Weekly Editorials Page
2/28-3/6, 2002
 

3-4-2002:  Abundance of Ice on Mars!
    I should certainly mention the stunningly wonderful news that water-ice has been discovered in lavish abundance on Mars. Of course, this opens the garden gate to human colonization of Mars. For a number of reasons, we'll have to be troglodytes on Mars. Mars' lack of van Allen belts, an ozone layer, and a dense atmosphere exposes it to solar particle radiation, ultraviolet light, and micrometeorite bombardment. Also, with a pressure differential of at least 3/4ths tons/sq. ft. or 20 metric tons per sq. meter, about 8 feet (2.5 meters) of dirt will have to sit on top of a building's roof to offset the upward thrust of an inhabited building. (It might be possible to provide buildings with northern exposures and north-facing windows, since most micrometeorites and solar radiation would be confined to roughly the plane of the ecliptic.)

"Colonization of Mars" Participatory Website
    A couple of months ago, I set up a "participatory website" where anyone could contribute thoughts about the colonization of Mars  The problem is an exercise in logistics in which one tries to minimize the weight of payload that will have to be shipped to Mars in order to establish a self-sustaining industrial base on Mars. This will entail taking maximum advantage of Mars' endemic resources from the get-go, shipping only high-tech parts from the Earth. For example, one of the challenges will be to find limestone, sand, and water for the preparation of cement. Another challenge will be the transportation of minerals from remote locations to some central industrial complex. I thought about a computer game in which players try to optimize the selection and sequencing of remotely-operated equipment to be trans-shipped to Mars. One might start with a micro-industrial base, and then, using small devices to build larger devices, might bootstrap to a largely-autonomous local economy.

Justin Chapman: An Untold Story
    A couple of weeks ago, a newspaper article appeared in the "Rocky Mountain News" following up the story of Justin Chapman. Tommie Jean and I had first heard about Justin from the Kearneys a little over two years ago. At the time, Justin was auditing, with the instructor's permission, a physics class at the University of Rochester.  , 
    Last summer, when we met in Nashville, Kevin and Cassidy expressed concern over rumors they had heard regarding Justin's situation. Today, in our local newspaper, an article appeared entitled,
    "Mother admits she rigged results for son regarded as a boy genius." 
    The article cites "a long list of Justin's purported accomplishments, including a perfect 800 on the math section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test, a genius score at age 3 on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale test, and an IQ score of 298-plus on the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale at age 6.
    The article continues:
    "The latter test was administered by Linda Silverman of the private Gifted Development Center in Denver. She described Justin as "the greatest genius to ever grace the earth."
    Justin's mother, Elizabeth Chapman, "told the News she had checked out a copy of the Stanford-Binet IQ test booklet and researched it with her son before Silverman administered the test. She told the New York Times that Justin himself had found the manual in the University of Rochester library and memorized the answers."
    "Chapman said that she had apologized to Silverman, who had helped her move to Colorado and had been one of Justin's staunchest advocates. She said she had apologized to other friends as well.
    "Chapman also acknowledged that she made a copy of of a neighbor's SAT scores. She said she altered the score so it appeared the perfect scores of 800 in math and 650 in verbal were achieved by Justin.
    "She said Justin never finished the Wechsler test at age 3 and that the score was a fake.
    "Still, Chapman said her son was highly gifted, even without the deception. She said Justin took the University of Rochester courses himself, and did the course work necessary to receive a high school diploma from Cambridge Academy, a Florida-based online school, where he was credited with a 3.75 grade average.
    "Chapman said her parents and the boy's father, James Maurer, had filed for custody of the boy, who now lives with a foster family. Maurer, who lives in Raleigh, N. C., confirmed he had filed for custody but declined further comment, the Times said."

    Poor Justin! Poor everyone involved.
    My calculations regarding the frequency distributions of ratio IQ's point to a one-in-five-billion ratio-IQ of about 256 for the brightest person on the planet. Someone might wonder if all of these reports of amazing precocity are fraudulent. The answer to that is a resounding "no". I know a few of these ex-prodigies, and as adults, they're phenomenal, with virtually perfect scores on adult IQ tests, and with obviously-extraordinary talents.

3-3-2002: Mind Boosters
    Last Sunday, I posted an article that makes unusual anti-aging claims for rats fed the supplementary nutrients acetyl-l-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid in a study funded by the National Institutes on Aging. I took it seriously because the article was based upon three journal articles appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and because one of the co-authors was the well-known biologist, Bruce Ames. I also wrote it up last Sunday night.
    My message for tonight is that I think it might be working. For the past few nights, I've had serious insomnia. I've been able to weather it during the day without getting sleepy, but it's become unavoidably noticeable. Today, I looked up acetyl-l-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid in Dr. Sahelian's Mind Boosters. He says this about them. 
    Dr. Sahelian cautions, though, that high dosages can induce nausea, restlessness, and insomnia. He recommends dosages of 100 to 250 milligrams a day.
    Since last Saturday, Tommie and I have been taking 500 milligrams a day. We'll cut back to 250 mgs. a day.

    Concerning alpha-lipoic acid, Dr. Sahelian writes,

"The Author's Experience
    "Unlike most antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, and selenium, there is usually a noticeable effect from taking Lipoic Acid. I've observed a sense of relaxed well-being and slightly enhanced visual acuity. Higher dosages of 40 mg. of more, even when taken in the morning, cause me to have insomnia."

    Me, too. Tommie Jean and I have been taking 100 mg. a day, and something is causing me to have insomnia. We'll cut back to 20 milligrams of
a-lipoic acid a day. Also, it's hard to tell about such things, but it seems as though my vision and my cognitive powers might have improved. I don't generally look for, or think about such effects, so they have to jump out and trip me before I'm aware of them. 
    I've only been taking these supplements for a week.
    But the most relevant thing about this is that, like the women at the health food store, I'm noticeably feeling the effects of these nutrients. My memory seems to be more powerful. And if these two nutrients really work, what about some of the others?

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