molecular biology, cellular senescence,and the lessons of ph

GREGORY C.O'KELLY gokelly at delphi.com
Sun Apr 3 21:04:44 EST 1994


	I present an abstract of a paper, "Biology, Bioelectricity, and 
the Nervous System", which I would like to have considered by 
others of a scientific bent.  The paper is at once challenging and soporific.  It is challenging because the material is quite cross 
disciplinary, and involves the history and the philosophy of science 
as well as knowledge about paleoanthropology, medicine, 
evolutionary theory, and physics.  It is soporific because it is often 
technical or esoteric, so that few will grasp its entirety, and many 
will set it aside unfinished.
	The paper begins with a discussion of the attempt by 
biologists, most notably Ernst Mayr of Harvard, to qualify biology as 
scientific by specifying what qualifies as science.  The paper points 
out that even by this specification biology does not qualify as 
science, and that the Mayrian notion that biology has escaped the 
millstone of Descartes is incorrect.  The paper points out how Mayr's 
own biological prejudices against the notion of discontinuity in 
vertebrate and mammalian speciation flow from his desire to 
maintain the barrier between biology and physics.  This issue is 
returned to in the epilogue.  It is one of the theses of this paper that Descartes and Newton still exercise a strong influence over 
biological thought, especially in the idea that only the first of the 
four fundamental forces of nature (gravity, electromagnetism, the 
strong force, the weak force) is considered pertinent to biology, that 
creatures are thought of as mechanisms, and that is what 
biochemists look for.  It is pointed out that this outlook is 
especially characteristic of thinking about the nervous system, the 
lack of a model of the functional organization of that system still 
being what Mayr calls a bottleneck in biological thought.
	In the first part of the paper, NEUROLOGY, ELECTRICITY AND
THE NATURE OF NERVE IMPULSE PROPAGATION, a history of medical 
electricity is presented simultaneously with a discussion of how the 
thinking of physicists was changing with regard to the nature of 
electricity.  It is pointed out that most of the conclusions with regard to the use of electrical stimulation to simulate nervous 
functioning were made before the electron was even hypothesized, 
the rest were made before the nature of the electron was understood 
by physicists.  In this section is a discussion of the galvanic/faradic 
distinction - that is, the difference between AC and DC in terms of 
electron behavior, and how medicine failed to grasp the significance 
of polarity of electrical charge on chemical reactions, especially 
those involving neurotransmitters.
	The next section, VIEWS OF NERVOUS SYSTEM FUNCTIONING, 
starts with a discussion of how medical/neurological views of 
nervous functioning and electricity solidified in 1870, long before 
the physicists understood the nature of electricity.  These ideas 
were institutionalized in the name of Sir Charles Sherrington, the 
father of modern neuro-physiology, in the first part of this century.  It is stated that even Peter Medawar observes as recently as 1983 
that neurology can do nothing more than it could do 100 years 
earlier.  Thorough discussion of the role of the ignorance of 
electricity's functioning upon 19th century speculation about 
nervous functioning is presented.  It is shown how the structure of 
neuroanatomy was misinterpreted in its functioning prior to and in 
the first part of the 20th century because the working of electricity 
was not yet even understood by physicists, even though it was 
already being used by engineers.  It is pointed out in this section 
that traditional explanations of nervous functioning were never 
questioned, and were even awarded a Nobel Prize in 1963 for a bit of 
work by Sir John Eccles, Hodgkin and Huxley that is an affront to all 
philosophers of science and physicists, but is still taught as 
doctrine today.   Neurologists insist on retaining a view of the nervous system that leaves it in an impoverished state with regard 
to possibly being an information processing system, and 
neuroscientists no longer question sciosophistic explanations of 
nerve impulse propagation that leave their discipline the most inept 
branch of clinical medicine.	In the next section, THE FUNCTIONING OF 
THE NERVOUS SYSTEM BASED UPON AN EXAMINATION OF ITS 
STRUCTURE AND CONSIDERATION OF THE NATURE OF BIOELECTRICITY, 
the effects on organic molecules and the origins of life, and on extra 
and intracellular chemistry of electrical charge, are detailed.   This 
is especially crucial for understanding motor functioning, and for 
seeing 'behavior' as the result of the movement of electrical charge, 
not the intervention of mind and consciousness in a dualistic world.  
For the biologists and their mechanisms, 'energy' and 'information' 
meant molecular momentum and some anthropomorphic form of cellular intelligence.  For the physicists it meant direct current and 
electrolysis.  In this section is also discussed the 
electronmicroscopic structure of muscle and how it legislates 
against Sherrington's own 'reflex activity of the spinal cord', 
reflexes being something that every neurologist knows how to check 
for, and how useless such things are for diagnosis and treatment.  In 
addition, parallels between atrophy and aging are discussed as well 
as the possibility that some paralysis resulting from CNS trauma 
are do to deterioration of the muscle and not irreversible CNS 
damage.
	In the next section, NERVOUS SYSTEM FUNCTIONING, 
COMPLEXITY, AND STIMULATION, the relation between motor activity
 and brain complexity is clearly staked out.  In addition, organism 
behavior as well as the functioning of the organism's cells are hypothesized to be dependent upon the same laws of nature, the 
movement of electrochemical energy, rather than the cells being 
electrochemical while the organism has a consciousness or some 
'vital' force within it.  With this in mind it is detailed how the CNS 
and the body may be maintained by the introduction of electrical 
charge via transcutaneous electrode, thereby preventing or curing 
chronic and degenerative illnesses and aging.
	Finally, in the epilogue it is discussed once again how Mayr's 
views of the continuity of genetic change and vertebrate speciation 
conflict not only with the fossil record (which is more supportive of 
the views of Gould and Eldridge with their 'punctuated equilibria'), 
but with a view of the nervous system which holds that nervous 
system complexity is better indicated by the number of emergent 
axons from that system, whether centrally or peripherally, than relative brain and body weights and cranial capacities.  The number 
of axons is associated with the ganglia and alpha motor neurons, 
with the addition of pairs of these due to 'systemic mutations', an 
idea expressly disdained by Mayr.  It is stated, in conclusion, that 
this approach to the nervous system is right in line with the calls of 
Gerald Edelman, Nobel Laureate and director of the Neurosciences 
Institute and chairman of the Department of Neurobiology at the 
Scripps Research Institute, calls for 'a theory of how morphology 
arises and how it is changed during evolution';  'how alterations in 
form, either in the whole animal or at microscopic levels of brain, 
evolution;  Mayr calls it 'macroevolution'.
	
	I would greatly appreciate the comments and criticisms of 
anyone who has the patience and perseverance to finish this paper 
and to ruminate over the ideas presented therein.  This is just the 
proffered foundation of a theory, an hypothesis which can overturn 
its competition from the orthodox neurological community by resort to electronmicroscopic muscle biopsies which will overrule the 
clinical manual of neuroanatomy, flawed as it is, with regard to 
spinal reflexes being posited as responsible for the spasticity and 
rigidity of the spinal injured.  I would like someday, having gotten 
this considered, to answer the 'so what?' of the issue as it relates 
to clinical application to chronic and degenerative illnesses and the 
aging process.
	For a copy of this paper binhexed please write to 
gokelly at delphi.com




More information about the Ageing mailing list