From fish to man
A VACUUM cleaner hose helped provide the eureka moment for Dr William Peters’ discovery of an overlooked dimension in evolution.
The former Gisborne man’s hypothesis does not contradict Charles Darwin’s 19th century theory of evolution. Dr Peters’ discovery defines a mathematical model of the process.
His hypothesis is that the design of the human circulatory system is at the heart, so to speak, of human evolution. The circulation pattern, and the way electrically-charged particles in the bloodstream work, ultimately determined the human form.
Having trained in cardiothoracic surgery and transplantation; pioneered minimal invasive heart surgery; and invented a ground-breaking heart-assist device, the former Gisborne man took a fresh look at the human heart and circulatory system.
He found the heart and circulation were not just a matter of pumping oxygenated and deoxygenated fluid around the body.
The circulatory system is also an electron carrier circuit. Oxygen is the electron donor. Blood carries the most vital form of energy needed for life. It perfuses every cell in the body, so what is the blood-flow track around the body? Dr Peters asked himself.
The red and the blueRather than focus on the heart alone, he considered 17th century physician William Harvey’s reasoning that the blood went around the body in a continuous circuit.
He drew the general line of the blood with red pen to represent the oxygenated blood as it left the heart. Then he continued the line with blue pen for the deoxygenated which returned to the heart.
The illustration showed the line looped in and out of itself, twice, as it completed its circuit around the body.
Then he sat down with his drawings, and the vacuum cleaner hose, and twisted it into the configuration he had drawn.
The two ends of the hose needed to be joined to complete the circuit. But to match the drawing, the tube needed two longitudinal twists to create the two loops. This involved one left-hand twist and one right-hand twist.
The two loops in the closed circuit represented the two-sided human heart. The blood pathway in this convoluted circuit runs from body to heart to lungs to heart to body.
“That is, for one lap around the body, the line loops twice through the heart,” he says.
More intriguingly, when he pulled the tube apart, the twists cancelled each other out so there was no twist at all.
“Why the twists in the first place?” he asked.
Unlike humans, fish have only a one-loop system. In the vacuum cleaner hose model, this design required one twist to create a single loop in the circuit.
As he drew that circuit with red and blue pens, he noted its figure-8 pattern resembled that of a figure 8 race track. This pattern is designed to give all drivers the same transit around the track.
An oblong race-track, on the other hand, results in slower movement at the outer edge.
Another twist in the taleFrom genetic studies to the fossil record, scientific evidence shows man evolved from fish. Dr Peters looked at his drawings and asked — how did a two-loop circuit evolve from a single loop circuit? And why the twists that keep everything on track?
The answer lay in the nature of haem, the complex molecule in red blood cells that binds and releases oxygen. When de-oxygenated, haem has unpaired electrons. The physical principle here is similar to that of a direct-current motor.
The electrically-charged, deoxygenated blood-stream in a geomagnetic field creates a moment of force perpendicular to the stream. That is, it wants to deviate the stream. This is known as a paramagnetic force.
The red (oxygenated) and blue (deoxygenated) blood lines are diametrically opposed, says Dr Peters.
“They want to get away from each other. But because they’re linked in a continuous loop, they’re caught. They have to create this dance around each other in a set pattern.”
Oxygen has unpaired electrons too. When oxygen binds to haem in the lungs, the unpaired electrons are shared. The now-oxygenated blood switches its polarity in the opposite direction.
This means the continuous circuit switches its polarity when it is oxygenated and again when it is de-oxygenated.
This gives the continuous electron-carrier circuit a spatial “set” that is enforced by the earth’s magnetic field. The blood internalises electrons from the environment, delivers them for the body to utilise in growth, then goes back to get more electrons.
“But if the double loop circuit, with its right and left twist, represents the human heart and the single loop circuit represents the fish circulation, how did two loops arise from one loop?” says Dr Peters.
Surrounded by drawings and the vacuum cleaner hose, the answer came with a single stroke of his red pen.
The slightest leak of (red) oxygenated blood from the gills back into the (blue) stream as it returns from the body, sets a loop within the loop. Because the thin red stream is repellent to the blue stream it is entrained by, it twines around the host stream. The disparate loops want to scissor apart. Ultimately, they find a new parity.
Through our bloodIn a preface to his treatise about the discovery, Per Sanguinem Nostrum (Through Our Blood), Dr Peters says he was taught a good living heart is one that, when looked at end-on at the apex, “twists like a hypnotist’s trick, swirling seemingly without a start to the spiral as it tightens and twists with every tick.”
“When you look at the biochemistry and the physics of the blood, it is a closed, repeatedly-switching, electromagnetic-driven circuit,” says Dr Peters.
Splicing a second loop into the single loop is a gradual process, but environmental change helped facilitate the upright, human form.
His model pointed at a transitionary state, a mixed circuit, that is less efficient, yet retains its balance bilaterally. This is why all animal life is bi-symmetric, he says.
Transitionary animals such as salamanders and reptiles have a less efficient system. They need a warm environment for their circulatory systems to evolve. When global warming ended the ice age, salamanders and reptiles occupied a transitionary state in the evolution of the circulatory system.
PhiThe five limbs that sprout out of vertebrates’ trunks were determined by another evolutionary principle found in Dr Peters’ model.
During an earlier investigation of the twisting function of the heart, he found the design of its flow-path was based on the logarithmic spiral. Known as phi, the self-similar spiral growth curve has fascinated mathematicians, scientists, artists, architects, designers and natural philosophers for centuries. It can be found in the nautilus sea-shell and in the architecture of the Athenian temple Parthenon.
Because the smallest part of the design shares exactly the same proportions as the whole, the curve evolves in humans, but proportionally, from the centre (the heart) to the extremities.
To render the human heart’s logarithmic spiral in 2D, he used digital data captured from the most advanced MRI technology from Germany. The “ghostly soft-shell form” in the image was of the interior of a human heart’s tubes and chambers.
“Spheres were placed in the soft-shell form and the centre-point of each sphere was used to ‘join the dots’ to create a singular white line that distils the essence of the form of the distributive motor within humans,” Dr Peters told The Gisborne Herald in 2013.
The white line drawn through the centre of each virtual ping-pong ball describes a ragged but definite logarithmic spiral.
In geometry, phi generates a five-pointed star known as the pentagram. Phi is also found in a mathematical principle known as the Fibonacci Series. This is achieved by adding each number to its previous sum of numbers.
For instance: 1+2=3, 2+3=5 and so on.
The logarithmic spiral found in the design of the heart radiates pentamerically. That is, the spiral evolves organically to configure itself at the extremities of the body in fives.
As an emblem of this principle, Dr Peters draws on Renaissance artist-scientist Leonard da Vinci’s famous drawing Vitruvian Man. The picture depicts a man standing inside a circle and square. Based on another translation of phi known as the golden section, the proportions of his body match a Classical ideal.
Dr Peters produced a print on metallic paper and wrote a concise summary of his discovery — but he knew he would have to expand it. He shelved the scientific pursuit of his idea for a while. Then he came back to it, armed this time with a vacuum cleaner hose.