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Alec Wisner
I Help Families, Businesses and Individuals Resolve Conflict Through Seamless Mediation
I Help Families, Businesses and Individuals Resolve Conflict Through Seamless Mediation

UCLA health Encino

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Schrödinger's cat
Schrödinger's cat is a famous illustration of the principle in quantum theory ofsuperposition, proposed by Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. Schrödinger's cat serves to demonstrate the apparent conflict between what quantum theory tells us is true about the nature and behavior of matter on the microscopic level and what we observe to be true about the nature and behavior of matter on the macroscopic level -- everything visible to the unaided human eye.
Here's Schrödinger's (theoretical) experiment: We place a living cat into a steel chamber, along with a device containing a vial of hydrocyanic acid. There is, in the chamber, a very small amount of hydrocyanic acid, a radioactive substance. If even a single atom of the substance decays during the test period, a relay mechanism will trip a hammer, which will, in turn, break the vial and kill the cat.    

How was Schrödinger's cat related to quantum physics?
One thing the Schrodinger's cat thought experiment does, besides cause alarm to cat lovers, is underscore the strangeness of life when looked at through the lens of quantum mechanics. It tries to describe what's going on at the subatomic level, where the smallest of the very small things, such as atoms, exist. In quantum theory, these very small things can't be observed without changing them in the process. That's because before you measure them they are in that superposition -- existing in every conceivable state at once. It's interesting to note that Schrodinger was ultimately not a fan of quantum mechanics himself, stating "I don't like it, and I'm sorry I ever had anything to do with it
Schrödinger developed the paradox, says Martell, to illustrate a point in quantum mechanics about the nature of wave particles.
"What we discovered in the late 1800s and early 1900s is that really, really tiny things didn't obey Newton's Laws," he says. "So the rules that we used to govern the motion of a ball or person or car couldn't be used to explain how an electron or atom works."

Schrodinger's Cat
Schrödinger's Cat

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Ebola for Beginners: How it Works, Why There’s No Cure, and Why It’s So Hard to Control This Time

By Maren Hunsberger, reposted with permission (originally published at

The internet is awash with news that one of the world’s foremost Ebola-fighting physicians, Sheikh Umar Khan, has himself been infected with the disease (, along with two American aid workers ( History’s deadliest outbreak of Ebola is currently sweeping across Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, having claimed more than 600 lives already. With a mortality rate of anywhere between 40% and 90% (this epidemic's is around 65%), what is it that makes Ebola one of the most lethal diseases in the pantheon of pathogens? Why is there no cure or vaccine? And why is so difficult to control?

The Basics: Ebola’s full name is Ebola haemorrhagic fever, a rather gruesome title (the details of which we’ll address shortly). It’s caused by the Ebola virus (no surprises there), which is a member of the Filoviridae family. For context, viruses can be 50-100 times smaller than bacteria, and come in a variety of shapes. Ebola virus, along with its sister, Marburg virus, is thread-like in appearance. Ebola is also a zoonotic disease (, which means it is transferrable from non-human animals to humans (and vice versa). In Ebola’s case, humans can catch it from non-human primates such as chimpanzees and gorillas, as well as from rodents, bats, and a few ungulates. Transfer of the virus occurs through close contact with infected bodily fluids such as blood, vomit, and feces, all of which abound after Ebola has done its damage.

A Little Background: The family of zoonotic diseases includes Rabies, Hanta virus, Anthrax, Lyme disease, the ever-infamous Plague (, Toxoplasmosis, and many more, all of which have fascinating life cycles. They also present a unique challenge to communities that live in close contact with the animals that carry these diseases. Animals can often act as a reservoir, meaning they carry the bacteria or virus but present no symptoms themselves. Alternately, the disease can decimate populations of livestock and wildlife upon which a community might depend, contributing to a lack of resources and increased pressure on the human population. Identifying the natural reservoir of a disease is important in containing outbreaks--if you can identify the little bugger that carries the disease without showing it, you can minimize contact with the organism or take steps to control those populations. It’s widely believed that the fruit bat ( is the reservoir for Ebola. This is an issue because many communities in Ebola-prone areas consume the fruit that bats snack on (providing easy host-to-host transfer for the virus via bat saliva). Dwellings are also often located near fruit bat colonies. Some outbreaks may also begin when an individual consumes bush meat (, a dead animal carcass found in the vegetation surrounding the community. Consumption of bush meat is traditional in many parts of West Africa, and can sometimes be the only protein that is readily available. If the animal has been killed by Ebola or another zoonotic disease, the individual (and anyone to whom he feeds or sells the meat) can become infected. This ‘human-consumption-of-bushmeat’ infection path is the also leading theory for how the first human became infected with AIDS (

How it Works: Ebola. The nasty, worm-looking virus that’s causing  damage in West Africa. There are five subtypes ( known so far, all named  after their place of origin—the one that’s in the headlines right now is  closely related to the Zaire Ebola virus, the strain with highest mortality rate.  (As of now, no one knows what makes it more deadly than the other  strains). So how does it kill you? When your body produces any kind of  fever, that’s the immune system's response to an infection—inflammation  can help kill whatever’s bothering your body. Ebola essentially sends your  body’s immune system into overdrive. The virus infects the immune cells  that are your first line of defense--monocytes and macrophages. This  means your body is incapable of killing the virus when you first become  infected. The virus then gets to replicate as much as it wants, using your  own primary immune cells as hosts until the infection has grown so large  that the rest of your immune system can’t help but notice. In a valiant effort  to kill the virus, your body produces a fever so high that you go into shock,  your tissues start to degrade and your blood pressure drops, and eventually your organs start to fail.

The virus acts quickly. Initial symptoms of Ebola are varied and often resemble the symptoms of malaria, typhoid fever, influenza or various bacterial infections, all of which are more common than Ebola. It can take too long for Ebola to be diagnosed, and by then the secondary symptoms may have set in: diarrhea, red eyes, vomiting blood, gastrointestinal bleeding from the mouth or rectum, hemorrhaging from the nose and mouth, and bleeding in the brain that may lead to seizures and delirium. After the presentation of these symptoms and a miserable week or so, patients either recover or die from systemic multi-organ failure. While the visible hemorrhaging is what gives the virus its name, it actually presents in less than half of the patients infected with Ebola. Unfortunately for the current outbreak, the Zaire strain is the form of the virus that causes the most severe symptoms.

Why There’s No Cure: Viruses are too small to reproduce on their own, so they have to inject their genome into a host cell. This means that when the host cell replicates, so does the virus. In order for the virus to be able to do its injecting, ‘do all the hard work for me’ trick, it needs to be able to attach to a molecule on the surface of the host cell—this molecule is called a receptor. If the virus doesn’t have the equipment to attach to a certain kind of cell’s receptor, it can’t invade that cell. In fighting viruses, it’s important to identify the virus’ corresponding receptor so you can prevent it from binding and thus prevent it from replicating. With Ebola, this is the missing piece of the puzzle—we don’t know what the receptor is, so we don’t have  a way to stop the virus from proliferating. In humans, Ebola is capable of invading many different kinds of host cells, so it’s possible that it is capable of binding to more than one receptor, making it a dangerously versatile aggressor. Ebola is also notoriously hazardous to study, although many research universities ( and institutions ( are working on unravelling its mysteries.

What’s Happening This Time: The current outbreak is the first time that Ebola has rapidly spread to urban areas. With previous incidents of the virus, responders were able to contain the infection within small, rural populations by identifying modes of transmission, points of origin, and mitigating the damage. With large, closely packed populations, however, the virus spreads faster. It’s much harder to identify who has it, who’s given it to whom, and it's difficult to stop people from leaving the area. The West African nations suffering from this outbreak also lack adequate medical facilities and personnel. Without isolation wards and advanced labs, the virus is extremely hard to contain. The infection of the physicians on the ground is a result of the sheer number of patients in their charge. They wore all the proper protective gear, but somewhere in the melee they came into direct contact with infectious fluid. Additionally, some traditional rural practices have accompanied recent transplants to the cities--it is customary in some of the cultures affected by the virus to wash a dead relative’s body by hand before the burial. This is obviously an issue when it comes to preventing disease transmission. To tackle the epidemic without losing the trust and cooperation of those being treated, it's necessary to implement informed, culturally appropriate health care and education.

David Quammen ( has written an enthralling book, Spillover, about the histories, cultural contexts, and life cycles of the world's zoonotic diseases. His research makes a convincing case that the next human pandemic could be of zoonotic origin. Will it be Ebola? Probably not. In Q&A ( with National Geographic, W. Ian Lipkin, of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University ( addresses the fear that Ebola will spread worldwide. He posits that with the health care systems available in high-income countries like the US and the UK, "it's unlikely that we would have widespread disease as a result. We would be on top of it, and we would be able to contain it. Our health care system affords people access to gloves and gowns and personal protective equipment. I don't think there's reason for panic that we're going to be hit with an outbreak of Ebola". All we can do is wait and see, stay updated on developments, and support WHO ( and Médecins Sans Frontières ( in their efforts to combat the spread of the disease.

Further Reading:
Mechanism of Genus Ebolavirus (
National Geographic Ebola News (

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This pretty much sums it all up!  I don't trust ANY of them!

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The richness of life...

"The richness of human life is that we have many lives; we live the events that do not happen (and some that cannot) as vividly as those that do; and if thereby we die a thousand deaths, that is the price we pay for living a thousand lives."
― Jacob Bronowski
#luscious   #richnessoflife   #equalizer   #life  

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The other night I was sitting on the couch listening to music from the old days. So many memories, and I was sliding into melancholy…
Next thing I knew I was walking down a cobbled street in a city I didn't know. Clearly I was out of place. Not only was I in an unfamiliar location, but in a very different time as well. Judging from the buildings, the absence of any modern transportation and the dress of the people, I would guess it was sometime in the 17th century. I turned my head this way and that, hoping to spot something or someone familiar. I wasn't paying attention to my immediate physical surroundings and bumped into an elderly man, knocking a package from his hand. Russet-gold apples spilled onto the cobbles and rolled in every direction.
"I'm so sorry!" I cried. "Let me pick these up for you."
Crouching, I chased the apples through the street, dodging and weaving between carts and people. When I'd retrieved them I returned to where the man was standing and wrapped the apples in the paper they'd spilled from. He looked stern and annoyed and I didn't blame him. Suddenly he laughed, a harsh loud bray.
"Don't distress yourself," he said. "It's clear that you are een vreemdeling. And your clothing… I have never seen the like."
I looked down at what I was wearing and understood his bafflement completely. I was wearing a long-sleeved pullover, a pair of black denim jeans and suede boots. Every other woman on the street was layered in various garments, all underpinned by a long dress.
"I am intrigued," he said. "Let us go down to the wijnhuis and talk a bit."
Cradling the rewrapped apples under one arm, he took my arm with his other hand and, without speaking further, steered me a few hundred feet down the street.
We entered a large dark establishment. I found myself in a noisy, smoky tavern. My companion led me to a small table in a far corner.
He pulled a pipe and a pouch from a pocket. Packing the bowl with dark, strong tobacco, he leaned forward.
"So tell me, who are you and how did you come to be here?”
"I am nobody special, just a poor dauber and scribbler. And I don't know how I got here," I answered, miserably embarrassed.
"You paint!" my companion shouted. “DO you paint? I paint!"
Even though the tavern was crowded and the noise level was high, heads turned. A tall, youngish man walked over and clapped the older man on the shoulder.
"Oh yes, you paint by skirting around the directorate of the guild," he laughed. "And yet we all secretly acknowledge you as the master."
"Oh quiet, you fool," answered my companion irritably. Nodding in
my direction, he continued, "Pay him no attention, it's nothing but a bothersome folderol. Jealous narrow-minded fools taking their revenge by way of my financial troubles."
The light bulb finally came on. I was in Amsterdam sitting with my idol, Rembrandt. I remembered reading of his legal and financial embarrassments and how his mistress and son set up an art dealership, naming the great master as an employee, so he could continue to work. I was mortified that I had mentioned that I was an artist in the presence of one of history's great geniuses with a brush.
"So tell me," he continued, "what do you paint? Portraits, landscapes? Perhaps pretty still lifes of fruit and flowers?"
"Believe me," I said earnestly, "my work is not worth discussing."
"Oh none of that," replied Rembrandt. "You must show me some of your creations." He shoved the parcel of apples across the table.
"Here, take these. Arrange and paint them. A simple study just to show what you can do. I give you six days. Return here with the piece on the seventh day so I can see what you have done."
Flustered, I stammered, "I'm not sure I can..."
"Of course you can!" he insisted, misunderstanding my response. I meant to tell him that I didn't know how I could get back to wherever it is I was, but he thought I was trying to beg off doing the painting altogether.
I took the apples and said, "I can't promise to come back, but I'll try."
Even as I spoke, the noisy tavern and the great man faded and I awoke with a start to find myself still sitting on the couch, the music from the old days still playing in the background.
The very next day, even though it had all been a dream, I went and got some apples that looked as much like the ones Rembrandt had given me as I could find.
Then, envisioning how an artist of the Dutch Golden Age might have portrayed them, I set to work. Here I show you my 21st-century attempt.
© 2014 RC deWinter ~ All Rights Reserved
Painting: Golden Renaissance Apples © 2014 RC deWinter ~ All Rights Reserved
#art #saturdayscenes #apples  

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taming the wilderness

rudderless i wandered
in a wild overgrown wood
stumbling over aggregates
of loneliness and longing
and the entrenched roots
of trees leaved in despair
skin snagged raw on thorns
of heartache's thickets
drenched in salty rains
of lovers' tears
never dreaming
from the opposite direction
you approached
and we would meet
all unexpected
in the forest of the night

when we did
both wary
burdened with our shrouded
coffined hearts
it was no easy task
to disinter them
so long buried
under distrust's permafrost
how long we stood there
face to face
eyes searching each the other
i know not
at last looking away to find
the night slain by the dawning
of hope's sun

oh yes
clouds sometimes paint the sky
a dark horizon
some nights the candle
wavers in the wind
but now
the only space between us
is a heartbeat
salt rain become
sweet showers of nurturance
that fall not upon wilderness
but on this garden
hands together
we have planted
fragile yet but growing
in the fertile loam of love
© 2014 RC deWinter ~ All Rights Reserved
Painting: Dream Garden © 2014 RC deWinter ~ All Rights Reserved
#art #poetry #landscape  

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"I don't need to see you to know that you're beautiful."
— Jeri Smith-Ready
#youarebeautiful   #iknowit   #weallare  
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