I have to post about Quantum Tantra.
Iâ€™m a very ambitious physicist; I was trained at Stanford. I want not merely to find a new particle or equation but to discover an entirely new way of doing science. Quantum tantra aims to put humans in direct touch with nature without the mediation of instruments, without even those instruments called the senses. My needs are simple: Iâ€™d like to invent a truly gooey interface that connects my mind to other minds in the Universe. Modern physics is fully erect science; quantum tantra is physics on all fours.
Touching nature directly, and without the senses, eh? Sounds like, ahem, Tanuki-sized bollocks. Honestly, now, who wants to have sex where each motion is too tiny to be detected, and as soon as she observes you getting ready, your wavefunction collapses? (Besides, if there were anything legitimate in this, Richard Feynman would have discovered it already.)
This does, oddly, synchronize with the Attack of the Skinny Vixens which Dr. Joan Bushwell so kindly warns us about. Dr. Bushwell alerts us to this BBC story whose tagline reads, “Scientists are developing a pill which could boost women’s libido and reduce their appetite.” (Gee, I thought we were all supposed to be hunting down the God particle.) According to the BBC, Prof. Robert Millar of the Medical Research Council’s Human Reproduction Unit (in Edinburgh) believes that a pill based on “Type 2 Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone” will ramp up the libido of the human female whilst simultaneously lowering her appetite. Hey, it works with monkeys and shrews!
I’m not making this up. Here’s what the BBC says:
The hormone-releasing pill has so far only been given to female monkeys and shrews who displayed more mating behaviour and ate less.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t quite capture the reality of the situation. Dr. Bushwell explains:
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone II (GnRH II) is a peptide composed of 12 amino acids. These don’t take well to being formulated as orally administered pill. Such peptides are usually administered intravenously, or in the case of marmosets, which were examined for GnRH’s effects on sexual behavior, by intracerebroventricular (icv) cannulae. Yeah, that’s right. Tubes are surgically implanted into the monkeys’ brains, and the GnRh peptide delivered through them, thus bypassing the gut, circulation and the blood-brain barrier.
The supposed ten-year timeline is also likely to be a gross underestimate for turning these animal experiments into anything which has a useful effect upon humans. Bushwell’s conclusion is worth repeating:
My impression is that Millar et alia have conducted and published a body of truly interesting work on GnRH family of peptides and receptors. Some wide-eyed journalist chose to turn this into a sensationalistic piece of crap that does not even qualify as “science-lite.” That, me droogs, offends me more than any misogynistic implications.
- R. P. Millar et al. (2004) Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Receptors Endocrine Reviews 25 (2): 235–275.
- D. K. Barnett et al. (2006) Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone II Stimulates Female Sexual Behavior in Marmoset Monkeys Endocrinology 147 (1): 615–623.
- M. Liberman (2006) It’s always silly season in the (BBC) science section Language Log.
Tip o’ the tinfoil hat to Warren Ellis.