Fur Real: Your body is made of remnants of stars and massive explosions in the galaxies

It blows my mind that I’m made up of blown up stellar dust.  You gotta read this interview of:

“Astrophysicist Karel Schrijver, a senior fellow at the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, and his wife, Iris Schrijver, professor of pathology at Stanford University, have joined the dots in a new book, Living With the Stars: How the Human Body Is Connected to the Life Cycles of the Earth, the Planets, and the Stars.”

How 40,000 Tons of Cosmic Dust Falling to Earth Affects You and Me

“Talking from their home in Palo Alto, California, they explain how everything in us originated in cosmic explosions billions of years ago, how our bodies are in a constant state of decay and regeneration, and why singer Joni Mitchell was right.”

“We are stardust,” Joni Mitchell famously sang in “Woodstock.” It turns out she was right, wasn’t she?”

Iris: Was she ever! Everything we are and everything in the universe and on Earth originated from stardust, and it continually floats through us even today. It directly connects us to the universe, rebuilding our bodies over and again over our lifetimes.”

Can you give me some examples of how stardust formed us?

Karel: When the universe started, there was just hydrogen and a little helium and very little of anything else. Helium is not in our bodies. Hydrogen is, but that’s not the bulk of our weight. Stars are like nuclear reactors. They take a fuel and convert it to something else. Hydrogen is formed into helium, and helium is built into carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, iron and sulfur—everything we’re made of. When stars get to the end of their lives, they swell up and fall together again, throwing off their outer layers. If a star is heavy enough, it will explode in a supernova.”

“So most of the material that we’re made of comes out of dying stars, or stars that died in explosions. And those stellar explosions continue. We have stuff in us as old as the universe, and then some stuff that landed here maybe only a hundred years ago. And all of that mixes in our bodies.”

Your book yokes together two seemingly different sciences: astrophysics and human biology. Describe your individual professions and how you combined them to create this book.

“Iris: I’m a physician specializing in genetics and pathology. Pathologists are the medical specialists who diagnose diseases and their causes. We also study the responses of the body to such diseases and to the treatment given. I do this at the level of the DNA, so at Stanford University I direct the diagnostic molecular pathology laboratory. I also provide patient care by diagnosing inherited diseases and also cancers, and by following therapy responses in those cancer patients based on changes that we can detect in their DNA.”

“Our book is based on many conversations that Karel and I had, in which we talked to each other about topics from our daily professional lives. Those areas are quite different. I look at the code of life. He’s an astrophysicist who explores the secrets of the stars. But the more we followed up on our questions to each other, the more we discovered our fields have a lot more connections than we thought possible.”

Karel:” I’m an astrophysicist. Astrophysicists specialize in all sorts of things, from dark matter to galaxies. I picked stars because they fascinated me. But no matter how many stars you look at, you can never see any detail. They’re all tiny points in the sky.”

“So I turned my attention to the sun, which is the only star where we can see what happens all over the universe. At some point NASA asked me to lead a summer school for beginning researchers to try to create materials to understand the things that go all the way from the sun to the Earth. I learned so many things about these connections I started to tell Iris. At some point I thought: This could be an interesting story, and it dawned on us that together we go all the way, as she said, from the smallest to the largest. And we have great fun doing this together.”

We tend to think of our bodies changing only slowly once we reach adulthood. So I was fascinated to discover that, in fact, we’re changing all the time and constantly rebuilding ourselves. Talk about our skin.

Iris:Most people don’t even think of the skin as an organ. In fact, it’s our largest one. To keep alive, our cells have to divide and grow. We’re aware of that because we see children grow. But cells also age and eventually die, and the skin is a great example of this.”

“It’s something that touches everything around us. It’s also very exposed to damage and needs to constantly regenerate. It weighs around eight pounds [four kilograms] and is composed of several layers. These layers age quickly, especially the outer layer, the dermis. The cells there are replaced roughly every month or two. That means we lose approximately 30,000 cells every minute throughout our lives, and our entire external surface layer is replaced about once a year.”

“Very little of our physical bodies lasts for more than a few years. Of course, that’s at odds with how we perceive ourselves when we look into the mirror. But we’re not fixed at all. We’re more like a pattern or a process. And it was the transience of the body and the flow of energy and matter needed to counter that impermanence that led us to explore our interconnectedness with the universe.”

You have a fascinating discussion about age. Describe how different parts of the human body age at different speeds.

Iris: “Every tissue recreates itself, but they all do it at a different rate. We know through carbon dating that cells in the adult human body have an average age of seven to ten years. That’s far less than the age of the average human, but there are remarkable differences in these ages. Some cells literally exist for a few days. Those are the ones that touch the surface. The skin is a great example, but also the surfaces of our lungs and the digestive tract. The muscle cells of the heart, an organ we consider to be very permanent, typically continue to function for more than a decade. But if you look at a person who’s 50, about half of their heart cells will have been replaced.”

“Our bodies are never static. We’re dynamic beings, and we have to be dynamic to remain alive. This is not just true for us humans. It’s true for all living things.”

A figure that jumped out at me is that 40,000 tons of cosmic dust fall on Earth every year. Where does it all come from? How does it affect us?

Karel: When the solar system formed, it started to freeze gas into ice and dust particles. They would grow and grow by colliding. Eventually gravity pulled them together to form planets. The planets are like big vacuum cleaners, sucking in everything around them. But they didn’t complete the job. There’s still an awful lot of dust floating around.”

“When we say that as an astronomer, we can mean anything from objects weighing micrograms, which you wouldn’t even see unless you had a microscope, to things that weigh many tons, like comets. All that stuff is still there, being pulled around by the gravity of the planets and the sun. The Earth can’t avoid running into this debris, so that dust falls onto the Earth all the time and has from the very beginning. It’s why the planet was made in the first place. Nowadays, you don’t even notice it. But eventually all that stuff, which contains oxygen and carbon, iron, nickel, and all the other elements, finds its way into our bodies.”

“When a really big piece of dust, like a giant comet or asteroid, falls onto the Earth, you get a massive explosion, which is one of the reasons we believe the dinosaurs became extinct some 70 million years ago. That fortunately doesn’t happen very often. But things fall out of the sky all the time. [Laughs]”

Many everyday commodities we use also began their existence in outer space. Tell us about salt.

Karel: Whatever you mention, its history began in outer space. Take salt. What we usually mean by salt is kitchen salt. It has two chemicals, sodium and chloride. Where did they come from? They were formed inside stars that exploded billions of years ago and at some point found their way onto the Earth. Stellar explosions are still going on today in the galaxy, so some of the chlorine we’re eating in salt was made only recently.”

You study pathology, Iris. Is physical malfunction part of the cosmic order?

Iris: Absolutely. There are healthy processes, such as growth, for which we need cell division. Then there are processes when things go wrong. We age because we lose the balance between cell deaths and regeneration. That’s what we see in the mirror when we age over time. That’s also what we see when diseases develop, such as cancers. Cancer is basically a mistake in the DNA, and because of that the whole system can be derailed. Aging and cancer are actually very similar processes. They both originate in the fact that there’s a loss of balance between regeneration and cell loss.”

“Cystic fibrosis is an inherited genetic disease. You inherit an error in the DNA. Because of that, certain tissues do not have the capability to provide their normal function to the body. My work is focused on finding changes in DNA in different populations so we can understand better what kinds of mutations are the basis of that disease. Based on that, we can provide prognosis. There are now drugs that target specific mutations, as well as transplants, so these patients can have a much better life span than was possible 10 or 20 years ago.”

How has writing this book changed your view of life—and your view of each other?

Karel: There are two things that struck me, one that I had no idea about. The first is what Iris described earlier—the impermanence of our bodies. As a physicist, I thought the body was built early on, that it would grow and be stable. Iris showed me, over a long series of dinner discussions, that that’s not the way it works. Cells die and rebuild all the time. We’re literally not what were a few years ago, and not just because of the way we think. Everything around us does this. Nature is not outside us. We are nature.”

“As far as our relationship is concerned, I always had a great deal of respect for Iris, and physicians in general. They have to know things that I couldn’t possibly remember. And that’s only grown with time.”

Iris: Physics was not my favorite topic in high school. [Laughs] Through Karel and our conversations, I feel that the universe and the world around us has become much more accessible. That was our goal with the book as well. We wanted it to be accessible and understandable for anyone with a high school education. It was a challenge to write it that way, to explain things to each other in lay terms. But it has certainly changed my view of life. It’s increased my sense of wonder and appreciation of life.”

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Read more of judy’s “mini sermons” on this same subject click:

 Part I, The Interconnectedness of All Beings click HERE

Part II, Head & Heart, click HERE

 Part III – Stardusted, click HERE

Part IV – Two Wings of a BIrd, click HERE

Frankly Freddie – Z’d-out

Peggy & Judy don’t like to promote “stuff” much less brag.  Guess who’s been assigned . . . .  I should be flattered they have such trust in me but I know it’s mainly because I’m the one who has the most followers and fans.  

I told them I would do a post about the “LOVE” products in the CURIOUStotheMAX ZAZZLE shop if they would make me a T-Shirt to wear on Valentines day.  They agreed but I’m very disappointed and you’ll see why . . .

P.S.  Did I tell you that for the next 2 months all their profits goes to charity?

They’ve picked The Gentle Barn.  You can read about it by clicking HERE

     ❤         ❤        ❤        ❤

Current Crop of Curious Critters in the

CURIOUStotheMAX Zazzle Store

The Early Bird Love the Worm Ladies T

Heart filled Wooferdoggie t-shirt:full of love

. . . The Doggie T-Shirt.

I assumed it would have MY picture on it . . . .

DSCN6209

Frankly, Freddie Parker Westerfield

P.S. I have no idea who the hairy model is but he needs a stylist.

CURIOUStotheMAX Zazzle Store

https://www.zazzle.com/curioustothemax

Happiness Hack: Today’s Good Happenings

We’re excited to let you know that we are compiling all the Happiness Hacks we’ve posted. This one was on Catnip as:

“Research shows you will be happier for 3 months – Music to my ears”

I played violin in the high school orchestra. It was enjoyable and got me out of physical education class. Practicing was another matter.  Practicing the violin was excruciating for me. It was solely focused on doing weird, complicated, boring scales over and over and over . . . no melody, NO FUN.   I would set a timer for 1 hour: polish my violin for 10 minutes; resin the bow for 5; tune the strings for 15 and; laboriously do scales for the rest of the time. I did get better.

If only I had known that I could have practiced being in a good mood while I was practicing scales.

Yup, research now shows the more you practice being in a good mood the better you get at keeping a good mood.

Our brains seek out familiar patterns. The more we consciously focus on positive thoughts the easier it is for our brain to access those thoughts and find positive patterns in other areas.  (Of course, there is a corollary  – focus on the negative and your brain will look for more negative connections).  So the more you think about the positive things in your life, the easier it is to think of good things in your life. 

Start at any time.  Like now. Think about something “positive/good” . . . a time you had fun or laughed at a joke or a childhood celebration.  It doesn’t even have to be about you or your life . . .  something “positive” you’ve witnessed, read about or even imagined.  Share it with someone and notice feeling happier.

The more you practice the easier it will be for your brain to access the positive and lift your mood.  

Here’s an easy practice session.

   Maui Practicing, not judy, by Peggy

Pawsitive Exercise

Each day for a week, at the end of the day, write down 3 good or positive things that have happened to you that day and why they happened. 

They can be:

  • BIG things (became a grandma, bought a Maserati, won the lottery)
  • Small things (took a nice shower, ate breakfast, paid the water bill on time).
  • The same things repeated each day or different things/events listed.

When you write down why they happened give yourself credit:

  • I won the lottery because I bought a ticket
  • I took a nice hot shower because I paid the water bill on time
  • I became a grandma because I became a mother because I have kept a good relationship with my daughter because I called her and had a positive conversation.

You don’t need a fancy journal –

a notebook, post-it-notes, napkins will work.

Just do this for one week.

Research shows you will be happier for 3 months!

My violin “practice” list would have looked like this:

  • I managed to get through another violin practice session without dying of boredom.
  • I played in tune, 75% of the time
  • I polished my violin and it’s shiny.

(jw)

Reference:  Seligman, M. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive Psychology Progress. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410-421. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.60.5.410

Frankly Freddie – Secrets Can Make Me (you too) Sick

Dear Freddie Fans,

Finally! I can tell you the secret I’ve been keeping before I get sick . . . Let me explain . . .

Suffering from “the complications of emotional burden.”

It’s a scientific fact!  You can get sick from holding secrets:  My brain’s prefrontal cortex gets over simulated when I thought about how bad sharing the secret would be.  Just imagining all the possible negative outcomes (If I told you Peggy and Judy were changing the name of CATNIPblog they could stop giving me payment treats, ban me from blogging future posts, or cut-off my blog royalties from past posts) the end result is an EMOTIONAL BURDEN.

Specifically, when the prefrontal cortex wins the battle within my brain over keeping a secret, the pressure causes my cingulate cortex leads my body to ramp up production of stress hormones.  So true . . .every time I’ve thought about the secret I felt my stress hormones surge thereby necessitating a treat.

There are even specific health risks but you’ll have to click here to read my post on . . .

TA DA!

Whew!  I feel my prefrontal cortex calming down already . . .

Maui the cat is still the muse but FINALLY P & J renamed the blog to reflect what it’s all about.  I have protested for the last 2 years about using, of all things, a CAT . . . they are slow learners (Peggy & Judy, not cats) . . . 

  • MAX your MIND (formerly known as Catnipblog)- Health and wellness tips and what P & J (and I, Freddie) learned in 30+ years of being psychotherapists, (and canines) – all based on neuroscience & scientific research. 
  • CURIOUS to the Max – Stuff that makes us smile, learn and gives expression to our more  personal, “creative” sides.

You who subscribe to both my blogs (YEA YOU!) as editorial director I promise there will still be fresh content on each blog but let me know what you would like to see more of on either of my blogs.

 Happy New Year! Happy Max Your Mind New Name Blog! from

No Secrets Freddie

 

 

Happy New Year Hack

We’ve been posting Happiness Hacks from our coming book Hacking Your Way to Happiness and put 12 of the 22 hacks into a 2019 calendar.  Rick (Judy’s out-of-the-box-thinking brother) sent her what he thought was possible hack cure for fibromyalgia.  We didn’t get it in time for the Hack Your Way to Happiness calendar so we’re sharing what Rick sent in this special post. 

The 2019 Calendar is in our ZAZZLE Shop

We’re not sure about fibromyalgia but for those of you who are planning to imbibe this New Years hopefully the hack won’t get you wacked.

*     *     *

“The active ingredient common to all alcoholic beverages is made by yeasts; microscopic, single-celled organisms that eat sugar and excrete carbon dioxide and ethanol, the only portable alcohol.”

“From our modern point of view, ethanol has one very compelling property: it makes us feel good. Ethanol helps release serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins in the brain, chemicals that make us happy and less anxious.”

Cheers To Responsible Drinking This Holiday Season From all the Curious Critters

DRINK ON A FULL STOMACH (that doesn’t mean balancing a beer on your belly)

Make sure to have solid food in your system before having any alcohol. Experts recommend that you eat high-protein foods such as cheese and peanuts, which help to slow the absorption of alcohol into the circulatory system and burn it off.

KEEP HYDRATED (with water, not wine)

Dehydration can cause your blood volume to drop, allowing less blood and oxygen to flow to the brain and allowing the stress hormone cortisol to have a greater impact on your system, so make sure that you are getting adequate fluid. If you drink alcohol while dehydrated, it will have a seriously negative impact on your system. Water improves the processing of brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine.

SIP IT SLOWLY (nothing to add, we just like the alliteration)

Your body absorbs alcohol quicker than you metabolize it. The faster you drink, the more time the toxins in booze spend in your body, affecting your brain and other tissues, and the bigger the hangover will be in the morning.

ONE PER HOUR (drinks, not miles)

Metabolism depends on several factors (gender, weight, age, health), but in general, most people can metabolize roughly one drink an hour.

ADD SOME ICE (we’re not referring to the Rapper)

Diluting alcohol with ice or water will increase your time between refills and decrease its effects on your body and brain. As you slowly enjoy your beverage, the ice will melt and create more liquid as it reduces the strength of the alcohol. You can also use soda water or another non-alcoholic beverage as a chaser. Don’t be influenced or embarrassed into not chasing your drink. Your own health and safety are what’s important.

DON’T MIX ALCOHOL WITH DRUGS

Whether it’s flu medicine, painkillers, sleeping pills, antibiotics, prescription meds, antidepressants – you name it, it doesn’t matter – it is a really bad idea to mix alcohol with drugs.

Alcohol Packs on the Pounds (We’ve saved one of the worst for last)

Alcohol is calorie-dense

Alcohol intake is for adults – 18 years and older but our Happiness Hacks Calendar  is G-rated

*P.S. We bought calendars for ourselves with Zazzle discount coupon.  Make sure to check out the Zazzle specials.  The 5% profit we make will be donated to charity.

Frankly Freddie – Teasing in the New Year

It’s coming!  It’s almost here . . . Are you glued to your keyboard?  Judy and Peggy are almost set to make a New Year’s  announcement.

In the meantime . . .  I’m sworn to secrecy which is an oxymoron cuz canines never swear.

In the meantime . . .  I interviewed Judy and Peggy – being an intrepid reporter – as to what, BESIDES THEIR SECRET, their new year’s resolutions are.

Judy:

Several years ago I gave up on New Year’s resolutions.   I don’t like to promise myself anything because I don’t like to be disappointed . . . especially in myself.

This year I’m starting a new ritual for New Years.  I’m calling it Old Years Resolutions.  On December 31, 2018 I’m making my resolutions for 2018.  That way I only have one day to disappoint myself.

I resolve to:

  • Re-read an inspirational article I read on how to develop positive habits.  
  • Weigh myself to see if I lost the 10 pounds I gained in 2018 while I was trying to lose the 20 pounds I gained in 2017.  
  • Read an inspirational article on how to lose weight.

That’s about all I’ll have time for in 24 hours.  

Peggy:

I don’t like to make resolutions and then not keep them, so I look for resolutions that I WANT to keep, instead of resolutions that I SHOULD keep. Here is what I came up with:

I resolve to:

  • Eat more dark chocolate bars.
  • Eat more dark chocolate covered coffee nibs.
  • Read about how dark chocolate is good for you..

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