Page 1


Journal of the Bachelor of Arts and Science Volume 1, 2008

McGill University Montreal, Quebec, Canada


Journal of the Bachelor of Arts and Science Volume 1, 2008

Editor-in-Chief Paloma Friedman Editorial Board Lucy Erickson Nikki Fischer Johnson Fung Kathleen Gollner Samia Madwar Lianne Soller Perrin Valli Layout and Design Johnson Fung Jordana Remz Alyssa Salaciak Perrin Valli

Ampersand is supported by the Bachelor of Arts and Science Integrative Council, the Arts Undergraduate Society, the Science Undergraduate Society, the SSMU Campus Life Fund, the SSMU Green Fund, and the Dean of Arts Development Fund.

The moral rights of the authors have been asserted.

Printed on 100% recycled paper.


v vi viii

About Ampersand About the Contributors Introduction

Dr. AndrĂŠ Costopoulos


A Biography of the Ampersand


In Me and All Around Me: The Role of Wind in Classical Indian and Chinese Medical Systems

Dr. Stephen Chrisomalis

Chris Murray


The Cultivation of Decimal Numeration in the Arab Empire


A Gendered Burden: HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa


Imag[in]ing Religion

38 47 56 63

Orianna DeMasi

Jaclyn Rappaport

Julia Webster

Can Ocean Iron Fertilization Slow Climate Change?

Adam Baylin-Stern

Chinese Cricket Fighting: Culture and Science

Han Han Li

Ice, Sea and Sovereignty: Climate Change and Canada’s Claim to the Northwest Passage Matt Brown

On the Impossibility of Deriving Objective Qualities of Time from Thermodynamics

Aaron Sidney Wright


About Ampersand Welcome, reader. In case you were wondering, the volume in your hands is more than a journal. Ampersand is a collection of undergraduate writing that we feel is worthy of your time. Though this slim paperback is the “academic” journal of the Bachelor of Arts and Science, it pays tribute to an intellectual tradition that precedes courses and credits. A recent invention, the occupation of Student is sort of strange — a position for thinking. First-years arrive on the job refreshed and optimistic, believing that the university is a beacon of knowledge, a necessary step towards a more comfortable future. But after a year or two of higher learning, the shine can lose its luster. The burden of deadlines wears down the allure of ideas and books, and without a clear focus, thoughts seem locked away in stone buildings and buried under garbled academese. Ampersand’s essays were selected not because they put forth anything novel or eloquently articulated, but because they are thought-inducing. The subjects explored are current (from climate change to HIV/AIDS) and compelling (from the anthropology of Eastern medicine to the Chinese practice of cricket fighting). In this, they establish what stands to be gained by breaking down a disciplinary divide. And so, with a little polish and flair, we present them to you to consume as you like (though not to reproduce).1 The inaugural edition of Ampersand would not have been possible without the sagacity of André Costopoulos and Stephen Chrisomalis, the patience of Gaétan Charron, the support of our sponsors, the BASiC council, and the Easter Bunny. We hope we are successful in our first attempt at inspiring you to reclaim your education. If you think so, we invite you to contribute to next year’s edition. In doing so, you’ll demonstrate some real academic integrity.

The Editors




About the Contributors Adam Baylin-Stern is currently completing his undergraduate degree in McGill University’s Bachelor of Arts and Science program with majors in Cell/Molecular Biology and Economics. Born and raised in Montreal, he has also resided in Boulder, Colorado and Amsterdam, is the drummer of a band, and has acted on stage and television. His article about iron fertilization was written for Professor Chris Green’s course, ECON 347: The Economics of Climate Change. Adam hopes to pursue a graduate degree in environmental management, and to become a rockstar, but if that doesn’t work out, he’d be happy to devote his career towards helping to prevent the dangerous effects of climate change. Matt Brown, U3 Economics and English Literature, hopes that his first foray into international maritime law — contained in this journal — will assist him in realizing his dream career as a sea captain. His paper was written for ECON 347: The Economics of Climate Change. Dr. Stephen Chrisomalis completed his Ph.D. in the comparative history of numerical notation at McGill University, where he is now a Faculty Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology. Dr. André Costopoulos, a Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, teaches Prehistory of Northern Europe and Computational Approaches to Prehistory. In 2006, he won the Principal’s Prize for Teaching Excellence. Orianna DeMasi, B.Sc. U2, is majoring in mathematics and minoring in the philosophical and historical development of science. She enjoys studying the development of medieval Arabic mathematics, as well as fiber arts and photography, and hopes to work in the field of applied mathematics for environmental science. Last summer, she went to the Caribbean to collect sand flies and model tides at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Her paper was written for PHIL 411: Topics in the Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics, with Dr. Dirk Schlimm.


Han Han Li, of Beijing, China, is in U2 of her B.A. & Sc. in Biology and Anthropology. Her paper was written for BIOL 350: Insect Biology. Chris Murray is a U2 student currently completing a major in Biomedical Sciences, with minors in Social Studies of Medicine and Anthropology. This paper was written for ANTH 407: Anthropology of the Body, a seminar led by Professor Allan Young. He is originally from Ottawa, Ontario, but has lived in Colombo, Sri Lanka and Jakarta, Indonesia for many years, where he developed a keen interest in Asian culture and society. Jaclyn Rappaport is in U3 of her B.A. & Sc. in Biomedical Sciences and Sociology. Her paper was written for SOCI 530: Sociology of Biomedical Knowledge, and highlights her academic interests, namely the intersection of health and social and political processes. This will be the focus of her Master’s Degree, which she is beginning in the fall of 2008. Julia Webster, from Toronto, Ontario, is in U3 of her B.A. & Sc., studying Cognitive Science and History. She is a descendant of the Duke of Montrose and a photographer. She hopes to find something that combines her multiple, uncoordinated skill sets. Her essay was written for PSYC 532: Cognitive Science, taught by Professor Thomas Shultz. Aaron Sidney Wright, MS1 Physics, completed his B.A. & Sc. in Physics and History in 2008. This paper was written for PHIL 441, Professor Bunge’s Philosophy of Science 2 seminar. In addition to his studies, Aaron was a member of the Redmen Alpine Ski Team, and an editor of — and contributor to — The McGill Daily.

viii ampersand



he Arts and the Sciences are often seen as two very different regions of the scholarly world. In Arts faculties, humanities and social sciences coexist uneasily, while in Science faculties, pure and applied sciences make do with each other. But the Arts and Sciences too often remain closed to one another. The Bachelor of Arts and Science is an attempt to break down these largely artificial divisions, and to allow students to explore knowledge with little regard for the traditional disciplinary boundaries that have too often already afflicted their professors with academic tunnel vision. The papers in this collection suggest that the experiment is working. Western academic disciplines, and their division into arts and sciences, don’t have a very long history by any standard. For example, one would be hard-pressed to decide whether Isaac Newton (1643–1727) was a physicist, a mathematician, a philosopher, a historian of science, or an alchemist. He made contributions to all these disciplines and more, before they were academic disciplines. One might even argue that his ability to contribute to each of them depended on his inability to see any incompatibility or even major differences between them. More recently, it was still possible for a young scholar such as Franz Boas (1848–1942) to obtain a doctorate in physics (optics) and to go on to organize the modern discipline of anthropology in North America. And it was problems encountered in his studies of optics that led him to be concerned first with psychology, and ultimately with what became known as anthropology. It was his combined interests in what we would today call the various disciplines of geology, anatomy, systematics, philosophy and theology that led Charles Darwin (1809–1882) to undertake the work that resulted in his theory of evolution by natural selection. Like Newton and Boas, Darwin would probably have found our narrow modern disciplinary boundaries intellectually stifling. It is not unusual today to hear academics say that certain disciplines are incompatible, or that investing time in the study of one detracts from the study of another. The history of academic disciplines themselves, the success of the B.A. & Sc., and the thought-provoking nature of the papers in this collection are powerful indictments of such an academically


parochial attitude. Every academic discipline represented today in the university by a department is the result of the hybridization of ideas that at one time were seen as belonging to different intellectual fields. No doubt, many of the department-less inter-disciplinary programs currently found in the university will someday be represented by departments and perceived as disciplines of their own. As history shows, the students who are blind to these partly intellectual, but mostly administrative boundaries, often make the most valuable contributions to knowledge. And as this volume shows, B.A. & Sc. students are following their own burning questions, wherever they may lead intellectually and administratively. They discover how knowledge produced in one corner of academia can fertilize knowledge produced in other corners and result in unexpected and wonderful hybrids. In this, they stand in good company.

Professor AndrĂŠ Costopoulos Department of Anthropology McGill University



A Biography of the Ampersand


n one of those weird coincidences that arise from time to time, I recently remarked in a B.A. & Sc. lecture on my area of specialty, the anthropology of writing and literacy, that the often neglected ampersand is perhaps my favourite written sign in English. Good old Shift-7 — where would we be without you? I am thrilled to have been asked to write this short introductory piece, and I hope to share with you some of what I think makes this sign so interesting.

Unlike the ordinary letters A through Z, & unambiguously represents a specific word in a language without indicating the sounds of that word — the term sometimes used for such signs is logogram. This usually makes the written form shorter (as in = for equals), but also allows it to be used regardless of the language of the reader. One can’t, however, except when being facetious, use it phonetically in words like m&atory or h&st&. Of course, in French, & is read as ‘et’, in German as ‘und’, and so on. It survives in part because and is such a common word, and thus in need of abbreviation, but many other words like the and of have no such common abbreviation, and never have. The word ampersand itself has a very curious history. Prior to the twentieth century, particularly but not exclusively in Britain, & was regarded not as a punctuation mark or an auxiliary sign, but as a sort of letter of the alphabet, to be found after Z. In listing one’s letters in order, one would end the sequence ‘X, Y, Z, & per se and’ — that is, ‘&, by itself, standing for and ’. Other letters that could stand for words on their own could also be named in this way (e.g. ‘A per se A’ or ‘I per se I’). The ampersand wasn’t quite a full letter — one wouldn’t use it when compiling an alphabetized list, for instance — but it had a definite place at the end of the alphabet, as recounted by generations of schoolchildren. Over time, ‘and per se and’ became ‘ampersand’, and in this blending of words its original sense was lost to all but etymologists. The history of the sign & is as fascinating as its name. The earliest use of the ampersand was Roman; it emerged as a shorthand contraction of the Roman word et (‘and’) in the rapid scribal


hand used in the early Empire. Of course, its reading would always have been ‘et’ in Latin — it was not yet a logogram — but as the two letters became one, its pronunciation became divorced from any specific language, even though the meaning remained constant throughout European languages. In German, this graphic origin survives in the name Etzeichen (‘et-sign’), and to this day proofreaders of English publications use the term ‘et’ in place of ‘and’ when reading & aloud, to avoid ambiguity. Its name born out of the union of words, its shape born out of the union of letters, its meaning conveying the union of disparate ideas and concepts — the ampersand is no mere shorthand. Indeed, this publication bears the indelible mark of the merger of diversity, as will your B.A. & Sc. degree, and ultimately, your intellectual experiences.

Stephen Chrisomalis, Ph.D. Department of Anthropology McGill University

In Me and All Around Me The Role of Wind in Classical Indian and Chinese Medical Systems

Chris Murray

Ah! Not now, when desire burns, and the wind calls, and the suns of spring Light-foot dance in the woods, whisper of life, woo me to wayfaring Choriambics I Rupert Brooke


ind has captivated humanity from the beginning of recorded history, through to the present. Its centrality to sustaining life, to the defining human act of speech, and to the practices of agriculture, hunting, and oceangoing navigation represent a few of the ways wind is important to civilizations. It is hardly surprising, then, that wind is integral to many cultural belief systems, and to conceptions of the human body.1 In the Ayurvedic and Classical Chinese medical systems of India and China respectively, wind is vital to the understanding of health, sickness, and the body. The different interpretations of the role and importance of 1 In this essay, the use of “body” pertains to the physical human body, while “Body” refers to the cultural constructs of the body, specifically those in India and in China

wind in each culture led to the development of two very different portraits of the human body: a more contained and physical body in India, and a less defined and more ideological body in China. In anthropological studies of these two medical systems, Thomas J. Csordas (1990) has attempted to explain their conceptions of the body using his paradigm of Embodiment. His analysis allows for a greater understanding of the differences between the Ayurvedic and Classical Chinese medical systems and their diverse conceptions of the body. This research also encourages the practical application of Embodiment as a methodological paradigm, demonstrating how powerful this model can be in explaining different social constructs. As suggested by recent anthropological studies, the Ayurvedic and Classical Chinese Bodies prove to be dynamic cultural constructs, and

In Me And All Around Me an analysis of them allows for a more comprehensive and intuitive understanding of classical Indian and Chinese cultures. The medical systems of India and China represent two of the three scholarly medical systems developed in antiquity that are still in practice today, the third being the Hippocratic medical system which was developed in ancient Greece and has become modern biomedicine, the dominant medical system in the West. This essay will begin with individual examinations of the Ayurvedic and Classical Chinese medical systems, with a focus on the role of wind, followed by conceptual summaries of the Body as seen in each cultural system. Each ideology has its dualities, divisions between the tangible (the physical Body) and the intangible (thoughts and culture). The essay will then turn to a summary of Thomas J. Csordas’ argument for the use of Embodiment 2 as a paradigm for anthropological study. This paradigm is adopted by Csordas in an attempt to compare the two Bodies and to reconcile dualities. The aim of this exercise is to demonstrate the utility of this paradigm for understanding the Indian and Chinese Bodies. Wind, Ayurvedic Medicine, and the Indian Body Ayurvedic medicine is a comprehensive medical system that developed between 2500 and 600 BCE, drawing its historical foundations from a collection of ancient Sanskrit texts (Mishra, Singh, & Dagenais, 2001). This paper will use the intellectual framework of the height of the classical Ayurvedic medical system, developed around 700 CE, when one of the doctrinal texts on Ayurvedic medical theory, the Ashtang Hridaya Samhita was published (Mishra et al., 2001). According to Susruta, one of the three intellectual forefathers 2 Embody: to give a concrete or discernible form (to an idea, concept etc); to form into a body; to provide (a spirit) with bodily form. (Oxford English Dictionary)


of Ayurvedic medicine who lived in the sixth century BCE, the purpose of the medical system at this time was “to cure the diseases of the sick, to protect the health, [and] to prolong life” (Leslie, 1976, p.22). Central to this system is the belief that the body is composed of three dhatus: vatta/vayu (wind), pitta (bile), and kapha (phlegm). These dhatus have often been regarded as analogous to the humours of the Hippocratic medical system. As such, Ayurvedic medicine is considered a “humoural” medical system. Ayurvedic medicine is a system based on physiology rather than anatomy, since Hindu taboos surrounding the handling of dead bodies forbid anatomical dissection. In the healthy Body, the dhatus are normally in balance with each other, so disease is attributed to a disruption of this balance when any one of the dhatus dominates the others. To maintain health, the dhatus were kept in balance by various means, including dietary constraints, exercise regimes, religious ceremonies, and pharmaceutical remedies. In An Elementary Textbook of Ayurveda, Frank Ninivaggi highlights that the equilibrium between the three dhatus does not guarantee good health; wind plays the most prominent role in this regard. Since one of wind’s main properties is motion, vatta is considered the “King Dhatu” because of its centrality to health, and the “Servant Dhatu” for its role in controlling the movement of the two other dhatus in the body (pitta and kappa) (Ninivaggi, 2001). Within the framework of a body composed of these three dhatus, there are five bodily winds that play a role in sustaining life. These winds are named in the canonical Atharvaveda text as Prana, Udana, Apana, Samana, and Vyana (Zysk, 1993). Generations of Ayurvedic medical writers have attempted to define these winds by their actions, natures, and localities within the Body. Although they differ in their definitions, they all agree that Prana is the dominant wind. Prana is known as the “front breath.” It rests in the throat and mouth, and is



responsible for swallowing and breathing (Zysk, Wind is viewed as a tangible 1993). Wind enters the Body primarily through substance that has to be the nose and mouth, where it is divided into its separate component winds according to their nurtured and protected, lest internal functions and directions of travel. It it become riled and assume can also enter the Body through any of the bodily orifices or, more often, through pores pathological properties. in the skin. Consequently, attention has to be paid to maintaining healthy pores, as activities such as strenuous exercise or excessive late- and medicine, both of which emphasize wind and its interactions with the human body. As night studying dilate pores and increase one’s susceptibility to pathological winds. Wind is “humoural” entities, Indian Bodies can be seen as vessels containing dhatus that are in viewed as a tangible substance that has to be constant dynamic interaction with each other, nurtured and protected, lest it become riled and which are potentially susceptible to exterand assume pathological properties. nal influences such as wind. The imbalance of In studies of Ayurvedic medical beliefs, Ken- dhatus and other bodily substrates represents an offense to the norm of purity and equilibrium. neth G. Zysk (1993) demonstrated how wind But the substances themselves remain distinct is linked to the idea of human life, as well as religion and culture in ancient India. For sub- physical entities, replete with unique physiological characteristics and relatively devoid of scribers of Ayurvedic medicine, wind is central to life since “respiration [is] the primary indica- deeper cosmological connotations. The Body remains a self-contained unit, sheltering its tor of life” (Zysk, 1993, p.207). Similarly, the ideal Ayurvedic physician “champions Prana, internal composition from the outside world. and destroys disease” (Zysk, 1993, p.206). This duality is one of microcosm-macrocosm, or of individual-universe. Another characteristic of wind in Ayurvedic thought, which is paralleled in Chinese medical beliefs, is the connection to temporality, specif- Wind, Classical Chinese Medicine, and the Chinese Body ically regarding seasonality. A large portion of the Indian population depends on favourable Before considering the Body of Classical weather for the success of their agricultural lifeChinese medicine, it is important to clarify a styles, and observance of the weather provides knowledge of the wind’s activities. Eventually, semantic ambiguity by distinguishing between Classical and Traditional Chinese medicine. this idea infiltrated medical thought. Since air and wind (and their effects on humans) seem to The latter was developed by the Chinese Government during the Mao Zedong era in an vary with the seasons (Gupta, 1986), seasonal attempt to modernize the Classical system and diseases called Kalabala have been connected with the seasonal wind changes (Zysk, 2000). rival the Western biomedical system. Classical However, the emphasis remains on the percep- Chinese medicine, on the other hand, reached its height during the Han dynasty in the early tion of wind as a distinct entity, acting out of character in relation to the order of the universe, centuries of the first millennium CE and is still practiced today throughout the world. and invading the body to cause disruption and disease. Classical Chinese Medicine does not feature The Indian Body is constructed by com- a humoural conception of the body comparable to the Indian and Hippocratic medical systems, bining the ideological discourses of religion

In Me And All Around Me but it does share a notion of equilibrium. In this case, the balance pertains to yin, yang, and qi. Classical Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine share traditions favouring physiology over anatomy (Hay, 1994), but unlike the Ayurvedic example, Classical Chinese medicine envisions organs as functional processes and zones rather than distinct entities. In his discussion of boundaries in the Chinese Body, John Hay notes that there is no physical space between organs, and that interactions occur along the boundary of neighboring areas (1994). As such, the Chinese Body is quite simplistic and integrative on a physical level, but Chinese medicine offers many other points of departure into the exploration of wind and the Body. The concept of qi, translated as “pneuma,” “breath,” or “vital energy,” (Kuriyama, 1990) is central to Classical Chinese Medicine and philosophy. It is involved in all processes of life, and it circulates throughout the Body both dependently and independently of the blood. The functions of organs are defined in terms of their location and their ability to store qi temporarily (Hay, 1994). Since the extended stagnation of qi is pathogenic, its temporality is essential, and practices such as acupuncture or moxibustion 3 strive to evacuate accumulated qi and restore equilibrium (Leslie, 1976). Outside the body, qi is also believed to flow through the Earth in special arteries, where it too can stagnate, causing such calamities as political strife, plagues of insects, and water pollution (Yates, 1994). Wind plays a more central role in shaping ideas and practices than is immediately evident in a survey of Chinese medical literature. As Shigehisa Kuriyama noted, many scholars have described wind as being the conceptual ancestor of qi (1986). Wind and qi are used interchangeably in texts from the late Warring States Period and the Han Dynasty (Kuriyama, 1994), and 3 A herbal remedy that incorporates some of the elements of acupuncture.


the famous Han dynasty philosopher Wang Chong (27-97 CE) summarized that “wind is qi” (Kuriyama, 1986). However, Kuriyama notes that there is incomplete replacement of “wind” by “qi” in the literature, and therefore, we cannot simply use the two terms interchangeably. Wind, as an entity apart from qi, remains a primary concern for Chinese physicians due to its link with temporality and change. As in India, wind holds tremendous sway over Chinese peoples’ thoughts, as it determines the success of crops, the catch from a fishing ground, or the profit of a maritime trading expedition. In addition, winds in Classical post-Confucian China4 came to be seen as the harbingers of change, and captured the thoughts of Chinese philosophers because of the way they could act invisibly and seemingly without effort (Kuriyama, 1986). Wind occupies a niche in Chinese thought analogous to the modern notion of time: instead of being propelled by time, the universe is propelled by unseen winds (Kuriyama, 1986). More specifically, the potentially sinister and violent side of wind is synonymous with the concept of disordered time; in Kuriyama’s words: “The polluted breath that swept into and attacked the body’s innate vitality was chaotic time, conceived as a real, noxious, contagious stream” (2000, p.17). Separately, Kuriyama (1994) notes how the qi-centered portrait of the Body represents predictability and stability, while wind typifies change and chaos. Considering that wind embodies change and that disease is the result of these altered states, it follows that wind is linked to disease (Kuriyama, 1994). Wind disrupts qi, upsets the balance of yin and yang, or imparts disease in other insidious ways. Hence, wind emerged in late antiquity as the main etiology of sickness, and in the canonical medical text, The Neijing Suwen, wind was known as “the origin of the hundred diseases” (Kuriyama, 1994, p.25). After the death of the influential Chinese philosopher Confucius in 479 BCE.




The Chinese portray the Body as a mobile concentration of qi energy: irreducibly bound to the cosmic time that streams through and motivates the universe. outer winds, but as John Hay notes, “The skin Consulting Kuriyama’s narrative on the development of the wind doctrine in post- [is] more like the configuration of a cloud: a very sudden gradient in density rather than a Confucian China provides further appreciation physical enclosure” (1994, p.17). Qi can enter for the role of wind in disease and the Chinese conception of the Body. While Chinese intel- or leave the body through the skin, traveling through any of the 84,000 pores counted in lectuals remained interested in wind, a distinct shift in beliefs occurred in the Han dynasty. Chinese medical literature (Kuriyama, 1994). However, only certain pores, known as xue, Han diviners, intellectuals during China’s Han dynasty, were more concerned with the mean- can be targets to liberate stagnated qi by acupuncture. Xue literally translates to “holes” or ing of the winds that were blowing, as opposed to the previous concern of whether the winds “cavities,” and also describes the geographical sites significant to the Chinese practice of would blow (Kuriyama, 1994). As such, these geomancy.5 In geomancy, xue are the caverns diviners examined the significance of wind to the health and politics of the kingdom. In the occupied by the legendary phoenix-like bird quest to reduce ambiguity, Han diviners con- called feng (Kuriyama, 1986). In the Oracletributed four new winds: Northeast, Southeast, Bones, the oldest known written records in Southwest, and Northwest. These four new Chinese, the feng character stood for both the winds, plus the original four (North, East, mythical bird and wind, and to this day the root South, and West) became the Eight Winds, or feng still means wind. In the schools of both Bafeng, and their regularity with the seasons medicine and geomancy, a similar concept can led to their consideration as the “guardians of be observed: a Body exists, either the Earth or temporal order” (Kuriyama, 1994, p.29). The the Body, where at specific sites (xue) energy union of health and wind reflects efforts of (qi for the Body and feng for the Earth) can the Han philosophers to create a more seam- be regulated. Therefore, the xue of the human less and ordered cosmos. The Body is situated Body represents a link between internalized within the matrix of the cosmos and the end- and external wind, and by extension, between less flow of time, and Classical Chinese medical the microcosm of the individual and the macropractitioners have to take this into considera- cosm of the universe. Kuriyama summarizes tion when examining a patient. But Kuriyama this relationship, stating that “inquiry into the argues that this seamless and ordered cosmos Chinese conception of the body begins most is juxtaposed with the commonality of sickness, fruitfully with the specific image of streams eventually leading to a “heightened awareness meandering through a topographically complex of irregularity” (1994, p.31) in Chinese medical somatic terrain” (1986). The medical terminthought and in every day life. ology pertaining to wind involves military metaphors related to attacking and defending. Another interface between wind and the For example, wind can be described as hitting Chinese conception of the body is found in the an individual, and practitioners view wind as practice of acupuncture, one of the therapies 5 A form of divination where the energy of the Earth’s commonly associated with Classical Chinese geography is related to non-geographical entities, medicine. The skin divides inner breaths from including human beings and political states

In Me And All Around Me an invader penetrating progressively deeper and inflicting an increasingly more serious illness on the individual (Kuriyama, 2000). As demonstrated above, the Chinese portray the Body as a mobile concentration of qi energy as opposed to a physical being. Chinese medicine perceives the Body as irreducibly bound to the cosmic time that streams through and motivates the universe, to the extent that “the doctrine of temporal alignment became the foundation of hygiene” (Kuriyama, 1994, p.36). Wind is central to this association of health with the Body’s situation in time, since wind represents the powers of change and time. Wind retains links to internal human physiology through the concept of qi and the medical practice of acupuncture. Geomancy provides a geographical outlook in agreement with the range of ideas and practices related to the human Body. As a result, ideas from geomancy diffused into ideas regarding the construction of the Body. Through the preceding analysis, we can conclude that there is a different duality encountered in this case: the duality between the physical and the ideological. Thomas J. Csordas’ paradigm of Embodiment, described below, provides a basis to compare this duality in the Chinese Body with the duality in the Indian body. The Paradigm of Embodiment In “Embodiment as a Paradigm for Anthropology,” Csordas (1990) discusses the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Pierre Bourdieu regarding their use of the Embodiment paradigm to explain problematic dualities. During his analysis, Csordas states: “for Merleau-Ponty the body is a ‘setting in relation to the world,’ and consciousness is the body projecting itself into the world; for Bourdieu the socially informed body is the ‘principle generating and unifying all practices’ ” (1990, p.8). Following the analysis of Merleau-Ponty and Bourdieu, Csordas went on to examine “charismatic healing practices”


using Embodiment. From his studies, he concluded that the Body can be used to analyze culture and the self. By highlighting the Body as a biological entity that is the primary basis for both the creation of culture and the realm upon which culture acts, Csordas allows for retrospective analysis of the role of the Body in anthropological discourse. He emphasizes that a collapse in the subject-object duality allows anthropologists to investigate how cultural constructs, including the Body, can be re-evaluated in the “ongoing indeterminacy and flux of adult cultural life” (Csordas, 1994, p.40). In Embodiment and Experience: the Existential Ground of Culture and Self, Csordas paraphrases A. Frank, stating: “the Body should be understood not as a constant amidst flux but as an epitome of that flux” (1994, p.1). This is particularly relevant since both Ayurvedic and Classical Chinese Bodies exist in states of flux in relation to their environments, and in Chinese medicine, wind is an example of flux. Thus, considering the Indian Body, characterized by purity and balance, and the Chinese Body, characterized by interaction and experience, the concept of Embodiment, as articulated by Csordas, can be used to analyze and to compare these two descriptions of the body with specific references to wind and to duality (individual-universe in the Indian Body and physical-ideological in the Chinese Body). Wind is central to the Ayurvedic understanding of medicine and the Body, but the Body remains a distinct physical entity defined by observable characteristics and treated as a constituent of the material universe. While temporality and seasonal changes are associated with wind in Ayurvedic thought, wind itself remains independent of other cultural beliefs. Embodiment can help solve this individual-cosmos duality, where the division between concepts of the tangible Body and the intangible cosmos needs to be reconciled. Borrowing from Bourdieu’s use of the concept of habitus (Csordas, 1990), the Embodiment



“The Body should be understood not as a constant amidst flux but as an epitome of that flux.” paradigm situates the Indian Body within India’s cultural and intellectual life, and provides insight into the use of religious ideals in the conception of the Body. The Indian Body was created in a physical world where the dominant religious discourse favours ideas of an interconnected and continuous cosmos. Wind, while not strictly representative of other intellectual constructs, as in China, nevertheless represents an external force entering the Body, allowing Indian philosophers to establish its link between the universe and the individual. By embracing the mechanism of breathing as the primary indicator of life, Indian medical philosophers inexplicitly endorse the embodiment of the surrounding macrocosm through wind. Hence, Csordas’ methodological use of Embodiment helps define wind as the link between the individual and the greater macrocosm. Concerning Chinese medical knowledge, Kuriyama eloquently demonstrates the extent of the embodiment of cultural and philosophical ideals in the Chinese discourse on winds and the Body. Chinese philosophers and medical writers, like their Indian counterparts, situate the Body within the greater cosmos. But, unlike the Indian conception, that of the Chinese involves more complex ideas about wind, and the Body they envision is inseparable from time as opposed to the Ayurvedic Body, whose description is not dependent on time. Therefore, the Chinese Body is integrated into the physical and ideological constructs more seamlessly than the Indian Body. Wind is simultaneously at the core and the periphery of

the Chinese conception of the Body, since it is conceived as both an external presence and an intrinsic entity. Kuriyama has already applied the paradigm of embodiment to demonstrate that wind can collapse the physical-ideological duality. Through the Embodiment of wind, all Bodies in China became linked to one another, to the universe, and to the flow of time. The Chinese Body is an exemplary setting for the paradigmatic use of Embodiment, because it portrays a dynamic entity in constant interaction with the physical world, and the world of philosophical and medical theorizing. In conclusion, the experimental approach of this paper and the work of Shigehisa Kuriyama reveal how the paradigm of Embodiment can be used to elucidate the Ayurvedic and Classical Chinese constructs of the Body. The Embodiment of wind provides a connection between tangible and intangible aspects of these cultural constructs, settling individual-universe dualities in Ayurvedic medical thought and physical-ideological dualities in Classical Chinese philosophy. Since Csordas’s model has been effective in these cases, the same approach can be turned to settings where cultural perceptions of wind are still complicated by dualities. Thus, the Embodiment paradigm can impart insight into medical systems of other cultures. References Csordas, T. J. (1990). Embodiment as a Paradigm for Anthropology. Ethos, 18(1), 5-47. Csordas, T. J., ed. (1994). Embodiment and Experience: the Existential Ground of Culture and Self. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Gupta, K. R. L. (1986). Hindu Anatomy, Physiology, Therapeutics, History of Medicine and Practice of Physic. Delhi, India: Sri Satguru Publications. Hay, J., ed. (1994) Boundaries in China. Great Britain: Reaktion Books Ltd. Kuriyama, S. (2000). Epidemics, Weather, and Contagion in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In Conrad, L. I., and Wujastyk, D. (Eds.). Contagion: Perspectives from Pre-Modern Societies. (pp. 3-25). Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.

In Me And All Around Me 10 Kuriyama, S. (1994). The Imagination of Winds and the Development of the Chinese Conception of the Body. In Zito, A., and Barlow, T. E. (Eds.). Body, Subject & Power in China. (pp. 23-41). USA: The University of Chicago Press. Kuriyama, S. (1986). Varieties of Haptic Experience: a Comparative Study of Greek and Chinese Pulse Diagnosis. Dissertation, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts. Leslie, C. ed. (1976). Asian Medical Systems. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. Mishra, L., Singh B. B., & Dagenais, S. (2001). Ayurveda: a Historical Perspective and Principles of the Traditional Healthcare System in India. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 7(2). Retrieved October 14, 2007 from JSTOR. Ninivaggi, F. J. (2001). An Elementary Textbook of Ayurveda. USA: Psychosocial Press. Yates, R. D. (1994) Body, Space, Time and Bureaucracy: Boundary Creation and Control Mechanisms in Early China. In Hay, J. (Ed.) Boundaries in China. (pp. 56-80). Great Britain: Reaktion Books Ltd. Zysk, K. G. (2000). Does Ancient Indian Medicine Have a Theory of Contagion? In Conrad, L. I. and Wujastyk, D. (Eds.). Contagion: Perspectives From Pre-Modern Societies. (pp. 85-102). Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing. Zysk, K. G. (1993). The Science of Respiration and the Doctrine of the Bodily Winds in Ancient India. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 113(2), 198-213. Retrieved September 23, 2007 from JSTOR.

11 ampersand

The Cultivation of Decimal Numeration in the Arab Empire


Orianna DeMasi

I will omit all discussion of the science of the Indians, [...] of their subtle discoveries in astronomy, discoveries that are more ingenious than those of the Greeks and the Babylonians, and of their valuable methods of calculation which surpass description. I wish only to say that this computation is done by means of nine signs. If those who believe, because they speak Greek, that they have arrived at the limits of science, would read the Indian texts, they would be convinced, even if a little late in the day, that there are others who know something of value. Severus Sebokht Christian scholar, 662 CE


Decimal Numeration 12


he way we record numbers and make calculations is frequently taken for granted. Many do not realize the intricacies involved in recording numbers, and that numeration systems other than our own have been employed. The numeration system currently in use in the modern West is derived from the ancient Hindu decimal system, which was in turn developed by Arab mathematicians. However, the decimal system’s path from India through the Arab Empire was complex. This paper will consider some of these complexities and the extent to which Arabic mathematicians and society embraced and further developed Hindu decimal calculations. Before considering how the Hindu and Arabic systems became interwoven throughout the Arab empire, it is important to consider aspects that distinguish the two numeration systems. The Hindu system introduced to the Arabs was ciphered; in other words, the first nine digits are represented by nine ciphers (symbols). Non-ciphered systems accumulate strokes or dots to indicate successive numbers. The Hindu system was also decimal (base ten) and positional, meaning that the digits were written in a certain order to indicate different powers of the unit base. For example,  637 = 6(100) + 3(10) + 7(1) = 6(102) + 3(101) + 7(100) Other systems have been created that are not base ten but other bases such as five, eight, or twenty (Mallory and Adams, 1997). A system of base 60 is “sexagesimal.” In sexagesimal notation, 637 is written as   10,37 = 10(60) + 37(1) = 10(601) + 37(600)

Another example of sexagesimal notation is 3785 written as  1,3,5 = 1(3600) + 3(60) + 5(1) = 1(602) + 3(601) + 5(600) The sexagesimal system, the older system of Arabic numeration, has been found in many cultures. It is thought that the Babylonians transmitted their sexagesimal scale to the Greeks through trading on the Mediterranean (Saidan, 1978). Later, through reading Greek scientific texts, Arab scholars were exposed to and adopted the sexagesimal base for scientific calculations. However, because sexagesimal computation was cumbersome, it was only used by scientists. Thus, it was also known as hisab al-Zij (the arithmetic of astronomical tables) and hisab al-daraj wa al-dada’iq (arithmetic of degrees and minutes). The written record of such calculations is sparse. Sexagesimal calculations were cumbersome and texts frequently left out intermediary computations. Texts merely presented results of a problem without explaining how to perform calculations. Therefore, algorithms for sexagesimal computations are not well known. It is thought that the algorithms that we have now for decimal operations, such as long division, did not exist or were not commonly used (Goldstein, 1962; Rebstock, 2002). Rather, multiplication was performed with the aid of large tables. Instead of the 10-by-10 tables that are memorized and used in the modern decimal system, sexagesimal calculations required a basic table of 60-by-60. However, while few tables are extant, some have survived that exceed 3,600 entries, and some have more than 214,000 entries (Irani, 1983; King, 1974). It is thought that larger tables were kept to reduce the need for further calculation. While calculations were frequently done in a sexagesimal system for scientific applications,

13 ampersand

Arab mathematicians seemed to have recognized the equivalency of the two arithmetics, while using each system in separate settings, or merging aspects of systems together. the most widely used numeric system in the Arabic empire was finger reckoning, in which calculators performed all computations with their hands. This system was used in day-to-day activities, such as marketplace computations. The average citizen would have used this system; it was not exclusive to or popular for scientific calculations. In order to remember intermediate steps, the calculator “bent their finger joints in convenient ways which enabled them to indicate whole numbers from 1 to 9,999. This same device was repeated to indicate numbers from ten thousand onward” (Saidan, 1974). Finger reckoning was known in Arabic as hisab al-yadd (hand arithmetic), hisab al-‘uqud (finger joint arithmetic), hisab al-hawai (mental arithmetic), or hisab al-Rum Wa’l-‘Arab (arithmetic of the Byzantines and the Arabs). The base for this system was not consistent; small numbers were usually expressed on a base of 10, but large numbers and fractions were calculated using base 60.


indu mathematicians were the first to invent a ciphered decimal positional system. There is no doubt that Arab scientists learned about the Hindu system from translating foreign manuscripts (Katz, 1998), however, it is uncertain when the Arabs first encountered the Hindu system. The first recorded mention of the Hindu decimal system in the Middle East dates back to 662 CE, when the Christian scholar Severus Sebokht, who lived on the upper Euphrates River, praised the efficient decimal notation (O’Connor and Robertson, 2000). It was not until information about decimal arithmetic and Indian notation, what the Arabs referred to as “Hindu reckoning,” dis-

seminated that Arab mathematicians began utilizing the decimal system. The oldest known text on Arabic mathematics is the Book of Addition and Subtraction by the Islamic scientist Musa al-Khwarizmi, which survived only through Latin translations. Written after 800 CE, al-Khwarizmi’s work described notation and basic calculations in the Hindu arithmetic system as well as calculations in the Arabic systems. The first extant Arabic treatise on the Hindu system was written by Kushyar ibn Labban in 950 CE. Labban’s book, like al-Khwarizmi’s, includes both a description of the decimal place-value system and computations, as well as an explanation of sexagesimal arithmetic (Berggren, 1986). Later Arab texts reveal that this practice of presenting more than one arithmetic system was common. Arab mathematicians seemed to have recognized the equivalency of the two arithmetics, while using each system in separate settings, or merging aspects of systems together. Once introduced to the Arab world, the Hindu decimal system became known as al-hisab al-Hindi (Indian arithmetic), hisab al-takht (board arithmetic), or hisab al-ghubar (dust arithmetic). Al-Hindi acquired its alternative names because calculations were performed by scraping numerals into dust on a flat board with a stylus. As the computation proceeded, numerals were rubbed out as needed. The active process of using a dust board was in contrast to the “mental reckoning” or the more passive use of multiplication tables.

Decimal Numeration 14


n addition to having a different base and a different way of performing computations from Arab arithmetic, al-hisab al-Hindi employed a different notation scheme. The beauty of the al-hisab al-Hindi was that, in using the Hindu notation, any number, no matter how large, could be written using only nine symbols. The zero was also introduced but was not recognized as a numeral until modern times. For the Arabs, zero was nothing more than an empty placeholder.

In records of finger reckoning, numerals were written out as words in Jummal, the letters of the old Arab alphabet. Texts written in this style were popular but often long and cumbersome to read. In the Jummal alphabet, Arabic notation resembled the most widely used Greek numeral system. The twenty-eight letters of the Arabic alphabet represented the numerals 1 through 9 and then multiples of 10 up to 90 and multiples of 100 up to 1000. The system was not positional like the Hindu system, because instead of using the numeral 3 in a different position to represent 30, it would use a different symbol. In theory, because tariq al-munajimin was sexagesimal, 60 different symbols would be needed to represent the 60 numbers in the base. In the decimal system, only nine symbols are needed (and a zero to indicate position). However, the Arabs were creative and wrote two letters joined as one (like script letters in modern English) for numerals larger than ten (Berggren, 1986). For example, to write 33, the letter for 30 and for 3 would be connected. With this notation, only the letters up to 50 were used for notation, and extensive tables were used for computation. Standard multiplication tables were reduced

The Arab world was so vast that little was standardized across the empire, including its alphabet.

from 60-by-60 to 9-by-9 and algorithms for multiplication and division became simpler in the strictly positional system. Because everything was written, the scribe no longer had to mentally keep track of his intermediate steps. Abu’l-Hasan al-Uqlidisi, a mathematician who lived around 952 CE, commented on these improvements: Computers have to use it because it is easy and quick and needs little precaution‌ and little keeping of the heart busy by the working that should be seen on the hands, to the extent that if he [the computer] talks, that will not spoil his work; and if he leaves and busies himself with something else, when he comes back to it, he will find it the same and continue what he wants to continue, thus saving the trouble of memorizing it and keeping the heart busy with it (Saidan, 1966). The Arab empire was so vast that little was standardized across the empire, including its alphabet. In Jummal, some letters represented one number in the eastern part of the empire and a different number in the western part of the empire (Saidan, 1974). The form of the alhisab al-Hindi numerals also varied across the empire. In the east, the numerals were referred to as hindi and took on one form, but in North Africa and Spain in the west, the numerals were referred to as ghubar and took on a very different written form. In addition to the different forms of the numerals, mathematicians spread various combinations of notations and systems throughout the empire. Treaties on arithmetic would frequently introduce the Hindu system and describe the Hindu numerals, but also contained sections that presented arithmetic computations and techniques with other methods. For example, al-Uqlidisi “transformed into the Indian pattern all the curious and nice methods included in the old-fashioned [finger

15 ampersand reckoning] arithmetic” (Saidan, 1966). Texts Dixit Algorizmi, a Latin translation of alby al-Tusi, al-Nasawi and al-Uqlidisi apply Khwarizmi’s work, indicates that common Hindu numerals to the scale of 60 while Karaji fractions (4/5, 7/12, 40/41) were most frequently used, however, it appears that unit fractions and al-Ha’im gave no numerals but used the were also widespread. Unit fractions express form of the old finger reckoning by writing fractions as a unit over a denominator (1/3, 1/12, out the numbers. Tahir used Hindu arithmetic techniques and the Hindu form of recording 1/50) and in this system, non-unit fractions are written as the sum of unit fractions (7/12 = 1/3 numbers in a ciphered, positional format, but in a sexagesimal scale (Saidan, 1974). Not only did + 1/4). It is thought that the convention of unit Arab mathematicians apply one system’s char- fractions was introduced to the Arabs by ancient Egyptian mathematics (Katz, 2007). acters to another system’s computations, some also merged methods of computations in difIn Arab finger reckoning, various forms of ferent bases. Kushyar, for example, performed sophisticated computations in the decimal sys- fractions were used. While there are cases of fractions in finger reckoning being performed tem, but to record fractions, he returned to a sexagesimal base (Berggren, 1986). in base 10, the base used is not consistent. Sometimes a base of 60 was used, while on other occasions, a base of 20 or 40 was used ne of the most interesting places to (Saidan, 1978). The most popular base system see how aspects of the two systems were combined is in the use of frac- in finger reckoning expressed fractions as so many dirhams, dinars, or fulus, which were local tions. It is obvious in accounts of monetary units. This convention facilitated al-Khwarizmi’s texts that the system the Arabs learned from the Indians still contained sexa- monetary dealings and “named” the place value gesimal fractions (Folkerts, 2003). It was not of the fraction indicated. Without a decimal until Arab mathematicians began to develop point, a computer had to remember what units decimal fractions that the decimal system began each numeral represented, but writing “4 and 5 to have fractions like the ones used today. dirhams and 3 fulus” clarified the units to which the numerals corresponded. Initially, sexagesimal fractions were used in the Arabic system. For example, in base 60, The first evidence of recording fractions in a decimal system comes from the work of al-Uqli 1.5 disi (Berggren, 1986). It is not known whether = 1(100) + 5(10-1) the mathematician developed decimal fractions, but he showed how to compute and manipulate = 1(600) + 30(60-1) what he called “numerical” fractions, which are = 1;30 very similar to the decimal fractions with which we are familiar. He also recorded them with a  1/7 decimal point, similar to current notation. As = 0(600) + 8(60-1) + 34(60-2) + 17(60-3) + was the standard for arithmetical treatises, he 8(60-4) + 34(60-5) + 17(60-6)… also presented standard sexagesimal fractions = 0;8,34,17,8,34,17… in later sections. Al-Uqlidisi praised his new form of fractions as he found them easier for However, al-Khwarizmi’s text makes it clear computations. Without decimal fractions and that sexagesimal fractions belonged to “another a decimal point, one would have to perform a scientific world” (Folkerts, 2003). computation for the “whole” part of the number. Then one would have to treat the fraction


Decimal Numeration 16

“Leveling” converted a number to a decimal base, performed the computation with the Hindu algorithms, and then converted the representation back to the sexagesimal base. part and separately reason how the computation would affect the fraction. However, with al-Uqlidisi’s new notation and concept of fraction, he reduced the “part” of the number to a similar form as the “whole” so that algorithms for, say, multiplication or division could simply be continued and applied to whole and the fractional part. As al-Uqlidisi reasoned, one could treat the “value of the unit’s places as tens to that [after] it” (Berggren, 1986, p. 37). Abu Mansur al-Badhdadi, who lived half a century after al-Uqlidisi, also used a similar form of decimals in his work. However, it was not until 1172 CE, approximately 375 years after al-Khwarizmi published on Hindu numerals, that al-Samaw’al presented a methodical system of decimal fractions, and not until the early fifteenth century that Jamshid al-Kashi fully systematized the computation and use of decimal fractions in arithmetic (Berggren, 1986). The Hindu system remained, to a great extent, an alternative notation system and an easy system for large computations in the scientific community. The process of “leveling” is discussed in the work of mathematicians, including al-Biruni and al-Nasawi (Berggren, 1986). Leveling converted a number to a decimal base, performed the computation with the Hindu algorithms, and then converted the representation back to the sexagesimal base. This process clearly indicates the Arab appreciation for calculating in the Hindu system. The Arabs did, however, contribute to the decimal system. Their advances were predominately calculation or approximation procedures,

such as taking cube root approximations (Berggren, 1986). The shift to consistently using decimal notation seems not to have occurred in the Arab empire but rather in Europe (Katz, 1998). Latin texts endorsing the decimal system support the view that most translations of sexagesimal systems took place in Europe.


he intermingling of systems leaves one wondering why Arab mathematicians did not immediately or completely switch from hisab al-yadd or tariq al-munajimin to al-hisab al-Hindi, if decimal computations were easier and Arabs extolled Hindu notation for its concision and clarity. A definitive answer cannot be provided; however, there are a few issues to consider. Many of the Hindu texts that were translated were astronomical treatises.1 Sexagesimal notation is better for astronomy as it simplifies notation, calculation, and the recording of degrees of angles as “minutes” and “seconds” (which are given in base 60). Because the Arabs recognized the equivalency between systems, they simply translated much of Hindu astronomy into their sexagesimal system. One must also consider the efficiency of different systems in societal use. Many systems persisted because of their applicability to different professions. Because different people within society used each system, mathematicians continued to study in both systems. 1 Arab mathematicians were interested in astronomy and improving their ability to predict Islamic holy days. It is speculated that much of their knowledge of the Hindu system came from translating astronomy. Islamic Caliphs frequently funded such translations in an attempt to be more piteous (Berggren, 1986).

17 ampersand While astronomers benefited from their ability to easily represent angles, merchants benefited from the finger reckoning techniques as they expressed fractions in units of the local currency. It was for the direct application of systems to “the workplace” that Abu al-Wa’fa wrote his treatise What state officials need of the craft of mathematics (Saidan, 1974). Written in the tenth century, more than a century after the first record of al-Khwarizmi’s introduction of Hindu arithmetic, Al-Wa’fa’s treatise clearly indicates the value attributed to the old system.


hen the Hindu system was introduced, the Arab society already had a functioning system of mathematics. Arab finger reckoning was “the system from which Arabic algebra, trigonometry, and higher mathematical notions were developed. It was already well established in Islam before the Hindu system made its first appearance in the Arab world” (Saidan, 1974). It would be a misconception to believe that the Arabs considered the decimal system so superior to their own that they switched their mathematics to the new system. From various accounts of astronomical work and arithmetic treaties that were written long after the introduction of the Hindu decimal system, it appears that the Arabs held onto their own system, while appreciating the ease of computing in the Hindu system. Higher mathematics remained sexagesimal and common street mathematics was finger reckoning. The decimal system remained mostly a tool for the scientific echelons of society. The mathematician and philosopher R.L. Wilder has argued that one numeric system is not superior to another; only convention makes one system appear easier and allows it to endure (1998). This idea may have been the case with numeration in the Arab empire. While advantages to each of the calculation systems can be enumerated, and it is tempting for the eager student to speculate on superiority of one system,

it may simply have been that convention kept groups such as merchants and scientists using their own numeric systems. References Al-Daffa’, A. A. (1977). The Muslim contribution to mathematics. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press. Berggren, J. L. (1986). Episodes in the mathematics of Medieval Islam. New York: Springer-Verlag. Folkerts, M. (2003). Early texts on Hindu-Arabic calculation. Science in Context, 14, 13-38. Høyrup, J. (1987). The formation of Islamic mathematics: sources and conditions. Science in Context, 1, 281329. Irani, R. A. K. (1955). Arabic numeral forms. Centaurus, 4, 1-12. Ifrah, G. (1985). From one to zero: a universal history of numbers (L. Bair, Trans.). New York: Viking Penguin. (Original work published in 1981) Katz, V. J. (1998). A history of mathematics: an introduction. Addison Wesley Reading, Mass.: Longman. Katz, V. J. (Ed.). (2007). The mathematics of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, and Islam. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Kennedy, E. S. (Ed.). (1983). A Medieval table for reckoning time from solar attitude. In Studies in the Islamic Exact Sciences (pp. 293-298). Beirut: American University Beirut. (Reprinted from Scripta Mathematica, 27, pp. 61-6, by B.R. Goldstein, 1962) Kennedy, E.S. (Ed.). (1983). A sexagesimal multiplication table in the Arabic alphabetical system. In Studies in the Islamic Exact Sciences (pp.511-513). Beirut: American University Beirut. (Reprinted from Scripta Mathematica, 18, pp.92-3, by R. A. K. Irani, 1952) Kennedy, E. S. (Ed.) (1983). Studies in the Islamic exact sciences. Beirut: American University Beirut. Kennedy, E.S. (Ed.) (1983) The meaning of al-jabar wa-l muqabalah. In Studies in the Islamic Exact Sciences (pp.544-561). Beirut: American University Beirut. (Reprinted from Centaurus, 17, pp.189-204, by G. A. Saliba, 1973) King, D. A. (1974). On medieval Islamic multiplication tables. Historia Mathematica, 1, 317-323. Mallory, J. P., & Adams, D. Q. (1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European culture. London & Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. Oaks, J. A., & Alkhateeb, H. M. (2005) Māl, enunciations, and the prehistory of Arabic algebra. Historia Mathematica, 32, 400-25. Oaks, J. A., & Alkhateeb, H. M. (2007). Simplifying equations in Arabic algebra. Historia Mathematica, 34, 45-61.

Decimal Numeration 18 O’Connor, J. J., & Robertson, E. F. (2000) The Arabic numeral system. The MacTutor history of mathematics archive. O’Connor, J. J., & Robertson, E. F. (2000). The development of Arabic mathematics: between arithmetic and algebra. The MacTutor history of mathematics archive. Rebstock, U. (2002). An early link of the Arabic tradition of practical arithmetic. In Y. DoldSamplonius et al., From China to Paris: 2000 years transmission of mathematical ideas (pp.203-212). Germany: Franz Steiner Verlag Stuttgart. Saidan, A. S. (1966). The earliest extant Arabic arithmetic: Kitab al-Fusul fi al Hisab al-Hindi of Abu al-Hasan, Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Uqlidisi. Isis, 57, 475-90. Saidan, A. S. (1974). The arithmetic of Aul-Wafa. Isis, 65, 367-375. Saidan, A. S. (1978). The arithmetic of al-Uqlidisi. Boston, Dordrecht: D. Reidel. Wilder, R. L. (1998). The cultural basis of mathematics. In T. Tymoczko (Ed.), New directories in the philosophy of mathematics (pp.185-200). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

19 ampersand

The Gendered Burden of HIV/AIDS 20


n 2003, Stephen Lewis, the former United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, traveled to Southern Africa to investigate a new theory about the ravages of HIV/AIDS. A food shortage was devastating communities in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Lesotho. The HIV/AIDS pandemic was taking such a toll on the region that it left the working population incapacitated in its ability to tend to the land and maintain even basic levels of economic and food security. However, a deeper finding emerged. The burden of HIV/ AIDS did not impact the population at random; women were disproportionately affected. Because women were most responsible for maintaining the emotional and physical wellbeing of the community, their susceptibility to HIV/AIDS put the entire community at risk (Lewis, 2005). Lewis issued a report after this disturbing, yet eye-opening visit, stating: The incredible assault of HIV/AIDS on women in particular has no parallel in human history. Women are the pillars of the family and the community — the mothers, the care-givers, the farmers. The pandemic is preying on [women] relentlessly, threatening them in a way the world has never yet witnessed. (Lewis, 2005, p.136) Lewis has been one of the foremost advocates of addressing not only the urgent consequences of HIV/AIDS, but also stressing the unequivocal gendered impact of HIV/AIDS, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. By virtue of culture as well as biology, women are not only more susceptible to the disease than men, but gender inequity in itself fuels the epidemic (Otaala, 2003). The cultural significance of the women’s burden of HIV/AIDS has been deemed the necessary focal point for curbing the spread of the pandemic, as reported by the Africa Renewal program of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) in 2004. Furthermore, the solution to the crisis of HIV/AIDS lies in a change in cultural

perception of women in their social and economic roles in Sub-Saharan Africa (Africa Renewal, 2004). Dr. Jonathan Mann, a former UNAIDS chief, stated that the converse of the vulnerability women experience in society is empowerment through education, resources and respect. Due to the disproportionately gendered suffering they have borne, women must be given the ability to use their experience as an impetus for change in the institutionalization and cultural perception of their status. The gendered disease that is HIV/AIDS must be repaired by a gendered solution. HIV/AIDS in Women: A Cultural Phenomenon The women of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are statistically overrepresented in the number of AIDS victims. Of 25.8 million people infected worldwide, sixty-six percent are in SSA and fifty-seven percent are women. Among 15- to 24-year-olds, sixty-seven percent of women are affected (Interact Worldwide HIV, 2005). As previously stated, the gender bias to HIV/ AIDS is due to two factors. Biology, namely the transmission of the virus and the susceptibility of its host, must first be considered. HIV infection is caused by an RNA retrovirus that attacks CD4 + lymphocytes, slowly reducing their population to barely measurable levels. In this way, the virus causes severe cell-mediated immunodeficiency. The body becomes highly susceptible to many infections and malignancies (Duff, 1998). Women’s bodies, especially those of younger women, are more prone to HIV infection than those of males. It is two to ten times more likely for transmission to occur from a male to a female than vice versa, because the cervix is particularly vulnerable to infection, especially in young girls (Interact Worldwide HIV, 2006b). This can be explained in part by the presence of macrophages and Langerhans cells in epithelia such as in the genital tract, which are reservoirs

21 ampersand for the spread of HIV in the body (AIDS Pathology Tutorial, 2004).

Women’s Roles: A Dual Burden with No Restitution

However, this gendered burden has increasingly been attributed to the cultural factors, including the role of the female in society and the trends exacerbating women’s inferiority. Because they are more likely to be infected around reproductive ages, women are either prevented from bearing children or die soon after giving birth, leaving children uncared for and often infected themselves. On top of fairly frequent pregnancies, women have a heavy workload within and outside the home, leaving them malnourished, exhausted, and more vulnerable to infection. Finally, women and children receive eighty percent of transfused blood in African countries, where seroprevalence rates of HIV of donor blood have not been eliminated (Ulin, 1992). All of these trends are devastating to the population structure of SSA (Interact Worldwide HIV, 2006a).

In the traditional African family, women are supposed to be both nurturing and feminine, while working in the agricultural sector to provide for the household (Huairou Commission, 2006). Women are becoming scarce in the workforce, as the need for caregivers brings women to bedsides of relatives and friends, if they are not bedridden themselves. It even becomes difficult for young women to properly care for themselves while providing for their families. As the population of young mothers is stretched too thin, young girls are being taken out of school to fill both the care-giving and working roles. Grandmothers have also been overloaded with caring for children orphaned by AIDS. A study in Zambia showed that sixty-five percent of households were broken up after the mother died, leaving children with relatives or on the street (Otaala, 2003). Grandmothers, already coping with the death of their own children, must assume responsibility of their young grandchildren who are in desperate need of physical care, nurturing and stimulation. Older women are often financially and physically unable to provide for these needs. An estimated 5 million grandparents are caring for the 13 million AIDS orphans in Africa (Interact Worldwide HIV, 2005). This generational shift represents an unprecedented sociological phenomenon, but is nevertheless not being addressed. Elderly women are calling for more government and community aid to help them care for the generation of AIDS orphans (Gumbonzvanda, 2004).

The increased risk of coming into contact with the virus is decidedly cultural. There are many facets to this cultural phenomenon in Africa, including women’s roles as caregivers within the family, and their role in the community, as well as their lack of property rights, economic assets and education. Their subservient status to males, specifically in marriage, leads to a decreased ability to abstain from sex. The recent trend of urbanization has impacted the spread of the disease to women disproportionately. The transitions between improvements and obstacles in the face of recent aid to women will be examined in the case of Uganda, cited as being one of the most progressive countries on the HIV/AIDS front. Further solutions will be proposed to empower women and transform their cultural position in light of the risk of HIV/AIDS.

Worsening the humanitarian crisis of AIDS orphans, children are being chased from their land when only the father dies. Widows often do not have land rights and their husbands’ families seize the property (Gumbonzvanda, 2004). One in four AIDS widows in Uganda claim to have had their property seized after their husbands’ death, aggravating the extreme

The Gendered Burden of HIV/AIDS 22 poverty they experience (Interact Worldwide HIV, 2006b). Decreased participation in the traditionally female agricultural sector is economically disastrous, as agriculture accounts for twenty-six percent of Africa’s GDP and seventy percent of its employment (Interact Worldwide HIV, 2006b). Furthermore, men control new agricultural technologies, leaving women powerless, even when HIV/AIDS is not involved (Ulin, 1992). Women are left with all of the burdens and none of the rights to make changes. Fortunately, some laws are beginning to redefine women’s role in the economy and their property rights. In 2003, Uganda passed the Land Act calling for a spouse’s “security of occupancy” of family land, though it does not provide equal rights of ownership. This keeps women economically dependent on their husbands, which is especially threatening when HIV/AIDS is involved (Human Rights Watch, 2005). Economic dependency is largely caused by a lack of education which limits women’s mobility in the labour market. This becomes dually problematic in light of HIV/AIDS, as a lack of access to formal education is often correlated to ignorance about HIV/AIDS. A study of 32 countries found that women with post-primary education were five times more likely to know facts about HIV/AIDS than illiterate women. A study in Uganda showed that both men and women who finished high school were seven times less likely to contract HIV than those who received little schooling (Interact Worldwide HIV, 2006a). Women’s domestic roles prevent them from leaving the household and agricultural responsibilities leave them unable to attend courses that could give them the tools to help lift them out of poverty and teach them about preventing the contraction of HIV/AIDS (Ulin, 1992). As mentioned, young women are often pulled out of school to care for relatives, stunting their already limited access to education compared to boys, especially in rural areas (Otaala, 2003). Educated girls are more likely

to be able to provide for and protect their families, which they often have at a later age when educated. Therefore, marrying later lowers the risk of contracting HIV (Interact Worldwide HIV, 2006a). Lack of access to rights and education prevents a woman from escaping both economically and ideologically from a society that, paradoxically, commands her to provide both economic and emotional security to her family and community. This leads her and her children to be at a significant disadvantage in the face of HIV/AIDS. “Contrary to culture”: Legitimating Women’s Subservience Economic and legal dependence on a man does not only result from lack of institutionalized rights and educational opportunities, but also from the legitimized cultural acceptance of man’s ability to dominate women, especially his wife. In African society women are socialized to fulfill domestic duties and be submissive to male authority, while men are generally taught that they are superior to women. The sexual implications of this dominance of women are epidemiologically and socially significant in terms of the spread of HIV. It is acceptable for men to have multiple sex partners when married, and sex with one’s wife is viewed as a right since women are considered property upon a conjugal bond (Otaala, 2003). In contrast to blame being placed on HIV-positive women for being sexually promiscuous, being married is becoming recognized as the greatest risk factor for contracting HIV (Human Rights Watch, 2005). Once married, a woman’s fertility is often controlled by a man’s power over her, which can undermine a woman’s appeal to restrict fecundity (Ulin, 1992). Many men state that using condoms is “contrary to their culture,” where condoms are seen overwhelmingly as preventing childbirth more than protection against STIs (Otaala, 2003). Condom promotion presents

23 ampersand (Ulin, 1992). Sociologists have observed new a conflict for married women who want to trends in African family life and sexual pracmaintain their status within marriage while tices, with men picking up an STI from their protecting themselves against STIs. Speaking up about sexual practices, not to mention voi- “city wives” or prostitutes before returning home to their wives, whom they may infect. This is cing an opinion at all, is culturally stigmatized for women, who would be accused of not trust- often called the “Trucker phenomenon,” symbolizing the mobile nature of the work of some ing their husbands enough to have unprotected men. Without the ability to participate in the sex (Interact Worldwide HIV, 2006a). Rape and domestic abuse only increase women’s vul- monetary economy, and due to confinement to the household and lack of education, women nerability to contract HIV. In an international may resort to exchanging sexual favours for study, twenty to forty-eight percent of 10- to 25-year-old women reported that their first sex- economic and social support from willing men. ual experience was forced. This is more likely to This is distinct from prostitution as a profession and is becoming widespread with urbanization occur in SSA where young girls are sometimes married off to older men as virgins. The age dif- and an increase in female-headed households ference creates an increased power differential, (African Microenterprise AIDS Initiative, 2005). This has been characterized as the giving girls essentially no ability to resist sexual advances. Cultural mores also state that due to “Sugar Daddy phenomenon.” This refers to women engaging in sexual activity with older their inability to control their actions, women are responsible for adultery, rape, and con- men to support themselves in the city, which is increasingly difficult with the rising costs of tracting disease (Otaala, 2003). Forced vaginal penetration not only produces significant emo- living. These girls can then pass along an infection to a new boyfriend who, throughout his tional scarring for a young woman but also increases her susceptibility to contracting HIV life, may be culturally permitted to have many younger women at his prey (Interact Worlddue to cuts and abrasions (Interact Worldwide wide HIV, 2006b). HIV, 2006a). The cultural dichotomy between men, with all the power to control sexual negoThe solution for breaking this cycle is twotiations, and women, with no power but much fold. Firstly, educating and empowering women greater consequences to bear in the face of infection, explains the gendered pattern of HIV are necessary steps to combating the cultural and social ills examined above. Secondly, men, prevalence. Unfortunately, current cultural particularly those in government and positions trends are simultaneously spreading awareness of power, must be targeted to change percepbut creating new problems for women in their tions of women and laws restricting women’s fight against HIV/AIDS. conduct in society. The mobility of the population has been used to the advantage of those Urbanization and Modernization: who want to promote awareness about the Spreading Awareness and Infections transmission of HIV/AIDS. Men, women, and governments alike are being called upon to Concurrent with the rise of HIV/AIDS promote this change. has been the changing economy of SSA. The shift from a subsistence economy to a monetary economy is creating strains within the “Real Men Protect Women against HIV/AIDS” community and the potential for even greater This  slogan was printed across T-shirts gender inequality. In the face of declining rural handed out by Women’s Leadership Group, productivity and increased opportunities in a women’s NGO in Nigeria. Cultural norms, cities, migration has been rampant among men

The Gendered Burden of HIV/AIDS 24

The cultural dichotomy between men, with all the power to control sexual negotiations, and women, with no power but much greater consequences to bear in the face of infection, explains the gendered pattern of HIV prevalence. they stress, also obligate men to take care of women. Men’s groups, such as Padare/Enkundleni, a network of 13 affiliations in Zimbabwe, encourage open dialogue among men and women to break down prescribed roles and behaviours between the sexes. Nigeria’s labour unions have encouraged their leaders to give workshops and have promoted condom use among their members. Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN) has enlisted members of the community, such as barbers and shop keepers, to sell condoms and let them keep twenty-five percent of the profit. UNAIDS has stressed the recruitment and training of truck drivers–the group of men most vulnerable­­–to limit the spread of HIV by educating their co-workers on the road. In addition to education about contraception and transmission, programs through UNAIDS and PPFN have provided men with alternative ways to relax to deter them from seeking sex on the road (Nwanma, 2001). In addition to mobilizing men at the lay level, political commitment to reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, such as has been seen in Uganda, has been a key step in legitimating education and prevention (Kirungi, 2001). Uganda: A Case Study in the Interplay between Government, International Aid and Community Efforts in Curbing the Spread of HIV/AIDS The first cases of HIV/AIDS in Uganda were detected in the early 1980s. The AIDS Control Program (ACP) of the Ministry of Health was established in 1986 and in 1992 merged with the STI program and was characterized by an

openness and acceptance of people living with the disease. HIV prevalence rates declined from fifteen percent of the adult population in 1992 to six percent in 2003 (Ploem, 2006). Some factors contributing to the decreased prevalence rates have been the ACP distribution of condoms, with 80 million being given out in 2000. Condom use rose nine percent between 1995 and 1998 (Kirungi, 2001). Importantly, the ACP worked with both international and local groups to promote their work. Rural women have always built upon informal networks to mobilize the community in the face of threats (Ulin, 1992). AIDS awareness and support was established at a local level long before the international community established any programs of change. Even today, grassroots women’s groups, such as GROOTS and the Huairou Commission, are the primary prevention and treatment systems for AIDS in SSA (Huairou Commission, 2006). Churches, a traditional locus for women’s groups, have been a barrier to the promotion of contraception. It has been difficult for women to maintain their religious ties while simultaneously advocating for contraception, as the Church opposes its use on religious grounds. However, once it became evident that the transmission of HIV was primarily within marriage, attitudes began to change. Churches began providing antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), vocational training and became a place where people could meet for support (Ploem, 2006). Due to gender role definitions, many women’s initiatives cannot leave the local level, and access to information or resources that may actually implement change may be lacking. International agencies

25 ampersand have been able to support local women’s groups as the recognition of the disease’s spread has become more globalized. The World Food Program has worked with Ugandan NGOs, such as the National Community of Women living with HIV/AIDS (NACWOLA), which has 40,000 members, to allow women access to additional food rations and treatment with ARVs (Interact Worldwide HIV, 2005). In 2005, the rate of ARV use was at 50,000 out of 150,000 people that needed treatment (comparatively high among SSA countries). UNAIDS, United Nations Development Fund For Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have all been involved in promoting such NGOs, which are increasingly started up and operated by women. United States Agency for International Development (USAID) worked with Ugandan President Museveni’s Initiative on AIDS Strategy for Communication to Youth, as well as other faithbased groups and NGOs to increase discussion and development (Ploem, 2006). Nonetheless, President Museveni, his government and the international aid they have received have been both lauded and criticized for their work with HIV/AIDS. Despite the obvious cultural benefits it would afford the population, especially after all the country has already done in the face of HIV/AIDS, there has been governmental opposition to the Ugandan Domestic Relations Bill. Drafted in 2003, this bill promoted marital rights, such as access to land, inheritance rights and the criminalization of marital rape and polygamy. Ultimately, it was rejected because of the cultural norms the bill transgresses. President Museveni was quoted as saying the bill “was not urgently needed” (Walsh, 2005). In 2004, Uganda received $90 million from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR), and funds from the Global

Local organizations only need to be strengthened and would benefit from direct aid linked to services that already exist and are culturally credible. Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and The World Bank. The President in question, George W. Bush, and the United States were slated to increase their contribution to Uganda to $143.7 million in 2005. Around the same time, Uganda began experiencing a severe condom crisis where, due to a supposed quality problem, the Engabu brand condom was taken off the market. The price of condoms then rose five-fold. The Ministry of Education, pastors and NGOs were instructed to change the focus of their work and dialogue from promotion of safe sex to promotion of abstinence. Interviews with the professionals involved in these organizations link the increased focus on abstinence directly to the increase in American money in their AIDS budget. Sixty-six percent of PEPFAR money is distributed through religious organizations and every organization using its funds must adhere to PEPFAR guidelines. Although PEPFAR specifically mentions targeting gender differences and allowing the distribution of condoms to risk groups, such as sex workers and gay men, included is a clause that those who have not yet had sex should refrain from doing so, and those who have should be encouraged to return to abstinence (Ploem, 2006). Other sources accuse the US-sponsored program of actively denying Ugandans information about any method of HIV-prevention other than sexual abstinence until marriage, including information about condoms (Human Rights Watch, 2005).

The Gendered Burden of HIV/AIDS 26 This contravenes what is known as the ABC prevention program of HIV/AIDS — Abstain, Be Faithful or use a Condom, which has been largely credited with the decrease in infection rates in Uganda (Africa Renewal, 2004). The free condoms once available to NGOs are no longer available, training in Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) is lacking and President Museveni and his government publicly condemned condom use, presumably to not endanger the financial support he is receiving, which helps to back his political campaign (Ploem, 2006). The shift towards “AB versus C” is being seen as a focus on ideology over public health, reversing the progress made in Uganda and especially harming women. Considering the culture of gender inequality in African society, where men have the power to decide when and with whom they will have sex, and where women are becoming financially pressured to engage in risky sexual behaviours, “AB” won’t work. Abstinence is not an option. Conversely, women need to be offered the education and tools to reverse the factors that have led them to be vulnerable (Ploem, 2006). With the proper resources, they can mobilize even greater change, but it is social empowerment that will relieve women’s HIV/AIDS risk. Solutions: A Grassroots, Gendered Approach Despite countries and international agencies boosting resources and aid to the AIDS pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa, grassroots organizations remain the most successful at reaching out to women and families in need (African Microenterprise AIDS Initiative, 2005). Local organizations, already in place to serve their communities, only need to be strengthened and would benefit from direct aid linked to services that already exist and are culturally credible. This is in opposition to international aid delivered through the government since these relations are often tainted by political schemes. Women need to obtain control

over these resources so that they can begin to control their lives, both sexually and otherwise. In terms of contraception, female condoms and microbicides offer alternatives that are inserted by the woman and are undetectable to their partner (Interact Worldwide HIV, 2006a). A successful partnership between an international agency and local groups could provide these tools affordably and accessibly by working with a group on the ground to deliver the products in an effective manner. HIV/AIDS must also be seen in a greater context than that of the health sector; the disease is far from being only a health problem. Not only is the health sector overloaded by AIDS spending, it is evident from all its cultural implications that the education and economic empowerment of women must be first addressed in the fight against HIV/AIDS (Ulin, 1992). In the Gitarama province of Rwanda, clinic operators found that even when women were eligible for free tests and medication, their daily circumstances prevented them from accessing them. In order to bring women to the clinic, a plot of land was cultivated next to the clinic, where women could learn to grow their own crops and reap their share. Seeds were also distributed to the women to plant in their home gardens and they were encouraged to form associations to teach other women to do the same. Initially, the women had been hungry and disheartened from not having the time, energy or money to feed their families and consequently could not get better. But, as this program became widespread, the participating women grew healthier. With access to crops, these women had an incentive to reach the clinic for their ARVs but, more importantly, they obtained the material, educational and networking resources they required to improve their lives (Urdang, 2006). It is a combination of grassroots, community-empowering programs and all-encompassing initiatives that target economic, educational and developmental

27 ampersand goals that will address the gender inequality fueling the HIV/AIDS pandemic. At an international AIDS conference in South Africa in 2000, Harvard University economist Jeffrey Sachs blamed HIV/AIDS for infecting not just the human body, but society as a whole by incapacitating its building blocks: the women and supporters of the community (Beresford, 2001). Community groups already working in SSA have warned that without the proper support of their women, their numbers, already plummeting due to the pandemic, would sink to unsupportable levels, and the aid they provide would be seriously jeopardized (African Microenterprise Initiative, 2005). The solution to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS is clear. Women, the heart of society, are in the best places to make a change in the face of the pandemic. They need to be empowered, through education, promotion of equality and aid, before it is too late. References AIDS Pathology tutorial. (2004). edu/WebPath/TUTORIAL/AIDS/HIV.html Africa Renewal. (2004). Africa Renewal, 18, 3, vol18no3/183women_aids.htm Beresford, B. (2001). AIDS takes an economic and social toll. Africa Recovery, 15, 1-2, ecosocdev/geninfo/afrec/vol15no1/151aids9.htm Duff, P. (1998). HIV Infection in Women. University of Florida College of Medicine http://www. Gumbonzvanda, N. (2004). Who Cares for the CareGivers? Respond to Women’s Voices and Cry for Support. UNIFEM East and Horn of Africa, www. doc Huairou Commission Grassroots Women and AIDS. (2006). Huairou Commision, http://www.huairou. org/campaigns/aids/index.html Interact Worldwide HIV. (2005). HIV/AIDS in Africa, Interact Worldwide HIV. (2006a). Gender and HIV/ AIDS,

Interact Worldwide HIV. (2006b). Soc/Econ Impacts of HIV/AIDS, objs/108574298-soceconimpactaids2006.doc Just Die Quietly: Domestic Violence in Women’s Vulnerability to HIV in Uganda. (2005). Human Rights Watch uganda0803/ Lewis, S. (2005). Race Against Time. Toronto, Canada: House of Anansi Press Inc. Kirungi, F. (2001). Uganda Beating Back AIDS. Africa Recovery, 15, 1-2, Nwanma, V. (2001). Silent No More: Africa Fights HIV/AIDS. Africa Recovery, 15 ecosocdev/geninfo/afrec/vol15no4/154silent_no_ more.htm Otaala, B. (Ed.) (2003). HIV/AIDS: Government Leaders in Namibia Responding to HIV/AIDS Epidemic. Namibia: University of Namibia Press. Ploem, R. (2006). AIDS - controversies in Uganda further analysed. Share- Net: Netherlands Network on Sexual and Reproductive Health and AIDS, www. December2005.pdf Preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS by empowering women in Africa. (2005). African Microenterprise AIDS Initiative, press/Africanmicro.htm Ulin, P. R. (1992). African Women and AIDS: Negotiating Behavioral Change. Social Science of Medicine, 34, 63-73. Urdang, S. (2006). Rwandan Women: AIDS therapy beyond drugs. Africa Renewal, 20, 6, http://www.

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29 ampersand

Imag[in]ing Religion 30


s there a God? Scientists agree that their discipline cannot answer this question. They also agree that we are more able to investigate reasons for a belief in God than the existence of God Himself. Science has been at odds with religion for centuries, attempting to reduce its gospels, miracles, and theology to physics and chemistry. The most controversial issue of this nature concerns the creation of the earth and mankind. In the past two decades, a myriad of research has been dedicated to solving a more fundamental question that underlies the debate between religion and science: why do we believe in God?

Neurologists, geneticists, cognitive scientists, philosophers and evolutionary biologists are investigating the species-wide belief in the supernatural. They have researched the biological and evolutionary basis of belief through the neural imaging of religious individuals and the modeling of religious behaviour within a connectionist system. This essay defines religion as “social systems whose participants avow a belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought” (Dennett, 2006). Mysticism is defined as the pursuit of a connection with the divine, and spirituality as a connection to the metaphysical. Both are regarded as subsets of religion. This paper also defines belief in God as a belief in a higher power, and references to “God” will not refer to the Judeo-Christian God specifically, but to a more inclusive form of God or “Supreme Being.” Science’s search for an answer to the bewildering question of why we believe in God automatically leads to further perplexing questions: do our minds create God or does God create our minds? Do we have a God-centre in our brains that makes us prone to religious belief? Is religious belief an inherited genetic trait? This paper will bring to light the current research surrounding these questions, and will argue that religion and spirituality in the

human mind are evolutionary by-products, consequences of the functional organization of the human brain. The essay will first outline a connectionist theory of religion, and describe the corresponding neurological correlates. It will then discuss two evolutionary perspectives of religion and evidence regarding the genetic basis for belief, and will conclude with current evidence from the neural imaging of religious individuals. Spirituality and faith in the context of religious belief can be examined from theoretical, evolutionary and neurological perspectives, and can also be modeled in the theory of connectionism.1 The connectionist theory of religion provides an abstract model of the formation of beliefs in an empirical, pattern-recognizing context. Cognitive scientists are investigating how connectionist models can accurately represent the evolution of religious beliefs. To the connectionist, a theory of religion is based on rewards. People gather in groups to obtain rewards and avoid costs. These rewards can be in the form of a material object or a valuable piece of information. In either case, rewards are often unattainable, and when they cannot be obtained, people create supernatural explanations, thus explaining the origins of religion (Bainbridge, 2006). Religion is perceived as “a reluctance to give up beliefs that function pretty well at the cost of never finding the real truth” (Bainbridge, 2006). Since the 1980s, several models have been developed to reproduce religious social behaviour and illustrate how faith progresses. Such models include the Minimum Intelligent Neural Device, Thomas Schelling’s 1 Connectionism is the modeling of human cognitive functions using computers and “artificial neural networks,” which are simple models of neural structures of the brain. These “artificial networks” are made of neuronal analogs given specific weights to represent the strength of the connection between neurons. When a neural network in the brain is fed specific information, the neural output of these networks in the human brain is represented as an equivalent output on the computer (Bainbridge, 2006).

31 ampersand Model of Segregation, and Homan’s Classic Exchange Theory. These connectionist models can be used to extrapolate information about the relationship between neural connections in the human brain and the specific behaviours they motivate. In this way, the models provide insight into how the brain might function to produce the results we see in human religious behaviour, such as our ability to be indoctrinated into cults. While connectionism may provide a basic theory of religion, it has not, as of yet, been able to uncover how personal beliefs about God are formed. In humans, faith in God is due in large part to unconscious beliefs (Boyer, 2001). Justin Barret, a researcher at the Centre for Anthropology and Mind at Oxford University, states that understanding belief in general is contingent to understanding humans and their religious pursuits (Barret, 2004). Barret proposes two categories of belief, reflective and non-reflective. According to him, humans arrive at reflective beliefs consciously and as deliberate contemplations of explicit instructions. Non-reflective beliefs, however, are

those that arise automatically and do not require specific judgments (Barret, 2004). They support the mythical elements of religion discussed above. While non-reflective beliefs sometimes contradict reflective beliefs, they are nevertheless powerful in that they make reflective beliefs more plausible and help shape experiences and memories. Our minds create non-reflective beliefs to organize and make use of information about the world around us. This unconscious processing can lead to the creation of the belief in the supernatural. Many believers give personal reasons for their faith in God, but Barret suggests that beliefs are due to the work of “minimally counterintuitive� (MCI) concepts. According to Barret, MCI concepts are unfamiliar, yet imaginable ideas. He argues that our tendency to remember these concepts helps to explain the human attraction to and memory of supernatural beliefs. An MCI concept takes a normal concept, violates an assumption about one category, and places it in a new category, thus creating a new concept (Barret, 2004). Take, for example, a purple elephant. An elephant and all of its properties is a concept within one domain. The assumption of the elephant being the colour grey is violated by it being purple. Therefore, the idea of the elephant being purple must be placed in a new category. Another claim that Barret makes about MCI concepts is that they are remembered more readily than intuitive concepts with no violations (Barret, 2004). Therefore, after an MCI concept is formed, it can easily be passed on from generation to generation, becoming a cultural concept. In this way, a belief set is

Imag[in]ing Religion 32 formed. MCI concepts are similar to Richard Dawkins’ theory of religious memes, in which units of cultural information are transferred from person to person, similar to the passing of genetic information from parent to child (Dawkins, 2006).


e understand how beliefs are created and transferred from person to person, but do we know what functional parts of the brain are responsible for this? As a species, humans are separated from the rest of the animal kingdom by our well-developed parietal lobe, which, it has been hypothesized, allows us to create beliefs. Cognitive scientists have put forward two axioms regarding the functions of our brains. First, we notice and respond to human faces, directing us to other humans. Second, our “language-centered” left hemisphere creates meaning by observing what is going on and assuming that a relationship exists.2 As a result, we interpret and assign meaning to ambiguous occurrences. Andrew Newberg suggests that, with the help of the parietal lobe, humans can create beliefs and myths based on these axioms. He also views religion as developing from a set of myths, whose creation involves two parts: a causal explanation (for example, how the world was created) and the creation of opposites (for example, Heaven and Hell) (Newberg, D’Aquili, & Rause, 2001). Newberg states that the parietal region contains neurological structures that aid causal and binary operators in determining our ability to make causal relations and create opposites. According to Newberg, human brains have a “cognitive imperative” that causes constant 2 Hemispheric lateralization has been shown between the hemispheres in the brain. The left hemisphere is seen as a language-centered hemisphere, with the comprehension and production of language taking place in Wernicke’s and Broca’s areas respectively. Due to this lateralization, the left-hemisphere is nicknamed a “meaning-making” hemisphere as it often takes ambiguous information and assigns it meaning.

thinking, and a causal operator that assigns meaning to events that occur. Together these parts of the brain account for the constant assignment of meanings to events, even for those beyond the brain’s understanding. This is apparent in Gazzaniga’s split-brain patients whose corpus callosi were severed. When intact, the corpus callosum transfers information between the two hemispheres of the brain. If it is disconnected, each hemisphere is oblivious to the activity of the other. But each hemisphere accounts for the actions of the other by the causal operator, where intentionality is assigned to what would otherwise be an ambiguous action.3 Similarly, when humans encounter events in their environment beyond their understanding, the causal operator assigns meaning, creating myths. We have discussed the parietal lobe and our meaning-seeking brain as clues that these neurological structures have a biological function. But why are our brains built this way? Moreover, what evolutionary constructs have provided us with these dispositions? Religion has survived since the days of the Neanderthals, who lived 80,000 years ago. Even these primitive hominids had some established belief of a life after death and participated in religious rituals such as burying their dead with beads and weapons (Boyer, 2001). But how and why did religion develop in Neanderthals and in Homo sapiens? There are two conflicting views of the 3 All information in the left visual field is processed in the right hemisphere and vice versa. Gazzaniga’s research found that in split-brain patients, the language centre, which is located in the left hemisphere, is separated from the right hemisphere, and therefore information from the right hemisphere cannot be expressed linguistically. Such linguistic information can only be expressed physically through the left hand. When a split-brain patient is asked to pick up an object in their left visual field, patients verbally deny seeing anything, but pick up the correct object from a pile of similar objects. When asked why they picked up the object, the left side of their brain attempts to describe their left-handed actions in various ways, and they sometimes provide different answers if asked this question several times.

33 ampersand

Even the Neanderthals had some established belief of a life after death; they participated in religious rituals such as burying their dead with beads and weapons. evolution of religion, best explained by Scott Atran and Daniel Dennett. Atran believes religion survived because those who had a spiritual sense thrived and passed the trait to their offspring (Kluger, 2004). He sees religion as a cultural by-product that sets conditions for human interactions, exploiting normal cognitive processes such as our myth-making tendencies and our ability to better remember MCI concepts (Atran & Norenzayan, 2004). In his analysis, Atran takes an anthropogenic viewpoint that includes environmental factors and human-to-human relationships, combined with the biological endowments of “survival of the most religious.” Dennett, however, believes that religion was a gradual development involving the overlap of several overactive dispositions, such as the meaning-seeking brain, causing us to assign intention to unintentional objects (Dennett, 2006). Dennett and Atran both believe that adaptations and specific overactive traits caused humans to create the divine. However, Dennett’s hypothesis differs from Atran’s in that he attempts to trace the origins of religion, while Atran merely offers a vague biological correlation to its transmission. There are specific evolutionary correlates to account for Dennett’s view of a gradual development of religion due to overactive dispositions and adaptations. An example of such an overactive disposition is our propensity to assign intentionality (an action accompanied by a specific mental goal) to ambiguous evidence, a tendency with survival advantages. In a dangerous situation, one who is aware of danger or intentional objects is a step ahead of those who are unaware. Barret calls the

mental tool responsible for this awareness the Agent Detection Device4 (ADD), which can be hyperactive or hypersensitive (Barret, 2004). A hyperactive ADD would cause us to assign intentionality to many unintentional objects. According to Dennett, one of the underlying cognitive principles of religion concerns the application of intentionality to unintentional objects. Dennett’s theory of evolutionary adaptation is best revealed by investigating the brain’s parietal lobe. The human ancestral species of Australopithecus had a parietal lobe large enough to account for causal concepts and opposites, Barret’s two precursors for the creation of myths. The development of a more sophisticated parietal lobe in the later human ancestral species of Homo erectus accounted for more complex brain functions such as language, causal concepts, and opposites, and permitted the transfer of ideas (Newberg et al., 2001). Dennett’s theory of evolutionary adaptation is supported by other evidence, such as Barret’s hypothesis concerning myth-making, creating a convincing basis for the cognitive foundation of religion.


nalyzing the brain’s composition and its underlying functions is certainly one way to explore spirituality in humans. But why not consider the fundamental feature that is also subject to natural selection: the genetic code? Dean Hamer, a genetic researcher at the National Cancer Institute, hypothesized that humans have a The area of our brain that detects agents (entities with intentionality) in our surrounding environments (Barret, 2004). 4

Imag[in]ing Religion 34 genetic predisposition for spiritual belief that is molded by our personal experiences and cultural environments, which subsequently alter our brains’ ability to determine our own existence (Hamer, 2004). While investigating the genetics of cigarette addiction, Hamer applied a psychological test that contained a measure for self-transcendence or “at-one-ness” with the world, and a person’s ability to reach out beyond themselves.5 He was intrigued by studies performed on twins that concluded that the self-transcendence assessment was similarly high in identical twins and other sibling pairs, suggesting that there may be a genetic correlation for religiosity (Hamer, 2004). He also investigated a polymorphism (different variations of one type) of VMAT2, a protein that packages monoamines6 into secretory vesicles. The A33050C polymorphism can manifest itself as either a base A or C at location 73 on chromosome 10. He found an association between the A-C polymorphism and selftranscendence; individuals with base C on one or both chromosomes scored higher on the test for self-transcendence than individuals with only base A. To resolve this issue, experiments were conducted using mice lacking the VMAT2 gene that showed reduced levels of the monoamines dopamine, serotonin, and adrenalin, neurotransmitters that regulate our activity and interest in the external world. These experiments reduced the production of excitatory monoamines by eliminating the VMAT2 gene in mice and investigated the effects that this elimination has on how mice interact with their environment. The VMAT2 knock5 Self-transcendence is the ability to reach beyond oneself and to feel oneness with the universe. This is seen as a measure of spirituality and can be measured in tests of self-forgetfulness, identification with nature and spiritual acceptance (Hamer, 2004). 6 Monoamines are biochemical mediators that allow us to link objects and experiences with emotions and values (Hamer, 2004).

out mice were found to have little interest in eating or being active, and would often die prematurely (Hamer, 2004). The finding that VMAT2 knock-out mice had reduced levels of monoamines led Hamer to suggest that further studies must be conducted to determine if there is, in fact, a link between monoamine levels and consciousness, and to discover whether VMAT2 predisposes people to being more acutely aware of their mental states. He believes that this ability could have given Homo sapiens an evolutionary advantage over other species by providing them with a sense of optimism and a will to live and procreate despite the possibility of death, allowing for faster recovery from disease (Hamer, 2004). Although Hamer’s research has sparked interest in whether spirituality and genetics are related, the results of his study provide limited insight into the phenomenon of religiosity. In looking at the A-C polymorphism, which Hamer hypothesized was responsible for the different measurements of self-transcendence observed in humans, only 28% of those chromosomes investigated contained the polymorphism. Another important limitation of Hamer’s research is the fact that it examined one gene. Since behavioural traits rely on the interaction of many genes, further investigation needs to be performed in order to determine the role of other genes involved in religion. Finally, for a scientific study to be considered sound, the results must be reproducible. Hamer’s genetic correlation data has yet to be replicated.


eturning to the various theories that explain the origin of the mind, the reductionists have proposed that the mind is created by physical structures within the human brain. An important question that stems from this theory is: if the mind is created by brain structures, are spirituality, religion, and God also creations of our brain? Since the advances in functional neural imaging

35 ampersand in the early 1980s, neuroscientists have been able to investigate the functional relationship between religious practices and brain activity, significantly increasing our understanding of how the brain interprets and creates religious experience. To investigate the relationship between religious practices and brain activity, scientists Andrew Newberg and Eugene D’Aquili studied Franciscan Nuns and Tibetan Buddhists while they prayed and meditated. The scientists correlated the highest religious moment in these individuals with a significant decrease in brain activity in an area of the posterior superior parietal lobe, which they called the Orientation Association Area (OAA). When investigating Tibetan Buddhists, the “peak” of their meditation was described as “a sense of absorption into the visualized image associated with clarity of thought and a loss of the usual sense of space and time” (Newberg et al., 2001). The Franciscan Nuns described the peak part of their prayer (when the OAA was activated) as “a closeness with God, and a mingling with him.” The subjects were injected with a tracer, and photographed under single proton emission computed tomography (SPECT) as they meditated or prayed. The researchers found a significant reduction in activity in the OAA and an increase in activity in the prefrontal cortex, the midbrain, the sensorimotor area and the thalamus (Newberg et al., 2001).

OAA is important in the awareness of mystical experiences, creating an altered perception of space and time, self and ego (Newberg et al., 2001). Newberg states that, for the first time, mystical states are “biologically observable and scientifically real.” Countering the reductionist stance, he describes his results as “experiencing God’s presence as a neurologically generated reality.” There is no way to process the experience of God except through neural pathways, but this does not mean that God is merely a result of brain processes (Newberg et al., 2001). Recent studies by cognitive neuroscientist Michael Persinger have attempted to answer the question of whether God is created through brain processes. Persinger’s hypothesis

Tibetan Buddhists described the “peak” of their meditation as “clarity of thought and a loss of the usual sense of space and time.”

The OAA, which receives sensory input from touch, vision and hearing, has the ability to orient the body in space. In the left hemisphere of the brain, the OAA is hypothesized to be the neural origin for our ability to sense ourselves as a single body, and, in the right hemisphere, as the neural origin of our ability to conduct actions within the bounds of our body. The

supports this view, stating that spiritual and mystical experiences occur due to the spontaneous firing of neurons in the temporo-parietal region, causing micro-seizures without noticeable effects (Hamer, 2004). Various historical religious figures have been epileptics, such as St. Paul, Mark Anthony and Fyodor Dostoevsky (Churchland, 2002). During epileptic seizures, neurons connected to the amygdala, hypothalamus, brainstem and orbito-frontal cortex fire in abnormal synchrony (Churchland, 2002). To test his hypothesis, Persinger conducted an experiment in which each participant sat in a chair with electrical leads attached to their head. Using a magnetic field, which was applied through the leads, he was able to mimic the effects of stimulating the temporoparietal area without the debilitating effects of a seizure. Volunteers were asked to press a

Imag[in]ing Religion 36 button when they began to sense a “presence” in the room (Hamer, 2004). There was a correlation of 80% between the application of the magnetic field and the pressing of the button. Atheists said they felt “at-one-ness” with the universe and one person even had a visual hallucination (Churchland, 2002). This research is significant because it lowers the possibility that the experiences provoking God-reports in this experiment are truly interactions with God. With his experiments, Persinger has shown that we can simulate the connection between an individual and God using a magnetic field, proving that epilepsy does not result in a connection with a supreme being; rather, it is merely the by-product of abnormal brain function. It is not surprising that certain emotional states are correlated with certain brain processes, but this research localizes religious experiences, probing scientists to further investigate questions concerning the evolution of religion.


he scientific investigation into religion has provoked a backlash. Science cannot disprove the existence of God, nor undermine a person’s belief in the supernatural, but it has attempted to explain why humans are prone to certain actions and beliefs. Furthermore, not all of religion offers a peaceful mandate to change the state of the world. Extremists carry out unforgivable acts in the name of God, and cults sometimes hold sway over credulous people, involving them in fatal plots (Dennett, 2006). An understanding of why some humans are prone to these behaviours can perhaps prevent these extreme actions. The human mind is a complex piece of machinery that not only controls our physical states, but also our social and emotional connections with the world. Investigations into spirituality, religion, and the human mind have allowed us to localize religious experience in specific parts of the brain. We have a basic understanding of how religious concepts become ingrained in our belief sets and what makes these beliefs transferable between people. We have also

traced an evolutionary outline to account for Homo sapiens’ acquisition of religion. Science should continue investigating the brain’s role in and the mind’s perception of religion, as long as it does not have a reductionist agenda, in which our emotions and beliefs will be subject to scientific investigation and explained as the result of chemical reactions. I am of the opinion that no matter how much scientific evidence is unearthed, explaining the existence of God will always remain beyond science’s grasp, due to the psychological and societal power that organized religion can hold over people. Combining the evidence produced by neuroscience with psychology, sociology and other studies of religious behaviour can offer a better understanding of this phenomenon in humans. Spirituality, faith and religion are not mutually-exclusive concepts. Although religious experiences have been localized in specific areas, numerous brain functions are required to express them. The mind’s emotional and social, as well as the brain’s physical functions create insight into the universe and the role that an individual plays in it. No matter how far into the realm of religion scientists are willing to go to find the answer to the age-old question of why human beings believe in God, the infinite nature of religion will undoubtedly prevail over the scientific compartmentalization of our brains. References Atran, S., & Norenzayan, A. (2004). Religion’s evolutionary landscape : Counterintuition, commitment, compassion, communion Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 27, 713-770. Bainbridge, W. S. (2006). God from the machine: Artificial intelligence models of religious cognition. Lanham: AltraMira Press. Barret, J. (2004). Why Would Anyone Believe in God? Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press. Boyer, P. (2001). Religion explained: the evolutionary origins of religious thought. New York: Basic Books. Churchland, P. S. (2002). Brain-Wise: Studies in neurophilosophy. Cambridge: The MIT Press. Dawkins, R. (2006). The God delusion. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company

37 ampersand Dennett, D. C. (2006). Breaking the Spell. London: Penguin Books. Hamer, D. (2004). The God gene: how faith is hardwired into our genes. New York: Doubleday. Kluger, J. (2004, October 25th). Is God in our genes? Time Magazine, 62-72. Newberg, A., Wintering, N., Morgan, D., Waldman, M. (2001). The measurement of regional cerebral blood flow during the complex cognitive task of meditation: a preliminary SPECT study. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 106, 113-122. Newberg, A., D’Aquili, E., & Rause, V. (2001). Why God won’t go away: brain science and the biology of belief. New York: Ballantine Books.


Can Ocean Iron Fertilization Slow Climate Change? ADAM BAYLIN-STERN

39 ampersand


ertilizing the ocean with iron is a geoengineering technique that can enhance carbon sequestration by natural phytoplankton in the oceans of the world. Phytoplankton are responsible for approximately 40% to 50% of the planet’s primary (photosynthetic) production [1-4], consuming huge amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2). In the equatorial Pacific and Southern Oceans especially, phytoplankton growth is limited by a lack of the micronutrient iron [5, 6]. Many experiments over the past two decades [5, 7-13] have confirmed this, and indicate that fertilizing iron-deficient ocean patches with a soluble form of the element can increase phytoplankton blooms, effectively reducing oceanic dissolved CO2 through increased photosynthetic activity. Since there is an equilibrium between oceanic and atmospheric CO2 concentrations through air-sea exchanges of gases [14], large-scale iron fertilization has significant potential for stabilizing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The procedure would assist in mitigating the dangerous effects of climate change by reducing the global warming caused by excess CO2 in the atmosphere. This report gives an overview of the history and science behind the “iron hypothesis” (the theory that iron deficiency limits phytoplankton growth in parts of the ocean [5, 11, 15]), assesses the potential effectiveness of iron fertilization as a carbon sequestration technique, and investigates the debate [3, 16-19] concerning large-scale iron fertilization of the ocean, considering both economic and ecological uncertainties. The possibility of a global reduction in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to mitigate climate change appears increasingly unlikely. With countries currently burning coal with a disregard for the adverse global effects, and our slow transfer to alternative power due to the present insufficient capacity (wind, solar) and risks (nuclear) involved [20], there is a growing need for available and scaleable technologies that provide carbon-free energy.

Supplying the amount of carbon-free energy necessary to stabilize the atmospheric CO2 concentration at 550 parts per million (ppm), a commonly agreed upon target, will be a difficult task [21]. Assuming realistic improvements in energy efficiency (in the range of 1 to 1.2% per year in energy intensity decline), by 2050 we will require a total of 472.5×1018 J/year of carbon-free energy [21]. Scaleable methods to meet this need are not yet adequately available [20]. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on CO2 capture and sequestration [14] indicates that reducing emissions to an acceptable level necessitates other mitigation strategies. Under these circumstances, geoengineering methods of carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) are becoming increasingly important as potential tools for stabilizing atmospheric CO2 and mitigating climate change [14]. CCS by iron fertilization may contribute to the massive effort to stabilize the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere that is needed to avoid damage caused by climate change.


ron fertilization is intended to increase the presence and productivity of phytoplankton, a form of algae. Phytoplankton, such as diatoms, cyanobacteria, and dinoflagellates are photosynthetic, single-celled organisms that drift freely in the upper layer of the world’s oceans [1, 2, 14, 22]. Although individual phytoplankton are invisible to the naked eye, their presence can be detected by the blooms of large groups. Generally, water without phytoplankton is a clear and blue. However, when the algae are present, the water is less clear and chlorophyll pigments in the organisms give the water a blue-green colour [23]. Phytoplankton are primary producers: they convert light energy, water, dissolved nutrients and CO2 into organic carbon and oxygen through photosynthesis. The conversion of CO2 into organic carbon is a process known

OcEAN IRON FERTILIZATION 40 theory, increasing the activity of the biological pump through phytoplankton blooms would draw more CO2 from the atmosphere [3] and increase the amount of particulate organic carbon (POC) sequestered in the deep ocean. This would effectively remove CO2 from the atmosphere on a time scale that, at the very least, would provide time to mitigate climate change in other ways [16, 17]. As discussed below, iron fertilization is one way to increase the size of phytoplankton blooms and therefore the activity of the pump.

Figure 1. The Biological Pump [3].

as carbon fixation [1]. As the principal primary producers in the ocean, phytoplankton form the basis of the ocean food chain, as indicated in Figure 1 [1]. Since these algae carry out close to half of the photosynthesis on the planet, they play an integral role in the global carbon cycle [17] and make the ocean one of the largest sinks of carbon. As such, phytoplankton are an important component of the biological pump, a cooperative property of the ocean food web that is controlled by many cyclical processes [2]. The main effect of this pump is the net movement of material from the surface ocean (up to a depth of 100 metres) to the deep ocean (depths of over 1000 meters) [2]. The pump maintains a sharp gradient between the CO2-rich atmosphere and the relatively CO2-deficient depths. The carbon taken up by the phytoplankton as gaseous CO2 is converted to organic carbon and then transported up the ocean food web by zooplankton that consume phytoplankton. Though the majority of this organic carbon is converted back to CO2 and re-enters the atmosphere after being metabolized by organisms, some of it, largely in the form of dead cells, settles to the deep sea [3] where it remains for approximately one thousand years [3]. In


he hypothesis that iron can be a limiting factor for phytoplankton growth was initially proposed in the 1930s by several scientists, who observed that large portions of the ocean were rich with major plant nutrients, such as nitrate and phosphate, but lacked photosynthetic activity [2]. Phytoplankton, like all photosynthetic organisms, require an abundance of sunlight, water, carbon dioxide, major nutrients and several micronutrients. If any one of these factors is missing or only available in low quantities, phytoplankton cannot survive. On the other hand, adding a nutrient that is missing from the water may stimulate the growth of the organism and cause an algal bloom. The micronutrients are mainly metal ions, such as dissolved iron. They are key catalytic components in the eukaryotic electron transport chain and enzymatic systems [11] and therefore are essential for metabolism and growth [1]. Accordingly, the “iron hypothesis” was proposed: insufficient dissolved iron is the major factor limiting phytoplankton blooms in oceanic “desolate zones” [22]. Such areas are known as high-nitrate low-chlorophyll (HNLC) regions [11]. Over 20% of the world’s oceans are HNLC [11, 22]. The regions with the least phytoplankton are the Southern Ocean near Antarctica and the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Although scientists have theorized that zooplankton grazing is responsible for the low chlorophyll in HNLC regions [11], the iron hypothesis is more widely accepted. In the

41 ampersand 1980s, John Martin was the first to propose iron fertilization as a strategy for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and to suggest that ocean iron content could play a role in the glacial cycling of the planet [15]. Partly joking, Martin once stated “give me half a tanker full of iron and I’ll give you an ice age” [24]. In situ [5, 12] and in vitro [11] experiments conducted or planned by Martin et al. support the idea that iron is a limiting nutrient for phytoplankton and thus validate the iron hypothesis. After Martin’s death in 1993, several of his colleagues performed the first in situ oceanic test of his theory. Many experiments since have re-affirmed the iron hypothesis and expanded the scope of his initial work [7, 9, 10, 13, 25-27]. Table 1 summarizes many of these iron fertilization experiments, which are explained in the following paragraphs. Figure 2 charts their locations. Although most of the initial experiments were not designed to directly demonstrate the use of iron fertilization as an effective carbon sequestration technique, they offer evidence that iron fertilization can be important for CCS [17]. However, the experiments in question have yielded different results regarding whether carbon “drawdown” from the atmosphere caused by large-scale fertilization can reduce CO2 sufficiently to affect the global climate.

Experiments conducted in bottles of seawater collected from HNLC zones give convincing results that iron is the limiting factor for the phytoplankton growth in these regions, and might stimulate growth if replenished. Water samples collected from the Subarctic Pacific Ocean with added iron were able to fully assimilate the available nitrate, whereas in the control bottle, which contained the seawater in its natural state, phytoplankton only used 25% [5]. While these results appear convincing, there are many additional factors that must be considered in the ocean ecosystem, and openocean tests are necessary to further test the iron hypothesis. Ocean fertilization experiments have been conducted in the Southern Ocean, the equatorial Pacific Ocean, and the subarctic Pacific Ocean. The experiments involve enriching patches of water varying in size from 64 km 2 to 225 km 2 with 450 to 2000 kg of iron [26]. Phytoplankton can only use iron dissolved in water, but the element is in fact very insoluble and oxidizes easily. Much of the iron that was dumped into the ocean during IronEx 1 (the first oceanic test of the iron hypothesis) [11] remained insoluble, oxidized very quickly, and sank to the bottom, unused by phytoplankton [22]. To get iron to dissolve into seawater, iron

Table 1. An overview of many of the in situ ocean iron fertilization experiments [7, 9-11, 13, 25, 26]. Experiment


Increase in chlorophyll

Iron Experiment I (IronEx 1), 1993

Equatorial Pacific

3 fold

Iron Experiment II (IronEx 2), 1995

Equatorial Pacific

2–30 fold

Southern Ocean Iron Enrichment Experiment (SOIREE), 1999

Southern Ocean

6 fold

Eisen Experiment (EisenEx), 2000

Southern Ocean

4 fold

Subarctic Pacific Iron Experiment for Ecosystem Dynamics Study (SEEDS), 2001

Subarctic North Pacific Ocean

40 fold

Southern Ocean Iron Experiments – North and South (SOFeX), 2002

Southern Ocean

>10 fold

Subarctic Ecosystem response to iron enrichment study (SERIES), 2002

Subarctic North Pacific Ocean

>10 fold


“The in situ fertilization experiments (filled dots) and natural fertilization studies (filled diamonds) thus far: S.O.JGOFS (1992), IronEx-1 (1993), IronEx-2 (1995), SOIREE (1999), CARUSO/EisenEx (2000), SEEDS-1 (2001), SOFeXNorth (2002), SOFeX-South (2002), SERIES (2002), EIFEX (2004), SEEDs-2 (2004), CROZEX (2004/2005), KEOPS (2005)”

Figure 2. The locations of various iron fertilization experiments [33].

sulphate (FeSO4) is added to very acidic water, which is then spread over the desired patch of ocean [2]. IronEx 1 [11] validated the iron hypothesis for the first time. Next, IronEx 2 [9] improved on the first experiment and recorded huge increases in phytoplankton blooms, as shown in Figure 3. The Southern Ocean Iron Enrichment Experiment (SOIREE) [7] was the first experiment to take place in the Southern Ocean, the most promising area for performing iron fertilization but a difficult location to reach. Unfortunately, this experiment was not run for long enough to demonstrate any significant sequestration effects. Experiments in the Subarctic Atlantic [13] confirmed that phytoplankton in this region respond in a manner corresponding to the observations made in previous experiments. However, the most significant results were obtained during the Southern Ocean Iron Enrichment Experiment (SOFeX) [10]. The majority of iron fertilization experiments

recorded significant CO2 drawdown, indicated by measured decreases in dissolved CO2 in the surface layer of the ocean [24], but most were inconclusive in terms of the actual amount of POC that was deposited to the deep ocean. SOFeX, performed in 2002 [10], indicated for the first time that carbon can be transported to below 100 meters. The estimates of the SOFeX team indicate that a one-ton iron fertilization could sink 100,000 tons of carbon [28]. Their estimates were quite high, but nonetheless this experiment showed the sequestration of at least some carbon.


urther evidence of the iron hypothesis can be seen in several natural phenomena: the deposition of atmospheric dust [29] and the glacial/interglacial cycling of the planet as revealed by ice-core records of earth’s history [6]. Iron containing atmospheric dust, composed mainly of volcanic ash and wind-blown particles from the desert [2, 29], settles into the sea in a natural process

43 ampersand to retain enough heat for life to exist), and, along with other factors, cause global cooling leading to an ice age [29]. The Vostok ice core record of the earth’s history reveals the fluctuation of both CO2 and iron throughout the past 400,000 years, through glacial and interglacial periods [6]. The ice core indicates that during glacial periods iron deposition was higher by a factor of two to five times on average, and 10 to 50 times higher in the Southern Ocean. The inverse relationship between iron deposition/phytoplankton Figure 3. Chlorophyll increase and POC change during IronEx 2 [24]. production and atmospheric concentration of CO2 as indicated in the ice core record (see Figure 4) further supof iron deposition [1]. Volcanic eruptions emit ports the iron hypothesis [6]. In accordance huge amounts of aerosols into the atmosphere with this theory, A. Watson observed huge and this crustal material is roughly 3% iron phytoplankton blooms following the eruption by weight [29]. Likewise, the wind sweeps enormous amounts of sand into the ocean, of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 depositing sufficient iron to allow phytoplank- [29]. Watson calculated that the deposition of iron into the distant HNLC Southern Ocean ton to fully use free nitrate and phosphate in was approximately 4×1010 g, and that this would the water. Not surprisingly, the main HNLC regions of the planet receive the lowest dust allow phytoplankton to produce an additional depositions in the world [2], whereas large 7×1013 mol carbon (1 mol = 6.022×1023 atoms). amounts of wind-swept dust from the Sahara These numbers explain the extra pulse of oxydeposited into the Northern Atlantic allow gen (O2) that was observed emanating from phytoplankton to flourish there [2]. the Southern Hemisphere in the summer of 1991. The extra 1014 mol O2 observed are likely There is strong evidence that the depos- the product of increased photosynthesis by ition of iron through atmospheric dust in the phytoplankton. ocean is a contributing factor for the glacial/ interglacial cycling of the planet [6, 24]. The The effectiveness of iron fertilization as a theory is that the massive depositions of iron geoengineering/mitigation strategy depends into HNLC areas cause phytoplankton blooms on the ratio of iron added to carbon sequessufficiently large to significantly increase the tered (in the form of sinking POC) [16] and the activity of the biological pump [6]. As indicated magnitude of ocean area affected. As of now, in Figure 4, high levels of dust deposition are the only experiment that measured the export associated with low levels of atmospheric CO2. efficiency of POC to the deep sea is SOFeX, The rapidly growing organisms would capture as mentioned above. According to calculations and sequester enough carbon to maintain by Buesseler and Boyd [16], the addition of 1.3 atmospheric CO2 at the minimally acceptable tons of elemental iron led to the sinking of level (a certain amount of CO2 is required 2100 tons of POC. This corresponds to a molar

OcEAN IRON FERTILIZATION 44 ratio of iron added to carbon sequestered of 1.3Ă—10-4. Assuming the same export efficiency, researchers calculate that we would need to fertilize a patch 109 km 2 in size, larger than the entire Southern Ocean, to sequester 30% of the annual anthropogenic carbon emissions [16]. If such a huge patch is necessary, iron fertilization is not an appealing strategy. Accordingly, more experiments are necessary to get a better estimate of the ratio of iron added to carbon sequestered. There seems to be great use for the iron fertilization CCS technique. According to some experiments, tiny, nanomolar concentration (billionths of a mole per litre) additions of iron can increase photosynthetic activity and carbon dioxide drawdown significantly [11]. However, despite the potential benefits of large-scale fertilization, there remain many issues and uncertainties. There is ongoing debate within the scientific community on the effectiveness of the technique, the scaleability of the process, and the possibility of unintended environmental change and ecological damage. Correspondences in the highly respected journal Science have disputed the credibility of iron fertilization [17, 18], and discussion continues. The following section outlines the various points in the debate.


he fate of the carbon fixed by phytoplankton during iron fertilization remains a troubling question. There is still great uncertainty about how long deposited carbon remains sequestered. Using an experimental model, Joos et al. found that 100 years of continuous, large-scale iron fertilization would result in a significant 14% to 21% reduction in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, though this might be overlyoptimistic [30]. Although SOFeX measured carbon sequestration, the scientists did not calculate if the carbon they observed sinking would truly enter the deep ocean where it could be considered sequestered, or if it would resurface [16]. Buesseler warns that if the impact of ocean fertilization on carbon export to the deep sea is lower than expected by some, the method may not be as economically viable as previously thought. Another concern is that iron fertilization changes the design of the ocean ecosystem; it is intended to increase primary production and therefore will affect the food web [17]. The complexity of the ocean food web and biogeochemical cycles makes it difficult to foresee all of the side-effects that could result from largescale iron additions [17]. As S. Chisholm put it, “the oceans are a tightly linked system, one part of which cannot be changed without it

Figure 4. Variations in CO2 and iron throughout time from the Vostok ice core record [15].

45 ampersand resonating throughout the whole system” [17]. “Although seductive in its simplicity, in practice this idea [iron fertilization] would threaten the ocean ecosystem” [3]. One counter-argument to this is that “the oceans have already taken up some 100,000 million tons of anthropogenic CO2. The resulting changes to ocean chemistry, ecology, and climate are already upon us” [16]. Ocean acidification is another issue associated with global warming [31, 32]. Increased CO2 in the ocean is known to cause decreases in ocean pH, which could affect organisms in the ocean. This acidification of the ocean could be detrimental to the ocean ecosystem, and it may occur (with or without iron fertilization) within decades [32]. One of the most damaging potential side effects of large-scale ocean fertilization is deep ocean hypoxia. Iron fertilization could prompt the growth of certain toxic algae that would poison other ocean life and remove oxygen from the water. The unavailability of oxygen in the deep sea would then promote the proliferation of anaerobic (non-oxygen-consuming) microbes that produce methane, a greenhouse gas with an even higher warming potential than CO2 [17, 19]. Finally, most iron fertilization experiments conclude that more research is needed on the long-term effects of iron fertilization, and do not suggest it as a mitigation strategy until more evidence of its safety and effectiveness is available. Nonetheless, the possibility of a global market for carbon credits has resulted in private interest and patents on this technique [3] and the potential for commercial iron fertilization. Driven both by revenue and the negative impact of climate change, Green Sea Venture, owned by Michael Markels, and the Planktos Foundation plan to sell emission credits in exchange for performing oceanic iron fertilization [19]. In fact, “given 200 boats, 8.1 million tons of iron, and, say, 11% of the world’s

ocean, Markels says he could zero out global warming” [22]. However, climate scientists such as Chisholm fear that companies such as Planktos and Green Sea Venture have ignored warnings about the risks involved with their strategies [22]. The vast uncertainties regarding the feasibility of using iron fertilization on a large scale have caused Markels’s company to generate interest from the U.S. Department of Energy, which warns that iron fertilization should not be considered as a mitigation option until its effects are better understood [22]. It is clear, however, that the DOE is interested in this technique, since it funded part of the SOFeX experiment [10].


iven the major uncertainties concerning iron fertilization, it is too soon to perform this technique on a large scale. Until the viability of oceanic fertilization and other methods of CCS are confirmed and the risks weighted, the most reliable strategy for avoiding the dangerous effects of climate change remains reducing anthropogenic emissions of CO2 [17]. We must continue researching iron fertilization and other CCS techniques with the hope that improved technologies will reduce the cost of climate change mitigation, making it feasible to avoid damages that would change life as we know it.

References 1. Campbell, N. and J. Reece, eds. Biology. 6 ed. 2002, Benjamin Cummings. 2. Chisholm, S., The iron hypothesis: Basic research meets environmental policy. Reviews of Geophysics, 33: p. 1277-1288.(1995). 3. Chisholm, S., Stirring times in the Southern Ocean. Nature, 407: p. 685-687.(2000). 4. NASA, The Roles of the Ocean in Climate Change. The Earth Observing System Tierra Series: p. 4.(1999). 5. Martin, J. and S. Fitzwater, Iron deficiency limits phytoplankton growth in the north-east Pacific subarctic. Nature, 331: p. 341-343.(1988). 6. Watson, A., D. Bakker, et al., Effect of iron supply on Southern Ocean CO2 uptake and implications for glacial atmospheric CO2. Nature, 407: p. 730-733.(2000).

OcEAN IRON FERTILIZATION 46 7. Boyd, P., A. Watson, et al., A mesoscale phytoplankton bloom in the polar Southern Ocean stimulated by iron fertilization. Nature, 407: p. 695-702.(2000). 8. Buesseler, K., J. Andrews, et al., The Effects of Iron Fertilization on Carbon Sequestration in the Southern Ocean. Science, 304: p. 414-7.(2004). 9. Coale, K., K. Johnson, et al., A massive phytoplankton bloom induced by an ecosystem-scale iron fertilization experiment in the equatorial Pacific ocean. Nature, 383: p. 495-501.(1996). 10. Coale, K., K. Johnson, et al., Southern Ocean Iron Enrichment Experiment: Carbon Cycling in High- and Low- Si Waters. Science, 304: p. 408-14.(2004). 11. Martin, J., K. Coale, et al., Testing the iron hypothesis in ecosystems of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Nature, 371: p. 123-129.(1994). 12. Martin, J., M. Gordon, et al., Iron in Antarctic waters. Nature, 345: p. 156-158.(1990). 13. Tsuda, A., S. Takeda, et al., A Mesoscale Iron Enrichment in the Western Subarctic Pacific Induces a Large Centric Diatom Bloom. Science, 300: p. 958-961. (2003). 14. Metz, B. and O. Davidson, Summary for Policy Makers and Technical Summary, in Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage. 2006, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - Working Group III. 15. Martin, J., Glacial-interglacial CO2 change: The iron hypothesis. Paleoceanography, 5: p. 1-13.(1990). 16. Buesseler, K. and P. Boyd, Will Ocean Fertilization Work? Science, 300: p. 67-68.(2003). 17. Chisholm, S., P. Falkowski, et al., Dis-Crediting Ocean Fertilization. Science, 294: p. 309-310.(2001). 18. Johnson, K. and D. Karl, Is Ocean Fertilization Credible and Creditable? Science, 296: p. 467-468. (2002). 19. Schiermeier, Q., The oresmen. Nature, 421: p. 109-110. (2003). 20. Hoffert, M., K. Caldeira, et al., Advanced Technology Paths to Global Climate Stability: Energy for a Greenhouse Planet. Science, 298: p. 981-987.(2002). 21. Hoffert, M., K. Caldeira, et al., Energy implication of future stabilization of atmospheric CO2. Nature, 195: p. 881-884.(1998). 22. Graeber, C., Dumping Iron. Wired Magazine, (8.11). (2000). 23. Monastersky, R., Iron versus the greenhouse. Science News, 148: p. 220.(1995). 24. Buesseler, K. Fertilizing the Ocean with Iron. 1999 [cited; Available from: Fe/1999-Annualreport.html. 25. Boyd, P., C. Law, et al., The decline and fate of an ironinduced subarctic phytoplankton bloom. Nature, 428: p. 549-553.(2004). 26. Hilma. Iron Fertilisation of the Oceans. 2003 [cited; Available from: 27. Smetacek, V., EisenEx: International Team Conducts Iron Experiment in Southern Ocean. U.S. JGOFS News, 11(1): p. 11.(2001).

28. Dalton, R., Ocean tests raise doubts over the use of algae as carbon sink. Nature, 420: p. 722.(2002). 29. Watson, A., Volcanic iron, CO2, ocean productivity and climate. Nature, 385: p. 587-588.(1997). 30. Joos, F., J. Sarmiento, et al., Estimates of the effect of Southern Ocean iron fertilization on atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Nature, 349: p. 772-775.(1991). 31. Caldeira, K. and M. Wickett, Anthropogenic carbon and ocean pH. Nature, 435: p. 365.(2003). 32. Orr, J., V. Fabry, et al., Anthropogenic ocean acidification over the twenty-first century and its impact on calcifying organisms. Nature, 437: p. 681-686.(2005). 33. SCOR, The Legacy of in situ Iron Enrichments: Data Compilation and Modeling. Proposal for a SCOR Working Group.(2006).

47 ampersand

Chin esFe igh t ing Cricket culture and science han Han Li

In China, crickets are traditionally known as Cu Zhi, a familiar term that literally means “urge to weave.” Members of the cricket family Gryllinae appear annually during autumn in almost all temperate regions of mainland China. People associate their presence with the approach of winter. Traditionally, while the crickets sing, a diligent housewife should be weaving a sufficient quantity of winter clothes; hence the proverb, “the chirp of the cricket is the nightmare of the lazy woman.” The focus of entomological research in East Asia has never been centered on Gryllinae. They are not involved in any highly valuable economic activity; crickets are considered among

Chinese Cricket Fighting 48 the most important insects in Chinese tradition, rivaled only by silkworms (Bombyx mori). Early scholars appreciated their marvellous singing1, and later the crickets’ reputation as fighters emerged. The aim of this paper is to investigate the scientific potential that can be associated with Chinese cricket fighting by placing traditional values within a scientific framework. This paper will consider the scientific potential of this ancient cultural-entomological tradition. My research is informed by both original Chinese literature and modern scientific articles. The Chinese texts were authored by Chinese cricket experts of the Song and Qing dynasties (ninth to thirteenth century and seventeenth to late nineteenth century, respectively). Most are partly composed of lyrical components such as poetic descriptions of cricket morphology, while biological observations are partially anthropomorphized. This style of writing is characteristic of traditional scholarly text. Contemporary scientific journal articles discuss Gryllinae within various disciplines, including taxonomy, evolution, ecological stoichiometry, and insect behaviour. These texts reflect the rationality of science and are rarely subjective. Despite intrinsic differences, the two divergent sources of entomological knowledge can be linked through cross-reading and comparative analysis. I will highlight the scientific value of descriptions of some key elements of Chinese cricket fighting extracted from ancient Chinese texts. Based on the traditional literature, I will infer a possible scenario in which the entire cultural framework of cricket fighting could be extended to provide scientific value. 1 Under the reign of Xuan Zong of the Tang dynasty (eighth century), crickets played a significant role in refined cultural life. People kept crickets in gourds or cages made of gold, jade, or bamboo, for the purpose of enjoying their music. Similar practices remain popular in certain parts of northern China.


ricket fighting was considered a highly sophisticated cultural practice during the Song dynasty (960–1279 CE). This period yielded some of the most imposing cricket aficionados, such as the “Cricket Emperor” Xuan Zong (1427–1464 CE), the fifth Song emperor, and the notorious “Cricket Prime Minister,” Jia Shi Dao (1213– 1275 CE). Although blamed for neglecting his political duties due to his obsession with crickets, the Prime Minister rescued his historical reputation by publishing Cu Zhi Jing (The Cricket Classic), which remains the most influential text on Chinese cricket culture to this day. Jia’s thorough work, along with subsequent studies, established a strong technical basis for the practice of cricket fighting. He describes a multitude of skills designed to optimize the outcome of the insect duels. For this study, I have only chosen the most representative skills. The extracted corpus of specialized knowledge is divided into three sections: selection, maintenance and battle. 1. Selecting Fighters Breeders usually begin capturing their insects in late August, the season in which most crickets achieve maturity. Only adult crickets fully manifest aggressive behaviours, a fact confirmed by contemporary studies (Kevin A. Dixon and William H. Cade, 1986). Not every male cricket qualifies for selection. The acquisition of each potential warrior is preceded by careful morphological and physical tests. These tests rank the crickets according to specific criteria based on specialized cricket taxonomy and are designed to determine the insect’s inherent fighting talent. Age, temperament, pigmentation, and the shapes of various body parts are all indicators used to establish hierarchical classifications of the collected crickets. These descriptions have a scientific basis, for although the correlation between pigment variability and fighting strength is not

49 ampersand scientifically proven, the overall descriptions of cricket morphology are always given in a methodical and systematic way. They are not limited to shape and colour but include aspects of each cricket’s behaviour. For example, the author of Wang Sun Jing Bu Yi enumerated desirable trait variations for each of the following anatomical structures: the head, head stripes, eyes, antennae, and facial structures, such as the labrum, mandibles, palpus, thorax, tagmina, underwings, dorsal and ventral parts of the abdomen, legs, anus and male genitalia (considered together), and cerci. Consider this passage describing desirable antennae: It is preferable to have a cricket with black, thick, strong and gleaming antennae. While staying immobile at the center of a pot, those with upright antennae that cross-wave frequently are called “Wave Antenna.” Most of them are good fighters. (Qin Ou Seng, 1890) In their study of male crickets’ aggressive behaviours, Hofmann and Schildberger (2001) obtain similar results. They show that the frequency of antennal movements may contain information about a cricket’s fighting ability and readiness. Similar passages also appear in descriptions of mandibles, for which the spreading rate is mentioned as an indicator of force. As for the palpi, Qin writes that their curvature and colour are the most reliable elements in determining a cricket’s age. Evaluating a cricket’s temperament also requires precision. Crickets can generally be classified as being either relentless or easily intimidated. The timid class is found where the vegetation is abundant, while burrowers in stony areas with poor vegetation constitute the “tough” class. The latter crickets are better candidates because they tend to be more aggressive. This selective criterion is again consistent with scientific observations. The extent of territorial defense has been shown to positively correlate with aggressiveness (Morris, 1979). Consequently, burrow occupants tend to

show more aggressive traits. A burrow-based species defends a geographically fixed territory radiating from its burrow point (Alexander, 1961). Grass dwellers, on the other hand, tend to be indifferent to their exact location (Morris, 1979). 2. Cricket Care In contrast to traditional taxonomy built on the study of morphological traits, descriptions of the daily maintenance of crickets are not supported by corresponding evidence in contemporary entomological studies. Cricket owners usually employ a comprehensive set of meticulous techniques to optimize a cricket’s fighting ability. These methods cover every aspect of the insect’s life, yet most lack modern scientific explanations. Indeed, the use of San Wei (meaning “Three Tails”) clearly contradicts the results of scientific research. San Wei refers to female crickets with long ovipositors. They are required in great number to increase the male’s fighting power. Mating is strictly controlled and only permitted during the daytime to facilitate manipulation. To eliminate the risk of harmful aggression, crickets of both sexes are appropriately fed in preparation. A single female is placed in the pot occupied by the male. If she appears unwilling to mate, the female is replaced. After mating, the San Wei is immediately separated from the male. Eggs must not be present in the pot, since the male may eat them and consequently develop an incurable illness. These coupling practices are intended to enhance the male’s willingness to fight; however, behavioural studies conducted by W. D. Brown (2007) on male cricket aggressiveness yield contradicting conclusions. When engaging in direct conflict, paired males are more likely to lose than solitary males (those whose prior access to females has been restricted). This result suggests that the absence of females creates motivational asymmetry: single males attach higher subjective

Chinese Cricket Fighting 50 A complete equipment set for cricket fighting:


1. cricket pot 2. transfer channel 3. mating chamber 4. cao brush 5. brush container


Source: Shanghai Institute of Entomology

4 2


value to mating resources and behave more aggressively during contest (Brown et al., 2007). Such contradictory observations can be explained by pointing out a major difference between laboratorial and cultural-practical conditions. Cricket keepers never use only one “Three Tails” for each of their little warriors. Females are only transient mating partners and are replaced constantly throughout the entire reproductive season. How can such manipulations influence a male cricket’s perceptive value? This is quite an intriguing question and may inspire further experiments to study antagonistic encounters between male crickets. Another essential part of daily cricket maintenance is nutritional control. According to Suga, a Japanese anthropologist, nurturing techniques clearly demonstrate the anthropomorphization of crickets, as their diet can include any type of food consumed by their owner. When the owner was a member of the aristocracy or even royalty, the cricket’s meals directly reflected the owner’s luxurious lifestyle (Suga, 2006). But Suga’s view is only partially correct. The variety of ingredients and special cooking methods used by cricket owners far exceed the biological requirements of any insect in its natural habitat, yet the nutritional guidelines outlined in the traditional literature are not a mere extension of Chinese gastronomy.

Standard ingredients in cricket feed include sugar, rice, millet, macaroon, dried kaki, several local species of beans and tubers, powdered carcasses of other arthropods (such as lacewings, little terrestrial spiders and shrimps), and cooked eel or crabmeat. Animal-based foods are restricted to the periods directly preceding and following fights. Eel meat and crabmeat in particular are recommended for middle and late autumn to keep the crickets active. At first glance, the materials and methods of cricket fighting appear frivolous, yet they have won the passion of many. But cricket fighting is more than a whimsical pastime; it is a practice found throughout history. The complexity of mating and feeding methods for crickets is not simply a product of folklore but the accumulation of independent experiments tested on millions of crickets. General patterns emerge from the complex nutritional guidelines. For example, the sophistication and richness of the diet must increase gradually toward the end of every season, and the crickets are offered meat to provide them with sufficient energy before fights and to compensate for energy loss after fights. Recent findings in the field of ecological stoichiometry, as well as studies on trade-off and energy allocation related to sexual displays,

51 ampersand

Scene from the Hong Yu Cup Championship, October 3, 2006. Twelve teams with 600 cricketenthusiasts participated. Source: Dong Fang Wang (Oriental News)

have demonstrated various effects of nutrition on male cricket behaviour. Some biologists have observed a strong positive correlation between total body phosphorus content and the calling performance in crickets (Susan et al., 2006). Others have found that the rate of male cricket chirping is nutrition-dependent (William et al. 1998). These links between energy cost, balance of chemical elements, sexual behaviour, and fitness are current topics in entomology. Some innovative studies have been conducted, yet no research has specifically explored the effects of nutrition on crickets’ aggressive behaviour. The feeding patterns and diets mentioned above may provide a starting point for such an investigation. They lead to questions such as: why are fish and crabmeat the preferred nutritional substance to boost the crickets’ strength? Or, why are powdered shrimp, spiders, and lacewings a part of their diet? Could these nutritional choices reflect the impact of high calcium and phosphorus content on breeding a stronger cricket? It is worth mentioning that the dietary guidelines include a list of forbidden foods. For instance, one must maintain distance from a cricket after drinking alcohol. Sour food has the most dangerous impact on crickets, as mentioned in the following comment by Zhu Zong Yan (1766): “Even a slightest vinegar

vapor could be catastrophic. The perfume of citrus fruits has the same dreadful effects and in some case could be worse.” Since sour flavors stem from acids, these observations lead us to question how the acidification of crickets’ habitats due to environmental degradation might affect cricket populations. 3. The Cricket Fight As one would expect, the structure and choreography of the battle follow strict and complex regulations. Most of the traditional texts provide a detailed record of the crickets’ behaviour in confrontational situations. These include martial techniques described on an individual basis (mandible flare, bite, pull, wrestle), as well as more general fight scenarios. Preliminaries include deciding the pairing of crickets. Opponent males have to be the same size. Consequently, extremely precise weighing systems and implements were developed to measure insects that weigh less than one gram each, using the specialized units dian (approximately 0.02 g) and zun (approximately 0.25 g). The comparison of morphological traits is also systematic. The physical attributes of major body parts, like the antennae, head, mandibles, legs, abdomen, and exoskeleton coloration, are carefully verified in both crickets. If the general

Chinese Cricket Fighting 52 external patterns correspond, the crickets are matched and the fight is initiated. The battle is usually subdivided into five rounds. The winner is decided when one cricket defeats the other in either two out of three rounds or three out of five rounds. Obvious fleeing and avoidance behaviour immediately designate a cricket as the loser. Chirping and show-off display are signs of victory. As a result of the pre-evaluation, even without applying a scientific analysis, crickets engaging in fights are members of same species (or closely related subspecies). Furthermore, people have kept track of special cases. Strange morphs and unusual behaviour always attract great attention and are diligently recorded. The strongest crickets, honoured with the title “General,” hold individual records, which often contain exaltations of their anthropomorphized military talent. Cricket owners play a significant role in preparing their crickets for battle; however on the battleground, the only form of the owners’ intervention is through the use of the cao to help the crickets fully exercise their inherent capacity. The cao is an implement with a long stem and a delicate brush end, which is usually composed of herbal fibers. The brush is not only used to position the rivals face to face, but also as the primary implement to stimulate crickets before fighting. Regulations forbid external intervention once the insects engage in the conflict. The complexity of brush tricks is comparable to that of the previous skills outlined above. Its use could directly induce a cricket’s aggressiveness. For this reason, the cao strategies are regarded by some experts as a substantial factor in winning the battle. The standard formula is to tickle distinct body parts of a cricket in the following order: cerci, tibias, mandibles, both sides of the thorax and the mandibles once again. By then, the insect should respond with

agitated stridulations. After the insect relaxes, it is ready to fight. Since these guidelines have been drawn from experience, there could be a scientific explanation for their efficiency in increasing a cricket’s willingness to fight. It can be hypothesized that tactile contact provokes certain sets of mechanoreceptors that would in turn stimulate specific reactions in various parts in the cricket’s motor system, resulting in the onset of fighting behaviour. The practice of using the cao can be directly connected with the stimulation of cricket sensory cues. These are part of complex physiological and neurobehavioural processes. The effects of various combinatorial possibilities might reflect a relationship between anatomical structures and their role in the sensory complex. Such possibilities merit further study. Another remarkable phenomenon linked to the use of the brush trick is maintaining the cricket’s motivation to fight. Usually, a contest consists of either three or five bouts. Therefore the defeated cricket of the first bout must regain its power and be ready to fight again if its master is still confident in winning the next, crucial battle. During the intermission between two battles, the cao is used in various ways depending on the cricket’s condition. Again, a standard formula exists for provoking the sensory receptors of both the likely winner and loser. In many cases, the combat result is not definitive until the very end. In the field of behavioural science, research has been conducted on the time needed to regenerate aggressiveness in defeated male crickets. When there is no interference, a formerly subordinate male begins to display aggressive behaviour only if the interval between the first and second encounter lasts longer than 30 minutes (Iwasaki et al., 2006). However in the case of cricket fighting, by combined artificial stimulation using the cao, aggressiveness can be regenerated almost

53 ampersand immediately. Further research could explain these observations by investigating the role of mechanoreceptors and complex neurobehavioural interactions in aggressiveness.


rom generation to generation, for almost 900 years, cricket fighting has been an integral part of Chinese culture. Although severely suppressed during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), the cricket fighting tradition survived the most destructive event in Chinese cultural history (Suga, 2006). In recent years, cricket fighting has flourished again in China’s urban centers. Big cities have their seasonal and permanent cricket markets. Trade networks and associations of cricket enthusiasts have reached provincial and national levels. Every year, clubs and official associations hold special events such as conferences or championships. Social and economic transformations have infused new blood into this ancient cultural practice. Preserving a tradition by improving it is a great achievement. As a revived cultural heritage, cricket fighting will not go extinct in China. But is it possible to bring it to a higher level of sophistication? It is a complex practice consisting of numerous elements whose logic can be made clear through modern scientific knowledge. Residing in the overlapping spheres of entomology and tradition, it is not considered an exaggeration to define the practice of cricket fighting as a cultural science or a scientific culture. This particularity will be a docking point to explore the potential of cricket fighting in the context of modern China.

In 1884, a scholar named Qin Yu Seng published a book titled Gong Chong Lu (Records of Praiseworthy Insects). As suggested by its title, the book was a complete documentation of 136 cricket “generals” that the author observed from 1833 to 1880. He named the specimens according to their morphological characteristics. Each cricket’s individual records contained its weight, time and place of capture, a detailed

description of its morphology, special fighting skills, and some life traits. If the subjective comments are filtered out, the book’s content becomes a field study report. The accumulated data presented by Qin may be useful for entomologists interested in studying Gryllinae behaviour and faunal distribution in East Asia. In the propitious environment that modern China offers, a significant database can easily be built with the coordination and cooperation of a sufficient number of cricket fans, each undertaking a project similar to that of Qin. Evidence of cricket fighting’s popularity in China is abundant, and this popularity may be the key to building a potentially vast entomological database. The number of people registered on the “Chinese cricket network”2 is about 32,700 as of late September 2007. Every cricket owner rears at least one cricket per season. Some more passionate fans may rear more than 10 crickets at the same time. The most fervent may collect even more. Considering the size of this virtual community of cricket enthusiasts among whom experience and knowledge are actively exchanged, a systematic collection of data is possible. Because a solid social and cultural framework already exists, the collective elaboration of an annual database on crickets is a feasible project. The challenge is to minimize subjective biases and maximize the accuracy of statistical records. These problems could be solved by setting normalized parameters and variables. Regional cricket associations can play an important role in facilitating such standardization. They could create a standard survey that includes identifying the species based on both traditional and scientific nomenclature, the time and place of capture, weight, morphological descriptions supported with photos, accounts of mating and aggressive behaviour, and other criteria. Any cricket fan association can enroll certified entomologists from the scientific community 2 www. xishuai. net, initiated by Li Shi Jun, surnamed “Cricket Fellow,” a professor of the School of Humanities and Social Science at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Chinese Cricket Fighting 54 to work jointly with club members. Specialists could supervise data management and report results to official scientific institutions. Alternatively, regional associations could also develop their own research departments and undertake independent research. Either organizational plan would be beneficial to the progress of local entomological studies. In his review of speciation and life cycle variability of Gryllinae, American entomologist R.D. Alexander pointed out that Japan is the only Asian region where cricket fauna has been methodically studied (1968). Until recently, little has been known about the natural cricket fauna of continental China. For this reason, high-quality data produced by Chinese cricket associations would enrich the field of entomology and can also contribute to other domains of biology. For example, case studies of mutant crickets and of speciation patterns may support certain evolutionary theories and analyses, while records of capture rates and the physical distribution of crickets may supplement ecological field investigations.


he culture of cricket fighting is a remarkable product of Chinese civilization. Originating in the primitive contact between an agrarian society and its surrounding environment, this cultural framework that developed over several centuries has achieved an impressive level of complexity. This practice still thrives today and continues to absorb new elements in the context where the old Chinese tradition encounters Western rational scientific knowledge. Under these circumstances, traditional cricket fighting practices can now undertake a decisive step. The entire cultural framework, while retaining its essence, can be infused with pure biological science, thereby generating an extensive field for data collection. This research is open to all motivated participants and can subsequently mobilize a great number of people from various social backgrounds. The result would be the achievement of a culturally and scientifically

integrated knowledge of nature, a knowledge constructed upon an accessible scientific basis and produced by collaboration. From this perspective, the public will be able to participate in the creation of science and in return be better informed. If the knowledge and pleasure derived from crickets is shared, these worthy creatures will be regarded not only as carriers of a tradition, but also as subjects for scientific research. This combined interest will allow people to feel invested in the preservation of insects and their natural habitats, thus allowing both science and culture to thrive. References Original Chinese literature: Jia Shi Dao 賈似道, Chong Kan Ding Zheng Qiu Chong Pu 重刊訂正秋蟲譜 (the Reviewed Edition of Anthology on Autumn Insects, Song dynasty, 13th century) Repr.: Tian Yi Ge book collection, 1546. 2nd repr.: Shanghai, Shang Hai Gu Ji Chu Ban She, 1995. Jia Shi Dao 賈似道, Ding Xin Tu Xiang Chong Jing 鼎新圖像蟲經 (Reviewed Illustrated Classic on Crickets, Song dynasty, 13th century) Repr.: unknown edition, 1572. 2nd repr.: Shanghai, Shang Hai Gu Ji Chu Ban She, 1995. Qin Ou Seng 秦偶僧, Gong Chong Lu 功蟲錄 (Records of Praiseworthy Insects, Qing dynasty, 1884) Repr.: Shanghai, Shang Hai Gu Ji Chu Ban She, 1995. Qin Ou Seng 秦偶僧, Wang Sun Jing Pu Yi 王孫經補遺 (Supplemental Writing of the Anthology on Crickets, Ting Qiu Shi book collection: 1890) Repr.: Shanghai, Shang Hai Gu Ji Chu Ban She, 1995. Zhu Zong Yan 朱從延, Wang Sun Jian 蚟孫鑑 (Cricket Encyclopedia, Lin De Gai book collection: 1766) Repr.: Shanghai, Shang Hai Gu Ji Chu Ban She, 1995. Scientific journal articles: Alexander, R. D. (1961). Aggressiveness, territoriality, and sexual behaviour in field crickets. Behaviour 17, 130-223. Alexander, R. D. (1962). The role of behavioural study in cricket classification. Systematic Zoology 11, 53-72. Alexander, R. D. (1968). Life cycle origins, speciation, and related phenomena in crickets. Quarterly Review of Biology 43, 1-41. Bertram, S. M., Schade, J. D., & Elser, J. J. (2006). Signaling and phosphorus: correlations between mate signalling effort and body elemental composition in crickets. Animal Behaviour, 72, 899-907.

55 ampersand Brown, W. D., Smith, A. T., Moskalik, B., & Gabriel, J. (2006). Aggressive contests in house crickets: size, motivation and the information content of aggressive songs. Animal Behaviour,72, 225-33. Brown, W. D., Chimenti, A. J., & Siebert, J. R. (2007). The payoff of fighting in house crickets: motivational asymmetry increases male aggression and mating success. Ethology, 113, 457-65. Dixon, K. A., & Cade, W. H. (1986). Some factors influencing male-male aggression in the field cricket gryllus integer (time of day, age, weight and sexual maturity). Animal Behaviour, 34, 340-346. Hofmann, H.A., & Schildberger, K. (2001). Assessment of strength and willingness to fight during aggressive encounters in crickets. Animal Behaviour, 62, 337348. Iwasaki, M., Delago, A., Nishino, H., & Aonuma, H. (2006). Effects of previous experience on the agonistic behaviour of male crickets, gryllus bimaculatus. Zoological Science, 23, 863-72. Morris, G. K. (1979). Mating systems, paternal investment and aggressive-behaviour of acoustic orthoptera. Florida Entomologist, 62, 9-17. Neto, E. M. C. (2006). Cricket singing means rain: semiotic meaning of insects in the district of Pedra Branca, Bahia State, Northeastern Brazil. Anais Da Academia Brasileira De Ciencias, 78, 59-68. Suga, Y. (2006). Chinese cricket fighting. International Journal of Asian Studies, 3, 77-93. Wagner, W. E., & Hoback, W. W. (1999). Nutritional effects on male calling behaviour in the variable field cricket. Animal Behaviour, 57, 89-95.


Climate Change and Canada’s Claim to the Northwest Passage

Ice, Sea and

Sovereignty T Matt Brown

he consequences of climate change are very real and likely to affect a broad range of human and natural activity. The Arctic world is especially vulnerable to even moderate changes in climate. Animal and plant life in the region will undoubtedly be drastically affected by climate change and human spheres will also be impacted. The opening of the Northwest Passage is one possible result of Arctic climate change. Transiting this passage, which was once one of the most famously inaccessible maritime areas in the world, is becoming increasingly routine. Scientific evidence suggests that over the next few decades the route will become even more viable. An opened

57 ampersand

An opened Northwest Passage has broad implications for the Arctic economy, culture and environment, and Canadian sovereignty and foreign relations. Northwest Passage has broad implications for the Arctic economy, culture and environment, and Canadian sovereignty and foreign relations. This paper will provide a survey of contemporary Arctic climate science and current international law regarding maritime transit, and analyze how climate change will influence the politics of the Northwest Passage. Global warming has already had significant effects on Arctic ice. Surface and satellite observations have confirmed that over the past 46 years, sea ice in the northern hemisphere has decreased significantly (Vinnikov, 1999). Scientists’ high degree of confidence regarding the retreat of Arctic ice stems from observations recorded by two different satellite technologies: data from visible and infrared satellites from 1966 and data from satellite-based passive microwave sensors from 1972. These technologies indicate a decrease in the extent of Arctic ice by approximately three percent per decade (Stroeve, 2005). Though the trend over the past four decades is clear, forty years is a minuscule time frame from which to extrapolate any trend in the global climate. It is almost impossible to determine the exact extent of northern sea ice without direct observation, and comprehensive non-satellite observation is frequently unavailable, limited in area measure and time frame, and rife with inaccuracies. However, scientists have developed techniques to estimate past temperatures, which can be reliable indicators for the extent of sea ice. Most paleoclimate data from sources such as ice and peat cores indicate that the Arctic in the twentieth century was exceptionally warm relative to the previous 300 years (Moritz, 2002). More comprehensive paleoclimate reconstruction from tree rings suggests that the surface air temperature (SAT)

of the northern hemisphere today may even have exceeded the SAT during the medieval warming period 1,000 years ago (Esper, 2002). Current Arctic temperatures are likely higher than they have been for millennia, and, as a result, ice cover has been greatly reduced. Scientists agree that the Arctic is warming and Arctic sea ice is melting, but there the consensus stops. Uncertainty reigns as soon as one attempts to uncover the causes of the warming or predict the future of the Arctic climate. These uncertainties stem from the rudimentary understanding of a phenomenon called the Arctic oscillation (AO). The AO is a climate pattern that causes the sea-level pressure (SLP) of the Arctic to vary cyclically over weeks, months or decades. SLP is strongly correlated with the breakup and circulation of Arctic ice, and the increase in Arctic SAT (Moritz, 2002). Though the link between the AO and the extent of Arctic ice is apparent, the amplitude and frequency of the AO is unknown—there is not nearly enough data to model it. As a result, explaining current Arctic warming is difficult. That some of the warming is anthropogenic, however, has not been disputed. Instead, the controversy lies in deciding just how significant a role human behaviour has played. Most scientists (though not all) believe that greenhouse gases (GHG) increase the positive amplitude of the AO, but there is no consensus on why or to what extent (Stroeve, 2005). Our ignorance of the magnitude and effects of the AO introduces uncertainty to Arctic climate science. As a result, modeling the northern climate is challenging. The two most credible Arctic climate models, the Geophysical Fluid Dynamic Laboratory low-resolution R15 climate model and the Hadley Centre for Climate Change

Ice, Sea and Sovereignty 58 atmosphere-land-ocean HADCM2 climate model, coincide quite strongly with each other but often diverge from reality (Vinnikov, 1999). While the models predicted a 120 000 km2 loss of sea ice per decade from 1978 to 1998, Arctic ice cover actually declined 190 000 km2 per decade (Vinnikov, 1999). Also, the models cannot explain the period of Arctic cooling that occurred from 1920 to 1940 (Stroeve, 2005). In order to accurately predict Arctic climate, the AO must be better understood. Despite imprecise modeling of the Arctic climate, there is no doubt that the Arctic and Antarctic will be the regions most impacted by average Earth temperature increases resulting from human GHG emissions. These regions are especially vulnerable to changes in global climate for a number of interrelated reasons. First, global warming does not affect every area equally but changes temperatures where they vary most from the mean global temperature (Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), 2004). As a result, the rate of Arctic warming is expected to be twice the global average (ACIA, 2004). Secondly, the increase in Arctic SAT results in a variety of feedback effects.1 As indicated in Figure 1, the melting of Arctic ice decreases the albedo2 of the polar region (Chapin, 2005). The high albedo of ice and snow reflect most of the incoming solar radiation back into space. But as ice melts, it is replaced with either ocean water or shrubs and trees, all of which have a lower albedo than ice. Therefore, more solar radiation is absorbed in the region, raising surface water temperatures and causing melting earlier in the year (Chapin, 1 For the purpose of this paper, positive feedback effects are changes that lead to warming. Negative feedback effects do the opposite. 2 Albedo is the proportion of the sun’s radiation that a surface reflects. Light-coloured materials such as snow have a high albedo, meaning they reflect a high proportion of the light that reaches them (New Oxford American Dictionary, 2005).

Figure 1. Diagram of Arctic feedback effects. Increases in Arctic cloud cover are predicted to have a negative feedback effect (Chapin, 2005).

2005). The local positive feedbacks are compounded by global feedbacks: the decrease in albedo increases temperatures around the world, which causes the permafrost to melt, releasing large amounts of stored carbon and further increasing atmospheric temperature (Strum, 2003). The powerful positive feedback effects in the Arctic environment are therefore likely to result in rapid ice retreat. In concert with the natural variability in the AO and possible increase in AO amplitude created by an increase in GHG, the twenty-first century will likely experience dramatic changes in the Northwest Passage. In fact, within 100 years, we may see ice-free summers in the Arctic, a situation that is unheard of in the past million years (Overpeck, 2005). The political ramifications are likely to be significant.


he debate on the sovereignty over the Northwest Passage requires an understanding of the existing international law governing the ownership of the sea. Historically, states’ territorial waters extended only three nautical miles from

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Figure 2. Diagram of Arctic ice retreat (Overpeck, 2005).

their shores’ low water mark.3 However, in the 1940s, countries began extending their territorial claims hundreds of nautical miles into the ocean in order to encompass their continental shelves (Elliot-Meisel, 1998). As fishing and offshore oil and gas exploration became more important, more countries extended their territorial claims. In 1982, the third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III) was opened for signature and in 1994 the treaty entered into force. UNCLOS III governs its signatories’ coastal boundaries and is thus the primary legal reference point for Canada’s claim to sovereignty over the Northwest Passage (Elliot-Meisel, 1998). Under the UNCLOS III, countries are given varying degrees of control over waters within 200 nautical miles from their coastlines. Within this boundary, designated a state’s “Exclusive Economic Zone” (EEZ), the state has exclusive rights to the area’s natural resources (United Nations, 1982). Laws regarding smuggling and other international crimes are enforceable within twenty-four nautical miles from the shore, and any of the state’s domestic laws may be enforced within twelve nautical miles from the shore (UN, 1982). Crucial to the issue of sovereignty over the Northwest Passage are the The low water mark is defined as the line along a coast where the water level sits at its lowest annual point (Chapin, 2005). 3

laws regarding the power of states to restrict the passage of foreign vessels. A state may impose health, safety and labour regulations upon foreign vessels within the “territorial waters” extending twelve nautical miles from a state’s coastal baseline, but it cannot deny the vessels passage. Under these rules, foreign vessels may pass through the Arctic Archipelago without Canadian permission; however, the lines from which “territorial waters” are drawn are complex in an archipelagic landscape. Generally, these “baselines” (UN, 1982) are drawn from the low water mark, but when there is a convoluted shoreline, or collection of islands, the UNCLOS III allows for countries to draw straight baselines between the outermost points of the outermost islands (UN, 1982). In the Arctic Archipelago, straight baselines would allow Canada to maintain exclusive sovereignty over the Northwest Passage. According to the law, waters lying within these straight baselines are designated “internal waters,” falling entirely under control of the state and through which foreign vessels have no right of passage (UN, 1982). However, delineating strict baselines across the outer bound of the Canadian Arctic is a controversial action contested by both the United States and the European Union. While most national archipelagos can be delineated by straight baselines in order to maintain complete sovereignty over the straits

Ice, Sea and Sovereignty 60 between islands, Canada’s attempt to do likewise is complicated by legal precedent. This precedent is based on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling from 1949 stating that sovereignty over the waters between two islands may be restricted if the passage is an “international strait” (ICJ, 1949). According to this ruling, to qualify as an international strait, the channel must “connect two parts of the high seas and [be] a useful route for international maritime traffic” (ICJ, 1949). The ICJ ruling strengthens the American position that the Northwest Passage is an international strait: it connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and, by reducing the distance from Asia to the Eastern United States by 8,000 km, it is potentially very useful for international shipping (Hubert, 2001). In the same ruling, the ICJ allowed countries to maintain sovereignty over channels that would otherwise qualify as international straits if a country could prove that it had a “historical claim” to the waters in question. However, the burden of proof falls upon the state asserting a Box 1. The full text of Article 234 (UN, 1982).

“Coastal States have the right to adopt and enforce non-discriminatory laws and regulations for the prevention, reduction and control of marine pollution from vessels in ice-covered areas within the limits of the exclusive economic zone, where particularly severe climatic conditions and the presence of ice covering such areas for most of the year create obstructions or exceptional hazards to navigation, and pollution of the marine environment could cause major harm to or irreversible disturbance of the ecological balance. Such laws and regulations shall have due regard to navigation and the protection and preservation of the marine environment based on the best available scientific evidence.”

historical claim (Hubert, 2001). This proof is notoriously difficult to provide. In order to solidify Canada’s claim to the Northwest Passage, Canadian foreign policy has centered on what Franklin Griffiths calls the “functional approach,” relying not on one grand strategy but on several legal baby steps to gradually make a case for legal control over the Northwest Passage (Griffiths, 1987). In 1970, the Trudeau administration passed a bill called the “Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act” (AWPPA), which created a new hundred-mile zone around Canadian islands north of sixty degrees latitude. Within this zone, which would include all areas relevant to the Northwest Passage, Canada “asserted its right to make the dumping of waste illegal, to establish safety control zones for shipping and to stipulate navigational aides, personnel qualifications and ship hull construction for ships” (Elliot-Meisel, 1998). The Canadian government also deployed the functional approach during the negotiation of the UNCLOS III, when Canada’s diplomats successfully lobbied for the inclusion of an article regarding “icecovered areas” in the treaty and their special need for environmental regulation (Griffiths, 1987). This article, numbered 234, asserted that the Arctic’s environmental uniqueness necessitated special regulation (see Box 1). It grants Arctic states the right to enforce “nondiscriminatory” laws and regulations for the “prevention, reduction and control of marine pollution” within the 200 nautical miles limit of its EEZ (UN, 1982). The science supporting Canada’s contention that Arctic waters are especially vulnerable to pollution is dubious, but nevertheless, the article has significant ramifications for Canada’s claim to sovereignty over the Northwest Passage. The extension of Canada’s regulatory power over the vast area of its EEZ strengthens Canada’s control over the Northwest Passage. Unsurprisingly, the Soviet Union was a principal ally for the inclusion of Article 234, because the Soviets were eager to

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Figure 3. Diagram of most feasible Northwest Passage routes (Elliot-Meisel, 1998, p. 174).

build their own claim to the potentially useful “Northeast Passage” (Elliot-Meisel, 1998, p. 99). The AWPPA and article 234 are essential to building Canada’s claim over the Northwest Passage because, under precedent set by the International Court of Justice, Canada must prove that it has “historical claim” to the waters. In order to prove that the Northwest Passage is historically Canadian, Canada must demonstrate that it has “exercised historical control and long usage”— a difficult task in the Arctic Circle (Hubert, 2001). In this respect, measures like the AWPPA and Article 234 are vital for building Canada’s historical claim if the dispute were to go before the ICJ.


ince the dispute for sovereignty over the Northwest Passage is largely motivated by the prospect of a viable route in the future, climate change could have significant implications for the dispute, as Canadian foreign policy surrounding the dispute has relied on the Passage’s ice cover. However, Canada holds that its case for sovereignty in the Arctic is bolstered by the Canadians who live there. The office of former Minister of Foreign Affairs Joe Clark released a statement in 1985 regarding Canada’s Arctic sovereignty, claiming that “from time immemorial Canada’s Inuit people have used and occupied the ice as they have used and

occupied the land” (Elliot-Meisel, 1998, p. 148). This statement asserts that by virtue of being covered with ice and inhabited, the Northwest Passage has special status. Canada’s reliance on Northern ice is also revealed in the language of article 234, which assigns special rights of sovereignty to states encompassing “ice-covered areas.” Canada’s de jure sovereignty could be weakened by a retreat of Arctic ice. Though the current legislation is vulnerable to an ice-free Arctic, the greatest challenge to Canadian sovereignty, however, comes from the Northwest Passage’s increasing utility as a sea route. Since “international straits are required to be useful route[s] for international maritime traffic” (UN, 1982), ice melt in the Arctic will reinforce the US and the EU’s case for restricted sovereignty over the Passage. From Figures 2 and 3, one can see that the areas from which the ice is retreating most quickly are also the areas best suited for maritime traffic. Therefore, as the ice melts, more and more foreign vessels will traverse the route, strengthening the assertion that the Passage represents an international strait. To sum up, the impact of climate change on the Arctic poses a serious threat to Canadian Arctic Sovereignty. Examining the evidence surrounding climate change and the Arctic sovereignty question, it is evident that it will be difficult for Canada to maintain its control over the Northwest Passage. The science predicts that the ice will melt, and legal precedent suggests that an ice-free Arctic will end Canada’s legal control over the waters. However, Canada’s loss of sovereignty over the Northwest Passage should not concern Canadians. When examined pragmatically, very little will change: Canada will still be able to enforce labour and environmental standards on the ships transiting the passage, the difference being that the Canadian government will simply be unable to prevent ships from making the crossing. When compared to other consequences of Arctic climate change, the loss of Arctic sovereignty seems of little importance.

Ice, Sea and Sovereignty 62 If any consequence of climate change should provoke action on Canada’s part, it should be the significant effects that melting ice will have on the wildlife and people who inhabit the Arctic. References Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. (2004). Impacts of a warming Arctic: Arctic climate impact assessment, Cambridge University Press. Albedo. (2005). In New Oxford American Dictionary. USA: Oxford University Press. Chapin, F. S. et al. (2005). Role of Land-Surface Changes in Arctic Summer Warming. Science 310. Elliot-Meisel, E. B. (1998). Arctic diplomacy: Canada and the United States in the Northwest Passage. New York: P. Lang. Esper, J., E. R. Cook, F. H. Schweingruber. (2002). Low-Frequency Signals in Long Tree-Ring Chronologies for Reconstructing Past Temperature Variability. Science 295. Griffiths, F. (1987). Politics of the Northwest Passage. Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press. Huebert, R. (2001). Climate Change and Canadian Sovereignty in the Northwest Passage. Canadian Department of Defense 2(4). International Court of Justice. (1949). Corfu Channel Case: Report of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders. Leyden: A. W. Sijthoff ’s Publishing. Moritz, R. E., Bitz, Cecilia M., Steig, Eric J. (2002). Dynamics of Recent Climate Change in the Arctic. Science 297. Overpeck, J. et al. (2005). Arctic System on Trajectory to New, Seasonally Ice-Free State. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 86(34). United Nations. (1982). United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Updated 2006. Depts/los/convention_agreements/convention_ overview_convention.htm Stroeve, J. C., M. C. Serreze, F. Fetterer, T. Arbetter, W. Meier, J. Maslanik, and K. Knowles. (2005). Tracking the Arctic’s shrinking ice cover: Another extreme September minimum in 2004. Geophysical Research Letters 32: L04501. Strum, M., Perovich, Donald K., Serreze, Mark C. (2003). Meltdown in the North. Scientific American 289(4). Vinnikov, K. Y. (1999). Global Warming and Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice Extent. Science 286.

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A aron Sidney Wright


hilosophies of time are as old as philosophy itself. Deep reflection upon the fundamental referents of our existence dates to far before the development of modern science, however, the stunning advancement of human knowledge of nature since this development suggests that we look to science for ways to answer old philosophical problems. In order to be clear about how science can help answer philosophy’s problems, it is necessary to understand how science functions. That is, in order to apply scientific knowledge to philosophical problems, we need a philosophy of science. This paper examines an attempt to apply scientific knowledge — specifically of thermodynamics — to the behaviour of time. The recent work of Huw Price is taken to characterize a contemporary extension of a problem dating to the development of statistical mechanics by Ludwig Boltzmann in the late nineteenth century. Price’s work is chosen

because of his attempts to clarify the existing debate; he writes openly and honestly about opportunity for criticism, and though I disagree with his conclusions, I appreciate his approach. His motivation is the apparent strength of the second law of thermodynamics — that entropy can only remain constant or increase, for a properly defined system — and the apparently time-invariant mechanical laws underlying the law (Price, 1996). At first, taking Price mostly at his word, I examine the consequences of his conclusion that the crux of this problem rests in the cosmology of the early universe and in the existence of an initial low-entropy state. I find the implications of this unsatisfying and unclear. This motivates a discussion of the applicability of thermodynamics to time — a discussion of the relative roles of law, theory, and the natural world. It is found that thermodynamic laws cannot be used to derive the features of time,

On The Impossibility 64 because they presuppose time’s behaviour, and a law cannot prove its assumptions. Before continuing, it will be necessary to establish that Price is in fact arguing about time. He does not think so. He writes that “the issue is not about the direction, asymmetry or anisotropy of time itself. It is about the asymmetry of certain physical processes in time, not about the asymmetry of time” (2002, p. 87). Price implies that there is something that is called time, apart from a relation between things in it. But if we are to abandon the notion of the absolute time advanced by Newton and Kant, as Berkeley and Mach did (Popper, 1963), and as Einstein’s special theory of relativity disproved, this cannot hold. All modern theories of time must be relational (Bunge, 1967, p. 94), and Price is arguing about all processes to which thermodynamic laws apply: he argues about time itself, because time must be defined as a relation between processes (or events). Since he is arguing about the asymmetry of these processes, he is arguing about the asymmetry of time. Without admitting relational time, Price does attempt to keep anthropocentrism out of his philosophy. For this, he uses a “view from no when” or “Archimedes’ Point,” offering an imaginary vantage onto the expanse of time (1996). So, Price is attempting to speak objectively, but fails to realize that he is making a false distinction between in, and of time. While we are clarifying some initial concepts, it is worthwhile to offer an initial definition of the second law of thermodynamics, roughly as given by Rudolf Clausius: heat always flows from hot bodies to cold. This is an inductive generalization of macroscopic behaviour that was believed in the nineteenth century to have the same reliability as mechanical laws. Boltzmann gave theoretical support to this generalization by defining entropy, S, in reference to an atomic theory of heat (see below). This atomic theory modelled the behaviour of a gas on classically-colliding

spheres and made formal statistical generalizations about the behaviour of these spheres. Boltzmann’s second law can be stated ∆S ≥ 0, where ∆ means “change with respect to time.” The asymmetry of the “greater-or-equal-to” sign with the apparent symmetry with respect to time of Newtonian mechanics has spurred debate since the 1870s. The essential question is: why do we observe entropy monotonically increasing when the underlying mechanics are taken to be symmetric? Price approaches this problem and its lengthy history by dividing opinions on this perceived asymmetry into two groups, Causal-Generalists and Acausal-Particularists. This taxonomy is supported by the creation of a contrast class to the originating question about asymmetry. This contrast class is made up of those seeking an answer to the question: what would symmetry look like? To this question he proposes two answers: a) there would be entropy gradients in both directions: The world might exhibit entropic gradients in both temporal directions, without a global temporal preference, at least on a large scale. For example, there might be a single long period of entropy ‘increase’, ‘followed’ by a matching period of entropy ‘decrease’ (2002, pp. 89-90), or b) there would be no entropy gradient at all. Causal-Generalists seek solutions to a) arguing over the nature of entropy gradients; AcausalParticularists seek answers to b), arguing over the existence of entropy gradients. Price positions Causal-Generalists as those who ask for a causal explanation for the increase of entropy at the dynamical level, and Acausal-Particularists as those willing to accept that nature simply follows the path of greatest probability most of the time. This latter position is the view Price ascribes to Boltzmann. However, both groups need to explain the “cosmological anomaly” that we live in a low entropy state.

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his anomaly can be explained in thermodynamic terms as follows. Given a gas in a finite box at some time, t1, with some entropy S1, Boltzmann statistics tell us that it is extremely improbable for entropy to decrease at some fur ther time t2, where t2 > t1; S2 > S1. If we then imagine an earlier time, t0, such that t0 < t1 < t2, it is equally improbable that S0 < S1. The (statistical) second law states that it is extremely probable that the entropy increases as time progresses. If we imagine the present as time t1 it is extremely unlikely that t0, our past, is low entropy (Brush, 1966). But we observe, from our memories of years past, to astronomical observations stretching light-years, low entropy. Thus, “a major consequence of Boltzmann’s statistical approach is […] to problematise something which we might otherwise take for granted, namely, the low-entropy present and past” (Price, 2002, p. 96). However, no matter which of Price’s approaches is taken, this strangeness must be explained. Price suggests that because Acausal-Particularists have less anomalous behaviour to explain (they are willing to accept entropy increase on a statistical basis) it is the stronger approach. He rejects a causal explanation on its inability to support a counterfactual mechanism without which entropy would decrease, or increase differently. The details of this counterfactual do not concern me here. I agree with Price that both descriptions must somehow deal with the cosmological incongruency suggested by Boltzmann’s statistics.


n what way, then, does Price’s interpretation of Boltzmann statistics — his Acausal-Particularist argument — deal with this cosmic anomaly? He writes that “all the anomalous order in the present universe seems unexceptional, once we conditionalise on this one unlikely condition in the early universe.” It is important to note that this is not a causal connection. Price wants a solution to the “observed asymmetry” that will make the

present seem unexceptional. Random variations in entropy do not have to be explained once the general trend is set. This matters because it allows him to set a direction for time, through thermodynamics, without explaining why random variations in a gas’s entropy do not create a temporal distortion. If Price can convince us of his cosmological explanation of the origin of the gradient of entropy, he cannot answer questions about local behaviour. If we are to remain firmly convinced by special relativity, that all time must be defined in reference to a frame of reference, that is, if time is relational, Price will not have proven his case. Continuing with Price’s argument, he chooses as his condition “that the matter in the universe be distributed extremely evenly, immediately after the Big Bang.” Price admits that this is a “staggeringly anomalous” thing to have happened, but thinks that our efforts are best served explaining it, as he believes it provides the “vast reservoir” of low entropy that the rest of the universe can feed off of, reaching its present state of relative orderliness (2002). This is preferable to Boltzmann’s 1898 hypothesis that different regions of the universe have fluctuating entropies, because Boltzmann assumed an indefinitely old universe, and because anthropic arguments should be avoided (Brush, 1966, pp. 446-8). Price, knowing some modern cosmology, wants a solution compatible with this greater knowledge of the cosmos. He assumes that this even distribution should be interpreted as low-entropy because an absolutely even distribution of matter is an extremely unlikely microstate if considering gravitational interactions. That is, in both a generalized sense of entropy representing “disorder” and the statistical representation as the logarithm of the probability of a microstate, an even spread of matter is vanishingly low gravitational entropy. Lawrence Sklar calls this the orthodox position of thermodynamic histories of the universe (1993).

On The Impossibility 66 The qualifier “gravitational” is important, and is not something Price stresses. This is problematic because it is only in this specific gravitational context that his low-entropy state is realized. This is perhaps a function of one of his initial assumptions: “I assume that the term ‘entropy’ is actually inessential. We can characterize our explanandum as a long list of the actual kinds of physical phenomena which exhibit a temporal preference, which occur in nature with one temporal orientation but not the other.” (Price, 2002, pp. 88-9) In his post-Big Bang assumption, he is neglecting many “kinds of physical phenomena,” both in the sense of governing forces, and in the sense of micro- or macro-processes. Let us first consider a classical picture of the early universe, and let us assume that entropy, S, in its broad sense of orderliness, can be represented by a linear combination of the multiple specific senses of orderliness available to a physicist. Price has told us that in his anomaly S(G) is very small, where the S(G) represents the contribution of gravity to S. This broad distribution, however, corresponds exactly to the most probable, highest entropy state in Boltzmann’s original sense of entropy as heat disorder; we call this S(B). Thus, in our linear combination, S = S(G) + S(B) we have a tension between the “highly unstable” and very small S(G) and the very stable and correspondingly large S(B). This tension introduces uncertainty into Price’s argument. How can we safely rely on S(G) to be so small as to cancel S(B)? If we are to rely on this initially miniscule entropy to prove 15 billion years of order, what role does the heat of the early universe play? At the micro or quantum level, our understanding of entropy becomes more complicated and adds greater uncertainty to Price’s argument. Price’s “smooth distribution of matter” (2002, p. 111) assumes some structure to this

matter, that is, that we are dealing with fermions. Then, in addition to our contributions from gravity and from heat, we must have a preference for “spread out” matter from the exchange force between these particles. Thus, we have an S(F), resulting from the exchange force, that favours distribution (is not vanishingly small). Once at the quantum scale, however, we must also reconsider Price’s original conception of entropy due to gravitational attraction. It is true that a smooth distribution is very unstable and therefore unlikely. However, entropy is not determined by how stable a state is. Classically favoured microstates are all unstable, but enough of them are similar to be associated with a stable macrostate. A subtlety of quantum mechanics is that fermions are indistinguishable. Therefore, no matter how unstable each “smooth” state is, because it is impossible to distinguish between them, they should be associated with high, not low entropy. If we label S(G') the contribution to entropy due to gravity, without making any assumptions about how quantum gravity acts, we see that S(G') >> S(G). The heat entropy also changes when dealing with quantum objects. It is appropriate to use the von Neumann entropy, which we will denote S(B'). It will be enough to say that S(B') is zero only for a pure state, and is maximal for a maximally mixed (smooth) state (von Neumann, 1955). Price’s low entropy anomaly has been significantly complicated. Instead of the sense of entropy he offers, relying only upon gravitation, we now have a sense of the total entropy at play in such a state: S = S(G') + S(B') + S(F). This fuller understanding of entropy adds to our understanding of Price’s early condition, and allows us to draw from other thinkers’ physical understanding, invalidating Price’s assumption that the concept of entropy can be eliminated from his argument. In order to build stronger theories, common, carefully understood concepts must be shared. This analysis also shows that Price’s smooth initial state cannot have

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It is the process of theoretical analogy I wish to examine, and to show that it is impossible to deduce the properties of time from this law. the infinitesimally low entropy he requires. The initially smooth state has lost its utility, but retained its small probability of having ever occurred. If the behaviour of entropy cannot be explained in this way, it does not make sense to define the direction of time as the direction of the increase of entropy, as Hans Reichenbach does (1956). In fact, this analysis suggests that one of Price’s Causal-Generalist approaches to the problem may have an advantage. If entropy has different aspects corresponding to different force-relations between particles, the total entropy can remain constant, while different forms of energy are exchanged to account for thermodynamic change. Following Price, however, we agree that the problem of time-asymmetry in thermodynamics rests in cosmology, but we find a cosmological solution evasive. This has happened because of a misunderstanding of the relationship between law, theory, formalism, and nature. Thermodynamic arguments about time ignore qualifying assumptions built into macroscopic laws and force nature to follow formalism. Both are backwards arguments. Qualifying or generalizing assumptions are made to craft theories restricted by their qualifiers. That the formalism of science should follow the behaviour of nature rather than the reverse is true by definition. Science must always describe nature, and not anthropomorphically pressure nature into human forms. Time is a basic, objective aspect of nature, and must be carefully approached. Happily, the man who ostensibly started this controversy seems able to help us out of it: Ludwig Boltzmann. A complete explication of Boltzmann’s shifting philosophy will not be attempted, but an attempt has been made not to “cherry pick” quotes out of their necessary

context. Boltzmann’s understanding of theory as an analogy for nature will be stressed (Boltzmann, 1964). This is not the final word, but is definitely a theme that follows throughout his thoughts, and will be used to buttress more contemporary arguments, as well as my own. That said, let us turn to the philosophical origins of the debate over thermodynamics and the arrow of time. As mentioned before, this debate has focused on the role, validity, and reference class of the second law of thermodynamics. As stated in 1865 by Clausius, it represents a basic form of scientific law: a theoretical generalization of observations confirmed by experience. This is the familiar “entropy tends to a maximum,” or observationally, “heat always travels from hot bodies to cold ones.” Boltzmann, in 1877, strengthened the formulation, not by doing many more and better experiments, but by connecting Clausius’s dictum to a theoretical armature, atomism. For Boltzmann, entropy is the logarithm of the probability of a microstate, Ω, of a particular ensemble, multiplied by a constant. In symbols, S = k log Ω. The second law can be restated as ∆S ≥ 0. A microstate is a velocity distribution describing the movement of the particles in a gas. The point is not that the law is now stated in terms of physical probabilities, though much has been written on the subject. Rather, it is the process of theoretical analogy I wish to examine, and to show that it is impossible to deduce the properties of time from this law. That Boltzmann was an atomist is uncontroversial, but a short explanation of how this applied to his theories is necessary. He disliked continua in general, exhorting: “do not imagine that by means of the word continuum

On The Impossibility 68 or the writing down of a differential equation, you have acquired a clear concept of the continuum” (Boltzmann, 1974, p. 43). For Boltzmann, any continuum was first a large finite collection of points, the meaning of limit being dependent on the idea that “adding one more” would not contribute to the whole. As applied to a physical reality, atomism is the old belief that apparently continuous objects are in fact made up of a finite number of small particles. Just like the Copernican Revolution established that the laws describing earthly processes also described celestial processes, so Boltzmann’s atomism allowed him to apply the laws describing macroscopic processes to the microscopic. In order to justify applying Newton’s laws of motion to the microscopic world, Boltzmann needed data. But before he could obtain any data, he had to find some way of calculating the behaviour of very large numbers of point particles, so that his general hypothesis about the nature of matter could be tested as a specific hypothesis predicting some result. In this conceptual space between global hypothesis and experimental hypothesis, Boltzmann made simplifying assumptions about the behaviour of these atoms. On the basis of these physical assumptions, he made further, mathematical assumptions that allowed him to connect atomism to probability theory. Schematically, with an arrow representing “led to”: Atomism + (physical assumptions) ↓ Newton’s Laws + (mathematical assumptions) ↓ Probability theory ↓ Testable theory ↓ Data Boltzmann knew that his assumptions had “a provisory character” (1964, p. 26), but it is to these layers of theories, supporting and

supported by data, that was “the whole content of [his] life.” However, it is the assumed stable-link between Newton’s laws of motion and the second law of thermodynamics that motivates thinkers to look for time in the second law. Price writes that “leading physicists were puzzled by the temporal asymmetry of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, in light of the apparent symmetry of the underlying laws of mechanics.” He further emphasizes that late-twentieth century thinkers still struggle with the puzzle (2002, pp. 83-4). As was shown above, the progress of the twenty-first century debate is slow. In light of the lack of progress in this debate, and in respect for the attention Boltzmann paid his theories, let us look there to see if time can be approached from the thermodynamic angle at all. What assumptions made it possible to use Newtonian mechanics to calculate the behaviour of gases? a) The particles, molecules, are perfect spheres, b) that there is a well-defined system of particles, c) that no forces act on the system except through collisions, d) that the particles move in straight lines, and e) that linear momentum is conserved in each collision. It is necessary, though not sufficient, for the argument, that each of the above has been shown to be false for cases relevant to thermodynamics. a) and b) It has only been possible in the last forty years to isolate microscopic particles, and they are not spherical. Maintaining an exact population large enough to classify as a statistical ensemble at a high enough temperature to measure thermodynamic qualities has not, to my knowledge, been accomplished. c) Gravity acts on each particle. d) Gravity’s action will retard straight paths. e) Energy can be diverted into angular momentum. Thus, none of the basic assumptions underlying Boltzmann’s can be regarded as reflecting the reality of molecules as a gas. This is not to disrepute or deny the wonderful success of Boltzmann’s work, only to

69 ampersand place the second law of thermodynamics within its theoretical context. This context reveals that even before statistical generalizations are taken into account, the second law and Boltzmann’s understanding of entropy rest on generalizing assumptions, false individually, but capable of great scientific utility when used wisely.

but one cannot deduce rules of nature from purely formal reasoning. Reichenbach seized upon Boltzmann’s suggestion that the entropy gradient would be different in different parts of the universe, and that “the beings who observe such processes will simply reckon time as proceeding from the less probable to the more probable states” (Boltzmann, 1964, pp. 447-8). That he preceded this statement by stating that “obviously no one would consider such speculations as import-

Now that we have shown the context under which Newtonian mechanics applies to entropy, a remark on mechanics’ time-symmetry is needed. It must be understood that the statement “Newtonian mechanics is time-symmetAll attempts to define time motivated by ric” is a theory, and if we are to have scientific philosophy thermodynamics must first overcome in addition to a philosophy of science, this theory our lack of definite knowledge of the should be checked against behaviour of the early universe. both experimental data and background knowledge. The traditional “derivation” time-symmetry is to ant discoveries,” and followed the statement observe that if one were to replace +v with -v with “very well, you may smile at this,” should in conservation laws, the results are the same. be taken into account. That is, this statement Slightly more rigorous authors reach to the should not be taken by itself as representing canonical law of mechanics, F = m a, where Boltzmann’s view of time. The argument that F is total force, m is mass, a is acceleration, time somehow depends on the gradient of and bold letters represent vectors. Of course, entropy, on the second law of thermodynamics, a = d 2(x)/dt 2 = d 2(-x)/dt 2, and all solutions to has been shown to be dependent upon purely this second order differential equation are sym- formal reasoning. In this respect, Boltzmann’s response to a formal critique of another aspect metric about the independent axis, t. This is a of his theory should be considered alongside purely formal analysis, and does not constitute his abovementioned speculation. This is the a proof that if an experiment were actually critique by Loschmidt, proved by Poincaré in run backwards, the laws would hold. Such 1889, that given a box of smooth sides and an an experiment has never been done. Other ordered initial state, a gas will cycle through examples of the same reasoning persist in the every possible state given enough time. Evenliterature. The wave equations that describe tually less common states with low entropy will the propagation of waves across the surface of be populated by the gas, and the second law of a pond admit solutions originating from the thermodynamics will be broken. pond’s edge, as well as those originating from a central disturbance (Price, 2002, p. 49). This is Boltzmann’s response is two-fold. First, he a fact about wave equations, not about nature. emphasizes the proposed situation is more The fact that no scientist has been capable of idealized, is more abstracted from reality, is devising some experiment to test whether based on more unrealistic assumptions than his these relations do hold “backwards” suggests something in itself about the nature of time, own theory. He establishes Loschmit’s point:

On The Impossibility 70 “let a gas be enclosed by absolutely smooth, elastic walls. Initially there is an unlikely but molecular-disordered state[…].” He continues that the fact that entropy decreases “does not contradict the laws of probability either; for these only predict the unlikeliness, not the impossibility” of an entropy decrease (pp. 58-9). Boltzmann first establishes how his challenger represents a less-realist system than his own, and then shows how the exception to the general law can be consumed within his own assumptions.


hough Boltzmann was irregular in his philosophy, and often crafted it to his audience (Blackmore, 1995, pp. 24-5), he was the first to point out the strength his theoretical structure and generalizations offered. To each specific counter-example his statistics could claim an “anomaly,” to each formal criticism he could claim a closer path to reality, hoping that he had “come nearer to truth” (1886, p. 32). This flexibility works against theorists seeking to answer basic questions of the universe with the theory. Every singularity is accounted for, but as for Price, causal relations never established. Einstein’s theory of special relativity, and the experiments supporting it, tell us that time is a relational property. It must be defined in reference to the events or processes that happen within it. However, it should not be defined only for perfect spheres travelling in straight lines, or for any of the other restrictions statistical mechanics put upon itself with the goal of determining the macroscopic properties of nature. That attempts by physicists and philosophers to determine the nature of time from the perspective of thermodynamics have failed to discern a stable definition for time should be unsurprising. The task they have set for themselves is to climb up the ladder of data to theory to global theory, using formal science. That is, they must attempt to reverse Boltzmann’s intricate work in putting together

the basis for statistical mechanics, while balancing his assumptions against their standards of truth. They are bound to fall short against a relational, rational theory of time that simply assumes time asymmetry as an untestable but necessary component. All attempts to define time motivated by thermodynamics must first overcome our lack of definite knowledge of the behaviour of the early universe, as shown by Price. They must then contend with the essentially unprovable time symmetry of laws based on second degree differential equations. Once over these two hurdles, they must contend with the physical and statistical generalizations upon which the second law is based. After all this, (a) it should refine and work out our intuitions about physical time; (b) it should purge those intuitions of subjective elements; (c) it should tally with important physical theories; (d) it should be quantitative; (e) it should be well organized; and (f) it […] should deal with a certain relation among objective happenings rather than with a ghostly absolute time (Bunge, 1967, p. 94). Though philosophies of time based on thermodynamics have made some progress removing subjective elements from our conception of time (Price, 1996, p. vii), they fail to be intuitive or quantitative. References Blackmore, J. (Ed.). (1995). A documentary history. Ludwig Boltzmann, his later life and philosophy, 1900-1906. (Book one). Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Boltzmann, L. (1964). Lectures on Gas Theory. (S. G. Brush, Trans.). Berkeley: University of California Press. Brush, S.G. (Ed.). (1966). Kinetic Theory. Vol. 2. Irreversible processes. Oxford: Pergamon Press Bunge, M. (1967). Foundations of physics. New York: Springer-Verlag. Bunge, M. (1998). Philosophy of science. [Rev. ed.]. London: Transaction Publishers. Huggett, N. (1999, December). [Review of the book Time’s arrow and Archimedes’ point: new directions for

71 ampersand the physics of time]. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 59, 1093-1096. Popper, K. (1956). The arrow of time. Nature, 177, 538 Popper, K. (1963). Conjectures and refutations: the growth of scientific knowledge. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Price, H. (1996). Time’s arrow and Archimedes’ point: new directions for the physics of time. New York: Oxford University Press. Price, H. (2002). Boltzmann’s time bomb. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 53, 83-119 Reichenbach, H. (1956). The direction of time. Berkeley: University of California Press. Sklar, L. (1993). Physics and chance: philosophical issues in the foundations of statistical mechanics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. von Neumann, J. (1955). Mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics. (R. T. Beyer, Trans.). Princeton: Princeton University Press.


McGill University Bachelor of Arts and Science Academic Journal Volume 1


McGill University Bachelor of Arts and Science Academic Journal Volume 1