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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Nautilus, Phi, and Carbon Ion Radiotherapy for Mass Tumours in Colorado

     Who isn't fascinated by Fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio of phi (1.6180339887) in the spiral of the chambered nautilus?

     The nautilus' growth ratios of squares of 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 and so on in the successive phi ratios are echoed in cabbage:


   and chamomile buds:

      These famous spirals were on my mind while driving to my annual physical appointment yesterday.  I listened to this Colorado Public Radio piece on a proposal to bring carbon ion radiotherapy to CO.

Carbon Ion Radiotherapy: Equipment the Size of a Large Building

      I shared the salient parts of the research with my doctor. He completely pooh-poohed the idea. [So annoying.]  I was intrigued as impressive survival results were reported in Germany and Japan in patients with tumour masses, especially for those with pancreatic cancer. (The carbon ion radiotherapy does not work in leukemias.)

        This March 2014 article discusses the excellent results as well as the high costs ($120 million for the equipment or gantry) plus $40 million for the accompanying facility:

March 2014 carbon ion radiotherapy results

     Radiation therapy is the medical use of ionizing radiation to treat cancer. In conventional radiation therapy, beams of X-rays (high energy photons) are produced by accelerated electrons and delivered to the patient to destroy tumour cells. Using crossing beams from many angles, radiation oncologists irradiate the tumour while trying to spare the surrounding normal tissues. Inevitably some radiation is deposited in healthy tissues.

     When the irradiating beams are made of charged particles (protons and other ions, such as carbon), radiation therapy is called hadron-therapy. The strength of hadron-therapy lies in the unique physical and radiobiological properties of these particles; they can penetrate the tissues with little diffusion depositing the maximum energy just before stopping. This allows a precise definition of the specific region to be irradiated. The peaked shape of the hadron energy deposition is called the Bragg peak, the "symbol" of hadron-therapy. With the use of hadrons the tumour can be irradiated with less damage to healthy tissues.

     Less damage to healthy tissues is particularly important in pediatric patients as those healthy cells are still developing.

        It is of personal interest to me because my dad survived over four years with pancreatic cancer before his death a decade ago. He had a wonderful positive attitude, drank the special goo my mom made for him daily, and worked out with weights often. I imagine he would have been happy to give carbon ion radiotherapy a go.

      Here's my dad (on the right) in a German beer garden in the early 50's:

    He sure looks hoppy ;-)

     Here's to you, Dad, and your open attitude to exploring new things! (Dad and me):

      I am quite curious about your thoughts on carbon ion radiotherapy and pancreatic cancer; nautilus, flowers, and cabbage; and, of course, the great hops we grow here in Colorado.


(Word Woman)

       Another gardener and I did not marmalade, but plum jammed with stevia and sugar.

Roosters, chickens, ducks and eggs including green eggs (and no ham) and a double yolk egg in front:

       The roosters' plumage was especially wild and fun. . .Sorry about the low light. We had to wait until dark for them to come home to roost from their free range day. 

And, lastly, the Semiotics of Maizie:


  1. A fascinating TED talk (I like the transcripts , too.) about early discovery by Alice Stewart about the danger of X-raying pregnant women. Her idea "challenger" was George Neale: Don't hang with people who are "echo chambers!"

  2. Is there a connection between phi/Fibonacci (Phibonacci?) and carbon ion radiotherapy? I'm working my way through the Radiation Oncology paper. Rather be working my way through some of that hoppy product you mentioned.

    Naturally, in my perverse way, your post got me to do a little reading about Adolph Coors. That's not nearly as popular a given name as it once was, for reasons I imagine were related to your handsome father's appearance in that photo. Like that other Adolf, Coors was also a suicide -- hopped out of a hotel window in 1929. Live by the hop, die by the hop, I guess...

    1. jan, here's a connection between the Golden Spirals, Phi, and Optimization of the Spiral-Wobbler System for Heavy-Ion Radiotherapy.( I do like Phibonacci also).

      Interestingly, the linked article was published the year my dad died. He was a handsome guy. Mom just sent a big box of old photographs. . .

      We may need to start charging per verse, jan. Put that in the (Grace) Hopper!


    I'm trying to decide if the address above is where you actually intended the link in the first comment to go; and if the address below has any relevance to the discussion.

  4. Paul, yes, to your first question. I've not completely made the leap to your link--spirals and twisting? Echoing and gun sounds?Please advise. . . else, "shoot" me now. ;-)

    1. And here I was sure that self-referential link was a play on "echo chambers".

    2. Echo chambers--Paul? Paul? Paul? paul?

    3. I had the "Pauls" nicely spaced further and further out like an echo but blogger said NONE . NONE ..NONE ...of THAT.. THAT... THAT. . .

    4. Quiet, please, I'm trying to attain some understanding of this article:

      (I wasn't going to pay $20 for something that would only make my head spin ... although ... I can't say i never have.)

      I'll speak when I have something to say (of course, of course). Just because somebody's not always ratcheting things up a notch doesn't mean he's dead, y'know.

    5. Oh yeah, here's something I could say: Have you noticed the ads that have been showing up here recently? I clicked on one for What's that old saying about laughter being the best medicine?

    6. Komori et al were pretty prolific in 2004. al is the most prolific of all.

      I appreciate your quiet, thoughtful, non-pooh-poohing, Paul.

      As in Louis CK? That did make me laugh (quietly).

  5. SS,

    Carbon ion radiotherapy seems to make sense. Are we sometimes too cautious regarding scientific/medical breakthroughs?
    The "Dad and me" photo is priceless. Whatta dad!
    I'm thinking of my dad, who died in July 2003. Also a "Whatta dad!"
    I thought he resembled (before going prematurely bald) a young Frank Sinatra. Your father, in the bier garten picture, reminds me of Ozzie or David Nelson (of the Ricky and Harriet clan.)


    1. Lego, we absolutely are too reticent about new breakthroughs.

      # 1. I imagine Japanese scientists know ALOT about radiation.

      # 2. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that those Bragg Peaks of carbon target the cancer much better than traditional photons in current radiation therapy.

      # 3. The data from the study I cited are quite compelling. How can one, as a physician, not be willing to even entertain the idea that something other than the status quo could possibly work?!

      Yes, "Whatta Dad!" for both paternal parents. My dad and mom have always been my most ardent supporters. I miss him.

    2. I've done a little reading about heavy particle beam radiotherapy for solid tumors. While proton beams show some advantages over conventional photon beams, the experience with heavier particle beams is extremely limited, and the equipment is expensive and not widely available. It's silly of your primary care doctor to belittle the idea, but he wouldn't be involved in choosing the treatment modality for an advanced cancer, anyway. If this treatment proves more cost-effective in the long term than more conventional techniques, hospitals will start investing in the equipment, but I wouldn't expect to see it in widespread use here any time soon.

    3. Primary care isn't about cutting-edge biophysics. It's about getting people to stop smoking, stop eating and drinking too much, exercise more, and get vaccinated. And getting them to take their meds when all that fails.

    4. I agree. I simply don't get the automatic resistance (I wasn't suggesting crystals or voodoo or . . .?)

      On another front, er back, any thoughts about doing the stool sample test as a precursor to a colonoscopy? Or just bite the bullet, drink the goo, and do it? I have a friend who did the colonoscopy without drugs; thoughts on that?

      People messing with my : is a touchy topic ;-)

    5. The fecal occult blood test is not nearly as good at detecting colon cancer. Plus, you lose the big advantage of colonoscopy, being able to remove precancerous polyps before they ever become cancers. Just say yes to the drugs; it's not general anesthesia, just sedation enough so you won't be fidgeting and cause lesions to be missed. You don't want to end up with a ;

    6. Ok, ok, you've convinced me. I want to retain the full spectrum of punctuation, after all.

      Hmmmm, did any of you laugh/chuckle/smirk at this week's PEOTS headline: Mass(achusetts) tumours in Colorado?

    7. . . .Or notice I put the "U" in Tumours as a hint to this week's Sunday Will Shortz puzzle? Thank U.

    8. I noticed the British spelling, but thought it was just another typo. But it raises the issue of the ethics of posting hints in blogs that cross-reference each other, with possibly conflicting standards. Magdalen openly sends hinters to Blaine's blog, but it doesn't seem cricket to tell someone begging for a hint on one blog to hop (staying on theme, there) over to another one for a blatant giveaway. Not that anyone has tried that yet, but there does seem to be an expanding group of blog-hoppers in the ether.

    9. Harumph! "Just another typo!"

      Blog-hoppers tend to hop more around LaboUr Day than Ether Sunday anyway.

  6. Steph, I just re-blogged this to Top of JC's Mind. I had to do it by link because we use different platforms, so I wasn't sure if you would get a pingback or not.


    1. Hi Joanne, thanks for the reblogging. I haven't yet figured out how to make Partial Ellipsis of the Sun grow very much but this seems like a good start.

      Many thanks for the shout out!

      Following next will be a link to your post about Julie and Julia . . .

    2. Reblogging from another Smithie/Julia Child afficianado, Joanne: Julie, Julia, and Blogging


    3. ^^^afficionado~~When spell check goes awry. . .[The preferred spelling also only has one f.]

    4. Thanks for the re-blog! I'm not sure that I received a pingback. Probably a blogging platform difference thing...

      Do you have a Facebook page for your blog? You can use it to let your FB friends know when you post if they "like" your page. Well, some of them will see it; FB's algorithms are a pain and I absolutely refuse to pay them money to promote my posts. Even if you don't create a page, you should put your link to that week's post on your FB timeline. Again, you won't reach all your friends, but you will reach some. Because you only post to your blog weekly, you can do several FB posts throughout the week to increase the number of your FB contacts who see your blog post links.

      Here I am, talking as though I have a large following - I don't - but it does help to promote within networks you already have.

  7. Replies
    1. After posting that, I Googled "Death Valley Curling Club", and found that someone had beaten me to that line by 4 years. It's so tough to be clever and original!

    2. It's a great playa on words, jan.

      Btw, I thought your middle name was "I am clever and original."

      The image of the rock trails is stunning. Thank U for sharing the article.

  8. A fellow gardener wrote this. . .Too good not to share:

    "Aren't zucchini sort of the 'stealth' vegetable? You think you don't have any, then, with the lift of a few leaves, you have four. . .

    Not like tomatoes that just hang there, out in the open, like a self-assured male nudist."

  9. Excellent! Even I can understand it. And the 'Related Stories' column on the right lends itself to some very interesting 'hopping', for example:

    Does this bring us full-circle to Alice Stewart, in some way?

    I may just have to start reading sciencedaily ... uh ... with a certain regularity.

  10. Twisted brother, I believe you are on to something, AS we speak (well, write).

    Science Daily has some good stuff. . .every day, indeed.

  11. Newly added above: The S of M (not S and M). . .

    1. Will Self?

      OK, henceforth I'll not forget the spelling of her name. Red i'd? Red-dyed? (Which might make a brown egg appear orange, and whatever happened to the original 'egg cozy' picture, and, while I'm at it, in precisely which kalpa are you planning to unravel the U,D,B,V mystery?)


    2. Birds and bird photos, Paul: more are winging their way to this blog today including images of the Evergreen friends' roosters, chickens, and the Easter and double yolk eggs the chickens laid. So beautiful and fresh.

      As to the U, D, B, V puzzle, I sense you are onto a (karst) solution, but have not heard from others, so may send it via carrier pigeon to the Big Bird, WS, himself.

      And while checking the spelling of pigeon, this was the first Google hit:
      Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. However it landed here, I like it!

  12. For those not familiar with I&I : "I and I (also spelled I&I, InI, or Ihi yahnh Ihi) is a complex term, referring to the oneness of Jah (God) and every human. Rastafari scholar E. E. Cashmore: "I and I is an expression to totalize the concept of oneness."

    I (&I?) adopted Maizie over six years ago and just realized this about her name (which I bestowed upon her). Semiotically intriguing that her Z turns into an & and that my kids' names start with a and z. I am wondering if the m is for 'mom' and whether an e is somewhere on the horizon. . .

  13. Well, it's not in the Netherlands (though, weren't the Netherlands, along with Gibraltar, once both part of Spain?), but Neanderthals made the news this week, if 39,000 year-old art can be news.