Monday, March 19, 2012

Carbon Dioxide

I've been struggling for the past month to decide how I was going to write about this lecture. He starts off by answering a question about how many languages he speaks. In true Ray form, he mostly dodges the question. But he says something which has stuck with me since I heard it. He said that someone sometime had introduced him as being fluent in Spanish. Wherever this was, it was high up in the mountains. He joked that at that time he probably was fluent. Because of the CO2, you see. Well, at least the crowd thought it was funny. But that lead me to pursue this particular vein of thought. Does CO2 increase intelligence?


Thank you very much. I'll be working on my next blog post: Sombreros, ice cream and gummy bears in context. I kid. Actually, that's not such a bad idea.

So carbon dioxide. Ray has spoken voluminously about CO2's role in just about everything. Because it is in just about everything. At the cellular level, there are two opposing forces. They forever duke it out, but neither really wins. We have our friend, Carbon dioxide and then we have lactic acid. Long story short, CO2 relaxes the cell by glomming on to all manner of things in it. It is what is called a "cardinal adsorbent". I still haven't really learned what that means yet. I think it has to do with excited atoms and calming them down. He talks in this video about that too. But I digress...

What happens on the cell level is also reflected in your mental processes. If your cells and tissues are in a relaxed state (brain cells?), so shall you be also. Which is neat. Ray talks often about CO2's effects on longevity and wound repair. He talks about metabolism's direct effect on intelligence. It's only a hop, skip and a jump to associating carbon dioxide with nerdiness. Incidentally, CO2 helps facilitate the removal of serotonin from the blood by making albumin stickier (and preventing the albuminites from letting go of it...). It then makes its way to the lungs to be destroyed. When there is low CO2, the serotonin gets dropped all over the place like so many misplaced socks on the way to the washing machine. But that's a whole other story.

So back to the video. Dr. Peat went on to discuss his mythical upbringing. He speaks of his parents having all manner of interesting counter-cultural books in their possession. In another interview, he said that he'd grown up reading the controversial "Little Blue Books". So given that he was surrounded by books on alternative medicine (homeopathy and the like) and those little gems -they are quite good- I would say that his parents were free thinkers. Now, when Ray was a tad older, he liked to go swimming with his friends. Ray was a sinker. He thought at the time that it was because of all his time spent up in the mountains. He had dense bones, in other words. He goes on to say that there were some experiments that were conducted in a high carbon dioxide environment. I think it was for submarine research. And these folks who were stuck in these chambers had something odd going on with their blood. Their bicarbonate levels would rise and fall in the strangest ways. But they excreted very little calcium. Apparently they- like our buddy Ray- kept throwing it into their bones as calcium carbonate. Or I'm presuming that it's calcium carbonate. They had ended up storing 10 times as much carbon in their bones as a normal person at sea level.

Ray continues to talk about how he had read about some folks who had osteopetrosis. They had a chronically high level of carbon dioxide in their blood. Luckily for them, it was a minor case of the disease and so they were simply blessed with super hard bones. I think something similar had happened to the Blue People of Kentucky. Only in their case, their chronically high CO2 levels had blessed them with long lives. And they were blue.

So I'm gonna cut this short. The subject of JC Bose comes up next. Ray went to Russia one year to meet up with his favorite researchers there. Nobody was home, so he eventually crosses paths with this guy. My next post will be on the awesomeness that is Indian secondary education. Just as soon as I can finish reading a few of his books. Bose was a really smart guy whose instruments were mad scientist level sophisticated. Even today, people are impressed with his stuff. He discovered many things and even invented the radio in his spare time. Of particular interest to me is his research into the physical properties of non-organic matter. He had essentially shown that chunks of metal and rock exhibited all the hallmarks of life. His particular area of interest was in their electrical response and contractile properties.

So that's it for now. A rambling first post, but it helped me to articulate some things.