Sequoias, Parkinson’s and Space Sickness

Sequoias, Parkinson’s and Space Sickness:  What these all have in common.
Set Point Model, 2.

By Herb Wiggins, M.D.; Clinical Neurosciences; Discoverer/Creator of the Comparison Process/COMP Theory/Model; 14 Mar. 2014.
For some time, having been a field biologist for over 50 years, many have wondered not only why Sequoias grow so tall, but also so large. Basically these are S. sempervirens, the coastal redwoods & S. gigantea, the giant redwoods known best at Sequoia National Park in California, which uniquely in all the world shares these two ancient species, from 100-120 megayears ago. Florissant Fossil Beds park is where they are also found, as well as a number of fossilized trees in the so called petrified forests in North Am. But how do they get so very tall as well as long lived? Today, few have any inklings why, but the answers may be actually quite simple, if we think using the comparison process and its methods, the least energy principle and the set point model.

The set point models as has been described in greater detail, is also a comparison method, and as such can be applied/compared to almost anything to find the relationships and connections among events in existence. These correspondences can then be used to define uniquely many skills & methods & how those can be used to understand, as well. Wherever comparison processes can be used, there also can set point models be found, describing series of events which are similar and also unique, such as languages, personalities, etc. It’s similar to reference points, but not the same as these describe the comparisons which go on that define and allow such events to be uniquely recognized, defined and their structural relationships to other similar events. Like the LEP and comparison process, these are broadly applicable to most everything and thus have a nearly universal value and capabilities to describe, both generally and in detail, well within the hierarchies, the classifications of our understandings, which are based, mostly, upon the comparison process. More has been written in The Set Point Model, 1, which will be published in time.

Essentially, why the sequoias have lasted so long has been covered in “The Fox & the Hedgehog”

But one of the ways in which they have lived so long is a set point which must be discussed and is a very deep principle rooted not only in physics, but also in neurophysiology, as well as botanical physiology and has not been really very well addressed or much written about. Essentially, how do plants know which way is down and which way is up? The bean grows from a seed, which when warm & moist sends out the little root, the radical, which even if the bean is buried upside down will grow around & down into the soil. Not only the radical, but the stem & leaves know to grow upwards toward the light & sun & more warmth. But in fact, a little thought shows that these two words, geotropism & phototropism are likely misnomers, which in the latter case is also incomplete, too. The stem tends to grow up, towards the sun, but not in every case. The leaves and flowers can also detect the sun, and leaves & flowers can slowly turn to follow the sun around as the earth turns towards and then away from the sun, producing this illusion of the sun moving. Flowers sense light and will most often bloom during the day and close up at night, tho the night blooming Cereus is a notable exception, although it appears to be pollinated by night insects such as moths, which are not active during the day very much. Thus the phototropic flowers can be pollinated by bees and other insects.

But phototropism cannot explain the growth of the sequoia, because if that were the case then it would bend towards the light in a temperate climate, But it does not sincerely NOT do that. Otherwise it’d topple over, and be unable to reach such great heights of over 360′ , 113 m. How does it do this and what are the set points which make plant growth upwards/downwards possible? These are great mysteries, but have been partly figured out except for one, big problem. In order to reach such great heights the Sequoia must be able to detect exactly, to a high degree of precision where physically, gravitationally, Down is, must it not? That is must have the ability to detect the center of gravity wherever it grows. And while it grows it must constantly be maintaining and checking its growth against this sense, and not letting any cross section of the trunk vary by so much as a mm. or so from true vertical, maintaining this balance possibly using hydrostatic measurements. Then it must lay down bark as well as cambium exceedingly precisely comparing against its “center of gravity” detection system, too. If it cannot do this, which it most decidedly can, or if the roots are undermined by erosion over 1000’s of years, then it will topple, eventually and could not reach such heights, either.

So we have this high precision gravity detector in the Sequoia and to some extent in most OTHER plants, unless they be ground hugging vines, which will not have that system, or activated long after seeds sprouting, either. This difference in comparison must then decidedly define what makes plants grow along the ground, tho their leaves point up and face the sun, versus the Douglas fir, which must also reach great heights by having an exquisitely sensitivite gravitational center detector, as well. Thus, the ability to detect exactly DOWN in the local gravitation field, and to adjust the growth of bark, cambium and in the upper tree its limbs, that the branches should all balance, is the case.

Now note in pines that grow straight up, that we can estimate the Age of each of them by counting the branch scars of the pine, which lie at almost exactly the same heights in concentric rings around these trees, I recall observing such new growth pine forests, then realizing I could closely estimates the ages of each tree by counting branch scar rings & up thru the crown of the existing branches, Most deciduous trees don’t have these, and they also don’t grow as tall or straight either. They apparently gave up fast upwards growth for less height and more spreading out. But they still have that problem of balance, esp. in the live oaks which spread out so very greatly. So apparently THOSE are also using a similar system of balancing growth so they don’t topple over too soon. We seen how our knowledge expands by comparing the growth of the sequoias on the coasts, to the giant sequoias, to the deciduous trees which do not reach such great heights, and then comparing them yet again to the very tall, Douglas firs which can reach very great heights, but not so well as the coastal redwoods. & thus this sets up a new field of discovering the set point models which describe how each tree, or indeed each plant knows how to grow UP-WARDS!! Comparison process creating creativity, new understanding, new areas of investigations and so forth. This is the power of the COMP, when used properly and carefully.

So therefore it’s now incumbent upon us to find out HOW this gravity sense is created, maintained and used in plants to grow upwards and straight upwards. And note that tree ferns do this also, so the mechanism must be a very old one, although the Sequoias have created a high efficiency system which not only gives long life, because they will not topple over, but have an exquisite system of how to detect gravity at every level in the tree trunk, and balance that with such precision that they can outgrow as well as outlive most all other plants known. These critical observations create an entirely new field in botany of dendro-gravitational study. And the set points whereby the trees know when they are a bit off true center of gravity compared to the local gravitational fields.

We often see trees which in persistently strong winds, tend to grow upwards, but see them leaning away from the average strong wing direction, too. The coastal cypresses in the Monterrey Peninsula show this, and those in other places where there are trees, also do, such as inland, where the delta breeze blows often and strongly. Have even seen it in trees growing near to a high speed highway, where they lean forwards in the direction of the vehicles which create the winds, which their righting mechanisms cannot correct, either.

So the field is complicated, to say the least, and not at all, in our time, very well understood, either. How does the sapling know to grow upwards away from the exact center of gravity? Weeds do this a bit, but as they grow fast and not so tall, their mechanism is not very precise. But in the cases of the Sequoias & firs, the two tallest of plants in North America, this must be finely tuned and clearly, observably so.

Now here we come to Parkinson’s, which is a condition of low dopamine, and thus is correctable by using L-dopa which can replace much of that which has been lost, at least for a while, but not very evenly nor able to avoid getting used to the L-dopa, where it works less and less well, for reasons, still unknown, A process commonly called tachyphylaxis, most well described and known in addictions. (thus suggesting a new field of study) and can eventually create serious movement disorders such as the dyskinesias of high dopamine levels, too.

But what does a Parkinson patient have in common with plants? And that is easy, too.The problem is we are burdened with that ignorant, ancient knowledge that believes there are only 5 senses, where in fact there are dozens of major types and their subtypes, from touch, point detection, two point discrimination, position sense, hot/cold senses, etc., to vision of colours & of light or dark, of tastes, of sounds, etc.. So we’re going to find another sense, we must understand, one which has not been well described and is most certainly unknown in popular culture, too.

It’s been long known by such a brilliant movement disorder neurologist as Dr. C. David Marsden, that if we put a moderately to severely affected Parkinson’s patient on a teeter totter, that his righting mechanisms with respect to gravity is not good. This is not due to sensory loss, such as touch, vision & so forth, but is due to an innate loss of the ability to sense where exactly, gravitational Down is. The person stands on the teeter totter, and then it’s moved upwards, from a level position. He falls forwards, unable to right himself, as most persons do when standing on a teeter totter. And also, when we walk along a steeper hillside. Parkinson’s patients can’t do this very well, either. And when the teeter totter is moved down they tend to fall backwards. This is responsible, this lack of gravitational sense, for many of the serious and damaging falls, with broken hips and such, we see with Parkinson’s. So it is NOT a minor problem, but in fact, a life threatening one.

Their sense of where down is  is impaired. This is what we humans have in common with Sequoias, which sounds astonishing, but is in fact the case. We both have sensors built in to detect the center of gravity & the straightness of our backs as we grow are yet another indication that we can grow straight up and that this gravitation sense is being fed back into our bodies growth so we don’t grow crooked off to one side or the other. Other tall animals, esp., the giraffes, must also have a built in down detector so those very long necks, like sequoias, can grow straight enough up to counter balance, the pull of gravity. That implies a physiological as well as growth physiological feedback system in both humans, giraffes, as well as trees, too. What are those? We don’t know. So the field of biology which understands how plants/animals can detest and thus KNOW how to grow up (grin) is still in its infancy, but needs clearly to be developed. All,this we learn you see from watching Douglas firs, sequoias and Parkinson’s patients!!!

Then there is an exceedingly rare case of a woman who lost completely her sense of touch and feeling, and learned with great difficulty to use vision to correct her loss of down, and position sense, showing the other side of the problem, too. See “The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat”, by Oliver Sachs, MD.

When walking we are constantly using our foot receptors via post dorsal spinal columns which tell us where down is. Our eyes will be constantly using trees, landscape and building set points, and other “set points” to know where down and up are, and making those adjustments We know this happens, when we see persons sort of wobbling back and forth while standing with the eyes closed!! Alcohol tends to disturb the balance sense.

Now we get to space sickness, right? How does this all tie in, then? It’s related to the loss of gravitational down sense in the nervous system. The inner ears, the gravity sensors. vision, and the foot sensors can’t find gravitation DOWN, anymore. This creates motions sickness, clearly. & this is where that set point model really comes into play. and have written this before, in less detail in:
Please peruse sections 1 and then 5, et seq.

So what do we do and has space sickness realty been well enough understood and how to correct it, either? No. Here are some very critical and useful ways of taking care of space sickness & making it improve substantially faster and better, other than taking promethazine and dealing with days of incapacitation which can be more easily avoided & mitigated by a deeper understand of what causes spaces sickness, To whit:

Space sickness arises by loss of the comparison between the visual and gravitational senses in our inner ears, in part, to where is gravitational down. Anything which makes that better will work to relieve it. Why do some persons get space and sea sickness more than others? Because they rely too much on vestibular organ (semicircular canals) and/or comparisons with senses of pressure on the feet which tell us where down is, Those canals tell where down is using gravity as a comparison sense. Not surprisingly and this has not been widely noted, the semicircle canals which are necessary for balance, in part, do so by have 3 dimensional semi-circular canals in roughly, X, Y, and Z axes. But it’s not complete for one big reason. As we became more upright creatures, this changed up that 3-D configuration of 4 footed animals, and the inner ears, the semicircular canals had to adjust genetically & structurally to a new configuration, which makes up, up, instead of sort of head bent forward as in the 2 footed primates. This process has not completely reached its end point either, because those canals are not in quite an exact 3 D configuration, yet. Thus humans are still evolving to standing upwards, and as we become taller, the process is still taking place to adjust to greater heights, now approaching 6′ averages in humans as compared to 3 1/2 feet heights in the not too distant past, (as any walk thru older East coast houses built in the 1700’s with their 5″-5 1/2″ tops of the door frames, shows!!.

Thus we not only have a genetic problem with greater heights recently which we must overcome, but our upwards stance has not yet been completely adjusted to it by our neurophysiology, specifically in the feet, the semicircular canals and the integration of that with our visual systems, the 3rd part of the triad of balance, and avoiding motion sickness. We know the foot problem because when people get numbnesses of the feet from diabetes, or other conditions, they frequently fall over & totter around, when their eyes close. Thus showing a critical part that vision can play in balance, which is relevant to the space sickness discussion. & there might be a hydrostatic component too, as well, because when we stand up, our blood pressure can drop and we can topple over. So the arteries in the feet and legs are stimulated to contract, thus driving up more BP to the head, and this mediated by the dorsal root sensory columns in our spinal cords. The brain senses BP drop, and reflexively contracts the arteries in the feet and lower body to get BP up. As we get taller this become more and more of a problem, too, thus adding to the tallness problem in upright stance, exactly balancing out gravitational down when we move. It’s not a simple question, either.

So it’s not at all easy to figure. But what can we do about space sickness, sea sickness and motion sickness of all sorts? That’s easy, We train these persons up to use more of the visual corrections and teach them to right themselves to independent set points, while standing on ships, using visual cues. On a ship, they can emplace light bars to correct these problems, and the light bar will show very accurately where down, the center of gravity, is. As the ship moves and goes up and down & right to left, that large, visible light bar shows how to position the body to right that change in motion shifting. It uses a visual correction. Those who are VERY visual can easily tell where down is. Those who are more feet and tactile sensation and inner ear balance, also have that same problem, on board.

In zero gee, The reverse is true. There is NO visual, tactile, or inner ear, vestibular correction possible at first. So, and we do this easily, we put the astronauts and others who will be going in to space in a motion cabin, such as are used in flight simulators & such . We orient them to the red strips on the floor and the yellow stripes on the ceilings. This tells them where up and down are. Then as the cabin is moved around, they learn to orient themselves to the gravitational light bars, and the red & yellow stripes to tell them & train the NEW SET POINTS Visually, of down and up. Both these set points, stripes & light bars need to be duplicated in space. Once they gain this orientation in a cabin, then they can more easily and quickly adjust to space using the visual cues, which are what the body uses once it gets into space, almost solely. The set points change in each case, you see, and so the cues must change, as on board a rocking-rolling ship, to find out where down is, too. The faster the brain in space can adjust by previous practice on earth to where down is, visually, then the less space sickness that person will have. & will spend his/her time far more efficiently than puking and being sick for 2-3 days, costing $millions in lost work time.

I learned this in the Gulf Coast many years ago. I was predisposed to sea sickness from a child and had problems on the Great Lakes. Of course, no one on board had the slightest clue as to what went wrong in seasickness and so they put me below deck which made it even worse. But our marine biology instructor knew, & she looked at me and told me to sight the horizon and align myself with it. Let your body move forward and backward to that. My sea sickness abated almost at once, but it took a while before I could get my sea legs and do better.

Course if we were in rough water, and then the horizon was hidden by waves and such, it’d not work. In that case, we must use most entirely our inner ears balance systems which can detect where down is, as well as the tactile clues on foot pressure which tell us where true gravitation down is, when the visual clues don’t work very well. Plus the light bars, bright, big and exactly horizontal to true down, gravitational. The same methods can be used to help Parkinson’s patients keep from falling, by using visual cues while walking to retrain the brain not to lose track of and to more quikcly detect and correct for where down is. Study and time will help us fine tune and find more comparison methods to deal with these problems of space sickness, sea sicknesses, motion sickness of all types, as well as imbalance caused by sensory loss of gravity sense in Parkinson’s, as well as those with loss of sense of touch and pressure on feet in position sense, from the same causes.

These are what we can learn from the Douglas firs & sequoias about WHERE down is, & the considerable knowledge we can gain from more investigating of these events using the comparison process and methods, as well as the fine structure and more details these investigations will reveal to us. There are in fact, unlimited numbers of ways to test persons for their susceptibilities to motion and space sickness, and then train them up and use various ways to prevent that before they go ship board, or space craft board, to diminish the onset and severity of it and to specifically train the brain to compensate for it as well.

From terrestrial Sequoias to sickness in space via Parkinson’s. These are the unexpectedly useful connections which the comparison process can show us how to develop solutions to our problems, arising from the unlimited applications and methods of the comparison process.

Where a revelation in understanding creates an ongoing, unlimited Kuhnian revolution in understanding .