Professor Gerald Pollack's new book, The Fourth Phase of Water, is an interesting, accessible and engrossing journey into the murky world of water science. His theories explain things as diverse as cloud formation and osmosis, interfacial water structure and the properties of wet sand. A must-read for anyone interested in the science of water.
Some time ago, I wrote about the interesting new theories from Professor Gerald Pollack regarding a fourth phase of water, distinct from the usual solid (ice), liquid (water) and gaseous (vapour) phases.
This new phase, liquid crystalline water, has many fascinating properties, and goes a long way in explaining many of the anomalous properties of water, and of those things which contain a high percentage of water as a part of their make-up.
Pollack has now produced a book explaining, and elaborating on, these theories, called The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid and Vapour.
Pollack's book goes a long way towards making this complex scientific field understandable to the interested layman, while still being a serious study of the conclusions drawn by Pollack and his Lab about the nature and properties of the proposed Liquid Crystalline phase of water.
After his historical preamble, Pollack starts the book with a very useful 'Bestiary': "A reader's guide to the species that lurk within the mysterious aqueous domain". The descriptions therein of the Hydronium Ion, EZ Water, the Hexagonal structure of Ice, and the nature of charge distribution in a bubble and a droplet, all give the reader basic yet vital information with which to proceed.
Pollack uses the first few chapters to clarify and expand on the ideas which he has developed through his lab and his talks up to the publication of this book: ideas such as Interfacial water (EZ water); the water battery; the charge separation that occurs between bulk and EZ water; and the structure of Liquid Crystalline water.
In later chapters, Pollack dives into some of the more interesting ideas, such as: how molecules with the same charge are attracted to each other, and how this can account for cloud formation and the different properties of wet and dry sand; how osmosis occurs; the properties of protonated water; how rocks can skim across the water surface; and the role of EZ water in the resolution of the Energy Paradox inherent in the formation of Ice crystals.
Now, I'm not going to ruin the fun of finding out what Pollack thinks about these things: you will have to buy the book for that. However, there is much information out there on the web if you want to learn more about the ideas in this fantastic book. It is definitely worth a read, whether as an interested or curious layman, or a serious science student with an open mind and an inquisitive nature.
The video below is from a recent TEDx talk about the Fourth Phase of Water given by Pollack. Check it out!
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have observed a snow-line forming around the star TW Hydrae which could give new insights into how planets and comets are formed, and what decides their composition.
As particles move further away from a star they cool down, moving from a gaseous state to a solid one. As this occurs, definite areas of particle solidification occur.
Water, having a relatively high freezing point, will solidify first, followed by heaver compounds such as Carbon Dioxide and Methane. These compounds form separate snow lines, differing in colour and chemical make-up. The area where Water freezes relates to an orbital distance between that of Mars and Jupiter in our Solar System, whereas the Carbon Monoxide snow line would approximate the orbit of Neptune.
In a new theory, scientists have postulated that the reason why the Earth is so unexpectedly dry (less that 1% of the Earth's mass is locked up in water) is that the Earth was created in the zone before the Water snow line, where temperatures were hotter, instead of inside it, as was previously thought. In fact, the reason we have the water we do, rather than being much dryer like Mercury or Venus, may be down to the debris left by passing and impacting comets.
This discovery has given scientists "the first real picture of a snow line around a young star, which is extremely exciting because of what it tells us about the very early period in the history of the Solar System," said Chunhua "Charlie" Qi (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA). It will also give scientists important new information about the formation and evolution of planets and comets.
Last week’s Wednesday Wonders featured the phenomenon known as the Lithopedion or “stone baby.” This is the calcification process that a foetus that died during an abdominal pregnancy, and has remained in the abdominal cavity. But how did the foetus get there in the first place? That is the topic of this week’s Wednesday Wonders: The Abdominal Pregnancy.
An abdominal pregnancy occurs when a fertalized egg attaches its placenta to an organ or vascular construct outside the womb (extra-uterine). Abdominal pregnancy is an extremely serious condition as “the risk of maternal morbidity is 7-8 time greater with an abdominal ectopic pregnancy compared with other ectopic pregnancy locations and 90 times greater than an intrauterine pregnancy.[i]”
There are two main types of abdominal pregnancy: Primary and Secondary abdominal pregnancy.
Primary abdominal pregnancy, by far the rarest form of abdominal pregnancy, occurs either when an egg is fertilised outside of the womb and fallopian tubes, in the abdomen, or when a fertilised egg is carried from the tubes by reverse Peristalsis, depositing the fertilised ovum in the abdomen. For a pregnancy to be considered a Primary abdominal pregnancy, it must satisfy Studdiford's criteria[ii]:
Wikipedia states that “only 24 cases had been reported by 2007” [iii] and cites Krishna Dahiya, Damyanti Sharma (2009) as the source for this information. Dahiya and Sharma do indeed state that “only 24 cases reported in the world literature,”[iv] and they in turn cite Yutaka Morita, Osamu Tutsumi et al. (1996) as the source for this information. However, I cannot see any reference in the 1996 paper to such a figure[v].
If anyone can find the original reference to the “24 cases” quotation, or can give a more up-to-date figure, please leave a comment below.
Secondary abdominal pregnancy is the most common form, where an ectopic pregnancy, usually in the fallopian tubes, ruptures the tube and drifts into the abdominal cavity, where the placenta re-implants onto another organ. Sometimes, the uterus can rupture, and the foetus that has been growing in there can be released into the abdomen.
So, where do the placentae of ectopic pregnancies attach? Well, attachments to the cervix, in and on the ovary, in the interstitial (the top part of the uterus) and in the caesarean scar are rare, but have been known[vi][vii], but the most common form of ectopic pregnancy is that where implantation is demonstrated in the fallopian tube. However, a pregnancy cannot continue there indefinitely, and will ether died or rupture the tube, releasing the foetus into the abdomen, where, as stated in the preceeding paragraph, the foetus can reaffix to another organ.
Abdominal implantation sites include the peritoneum outside of the uterus, the rectouterine pouch (cul-de-sac of Douglas), the bowel and its mesentery, the mesosalpinx, the peritoneum of the pelvic wall and the abdominal wall, the outside of the fallopian tube and the outside of the ovary[viii]. Other rarer sites have included the liver[ix], spleen[x] (very dangerous due to the risk of uncontrollable bleeding), kidney[xi], the omentum (though rare, with only tens of cases noted)[xii][xiii], the bladder[xiv], the appendix[xv], the pancreas[xvi], and the underside of the diaphragm[xvii]. Even an aortic pregnancy[xviii] has been noted.
Treatment for the condition can be interventionist, or conservative, depending on the length of gestation, whether the foetus is alive, whether it has any severe malformations (growth outside the uterus can lead to cranial asymmetry, limb deformities and severe issues relating to the nervous system), and whether there is the risk of severe internal haemorrhage to the mother with respect to the site upon which the placenta has attached.
Interventionist treatment can include methotrexate if the pregnancy is caught at an early stage.[xix] This will abort the foetus, and the foetal tissue will most likely be reabsorbed by the mother’s body. If this is not possible, as the foetus is too big, or is attached to the liver or kidney, then a laparoscopy or laparotomy can be performed to remove the foetus. British surgeon Robert Lawson Tait became the first person, in April 1883, to successfully operate upon a woman with an ectopic pregnancy.[xx] Regarding the placenta, “it is recommended that the placenta be removed only if its entire blood supply can be ligated. Partial removal of the placenta is the most hazardous procedure and should not be undertaken.”[xxi]
Images take from "A Rare Case Report: Primary Intrahepatic Pregnancy" The images show an ultrasound of a hepatic foetus, and MRI of the same.
There have been cases where the foetus has survived to a viable stage. In the first operation of its kind in the UK, a team of 36 NHS staff removed Jayne Jones’ foetus which had been attached to her omentum. Her baby, named Billy, was placed on an incubator, and is now alive and well.[xxii]
In Phoenix, USA, Nicolette Soto defied doctors’ advice to carry a Cornual Ectopic pregnancy to 32 weeks. This is strange because a Cornual Ectopic pregnancy (where the embryo implants at the end of the fallopian tube) normally ruptures between 12-14 weeks. Soto’s didn’t, and she went on to give birth to her son, Azelan Cruz Perfecto.[xxiii]
In a very rare case, the only one of its kind, Meera Thangarajah carried a child to 38 weeks in her Ovary! There had been no complications, and the situation had not been picked up at a routine mid-term scan. Doctors only discovered the situation while performing a routine caesarean. The ovary was stretched to breaking point, and any little movement could have cause the sac inside to ovary to rupture. Meera’s one-in-a-million daughter is called Durga.[xxiv]
In a heterotopic pregnancy, one or more foetuses implant in the uterus, while another implants in the abdomen. There are several examples where the intrauterine foetus has survived, but the abdominal foetus has not. However, there are some examples where all foetuses have survived.
In Tanzania, a woman gave birth to her baby, while apparently suffering from an ovarian tumour. However, the day after she gave birth, she reported foetal movements. Doctors realised that the ovarian tumour was a misdiagnosis, and that she was carrying a child which had “attached between the anterior and posterior leaves of the right broad ligament.” She was delivered of a healthy baby boy, and both children flourished.[xxv]
Finally, an English woman named Jane Ingram started off by thinking she was pregnant with one child. She had severe problems, and went to see her doctor. She was told that she was expecting twins. Still beset with severe problems, she went again, and was told she had triplets. During a scan, one of the nurses noticed something odd, and referred Jane to a specialist in London, where it was discovered that this third child was an abdominal pregnancy attached to the outside of the womb. Following one of the most complex deliveries in medical history, all three children were removed: two girls and one boy. The boy, Ronan, was the abdominal child.[xxvi]
[i] An Early Abdominal Wall Ectopic Pregnancy Successfully Treated with Ultrasound Guided Intralesional Methotrexate: A Case Report. Paynesha M. Anderson, Erin K. Opfer, Jeanne M. Busch, and Everett F. Magann. Obstetrics and Gynecology International, vol. 2009, Article ID 247452, 3 pages, 2009. doi:10.1155/2009/247452
[ii] Studdiford WE. Primary peritoneal pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1942;44: pp 487–91
[iv] Advanced Abdominal Pregnancy: A Diagnostic and Management Dilemma. Krishna Dahiya and Damyanti Sharma. Journal of Gynecologic Surgery. June 2007, 23(2): pp 69-72
[v] Successful laparoscopic management of primary abdominal pregnancy. Yutaka Morita, Osamu Tutsumi, Kazuya Kuramochi, Mikio Momoeda, Hiroyuki Yoshikawa and Yuji Taketani. Human Reproduction 1996, vol.11 DO.11 pp.2546-2547
[vi] Ectopic Pregnancies in Unusual Locations. Thomas A Molinaro, M.D., Kurt T Barnhart,M.D.,M.S.C.E. Semin Reprod Med. 2007; 25(2), pp 123-130
[vii] Ectopic pregnancies of unusual location: management dilemmas. D. V. Valsky and S. Yagel. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol 2008; 31: pp 245–25
[viii] Abdominal Pregnancy in the United States: Frequency and Maternal Mortality. Atrash, Hani K. MD, MPH; Friede, Rew MD, MPH; Hogue, Carol J. R. PhD
[ix] Diagnosis and Management of Hepatic Ectopic Pregnancy. Shippey, Stuart H. MD, LCDR, USN; Bhoola, Snehal M. MD; Royek, Anthony B. MD; Long, Mary E. MD. Obstetrics & Gynecology: February 2007 - Volume 109 - Issue 2, Part 2 - pp 544-546
[x] Splenic Pregnancy: The Role of Abdominal Imaging. Yael Yagil, MD, MHA, Nira Beck-Razi, MD, Amnon Amit, MD, Hedviga Kerner, MD, Diana Gaitini, MD. J Ultrasound Med 2007; 26: pp 1629–1632
[xi] Retroperitoneal Ectopic Pregnancy. Jung Whee Lee1, Kyung Myung Sohn and Hyun Seok Jung. American Journal of Roentgenology. 2005;184:1600-1601
[xii] Primary Omental Pregnancy. Recip Yildizhan, Mertihan Kurdoglu, Ali Kolusari, Remzi Erten. Saudi Medical Journal. 29 (4) pp 606-9
[xiii] Primary omental pregnancy. M.A. Onan, A.B. Turp, A. Saltık, N. Akyurek, C. Taskiran and O. Himmetoglu. Hum. Reprod. (March 2005) 20 (3): 807-809.
[xiv] Abdominal pregnancy on the bladder wall following embryo transfer with cryopreserved-thawed embryos: a case report. R delRosario, A el-Roeiy. Fertil Steril. 1996 Nov ;66 (5): pp 839-41
[xv] Laparoscopic removal of an abdominal pregnancy adherent to the appendix after ovulation induction with human menopausal gonadotrophin. Ben-Rafael Z, Dekel A, Lerner A, Orvieto R, Halpern M, Powsner E, Voliovitch I. Hum Reprod. 1995 Jul;10(7): pp 1804-5.
[xvi] Retroperitoneal subpancreatic ectopic pregnancy following in vitro fertilization in a patient with previous bilateral salpingectomy: how did it get there? Dmowski WP, Rana N, Ding J, Wu WT. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2002 Feb;19(2): pp 90-3.
[xvii] Early pregnancy on the diaphragm with endometriosis. Norenberg DD, Gundersen JH, Janis JF, Gundersen AL. Obstet Gynecol. 1977 May; 49(5): pp 620-2.
[xviii] Miracle baby Billy grew outside his mother's womb. Laura Collins. The Daily Mail. 31/08/2008.
[xix] Management of ectopic pregnancy: a two-year study. Mahboob U, Mazhar SB. Journal of Ayub Medical College, Abbottabad: JAMC 2006 18 (4): pp 34–7.
[xx] Surgical Management of Ectopic Pregnancy. Author: Allahyar Jazayeri, MD, PhD, FACOG, DACOG, FSMFM
[xxi] Advanced abdominal pregnancy - A review of 23 cases. R. G. White. Irish Journal of Medical Science March 1989, Volume 158, Issue 3, pp 77-78
[xxii] “Miracle baby” who grew outside the womb. The Telegraph. Wednesday 17 July 2013.
[xxiii] Pregnant woman beats the odds, has miracle baby. Phoenix News. May 23, 2011
[xxiv] Ovary baby survives against odds. BBC News. 31 May 2008
[xxv] Case Report:The forgotten child—a case of heterotopic, intra-abdominal and intrauterine pregnancy carried to term. M. Ludwig, M. Kaisi, O. Bauer, and K. Diedrich. Hum. Reprod. (1999) 14 (5): pp 1372-1374.
[xxvi] Ectopic triplet makes medical history. The Guardian. 10 September 1999
Scientists have synthesised a new form of Carbon, containing 80 interlocking rings of carbon atoms, five of which are seven-atom carbon rings, and one a five-atom carbon ring.
The odd-numbered rings bend the usually planar orientation of graphene-like substances, warping the new substance away from the usual flat, sheet-like appearance.
By adding the odd-numbered rings, many properties appear changed with respect to graphene. There is a difference in colour, electrical conductivity, and solubility. It also exhibits chirality.
This compound demonstrates that the electrical properties of graphine can be modified in a predictable manner.
The diagram below, taken from the paper published in Nature Magazine, shows how the planarity is warped by the introduction of the odd-numbered carbon rings.
On 1st July, Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View Calif has found Neptune's 14th moon.
The moon, currently known as S/2004 N 1, was found while studying the faint arcs, or segments of rings, around Neptune, from over 150 images taken by Hubble from 2004 to 2009. S/2004 N 1 is located between the orbits of the moons Larissa and Proteus, is 12 miles in diameter, and completes one revolution around Neptune every 23 hours. Regarding a new name for the moon, Showalter said that it: "will be out of Roman and Greek mythology and it will have to do with characters who are related to Neptune, the god of the oceans."
A Lithopedion is a foetus which died during an abdominal pregnancy (i.e. a pregnancy that occurred outside of the uterus) and has undergone a calcification process (calcium deposits collected upon the surface of the dead foetus and/or its membranes) which results in the foetus being surrounded by a stone-like structure. This occurs to protect the mother for the rotting corpse of her child, which could cause serious and even fatal infection. By encasing it in calcium deposits, the body is effectively defending itself against the foetal necrosis. But how could this happen in the first place?
Well, there are certain conditions under which a Lithopedion can be formed:
It's not hard, then, to see why Lithopedia are a rare phenomenon!
Not all Lithopedia are the same, in fact, there are three types of Lithopedion:
Let's look at some examples of Lithopedia throughout the ages.
Historical evidence of Lithopedia
The oldest known example of a Lithopedion was found during an archaeological excavation in the Bering Sinkhole, 41KR241, on the Edwards Plateau in Kerr County, Texas.[i] It was deemed to be a Lithokelyphos variety of Lithopedion. The site was used as a burial ground between 2000 and 7000 years ago, with the Lithopedion found in the uppers layers, suggesting a date of 3100 tears ago.[ii] The Lithopedian was described in the following way: “On the basis of the size of the posterior spinal elements, the fetus was estimated to have died at 7 to 9 months of gestation. The elements were totally skeletonised and bound by a thickened, calcified membrane.” The calcification was “amorphous” and lacking in bone tissue or structure[iii], suggesting that the stony structure had not been formed from bone tissue.
A possible second early example of a Lithopedion was found during an excavation in Costebelle, France, in 1989, dating to the 4th Century. From the 1st – 5th Centuries AD, a large Roman Villa with an oil mill and press was occupied, with a nearby mausoleum[iv]. 26 Human burials were discovered, one of which, in Tomb No. 1, was the remains of a pregnant woman and her foetus were found.[v] It is this foetus which is possibly a Lithopedion, as is “shows signs of serious osseus disease”[vi]:
“The well-preserved fetal skeleton, so-called “Cristobal”, discovered in the grave No. 1 of the necropolis of Costebelle presents several pathological osseous lesions: periosteal appositions on the skull vault and on the long bones; osseous resorptions of different degree, which affect first of all the extremities of the long bones (particularly in the metaphyseal region) and the external cortex of the skull vault; localised sheathed calcifications principally at about the skull vault-level and on the distal extremities of left forearm, the left hand and foot.”[vii]
Olivier Dutour of the Faculty of Medicine at Marseilles believes these to be lesions from congenital syphilis, as the “general aspect of the lesions corresponds…to an infectious process.” While the alterations to the bone tissue “correspond to the criteria of the pathological changes produced by an intra-uterine infection.”
However, Bruce Rothschild believes the observed phenomena to be indications of a Lithopedion:
"The character of the pathology appeared to me to be calcified membranes/tissues, rather than periosteal reaction," he says. "The skull lesions are unlike those of treponemal disease (e.g., congenital syphilis) and the dramatic forearm calcification is unlike anything we have previously witnessed in over 500 cases of adult syphilis, nor in the periosteal reaction that characterizes yaws and bejel-disorders in which children (though probably not fetuses) are frequently affected."[viii][ix]
Thus, the Costebelle foetus is possibly the second earliest example of a Lithopedion.
The first known mention of what was thought to be a Lithopedion was by the Arab Muslim physician Albucasis (full name Abu al-Qasim Khalaf ibn al-Abbas Al-Zahrawi) who lived from 936–1013AD in Córdoba. He made many important discoveries and observations in his Magnum Opus, the thirty volume Kitab al-Tasrif, including the first description of an ectopic pregnancy, and the discovery of the hereditary nature of haemophilia. With respect to the Lithopedion, he gave the following information which regarding the removal of foetal bones from a woman’s abdomen. As far as I can see, no reference was made to calcification of said bones:
“Now I myself once saw a woman who had become pregnant and the foetus had then died in utero; the again she conceived and the second foetus also died; and after a long while she got a swelling in the umbilicus which grew and eventually it opened and began to produce pus. I was called in to attend her, and I treated her for a long while but the wound did not heal up. So I applied to it certain very strongly drawing ointments, and then a bone came away from the place; then a few days passed and another bone came out; and I was mightily astonished a this, seeing that the abdomen is a place where there are no bones. I formed the opinion that these were bones from a dead foetus. So I investigated the place and got out many bones belonging to the head of the foetus. I continued this procedure and got a great number of bones, the woman being in the best of health; indeed she lived for quite a while like that, with a little pus being exuded from that place. I bring forward this uncommon occurrence here since it gives knowledge and help about the sort of treatment that the doctor who practices surgery may contrive.”[x]
"They cut through the stomach and peritoneum, and viewed the prodigious growth, which was wrinkled and formed like a turkey's crest. It was hard and brittle like a shell, and covered with what seemed like scales. The surgeons 'plunged their razors into it', but without being able to penetrate the hard shell. After wearing out the edge of their knives on the hard tumour, they fetched mauls and a drill, and finally succeeded to break it. They felt the head and right shoulder of the lithopaedion, but it was not until they had broken off a large portion of the covering shell, and seen the wonderful sight inside, that they understood what they were dealing with.”[xv]
After smashing the calcified covering apart, which infuriated d’Ailleboust as it would then be “impossible to study closer the anatomy of the calcified shell and the nourishing vessels”[xvi], it was possible to see the shape and features of the foetus contained therein. Bondeson renders the scene thus:
“The shape of the lithopaedion was roughly that of its rounded, calcified shell. The knees were bent, and the legs drawn up towards the chest. The feet and lower legs were fused by the calcific deposits. It could clearly be seen that the fetus was of the female sex. The head was slightly tilted to the right, and supported by the left arm. The right arm extended down towards the navel: its hand had been broken off through carelessness when the lithopaedion was extracted. The bones of the head were transparent, and the fontanelles were not closed. The skin of the head was partially covered with hair. The lithopaedion had one sole tooth, situated in the lower jaw.”[xvii]
Unfortunately, after many travels, from Paris, via Venice, to Copenhagen, the Lithopedion of Madame Chatri of Sens has since disappeared.
In the USA, Dr. William H. H. Parkhurst noted, in 1853, a case of a Lithopedion which had been carried for 46 years by Rebecca Eddy, neé Smith, in the town of Frankfort, Hekimer County, who died aged 77.[xviii] After becoming acquainted with Mrs Eddy in 1842, when Dr. Parkhurst originally felt the abdominal lump, the “largeness, hardness and irregularity” of which frightened him.[xix] Mrs Eddy had been married, at the age of 20, in 1795, and had become pregnant for the first time seven years later.[xx] She went through what seemed to be labour pains after an accident with a large kettle hanging over the fire: These pains diminished over the following days, eventually disappearing completely.[xxi] No investigation at the time, nor one subsequently attempted, could discern the nature of the problem, as each investigation saw a lack of pathology in the uterus.[xxii]
After her death, Dr. Parkhurst performed an autopsy which revealed:
“a perfect formed child…weighing 6 pounds avordepois.” It was removed “in the presence of about twenty persons…The position of the child was found with the occiput resting on the symphasis publis its face and front looking towards the spine or median line of the abdomen. It had no adhesions or connections with the mother except to the Falopian Tubes, and the blood vessels which nourished it, and which were given off from the mesenteric arteries.”[xxiii] Effectively, apart from the adhesion to the Fallopian Tube, “the child was almost floating in the abdomen.”[xxiv]
The state of the foetus was described thus:
“This specimen was enveloped in a firm dense cartilage. The limbs trunk and head being situated in the best possible manner, for occupying the best and least possible space; the thighs flexed upon the body and the legs upon the thighs, the elbows resting upon the knees, the arm lying close upon the side, & fore arm and hand thrown diagonally across the chest the hand resting on the side of the cranium, the face thrown down upon the chest. One lower extremity and a large share of the uper of the same side were the only parts uncovered by this cartilaginous case; and there are covered by an ossific or earthy deposit.”[xxv]
The specimen should still be in Albany Medical College.
Modern Examples of Lithopedia
Nearly 50 years later, when Zahra was 75, she went to hospital again with similar pains. She was referred to a specialist, Professor Taibi Ouazzani, in Rabat, who at first thought she was suffering from an ovarian tumour. What Prof. Ouazzani discovered was a large, calciferous lump. He sent her for an MRI scan, which revealed the lump to be Zahra's dead baby from nearly 50 years before. It was removed after a five hour operation, which revealed the stone baby. Below are picture of it before and after dissection.
n India, a case of Twin Lithopedia was reported in a 40 year old woman who had arrived at a hospital presenting symptoms of “acute intestinal obstruction”[xxvi]. “She had abdominal distension, vomiting and absolute constipation.”[xxvii] An internal exam showed signs of a pregnancy which had somehow terminated around the fifth month of pregnancy, but nothing unusual. However, no product of the pregnancy was ever expelled from the uterus.[xxviii] Radiography showed “[t]wo radiopaque, calcified, globular shadows…on both sides of the lower abdomen”[xxix] while ultrasonography “showed two oval calcified areas on both sides of the lower abdomen.”[xxx] During the laparotomy, one Lithopedion was “morbidly adhered” to “a devitalised portion of the ileum” while the other was attached to the greater omentum.[xxxi] When the two oval masses were dissected, “two mummified and calcified foetal skeletons were recovered. Both skeletonised foetuses were of the same age (around 5 months old).”[xxxii] This is the only recorded example of Twin Lithopedia.
[i] Three-millennium antiquity of the lithokelyphos variety of lithopedion. Bruce M. Rothschild, MD, Chistine Rothschild, RN, and Leland C. Bement, PhD. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Volume 169, Number 1. pp 140
[ii] Ibid. pp 141
[iv] The Roman Tomb No 1 of Costebelle and its Archaeological Context. Marc Borréani, Jean-Pierre Brun. L’Origine de la Syphilis en Europe: Avant ou après 1493? pp 120
[v] Paleopathological data of the osteological series from Costabelle, Hyères (3re – 6th century AD). Olivier Dutour, György Pálfi, Jacques Berato. L’Origine de la Syphilis en Europe: Avant ou après 1493? pp 125
[vi] The Roman Tomb No 1 of Costebelle and its Archaeological Context. Marc Borréani, Jean-Pierre Brun. L’Origine de la Syphilis en Europe: Avant ou après 1493? pp 120
[vii] Pathological lesion of “Cristobal”, fetus dated from the Late Roman Empire. Olivier Dutour, György Pálfi, Jacques Berato. L’Origine de la Syphilis en Europe: Avant ou après 1493? pp 133
[viii] Origins of Syphilis. Mark Rose. Archaeology. Volume 50 Number 1, January/February 1997.
[ix]Dutour et al. have countered this with the following argument: “The diagnosis of Lithopedion could be pertinent if only a part of the lesions (calcifications of parietal bones and left forearm) is considered. However, as it corresponds to the infiltration of the macerated dead fetus by calcium salts, this phenomenon cannot explain by itself the “in vivo” pathological changes. Furthermore, the normal aspect of the fetal bone (without any deformation and usually mineralized), the age of the fetus estimated around 7 months and its localisation in the pelvic cavity evidenced during the excavation are not in favour of a peritoneal pregnancy (even if theoretically, a normal fetus could approach full term in 1% of extra-uterine pregnancies.” - Differential diagnosis of the lesions observed on the fetus “Cristobal”. Olivier Dutour, Michel Panuel, György Pálfi, Jacques Berato. L’Origine de la Syphilis en Europe: Avant ou après 1493? pp 139
[x] On Surgery and Instruments. Albucasis. Edited by Spink and Lewis. Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine. 1973. pp 480-2
[xi] Gynaeciorum sive de mulierum tum communibus tum gravidarum libri quotquot extant. Israel Spach. 1597. pp 479
[xii] Often, the description of the Lithopedion is erroneously attributed to Israel Spach, from a work from 1557. However, this would have been before the dissection of Madame Chatri, and is thus an impossibility. As stated, the description comes from Jean d’Ailleboust’s thesis, which was printed in Israel Spach’s Gynaeciorum sive de mulierum tum communibus tum gravidarum libri quotquot extant of 1597.
[xiii] Earliest known case of a Lithopedion. Jan Bondeson MD LicSc. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Vol. 89. Jan 1996. pp 13
[xiv] ibid. pp 18
[xv] ibid. pp 13
[xvii] ib. pp 13-4
[xviii] Lithopedion from the Case of Dr. William H. H. Parkhurst, 1853. Grace Parkhurst Bernard. Bulletin of the History of Medicine. Vol. 21, 1947. pp 377-8
[xix] Ibid. pp 378
[xx] Ibid pp 380
[xxi] Ibid pp 381
[xxii] Ibid. pp 381-2
[xxiii] Ibid. pp 382
[xxv] Ibid. pp 383
[xxvi] Twin Lithopaedons: a rare entity. Mishra J. M., Behera T. K., Panda B. K., Sarangi K. Singapore Medical Journal 2007; 48(9); pp 866
[xxviii] Ibid. pp 867
[xxxi] Ibid. pp 866-7
[xxxii] Ibid. pp 867
In a previous post I mentioned that, in the case of leukaemia sufferers, scientists have discovered a new therapy which could remove the need for the risky, painful and expensive bone marrow transplant procedure. This would be done by harvesting T cells from the cancer patient, and genetically modifying them using disease-neutralised HIV cells. Well today, at the International AIDS Society Conference in Kuala Lumpur, it was announced that two men may have been cured of the HIV virus as a result of transplants for their leukaemia!
This is not the first time that a stem-cell transplant for a patient suffering from both HIV and leukaemia has effectively cured the patient of HIV. Timothy Brown, the famous “Berlin Patient”, was the first person to be cured of the disease in 2008[i]. But in Timothy’s case, the donor was one of the small proportion of the population which are immune to the virus. This immunity comes from the inherited genetic mutation which shortens the CCR5 gene. It is this gene that the HIV virus uses to enter the CD4+ T cells, and thus to infect the patient[ii].
In the cases of the two Boston Patients, both were recipients of stem-cells from CCR5+ (i.e. non-mutation) donors. This means that something else, rather than the HIV-1 resistant truncated CCR5 gene, was at work. It is possible that it is graft-versus-host disease - one of the very things that makes bone-marrow transplants so dangerous - that is the answer, as it could be responsible for wiping out the remaining HIV reservoir in the patients.[iii]
Currently, the two Boston Patients have stopped taking their antiretroviral drugs for 15 and 7 week respectively, and both currently show no sign of HIV in the blood[iv]. However, caution is being urged before stating that the men have been cured. It is unknown whether there is another reservoir of HIV in the body from which the virus could theoretically resurrect. It is possible that the brain, heart tissue or the gut could harbour latent HIV cells. In fact, it is known that it is through the proliferation of CCR5+ genes in the gut of newborn babies that HIV for a mother’s infected breast milk can facilitate the infection of the child[v].
Also, the bone-marrow transplant procedure itself is not without its dangers. It is also painful, and expensive. As a cure for HIV, it is not currently a viable option. But its importance lies in the fact that it has given scientists another piece of the puzzle in the fight to understand and cure this terrible disease. It has also given the world its possible third and fourth survivors of HIV[vi]. That at least is worth celebrating!
[i] “Stem-cell transplant seems to fend off HIV” 14 Nov 2008 Nature Blog.
[ii] “Long-Term Control of HIV by CCR5 Delta32/Delta32 Stem-Cell Transplantation” Gero Hütter, M.D., Daniel Nowak, M.D., Maximilian Mossner, B.S., Susanne Ganepola, M.D., Arne Müßig, M.D., Kristina Allers, Ph.D., Thomas Schneider, M.D., Ph.D., Jörg Hofmann, Ph.D., Claudia Kücherer, M.D., Olga Blau, M.D., Igor W. Blau, M.D., Wolf K. Hofmann, M.D., and Eckhard Thiel, M.D. N Engl J Med February 12, 2009; 360:692-698
[iii] “Stem-cell transplants may purge HIV” Erika Check Hayden, Nature News. 03 July 2013
[v] “Memory CD4+CCR5+ T cells are abundantly present in the gut of newborn infants to facilitate mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1” Madeleine J. Bunders, Chris M. van der Loos, Paul L. Klarenbeek, John L. van Hamme, Kees Boer, Jim C. H. Wilde, Niek de Vries, Rene A. W. van Lier, Neeltje Kootstra, Steven T. Pals3, and Taco W. Kuijpers. Blood. November 22, 2012 vol. 120 no. 22 4383-4390
[vi]The second being a baby in Mississippi born to a HIV positive mother, who started receiving antiretroviral treatment before she was 30 hours old. The treatment has so far removed all trace of the virus from her system. See: “Infant's vanquished HIV leaves doctors puzzled” Erika Check Hayden Nature. 05 March 2013
A ray of light has emerged in the global fight against cancer which presents some fascinating science, and shows just how far we have come in our ability to engineer our own cells to fight this deadly disease.
A current trending video (shown below) has highlighted an ongoing clinical trial that has been having some miraculous results. It focuses on the story of Emma, a girl who had seen her leukaemia return twice, and who was looking for some sliver of hope that would be nothing short of a miracle.
But the journey did not start with Emma. In 2010, Dr Carl H. June, of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, enrolled a patient, who had for years been receiving various forms of treatment for chronic lymphoid leukaemia (CLL), in a clinical trial for a newly devised treatment for cancer.[i]
This treatment involved harvesting T-cells from the leukaemia sufferer, and modifying them to target and kill the cancerous cells in the body. This is done by using a viral agent to “infect” the T cells with new genetic information, effectively recoding them to attack Cancer cells.
The best viruses for the job are what are known as lentiviruses, one of which, the one that was used for this purpose, was the HIV virus. These viruses are adept at getting their own genetic code into host cells, and as such are the perfect vehicle for the modification of patient T cells.
The HIV virus was of course modified to prevent it from infecting the patient, and as such is not HIV as we know it, but a genetically modified version that still has viral qualities but which are not harmful to the patient. Thus a patient given this treatment does not have HIV.
The newly modified cell is known as a chimeric antigen receptor. “Chimeric antigen receptors have theoretical advantages over other T-cell–based therapies. They use the patient’s own cells, which avoids the risk of graft-versus-host disease. They can be created quickly, and the same chimeric antigen receptor can be used for multiple patients.”[ii]
Each cell can kill over 1000 tumour cells, and with the advances made in the field, the cells can now successfully both attack cancer cells and proliferate within the patient, something which the first generation CAR’s could not do, producing only “transient cell division”[iii].
With all this destruction going on in the body and the pile-up of dead tumour cells, there are inevitably potent side-effects to the treatment. These include fever, blood pressure difficulties, and a whole host of issues that can bring the patient close to death.
Ongoing research will hopefully reduce the severity of these symptoms, and answer questions such as “how many T cells should a patient be given” and “how many treatments are needed to ensure complete remission”? Also, like the original bone marrow transplant option, this treatment would need to be a worldwide option, not just in a few “boutique cancer clinics”.[iv]
Still, Emma’s example, and those of the other cancer sufferers who have survived as a result of this new cutting edge treatment, should give us all new hope for the future in the fight against Cancer.
Check out the moving video below for Emma’s story.
[i] “Chimeric Antigen Receptor–Modified T Cells in Chronic Lymphoid Leukemia”. David L. Porter, M.D., Bruce L. Levine, Ph.D., Michael Kalos, Ph.D., Adam Bagg, M.D., and Carl H. June, M.D. N Engl J Med August 25, 2011 365 pp 725-733
[ii] “Redirecting T Cells” Walter J. Urba, M.D., Ph.D., and Dan L. Longo, M.D. N Engl J Med August 25, 2011 365;8 pp 754-7
[iv] “New Therapy Unleashes 'Serial Killer' Cells in Leukemia” Interview With Carl H. June, MD by Alice Goodman, Medscape News Today May 14, 2013
The first in a new series of Wednesday Wonders, here is the story of a girl who became the first person to survive the horrific Rabies virus, without receiving the usual post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) after being infected. She was treated with what was to become known as the Milwaukee protocol.
Known nearly 4000 years, Rabies was first mentioned in the Mesopotamian Codex of Eshnunna in around 1930 BC. Since then, it has been a source of terror for all who have come into contact with it. Indeed, people often used to commit suicide or were killed when bitten by an animal that was thought to be rabid. In 1885 Louis Pasteur and Émile Roux created a vaccine, which was the first step in combating this deadly virus. Today, post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, if administered within 24 hours of exposure to the virus, and before the symptoms of Rabies become visible, can stop the disease in its tracks. But what if PEP is not administered?
Well, until 2004, there was a 100% fatality rate. That was when Dr. Rodney Willoughby, Jr. met Rabies sufferer Jeanna Giese, and the world gained a little sliver of hope.
Jeanna Giese was bitten by a little black bat in a church in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, on 12th September 2004, when she was 15 years old. It was flying around the church when one of the congregation hit it to the ground. Being an animal lover, Jeanna picked it up and took it outside. It was then that it bit her. Thinking nothing of it, her parents cleaned up the wound, and went home. Three weeks later, symptoms started to occur, The hospital ran tests, but of course no one suspected, or tested for, Rabies. When her doctor realised what he was dealing with, Jeanna was sent to the Intensive Care Unit at Children's hospital, Milwaukee.
Dr. Rodney Willoughby, Jr was the doctor on call, and it was his refusal to let this 15 year old girl died on his watch that lead to a revolutionary new treatment. Having never encountered a Rabies case before, Dr. Willoughby went on a desperate search for something which would help him prepare a treatment. Everything he read told him nothing could be done. Finally he found an obscure paper which said that, while the Rabies virus sends people insane, using the brain against its host body, it leaves the brain undamaged. Dr. Willoughby seized on this information, and devised a treatment which involved putting Jeanna into a deep, medically-induced coma, to protect her from her own virus-infected brain.
Once Jeanna's samples had returned from the Centre for Disease Control confirming the presence of Rabies, Dr. Willoughby could get to work. He gave Jeanna a mixture of ketamine and midazolam to shut down the brain, while also pumping her full of the antiviral drugs ribavirin and amantadine. All they could do then was wait to see if Jeanna's body could produce the antibodies to kill off the virus. Thankfully, Jeanna responded. The main worries were than Jeanna would have severe brain damage or that she would be suffering from "Locked-In" syndrome. By early 2005, she was able to walk unaded and had returned to school. She learned to drive, and in 2011 she graduated as a Biology major.
Of about 41 patients who have been treated under the Milwaukee Protocol, about 5 have survived, the latest being eight-year-old Precious Reynolds from from Willow Creek, California in 2011. There are many arguments against the Protocol, ranging from suggestions that the strain of the virus was particularly weak to the idea that Jeanna and her co-survivors had unusually strong immune responses. What no-one can deny, however, is that Dr. Willoughby's success, and Jeanna's miraculous recovery, has given hope where there was none.
Check out the video below for the full story about Jeanna's remarkable recovery. Please be advised that there are disturbing images of Rabies sufferers.
Water. Without it, we would not exist. Covering nearly 71% of the world’s surface, it is one of the key building blocks of life on Earth. We think we know all about it, how it works, and what it does. But Gerald Pollack, Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington, Seattle, is sure we don’t!
Ice, water and vapour: the three phases of water. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Not so, according to Gerald Pollack. Research conducted by Pollack and his associates has found evidence for a fourth phase of water which could have far reaching effects for our current understanding of the substance, its role in biological systems, and its application in technologies including energy, desalination and filtration. This fourth phase, the “Liquid Crystalline” phase, is the result of an, as yet, undetected extension of multiple layers of structured water molecules which occur at hydrophilic (water loving) surfaces, and at the air/water interface.
So, what is Liquid Crystalline water, and how and when is it formed? Well, Liquid Crystalline water differs from bulk water in that: it has retained a systematic ordering of molecules which causes an Exclusion Zone from which various substances are displaced. It also has a significant negative charge, and can form semi-solid structures which can carry normal bulk-water. It is more fluid than the rigid structure found in ice, but the strong attraction between the electropositive Hydrogen atoms and the electronegative Oxygen atoms causes a weaker, more fluid chain of molecules to form, the length of which can be surprisingly large.
The extent of the Exclusion Zone was discovered during an experiment in which a suspension of latex microspheres (i.e. an aqueous solution of microspheres large enough to eventually produce sedimentation) was poured onto a Polyvinyl alcohol gel (a hydrophilic substance). The prevailing scientific paradigm states that a small number of layers of order would occur at the gel/suspension interface: perhaps about two or three [i]. What Pollack observed, however, was “a few million layers” [ii]of ordered water. Further experiments produced an Exclusion Zone visible to the naked eye. The proof for this came from the observation that the "microspheres were distributed nonuniformly" and "were almost completely excluded from the region near the gel surface. Far from the surface” [iii] leaving acrystalline-like area, where no microspheres were detected.
The Liquid Crystalline water has a significant negative charge to it [iv], with a noted abundance of positive charge in the adjacent area of bulk water. While dipole molecules such as water have electropositive and electronegative areas, they don’t have an overall negative charge. When the Exclusion Zone (EZ) was analysed spectroscopically, it was found to absorb light at 270 nanometres “which is typical of electrons set up in a ring structure (n electrons)” [v] such as can be found in Benzene, Pyridine and Phenol.
Unlike ice, which has a rigid structure, the hexagonal layers found in Liquid Crystalline water are far more densely packed. This can occur as the protons which “glue” the layers together in ice are expelled from the Liquid Crystal into the bulk water, forming an area of positive charge just outside the Exclusion Zone. In fact, an increase of pH (i.e. making the water more alkaline) within certain parameters has been shown to “greatly enhance the rate of Exclusion Zone formation.” The resulting distinct areas of negatively charged EZ water, and positively charged bulk water, are a potential source of energy: in effect, a water battery! As Pollack says on his website: “The scientific underpinning of this separation is extremely interesting, and is revealing as much about the structure, chemistry, and physics of water as about the prospects of obtaining clean electrical energy from water.” [vi]
Where does the energy come from to induce this ordering? The simple answer is: light! Energy coming from UV, visible and Infra Red wavelengths all produce significant molecular ordering, with the greatest amount coming from the Infra Red spectrum. Pollack states that “five-minute exposure to radiation at 3.1 µm (corresponding to OH stretch) causes exclusion-zone-width increase up to three times.” [vii] It is believed that photons cause the bulk water to reorganise into the more structured, crystalline form, though how this occurs is still being studied. Pollack states that “this light-induced charge separation resembles the first steps of photosynthesis” [viii] and indeed, it seems that this theory could give us a much better understanding of many biological processes.
Pollack’s work raises important questions in the realm of cell biology, particularly with respect to cell structure and the ingress and egress of ions to and from the cell. The prevailing wisdom states that “pumps transport solutes across the cell boundary against their respective concentration gradients” while “Channels permit the solutes to trickle back in the opposite direction.” [ix] Pollack questions these long-held basic features of cell function in his book, Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life (2001). He also questions the lever-arm hypothesis in muscular motion, in his book: Muscles and Molecules: Uncovering the Principles of Biological Motion (1990). In both instances, Pollack introduces Liquid Crystalline Water as an alternative player in the game.
Pollack suggests that the EZ layer of structured water has a key role in the following two examples. The first is the “Floating Water Bridge” [x]. The floating water bridge is a “stiff, cylindrical tube, with an annulus and core structure” [xi] which occurs when a large potential difference is applied between two beakers of pure water. It exhibits a “simultaneous bi-directional flow of water and charge” [xii], the positive charge flowing through the rotating outer annulus, while the negative charge flows through the core. When the beakers are separated, up to a distance of about 25mm, a cylindrical tube is formed, seemingly impervious to gravitational forces, which transports fluid and charge between the beakers, resulting, after time, in one beaker of high pH, and one of low pH. Fuchs et al. Found that when “the voltage is shut off instantaneously, the surface tension turns the bridge into a series of falling droplets.” [xiii]
The second example occurs at the air/water interface: the "Tent Phenomenon." The tent phenomenon occurs "when a capillary tube is touched to the surface of the water above a microsphere-free region."[xiv] The layers of water in the microsphere-free region are pulled upwards, in a tent-like shape. However, Pollack goes on to say that: "thousands to millions of water layers beneath the capillary tube, the microspheres are pulled up in exactly the same shape." [xv] The fact that this occurs suggests that "there could be vertical structuring within the microsphere-free region [which] could provide evidence that the water at the air-water interface is more extensively structured than in bulk." [xvi] The experiment also noted that as "the capillary tube is moved up and down or across the surface of the water, the microsphere “tent” beneath it moves in the same way." [xvii]
There are many applications for Pollack’s theories. Three major new technologies being looked into now are: filterless filtration, bases on the property of EZ water to “repel impurities” such as arsenic [xviii] and bacteria, ”leaving a layer of pure water" [xix]; desalination [xx]; and the extraction of energy from a “liquid water battery” [xxi]. More esoterically, Liquid Crystalline water could also have implications for such phenomena as “the laying on of hands” in spiritual healing and of “earthing” [xxii]. Finally, with Liquid Crystalline water in the frame as one of the key components of Photosynthesis, Pollack’s work could lead us closer to an understanding of the origins of life [xxiii].
You can keep up to date with Pollack’s work at the Pollack Laboratory website. He will also be bringing out a new book towards the end of 2012 called “The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor” a preview of which you can see on the Pollack Laboratory website.
[i] This is due to the current belief that, as the layers move outward from the interface, they start to vibrate. This vibration, induced by thermal motion, was believed to be the cause of the finite extent of the structured layers water molecules.
[ii] Transcript of A Special Interview with Gerald Pollack about Structured Water. Dr Mercola and Prof. Pollack. Mercola.com. 29 Jan 2011
[iv] Surfaces and interfacial water: evidence that hydrophilic surfaces have long-range impact. Zheng JM, Chin WC, Khijniak E, Khijniak E Jr, Pollack GH.Sci. 2006; 127: 19-27.
[v] A Fourth Phase of Water starts to Gel. University of Western Ontario website.
[vi] Pollack Laboratory Website. Research themes. Water-Based Technology.
[vii] Pollack Laboratory Website. Research themes. Water Science.
[ix] Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life: A New, Unifying Approach to Cell Function. Gerald H. Pollack. 31/05/2001. pp 4.
[x] The floating water bridge was first reported by British Engineer William Armstrong in a public lecture in 1893. It was then subsequently forgotten about for a century. It was he who discovered the charges in the annulus and the core. He was also an advocate of solar power and renewable energy.
[xi] Plasma Behavior in the Floating Water Bridge & Biology. Robert Johnson. Electric Universe 2012 Conference: The Human Story.
[xiii] The Floating Water Bridge. J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 40 (2007) 6112-6114. Fuchs, Elmar C.; Woisetschläger, Jakob; Gatterer, Karl; Maier, Eugen; Pecnik, René; Holler, Gert and Eisenkölbl, Helmut.
[xiv] New Observations at the Air-Water Interface. Journal of Undergraduate Research in Bioengineering. A. Jolene Mork, Gerald H. Pollack.
[xviii] Arsenic in well water is one of the biggest killers in Bangladesh. Pollack’s new technology could have massive implications for people in rural parts of the country. See this BBC News Report for further details of the crisis in Bangladesh.
[xix] Dirt-repelling tube promises cheap, pure water. New Scientist Magazine. Jon Evans. 15 July 2008.
[xx] Pollack Laboratory Website. Research Themes. Water Based Technology.
[xxii] Transcript of A Special Interview with Gerald Pollack about Structured Water. Dr Mercola and Prof. Pollack. Mercola.com. 29 Jan 2011.
[xxiii] Pollack Laboratory Website. Research Themes. Origin of Life.