Tag: DNA

Ancient DNA

Ancient DNA shows that dogs probably came from Siberia.

There has been much discussion recently that Siberia may have been the site of dog domestication. In that a research team examining the origins of the domestic dog via the genetic past found that all American dogs carried a genetic signature.

This signature, dubbed A2b, in dogs descended from a canine ancestor that lived in Siberia some 23,000 years ago. An article in the January 2021 issue of Science went on to say:

That ancestral dog probably lived with people who belonged to a genetic grouping known as the ancient north Siberians, the team speculates. The group, which appeared more than 31,000 years ago, lived in a relatively temperate part of northeastern Siberia for thousands of years, and they shared this refuge with the gray wolf, the direct ancestor of today’s dogs.

The assumption being that this group of people brought the dogs with them when, about 15,000 years ago, they splintered into four groups as they spread around North America and Europe.

Dingo relative discovered in remote highlands of New Guinea. From abc.net.au

I wish I could say more but all the texts and pictures that I have come across have all been protected by copywrite.

The power of dog’s spit!

What clues does your dog’s spit hold for human mental health?

This is not a spoof. Apparently the closeness of the relationship between dogs and humans holds real scientific value.

Just my way of introducing a most fascinating and interesting item that recently appeared on The Conversation blogsite. (And see my note at the end of today’s post.)


What clues does your dog’s spit hold for human mental health?

December 2, 2015

Elixir Karlsson, Assistant Professor of Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology, University of Massachusetts Medical School

There goes some precious DNA…. Graeme Bird, CC BY-NC-ND

Dogs were the first animals people domesticated, long before the earliest human civilizations appeared. Today, tens of thousands of years later, dogs have an unusually close relationship with us. They share our homes and steal our hearts – and have even evolved to love us back. Sadly, they also suffer from many of the same difficult-to-treat psychiatric and neurological diseases we do.

I learned this firsthand about six years ago, when my sister Adria adopted Beskow, a beautiful,

Beskow, in fine spirits. Elinor Karlsson, CC BY-ND
Beskow, in fine spirits. Elinor Karlsson, CC BY-ND

boisterous, black and white mutt. Beskow became my constant companion on my morning runs along the Charles River. Her joy in running was obvious to everyone we passed, and she kept me going mile after mile.

When not running, though, Beskow suffered from constant anxiety that left her stressed and unhappy – on edge around other dogs and prone to aggressive behavior. Beskow had trouble even playing outdoors, since she was compelled to attend to every sound and movement. Working one-on-one with skilled behaviorists and trainers helped immensely, but poor Beskow still never seemed able to relax. Eventually, Adria combined the intensive training with medication, which finally seemed to give Beskow some relief.

Beskow’s personality – her intelligence, her focus and her anxiety – was shaped not only by her own life experiences, but by thousands of years of evolution. Have you ever known a dog who would retrieve the same ball over and over again, for hours on end? Or just wouldn’t stay out of the water? Or wasn’t interested in balls, or water, but just wanted to follow her nose? These dogs are the result of hundreds of generations of artificial selection by human beings. By favoring useful behaviors when breeding dogs, we made the genetic changes responsible more common in their gene pool.

When a particular genetic change rapidly rises in prevalence in a population, it leaves a “signature of selection” that we can detect by sequencing the DNA of many individuals from the population. Essentially, around a selected gene, we find a region of the genome where one particular pattern of DNA – the variant linked to the favored version of the gene – is far more common than any of the alternative patterns. The stronger the selection, the bigger this region, and the easier it is to detect this signature of selection.

In dogs, genes shaping behaviors purposely bred by humans are marked with large signatures of selection. It’s a bit like evolution is shining a spotlight on parts of the dog genome and saying, “Look here for interesting stuff!” To figure out exactly how a particular gene influences a dog’s behavior or health, though, we need lots more information.

To try to unravel these connections, my colleagues and I are launching a new citizen science research project we’re calling Darwin’s Dogs. Together with animal behavior experts, we’ve put together a series of short surveys about everything from diet (does your dog eat grass?) to behavior (is your dog a foot sitter?) to personality (is your dog aloof or friendly?).

Any dog can participate in Darwin’s Dogs, including purebred dogs, mixed breed dogs, and mutts of no particular breed – our study’s participants will be very genetically diverse. We’re combining new DNA sequencing technology, which can give us much more genetic information from each dog, with powerful new analysis methods that can control for diverse ancestry. By including all dogs, we hope to be able to do much larger studies, and home in quickly on the important genes and genetic variants.

A beagle considers making the saliva donation. Stephen Schaffner, CC BY-ND
A beagle considers making the saliva donation. Stephen Schaffner, CC BY-ND

Once an owner has filled out the survey, there’s a second, crucial step. We send an easy-to-use kit to collect a small dog saliva sample we can use for DNA analysis. There’s no cost, and we’ll share any information we find.

Our plan is to combine the genetic data from many dogs and look for changes in DNA that correlate with particular behaviors. It won’t be easy to match up DNA with an obsession with tennis balls, for instance. Behavior is a complex trait that relies on many genes. Simple Mendelian traits, like Beskow’s black and white coat, are controlled by a single gene which determines the observable characteristic. This kind of inherited trait is comparatively easy to map. Complex traits, on the other hand, may be shaped by tens or even hundreds of different genetic changes, each of which on its own only slightly alters the individual carrying it.

Adding to the complexity, environment often plays a big role. For example, Beskow may not have been as anxious if she’d lived with Adria from puppyhood, even though her genetics would be unchanged.

Darwin’s Dogs team member Jesse McClure extracts DNA from a sample. Elinor Karlsson, CC BY-ND
Darwin’s Dogs team member Jesse McClure extracts DNA from a sample. Elinor Karlsson, CC BY-ND

To succeed, we need a lot of dogs to sign up. Initially, we’re aiming to enroll 5,000 dogs. If successful, we’ll keep growing. With bigger sample sizes, we’ll be able to tackle even more complex biological puzzles.

This is a huge effort, but could offer huge rewards. By figuring out how a genetic change leads to a change in behavior, we can decipher neural pathways involved in psychiatric and neurological diseases shared between people and dogs. We already know these include not just anxiety, but also PTSD, OCD, autism spectrum disorders, phobias, narcolepsia, epilepsy, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Understanding the biology underlying a disease is the first step in developing more effective treatments – of both the canine and human variety. For example, genetic studies of narcolepsy in Doberman pinschers found the gene mutation causing the disease – but only in this one dog population. Researching the gene’s function, though, led to critical new insights into the molecular biology of sleep, and, eventually, to new treatment options for people suffering from this debilitating disease.

Darwin’s Dogs is investigating normal canine behaviors as well as diseases. We hypothesize that finding the small genetic changes that led to complex behaviors, like retrieving, or even personality characteristics, like playfulness, will help us figure out how brains work. We need this mechanistic understanding to design new, safe and more effective therapies for psychiatric diseases.

And Beskow? Six years later, she is as wonderful as ever. While still anxious some of the time, the

Beskow with one of her loving family members. Adria Karlsson, CC BY-ND
Beskow with one of her loving family members. Adria Karlsson, CC BY-ND

medication and training have paid off, and she enjoys her daily walks, training and playtime. She still gets very nervous around other dogs, but is a gentle, playful companion for my sister’s three young children.

We are now sequencing her genome. In the next few months, we should have our first glimpse into Beskow’s ancestry. We know she is a natural herder, so we’re curious to find out how much her genome matches up to herding breeds, and which genes are in that part of the genome.

Of course, we can’t figure out much from just one dog – if you are a dog owner, please enroll your dog today!


This is an incredibly interest research project with far-reaching implications for us humans. I have written to Professor Karlsson to double-check that anyone who reads this can participate, even if living outside the USA, and will update this post as soon as I hear back from her.

Do share this as far and wide as you can for the benefits for us humans are clear and obvious.

Not a week goes by without me gaining more and deeper understanding of just how wonderful and fabulous our dogs are.

New insight into the history of our dogs.

Our dogs have come a very long way.

I feel a little guilty at just dropping this full article in your path, and running away, so to speak, but yesterday was one of those days where Jean and I were “full on” for most of the day, and then out from the house from 4pm onwards.

It doesn’t lessen the interest, in my humble opinion, of this essay, that was recently published by The Conversation, and is republished within their terms.


New DNA analysis says your pooch’s ancestors were Central Asian wolves

October 20, 2015

Author: Laura Shannon, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Biological Sciences, Cornell University

Dogs’ origin story goes something like this: sometime between 16,000 and 30,000 years ago, there were some stressed-out hungry wolves whose hunting territory had been encroached upon by humans. Luckily, these wolves were resourceful and they noticed human beings have a tendency to leave delicious things lying around. Scavenging leftovers seemed significantly easier than going out and hunting, so they hung around the people.

Wolves make unnerving neighbors. However, some are less unnerving than others. The humans were a lot more inclined to tolerate the proximity of less aggressive, more people-oriented wolves. As an added bonus, other predators are less likely to harass you when you are surrounded by wolves. So the people and the nicest wolves came to an agreement – the people tolerated and fed the tamest and most helpful wolves.

Smart, tame wolves have smarter, tamer wolf cubs, and so over time the wolves became more and more pleasant to have around. Obviously, friendly, helpful wolves hanging around people and eating leftovers aren’t really wolves; we have a word for those things – they’re dogs.

That’s biologists’ reasonable guess for how dogs came about. We have some idea when it all happened, but it’s been harder to figure out where. Who first took in scavenging gray wolves and turned them into dogs?

Dogs still know a good thing when they see it – warmth and food with people ‘round the campfire. Camping image via www.shutterstock.com.
Dogs still know a good thing when they see it – warmth and food with people ‘round the campfire. Camping image via http://www.shutterstock.com.

Investigating this wheredunit

Scientists have looked at DNA inherited exclusively from the mother (called mitochondrial) and DNA inherited exclusively from the father (the Y-chromosome) and suggested that dogs were first domesticated in China, south of the Yangtze River.

However, the oldest dog bones anyone has found are from the other end of Eurasia, all the way in Northern Europe. Furthermore, the mitochondria of modern dogs are closely related to the mitochondria of ancient European wolves.

Finally, Middle Eastern wolves share the most genetic sequences with today’s dogs, which makes it seem like maybe Middle Eastern wolves are the ancestral wolf population.

All these threads of evidence broadly agree that dogs are from somewhere in Eurasia. But my colleagues and I wanted to narrow that down a bit – and to do that, we decided we needed DNA from as many dogs as possible for our new study.

Team members sampling a village dog in the Pacific Islands. Adam Boyko, CC BY-ND
Team members sampling a village dog in the Pacific Islands. Adam Boyko, CC BY-ND

Modern dogs cover the globe

Dogs are found almost everywhere people are, and over time we have bred them to do everything from guarding livestock to going fishing. The breeds we’ve created come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from tiny Chihuahuas to giant Great Danes. The vast majority of these breeds are less than 200 years old and come from Europe. But these purebred dogs or even mixes of these breed dogs are the minority of dogs on the planet.

Most dogs are free-ranging village dogs, which live around and among people but aren’t necessarily what you’d think of as pets. You can learn more about ancient dogs by studying these village dogs (as compared to studying breed dogs) because village dogs have more genetic diversity; the number of different versions of the same genes in village dogs is higher than it is in breed dogs.

All dogs were formed from a select group of wolves, and therefore have a subset of the genetic diversity found in wolves. But breeds were formed from a subset of dogs so they have only a further subset of the diversity found in dogs.

In the cradle of dogkind? Coss and Johanna, CC BY-NC
In the cradle of dogkind? Coss and Johanna, CC BY-NC

Tracing the trail through DNA sequences

Members of our lab traveled to collect blood or spit from dogs in a variety of locales, and collaborators sent us fluids from places to which we didn’t manage to travel. Village dogs are fairly easy to find for researchers carrying food. In total, we extracted DNA from the fluids of 549 dogs from 38 countries spanning the majority of the globe as well as 4,676 purebred dogs. Our lab at Cornell is conveniently located in the same building as a veterinary hospital, so most of our purebred dogs were patients.

Once we had our samples, we then determined each dog’s genotype at about 180,000 distinct points in the genome. This is the largest data set anyone has used to address the question of dog origins so far.

We were looking for a very specific pattern of historical genetic diversity. When a select group of wolves became dogs, those dogs contained only the genetic diversity present in that subset of wolves. When people took some of the dogs and moved on to new regions of the globe, or traded dogs with people in other regions, they took only a subset of the total dogs, and by extension a subset of the total diversity.

Therefore, we expect the original population of dogs to be the most diverse. There would be a gradient of decreasing diversity in all populations as they move away from the center of origin.

And this is the pattern we observed when we compared the genetics of dogs from different populations. Dogs from Central Asia, Mongolia and Nepal are the most diverse, with genomes that correspond to the early, original variation in the population right after domestication happened. When we look at the same DNA markers in dogs from neighboring regions, diversity decreases. It decreases further corresponding to the location’s increasing distance from Central Asia. This is the pattern we would expect if the people who first took in scavenging gray wolves and turned them into dogs were located in Central Asia.

Even dogs we sampled in the Pacific Islands traced their forebears back to Central Asia. Adam Boyko, CC BY-ND
Even dogs we sampled in the Pacific Islands traced their forebears back to Central Asia. Adam Boyko, CC BY-ND

Looking at the largest data set of dogs amassed so far, we observe a very clear signal that most dogs alive today descended from dogs in Central Asia. However, we only looked at dogs alive right now. We have no information about historical populations of dogs that have no living descendants. Furthermore, the patterns of diversity we observe are reflective of the origins of dogs but also of everything that has happened to dog populations since domestication.

Other research groups are extracting DNA from bones of ancient dogs, and these sequences will provide exciting new insights from time points closer to domestication. However, ancient DNA studies are limited by the availability of ancient dog bones – which is affected by many factors other than the distribution of historic populations; for instance, some environments are more conducive to the preservation of bone and DNA than others, some regions have been more extensively investigated by archaeologists than others, and so on. If we see similar patterns in ancient and modern dogs, that will add clarity to the history of dogs and the people who love them.


 Ultimately, it doesn’t matter one hoot, in a non-scientific sense, from where our dogs are descended. Just that they did evolve.

For human life without our dogs would be unthinkable.

The book! Chapter Six.

Where Philip truly embraces the history, the very long history of man and dog.

I left Chapter Five with the lead character, Philip, having been given a detailed introduction into the social order of dogs, especially the roles and attributes of the three teaching dogs: Mentor, Minder and Nannie and realising that his German Shepherd dog, Pharaoh, was a Minder teaching dog (as he is in real life!).

One of our friends from our Payson days, dear MaryA, has been reading the chapters as they have been published in this place.  Her comment in a subsequent telephone conversation was that she found it a bit too intricate, a bit too drawn-out.  That accorded with Jeannie’s view.

It’s clear that much of the so-called fictional writing is highly auto-biographical.  I have no idea whether or not the ‘novel’ gets rejected because of that, or even if rejection is even part of what follows when the 50,000 words are achieved.

But anyone who knows my real life story will not have too much trouble reading between the lines of the fictional account of Philip’s life.

The consequence of this is that, at times, the words flow very easily because it’s very real in my own mind.  Thus too much detail, too much minutia, is a valid criticism.  Then again, the pressure of writing an average of 1,667 words a day, day in and day out, makes ‘dumping’ lots of detail feel rewarding because one is keeping up.  Just as an aside, at the time of writing this post, 3:30pm yesterday, Pacific Time, the NaNoWriMo counter shows that 21,720 words have been written against a requirement by the end of today, Day 13, for 21,677!  I have written for about three hours today. I’m 43 words ahead!

OK, enough of that. Here’s Chapter Six.


Learning from Dogs

Chapter Six

Yet again his return to Harberton had him describing to Maggie outcomes so very different to what he had been expecting when he had left the house. It was starting to be an expectation.  That, try as hard as he could to predict what he and Pharaoh were off to do, within a few hours of leaving home he would be returning with a report of events totally unanticipated.

However, these serendipitous and surprising events shared one common journey.  That journey of Philip better understanding the reality of his relationship with dogs in general, and with Pharaoh in particular. The visit to Angela earlier in the morning being outstanding in this regard; he would forever look at Pharaoh with different eyes.

He spent the afternoon pottering about the house and after supper settled down in front of the fire and picked up the article that Angela had given him as he and Pharaoh left her place.

Twenty minutes later, having read the article, he looked across to Maggie, who had settled down in an easy chair just opposite him, the fire creating a mood of comfort and contentment all around, and said, “Wow, Maggie, I had absolutely no idea that the relationship of humans with dogs went so far back in time.  This article is mind-blowing. It’s by a Dr. George Johnson who, according to his bio, is Professor Emeritus of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis.”

Philip went on to say, a smile across his face, in a more-or-less throwaway manner, “You know some day I must really understand what an emeritus professor means. Ah well!”

“Why don’t you read the article to me,” came Maggie’s reply.

“Alright, that would be nice.  Let me skip the opening paragraph and go straight to the heart of what Johnson writes.”

He ran his eye down the page.

“Apparently, the author had a dog called Boswell who died from choking on a chicken bone, which sort of raises some questions, but anyway then  Johnson writes in his second paragraph.

This week I found myself wondering about Boswell’s origins. From what creature did the domestic dog arise? Darwin suggested that wolves, coyotes, and jackals — all of which can interbreed and produce fertile offspring — may all have played a role, producing a complex dog ancestry that would be impossible to unravel. In the 1950s, Nobel Prize-winning behaviourist Konrad Lorenz suggested some dog breeds derive from jackals, others from wolves.

Based on anatomy, most biologists have put their money on the wolf, but until recently there was little hard evidence, and, as you might expect if you know scientists, lots of opinions.”

Philip looked up. “Is this OK for you? Am I reading clearly?”

“Yes, of course,” Maggie replied.

Philip again looked down at the paper, continuing, “The issue was finally settled in 1997 by an international team of scientists led by Robert Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles. To sort out the evolutionary origin of the family dog, Wayne and his colleagues used the techniques of molecular biology to compare the genes of dogs with those of wolves, coyotes and jackals.

Wayne’s team collected blood, tissue, or hair from 140 dogs of sixty-seven breeds, and 162 wolves from North America, Europe, Asia, and Arabia. From each sample they extracted DNA from the tiny organelles within cells called mitochondria.”

Philip paused, took a couple of breaths, and carried on.

“While the chromosome DNA of an animal cell derives from both parents, the mitochondrial DNA comes entirely from the mother. Biologists love to study mitochondrial DNA because of this simple line of descent, female-to-female-to-female. As changes called mutations occur due to copying mistakes or DNA damage, the mitochondrial DNA of two diverging lines becomes more and more different. Ancestors can be clearly identified when you are studying mitochondrial DNA, because clusters of mutations are not shuffled into new combinations like the genes on chromosomes are. They remain together as a particular sequence, a signature of that line of descent.”

Philip again paused, looked up at Maggie. “Have to say I’m not completely clear just what the author is explaining here but, as you will hear, the crux of the findings is unmistakable.”

Turning back to the article, he continued, “When Wayne looked at his canine mitochondrial DNA samples, he found that wolves and coyotes differ by about 6% in their mitochondrial DNA, while wolves and dogs differ by only 1%. Already it smelled like the wolf was the ancestor.

Wayne’s team then focused their attention on one small portion of the mitochondrial DNA called the control region, because it was known to vary a lot among mammals. Among the sixty seven breeds of dogs, Wayne’s team found a total of 26 different sequences in the control region, each differing from the others at one or a few sites. No one breed had a characteristic sequence — rather, the breeds of dogs share a common pool of genetic diversity.”

Philip again looked up at Maggie.

“This is where it gets fascinating,” and looking back down, went on to read, “Wolves had 27 different sequences in the control region, none of them exactly the same as any dog sequence, but all very similar to the dog sequences, differing from them at most at 12 sites along the DNA, and usually fewer.

Coyote and jackal were a lot more different from dogs than wolves were. Every coyote and jackal sequence differed from any dog sequence by at least 20 sites, and many by far more.

That settled it. Dogs are domesticated wolves.”

The dog’s origin is the wolf. Philip paused, wanting the significance of this to settle over the two of them.  Or, perhaps, better said, settle over the three of them, for Pharaoh was laying prone on his tummy with his head resting between both outstretched front paws.  He was far from sleeping.  One could almost imagine that he was as engrossed in the findings of Dr. George Johnson as Maggie appeared to be.

Philip continued, “Using statistical methods to compare the relative similarity of the sequences, Wayne found that all the dog sequences fell into four distinct groups. The largest, containing 19 of the 26 sequences and representing 3/4 of modern dogs, resulted from a single female wolf lineage. The three smaller groups seem to represent later events when other wolves mated with the now-domesticated dogs. Domestication, it seems, didn’t happen very often, and perhaps only once.”

Again, Philip looked up, “Maggie, just listen to this last paragraph.

The large number of different dog sequences, and the fact that no wolf sequences are found among them, suggests that dogs must have been separated from wolves for a long time. The oldest clear fossil evidence for dogs is 12,000 – 14,000 years ago, about when farming arose. But that’s not enough time to accumulate such a large amount of mitochondrial DNA difference. Perhaps dogs before then just didn’t look much different from wolves, and so didn’t leave dog-like fossils. Our species first developed speech and left Africa about 50,000 years ago. I bet that’s when dogs came aboard, when our hunter-gatherer ancestors first encountered them. They would have been great hunting companions.”

Philip put the article down on the low wooden table in front of the settee. Pharaoh rolled over on to his side and closed his eyes.

“Just think, Maggie, humans have had a relationship with dogs for fifty thousand years. It really does feel that we humans were only able to evolve from the life-style of hunter-gatherer to that of farmer because of dogs.  By that I mean that dogs helped us to be such successful hunters; that we became so well nourished that we weren’t living hand-to-mouth, as it were.  Plus that dogs could protect us as we cleared the lands and became farmers of nature’s bounty.”

There was a silence in the living room.  A silence that flowed from both Maggie and Philip letting the enormity of these findings work their way into their consciousnesses. Fifty thousand years. It was almost beyond grasp.  Surely no other animal has been so bound to the fortunes of humans as the dog.  Philip had no intellectual or educational background, no objective means, to embrace this finding in anything other than a deeply subjective, emotional way.  He couldn’t articulate what it surely had to mean for the animal species, dog, to have been living, and dying, in such close association to the human species, man, for fifty thousand years.  “Phew!” was the only sound to escape his lips.

“Just going to step outside, Maggie.”

“OK,” she replied.  “Oh, looks as though Pharaoh’s coming out with you.”

Philip and Pharaoh stood on that gravelly front level just down from the front door.  It was a crystal clear night.  In the cul-de-sac where they lived, the glow of room-lights from many other homes was shining out through drawn curtains in numerous windows.

Overhead, the scale of the night sky spoke to him.  Those twinkling stars seemed to offer the same feelings of time and distance as those years of the relationship between man and dog.  That distant starlight that had been journeying for inconceivable amounts of time arriving here, at this very moment, this very instance, shining down on man and dog that, likewise, had been on an incredible journey; shining down on Philip and Pharaoh.

1,580 words. Copyright © 2013 Paul Handover


Always the need for healing.

My posts from Monday and yesterday about the plight of our bees must to many, frequently me as well, engender a level of hopelessness as to where we, as in the peoples of this planet, are heading.  Too many times the news is discouraging; to say the least.

But hold on for just a moment!  Here’s a quotation from this week’s Sabbath Moment from Terry Hershey:

Tears have a purpose.

they are what we carry of the ocean, and

perhaps we must become sea,

give ourselves to it,

if we are to be transformed.

Linda Hogan

What this says to me is that feelings of sadness, of grief, even of despair are an essential part of the process of ‘letting go’; of being able to heal oneself.  Just as dogs and many other animals know when to crawl away and recuperate in some peaceful and quiet place, so too must we humans counter our feelings of pain and anguish with healing.

So with that all in mind, I’m delighted, and very grateful, to Sue of Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary for permission to repost her item on Sound Healing, published last Friday.


Friday Facts ~ Sound Healing

by Sue Dreamwalker

Healing music
Healing music

Have you ever wondered why we so enjoy Music? Why various styles seem to either lift our mood or sooth our spirits? Or some grate on our nerve endings?

Sound Healing comes in various forms. I have received healing from various sources: Crystal Singing Bowls, Tuning Forks and the Mighty Gongs. The Gong Bath  in particular shifted something within my being as I physically felt something leave my aura to be replaced with a new found peace within.

Sound Healing isn’t new and if you research back to ancient times many ceremonies were done through sound.

I know in the 90s when I was going through my own major self-healing after listening to some tapes by Deepak Chopra called Magical Mind Magical Body in which he speaks about our vowel sounds. I remember driving to work, and on occasion still do, chanting out Very Loudly the vowel sounds in a chant, each vowel holds its own frequency.  Chanting brings an awareness of our own voice, as we express outwards our feelings, and there are some interesting theories as how certain frequencies are powerfully connected to our body. This includes the frequency of 528hz,referred to as ancient solfeggio frequencies which has been researched for its proposed ability to heal and resonate with human DNA. I did my own research on the net, and came across this site and post Forgotten in Time: The Ancient Solfeggio Frequencies )

Interestingly too the author of that post went on to explain how Deepak Chopra was a big inspiration and listened to the same tapes I did where Deepak Chopra explained saying: “Quantum physics has found that there is no empty space in the human cell, but it is a teeming, electro-magnetic field of possibility or potential.” This made me smile as synchronicity seemed to be playing a role.

Within that same article the author went on to say how music makes waves which produces shapes and patterns and quoted a passage from a book by the first to make that connection, a German scientist, Ernst Chladni who in 1787 detailed his findings in his book “Discoveries Concerning the Theory of Music.” These patterns and figures are called Chladni figures with each note having a corresponding pattern or vibration.

My drum, as I painted it.
My drum, as I painted it.

My own tool is the Drum and if we look back through time we see how the Drum beat has been used not only in rituals but also within our military as we march to its beat!  The Drum is very powerful and many join Drumming circles.  You, too, can find out how to call Healing from within a Drumming Circle from an article in the magazine Sacred Hoop of 2003 called Healing Power of the Drum Circle

Side view of my drum.
Side view of my drum.

Sound Healing works, because we are all vibration, we all resonate with our own frequencies. For those wishing to learn more the links are below and of course there are many many articles covering this subject on the ‘web’.

For those who have not much time I will leave you with this one note of vibration from a Singing bowl. If you go to the YouTube site you will find more about this One note and how it heals.

… and for those who have 5 minutes to spare this Om Meditation.









I thought it would be helpful to include the YouTube notes that were associated with those two videos.

First: 7th Chakra – Reiki Angel Crystal Singing Bowl Sound Healing

Chakra’s are energy centers in your body. There are 7 major Chakra’s. Each Chakra governs specific issues and lessons.By aligning the chakra system you can heal your mental, emotional, spiritual & physical bodies.

7th Chakra= Crown Chakra

Color: Purple

Location: top of head

Element: Superether

Musical note/ sound: B/ silence

Glands/ Organs: Pineal gland, cerebral cortex, central nervous system, right eye

Foods: Fasting

Essential Oils: Frankincense, Myrrh

Stones/ Crystals: amethyst, alexandrite,diamond, sugalite, purple fluorite, quartz, selenite

Purpose: vitalizes upper brain, unification with higher self. Being open to source, accepting our own Divinity, Beauty, healing, Inspiration. Perception beyond space & time, perceives “miracles”.

When Harmonious: Idealism, selfless service, One with divine, spiritual will, unity.

When Disrupted: lack of inspiration, confusion, depression, alienation, hesitation to serve, senility, crisis of faith.

Second: Aum Meditation

Working with Aums will resonate into all objects around you, effectively re-writing all undesirable environmental energy programming. Like a springboard of positivity. Use it to launch your spiritual work to new heights. This is just a small sample of the full meditation.

Beings of Frequency

A necessary diversion from my usual style of post.


Today, I am asking you to watch a film.  A full-length film that is on YouTube.  It will open your eyes and almost certainly confirm suspicions that you may have harboured about the long-term consequences of holding a microwave transmitter close to the brain; namely a cell phone or mobile phone.

Tomorrow, I will explore what we can do to reduce the risks that so many of us are exposed to.

So settle down as soon as you can and watch.

Published on Nov 27, 2012

(Full Film) RESONANCE ➜ This James Russell film is a Sensational Eye Opening Documentary that examines 60 years of scientific research! ➜ Join the FACEBOOK page http://goo.gl/yf4Qs

➜ James Russell (Director + Producer)

➜ John Webster (Director)

This spectacular documentary uncovers for the very first time the actual mechanisms by which mobile phone technology can cause cancer. And how every single one of us is reacting to the biggest change to the environment this planet has ever seen.

Two billion years ago life first arrived on this planet; a planet which was filled with a natural frequency. As life slowly evolved, it did so surrounded by this frequency and inevitably began tuning in.

By the time mankind arrived on earth an incredible relationship had been struck, a relationship that science is just beginning to comprehend.

Research is showing that being exposed to this frequency is absolutely integral to us. It controls our mental and physical health, it synchronizes our circadian rhythms, and it aids our immune system and improves our sense of wellbeing.

Not only are we surrounded by natural frequencies, our bodies are filled with them too. Our cells communicate using electro-magnetic frequencies. Our brain emits a constant stream of frequencies and our DNA delivers instructions, using frequency waves. Without them we couldn’t exist for more than a second.

This delicate balance has taken billions of years to perfect. But over the last 25 years the harmony has been disturbed and disturbed dramatically.

Mankind has submerged itself in an ocean of artificial frequencies. They are all around us filling the air and drowning out the earth’s natural resonance.

To the naked eye the planet appears to be the same. But at a cellular level it is the biggest change that life on earth has endured; the effects of which we are just starting to see and feel.


The Higgs boson

Clarity of thought courtesy of The Economist

Like many people I had been aware of the hunt for this strange particle, the Higgs boson.  Like many people as well, I suspect, I really didn’t comprehend what it was all about.

Then in The Economist print edition of the July 7th the newspaper’s primary story and leader were about the discovery of the Higgs announced on the 4th July.  The leader, in particular, was both clear and compelling.  I held my breath and asked for permission to republish that leader in Learning from Dogs.

Well the good people from the relevant department at The Economist promptly gave written permission for their leader to be available here for a period of one year.  Thanks team!


The Higgs boson

Science’s great leap forward

After decades of searching, physicists have solved one of the mysteries of the universe

Jul 7th 2012 | from the print edition

HISTORICAL events recede in importance with every passing decade. Crises, political and financial, can be seen for the blips on the path of progress that they usually are. Even the horrors of war acquire a patina of unreality. The laws of physics, though, are eternal and universal. Elucidating them is one of the triumphs of mankind. And this week has seen just such a triumphant elucidation.

On July 4th physicists working in Geneva at CERN, the world’s biggest particle-physics laboratory, announced that they had found the Higgs boson. Broadly, particle physics is to the universe what DNA is to life: the hidden principle underlying so much else. Like the uncovering of DNA’s structure by Francis Crick and James Watson in 1953, the discovery of the Higgs makes sense of what would otherwise be incomprehensible. Its significance is massive. Literally. Without the Higgs there would be no mass. And without mass, there would be no stars, no planets and no atoms. And certainly no human beings. Indeed, there would be no history. Massless particles are doomed by Einstein’s theory of relativity to travel at the speed of light. That means, for them, that the past, the present and the future are the same thing.

Deus et CERN

Such power to affect the whole universe has led some to dub the Higgs “the God particle”. That, it is not. It does not explain creation itself. But it is nevertheless the most fundamental discovery in physics for decades.

Unlike the structure of DNA, which came as a surprise, the Higgs is a long-expected guest. It was predicted in 1964 by Peter Higgs, a British physicist who was trying to fix a niggle in quantum theory, and independently, in various guises, by five other researchers. And if the Higgs—or something similar—did not exist, then a lot of what physicists think they know about the universe would be wrong.

Physics has two working models of reality. One is Einstein’s general relativity, which deals with space, time and gravity. This is an elegant assembly of interlocking equations that poured out of a single mind a century ago. The other, known as the Standard Model, deals with everything else more messily.

The Standard Model, a product of many minds, incorporates the three fundamental forces that are not gravity (electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces), and also a menagerie of apparently indivisible particles: quarks, of which protons and neutrons, and thus atomic nuclei, are made; electrons that orbit those nuclei; and more rarefied beasts such as muons and neutrinos. Without the Higgs, the maths which holds this edifice together would disintegrate.

Finding the Higgs, though, made looking for needles in haystacks seem simple. The discovery eventually came about using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a machine at CERN that sends bunches of protons round a ring 27km in circumference, in opposite directions, at close to the speed of light, so that they collide head on. The faster the protons are moving, the more energy they have. When they collide, this energy is converted into other particles (Einstein’s E=mc2), which then decay into yet more particles. What these decay particles are depends on what was created in the original collision, but unfortunately there is no unique pattern that shouts “Higgs!” The search, therefore, has been for small deviations from what would be seen if there were no Higgs. That is one reason it took so long.

Another was that no one knew how much the Higgs would weigh, and therefore how fast the protons needed to be travelling to make it. Finding the Higgs was thus a question of looking at lots of different energy levels, and ruling each out in turn until the seekers found what they were looking for.

Queerer than we can suppose?

For physicists, the Higgs is merely the LHC’s aperitif. They hope the machine will now produce other particles—ones that the Standard Model does not predict, and which might account for some strange stuff called “dark matter”.

Astronomers know dark matter abounds in the universe, but cannot yet explain it. Both theory and observation suggest that “normal” matter (the atom-making particles described by the Standard Model) is only about 4% of the total stuff of creation. Almost three-quarters of the universe is something completely obscure, dubbed “dark energy”. The rest, 22% or so, is matter of some sort, but a sort that can be detected only from its gravity. It forms a giant lattice that permeates space and controls the position of galaxies made of visible matter (see article). It also stops those galaxies spinning themselves apart. Physicists hope that it is the product of one of the post-Standard Model theories they have dreamed up while waiting for the Higgs. Now, they will be able to find out.

For non-physicists, the importance of finding the Higgs belongs to the realm of understanding rather than utility. It adds to the sum of human knowledge—but it may never change lives as DNA or relativity have. Within 40 years, Einstein’s theories paved the way for the Manhattan Project and the scourge of nuclear weapons. The deciphering of DNA has led directly to many of the benefits of modern medicine and agriculture. The last really useful subatomic particle to be discovered, though, was the neutron in 1932. Particles found subsequently are too hard to make, and too short-lived to be useful.

This helps explain why, even at this moment of triumph, particle physics is a fragile endeavour. Gone are the days when physicists, having given politicians the atom bomb, strode confidently around the corridors of power. Today they are supplicants in a world where money is tight. The LHC, sustained by a consortium that was originally European but is now global, cost about $10 billion to build.

That is still a relatively small amount, though, to pay for knowing how things really work, and no form of science reaches deeper into reality than particle physics. As J.B.S. Haldane, a polymathic British scientist, once put it, the universe may be not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose. Yet given the chance, particle physicists will give it a run for its money.

Copyright © The Economist Newspaper Limited 2012. All rights reserved.


Before signing off on this very important step forward for physics, here are a couple of footnotes.

First, here’s a video of the announcement that was widely shown on the 4th.

Secondly, the BBC News website had a really good piece on the 12th July written by their science correspondent, Quentin Cooper, called Higgs: What was left unsaid. Here’s a flavour taken from the early part of the article,

So that’s it, search over, Higgs boson found. Almost 50 years after physicist Peter Higgs first theorised it was out there, public elementary number one has finally been captured in the data from two detectors at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern. Case closed. Champagne popped. Boson nova danced.

If only. That handily simplified and heavily fictionalised telling of the tale has helped transform a spectacular scientific success story into one that is also global front page news. Without it the 4 July announcement might not have generated such a frenzy of coverage and so many claims about it being a historic milestone for our species. One particle physicist only half jokingly told me that in future the date may come to be celebrated as Higgs Day, rather than anything to do with American independence.

Don’t get me wrong. What has happened at Cern represents a magnificent accomplishment; big science at its biggest and boldest. And it’s fantastic that it has been perceived and received as being of such importance. It’s just that there is more to the story from the very beginning right through to the, probably false, ending.

For starters, as Peter Higgs himself acknowledges, he was just one of several scientists who came up with the mechanism which predicted the particle which bears his name, but the others rarely get a mention*. As to the finish – well, as small children are fond of saying, are we there yet? There is very strong evidence that the LHC teams have found a new elementary particle, but while this is exciting it is far less clear that what they’ve detected is the fabled Higgs. If it is, it seems curiously lighter than expected and more work is needed to explain away the discrepancy. If it’s not, then the experimentalists and theorists are going to be even busier trying to see if it can be shoehorned into the current Standard Model of particle physics. Either way, it’s not exactly conclusive.

Do take the simple step of clicking here and read the BBC piece in full.

Well done, Mr. Peter Higgs and all those very persistent scientists associated with the Large Hadron Collider; I suspect we haven’t heard the last of this!

And ‘thank you’ to The Economist.

One smart brain!

Know your brain? Possibly not.

“Exact knowledge is the enemy of vitalism.” Francis Crick.

On the face of it, I’m going to write about two totally disparate aspects of the brain.  Or are they?

I subscribe to Naked Capitalism and one of my favourite aspects of Yves’s daily email presentation are the Links.  They cover an incredibly broad range of news items.

So it was perhaps a week ago or thereabouts that one of those links was to an item in the British newspaper, The Daily Mail.  Here’s how the article started,

Power really does corrupt as scientists claim it’s as addictive as cocaine

More than a hundred years after noted historian Baron John Acton coined the phrase ‘power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ scientists claim the saying is biologically true.

The feeling of power has been found to have a similar effect on the brain to cocaine by increasing the levels of testosterone and its by-product 3-androstanediol in both men and women.

This in turn leads to raised levels of dopamine, the brain’s reward system called the nucleus accumbens, which can be very addictive.

Across in the English paper The Daily Telegraph, Dr Ian Robertson writes on this subject and says,

Unfettered power has almost identical effects, but in the light of yesterday’s Leveson Inquiry interchanges in London, there seems to be less chance of British government ministers becoming addicted to power. Why? Because, as it appears from the emails released by James Murdoch yesterday, they appeared to be submissive to the all-powerful Murdoch empire, hugely dependent on the support of this organization for their jobs and status, who could swing hundreds of thousands of votes for or against them.

Submissiveness and dominance have their effects on the same reward circuits of the brain as power and cocaine. Baboons low down in the dominance hierarchy have lower levels of dopamine in key brain areas, but if they get ‘promoted’ to a higher position, then dopamine rises accordingly. This makes them more aggressive and sexually active, and in humans similar changes happen when people are given power. What’s more, power also makes people smarter, because dopamine improves the functioning of the brain’s frontal lobes. Conversely, demotion in a hierarchy decreases dopamine levels, increases stress and reduces cognitive function.

OK, moving on.  On April 29th., there was an article on the Big Think website with the intriguing title of You Are Not Your Brain! 

What’s the Big Idea?

“Contemporary research on consciousness in neuroscience rests on unquestioned but highly questionable foundations. Human nature is no less mysterious now than it was a hundred years ago,” writes philosopher Alva Noë in his book Out of Our Heads.

It’s a bold assertion in an age when fMRI has enabled us to see images of the brain functioning in real time, and when many prominent public intellectuals (Stephen Hawking, Eric Kandel) have argued, either implicitly or vociferously, in favor of reductionism. The “brain-as-calculating machine” analogy assumes that human thought, personality, memory, and emotion are located somewhere in the gray matter protected by the skull. In other words, you — at least, the waking you who gets out of bed in the morning — are your brain.

But you’re not, says Noë. Just as love does not live inside the heart, consciousness is not contained in a finite space — it’s something that arises, something that occurs: a verb rather than a noun. And since the publication of Francis Crick’s influential The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul, scientists have been looking for it in all the wrong places.

That’s enough of me republishing the article – if it grabs your interest, do go and read it in full here.

And here’s Francis Crick with an extract from his DVD on the Scientific Search for the Soul

NOTE: This is an excerpt from the two-part, 60-minute DVD.

A noted scientist discusses free will, consciousness, attention and memory and their relationship to the human nervous system. In a wide ranging discussion, Crick points out that the hypothesis that the brain is the seat of consciousness has not yet been proven.

Francis Crick, Ph.D., received the Nobel Prize in 1962 for the discovery of DNA’s central role in the process of genetic reproduction. He is author of Life Itself, What Mad Pursuit and The Astonishing Hypothesis.

“Chance is the only source of true novelty.” Francis Crick

The last 484 feet!

Some milestones on the age of the solar system.

Forgive me, dear readers, but something light and simple for today.  I don’t mean in the sense of the content, far from it, just easy for me to put the post together as it is from a presentation that I gave a year ago.

Here’s a picture of our solar system.

Most of us are reasonably familiar with this visual concept of our solar system, but what of it’s age?  That’s much more difficult to embrace in a way that we can relate to.

So let’s use something to represent the age of our solar system, the distance from Phoenix to Payson.

In round terms, Payson is 80 miles North-East from Phoenix.  Put another way, that’s 422,400 feet!

So if those 80 miles represented the age of our solar system, what would be the significant milestones on this metaphorical journey?

Phoenix represents the start, the ‘start’ of our solar system some 4.54 billion years ago

It was 1,075,000,000 years before Blue-green algae appeared.  That is the equivalent of travelling 18.94 miles from Phoenix North-East along Highway 87.  Or looking back, those algae appeared some 3.465 billion years ago.

But on we travel, metaphorically an unimaginable 3,459,800,000 years after the arrival of Blue-green algae until the next milestone; the earliest hominids.  In terms of our Highway that’s a further 60.97 miles.  Again, looking back that was 5,200,000 years ago.

The sharp-eyed among you will see that 18.94 miles added to 60.97 miles is 79.91 miles.  Goodness that’s awfully close to the total distance of 80 miles between Phoenix and Payson!  In fact, the 0.09 miles to run is the equivalent of 484 feet!

So let’s look at those last 484 feet.

The first 465.20 feet represents the approximately 5 million years after the earliest hominids appeared before H. sapiens arrived, some 200,000 years ago.

The appearance of Homo sapiens brings us to just 18.6 feet from Payson.

But first, we travel 9.3 feet and see the arrival of dogs, generally regarded to have separated, in DNA terms, from the Grey Wolf 100,000 years ago.

And are you 60 years old?  You were born just 0.0669 inches or 7/100ths of an inch from Payson!  If my maths is correct (someone please check!) 0.0669 inches is about 34 times the thickness of the human hair!  That’s very close to Payson!

Don’t know about you but it puts the age of our solar system into a perspective one might be able to get one’s arms around.

On the scale used above, one inch represents 895.68 years, one foot the equivalent of 10,748.11 years and a mile represents 56,750,000 years.

Anybody want to hazard a guess as to the state of our planet in one further inch?

The difference an inch makes! 895.68 years!

OK, let me stay more or less on topic and just round things off.

EarthSky website seems to have some great items, including this one.

Ten things you may not know about the solar system

9 ) Pluto is smaller than the USA
The greatest distance across the contiguous United States is nearly 2,900 miles (from Northern California to Maine). By the best current estimates, Pluto is just over 1400 miles across, less than half the width of the U.S. Certainly in size it is much smaller than any major planet, perhaps making it a bit easier to understand why a few years ago it was “demoted” from full planet status. It is now known as a “dwarf planet.”

Go here for the full list of ten items.

Finally, just how far does it all go?

How far do the stars stretch out into space? And what’s beyond them? In modern times, we built giant telescopes that have allowed us to cast our gaze deep into the universe. Astronomers have been able to look back to near the time of its birth. They’ve reconstructed the course of cosmic history in astonishing detail.

From intensive computer modeling, and myriad close observations, they’ve uncovered important clues to its ongoing evolution. Many now conclude that what we can see, the stars and galaxies that stretch out to the limits of our vision, represent only a small fraction of all there is.

Does the universe go on forever? Where do we fit within it? And how would the great thinkers have wrapped their brains around the far-out ideas on today’s cutting edge?

For those who find infinity hard to grasp, even troubling, you’re not alone. It’s a concept that has long tormented even the best minds.

Over two thousand years ago, the Greek mathematician Pythagoras and his followers saw numerical relationships as the key to understanding the world around them.

But in their investigation of geometric shapes, they discovered that some important ratios could not be expressed in simple numbers.

Take the circumference of a circle to its diameter, called Pi.

Computer scientists recently calculated Pi to 5 trillion digits, confirming what the Greeks learned: there are no repeating patterns and no ending in sight.

The discovery of the so-called irrational numbers like Pi was so disturbing, legend has it, that one member of the Pythagorian cult, Hippassus, was drowned at sea for divulging their existence.

A century later, the philosopher Zeno brought infinity into the open with a series of paradoxes: situations that are true, but strongly counter-intuitive.

In this modern update of one of Zeno’s paradoxes, say you have arrived at an intersection. But you are only allowed to cross the street in increments of half the distance to the other side. So to cross this finite distance, you must take an infinite number of steps.

In math today, it’s a given that you can subdivide any length an infinite number of times, or find an infinity of points along a line.

What made the idea of infinity so troubling to the Greeks is that it clashed with their goal of using numbers to explain the workings of the real world.

To the philosopher Aristotle, a century after Zeno, infinity evoked the formless chaos from which the world was thought to have emerged: a primordial state with no natural laws or limits, devoid of all form and content.

But if the universe is finite, what would happen if a warrior traveled to the edge and tossed a spear? Where would it go?

It would not fly off on an infinite journey, Aristotle said. Rather, it would join the motion of the stars in a crystalline sphere that encircled the Earth. To preserve the idea of a limited universe, Aristotle would craft an historic distinction.

On the one hand, Aristotle pointed to the irrational numbers such as Pi. Each new calculation results in an additional digit, but the final, final number in the string can never be specified. So Aristotle called it “potentially” infinite.

Then there’s the “actually infinite,” like the total number of points or subdivisions along a line. It’s literally uncountable. Aristotle reserved the status of “actually infinite” for the so-called “prime mover” that created the world and is beyond our capacity to understand. This became the basis for what’s called the Cosmological, or First Cause, argument for the existence of God.

Think I need to lie down now!

More learning from dogs!

A peek at a very interesting article in the February issue of National Geographic magazine.

Big thanks to Bob T. here in Payson for sending me a recent email that contained the one line, “There is a lengthy article entitled “Mix, Match, Morph” in the February issue of National Geographic.  I strongly suspect you will find it of interest.”   Understatement big time!  The article is wonderful.   It is also available online! 🙂

The premise behind the article is, as the opening words reveal,

Three breeds, Copyright National Geographic, photo by Robert Clark

How to Build a Dog

Scientists have found the secret recipe behind the spectacular

variety of dog shapes and sizes, and it could help unravel the

complexity of human genetic disease.

As is made clear early on in Evan Ratcliff’s text, the huge variety in the breeds of dogs is a very recent occurence,

For reasons both practical and whimsical, man’s best friend has been artificially evolved into the most diverse animal on the planet—a staggering achievement, given that most of the 350 to 400 dog breeds in existence have been around for only a couple hundred years.

And later Ratcliff writes,

The breeders gave no thought, of course, to the fact that while coaxing such weird new dogs into existence, they were also tinkering with the genes that determine canine anatomy in the first place­. Scientists since have assumed that underneath the morphological diversity of dogs lay an equivalent amount of genetic diversity. A recent explosion in canine genomic research, however, has led to a surprising, and opposite, conclusion: The vast mosaic of dog shapes, colors, and sizes is decided largely by changes in a mere handful of gene regions.

What is critically being discovered is,

Already, more than a hundred dog diseases have been mapped to mutations in particular genes, many of them with human counterparts. Those diseases may have a whole array of mutations leading to a risk of disease in dogs, as they do in us.

It would be wrong, without permission to reproduce the article, to include more but you can quickly go here and read it yourself.  Except I can’t resist closing with the last sentence from the article,

After all, he points out, there are millions of dog lovers out there willing and eager to help with the fieldwork.

Ain’t that the truth!

And don’t miss the fabulous photographs of dogs taken by Robert Clark which you can see here, another example of which is below.  Robert Clark’s website is here.

Chesapeake Bay retriever, 48, Photograph by Robert Clark