Compensatory Technology

I have been volunteering for the Contra Costa-Solano Food Bank at the Senior Groceries Distribution at the African Methodist Episcopalian church on Willow Pass Road in Bay Point (California) for many years. The groceries are distributed from 9 AM to 10:30 on the second and fourth Thursday. On a typical day the Food Bank truck and a church elder and I all show up around 7:30 AM. We try to get about a ton of groceries unloaded quickly so the truck can travel to its next stops. For unknown reasons we were short of volunteers yesterday, so it took some concentrated effort to get the sixty bags packed in about an hour. That meant everyone was indoors with really not much view of the outside. After packing up a special carton for an early-arriving amputee in a wheelchair I had just started hauling empty cartons outside and was thinking to myself “that wasn’t so bad”. Two new (first-time) volunteers arrived, and we were just starting to hand out bags when a customer came running up and breathlessly explained that there was a dead person on the sidewalk. That was a first. One of the two new volunteers  said she was a trained paramedic so off we went. There was indeed someone lying on the sidewalk but not in a place normally visible to us. As far as we could tell, no bleeding, there was breathing, no convulsions but no response either. A police officer arrived a few minutes after we made the 911 call. We were eventually informed that the individual on the sidewalk lived nearby, and that he was blind and deaf and cognitively limited. It is likely possible to arrange to have Food Bank items from the Senior Groceries and the Community Produce (first and third Thursdays) delivered. But there’s another challenge. Willow Pass Road is about five miles long and sees a lot of traffic particularly at commute times. Definitely not a good place for anyone who is cognitively limited, let alone blind and deaf. Does anyone know of a wearable technology that can alert parents or guardians that a potential tragedy is looming? I do not have any idea if there is a government agency that might make such devices available.  


Naming Genes (continued)


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Here are corresponding screenshots for the ELP4 gene

ELP4_gene_Health_Conditions ELP4_gene_Other_Names

The PAX6NEB synonym looks suspicious. But the real question is if someone reports that they have a mutation in their AN or AN2 gene what slice of DNA do they mean?

Naming Genes


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In many fields of scientific endeavor a discoverer has the privilege of naming his discovery.  In the matter of names of syndromes (defined as a group of symptoms or signs which consistently occur together) it is very common to encounter names that include one or more discoverers. As with the various types of rock flying around our Solar System the names of genes have some limits imposed. A problem has been that for a variety of reasons the same molecular location (chromosome and region and offset – see below) can have multiple names. When documenting a gene most online genome databases include these synonyms. Below is an example using the PAX6 gene

PAX6_gene_Health_Conditions PAX6_gene_Other_Names

After a brief interruption


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To provide a large amount of geological data – mostly earthquakes, but also some tsunamis, to Dr. George Pararas-Carayannis in the wake of the July 19th Richter 5.3 in Greece. The challenge for Greece for many years has been that about one Greek in four lives in the Athens metropolitan area. The Athens International airport and the port of Piraeus are critical infrastructure components. Piraeus handles five million TEUs per year -it is not obvious what other Southern European container ports could shoulder the load if Piraeus went offline.  Our worst nightmare would be a major marine earthquake somewhere south of Athens (so tsunamis damage Piraeus and nearby shorelines) followed by violent and shallow powerful aftershocks in and around Athens itself. In our simulations the indications were that tsunamis coming from the southeast, while devastating to nearby islands, lose a lot of energy because the islands southeast of Athens act like something of a sponge.  Problems with air quality and water quality in the Athens metropolitan area would complicate rescue and recovery efforts.

Athens has persisted for more than 3,000 years – the problem today is that there are so many Athenians. Besides the vulnerability of Athens and Piraeus a serious shortcoming is the quality of the historical seismic data. In the data I have access to Richter 4.0 to 4.9 events are first recorded in 1980. Richter 5.0 to 5.9 events are first recorded in 1950. Seventy years is a blink of the eye in geological time – or in Grecian history. It is not clear how accurately Richter 6.0 and higher events from 1900 to 1950 were recorded.  There is no obvious path forward to reconstruct apparently missing data.


Kurile Islands – Volcanoes


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On June 22 2019 there was a VEI=4 eruption at Raikoke. This is at least the third VEI=4 from that comparatively small volcano in recent times.

The ejecta reached a height of 17,000 meters (56,000 feet) and caused airplanes to detour. As far as I know, the island was not inhabited by humans at the time, but the eruption was likely lethal to any birds, seals and nearby sealife.

The Kurile Islands



There is some disagreement about how many islands, as opposed to mere rocks, there are.  Commonly encountered numbers are 48 uninhabited islands and the eight inhabited islands listed above. We are not anxious to take sides in the Russia vs Japan vs Google dispute about labels as we are reasonably convinced that with so many tsunamis, major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions it should be obvious that humans inhabit the Kurile Islands only on sufferance.

Clustering – Convulsions and the Kuriles – continued


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Kuriles_2016_2017A casual query against the United States Geological Survey databases would inform one that over 3300 Richter 5.0 or greater events had occurred in the Kuriles area in the last 120 years. That is actually very inaccurate – the Richter 5s do not get getting recorded until the 1950s, so the real number of such events is probably in excess of 6,000. Fortunately, for the most part, no one cares about Richter 5s – unless your house is shaken.

The map above gives earthquakes around the times of the two Richter 8s. Of interest is to determine (mathematically) whether

  1. the two Richter 8s are a cluster or are two distinct events
  2. what events are fore-shocks for the 2006 event
  3. what events are aftershocks for the 2006 event
  4. what events are fore-shocks  for the 2007 event (are they also aftershocks for 2006?)
  5. what events are aftershocks for the 2007 event?

The same mathematics is very likely to be applicable to seizures

Clustering – Convulsions and the Kuriles


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There have been slightly less than 100 Richter 8.0 or greater earthquakes in the last 120 years. It is not clear how accurately some of the earlier events were measured but a Richter 8.0 or greater once a year somewhere on Planet Earth is a reasonable rule of thumb. If we draw a box (well, a parallelogram) about 450 miles by 200 miles (= 90,000 square miles or 233,100 square kilometers) near the Kurile Islands


Kurile_Islandsit would cover not quite five hundreths of one percent (= .000457) of the surface of our world.


That small area has had seven Richter 8 events between 1918 and 2007.

To the bewilderment of tectonics theorists on rare occasions TWO Richter 8s can have their epicenters be very close in space and time. Such a pair occurred in the Kurile Islands: the first on 11/15/2006 and the second 59 days and 104 kilometers away.  Like many things that perturb what are thought to be the natural rhythms, earthquakes interact with volcanoes and oceans which results in, respectively, eruptions and tsunamis. Earthquakes can also have fore-shocks and after-shocks. That is where the real mathematical trouble begins.

Testing … testing … 1 … 2 … 3


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Do any of our faithful readers have a DNA testing organization they would recommend.

The four critical questions are:

  1. what genes are tested for
  2. how long does testing take
  3. what is the cost
  4. how accurate is the testing

We just e-published more than 100 web pages containing several views of 2100 genes of interest. Of course, within hours of the last upload one of our e-correspondents notified us that a pre-publication version of a large survey would soon be available and that it was likely to contain more new genes.

We have contacted GeneDx,  Hudson Alpha and Ambry Genetics. The Joint Genome Institute is currently only working on plant and microbe genetics.