Thursday, December 27, 2007

Deep Sea Diving

By: Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D.

This is an electronic reprint of an article that appeared in SOURCES (Nov/Dec. 1991,p. 63-68 & THE BEST OF SOURCES, p. 37-41). It has also appeared on numerous web sites and computer bulletin boards. This material is copyrighted and all rights retained by the author. This article is made available as a service to the diving community by the author and may be distributed for any non-commercial or Not-For-Profit use.

A Few Things Your Sport Diving Instructor May Not Have Told You About Deeper Diving

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There is an incredible fascination with diving on intact shipwrecks. In the quest for this thrill of diving unmolested wrecks, some divers in the Great Lakes are diving on compressed air in the vicinity of 200 ffw or deeper. A few of these "sport divers" have taken years to develop skills, technique and equipment that allow them to survive these penetrations into that deep, dark, cold and silent world that lies beneath the sport diving limit of 100 - 130 Feet. A few are truly highly skilled diving adventurers. Some would call them pioneers. Others would call them something less dignified. It is true that some walk with a noticeable limp, stand a little funny (numbness in the legs), have difficulty remembering things or seem to have somehow slowed their thinking and speech processes. None-the-less, many of these diving adventurers have seen splendors that not many will ever know. Other diving "adventurers" have found unique pains and death. Divers new to our sport often do not realize that the successful deep diver has generally taken a decade or more to develop the necessary skills, equipment and technique to survive consistently this deeper diving. Make no mistake; some of these divers are highly skilled and physically fit. That exceptional proficiency, however, was not acquired in only a few days or even years. Although most are self-taught, many of these deep divers were trained when diving courses were longer and discussions on diving physics and physiology was more extensive. Thus, they have had access to information often missing in today's shorter curriculum ... material that is essential to make informed risk/benefit assessments. There are distinct physiological problems associated with deep diving. Since divers do not breathe water, the physiological impairments caused by deep diving can be (and have been) life threatening. Sport "deep diving" courses are simply insufficient training for diving to depths "below the limits." Divers compelled to dive below 100 feet should consider commercial or military dive training - depths below 100 feet are beyond the realm of sport diving...Sport diving equipment and techniques no longer are adequate! In addition, the training agencies will not, for a variety of reasons, address the question of training, at this time, for diving below 100-130 feet. There are those who earn their livelihood diving at depths below 100 feet.
Many of these commercial divers would consider sport divers foolhardy for diving under conditions a professional would consider to be too dangerous. Note that commercial operations are conducted under federal/state OSHA regulations. Recreational and scientific diving is specifically exempted from these regulations. (Scientific diving, however, operates under similar guidelines promulgated by the American Academy of Underwater Sciences.) Whenever any employer/employee relationship exists, these rules do apply. This means even if the diver is volunteering services and equipment, non-recreational, non-scientific diving may be subject to federal/state occupational safety regulations. These federal regulations decree that all dives more than 130 fsw (some states have tougher regulations; Michigan, for example, places the limit at 100 feet) or any dive requiring decompression be conducted with a tender for each diver, a stand-by safety diver, a surface decompression chamber on the dive site, and an adequate supply of breathing gas for the diver, the stand-by diver and the recompression chamber. The law specifies that the vessel used as a diving platform be Coast Guard approved and commanded by a Coast Guard licensed operator. A designated "diving supervisor" who insures that all OSHA regulations are met during the dive operation must control the diving. There are additional requirements specifying the first aid equipment, including oxygen, which must be on the dive site. The law also requires that a complete time/event log be maintained. The British government mandates that all diving more than 165 fsw under their jurisdiction be done on mixed gas. In today's liability conscious society, most legitimate diving contractors will exceed the minimum OSHA standards. Since federal diving safety regulations prohibit non-recreational scuba operations below 130 fsw, commercial/scientific diving is often a single diver down mode with a tended tether, surface supplied breathing gas and some sort of dry face mask/helmet equipped with hard wire communications. This equipment significantly increases the safety of the diver. The communication system allows the surface support personnel to monitor the diver's psychological and physiological status. Surface control of the entire dive operation minimizes task loading on the diver. This insures that potentially narcosis-free surface support personnel make life threatening/saving decisions. The dry mask/helmet provides mechanical and thermal protection for the diver's head and face. More importantly, it gives the diver a dry atmosphere that is breathable if a blackout occurs. Commercial operations must be conducted with redundant equipment and personnel. It is this contingency for the unexpected that increases diver safety. This redundancy is most often missing in deep sport diving excursions. (This equipment is beyond the finances and training of most in the sport diving community.) Thus, the deep sport diving adventurer has very little, if any, margin for human error. There are significant physiological problems in deeper diving. These include:


Divers have been known to suddenly lose consciousness. This may be from carbon dioxide toxicity, carbon monoxide poisoning, severe decompression sickness, drowning (loss of regulator because of malfunction; more likely a result of snag or hindered regulator exchange at depth; vomiting from seasickness followed by aspiration of seawater, etc.), hypoglycemia, hyperthermia, hypothermia, hypoxia from equipment malfunction or miscalculation of breathing gas composition, severe nitrogen narcosis, oxygen toxicity, pulmonary barotrauma of ascent (air embolism), or syncope of ascent. Each specific loss of consciousness under water may be due to a unique combination of environmental, equipment or diver physiology factors. It is not possible to predict each diver's vulnerability in absolute terms. Conditions which may increase the likelihood of unconsciousness include: low blood sugar, either from dieting or sustained workload, fatigue from lack of rest or sustained workload, being too warm or too cold, dehydration, drugs, particularly anything that has a warning label about "not operating machinery," anxiety/fear and inexperience. Surveys have shown that the inexperienced diver often is the most at risk. If a commercial/scientific diver loses consciousness, he/she continues to breathe a dry gas inside the mask/helmet; the lack of diver response alerts the surface communicator that a problem has occurred. Often, the communicator is aware of a problem before the diver and can initiate steps to alleviate the problem. Two-way communication is a vital safety feature often missing in sport diving situations. If a sport diver loses consciousness, there is concern that a sport diver's regulator will fall out of the mouth. The sport diver then attempts to breathe water and drowns. In addition, the unconscious diver must depend on a buddy, if present, to insure return to the surface. The cave diving community has noted a condition where the diver simply appears to fall asleep. The eyes remain open; the diver does nothing but breathe. In these cases, the regulator, for unknown reasons, has remained in the mouth. The victims, rescued by their buddies, recall no warning signs. In the 15 reported cases, all victims were on their deepest ever dive.


Carbon dioxide is the normal waste product of human metabolism. As more work is done, more CO2 is generated. A person in poor physical condition may generate 2-4 times the amount of CO2 as someone who is in excellent physical condition while doing the same workload. At depth, the density of the breathing gas increases. This increases the work associated with breathing and may lead to inadequate pulmonary ventilation. It is important for divers to realize that on scuba the CO2 comes from internal body chemistry, not from the gas being breathed. It is the inability of the body to eliminate this waste product that creates the problem. This means that CO2 can be a significant problem in deeper diving. Symptoms of high CO2 usually begin with increased rate of respiration. There is often the feeling that the regulator cannot supply enough air. This may lead the diver to conclude falsely that an out-of-air emergency exists. This feeling of inadequate respiration may be accompanied by a feeling of constriction around the chest, heavy perspiration, lightheadedness, or headache. The headache commonly is an intense pain in the center of the forehead. This " CO2 hit," the feeling of total inadequacy to breathe, can be a terrifying experience. Underwater " CO2 hits" can easily lead to panic. Panic can lead to an uncontrolled "escape" to the surface. This panicked ascent can cause a fatal cerebral air embolism. A diver doing work at depth, however, may have little, if any, warning of CO2 problems before losing consciousness. Again, loss of consciousness under water in sport diving equipment has a low probability of survival. In addition, it is believed that high CO2 increases the likelihood of decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis and oxygen toxicity. If the diver is aware that a CO2 problem is beginning to occur, the diver should stop all activity and initiate slow, deep breathing until perceived symptoms are eliminated. It is wise to continue resting a bit once relief is felt and to proceed at a slower pace. Note that most experienced divers develop a slow breathing pattern. This means a routinely high CO2 level during diving activities. Work, coupled with poor physical condition, aggravates the problem. It is also believed that oxygen enriched breathing mixtures can increase CO2 retention.


Despite the tendency to blame diver unconsciousness on this malady, it is rarely observed. Carbon monoxide is primarily generated from incomplete combustion. It can be present in the air supplied from faulty compressors (electric, as well as gas driven) or taken into the compressor intake from a CO source such as a kerosene heater, gas or diesel engine exhaust or cigarette smoke. The CO binds to hemoglobin about 200 times tighter than oxygen. This means the hemoglobin that has reacted with CO will not carry oxygen. Lack of oxygen can be fatal. The uptake of CO is dependent on the concentration of CO in the breathing gas, on respiration rate and the time of exposure. Symptoms may include: frontal headache, nausea, tingling in the fingers and toes, lightheadedness, vision disturbances or loss of consciousness with no warning. The often-quoted cherry red lips or fingernails are a very unreliable sign and may only be visible at autopsy. At depth the increased partial pressure of oxygen may mask some of the hypoxia created by the oxygen deprived carboxyhemoglobin. On ascent, the hemoglobin will still be compromised, but the decreased pO2 will no longer compensate and unconsciousness occurs without warning. Finally, the U.S. Navy pure air standards for breathing compressed air allow only 20 ppm CO in scuba air. Smoke from an American cigarette typically contains about 4% (20,000 ppm) CO. The average inhalation of a smoker contains about 500 ppm CO. This means that finishing a cigarette just before a dive will make about 3 -7% of the hemoglobin in the blood unable to carry oxygen. The oxygen carrying capacity of the red blood cells will be diminished for 5-8 hrs after the last exposure to smoke. Breathing smoke, actively or passively, will decrease the ability of the blood to carry oxygen and this decrease in efficiency may contribute to decreased performance at depth.


The risk of permanent tissue injury increases with depth. Many sport divers have been given the impression that "the bends" is a benign disease. That simply is not true. The bends can kill, but most often it cripples. The DAN numbers show more than 500 divers a year now require chamber treatment. After 3 months post treatment, 13% of those treated still show some residual impairment. Severe sport diver bends hits most often show spinal cord involvement. This means that anything "South" of the lesion will be impaired. The spinal cord mediated functions most often tainted are walking, urinating, defecating, and sexual response. So, if you like to walk without a cane or wheelchair, go to the bathroom unassisted or to have sex, it is worth your while to develop some understanding of decompression sickness and its prevention. (A recent national survey reported in Skin Diver magazine noted that approximately 60% of those in the sport diving community surveyed could not recognize the symptoms of the bends and almost every survey of divers done recently suggests that more than 50% of sport divers cannot plan dives using decompression tables.) A real danger of decompression sickness is that it is often a progressive disease; it may continue to get worse until treated. In North America the time from onset of recognizable symptoms to chamber treatment is often more than 12 hours. It is this delay that can be so devastating. It is believed that the longer the delay between onset of severe symptoms and treatment, the less the chance for total recovery. During the delay the bubbles formed continue to impair or destroy body functions. The key to successful recovery from the bends is immediate recognition of symptoms and the prompt administration of the highest possible concentration of O2 (preferably by demand mask). Medical consultation/treatment should always be sought. Not recognizing or ignoring the symptoms may allow the disease to do more damage. Although there are anecdotal stories of acute relief of decompression sickness symptoms without medical treatment, there is a lingering question of the potential for long-term damage even though immediate clinical signs were absent or simply went away. The problems linked to decompression sickness can primarily be called "bubble trouble." Whenever bubbles form, they obstruct normal body function. This may prevent normal exchange of nutrients and oxygen and allows waste products to accumulate. This can, over time, create destruction of body cells. Medical evidence is beginning to accumulate that suggests there may be gradual deterioration of nervous system tissue upon repeated exposure to deep diving. It is believed that this damage can occur without ever showing gross clinical signs (i.e. joint pain, etc.) classically associated with decompression sickness hits. Although still far from complete, early studies seem to imply that there is a marked deterioration in short-term memory and reasoning skills in commercial divers aged 24-39. Autopsy studies of three deep divers who died of non-diving related causes indicated that there was a marked degradation of spinal cord tissue. It is believed that the spinal cord lesions were created from diving. Although controversial, there is some evidence that deep diving can block retinal blood flow and create vision problems due to a damaged retina. Additional studies measuring blood chemistry and urine of divers imply that the liver, as well, may be damaged in divers diving as shallow as 30 meters (98 feet). The body is a remarkable biochemical machine with much redundancy. It can sustain some tissue damage that can be compensated for by this redundancy. However, repeated exposure to tissue-damaging conditions will ultimately result in loss of function. Bottom line: The DAN numbers suggest that diving below 80 fsw is a significant risk factor for sport divers (more than 70% of DAN treatments involved sport dives to depths below 80 fsw). The deeper and more often this deep diving occurs, the more the risk for long-term neurological damage. It is not possible to predict the type and severity of this physiological impairment.


Many sport divers consider the "high" associated with narcosis to be a desirable event. This reflects a lack of understanding of the dangers associated with breathing compressed air at depth. Nitrogen is physiologically inert (not consumed in metabolism), but it does dissolve in body tissues. As more and more nitrogen dissolves (Remember: Henry's Law), the abundance of nitrogen interferes with the nervous system. The more nitrogen present, the more likely there will be a loss of performance. The result is impairment of intellectual capacity, degradation of neuromuscular performance and changes in mood and behavior. The narcosis effect poses a significant danger to the diver because as it increases the risk of an accident due to inability to perform at depth, it decreases the diver's perception that any problem may exist. Direct injury (aside from short term memory loss) from narcosis is unlikely. The danger is people do not breathe water. Under the influence of narcosis, divers may make inappropriate decisions that place them at risk. (Such observed diver decisions have included removal of life-support equipment at depth.) The degradation of performance and perception caused by narcosis is often claimed to be the primary reason for the sport diving limit of 100-130 fsw. (Historically, however, the US Navy used the 130-fsw as the limit because this was considered the deepest depth that divers could do useful work while breathing from a two hose style regulator (state-of-the-art at the time the limit was imposed.)) There is a marked variation in susceptibility to narcosis. This variation is not predictable. Thus, it is not possible to equate absolutely symptoms observed with depth. Some divers may be affected at 80 - 90 fsw or even shallower.The effects may vary within the same diver from day to day. The physiological degradation begins within moments of reaching depth and increases with further descent. The higher mental functions such as ability to reason - to make potential life-saving judgments, to remember recent events, to learn new tasks and to focus concentration on a specific task are first affected. (One reason for commercial hard wire communications is so that surface personnel can monitor a diver's ability to function and remind the diver what is to be done.) In warm, clear water divers may first feel euphoric and overconfident … sort of like the "Do what you will, you can't hurt me feeling" that arises from breathing nitrous oxide (laughing gas) at the dentist's office. In cold, limited visibility water or in water where neither the surface nor the bottom is visible, the diver may develop a sense of foreboding or impending doom. This sense of doom may escalate to terror and panic. As depth increases, progressive impairment of both physical and mental skills increases. The diver may feel drowsy. Idea fixation and hallucination may occur. Some divers may note a narrowing of vision, like looking through a narrow tube. It is common for a "narced" diver to forget the reason for the dive. One reason that deep diving sport divers take pictures is that often they can't remember what they saw on the dive. Short-term amnesia is a common aftereffect of narcosis. The photos (if recognizable) tell them that they were at least somewhere near a wreck. Nitrogen narcosis is aggravated by high CO2 levels, anxiety, cold, fatigue and medications, particularly sedatives (anti-motion sickness remedies?) and alcohol. There are anecdotal reports that women will show shallower onset and increased severity of symptoms when diving during periods of normal fluid retention. Narcosis is easily avoided by liberal applications of common sense. Simply confining dives to shallower than 90 fsw will most likely eliminate most narcosis problems. Ascent when symptoms are recognized will relieve the physiological compromises that narcosis generates. Relief is generally rapid on ascent. Bottom line: If you are human and dive below 90 fsw breathing compressed air, then your normal human physiology will be impaired and it is impossible to predict the severity of your inability to perform.


Oxygen is a component of the air we breathe. The body uses chemical reactions based on oxygen to generate heat and chemical energy. It is this process called metabolism that keeps us alive. Oxygen reacts chemically with many different substances. The rate at which oxygen will react (oxidation) with another chemical compound in the body is determined, in part, by the partial pressure of the oxygen in the breathing gas mix. As we descend in the water column, we increase the partial pressure of all gases, including oxygen. Reactions with oxygen will therefore increase. Some of these oxidation products can have harmful effects on human beings. The exact mechanism of these harmful effects is not yet understood. High oxygen concentrations affect the central nervous system in a variety of ways. Observed symptoms, which may appear alone or in any combination, include: nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, dizziness that may increase to vertigo, ringing in the ears, a feeling of impending collapse, excessive perspiration, slowing of the heart rate, tunnel vision, muscle twitching, particularly around the mouth and facial area, dilation of the pupils, generalized peripheral muscle twitching, hiccups, amnesia, hallucination and mental confusion. The symptoms can lead into a "grand mal" epileptic-type seizure. This seizure may appear without warning. A grand mal convulsive seizure at depth in sport diving equipment is not considered to be a survivable event. Increased physical activity, excitement or anxiety, and being too warm at depth apparently increase the risk of an oxygen toxicity problem. The susceptibility of individual divers to oxygen toxicity cannot be predicted. It is now believed to be dependent on the individual's body chemistry on the actual day of diving. The once used "oxygen tolerance test" is no longer considered reliable. It used to be believed that if the diver were breathing a gas containing less than 2 ATA partial pressure of O2, that potential oxygen toxicity problems would be eliminated. This corresponds to a depth of 33 fsw for breathing 100% O2. That is no longer current thinking. Current practice is to avoid breathing gas that has a partial pressure of more than 1.6 ATA (19 fsw on 100% O2; 218 fsw on air) or to even a lower p O2. Oxygen toxicity seizures have been observed in divers breathing compressed air in the 220-fsw range. This observation suggests to avoid acute oxygen toxicity hits, dives on compressed air should not exceed 180 fsw. There are other problems that could result from the practice of breathing pure O2 at depth (during decompression stops?). There are some medical authorities who consider 100% O2 at elevated pressures a cellular toxin. Breathing pure O2 at elevated pressures for extended times can induce abnormalities in the red blood cells that carry O2 to the body. High O2 concentrations can constrict blood vessels in the eye and lead to visual problems. In addition, high O2 can create a mild hearing loss that may appear hours after the dive and take a day or so to disappear. High p O2 has also been proposed as contributing to dysbaric osteonecrosis ("bone death"- usually seen in deep diving commercial divers; this malady may eventually require surgery to replace bone joints with artificial devices.) Bottom line: The potential for grand mal seizure and subsequent death caused by oxygen toxicity makes diving below 180 fsw in sport diving equipment on compressed air an extremely high risk activity. Below 200 fsw many diving authorities believe that oxygen toxicity poses a greater risk to the diver on compressed air than nitrogen narcosis.


This refers to the unexpected transient loss of consciousness that may be due to partial breath holding during ascent. It is believed to be caused by the expansion of gases within the thoracic cavity that interferes with venous blood return. This lack of returning blood to the heart reduces cardiac output. The reduced blood flow to the head causes loss of consciousness. In sport diving equipment, this loss of consciousness could lead to loss of regulator and subsequent drowning.


The effects of pressure on human physiology and psychology are often unpredictable. Hyperbaric medicine is not yet an exact science. Divers have been known to exhibit, for no known reason, behavior that is contrary to survival. For example, I was with a diver along a sheer rock wall at a depth of about 25 feet of water. We had been down for 18 minutes (following a 2 hr and 10 min surface interval from a wreck dive of 15 minutes in 40 F water at a maximum depth of 108 feet.) We exchanged "time-to-turn-around-and-head-for-the-dive-boat" signals (a touch to the watch and the "thumbs up") and the diver's "O.K." The diver then turned and headed straight for the bottom. The diver was near 60 feet before I re-established contact and asserted control. When I caught the diver, I grabbed the shoulder and rotated the diver so that I could see the face. It was as if I were waking the diver from a deep sleep. The diver, even when prompted with eyewitnesses' accounts, has no recollection of the entire episode. After several years, the event is still unexplained.


There is a wreck, the Gunilda, which lies at 256 ffw in the Great Lakes. Since it has historical significance and lies close to the Canadian shore, the diving activity on this vessel has been monitored. To date, there have been 26 divers who have visited this wreck. Twelve of these divers (operating under commercial-type protocols) account for 136 dives on this vessel. Within this group, 1 dive required treatment for severe decompression sickness (to a diver who had 34 dives on this wreck) and there were no fatalities. There have been 14 sport divers on compressed air that have accounted for 33 dives. Of these 33 dives, 9 (27%) have resulted in severe decompression sickness that required chamber treatment, 5 dives (15%) were aborted due to severe narcosis that required the diver to be rescued, and there were two fatalities (6%). In addition, two of these surviving divers, one from each group, have subsequently died on another deep wreck. The population of sport divers who visited this wreck is small. These divers have seen an awesome spectacle. Not all divers have been visibly injured. However, there were two sport diving fatalities and a high percentage of sport divers requiring treatment for severe decompression sickness. It would appear from this admittedly small survey that diving to 250 ffw on compressed air does, indeed, pose a significant risk to the recreational diver. It is most interesting to listen to these deep diving adventurers post-treatment. One diver, after leaving the chamber against medical advice, stated that he had experienced "no narcosis problem" at 256 ffw on compressed air. (Remember, short-term amnesia is a common after effect.) This diver went on to state that the bends had produced only a "mild" pain. (Perhaps the "mildness" of the pain could be attributed to the morphine that was administered to this diver by the emergency medical team on the flight to the chamber.)


No one has the right to restrict your personal style of recreational diving. Lee Somers, Ph.D., Diving Safety Officer for the University of Michigan and one of the Founding Fathers of our sport, calls this "THE RIGHT TO DIvE!" Dan Orr, Training Coordinator for DAN, calls deep sport diving "an exercise in natural selection." The decision to risk life and spinal cord for the sake of recreational adventure rests with each diver. This risk (loss of life or maybe only a slight compromise in mental faculties, the ability to walk, go to the bathroom unassisted or to have sex) / benefit (adventure, thrill, status, or fame) decision should, however, be based on knowledge and evaluation of the actual risks incurred and not solely on the perceived status of survival. I once asked a very highly skilled and well-known Great Lakes deep sport diver about diving to extreme depths on compressed air without the redundancy of commercial equipment and personnel. My question, "What do you do alone at 250 feet under the influence of narcosis to deal with an equipment emergency?" His answer, "I die!" Enough said! The decision to dive to "adventurer depths" rests with the individual diver. Choose wisely!

Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D. is a biochemist and Diving Safety Coordinator at the University of Michigan. He has authored more than 100 scuba related articles. His personal dive library (See Alert Diver, Mar/Apr, 1997, p. 54) is considered one of the best recreational sources of information In North America.

Acknowledgment: the author wishes to express his gratitude to Karl Huggins, Dan Orr and Lee Somers for hours of stimulating conversation about this topic. In particular, he would like to thank Karl for testing the capacity of his answering machine with an impromptu discussion on the deep divers of the Gunilda.


1. Bennett, P. Dovenbarger, J. & Corson, K. "Etiology And Treatment Of Air Diving Accidents," in Bennett, P. & Moon, R. (Eds.) DIVING ACCIDENT MANAGEMENT, Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Bethesda, MD. 1990, p. 12-22.
2. Bove, A. & Davis, J. (Eds.) DIVING MEDICINE, 2 nd Edition, W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, PA. 1990.
3. Edmonds, C. Lowry, C. & Pennefather, J. DIVING AND SUBAQUATIC MEDICINE, 2 nd Edition, Diving Medical Centre, Mosman, Australia, 1981.
4. Exley, S. BASIC CAVE DIVING, NSS-CDS, Jacksonville FL. 1979.
5. Gorbett, D. "Straight Talk From A Commercial Diver," Lake Superior Newsletter, Number 10, February-April, 1990, p. 1-3.
6. Hill, R.K. "Rubber Rulers", Sources, July/August, 1989, p. 37-38.
7. Kindwall, E. & Cumming, J. "Decompression Survey Report", guest feature in Bove, F. "Diving Medicine," Skin Diver, March, 1989. p.32-36.
8. Monaghan, R. "Dying By Pieces-Soft Tissue Damage In Divers", Sources, Sept/Oct, 1990, p. 48-51.
9. Schilling, C. (Ed.) THE PHYSICIAN'S GUIDE TO DIVING MEDICINE, Plenum Press, New York, NY. 1984.
10. Somers, L. "The Depth and Gas Dilemma" In Press, NAUI IQ 1991 Proceedings.
12. Somers, L. "The Right To DIvE", Unpublished Manuscript, 1990.
13. State Of Michigan Departments Of Public Health And Labor, "A Standard For Diving Operations," Michigan State Department Of Public Health, Lansing, MI. 1979.
14. U.S. Coast Guard, "Provisions For Commercial Diving Operations," Federal Register, 43, (222), November 16, 1978 as reproduced in Appendix D of: Malatich, J. & Tucker, W. TRICKS OF THE TRADE FOR DIVERS, Cornell Maritime Press, Centreville, MD. 1986.
15. U.S. Department Of Labor, "Educational/Scientific Diving Standards," Federal Register, 50 (6), June, 1985, p. 1046-1050 as supplied by the AAUS


Top Scores on Peter Schmies's Word Classification Test

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As of 3-6-98, 100 people have taken this test and submitted their names. You may submit your score even if it is at or below the lowest score on this list, but I will only show the names of the top 100 scorers (in the case of ties at the bottom of the list, I will choose to keep the earlier submitters). Of the people who have emailed their scores to me, the following statistics apply:

Oh the pain of it! I've been bumped off the list. And to think I used to be top dog (Dec 1, 1998).

Number of participants: 228

Note: I have stopped updating the following percentiles as of participant 150. The main reason is that I have accidentally destroyed my database.

  • 75th percentile: 175

  • 50th percentile: 169

  • 25th percentile: 161




Web Site

1200Fredrik Berchtold (member of Mensa in Sweden)None
1200Allan C. Jackson III (14 years old)None
2198Xavier Jouve (founder of the Cerebrals Society)
3197Greg Scott (scored 99.997+ on both W-87 and Mega tests)None
3197Flavio CardoneNone
4196Alex Zolotarev (age 17)None
5195Joy Rajiv (age 23, working in India)None
5195Marcus Friberg (member of Mensa Sweden and ISPE)None
6194Paulette R. Caswell (former Mensa Board member, Greater Los Angeles)None
6194Robert N. Seitz (physicist and non-word buff, Barabar Warner's brother)Bob and Tommie Jean Seitz' Home Page


7193Terry M. Atkison (lapsed Mensa member)Terry's World
8192Resonance (Mark Schaefer)None
9191Nainan Kovoor (left 4 questions unanswered)None
9191Robert NelsonNone
10190Joe GreenJoe Green's page
10190Joel Arvidsson (member of Mensa Sweden)None
11189James HarbeckNone
11189Juan-Pierre Longmore (age 15)None
11189Daniel AndersonNorthern Nevada Mensa -- A Support Group for the Severely Gifted
12188Alan Crooke (maker of bilingual palindromes and rhymed double acrostic sonnets)None
13187Matthew Jackson III (age 14)None
14186Tim FulmerNone
14186Seth L. BlumbergNone
15184Irving SnodgrassNone
15184J.K. AdrianNone
15184Dick GerkinNone
15184Kerry McCarthy (early music at Stanford)None
16183Richard LombardoNone
16183Greg HodesNone
16183Anna KoralewskaNone
17182John H. HeimannNone
17182Scott Wheeler (17 years old)None
17182Paul EglyNone
17182Barbara Warner (Bob Seitz's sister)None
17182Stephen Battersby (Deputy Features Editor of New Scientist)None
18181Ewan McNayGlucose, memory, neuroscience and such - Ewan's home page.
18181Klyunmorph (Mensacadia member)None
18181Paul WorthNone
19180Alec McKenzieNone
19180Rick DRNone
19180Tamara GlennyNone
19180Maria GleasonNone
19180Peggy FarrellyNone
19180Karl M. BundaySchool is Dead; Learn in Freedom
19180Bill HookerNone
19180Steve BowersNone
19180Jeff MattesSmellfungicide's Home Page
20179Wendy ThrashNone
20179Alistair ConnorNone
20179James PoukeyNone
20179David C. Croson (ex-Mensa member; buddies with Nainan Kovoor -- see above score -- in grad school)None
20179John GatesNone
20179Paul DavisNone
20179Lara McMullen (age 18)None
21178Steve Schuessler (scored 45 on the Mega Test)Mega Society Page
21178Eric BothwellNone
21178Eileen HallettNone
21178Doug BjorkmanNone
21178Terrell LuciusNone
21178Denise DuranceNone
21178Joseph M. Richards (Colorado Mensa)None
21178David StubbsNone
21178Alexandra SellersAlexandra Seller's Web Page
22177Jones M Murphy, Jr.None
22177Rob EarlNone
22177Vic BassWelcome to Professor Blackjack's Website
22177Michele Petri (Heart of Illinois Mensa)None
22177Andrew Cave (Australia)None
22177Richard RubinNone
22177Jennifer KohlNone
23176Ron WilliamsNone
23176Susan FaustNone
23176Bruce K. AndersonNone
23176Liz AdamsNone
23176Lynn BrasingtonNone
23176Bishwajeet SharmaNone
23176Tom WestonNone
24175Patrick T. WahlNone
24175Alex TselisNone
24175Jim FerryJim Ferry's Home Page
24175Tony FalloneNone
24175George KeeneyNone
24175Dennis Sullivan (Mensa in Georgia. Formerly Prometheus and I.S.P.E.)None
24175Ed McCreadyNone
24175Martin McHughNone
24175Peter Ravn Rasmussen (34 year old resident of Denmark)Sovereign Principality of Corvinia
24175CCrtwright (lapsed member of Mensa and Intertel)None
24175Niranjan PNone
25174Sue FialkoffNone
25174Radley H. MetzgerNone
25174Tony Castro (Member of American Mensa)None
25174Paul NachbarNone
25174Eliot KievalNone
25174Bob Cain (San Diego Mensa)None
25174Roger SteffensNone
25174Jeff SmithNone
25174Paul R. WagnerNone
25174Linda CochranNone

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Acoustic/Electric Guitarists

AI Beats Human Poker Champions;jsessionid=BDYCRFWYJLEDOQSNDLRSKH0CJUNN2JVN?articleID=208802992

AI Beats Human Poker Champions

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Humanity was dealt a decisive blow by a poker-playing artificial intelligence program called Polaris during the Man-Machine Poker Competition in Las Vegas. Poker champs fought the AI system to a draw, then won in the first two of four rounds (each round had Polaris playing 500 hands against two humans, whose points were averaged.) But in the final two rounds of the match, Polaris beat both human teams, two wins out of four, with one loss and one draw. IBM's Deep Blue beat chess champion Gary Kasparov in 1997. A year later, the University of Alberta's Computer Poker Research Group began winning hands with early prototypes that eventually became Polaris. A decade later, Polaris 2.0 added poker to the list of machine triumphs. The key to Polaris' poker prowess last weekend was a tactical shift in midstream designed to prevent human's from exploiting perceived weaknesses. Add to that, Polaris learned from experience. "There are two really big changes in Polaris over last year," said professor Michael Bowling, who supervised graduate students who programmed Polaris. "First of all, our poker model is much expanded over last year--its much harder for humans to exploit weaknesses. And secondly, we have added an element of learning, where Polaris identifies which common poker stratagy a human is using and switches its own strategy to counter. This complicated the human players ability to compare notes, since Polaris chose a different strategy to use against each of the humans it played," Bowling said.

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Before the Las Vegas match, this newest version of Polaris had only played two matches against champion poker players, resulting in one loss and one victory. Polaris repeated the pattern of improving as it learned, falling to humans in the first two rounds, but defeating them in rounds three and four. "Repeatedly, I heard players exclaim that they had never seen a human do that before," said Bowling. "Switching strategies really threw the humans for a loop." Polaris played against Nick "Stoxtrader" Grudzien--a $1 million poker contest winner and founder of a Web site which provides poker-coaching and online play with world champions. Other human champions were coaches on Grudzien's site. In the first Man-Machine Poker Competition, two human champions beat Polaris in its last two matches, but Polaris won and played to a draw in the first two. The older version of Polaris did not learn, but the humans did, beating Polaris 1.0 in three of four rounds by exploiting weaknesses. Polaris 2.0 had learning built into its programming, thereby countering the learning ability of the humans by switching strategies whenever they did. Even though Polaris beat the humans in Las Vegas, the University of Alberta group said it expects to be asked for rematches by the vanquished pros as well as by other poker experts who will claim the win by Polaris was a fluke. "Even after Deep Blue beat Kasparov, there were still some skeptics, and I think the same is true here," said Bowling. "Over the next year or so there are going to have to be several rematches before everyone is convinced that humans have been surpassed by machines in poker." Meanwhile, Bowling's group plans to expand Polaris beyond its current limitations, enabling it to play more complicated poker games than its current heads-up, hold-em version. They also plan to expand efforts to apply the poker-playing algorithms to useful applications. "The techniques we are devising have broad applications outside of poker," said Bowling. "For instance, wireless sensor networks are exploring one of our poker-like algorithms to lay out sensors in buildings in a way that yields better understanding of how heat flow patterns affect efficiency." One algorithm, called counter-factual regret, monitored the outcome of hands lost by Polaris and what could have been done to change the outcome. Polaris could then watch for similar circumstances and adjust more effectively. BioTools Inc. (Edmonton, Alberta) has built previous versions of Polaris into a downloadable poker coach called the Poker Academy.

11 Aug 2006

Clive Akass, Personal Computer World

Gary Kildall Was One of the Founding Fathers of the PC But He is Remembered Now For His Greatest Mistake

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The birth of the IBM PC was also the making of Bill Gates, thanks to a door-step farce that has become an industry legend. IBM at the time had dominated the industry for a quarter-century, though it had been late getting into digital computers, and even later getting into what were then called microcomputers, which it tried to pretend were not a threat to its mainframe business. By the late 1980s ‘micros’ (as in Microsoft) could not be ignored, and IBM set up a team to design one.The obvious person to provide the software was Gary Kildall, head of a company called Digital Research, who had written CP/M – the operating system used on almost all micros. Legend has it that two suits from IBM called by appointment at Kildall’s home, but he was off flying and had left his wife Dorothy to do the talking. She baulked at signing a non-disclosure agreement and showed them the door. So they turned instead to a fledgling company run by a 24-year-old college dropout whose name was Bill Gates. Microsoft did not even have an operating system and promptly bought one called QDos, virtually a CP/M clone, for $50,000 from a Seattle engineer called Tim Patterson. The legend is essentially true, though what really hassled Dorothy Kildall when IBM showed up was the fact that she was preparing to go on holiday the next day, according to former Symantec chief executive Gordon Eubanks, who knew everyone involved. No-one at the time knew that the IBM computer was going to become the industry’s major standard platform.And the real reason Kildall did not get the contract was that he was simply too laid back to be a good businessman, Eubanks told me in 1996. “Gary could have owned this business [ie, computing] if he had made the right strategic decisions... He did not care that much. Dorothy ran the business and he ran the technical side, and they did not get on.” It was Gates who had the vision. “Bill was extremely focused and driven,” Eubanks recalled. Microsoft tweaked QDos a little and called it MS-Dos. It ended up running in nine out of 10 of the world’s PCs, and traces of it can still be found buried in Windows XP.CP/M lingered on for a few years and Novell bought Digital Research in 1991. Kildall died in 1994 at the age of 52 from injuries received in a biker bar brawl during a night out in Monterey, California. Kildall was one of the founding fathers of desktop computing, but he seems destined to go down in history as the man who gave Bill Gates the world. * For a longer version of the 1996 Gordon Eubanks interview see here.


A Shrine Sacred to the God Apollo

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Back in the day when Christianity was a new young religion, the great intellectual minds of Greece and Rome still pondered the old mysteries. There were many schools of thought that provided the answers to the big questions, and thousands of disciples followed in the steps of the Epicureans, the Stoics, the Peripatetics, and many others. Some of the less prominent thinkers dealt with smaller, yet still important issues, like the "Training of Children", the "First Principle of Cold," the "Three Sorts of Government," the "Virtues of Women," "Whether it is Good Manners to Talk Philosophy at the Dinner Table," "Why Mushrooms are Produced by Thunder," and "Why Women do not Eat the Middle Part of a Lettuce." The author of all of the above treatises is none other than the inestimable Plutarch, more famed for his Lives of Famous Greeks and Romans than his philosophical inquiries. Among his list of philosophical dialogues is one that discuss the possible "Passing of the Oracles." Oracles had long been a part of life throughout Grecian, and thus Roman culture. Stories about the various predictions of oracles abound, almost as much as those stories in Livy about a sheep giving birth to a calf in the forum, while lighting struck the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus three times, thus signifying a defeat of the Samnites or some such enemy of Rome. Probably the most famous of all oracles is that of the Oracle at Delphi, a shrine sacred to the god Apollo. Herodotus, in Book I of his Histories, tell the story of that fabled king of Lydia, Croesus. Having decided to find out which oracle was the true one, Croesus devised a test. He sent out messengers to every known oracle, with instructions for each messenger to wait until one hundred days before consulting the oracle to which they had been sent. On the one hundredth day from when they set out from Sardis (Croesus' capital), they would ask the oracle what Croesus was doing at that exact time. They would bring back the various responses, sealed, and Croesus would then determine which oracles correctly identified his actions. After the messengers departed, he racked his brain trying to come up with the most bizarre thing he could be doing, so as to throw off those oracles that weren't truly prophetic. He come up with the idea of chopping up a turtle and a lamb, and tossing them in a brass cauldron, and making soup out of it.

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After a long time, the answers all came back, and only the oracle at Delphi nailed it. The priestess there, called the Pythoness because Apollo supposedly slew a python that dwelt there when he founded the temple, said, in the poetry peculiar to pagan prophectic priestesses, "Oooh, I smell turtle, and...lamb...and there's lots of brass. Cooking...stew! Oh, that sounds good. I want turtle stew." Okay, okay, those weren't the priestesses exact words, but that's pretty much the idea. Anyhow, Croesus was convinced, and then asked if he should attack Persia, and if he would come out on top if he did? The oracle told him that he would destroy a mighty empire if he attacked Persia, which was all the encouragement Croesus needed. He attacked Cyrus' burgeoning empire, and destroyed his own magnificent Lydian empire by doing so. Whoops! So you can see, those oracles can be tricky. In Plutarch's day, however, there was a good deal of curiosity over why the oracles seemed to have gone silent. So much so, that Plutarch tackled the problem in a philosophical treatise. He asks the question: where have all the oracles gone? For some reason, in his day, oracular prophecy seems to have dried up like a desert streambed in the dry season. Among the stories the people in his dialogue relate, is that of a man named Epitherses. According to the story, this man was sailing on a ship near some islands in the Aegean Sea, when a voice from one of the islands hailed their Egyptian pilot by name, which was weird because nobody on the ship had bothered to learn the guy's name. Anyhow, the voice called Thamus (for that was his name) three times, and when the bewildered pilot answered. The voice told him that when he was opposite a certain place, he was to shout out from the ship, "Great Pan is dead!" Everyone of the ship was in awe, but the pilot did as he was asked. As the ship drew across from the appointed place, Thamus shouted "Great Pan is dead!" Immediately there arose a sound of a multitude of voices wailing in sorrow from the land. Pan, it should be mentioned, is a kind of goaty god of pastures and sheep and stuff. The story spread quickly after that, so much so that Tiberius Caesar (the imperial heir of Augustus, who ruled from 14 to 37 A.D.), sent for Thamus to hear the story for himself, and ask the experts what the deal with Pan was. I bring up this story in particular to offer support for the theory that I consider well-founded, regarding the pagan gods. Namely, that these 'gods' were demons. Now, this 'theory' is nothing new, and the story I tell was certainly well known in its day. But I just want to point out a couple of things. First is the strong evidence of the accuracy of some of the ancient oracles, which I do not consider to be at odds with the idea of demonic workings, and that they controlled the oracles and spoke through them; and second is the timing of this story. Note that the emperor is Tiberius - the man who was emperor when Jesus was raised from the dead, and conquered death itself. The traditional date for that death is 30 A.D. - leaving only a span of a few years for the demon Pan to die. Plutarch himself is probably writing somewhere in the vicinity of 100 A.D. Whether or not the story is true, the timing of the oracles passing away is certainly not to be doubted. Indeed, to those who have eyes to see, is not the Lordship of Christ plainly evident? He has risen, and He has conquered. Even the pagan prophets witness to His glory.


Irrelevance can make you mad

By William J. Cromie, Harvard News Office

Creativity Tied to Mental Illness

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Ignoring what seems irrelevant to your immediate needs may be good for your mental health but bad for creativity. Focusing on every sight, sound, and thought that enters your mind can drive a person crazy. It interferes with an animal's hunt for something to eat, or a busy person's efforts to sleep. As you might guess, psychologists have a term for ignoring the irrelevant; they call it "latent inhibition." A team of them at Harvard has discovered that students who score low in this seemingly vital trait are much more likely to be creative achievers than those who excel in putting things out of their minds. "Scientists have wondered for a long time why madness and creativity seem linked, particularly in artists, musicians, and writers," notes Shelley Carson, a Harvard psychologist. "Our research results indicate that low levels of latent inhibition and exceptional flexibility in thought predispose people to mental illness under some conditions and to creative accomplishments under others." Carson, Jordan Peterson (now at the University of Toronto), and Daniel Higgins did experiments to find out what these conditions might be. They put 182 Harvard graduate and undergraduate students through a series of tests involving listening to repeated strings of nonsense syllables, hearing background noise, and watching yellow lights on a video screen. (The researchers do not want to reveal details of how latent inhibition was scored because such tests are still going on with other subjects.) The students also filled out questionnaires about their creative achievements on a new type of form developed by Carson, and they took standard intelligence tests. When all the scores and test results were compared, the most creative students had lower scores for latent inhibition than the less creative. Some students who scored unusually high in creative achievement were seven times more likely to have low scores for latent inhibition. These low scorers also had high IQs. "Getting swamped by new information that you have difficulty handling may predispose you to a mental disorder," Carson says. "But if you have high intelligence and a good working memory, you are more likely to be able to combine bits of new information in creative ways."

IQ and Creativity

Whether IQ tests are the best way to measure intelligence is debatable, but some studies do show a correlation between high IQ and creativity. Such studies conclude that the two increase together up to a score of 120. Beyond that level, little increase in creativity has been found. (The average IQ score of the general population is 100.) "We didn't find this," Carson notes. "We saw creativity increase as IQs climb to 130 (the average score of Harvard students), and even up to 150." Bothered by the nebulousness of IQ tests, Carson is seeking to find "more specific functions" that protect creative people from going nuts. Work already done suggests that a good working memory, the capacity to keep in mind many things at once, can serve such a function. "This should help you to better process the increasing information that goes along with low latent inhibition," Carson explains. "We're doing more experiments to determine if that is so." She and her colleagues also plan to check out ways to reduce the blocking of seeming irrelevance with drugs. Many creative people have touted the value of alcohol and other stimulants, such as amphetamines, for this purpose. Carson wants to find a way to do the same thing without the unwanted side effects of drugs and alcohol. She is investigating nonaddictive drugs and ways to manipulate biorhythms, the 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, with varying exposures to bright light. Another possibility goes to the different stages of paying more attention to what is around you. First there's insight, where creative ideas form and which may be enhanced by a buzz of unrelated stimuli. Then comes evaluation and editing, which require focus and concentration. Carson and her colleagues have started testing creative people to see if they can manipulate their attention filter during these different stages.

Creativity and Madness

How can people lower their inhibition quotient and increase creativity on their own? There's really no good answer to that question yet. "We may have identified one of the biological bases of creativity," Carson says, "but it is only one among many. Creativity also is associated with a variety of personality traits, social and family factors, and direct training." There also remain fundamental biological riddles to solve. Cats, rats, mice, pigeons, and other animals show latent inhibition. When they discover something is useless for helping them to survive, ignoring it helps them survive. Then there's that mysterious connection between psychosis and creativity to probe. "Highly creative people in our studies," Carson notes, "showed the same latent inhibition patterns found in other studies of schizophrenics. "Both madness and creativity must involve many different genes," Carson points out. "It's not impossible that the two share some of these genes. It's my hope that future research into this and other areas will help us progress toward silencing the demons of mental disorders that often coexist with the muses of creativity." Until then, the situation is cogently expressed by this old joke: A man is driving past a mental hospital when one of the wheels falls off his car. He stops and recovers the wheel but can't find the lug nuts to secure it back in place. Just then he notices a man sitting on the curb carefully removing small pebbles from the grass and piling them neatly on the sidewalk. "What am I going to do?" the man asks aloud. The fellow piling the pebbles looks up, and says, "Take one of the lug nuts from each of the other wheels and use them to put the wheel back on." The driver is amazed. "Wow!" he exclaims. "What a brilliant idea. What are you doing in a place like this?" he asks, nodding toward the mental institution. "Well," the man answers, "I'm crazy, not stupid." "That's exactly what our research is about," Carson comments. "It shows that, to be creative, you can be bright and crazy, but not stupid."


DNA and Atlantis

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Dear Member of Blavatsky Net,

The previous newsletter discussed Cro Magnon man and showed that Blavatsky had correctly noted that the Guanches of the Canary Islands and the Basques of the Pyrenees were Cro Magnon. Today we also know that the Berbers of Morocco are descended from Cro Magnon. Blavatsky went on to note that this also connected the Cro Magnons with Atlantis. Since Cro Magnon had only been discovered, at most, 20 years before she was writing, that showed a very fast notation of what was significant and where the truth lay. Specifically, this newsletter will take the following statement of Blavatsky and vindicate it by recent DNA discoveries - showing, amongst other things, that the Basque of the Pyrenees in Spain and France do have some ancient connection with North America. Again the Atlantean connection will be obvious.

**If, then, Basques and Cro-Magnon Cave-Men are of the same race as the Canarese Guanches, it follows that the former are also allied to the aborigines of America. This is the conclusion which the independent investigations of Retzius, Virchow, and de Quatrefages necessitate. The Atlantean affinities of these three types become patent. (SDii791) **

It is mitochondrial DNA analysis that now confirms her views that she had supported back then with her Cro Magnon data.


To show what mitochondrial DNA analysis is, and its advantages over human DNA, we should first discuss human DNA (known as hDNA). DNA is of course a molecule that encodes all the information that specifies exactly what your body is on the physical level. You may know that DNA as a molecule is shaped like a long ladder where the two sides of the ladder are twisted. The steps of the ladder are made from any of four combinations of molecules. The exact sequence of the steps of the ladder (which of the four choices were selected at each step) represents the information encoded by the DNA. Every cell in the 30 trillion cells of our body contains a copy of that DNA molecule. The "ladder" that is the DNA molecule is exceedingly long for humans, being a ladder with 3 billion steps. Since it is a ladder with 3 billion steps it is difficult to work with. While passing by human DNA you might be interested in another observation. The DNA molecule is wound tight. Only a tiny part of the human cell is composed of the nucleus of the cell. DNA is a still smaller part of the nucleus. The cells themselves are tiny. For example, a brain cell is 1/10,000 th of an inch. So the DNA is indeed very small. After thinking of these DNA as very small it tends to surprise people that if one of these ladders were unwound and stretched out, it would extend a full six feet! The reason is that 3 billions steps makes a very long ladder. (While we are at it, it becomes staggering to think of 30 trillion 6 foot ladders in each of our bodies. And we are instructed by the Darwinists that the 30 billion 6 foot ladders came about by chance?) Still there is the question, what is mitochondial DNA? Each mitochondrion (plural is mitochondria) is a separate bacteria. Each of our cells (except blood cells) contains hundreds to many thousands of mitochondria. The mitochondria perform a critical function for our body. They convert sugar in the form of a glucose molecule, into energy. As such, the mitochondria are the basis of life. Since they are a separate bacteria, they have their own DNA that differs from human DNA. The mitochondrial DNA ladder has only 16,569 steps! Therefore it is much more conducive to use in research than is human DNA. It is abbreviated as mtDNA. Since the DNA of a mitochondion is not human, where does it come from when a new human is born? The answer is that the newly born child has taken some mitochondia from the mother - not the father. Now things get interesting. The DNA of the mitochondria mutate. They mutate at a well understood and predictable rate. By analyzing the mtDNA of living humans and comparing it to other humans, we can determine the lineage of the mothers. Then we can take ancient samples of mtDNA, say from a tooth or bone that is thousands of years old, and begin to study ancient migration patterns. In some cases this analysis of mtDNA conflicts with the standing paradigms of archeology. Very noticeably this has occurred concerning the origin of American Indians.


In some cases the statement made by Edgar Cayce while in trance have a high degree of similarity to the teachings brought by Blavatsky. For example, Cayce said that Atlantis sunk in the year 10,014 BC. Theosophy also gives a specific year that is several hundred years later. So though the two years differ, in perspective, Casey's date is highly similar to Theosophy's date for the sinking of Atlantis. It is actually a bit complicated to derive Theosophy's exact year so I will postpone that interesting question for a subsequent newsletter. When that time comes I will also discuss in detail the recent remarkable estimate by science for that sinking. It comes so close to Theosophy's date as to seem uncanny. Meanwhile, the followers of Edgar Cayce have observed the recent mtDNA discoveries and in a number of places noted their relevance to evaluating the statements of Edgar Cayce. Those discoveries are also similarly relevant to evaluating the statements of Blavatsky. Cayce made a number of statements about how people from Atlantis went to surrounding locations for various purposes. His statements highly conflicted with North American archeologists. Amongst North American archeologists it is strongly held orthodox dicta that the Western Hemisphere before Columbus was only inhabited by individuals whose ancestors came to that land by passage across the Bering Strait no earlier than 9,500 BC. Archeologists who held otherwise were likely to have their careers destroyed due to such daring divergence. It happened that archeologists in South America found numerous sites in South America that proved otherwise but that only caused the north american archeologists to discredit the south american. This archeological litmus test became so strict that it became known as the "Clovis curtain", named after a certain archeological site. The Clovis curtain was not to be lifted. All were to have come over the Bering Strait and from no where else and definitely not earlier than 9,500BC. Cayce asserted otherwise that people had come to North America from Atlantis and much earlier than 9,000 BC. From a Theosophical point of view, there is nothing impossible about Cayce's claims. Of course people could come to North America from Atlantis and much earlier than the Clovis curtain permitted. Theosophy would also allow Lemurians to reach South America. Blavatsky also has an opinion on this Bering Strait issue. The following quote may not be well known.

**Must we fall in the old rut and suppose no other means of Populating the Western Hemisphere except "by way of Behring's Strait"? Must we still locate a geographical Eden in the East, and
suppose a land equally adapted to man and as old geologically, must wait the aimless wanderings of the "lost tribe of Israel" to become populated? ("A land of Mystery" article by Blavatsky published in 1890) **

So with this understanding of the lay of the land - albeit a bit complicated - we should hear what mtDNA has to say.


Interestingly, the original intent of mtDNA studies was to help in better understanding health issues. It came as a shock that this tool could be used to study ancient migration patterns. A prime debate at issue then became the origin of the American Indian.

**DNA analysis on Native Americans began in the 1980's but with rapid technological improvements, research intensified in the early 1990s. Several teams of genetics researches at prominent American universities have been conducting numerous studies. Although
results from early studies showed the expected Siberian-Asian ancestry of the majority of modern Native American tribes, things took an unexpected turn in 1997. At that point it was found that a small percentage of modern Native Americans have an unusual type of DNA then known to exist only in a few locations in Europe and the Middle East. Subsequent research indicated that the European DNA was not the result of genetic mixing after Columbus. (Mound
Builders, by Gregory L . Little, John Van Auken, Lora Little, published 2001 p 60) **

Then came the important discovery.

**In 1997, a fifth mtDNA haplogroup was identified in Native Americans. This group, called "X," is present in three percent of living Native Americans. Haplogroup X was not then found in Asia, but
was found only in Europe and the Middle East where two to four percent of the population carry it. In those areas, the X haplogroup has primarily been found in parts of Spain, Bulgaria, Finland, Italy, and Israel. (ibid p 62) **

In a later book, Little et al state that the percent of individuals among the Iroquois with haplogroup X was a striking "nearly 25%".

**Not long after [1997], studies were published that had performed mtDNA analysis on the remains of individuals who had been buried in mounds in north central America. Sometime thereafter many studies reported on the testing of ancient remains recovered from burials from other parts of the United States. As with the living Native Americans haplogroup X showed up - in about 4 percent of the
remains. But in the Northeast, in the traditional lands of the Iroquois, it was in nearly 25 percent of some tribes as well as in ancient remains. Then haplogroup X was found in several individuals who had died over 8000 years ago in Florida. All these remains were so old that the implications were crystal clear: haplogroup X had to have entered America thousands of years before historical times. (Ancient South America, Little et al, pub 2002, p 50) **

This same book published by these authors added the significant new item:

**In a 2001 study haplogroup X was identified in ancient remains (6,000-8,000 years old) found in several cemeteries in the traditional area occupied by the Basque - The Pyrenees Mountains of France and Spain. (Ancient South America, by Gregory L. Little, John Van Auken, Lora Little published 2002, p 50.) **

That is significant to Casey followers because of all the places that Casey indicates were locations for departing Atlanteans, the Pyrenees were the most frequently referenced in his readings. Theosophists may also observe that the Pyrenees get special mention by Blavatsky relative to Atlantis. Once the rare and mysterious haplogroup X was shown to be in the Basque population as well as in North America - we have proven what we set out to prove. Blavatsky has been proven right again. In summary: mitochondrial DNA discoveries show that the Basque population is related to the North American Indian population. Since these results were obtained from 6,000 to 8000 year old cemeteries in the Basque area and since they were also ancient in North America, they were not caused by activities occurring after Columbus. Instead they reveal an ancient connection. The most natural explanation is a common center in Atlantis. Unfortunately we cannot at this time determine the actual haplogroups of Atlantis - we can only determine the haplogroup of the Atlanteans by inference. We also have an interesting detail concerning when the mtDNA entered North America.

**The time estimates on haplogroup X entering America were at first shaky, because too few samples had been taken. But later, it seemed hat haplogoup X entered by 28,000 B.C. and again in 10,000 B.C. (ibid, p 50) **

These appear to be waves of immigration from Atlantis. The second wave corresponds to the date of the sinking of Atlantis as given by both Casey and Theosophy. That should count as another supportive discovery.


Little et al add some more information of interest:

**In July 2001, a research letter was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, relating that a few people with the "X" type had been identified in a tribe located in extreme southern Siberia. These people, called the Altasians, or Altaics as Russian geneticists refer to them, have always lived in the Gobi Desert area. ...[ the presence of X ] is of ancient origin. (Ancient South America p 50) **

Little et al are particularly interested in this because they are finding X in all those places that Casey had identified as destinations for people leaving Atlantis. Theosophy notes that the Atlanteans did go to the Gobi desert though it does not specify the town of Altaics. It offers that information in a number of places with perhaps the most direct describing how advanced individuals found refuge in the area of the Gobi:

**A continent [the larger continent of Atlantis] inhabited by two distinct races; distinct physically and especially morally; both deeply versed in primeval wisdom and the secrets of nature; mutually antagonistic in their struggle, during the course and progress of their double evolution. Whence even the Chinese teachings upon the subject, if it is but a fiction? Have they not recorded the existence once upon a time of a holy island beyond the sun (Tcheou), and beyond which were situated the lands of the immortal men? (See de Rougemont, ibid.) Do they not still believe that the remnants of those immortal men-who survived when the holy island had become black with sin and perished-have found refuge in the great desert of Gobi, where they still reside invisible to all, and defended from approach by hosts of Spirits? (SDii372) **

One more quote on ancient civilizations around the Gobi I would select out as particularly interesting. It shows how much the occult tradition knows about the subject. Though unusually long, this quote is inherently fascinating. I also like it because at its end it mentions "tall" - thereby lending still more support to the Theosophical scenario of evolution.

**Yet the traces of an immense civilization, even in Central Asia, are still to be found. This civilization is undeniably prehistoric. And how can there be civilization without a literature, in some form, without annals or chronicles? Common sense alone ought to supplement the broken links in the history of departed nations. The gigantic, unbroken wall of the mountains that hem in the whole table-land of Tibet, from the upper course of the river Khuan-Khé down to the Kara-Korum hills, witnessed a civilization during millenniums of years, and would have strange secrets to tell mankind. The Eastern and Central portions of those regions - the Nan-Schayn and the Altyne-taga [today known as Altyn-tagh] - were once upon a time covered with cities that could well vie with Babylon. A whole geological period has swept over the land, since those cities breathed their last, as the mounds of shifting sand, and the sterile and now dead soil of the immense central plains of the basin of Tarim testify. The borderlands alone are superficially known to the traveller. Within those table-lands of sand there is water, and fresh oases are found blooming there, wherein no European foot has ever yet ventured, or trodden the now treacherous soil. Among these verdant oases there are some which are entirely inaccessible even to the native profane traveller. Hurricanes may "tear up the sands and sweep whole plains away," they are powerless to destroy that which is beyond their reach. Built deep in the bowels of the earth, the subterranean stores are secure; and as their entrances are concealed in such oases, there is little fear that anyone should discover them, even should several armies invade the sandy wastes where- ... But there is no need to send the reader across the desert, when the same proofs of ancient civilization are found even in comparatively populated regions of the same country. The oasis of Tchertchen, for instance, situated about 4,000 feet above the level of the river Tchertchen D'arya, is surrounded with the ruins of archaic towns and cities in every direction. There, some 3,000 human beings represent the relics of about a hundred extinct nations and races - the very names of which are now unknown to our ethnologists. An anthropologist would feel more than embarrassed to class, divide and subdivide them; the more so, as the respective descendants of all these antediluvian races and tribes known as little of their own forefathers themselves, as if they had fallen from the moon. When questioned about their origin, they reply that they know not whence their fathers had come, but had heard that their first (or earliest) men were ruled by the great genii of these deserts. This may be put down to ignorance and superstition, yet in view of the teachings of the Secret Doctrine, the answer may be based upon primeval tradition. Alone, the tribe of Khoorassan claims to have come from what is now known as Afghanistan, long before the days of Alexander, and brings legendary lore to that effect as corroboration. The Russian traveller, Colonel (now General) Prjevalsky, found quite close to the oasis of Tchertchen, the ruins of two enormous cities, the oldest of which was, according to local tradition, ruined 3,000 years ago by a hero and giant; and the other by the Mongolians in the tenth century of our era. "The emplacement of the two cities is now covered, owing to shifting sands and the desert wind, with strange and heterogeneous relics; with broken china and kitchen utensils and human bones. The natives often find copper and gold coins, melted silver, ingots, diamonds, and turquoises, and what is the most remarkable-broken glass. . . . ." "Coffins of some undecaying wood, or material, also, within which beautifully preserved embalmed bodies are found. . . . The male mummies are all extremely tall powerfully built men with long waving hair. (SDxxxii-xxxiii) **


After exploring that Altaic detail, we can return to the issue of the Clovis curtain. In 1997 it looked as though the Clovis curtain had been dealt a fatal blow. With haplogroup X now discovered in North America and not in Asia, the Bering Strait explanation was insufficient. However, after X was discovered amongst the Altaics, the Clovis folks at least had an arguing point. However, geneticists, as opposed to paleoanthropologists, agree that the Altaic haplogroup X is not from Asia. So the arguing point of the Clovis folks is not very sound. Thus the mtDNA is supportive of Blavatsky's position against the Bering-Strait-only position but to be fair, there is still controversy. To convince yourself based on the evidence that she was right just read about the South American archeology in "Ancient South America." Of course, once one concludes positively on the existence of Atlantis, then obviously the Clovis curtain is an erroneous position. In contrast to Clovis, the following paragraph shows Blavatsky's presentation of the basic idea that a land mass in the middle of the Atlantic had refugees moving both East and West from one central source. The time sequence of this article of hers is interesting. She started her public Theosophical work in 1875. In 1877 she published Isis Unveiled and gave a couple pages of reference to Atlantis. This article of hers published in 1880 states a very fundamental idea in all of Atlantology. Then in 1888 her Secret Doctrine contained much reference to Atlantis. For those who don't know, Theosophy asserts there was once an Atlantis of continental size, it broke apart and sunk, and finally the remaining island sank around 10,000 BC.

**Who knows, then, but that Jules Verne's fanciful idea regarding the lost continent Atlanta may be near the truth? Who can say, that where now is the Atlantic Ocean, formerly did not exist a continent, with its dense population, advanced in the arts and sciences, who, as they found their land sinking beneath the waters, retired, part east and part west, populating thus the two new hemispheres? This would
explain the similarity of their archæological structures and races and their differences, modified by and adapted to the character of their respective climates and countries. Thus could the llama and the camel differ, although of the same species; thus the algoraba and espino trees; thus the Iroquois Indians of North America and the most ancient Arabs call the constellation of the "Great Bear" by the same name; thus various nations, cut off from all intercourse or knowledge of each other, divide the zodiac in twelve constellations, apply to them the same names, and the Northern Hindoos apply the name Andes to their Himalayan mountains, as did the South Americans to their principal chain. (Land of Mystery, article by Blavatsky 1880) **


Being emboldened by the successful finds of Little et al, I decided to "google" the phrase "mtDNA Guanches." I wondered if another loop of proof could be tied. I found that the field continues to produce results that diverge from classical paleoanthropological views. It appears that it would be necessary to research down to the level of actual molecular sequences in the mtDNA ladder to determine what has actually been found so far. Traditional anthropology continues to influence how the data is interpreted. Below is perhaps the most useful quote on the subject. Notice we are not told anything about X that may have been in the Canaries. We do not know how close U is to X. That information might be very interesting for Theosophists. (When the quote references "U6b1" that means haplogroup U with subgroups "6b1.")


June 1998

Smithsonian magazine

Every subatomic particle has its opposite number, but luckily it's not true on a larger scale

Greetings From the Antiworld

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Over the year, we have discovered a basic law of nature pertaining to the antiworld. whenever we find a particle in our laboratories(and we have found hundreds of different kinds), sooner or later we will be able to detect its antiparticle. Are nuclei made from protons? Then we will be able to make antiprotons in a laboratory. Do we believe that protons and neutrons are made from even more fundamental particles called quarks? Then there will have to be antiquarks as well. Furthermore, in theory, the rules that govern this antiworld should be pretty much the same as the rules that govern our ordinary world. In most cases one would expect absolutely no difference between what happens when ordinary particles interact and what would happen to their corresponding antiparticles in a corresponding situation in the antiworld. When a particle and its antiparticle come together, however, all hell breaks loose. The representatives of the anti and ordinary worlds disappear in an explosion, and their combined mass is replaced by an enormous bust of energy and a cloud of secondary particles. In an isolated antiworld, antipeople would go about their lives the same as we do. When an antiperson flipped an antiswitch, antiatoms in the antilightbulb would give off the same kind of light that you are using to read these words. There would be no annihilation going on, because there would be no ordinary matter involved. If, however, you happened to be transported to this antiworld, and tried to shake hands with your antiself, the two of you would disappear in a titanic explosion. In that explosion your bodies would be converted almost entirely into pure energy; all that would be electromagnetic radiation and a thin cloud of particles. If, as seems to be the case, there is some sort of equivalence between matter and antimatter, you might expect antimatter to be fairly common in the universe. It is not. Until the early 1930s, in fact, no human being had seen so much as a single antiparticle. In the summer of 1932, a young Caltech physicist by the name of Carl Anderson had just finished putting together an experiment to explore the nature of cosmic rays. These are high energy particles that rain down continuously from space- they are going through your body at the rate of several per minute right now. These particles often collide with atoms high in our atmosphere, and physicists were looking at the debris of these collisions- in an apparatus called a cloud chamber- to learn what goes on in the nuclei of those atoms.

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When Anderson started watching his apparatus, he saw tracks left by all sorts of familiar particles: electrons, protons(which are the nuclei of hydrogen-the simplest atoms) and more complex nuclei. On August 2, 1932, however, something quite unexpected showed up. A particle that had the same mass as an electron had passed through, but this particle had a positive charge. As it turn out, this was the first bit of antimatter ever seen by a human being. Anderson dubbed his find the "positron," a contraction of "positive electron," and went on to find 14 more before he published his findinds in March 1933. The British physicist Paul A. M. Dirac had begun to postulate the existence of the positron in 1928, four years before it was first seen. The best way to visualize Dirac's theory is to picture a level field, and then to imagine digging a hole in it. When you are done, you will have two things: a pile of dirt and a hole in the ground. In a sense, the hole is a mirror image, a negative of the pile. Dirac identified the pile with the ordinary particles and the hole with their opposing antiparticles. If you picture things this way, some features of antimatter are a little easier to understand. For example, the masses of the particles and the antiparticles are equal: and there is always as much dirt in the pile as was removed from the hole. The pile stands above the ground(positive), while the hole is below it(negative). The picture also explains something else. When an antiparticle is created in high energy collision, the corresponding particle is always created as well. In the analogy, this make sense: you can't dig a hole without making a pile of dirt at the same time. In this view, an antiparticle can be thought of as the absence of a particle, a hole waiting to be filled. The initial discovery led to an expectation that the "anti's" of other particles would turn up in nature. Attention naturally turned to the proton, the heavy, positively charged particle that exist inside the nuclei of all atoms. For decades, physicists searched in vain through the debris of cosmic rays for the particle as massive as the proton but with a negative charge. The late Robert Golden finally found some in 1979. In the meantime, physicists turned to accelerators. In 1948, a young scientist named Owen Chamberlain moved to the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley. (It is now called the Lawrence Berkley Lab.) There, within a few years, an accelerator called the bevatron- named for the many billion electron volts(BeV) it would achieve-would be built on a hill overlooking San Francisco Bay. It would take protons, accelerating them to high speed and smash them into solid targets. Chamberlain realized that his machine could answer the question of whether the proton had an antiparticles. He and his colleges estimated that when the speeding protons hit their target( a block of copper), the spray of debris should contain about one antiproton for every hundred thousand ordinary particles.