We couldn’t live without ‘zero’ – but we once had to

Mathematician Hannah Fry tells the intriguing story of how the number zero was ‘discovered’ – and why we couldn’t predict the future without it.

Nothing lies at the heart of science, engineering and mathematics.

Nothing as in zero, of course.

This cheeky yet powerful number has caused more controversy and provided more delight than any other digit I know. For one thing, it allows us to forecast the future. But to comprehend why and to understand zero’s power, you first have to understand its birth and its battles, because zero’s path to greatness was a rocky one.

Zero as a concept has been around since ancient times, popping up in Babylonian and Mayan inscriptions, when it was used it to calculate the passage of the seasons. Ancient scholars employed it as a symbol to represent the absence of a number, like the way we use a zero in 101 or 102 to signify that there are no multiples of 10 in the middle position. For the Babylonians, it was two little dart symbols on their sides.

The Babylonian symbol for an absence of numbers (Credit: Wikipedia)

The Babylonian symbol for an absence of numbers

However, it took two millennia for zero, with all its mathematical brilliance, to be accepted as a proper number. And this happened in India.

It took two millennia for zero, with all its mathematical brilliance, to be accepted as a proper number

According to maths author Alex Bellos, India was the perfect setting: “The idea of nothing being something was already deep in their culture. If you think about ‘nirvana’ it’s the state of nothingness – all your worries and desires go. So why not have a symbol for nothing?”

That symbol was called ‘shunya’, a word still used today to mean both nothing as a concept, and zero as a number.

Although all the other numbers we use today have changed hugely throughout history in terms of their shape, zero has always been a circle. Before I looked into the concept of zero for The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry, I’d always imagined the circle was a hole, representing nothing. However, according to Indian mysticism, zero is round because it signifies the circle of life, or as it was also known ‘the serpent of eternity’.

Back in India, the astronomer Brahmagupta was the driving force behind zero’s path to greatness in the 7th Century.  In mathematics, not only could shunya be used as a placeholder to signify nothing in that position, but you could use it in calculations just like any other number. You could add it, subtract it, multiply it. Division remains a bit tricky, but that particular challenge spurred a whole new wonderful field of mathematics, as we’ll see later.

Zero is a hero when it comes to its impact on the world (Credit: iStock)

Zero is a hero when it comes to its impact on the world

Once zero had gained a foothold in South Asia, it crossed into the Middle East, where it was championed by Islamic scholars, and created part of the Arabic number system that we use today. (Some historians say that zero’s origins in India have been unfairly airbrushed out of history, and we should really call it the ‘Indo-Arabic’ number system).

However, after its incredible spiritual and intellectual beginnings, zero faced a real struggle. It crossed into Europe at the same time as Christian crusades against Islam. Any Arab ideas, even in mathematics, were met with widespread scepticism and mistrust.

In 1299, zero was banned in Florence, along with all Arabic numerals

In 1299, zero was banned in Florence, along with all Arabic numerals, because they were said to encourage fraud. Zero could easily be doctored to become nine, and why not add a few zeros on the end of a receipt to inflate the price?

What’s more, zero was seen to set a dangerous precedent because it was the gateway to negative numbers. And negative numbers legitimised the concept of debt and money lending.

Nothing to celebrate

Incredibly it wasn’t until the 15th Century that zero, along with all the other Arabic numbers, was finally accepted. Just to put it in context, by then Oxford University in England had been around for centuries and the printing press was just up and running.

Both, no doubt, helped zero to flourish as an idea in mathematics, and it formed the basis of some of the most incredible scientific and technological methods we use today. By the 17th Century, zero emerged triumphant as the basis of Cartesian co-ordinates (the x and y graphs you meet in school) invented by the French philosopher Descartes. His system is still employed in everything from engineering to computer graphics.

As Bellos wonderfully describes: “The Renaissance was really sparked by the arrival of the Arabic number system, containing zero. And when that happened, the black and white world of arithmetic suddenly became glorious and technicolour.”

Zero is everywhere today, but it was once a controversial concept (Credit: Getty Images)

Zero is everywhere today, but it was once a controversial concept

However, during the Renaissance, zero became so powerful it caused passions to ignite once again. I mentioned the problem of division by zero earlier. The even trickier notion of dividing zero by zero is the basis of one of my favourite areas of mathematics – calculus. Calculus is the mathematics of change and gives us some nifty tricks that allow you to forecast what might happen in the future – from the spread of Ebola to the movement of the stock market. A powerful tool, indeed.

Calculus is used to describe how pretty much anything changes – and it relies on the concept of zero

Here’s how calculus works in one paragraph – imagine drawing a graph of something changes over time. Let’s say it’s how much you are paying attention to reading this article. Since your attention might stray over time (around that bit about Cartesian coordinates, for instance) the line will wibble and wobble around. But if you zoom in close enough to any part of the curve it will still look like a straight line. Zoom in further and further until you’re taking infinitesimally small chunks of the curve – chunks approaching zero size – then every kind of crazy relationship become nice neat straight lines, and easy to deal with mathematically.

You can use calculus to describe how pretty much anything changes – from the movement of the stock market over time to the dispersal of medicine through our body. Without the concept of zero as a number, none of this would be possible.

So let’s raise a glass of perfectly spherical bubbles to the most well rounded, and most powerful, number in history.

Statins Harm The Heart, Confirmed Once Again.

Statins Harm The Heart, Confirmed Once Again

New research published in the journal PLoS indicates that the use of the cholesterol-lowing class of drugs known as statins is associated with an increased prevalence of microalbuminuria, a well-known marker of vascular dysfunction, affecting both cardiovascular and kidney disease risk.

Statins Harm The Heart

Microalbuminuria is known to double the risk for a cardiovascular event in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and is a marker for endothelial function; endothelial dysfunction may, in fact, be far more significant than elevated blood lipids in determining cardiovascular disease risk. This new finding therefore calls into question the justification for using statin drugs for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, which is presently the standard of care in the drug-base conventional medical model.

According to the study:

Microalbuminuria (MAU) is considered as a predictor or marker of cardiovascular and renal events. Statins are widely prescribed to reduce cardiovascular risk and to slow down progression of kidney disease. But statins may also generate tubular MAU. The current observational study evaluated the impact of statin use on the interpretation of MAU as a predictor or marker of cardiovascular or renal disease…
Use of statins is independently associated with MAU, even after adjusting for bias by indication to receive a statin.

This study confirms a growing body of research indicating that statin drugs are cardiotoxic. Examples of this cardiotoxicy are as follows:

A review published in the journal Biofactors in 2004 found that the use of statin drugs may be resulting in coenzyme q10 depletion, and raised the possibility that this could be behind the congestive heart failure epidemic presently afflicting those in the United States.

Another more recent study published in the journal of Clinical Cardiology demonstrated that statin drugs weaken the heart muscle in humans.



OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of statin therapy on myocardial function as measured with echocardiography with tissue Doppler imaging (TDI) and strain imaging (SI) independent of its lipid-lowering effect. BACKGROUND: Statin use is known to improve outcomes in the primary and secondary prevention of ischemic heart disease, but their use is also associated with myopathy, muscle weakness and in rare cases, rhabdomyolysis. We sought to evaluate whether TDI and SI is able to identify changes in myocardial function associated with statin use. METHODS: Myocardial function was evaluated in 28 patients via echocardiography with TDI and SI. We identified 12 patients (5 females) without overt cardiovascular disease (including hypertension, smoking, and diabetes) that were on statin therapy and compared their echocardiographic findings with 16 (12 females) age, sex, and cholesterol-profile-matched controls. Tissue Doppler imaging parameters of diastolic (E(‘)/A(‘) and E/E(‘)) and systolic (S’) function were measured. Regional systolic function was obtained by SI in 4-chamber, 2-chamber, long axis, and average global views. RESULTS: There was no significant difference in myocardial function as measured by Doppler and minor differences as measured via TDI among the 2 groups. There was significantly better function noted with SI in the control group vs the statin group in the 4-chamber (-19.05% +/- 2.45% vs -16.47% +/- 2.37% P = 0.009), 2-chamber (-20.30% +/- 2.66% vs -17.45% +/- 4.29% P = 0.03), long axis (-17.63% +/- 3.79% vs -13.83% +/- 3.74% P = 0.01), and average global (-19.0% +/- 2.07% vs -15.91% +/- 2.81% P = 0.004) views. CONCLUSION: Statin therapy is associated with decreased myocardial function as evaluated with SI.


A growing body of clinical research now indicates that the cholesterol-lowering class of drugs known as statins, are associated with over 300 adverse health effects — research boldly flying in the face of national health policy, medical insurance premium guidelines, statin drug manufacturer advertising claims, and the general sentiment of the public, with approximately 1 in every 4 adult Americans over 45 currently using these drugs to “prevent heart disease.”

The Cholesterol Myth

For well over 40 years, statin drugs have successfully concretized a century old myth about the primary cause of heart disease: namely, that cholesterol “causes” plaque build up in the arteries, ultimately leading to obstruction of blood flow, and subsequent morbidity and mortality.

Indeed, the medical establishment and drug companies have been singing the praises of this “cholesterol myth,” to the tune of 25 billion dollars in statin drug sales, annually.

While it is true that oxidized low-density lipoprotein is found within the atheromatous plaque that is found in damaged arteries, it is less likely a cause than an effect of heart disease. The underlying damage to the lining of the artery, which could be infectious, chemical, stress and/or nutritionally-related, comes before the immune response that results in plaque buildup there. Blaming LDL cholesterol for causing heart disease, is like blaming the scab for the injury that caused it to form, or, like blaming the band-aid for the scab it is covering — this is, after all, the inborn and fatal flaw of allopathic medicine which focuses only on symptoms of disease, which it then — fool-heartedly — attempts to suppress by any chemical means necessary.

Death By Statins?

No one can deny that statins do exactly what they are designed to do: suppress cholesterol production and reduce measurable blood serum levels. The question is, rather, at what price do they accomplish this feat, and for what ultimate purpose?

With the National Cholesterol Education Program Guidelines, having been designed by “experts” on the payroll of statin drug manufacturers, requiring ultra-low levels to obtain a strictly theoretical and numerical definition of “health,” statin drugs are guaranteed to receive first-line treatment status in the goal of the preventing and treating heart disease through lipid suppression.

What is at question here, is whether the unintended, adverse effects of this chemical class of drugs are less, the same or worse than the purported “cardiovascular” benefits they provide?

Fundamentally, statin drugs damage the muscles and nerves in the body — so much so that a dose as low as 5 mg a day (albeit in rare cases) can kill a human. There are well over 100 studies demonstrating the myotoxic, or muscle-harming effects of these drugs, and over 80 demonstrating the effects of nerve damage, as well. When you consider that a vast proportion of our body is comprised of muscles and coordinating nerve systems, this drug has the potential to cause damage to the entire body, and undoubtedly does so universally, differing only in the matter of degree — the damage occurring acutely in those at the tip of the iceberg, asymptomatically in the majority of others at the base.

Moreover, statin myotoxicity is not exclusive to skeletal muscle. If you consider that the heart is also a muscle, in fact, is our most tireless muscle, an obvious red flag should go up. It is a remarkable fact that it took over 40 years before the biomedical research and publishing fields were able to produce a human study, like the one published in the Journal of Clinical Cardiology in Dec. 2009, showing that statin drugs, despite billions of advertising/marketing dollars to the contrary, actually weaken the heart muscle. 

These results, while disturbing, are to be expected given the well-known problem associated with statin drug use, namely, the inhibition of the mevalonate pathway necessary to produce the heart-essential nutrient coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 deficiency itself may be a major contributing cause to heart disease. There is also research that statin drugs deplete the body of the cardioprotective minerals (and associated mineral-protein complexes) zinc and selenium. This finding may also explain why rates of heart failure may be increasing in the general population given these drugs.

While the discovery that statin drugs, instead of preventing heart disease, likely contribute to it, is surprising and counterintuitive, it should not distract from the more disturbing discovery that they contribute to over 300 disease and/or adverse health effects.

Millions of statin drugs users around the globe are risking their lives on a bad bet that taking a magic chemical pill will reduce their risk of dying of a disease that is not caused by a lack of the drug. What is more likely to happen, however, is that the quality and duration of their lives will be reduced, profoundly, along with billions of dollars of squandered cash that could have been spent on authentically medicinal and cardioprotective foods, nutrients, minerals and vitamins.

In light of these findings, a very serious question is raised: are those who are party to the manufacture, promotion, administration and/or prescribing of this chemical class of drugs, in violation of the medical ethical principle of informed consent? And is this ethical violation, insofar as it results in injury to those who have been mislead and/or coerced to take these drugs, also a legal/criminal one?

Nasa and Stephen Hawking are working on a nano-starship that can travel 1/5th the speed of light

Nasa researchers have joined forces with Stephen Hawking to build a nano-starship that can travel one-fifth the speed of light.

If successful, the ship, called “StarChip” could reach Earth’s closest star system, Alpha Centauri, in 20 years.

Stephen Hawking announced the Breakthrough Starshot project in April, for which he is joined by a team at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology. But whether the craft could survive a two decade-long trip remained in question.

That’s where Nasa can help. According to their researchers, high-energy radiation in space could cause the ship to cease functionality well before the 20-year trip was over, according to Science Alert.

Nasa proposed a number of options to pursue in the development stages of the project. They presented their findings at the International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco this week.

First, adjust the route of the flight to avoid those high-radiation areas. But that could add years to the voyage and would not necessarily protect the ship from degradation.

Second, they proposed the ship could be built with protective shielding on the electronics. But adding shielding to the ship would add to the size and weight and thus slow down the remarkable speed of the craft.

Third, Nasa researchers proposed a silicon chip that would automatically repair itself.

“On-chip healing has been around for many, many years,” Nasa team member Jin-Woo Han said in the presentation.

Still the research is only theoretical and researchers have significant work to do to address other major problems in interstellar travel.

“The limit that confronts us now is the great void between us and the stars,” Mr Hawking said in April. “But now we can transcend it. With light beams, light sails, and the lightest spacecraft ever built, we can launch a mission to Alpha Centauri within a generation.

“Today, we commit to this next great leap into the cosmos because we are human, and our nature is to fly.”

Here’s All You Need To Know About The Polar Vortex Coming Through Next Week.

The first polar vortex blast is ready to chill the residents close to the Arctic to their bones. Temperatures have already started dipping below minus 0 degrees across the northern plains of America. And it is only going to get worse…

Polar Vortex

The polar vortex is not a new phenomenon. It is actually active all through the year but comes to “life” in the winters. The term became popular in 2014 and refers to a very large, extremely cold air mass over the Arctic. The concentrated area of cold air is bound by the jet stream, which is a current of fast-moving air at very high levels of the atmosphere. When the jet stream is strong and keeps the polar vortex area bottled up north, temperatures can fall to minus-100 degrees.

 The reason it becomes even more active in winters as the Artic air become colder for the lack of sunlight and as the Earth shifts on its axis, the air plunges south.

The most well-recorded cold-air outbreaks in the past 30 years were caused by the polar vortex diving south.

Polar Vortex


This year, the weather departments across the northernmost countries suggest that temperatures will record 20 to 35 degrees below the average temperatures recorded at this time of the year.

Washington and Boston will also see freezing temperatures through the daytime, as will most of New England.

Scientists have created a tiny crystal that can turn darkness into light.

For the first time, scientists in Australia have created a light-bending nano crystal that’s 500 times smaller than a human hair, and it could be used to create the future of ultra-light night vision glasses.

Instead of the cumbersome night vision goggles we current use, the new crystal could one day convert a pair of regular glasses into night vision glasses. In other words, it could make reverse sunglasses.


“The nano crystals are so small, they could be fitted as an ultra-thin film to normal eye glasses to enable night vision,” said lead researcher Dragomir Neshev from the Australian National University.

What they’ve made is a tiny crystal that can ‘tune’ the light passing through it – and not just by tinting or polarising it on one level. This is what polarised sunglasses do now, by bending light so it travels just on one plane – sunlight is usually messy, so this cuts glare and makes your vision clearer in bright light.

But the new structure is capable of actually changing the light in three crucial ways: the intensity of light, the shape of light, and even the colour of light. All of that together means that it can take very low levels of light, such as at night time or in dark areas, and tune them to be visible.

Before you get too excited, we’re a long way off using this in our glasses. So far, the team has only managed to make one of these crystals – to see in the dark they’ll need to make an entire array of them that tune the light in a very specific way.

But what’s exciting is that they’re the first to make one of these crystals small enough that it can fabricated right onto regular glass, which makes it a lot more versatile than other light-bending materials.

“Our eyes … see objects only in the visible spectrum,” explains one of the team, Mohsen Rahmani, in the video below.

“If we can fabricate an array of other nanostructures on flat surfaces like glass, at the end of the day we will be able to convert invisible light [into] visible light.”

In addition to helping build the next-generation of night-vision glasses, the crystal could be used to twist light in all kinds of useful ways.

For example, those holograms on bank notes that prove they’re not counterfeit could be created from these light-bending crystals. And they could also produce powerful new holograms.

“This tiny device could have other exciting uses including in anti-counterfeit devices in bank notes, imaging cells for medical applications and holograms,” said Neshev.

The team has now been able to fabricate a form of the crystal 500 times smaller than a human hair directly onto glass.

In the latest study, they’ve also shown that it can convert invisible light to visible light on the small-scale, and have done all the mathematical calculations to show how this is happening. There’s a lot more work to be done, but it’s a promising first step.

“This is the first time anyone has been able to achieve this feat, because growing a nano semi-conductor on a transparent material is very difficult,” said PhD student and team member Maria del Rocio Camacho-Morales.

We can’t wait to see what they do with these crystals next, because incognito night-vision glasses sounds like the best future Christmas present ever.

More Doctors Confessing To Intentionally Diagnosing Healthy People With Cancer To Make Money

It happens more often than you can imagine, but more doctors are finally getting caught in the act of misrepresenting their oath and fraudulently diagnosing healthy patients with cancer to turn a quick buck from kickbacks on chemotherapy poisons.

Why shouldn’t Doctors lie when the entire cancer industry is one gigantic fabrication from start to finish? 
Is it any wonder that cancer societies worldwide put a far greater financial initiative on chemotherapy and radiation research than disease prevention techniques? Preventing disease doesn’t make money, but treating disease certainly does.
Take Dr. Farid Fata, a prominent cancer doctor in Michigan who admitted in court one year ago to intentionally and wrongfully diagnosing healthy people with cancer. Fata also admitted to giving them chemotherapy drugs for the purpose of making a profit.
Were his patients shocked? You bet they were. Who would ever suspect a Doctor of faking a diagnosis to collect money. It’s unconscionable. Yet it happens with cancer and almost every disease that medical doctors can generate income through kickbacks and commissions based on the volume of patients treated with specific pharmaceuticals. Like anything people are used as a comodity.
“Many of these unscrupulous Physicians are like businessmen without a conscience. The only difference is they have your health and trust in their hands–a very dangerous combination when money is involved,” said Dr. Sayed Mohammed, a retired Oncologist who admits seeing the trend more than a decade ago.
“It is my choice,” Fata said on Tuesday of his surprise guilty plea, which included rattling off the names of numerous drugs he prescribed for his patients over the years. In each admission, he uttered these words:
“I knew that it was medically unnecessary.”
Fata was charged with running a $35-million Medicare fraud scheme that involved billing the government for medically unnecessary oncology and hematology treatments. 
The government says Fata ran the scheme from 2009 to the present, through his medical businesses, including Michigan Hematology Oncology Centers, with offices in Clarkston, Bloomfield Hills, Lapeer, Sterling Heights, Troy and Oak Park.
According to the government, Fata had a patient load of 1,200 people and received $62 million from Medicare; he billed for more than $150 million.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said she plans to seek life in prison for Fata, calling his case is “the most egregious” health care fraud case her office has seen. She said Fata not only bilked the government — which is typical in such cases — but he also harmed patients.

Lying with Statistics

Prostate cancer is another great example which doctors falsely give prognoses about without giving patients the facts. A prostate (PSA) blood test looks for prostate-specific antigen, a protein produced by the prostate gland. High levels are supposedly associated with prostate cancer. The problem is that the association isn’t always correct, and when it is, the prostate cancer isn’t necessarily deadly. Only about 3 percent of all men die from prostate cancer. The PSA test usually leads to overdiagnosis — biopsies and treatment in which the side effects are impotence and incontinence. Repeated biopsies may spread cancer cells into the track formed by the needle, or by spilling cancerous cells directly into the bloodstream or lymphatic system. More than 90% of Doctors who encourage cancer treatment for prostate cancer will generate a commission from each treatment the patient receives. It proves risky and often deadly in the long run for most people who don’t understand how to take care of their health and are persuaded by false statistics.
Dozens of excellent large studies have been done on men who have had cancer discovered in their prostate with a biopsy. In over 97% of the cases this cancer either never spreads outside of the gland to cause harm or the patient dies of something else long before any evidence of cancer spreading outside of the prostate occurs.
In that 3% where cancer is aggressive and harms the patient, it has already spread beyond the limits of surgical resection long before discovery; thus, these men are not helped by surgery either.
After at least seven years of post-college graduate medical education on the emotional, mental, and physical condition of the human being, you would expect a physician to be a powerhouse of goodwill for his or her patients. Unfortunately, too many doctors fail to keep the welfare of their customers at the forefront, as their main concern. The needs to boost their own egos, self-preservation, and the quest for more money often result in inappropriate care and harm to the patient.
Most women are often told that hysterectomies lead to many different cures for cancer and other ailments. This is misrepresenting the truth.
The research done so far has demonstrated no improvement in survival regardless of the aggressiveness of many of these unnecessary treatments.
Breast cancer screenings also result in an increase in breast cancer mortality and fail to address prevention. Despite no evidence ever having supported any recommendations made for regular periodic screening and mammography at any age, malicious recommendations from the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) on breast cancer screening are now suggesting that breast cancer screening should begin at age 40 and earlier in high-risk patients. Published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR), the recommendations released by the SBI and ACR state that the average patient should begin annual breast cancer screening at age 40. They also target women in their 30s if they are considered “high risk” as they stated.
The rate of advanced breast cancer for U.S. women 25 to 39 years old nearly doubled from 1976 to 2009, a difference too great to be a matter of chance and more about diagnoses.
A disturbing study published in the New England Journal of Medicine is bringing mainstream attention to the fact that mammography has caused far more harm than good in the millions of women who have employed it over the past 30 years as their primary strategy in the fight against breast cancer.
It always has been and always will be about the money. It is not time to recognize the trend?

Chemotherapy Does Not Heal The Body–It Slowly Destroys It

Chemotherapy boosts cancer growth and long-term mortality rates. Most chemotherapy patients either die or are plagued with illness within 10-15 years after treatment. It destroys their immune system, increases neuro-cognitive decline, disrupts endocrine functioning and causes organ and metabolic toxicities. Patients basically live in a permanent state of disease until their death. The cancer industry marginalizes safe and effective cures while promoting their patented, expensive, and toxic remedies whose risks far exceed any benefit. This is what they do best, and they do it because it makes money, plain and simple.
The reason a 5-year relative survival rate is the standard used to assess mortality rates is due to most cancer patients going downhill after this period. It’s exceptionally bad for business and the cancer industry knows it.
They could never show the public the true 97% statistical failure rate in treating long-term metastatic cancers. 
If they did publish the long-term statistics for all cancers administered cytotoxic chemotherapy, that is 10+ years and produced the objective data on rigorous evaluations including the cost-effectiveness, impact on the immune system, quality of life, morbidity and mortality, it would be very clear to the world that chemotherapy makes little to no contribution to cancer survival at all. No such study has ever been conducted by independent investigators in the history of chemotherapy.
The only studies available come from industry funded institutions and scientists and none of them have ever inclusively quantified the above variables.
Why? Money, greed and profits run the cancer industry–nothing else. The cancer establishment must retreat from the truth to treat cancer because there will never be any profit for them in in eradicating the disease. There is no governing body in the world that protects consumers from being subjected to these toxic therapies or even known carcinogens in our foods our environment, because that too, will prevent the profits from rolling in. It’s a business of mammoth proportions and must be treated as such. The most powerful anti-carcinogenic plants in the world such as cannabis must be demonized and be made illegal because they are so effective at killing cancer cells without side effects. Cannabinoids are so efficient at treating disease, that the U.S. Government patented them in 2003.
If a “magic bullet” were used FIRST by orthodox medicine, meaning the cut/burn/slash/poison treatments were avoided, a 90% true cure rate would be easy to achieve. But the fact is that the leaders in the medical community have absolutely no interest in finding a “magic bullet.” A “magic bullet” would cost the drug companies hundreds of billions of dollars, and patients would have less hospitalization and less doctor visits, etc.
You might ask your oncologist why your chances of survival are only 3% (ignoring all of their statistical gibberish such as “5-year survival rates” and deceptive terms like “remission” and “response”), when your chance of survival would be over 90% if they used something like DMSO.
Actually, bring up DMSO to any oncologist and most of them won’t even talk to you about it. Why? Because DMSO is a natural product, cannot be patented and cannot be made profitable because it is produced by the ton in the wood industry.
Dr. Farid Fata is only a consequence of the system. Like him there are thousands of legally practicing Doctors and oncologists in the United States and abroad who are guilty of the same crimes, but because they fly below the radar, they are never caught.
As we continue playing this charade of making the public believe that poisons treat cancer, people will continue to die, and Doctors will continue to make money up to the day of their patient’s death. Every once in a while, we may catch a few (of the many) like Dr. Fata, who self-destruct due to their own greed. We will claim they are outlaws, banish them and tarnish their reputations based on a perception that a healthy person should never be unnecessarily subjected to chemotherapy for money.
So we can harshly judge and legally prosecute the Doctor who falsely prescribes poison to a healthy person for money, but we proudly accept the Doctor who prescribes poison to an unhealthy person for money.
I find that truly mind blowing.

A Lesson About Happiness From A Holocaust Survivor

“It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”

In September 1942, Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in Vienna, was arrested and transported to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents.

viktor frankl

Viktor Frankl, the renowned Viennese psychiatrist and author of “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

Three years later, when his camp was liberated, most of his family, including his pregnant wife, had perished — but he, prisoner number 119104, had lived.

In his bestselling 1946 book, Man’s Search for Meaning, which he wrote in nine days about his experiences in the camps, Frankl concluded that the difference between those who had lived and those who had died came down to one thing: Meaning, an insight he came to early in life.

When he was a high school student, one of his science teachers declared to the class, “Life is nothing more than a combustion process, a process of oxidation.” Frankl jumped out of his chair and responded, “Sir, if this is so, then what can be the meaning of life?”

As he saw in the camps, those who found meaning even in the most horrendous circumstances were far more resilient to suffering than those who did not. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing,” Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning, “the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Frankl worked as a therapist in the camps, and in his book, he gives the example of two suicidal inmates he encountered there. Like many others in the camps, these two men were hopeless and thought that there was nothing more to expect from life, nothing to live for.

“In both cases,” Frankl writes, “it was a question of getting them to realize that life was still expecting something from them; something in the future was expected of them.” For one man, it was his young child, who was then living in a foreign country. For the other, a scientist, it was a series of books that he needed to finish. Frankl writes:

This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love. When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.”

In 1991, the Library of Congress and Book-of-the-Month Club listed Man’s Search for Meaning as one of the 10 most influential books in the United States. It has sold millions of copies worldwide. Now, over twenty years later, the book’s ethos — its emphasis on meaning, the value of suffering, and responsibility to something greater than the self — seems to be at odds with our culture, which is more interested in the pursuit of individual happiness than in the search for meaning. “To the European,” Frankl wrote, “it is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to ‘be happy.’ But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy.'”

girls dancing shadow silhouette happyEven though American happiness levels are at a four-year high, 4 out of 10 Americans have not discovered a satisfying life purpose.

According to Gallup, the happiness levels of Americans are at a four-year high — as is, it seems, the number of best-selling books with the word “happiness” in their titles. As of January 2013, Gallup also reports that nearly 60 percent of all Americans today feel happy, without a lot of stress or worry.

On the other hand, according to the Center for Disease Control, about 4 out of 10 Americans have not discovered a satisfying life purpose. Forty percent either do not think their lives have a clear sense of purpose or are neutral about whether their lives have purpose. Nearly a quarter of Americans feel neutral or do not have a strong sense of what makes their lives meaningful.

Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression. On top of that, the single-minded pursuit of happiness is ironically leaving people less happy, according to recent research. “It is the very pursuit of happiness,” Frankl knew, “that thwarts happiness.”

This is why some researchers are cautioning against the pursuit of mere happiness. In a new study, which will be published this year in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Positive Psychology, psychological scientists asked nearly 400 Americans aged 18 to 78 whether they thought their lives were meaningful and/or happy.

Examining their self-reported attitudes toward meaning, happiness, and many other variables — like stress levels, spending patterns, and having children — over a month-long period, the researchers found that a meaningful life and happy life overlap in certain ways, but are ultimately very different. Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a “taker” while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a “giver.”

“Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided,” the authors write.

How do the happy life and the meaningful life differ? Happiness, they found, is about feeling good. Specifically, the researchers found that people who are happy tend to think that life is easy, they are in good physical health, and they are able to buy the things that they need and want. While not having enough money decreases how happy and meaningful you consider your life to be, it has a much greater impact on happiness. The happy life is also defined by a lack of stress or worry.

Most importantly from a social perspective, the pursuit of happiness is associated with selfish behavior—being, as mentioned, a “taker” rather than a “giver.”

The pursuit of happiness is associated with selfish behavior—being, as mentioned, a “taker” rather than a “giver.”

The psychologists give an evolutionary explanation for this: happiness is about drive reduction. If you have a need or a desire — like hunger — you satisfy it, and that makes you happy. People become happy, in other words, when they get what they want. Humans, then, are not the only ones who can feel happy. Animals have needs and drives, too, and when those drives are satisfied, animals also feel happy, the researchers point out.

“Happy people get a lot of joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others,” explained Kathleen Vohs, one of the authors of the study, in a recent presentation at the University of Pennsylvania. In other words, meaning transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants. People who have high meaning in their lives are more likely to help others in need. “If anything, pure happiness is linked to not helping others in need,” the researchers, which include Stanford University’s Jennifer Aaker and Emily Garbinsky, write.

What sets human beings apart from animals is not the pursuit of happiness, which occurs all across the natural world, but the pursuit of meaning, which is unique to humans, according to Roy Baumeister, the lead researcher of the study and author, with John Tierney, of the recent book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. Baumeister, a social psychologists at Florida State University, was named an ISI highly cited scientific researcher in 2003.

The study participants reported deriving meaning from giving a part of themselves away to others and making a sacrifice on behalf of the overall group. In the words of Martin E. P. Seligman, one of the leading psychological scientists alive today, in the meaningful life “you use your highest strengths and talents to belong to and serve something you believe is larger than the self.”

For instance, having more meaning in one’s life was associated with activities like buying presents for others, taking care of kids, and arguing. People whose lives have high levels of meaning often actively seek meaning out even when they know it will come at the expense of happiness. Because they have invested themselves in something bigger than themselves, they also worry more and have higher levels of stress and anxiety in their lives than happy people.

Having children, for example, is associated with the meaningful life and requires self-sacrifice, but it has been famously associated with low happiness among parents, including the ones in this study. In fact, according to Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, research shows that parents are less happy interacting with their children than they are exercising, eating, and watching television.

“Partly what we do as human beings is to take care of others and contribute to others. This makes life meaningful but it does not necessarily make us happy,” Baumeister told me in an interview.

Meaning is not only about transcending the self, but also about transcending the present moment — which is perhaps the most important finding of the study, according to the researchers. While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do; positive affect and feelings of pleasure are fleeting. The amount of time people report feeling good or bad correlates with happiness but not at all with meaning.

Meaning, on the other hand, is enduring. It connects the past to the present to the future. “Thinking beyond the present moment, into the past or future, was a sign of the relatively meaningful but unhappy life,” the researchers write. “Happiness is not generally found in contemplating the past or future.” That is, people who thought more about the present were happier, but people who spent more time thinking about the future or about past struggles and sufferings felt more meaning in their lives, though they were less happy.

Having negative events happen to you, the study found, decreases your happiness but increases the amount of meaning you have in life.

Having negative events happen to you, the study found, decreases your happiness but increases the amount of meaning you have in life.

Another study from 2011 confirmed this, finding that people who have meaning in their lives, in the form of a clearly defined purpose, rate their satisfaction with life higher even when they were feeling bad than those who did not have a clearly defined purpose. “If there is meaning in life at all,” Frankl wrote, “then there must be meaning in suffering.”

Which brings us back to Frankl’s life and, specifically, a decisive experience he had before he was sent to the concentration camps. It was an incident that emphasizes the difference between the pursuit of meaning and the pursuit of happiness in life.

In his early adulthood, before he and his family were taken away to the camps, Frankl had established himself as one of the leading psychiatrists in Vienna and the world. As a 16-year-old boy, for example, he struck up a correspondence with Sigmund Freud and one day sent Freud a two-page paper he had written. Freud, impressed by Frankl’s talent, sent the paper to the International Journal of Psychoanalysis for publication. “I hope you don’t object,” Freud wrote the teenager.

While he was in medical school, Frankl distinguished himself even further. Not only did he establish suicide-prevention centers for teenagers — a precursor to his work in the camps — but he was also developing his signature contribution to the field of clinical psychology: logotherapy, which is meant to help people overcome depression and achieve well-being by finding their unique meaning in life.

By 1941, his theories had received international attention and he was working as the chief of neurology at Vienna’s Rothschild Hospital, where he risked his life and career by making false diagnoses of mentally ill patients so that they would not, per Nazi orders, be euthanized.

That was the same year when he had a decision to make, a decision that would change his life. With his career on the rise and the threat of the Nazis looming over him, Frankl had applied for a visa to America, which he was granted in 1941. By then, the Nazis had already started rounding up the Jews and taking them away to concentration camps, focusing on the elderly first.

Frankl knew that it would only be time before the Nazis came to take his parents away. He also knew that once they did, he had a responsibility to be there with his parents to help them through the trauma of adjusting to camp life. On the other hand, as a newly married man with his visa in hand, he was tempted to leave for America and flee to safety, where he could distinguish himself even further in his field.

As Anna S. Redsand recounts in her biography of Frankl, he was at a loss for what to do, so he set out for St. Stephan’s Cathedral in Vienna to clear his head. Listening to the organ music, he repeatedly asked himself, “Should I leave my parents behind?… Should I say goodbye and leave them to their fate?” Where did his responsibility lie? He was looking for a “hint from heaven.”

When he returned home, he found it. A piece of marble was lying on the table. His father explained that it was from the rubble of one of the nearby synagogues that the Nazis had destroyed. The marble contained the fragment of one of the Ten Commandments — the one about honoring your father and your mother. With that, Frankl decided to stay in Vienna and forgo whatever opportunities for safety and career advancement awaited him in the United States. He decided to put aside his individual pursuits to serve his family and, later, other inmates in the camps.

The wisdom that Frankl derived from his experiences there, in the middle of unimaginable human suffering, is just as relevant now as it was then: “Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself — be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is.”

Baumeister and his colleagues would agree that the pursuit of meaning is what makes human beings uniquely human. By putting aside our selfish interests to serve someone or something larger than ourselves — by devoting our lives to “giving” rather than “taking” — we are not only expressing our fundamental humanity, but are also acknowledging that that there is more to the good life than the pursuit of simple happiness.

Homeopathy effective for 0 out of 68 illnesses, study finds

Treatment has ‘no discernible convincing effects beyond placebo’.

A leading scientist has declared homeopathy a “therapeutic dead-end” after a systematic review concluded the controversial treatment was no more effective than placebo drugs.

Professor Paul Glasziou, a leading academic in evidence based medicine at Bond University, was the chair of a working party by the National Health and Medical Research Council which was tasked with reviewing the evidence of 176 trials of homeopathy to establish if the treatment is valid.

A total of 57 systematic reviews, containing the 176 individual studies, focused on 68 different health conditions – and found there to be no evidence homeopathy was more effective than placebo on any.

Homeopathy is an alternative medicine based on the idea of diluting a substance in water. According to the NHS: “Practitioners believe that the more a substance is diluted in this way, the greater its power to treat symptoms. Many homeopathic remedies consist of substances that have been diluted many times in water until there is none or almost none of the original substance left.”

The review found “no discernible convincing effects beyond placebo” and concluded “there was no reliable evidence from research in humans that homeopathy was effective for treating the range of health conditions considered”.

Writing in a blog for the British Medical Journal, Professor Glasziou states: “As chair of the working party which produced the report I was simply relieved that the arduous journey of sifting and synthesising the evidence was at an end. I had begun the journey with an ‘I don’t know attitude’, curious about whether this unlikely treatment could ever work… but I lost interest after looking at the 57 systematic reviews which contained 176 individual studies and finding no discernible convincing effects beyond placebo.”

He continues: “I can well understand why Samuel Hahnemann- the founder of homeopathy- was dissatisfied with the state of 18th century medicine’s practices, such as blood-letting and purging and tried to find a better alternative.

 “But I would guess he would be disappointed by the collective failure of homeopathy to carry on his innovative investigations, but instead continue to pursue a therapeutic dead-end.”

In the UK, two NHS hospitals provide homeopathy, as well as a number of GP practices.

Children inherit their intelligence from their mother not their father, say scientists

Genes for cleverness are carried on the X chromosome and may be deactivated if they come from the father

A mother’s genetics determines how clever her children are, according to researchers, and the father makes no difference.

Women are more likely to transmit intelligence genes to their children because they are carried on the X chromosome and women have two of these, while men only have one.

But in addition to this, scientists now believe genes for advanced cognitive functions which are inherited from the father may be automatically deactivated.

A category of genes known as “conditioned genes” are thought to work only if they come from the mother in some cases and the father in other cases. Intelligence is believed to be among the conditioned genes that have to come from the mother.

Laboratory studies using genetically modified mice found that those with an extra dose of maternal genes developed bigger heads and brains, but had little bodies. Those with an extra dose of paternal genes had small brains and larger bodies.

Researchers identified cells that contained only maternal or paternal genes in six different parts of the mouse brains which controlled different cognitive functions, from eating habits to memory.

Cells with paternal genes accumulated in parts of the limbic system, which is involved in functions such as sex, food and aggression. But researchers did not find any paternal cells in the cerebral cortex, which is where the most advanced cognitive functions take place, such as reasoning, thought, language and planning.

 Concerned that people might not be like mice, researchers in Glasgow took a more human approach to exploring intelligence. They found the theories extrapolated from mice studies bear out in reality when they interviewed 12,686 young people between the ages of 14 and 22 every year from 1994. Despite taking into account several factors, from the participants education to their race and socio-economic status, the team still found the best predictor of intelligence was the IQ of the mother.However, research also makes it clear that genetics are not the only determinant of intelligence – only 40 to 60 per cent of intelligence is estimated to be hereditary, leaving a similar chunk dependent on the environment.

But mothers have also been found to play an extremely significant role in this non-genetic part of intelligence, with some studies suggesting a secure bond between mother and child is intimately tied to intelligence.

Researchers at the University of Washington found that a secure emotional bond between a mother and child is crucial for the growth of some parts of the brain. After analysing the way a group of mothers related to their children for seven years, the researchers found children who were supported emotionally and had their intellectual needs fulfilled had a 10 per cent larger hippocampus at 13 on average than children whose mothers were emotionally distant. The hippocampus is an area of the brain associated with memory, learning and stress response.


A strong bond with the mother is thought to give a child a sense of security which allows them to explore the world, and the confidence to solve problems. In addition, devoted, attentive mothers tend to help children solve problems, further helping them to reach their potential.

Of course, there’s no reason why fathers can’t play as big a nurture role as mothers. And researchers point out that a whole array of other gene determined traits – like intuiton and emotions – which can be inherited from the father are also key to unlocking potential intelligence, so fathers – don’t despair.