A few days ago I met with with Dr. Doug Wallace, the Director of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine (CMEM) at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Research Institute and Professor of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
“More than 35 years ago, Dr. Wallace and his colleagues founded the field of human mitochondrial genetics. The mitochondria are the cellular power plants, organelles that generate most of the cell’s energy. The mitochondria also contain their own DNA, the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which encodes the wiring diagram for the cell’s power plants. Dr. Wallace showed that the mtDNA is inherited exclusively from the mother and that genetic alterations in the mtDNA can result is a wide range of metabolic and degenerative diseases as well as being important in cancer and aging.
One of his seminal contributions has been to use mtDNA variation to reconstruct the origin and ancient migrations of women. These studies revealed that humans arose in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago, that women left Africa about 65,000 years ago to colonize Eurasia, and from Siberia, they crossed the Bering land bridge to populate the Americas. Studies on the paternally-inherited Y chromosome showed that men went along too.” (from CHOP’s website).”
We were originally connected by a close friend of my mom’s who also works at CHOP. I met Dr. Wallace for the first time a year ago out of pure interest in meeting him and sharing how his work had led to reversing my health issues. He seemed quite intrigued, but I was a bit all over the place. A year later, I decided to return to him with much greater clarity in order to continue our dialogue.
He was interested in my plan for the coming year, as I have just graduated from high school in June. I shared it with him: I am landscaping every day until the end of September to save money for a few months of travel in Europe and possibly Central and South America. Then, at the end of January, I am set to begin a 7 semester undergraduate program at the New College of Florida in Sarasota, which is known for it’s allowing students to construct their own curricula.
I had created a bit of pressure for myself going into the meeting because during the last year I realized how important Dr. Wallace’s work really is. He has recently won a number of awards from which many have gone on to win the Nobel Prize. He has found and proven the so called “cure for cancer”. The clinical application is not yet so clear in his work, but extraordinary minds like that of Dr. Jack Kruse have integrated Dr. Wallace’s work as a critical piece of the puzzle in a coherent understanding of the physics of organisms, a.k.a quantum biology; knowledge of which explains the questions of life’s origin, “what is life?”, “what is health and how is it created?”, and “what is disease and how can we prevent and cure it?”.
I shared with him in more detail than last year how Dr. Kruse is combining his work in mitochondrial medicine with the fields of biophotonics, photobiology, water chemistry, bioelectromagnetism, heliotherapy, and others to create protocols to optimize mitochondrial function and reverse disease, as per Dr. Wallace’s theory. I believe he was very impressed by the fact that so many people are benefiting from his work far beyond what he was aware of. I could not precisely read his sentiments, but it seemed as though he was necessarily slightly skeptical about how light could have such a tremendous impact on mitochondrial function, though he certainly seemed interested, as is any curious and revolutionary scientific mind.
He is a very modest man. Last year he recommended that I read a book called “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Thomas Kuhn. As I listened to the audiobook while landscaping, it became very apparent that this must be a seminal influence on his career and life. In person, his vocabulary and way of approaching any subject is very similar to that of this book.
In it, Kuhn basically shatters the notion that scientific knowledge and theory are born from cumulative development, as it is made to seem in textbooks of any time period, and that scientific “progress” is, in fact, a product of many revolutions in which something he called “paradigms” are replaced.
“Kuhn suggests that certain scientific works, such as Newton’s Principia or John Dalton’s New System of Chemical Philosophy (1808), provide an open-ended resource: a framework of concepts, results, and procedures within which subsequent work is structured. Normal science proceeds within such a framework or paradigm. A paradigm does not impose a rigid or mechanical approach, but can be taken more or less creatively and flexibly.”
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the basic meaning of the term paradigm as “a typical example or pattern of something; a pattern or model”. The historian of science Thomas Kuhn gave it its contemporary meaning when he adopted the word to refer to the set of concepts and practices that define a scientific discipline at any particular period of time. In his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (first published in 1962), Kuhn defines a scientific paradigm as: “universally recognized scientific achievements that, for a time, provide model problems and solutions for a community of practitioners, i.e.,
what is to be observed and scrutinized
the kind of questions that are supposed to be asked and probed for answers in relation to this subject
how these questions are to be structured
what predictions made by the primary theory within the discipline
how the results of scientific investigations should be interpreted
how an experiment is to be conducted, and what equipment is available to conduct the experiment.”
If you have ever used the word “paradigm”, now you know that Thomas Kuhn gave it its contemporary meaning. I highly suggest this book and may be writing another blog about it. It goes far beyond just science into the issue of stimulus vs. sensation experienced, and how the sensations that two people experience from the same exact stimuli can differ depending on what they have learned to see through education, culture, and experience.
One thing that I believed (and I am far from alone in this view) Dr. Wallace was “missing” and that would even further the impact, relevance, and applicability of his work is some critical knowledge about water chemistry. A man named Dr. Gerald Pollack from the University of Washington, preceded by the work of many others in the past, has shown definitively that water has a “fourth phase”; a state that is very different from solid, liquid, and gas in its properties. For those who are not familiar with this, read his book “The Fourth Phase of Water” or watch this two-minute video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtXgewzT1Fo or TED talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-T7tCMUDXU&t=1s .
Basically, when water meets a hydrophilic surface, it begins to become unusually structured like a crystal, and when a water molecule attaches to this liquid crystalline lattice it sheds a proton, making the overall chemical formula of this state H3O2. Because it has lost positively charged protons, this “fourth phase” zone (also known as an “exclusion zone” or EZ, because it “excludes” all other molecules besides water) is negatively charged compared to the rest of the water not touching the hydrophilic surface, which has become positively charged due to the addition of protons (H+).
This is what a battery is, a positively and negatively charged zone. As such, they have proven that electricity can be extracted from this “charge-separated” water, even enough to light a light bulb. Most interestingly, they found that the input energy source that causes the formation of this liquid crystalline zone of water around a hydrophilic surface is infrared (IR) light energy. Infrared is a frequency just beyond the edge of the visible spectrum. It is present everywhere, constantly being emitted by living and non-living objects which have absorbed it, as it is the most abundant frequency of light reaching Earth from the Sun. This is why infrared cameras can allow someone to see all objects, even in the absence of visible light.
Why does this matter? Well, consider what life is. If you were to count the molecules inside of you, 99% of them are water. By volume, we are 2/3 water. Researchers have known for a long time that the water in our cells is not like water in a glass; it is much more structured and ordered. But the conventional view has just been that water is kind of the medium in which life occurs, and it doesn’t have too much of a function beyond that. Basically, it’s just “there”. But, this could not be further from the truth.
A few decades ago, a biologist named Gilbert Ling, whose work led to the creation of the MRI machine, proved that a very important part of the theories for which a guy named Peter Mitchell had won a Nobel Prize was false. More specifically, it broke the Second Law of Thermodynamics, meaning that the theory used more energy that its premises supplied. It is said by physicists that if your theory breaks this law, your theory is wrong because energy can not come from nowhere (except, somehow, if you believe in the Big Bang….subject for future blogs). Ling theorized that something else was driving enzymatic flux in biology other than ATP. In other words, he found that Mitchell’s theories of ATP could not account for all of the energy an organism actually uses, and he theorized that the supplier of energy had something to do with proton tunneling in water, which is precisely what can occur within this “fourth phase” of water, which has now been clearly proven to exist and be able to supply energy as a battery.
Water is the battery that provides energy for life’s functions, and its energy comes from sunlight.
So, I gave Dr. Wallace a copy of the Fourth Phase of Water. He said that many other people have recently suggested that he read it, so he is going to. If he begins to assimilate this knowledge of water into his paradigm, he has the power to produce revolutionary, large-scale shifts in biologic knowledge and understanding of health and disease generation, specifically how our altered modern electromagnetic environment is the main driver behind destroyed mitochondrial function and the modern diseases that he has linked this to, such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, obesity, heart disease, and so on.
After I told him that I read The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, he went on to explain “Humans are just bipedal primates. All that we can do is to attempt to approximate reality. So, we create paradigms based on our observations and experiences, and we use these paradigms to predict the future.”
I was very impressed by how clearly he seems to hold these perspectives. In my life, I find myself worrying very often that there is something critical that I’m not doing, something that I’m forgetting, etc., completely missing the present moment. I become very negative and judgemental towards myself, treating my thoughts with hatred and contempt rather than compassion, love, and understanding.
So, I asked him “are you ever stressed? If so, how do you handle it?” He said that all living organisms are challenged by their environment, so by definition everyone experiences stress in some fashion. But, it is how we perceive and interpret the stress that determines its ultimate impact. When his graduate students come to him with some serious worries about something, he tells them “remember, we live on a small planet of a tiny star in a minor galaxy of which there are billions more”. Talk about perspective! Imagine what your life would be like if you could invoke this perspective in moments of apparent struggle, or to live with it at all times. This seems to me very similar to the concept of “mindfulness”.
Personally, when I consider this perspective I am much more freely able to observe all of the “stories”, constructs, and paradigms to which I attach myself and every moment, and, just by seeing my attachment for what it is, to be completely free of it, at least in that moment. He didn’t say that this means our lives are insignificant, but that we should attempt to keep them in context.
The biggest question that I had for him on matters of science was “how did the combination of an archaeobacteria and oxidative cyanobacteria (today known as mitochondria) allow for all of the complexity that we see today? Was the new “host” cell, the eukaryotic cell, able to capture all of the energy that was lost while these cyanobacteria produced energy for themselves?” The answer was more simple than I had expected.
Consider a single bacteria. He said.that life takes energy from the environment and uses it to prevent the process of decay, also known as entropy. A single bacterium uses all of the energy that it is able to assimilate from the environment to build itself and to maintain its structure and functions. Let’s say the bacterium has 1,000 genes. Maintaining its structure and function basically means maintaining and using these genes. After this, it has no more energy to build further complexity to increase its survivability or longevity.
But, 1.5 billion years ago, two of these bacteria emerged. Imagine, like the eukaryotic cell today, a host bacteria cell with 1,000 smaller bacteria within it. Imagine that each bacterium still has its original 1,000 genes. This means that each individual bacterium is still spending all of the energy that it can produce on itself, so it has nothing to donate to the host. This state of affairs would not even permit the existence of the host cell, because there is no leftover energy to support it. So, what did the host cell do?
The host archaeobacteria cell took a look at the one thousand mitochondria and said, “every single one of these one thousand mitochondria is spending all of its energy maintaining it’s one thousand genes, which are almost all the same. This seems to me terribly inefficient, because there is a copy of the exact same one thousand genes in every single mitochondria, when there only needs to be one copy, because they are all doing the exact same thing. If each of these one thousand mitochondria did not spend all of their energy just maintaining and using the exact same genes, there would be nearly one thousand times more energy available from each of the one thousand mitochondria. If I could figure out some solution, I could have all of this energy and I would be a rich, rich organism, capable of creating great complexity and diversity.
If I were to take all of the nearly one thousand common genes from these mitochondria, which are all the exact same, and put them all in a common repository (the nucleus), each mitochondria would no longer have to maintain all of those same processes, so I would have all of that energy for myself! With just a fraction of all the energy they produce that I would have, I could use this set of common genes to build and maintain the mitochondria for them, while having to maintain only two sets of one thousand genes, instead of one thousand sets of one thousand genes, like the mitochondria were collectively doing before. What a waste of energy when I could do it all in one!
The only genes that I have to leave in the mitochondria are the ones that are critical for energy production; for the proteins that make up the electron transport chain. Because each mitochondria is its own generator, if it has a unique problem, it must have its own genes right there for a quick solution. The common set of genes in my nucleus are for the construction of mitochondria themselves, which is distinct from the process of energy creation within them.
Now that I have saved the vast majority of the energy that each of the one thousand mitochondria was using for itself, I will create far more complex structures. One day, I may even become so complex as to have the perceptual ability not just to react to the changing environment but to actively look at and to see myself and how I function”
I am this original eukaryotic cell, and you are, too, looking back at what our genius did 1.5 billion years ago. In reality, a eukaryotic cell is just a “supercolony” of bacteria. You and I and all other “eukaryotic” organisms are really just super complex bacterial colonies with a genius system of collectivism, in which the mitochondria survive today and are well taken care of, and the host has figured out how to utilize all of the energy that would otherwise be wasted by thousands of mitochondria building and maintaining themselves on their own. Now you have perspective on the macrocosm and the microcosm.
As our meeting approached an hour, I was ready to ask my final question, the real reason why I had come. I was truly interested in learning more from Dr. Wallace. In my own research I have learned tremendous amounts of critical information regarding health and biology. However, I am interested in experiencing what it is like to work in a laboratory with a much more systematic, rigorous approach. I have always considered science as a field of interest, along with writing, law, and business. The concept of being paid to learn and study sounds pretty good. But, in order to make a living, one has to conform to the will of those who write grants. If you have friends, great. If you don’t, you’re not so lucky, especially in a world where the people who write grants are the most vehement defenders of the current paradigm, within which they spent their entire education and research career.
I asked him if it would be possible for me to learn from him and help in his lab in some fashion, whether as an intern, a volunteer, or on a scholarship. He basically told me that I am welcome, and that I have to tell him what my goals are and we could take it from there. To be there professionally long-term, of course, I would have to complete an undergraduate program somewhere and then I could explore the possibilities of a graduate program. I found that there are a number of scholarships for high school/college students interested in science to work in a laboratory, so I am going to apply for these and see what comes of it.
I can’t fathom what it would be like to be working in his lab as he continues on a track apparently leading to a Nobel Prize, but far more importantly to proving to the world that the life and health of a eukaroytic organism, and the origin of our chronic disease epidemic is mitochondrial in nature, not genetic. Genes are just like blueprints. The contractors are the mitochondria. Rarely are the blueprints to blame when construction goes wrong; rather, it is the fault of too many mistakes by the builders. With mitochondria, only after a certain percentage of the mitochondrial DNA becomes heteroplasmic, do we begin to see dysfunction, i.e. disease, occur.
What does “heteroplasmic” mean? I asked Dr. Wallace to further elucidate the meaning so that I do not use it improperly. If mitochondrial DNA is homoplasmic, is means that it is all the same. If it is heteroplasmic, it means the DNA is different. He said this primarily occurs one mutation at a time, but in their lab they intentionally combine the mitochondrial DNA from two separate organisms of the same species, creating massively heteroplasmic DNA, which immediately and acutely causes all of the modern chronic diseases we see today.
After I left, I felt as though I had expected something totally unusual to occur, but nothing had. I felt extremely normal and natural, as if I hadn’t just spoken to the Galileo of biology. Now reflecting, this seems to be what made our meeting particularly special. I felt very much at home with Dr. Wallace. There are no other eighteen-year-olds coming to his lab just to talk about how fascinated they are by his work and where it may go. I look forward to the potential of helping him however I can and learning from him at some point in the future. At the same time, with the new perspective that every experience and every day brings, I am becoming more and more satisfied with and grateful for the way things are, just the way they are, right now.