16th July 2008 - 09:56 PM
The field of mathematical biology has been abuzz with the work of Dr.'s West, Brown, Enquist, Gillooly, Savage, et al. for the last 11 years with regard to the claim that a certain power law, called Kleiber's Law, models the relation between metabolic rate (MR) and biomass raised to an exponent. Hyperbolic claims have been made about the universality of this law for all life, for aging, and for ecology. The law, as presented, suggests that basal MR (BMR) is dependent upon the mass of the organism, whether that organism is an organelle, a cell, a whale, or a human society or forest. What's absolutely amazing is that no one yet has pointed out that this approach implies that MR is independent of external conditions for the organism, its ability to find food. A starving bear and a lamb of similar mass are claimed to have the same BMR! In fact the claim has been made that a bird and a rat of similar mass share metabolic rates, in the same paper that remarked the vast difference in lifespans of the two was perplexing, and perhaps could be squeezed from the numbers. This claim conflicts with studies on strength of metabolic and systemic functioning done on those subjected to near starvation, and supports the preposterous notion that morbid obesity should result in higher metabolic rates
The lack of any severe testing of deductions from Kleiber, as handled by West et al. in the form of quarter power scaling, is related to its speculation on the nature of metabolism itself. No position is specified as to whether thermogenesis should be included as part of metabolism; or not, in which case the role of caloric efficiency in sustaining biomass enters the picture. To sustain biomass heat is created in the power transmission needed to maintain the constantly degenerating covalent bonds necessary to prevent the disintegration of the biomass. Efficiency is measured against loss to heat, and does not include it. The endurance of quarter-power flim-flammery is highly dependent upon neglecting this issue, and upon the on-going lack of in vivo metabolic measurement that can detect this.
When the factor for efficiency is introduced to Kleiber in the exponent, things like the difference in lifespans of birds and rats can be seen as a matter of efficiency. MR becomes the recharge rate of the biomass measured in grams, and is itself measured in watts, and the exponent of biomass changes from 3/4 to (4ME-1)/4ME, where ME is a ratio of amperes of reduction to amperes of oxidation, known as redox coupling efficiency. The graph of this version of the equation, with a different curve for each biomass, reveals a picture far and away more powerful than that trotted out by the doddering West at a string of moribund symposiums whose continuation is more a matter of academic inertia than clinical or biological relevance and consequence. The exponent favored by West et al. is 3/4 when ME is 100%. Is it universally so for all life that they function at 100% metabolic efficiency? The exponent 2/3, favored by traditional biologists, obtains when ME is 89%, still high, but closer to what is probably so when thermogenesis is included, with 11% being lost as undigested calories.
Hey, but that's just the way that it is. The Pied Piper of the Santa Fe Institute will lead a generation down an intellectual cul de sac of irrelevance, and then one day increasing numbers will ask, hey, why can't we do anything with this? Right now there is speculation about how temperature can be introduced to the equation, and other factors like rainfall and nutrient availability too. Nothing rigorously testable without lots of field work, fortunately for ambitious students. For the clinic? Nothing. Just promises of one day...maybe something pharmacological perhaps...or a new way of cutting. Someday they'll get the math right, and turn the electrodes spewing amperes upon their own bodies in recharge rate of their biomasses. The updated Kleiber explains why rats live longer when hungry, and why this won't work for large mammals. It also explains why discharging a battery into our bodies will extend our lives and restore our muscles. The equation tells us how most effectively to manipulate the histology of our biomass to remain fit and to lose mass.
Now one must ask, given the math, why would West et al. continue to promote their presumptuous version? What drives these guys? Is it a matter of ego? They insist upon sample sizes of one gram mass, what they call mass specific, something that only happens in vitro, not vivo. They make this choice because the math is easier, that is, by dividing both sides of the equation by mass, they hope to make their calculations fit the data by eliminating mass as a factor. And the data comes mostly from in vitro testing on one gram biomasses, and whole body study of people at rest who have not eaten for more than 24 hours. And they say the exponent becomes a -1/4. Important to their analysis is the fact that, at one gram biomass, no matter what the efficiency is, the recharge rate will be the same. This rules out matters of efficiency, and treats metabolic functioning as, again, something independent of surrounding conditions and the histological structure of the biomass, something entirely dependent upon mass. Again, this benighted approach is an attempt to fit an equation to the data which is itself inadequate for any sort of applied mathematical deductions.
Hey, but enjoy the show! West especially will eventually and unwittingly confirm that dictum of Max Planck that science advances with each funeral.
16th July 2008 - 10:24 PM
QUOTE (Gregorio+Jul 16 2008, 03:56 PM)
It also explains why discharging a battery into our bodies will extend our lives and restore our muscles.
Plain flippin' crazy, aren't you.
17th July 2008 - 04:39 AM
Welcome to the club. Were all a bit crazy here about something or another. Id suggest ignoring the fools unless they directly get in your face irl and on here heh.
20th July 2008 - 05:06 AM
In Harvard's Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (DOEB) can be found the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, headed by Martin Nowak, that seeks to reduce Darwin to equation form. In 2006 Nowak published a book by the same name as his program, in which he presented some of the accumulated wisdom of the mathematical biologists. Not surprisingly there is not a single equation dealing with metabolism, not even Kleiber's Law, as it is so clumsily handled by West, Brown, Enquist, Savage, Gillooly and a host of careerist academics from Harvard and the Santa Fe Institute/University of New Mexico. This collection of sciolists has yet to advance a single deductive inference that can be tested, a surprising turn of events for alleged mathematical modelers. For them mathematical modeling is something that must be tailored to fit the data rather than something that explains the data in such a way that as-yet undiscovered data can be predicted, and in this way the mathematical model tested. Conveniently this allows these posers to claim that their theory fits the data when in fact it is entirely based upon the data, and therefore is inductive and not deductive at all. While West et al. soberly imply that Kleiber holds the key to understanding aging, something they are not yet capable of articulating; Nowak prefers to treat life as not having begun until there was RNA, something that prevents his program from shedding any light on the origins of life from chemistry.
This is the state of mathematical biology. It's foremost proponents have no understanding of the philosophy of science, and so have turned it on its head so that, at best, it is just another course to be taken so one can get a degree in biology.
21st July 2008 - 05:19 AM
When the term ME, for metabolic efficiency, is introduced to Kleiber, and because it is defined as a ratio of redox coupling efficiency, treatment of metabolic rate (MR) necessarily becomes a number expressed in watts rather than calories. The equation is not about heat, but instead about the creation, maintenance, and tendency toward degradation of the covalent bonds necessary for biomass's existence. Two deductions from the equation are that the nervous system is electrochemical, and that its functioning can only be simulated using DC to trigger redox coupling. These deductions are to be tested in the next year at the clinical level. The tests involve muscle biopsies examining for increased muscle mass in human muscle submitted to regular stimulation using the anode of the DC. The equation predicts that the affect should be the absorption by the muscle cells of the introduced energy as increased mass, appearing as increased Type II muscle fiber cross sectional area. Not coincidentally loss of muscle mass is a primary symptom of aging and debilitation.
The proof of an hypothesis is the test of predictions made from it. When these predictions are mathematically-based, what is involved is applied mathematics. When mathematical modeling is based upon the facts, as it is in the case of the quarter power scaling of West et al., the fit between theory and fact is entirely retrospective. In biology this retrospection is termed 'prediction'. This is one difference between biology and the physical sciences. There are others.
When real predictions are tested, the results are not known ahead of time. In the case of quarter power scaling, the facts are chosen carefully, and key exceptions are dismissed or ignored. West's pathetic graph of mass versus MR shows the MR of cells to be miniscule in comparison to horses. If MR is recharge rate, and directly related to longevity, how can there be immortal cancer cells when horses live less than 25 years? West, Brown and Enquist say the answer is somewhere in the numbers, and it is, but not in theirs. Biologists heatedly and correctly aver the BMR that West claims Kleiber models, cannot account for motor activity. And they are right. West ignores this, and joins Savage et al. in asserting that the MR of the organism is the product of the number of its cells and their average BMR. Again the biologists point out this cannot account for motor activity. Do West and his munchkins have any testable deductions? None, at least not in the predictive sense, unless retrospection is taken for prediction.
The upcoming muscle biopsies will test the updated Kleiber for one of its key predictions, the building of muscle using the anode. The updated Kleiber explains how a mass of cells can have a greater MR as a mass than can result from the product of cell number and average BMR. This explains the motor behavior of multicellular organisms. There are already numerous published facts that are encompassed by this equation's power. These include the effective destruction of tumors by either anode or cathode, in a clinical setting; along with the speeded reparation of non-union breaks of long bones in humans. Other predictions address the electrochemical manipulation of weight without dieting, the prevention of cancer and not just its destruction, and the variance of genome mass in flatworms (from parasitic flukes to planarians). The equation answers the question as to which came first, replication or metabolism, by modeling replication as one response of biomass to variations in MR as ME fluctuates with passive changes in energy availability. This response is in the numbers, does not require RNA, and most assuredly was necessary for the chemistry that led to RNA. The equation models the relation between food sources and reproductive strategies for things large and small. The equation explains why mice who go hungry live longer while mice that grow bigger don't, and why salmon disintegrate after spawning.
Quarter Power Scaling is a bald-faced delusion, and contemptibly reprehensible for impeding the exploitation of the clinical power of electrochemistry. It can only succeed in a biological atmosphere that is itself murky and indistinct with regard to key issues such as the metabolic role of themogenesis. Other overarching issues are the nature of bioelectricity and how it has nothing to do with diffusion gradients, the electrochemical nature of the nervous system, and the profoundly bioenergetic nature of all biological organization to the extent that the origins of life and evolution are primarily about metabolism, and only secondarily about genetics. This is the world of epigenetics, and it is nascent in the biological sciences now that the limits of genetics are sinking in with regard to changing our lives and our bodies.
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