary in 1898 and come to Berlin in 1919 to study with Albert Einstein, Max von Laue and become a friend with Eugen Wigner. In 1938 he went to the United States, rapidly recognizing the evil nature of nazism. In Chicago, he worked with Enrico Fermi at the Metallurgical Laboratory in the framework of the Manhattan Project. At this laboratory, Leo Szilard developed the concept of nuclear chain reaction into a nuclear  reactor, and he patented the idea together with another great physicist Enrico Fermi (this kind of people are disappearing in our societies unfortunately, there is no place for them), see their patent [1a].

US postage stamp honoring Enrico Fermi. Im credit:
Leo Szilard. Image credit:

At a certain moment, Szilard felt the need to eliminate the sinister side of his nuclear reactor and atomic bomb, not being pleased with the political turn of the Manhattan Project.

What was his idea about Big Science? «It was not the kind of physics I like, and I even wonder if it is physics at all». In a  series of tales, Szilard, describes with humor a meeting with a millionaire, Mark Gable, that enriched with a bank of sperm. We refer now to a part of the tale appearing in Leo Szilard book “The voice of the dolphins and other stories” [2].

“Would you intend to do anything for the advancement of science?” I asked.

“No”, Mark Gable said. “I believe scientific progress is too fast as it is.”

“I share your feeling about this point,” I said with fervor of conviction, “but then why not do something about the retardation of scientific progress?”

“That I would very much like to do,” Mark Gable said, “but how do I go about it?”

“Well,” I said, “I think that shouldn’t be very difficult. As a matter of fact, I think it would be quite easy. You could set up a foundation, with an annual endowment of thirty million dollars. Research workers in need of funds could apply for grants, if they could mail out a convincing case. Have ten committees, each committee, each composed of twelve scientists, appointed to pass on these applications. Take the most active scientists out of the laboratory and make them members of these committees. And the very best men in the field should be appointed as chairman at salaries of fifty thousand dollars each. Also have about twenty prizes of one hundred thousand dollars each for the best scientific papers of the year. This is just about all you would have to do. Your lawyers could easily prepare a charter for the foundation. As a matter of fact, any of the National Science Foundation bills which were introduced in the Seventy-ninth and Eightieth Congress could perfectly well serve as a model.”

This question is of huge importance nowadays and must be taken seriously by all of us. What kind of civilization are we leaving to our sons? [3]


[1] Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal

[1a] Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard, Nutronic Reactor, Patent US2708656

[2] Leo Szilard, The voice of Dolphins and Other Stories

[3] Tragic Science of Leo Szilard, by Roy Scott Sheffield

The amazing similarity between blood and chlorophyll

3 Sep

Education has no meaning unless it helps us to understand the vast expanse of life with all its subtitlities. – Krishnamurti.

What is tru for the [the bacterium] E. Coli is true for the elephant. – François Jacob, 1965 Nobel Prize in Medicine

Part of our knowledge we obtain direct; and part by argument. – John Maynard Kaynes

After all, the ancient worshipers of the Sun have their reasons, they had a theory of life that sees life as a result of the sun light, and for them plant life and human life are closely related to each other. Nowadays, science gives some reason to their not completely satisfying concept of the natural world. Scientist already discovered that life comes from the sun. Chlorophyll contains oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and magnesium, whilst haemoglobin from the blood contains iron at the place of magnesium, see figure above. Both iron and magnesium are metallic atoms.

Organisms spend a lot of time acquiring energy (capacity to do work) and nutrients (substance that an organism needs for growth and survival, but cannot make of itself). Despite the close similarity between blood and chlorophyl, plants are producers (they make their own food using energy and materials from their environment) and animals are consumers (cannot make their own food). As stressed by Jeremy Rifkin {*2} “the first economy of the world is photosynthesis”.

Hemacyanin is another molecule which is responsible to convey oxygen in haemalymph, the blood of arthropods. An arthropod are members of the phylum Arthropoda (invertebrate animal with an exoskeleton, segmented body, and jointed appendages). Insects, arachnids, crustaceans are among this group. Hemacyanin has copper at his center. It is the metallic element at the center of these molecules that give their characteristic color.

arthropods. Image credit: Wikipedia

Chlorophyll, hemoglobin and hemacyanin are three fundamental molecules of life as we know in our planet. Their chemical formulas are:  C55H72O5N4Mg, for chlorophyll, and for hemoglobin is  C2952H4664N812O832S8Fe4. It is therefore clear our parentage…

These molecules are needed since diffusion or plasma solubility in delivering oxygen is very ineffective, and higher organisms needed to evolve in building specific proteins to transport dioxygen in the blood. These substances are able to transport oxygen in the blood through acceptance of dioxygen from a surface in contact with air (lung) or water (gill), circulate to the tissues, delivering their needed oxygen. Of course, the carrier molecule must not be irreversibly oxidized by dioxygen, and transition metals, characterized by lower oxidation states were chosen by nature to accomplish this task. Otherwise, they would be lost for further purpose. However, these metallic elements are carried, involved in a structural protein casing that protect them against irreversible oxidation (in a way not entirely known) [3].

Oxygen may be seen as the elixir of life…and death. The name “oxygen” was bequeathed by Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794), the revolutionary scientist and political conservative beheaded in May 1794 during the French Revolution. The great mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange (1736-1813) regreted the decision of the Revolutionary Tribunal and said: “it took but a moment to cut off that head, though a hundred years perhaps will be required to produce another like it”.

Life on Earth start with anaerobic metabolism that still nowadays persist in the form of bacteria living in oxygen-poor environments. In the early earth, nearly all oxygen was bound in compounds, like water and silicate rocks. But nearly 3 billions years ago the “invention” in nature of plant photosynthesis turned anaerobic world into our present type of environment with aerobic life. It is clear that the introduction of oxygen into the anaerobic world obliged the organisms existing at that time to adapt, since a lot of the by-products from oxygen metabolism are toxic compounds. Oxygen was essential to retain on Earth much of the hydrogen, since our planet has a relatively small mass, and can easily lose free hydrogen to the cosmic space. Without binding to oxygen, nearly all hydrogen would be lost forever.

The atomic structure dictates what an element can do, what compounds it can form, and what properties it possess. The nucleus of the comoomn isotope of oxygen contains eight protons and eight neutrons, and is designated by 16O. Quamtum mechanics tells us that electrons are not located around the nucleus as “orbitals”, but as a “cloud”, a region of space where electrons are most likely to be.

The following video shows how oxygen is transported through our bodies.


According to the bible and the Quran, Israelites were nourished about 40 years (while wondering in the Sinai desert) from the heavens with manna, apparently a member of lichen family [4].

Algae can be a source of food and energy {3*} in a world where a multitude of people don’t take due attention to the quality of their eating habits, see site below (and I am thankful to Molly Brooks, who called my attention to her infographic)
Guide to Cleansing
Created by:


[1] Nobel Prize presentation, Chemistry, 1915

[2] Chlorophyll and hæmoglobin regeneration after hæmorrhage, by J. Howell Hughes and  A. L. Latner

[3] Oxygen and the Evolution of Life, by Heinz Decker,Kensal E. Van Holde

[4] Charles Berlitz’s World of the Odd and Awesome, by Charles Berlitz


{*1} Alternative treatment for cancer

{*2} Jeremy Rifkin, Lecture at Ross’ Institute in 2010, entitled “The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis”.

{3*} Shearable:Science and Tech

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