Dear visitor (if there is any) please note the following: The blog "Broken Radius" is hosted at Google Blogger's server. I can therefore not guarantee that your visit to the blog or any comment you write wont be recorded by the NSA. If you have any worries about this, you can visit instead my alternative blog Letters-to-a-Persian-Cat. This one is hosted at a European server which hopefully acknowledges visitors privacy.


Persian Cat rules its Empire from the Back of a Horse

Dear Michael,

While I have been away in the lab,  Shava must have found a link to your blog.  When she red the short profile of, she first thought that your blog is all about child stories (o.k., I have to tell you that sometimes even your posts appear a bit fairy-tale kids-style to me !!).

Anyhow, Shava was surprised to read that the blog is a "dialogue between a cat and a mouse", and she asked me if this is part of the european and western idea that all social conflicts will eventually be settled peacefully and all creatures in the society will have equal rights to express their opinion ? She says in her opinion this is a big illusion, because there are natural differences between different people, same as there are natural differences between creatures. She came up with an old comic from her child-hood (Moosh o Gorbeh - موش و گربه),  which is about cats (persian) and mice (also persian).

[caption id="attachment_2327" align="alignleft" width="438" caption="Moosh o Gorbeh 1"]Moosh o Gorbeh 1[/caption]

And here you see the reality: The last thing that a cat will do to mice is to have a long conversation with them about science or the meaning of life. If a cat does not eat the mice right away for dinner, it might "rule them" from its high thrown (perhaps only to keep the poor mice nearby and have it ready to be eaten for the next meal).








Moosh o Gorbeh 2

On the other picture from this nice old book you can see the typical situation in a "civilized society":  Those who are in power (the fat cat) can sit, and have their subordinates (the other cats) standing below them in rows, awaiting an order.


The picture we found at Shahre Farang.

Take Care   /ghazal


Dear Ghazal,

This blog is phantasie, I agree. But my intention is just to defend the right of mice against the cats. A cats are widely considered a lovely pet, and benefical to man, whereas mice are always seen as vermin. But who (except us scientists) know how much the mice have contributed for the progress in bio-medicine ? Without mice, we would know very little about tissue- and bone-marrow transplantation. Our knowledge about the generation of blood cells and the regulation of the immune-system would be very basic. The first oncogenes involved in leukaemia and breast-cancer were identified in mice that developed a tumor. And the evolving field of stem-cells (which are the key for life of multicellular organisms) was 95% based on laboratory mice. As compared to all these achievements, the perception of mice and its role for mankind is too negative.  When Shava finds it strange that cats and mice could live peaceful together, she is absolute right. But I am wondering if the two could not have a distant dialogue, an exchange of thoughts ?  Couldn't it be that the natural relationship of a predator and its victim would turn into a intellectual partnership as soon as they are separated from each other ?

I like very much these old pictures from the persian book "Moosh o Gorbeh".  Too bad I cannot read the story in original persian language. But I found a german and english version of the book, by Farangis Yegane, who also draw modern illustrations for the book. I think I will read it on his website. In particular he announces a chapter where the mice plotted a rebellion against the cat.  I am really curious how they are doing this.


To 'think outside the box,' think outside the box

Dear Michael,

I finally gave the talk about my MSc project at an institutes seminar, about genetic factors associated with radio-iodine uptake in mice. People immediately became interested in the link between radioiodine uptake and retention in the fetal thyroid gland, and thje later risk to develop thyroid cancer.

I had to tell them that at least in the mouse model that we studied together in your lab, there was not such a simple link. Radioiodine uptake and pharmacokinetic are determined by genetic factors, but the long term cancer risk is obvsiouly governed by other genes. And the subtle differences between different mouse strains in their isotope retention in thyroid seems to be only a minor determinant in cancer risk. Other genes or their variants are obviously more important, but we have not found them yet.

Most colleagues assumed that there must be a direct linear connection between isotope uptake or thyroid dose and cancer risk. Only a professor from human genetics department told people they should start to "think outside their box". I did not knew this phrase before, therefore I checked it in Google. And I came across an interesting research paper in a psychological journal. The authors of the new paper were inspired by metaphors about creativity found in boardrooms to movie studios to scientific laboratories around the world and previous linkages established between mind and body.

Want to think outside the box? Try actually thinking outside of a box. In a study to be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researchers had students think up solutions to problems while acting out various metaphors about creative thinking and found that the instructions actually worked.

Enjoy your day, and remember there are not only cages that restrict our physical freedom, but also boxes which keep our inspiration and phantasy down.

Take Care



Ghazal my Dear,

Thanks for the nice thoughts. I printed out this last sentence from you and sticked it on my memory board. It is there together now with a sentence by Oscar Wilde: "We are all living in cages, but there are only a few of us who see the stars". Of course you are one of these few.

Take Care, my Dear



First system developed to assess living conditions on other planets

Hi Michael,

You recommended last year to escape onto this newly discovered exo-planet Giese..., which is 20 light-years away from earth. I told you I can not leave Stockholm , cause my family needs me here and I am busy with my PhD project.

But today I red something in the newspaper, what might make your invitation more realistic: Some researchers have developed a computer program that after putting in some data it can predict the suitability of any planet for human life. So in case you will know about a planet that is not light-years away from home, but maybe only some light-hours, we might have its living-conditions checked with this program, before going there for a short visit.

Take Care /ghazal

A rediculous spelling mistake by the UN

In 1971 the Princess of Iran Ashraf Pahlavi, sister of Shah Reza Pahlevi, presented the United Nations Secretary General U Thant with a replica of Cyrus Cylinder. This archeologic artefact stems from the 6th century BC and was excavated in 1879 by Hormuzd Rassam, an Iranian-British archeologist. On the clay cylinder a declaration is written in Akkadian cuneiform script, guaranteeing equal rights to every subordinate of the Achaemenid king Cyrus the Great, independent on nation or religion. In the late 1960s the Cylinder gained new prominence when the last Shah of Iran called it "the world's first charter of human rights". The cylinder was a key symbol of the Shah's political ideology and is still regarded by some commentators as a charter of human rights, despite the disagreement of some historians and scholars. He wrote that "the history of our empire began with the famous declaration of Cyrus, which, for its advocacy of humane principles, justice and liberty, must be considered one of the most remarkable documents in the history of mankind."

On top of the UN protocol about the ceremony are some handwritten remarks, which show that even in the surpreme international organisation some people had difficulties in not mixing historical characters and places of the mideastern hemisphere.  Instead of linking Iran to the "Edict of Cyrus", they "newly invented" an "Edict of Cyprus". It would be interesting to find out if a copy of this protocol was ever forwarded to the Shahs palace in Teheran, maybe with a post-it saying "For your information" !!  This typo remained unnoticed for more than 40 years,  although the protocol must have been available in the web since several years.

The entire UN protocol can be found here.



Fighting christian dominance on Blogger"s blogosphere

Where have all these babtists, evangelicals and other "born-again christian" morons learned how to write a blog ????  Is it only me who feels like sitting in the wrong movie (as we germans like to say), because always when I click the Next Blog command in the header row of my own Broken-Radius I got the impression to be thrown into a christian fundamentalists propaganda machinery. Most of these blogs then display personal profiles aiming of presenting its owner as a more faithful person than holy Thomas of Aquin or Margaretha of Bingen. What a crap christian conspiracy is occupying the cyperspace here ? I feel surrounded by dumb christian fundamentalists flooding  the web with their bigotry. 
This is as worse as it is nowadays on short-wave radio, where you dont hear BBC, VOA, Radio Moscow or Deutsche Welle any more, but all free frequencies are taken over by Radio Maria, Radio Vatican, Bible Radio and their islamic counterparts.
However small my contribution to fight this spread of christian stupidity and lies might be, I will counterstrike with some photos showing that the battle is not lost jet. and in particular to show, that the real life and the real battles are still happening on the streets. One of these street-born counteractions took place May 2010 in Munich (sorry Asal, I forgot to invite you to this event), where me and Jane from west-coast USA demonstrated our discomfort with Pope Benedikt personal cult. The demonstration under the slogan "Jolly Procession" was organized by the Munich branch of the "Freidenker Verband". 
Please note that we were escorted by the German Police, which expressed its sympathy and defended our march against the furious participants of a religious pro-Benedict festival that took place at the same time.

Thats NOT me and Jane, but the brave organizers of the event. This fake priest looks more disgusting than Joker from Batman, but the fake nun looks as pretty as Michele Pfeiffer.

We gave this grey day a lot of extra and vivid colours. Click on the "PLAY VIDEO" bottom below, please.  Never click on the "NEXT BLOG" bottom in the header row.


Persian Drag Queens

Dear Ghazal, In general I don't like to send or forward uncommented videos or photographs. But the following one is just so funny, I think any additional words would just spoil it.

Enjoy, Take Care, Michael


Hi Michael,
Drag Queens are cult. Makes me smile. I love how they perform. Do you also think that transvestites very often look more attractive then real woman ?
Shava, however complained about the jokes they did in the video about big noses ! She insisted that big noses are beautiful, that they are precious, that they give character and are a sign of  strong personality.
But now big noses become an endangered species in Iran. Because its the easiest and most profitable operation for the plastic surgeons. Shava said people who have their big nose reduced should better be send  to a neurosurgeon to get a Brain bypass operation.

I hope everything is fine  with you,
Take Care


Ghazal my dear,
First of all, I have to say how much I agree with Shavas opinion regarding big noses.It always makes me very sad to hear that people can be ashamed of their sharp noses. The attempt to "correct" it to resemble japanese manga figures is a regrettable and irreversible damage to the personality. Large, sharp noses were always seen as a reflection of a strong character. Therefore it does not come as a surprise they are so common among the Iranians.
In many mythologies the nose was even considered to be the breathing organ of the human soul. Therefor invading troops in ancient times used to break off the noses off statues that portrayed the local gods and goddesses. They thought that this way they can destroy their power.
What comes as a relief: a corrected nose can not be inherited to the next generation. Size of the nose is largely genetically determined (i.e. by fixed DNA variations that are differently distributed among different ethnic groups). Therefore, the iranian people, even if they have their large noses reduced by plastic surgery,  will transmit their original size as a genetic treasure to the next generations. Tell Shava that hope is in sight. The attempt to improve its own chances on the hunt for a partner by "correcting" ones nose has even a long-term effect that causes even more large noses in Iran. It is simply by increasing the chance of woman with (genetically large/surgically small) noses to find one or more partner to have children with. Therefor the natural selection for genetically small noses is fooled, since the eyes cannot see whats hidden in the genes. Befor plastic surgery, partnership preference for small noses would have really caused continious loss of the large-nose-genes with the dangerous consequence of (as Shava called it) large noses becoming an endangered species. With the advent of plastic surgery, however, sexual selection against large noses does not work any more. Therefor, large noses are not lost, but rather hidden in our genes for future generations.

Take Care, my Dear  (and take care of your beautiful nose. If any moron makes silly comments about it, print out this post and stick it him on his forehead !!!)


Banned from getting the Nobel Prize: The Swedish author L.Gustafsson is too american

Dear Michael,

Do you remember you promised me last year that my translation of this essay about the Berlin Wall by Lars Gustafsson will make me famous, because he will receive the next Nobel prize for literature. I had to remember your prognosis today, when on my walk through Stockholms old town I passed along Sweden Book Shop. During a rather long walk from the university through Norrmalm the weather was nice and dry, but when I arrived in the old center a chilly rain started. The shop windows of Sweden Book Bookshop looked very hospital and therefor I decided to look inside for shelter from the rain. The shop is specialized for Swedish literature, and there was a big collection of books on display by the 2011 Nobel Prize winner Thomas Transtroemer. To be honest, I did not knew him before, I can not even remember having heard about him in school during the Swedish lessons. But he is a Swedish writer, isn't he ? I just would like to know how long I have to wait to see Lars Gustafssons name on the news paper head lines and his books in the shop windows decorated with a Swedish flag, a Pegasus and a copy of the Nobel medaille? I'd like to show my parents that with the translation of Mr. Gustafssons text I not only did something that I enjoyed a lot, but also that I made the right guess of the most recognised contemporary Swedish author.

Take Care /ghazal


Ghazal, my Dear,

I'm not sure if it is good to tell you how much I was surprised to read that you took shelter from the rain in a book shop. Not in a fashion store, not in Adidas or H&M or Victorias Secrets outlets, let alone in a sweets bar like Coffee Break French or Cake Studio, all of which I am sure would also be around Stockholms old center when the cold rain cought you. During the last two years you made a tremendous transformation, my dear. When you have been here in Munich in the summer 2010, you shocked me with the confession that you hate to read books. Last september, suddenly, you told me how much you enjoyed to read Charlotte Brontes "Jane Eyre". And now you even choose a book store as a place to give you shelter from the cold rain, and once inside you obviously began to look for a book by Lars Gustafsson, the great Swedish writer about whom we talked about two years ago.

I have to admit that I was also very angry and frustrated that the Swedish Academy selected Thomas Transtroemer (whom I knew perhaps even less than you did) for the Nobel prize, rather than Mr. Gustafsson. But we are perhaps not the only people who like good books but don't really feel that the list of Nobel prize winners is of big use as a recommendation (the only exception was Gabriel Garcia Marques, the books of whom I really discovered only after he received the prize).

Every year the world of readers like us, but also literature critics and book traders hope that one of their favorite writers will finally be selected by the Swedish Academy to receive the most prestigeous international award for literature. But usually, the surprising news that are always released one day in October cause eyebrow raising rather than a celebration, and too often people have to listen twice to realize that in fact they have not heard the name of the winner before. Usually, it is not the artistic quality of the books who guides the Swedish Academy to their decision, but clandestine political reasons.

Therefor, writers who coined the 20th century literature and became essential members of the world-wide cultural canon, such as James Joyce, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Franz Kafka, Berthold Brecht, Marcel Proust or Vladimir Nabokov, were permanently ignored by the Stockholm board of old school teachers. Other writers, which are largely forgotten today, were awarded the price apparently more with the intention to give them publicity and financial support. Otherwise, the small readership of their books and limited success would let them vanish into oblivion. The motivation of the Academy to give the price to them reminds me a lot of the socialist way of providing support and resources: Help those who show missing success, and refuse support to those who are successful. Who still remembers the names of - or even read a book by - Nobel price winners such as Eyvind Johnson, Harry Martinson, José Echegaray, Giosuè Carducci, Verner von Heidenstam, Carl Spitteler, Jacinto Benavente, Grazia Deledda, Vicente Aleixandre, Erik Axel Karlfeldt, Roger Martin du Gard, Frans Eemil Sillanpää, Saint-John Perse, Patrick White ? And who really trusts that Hertha Mueller, J.M. Gustave Le-Clesio or Derek Walcott will have a big readership after their books are removed from the shop windows of "must-known" Nobel-price winners and returned to the back-room bookshelfs or even further away into the Amazon category of "currently not available" items ? It is also no big surprise that a strong bias exists related to the nationality of the Nobel prize winners. Since the Swedish Academy board is exclusively made up of Swedish authorities, they have a preference to give the award to writers from their own or other skandinavian countries. During the last 110 years Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland together had 15 Nobel prize winners among their authors. Sweden alone had 8, the same number as the United States. Does this imply that Swedish literature is as influential as the North American ? This of course would be a very subjective judgement, but some more statistics might help here, since numbers are just numbers and they tell you only facts (for the same reason you did the statistical genetics during your MSc project). If we relate the frequencies of literature Nobel prizes in Sweden and the US to the population size of both countries than we come to the surprising conclusion that a Swedish person has a more than 30fold higher chance to be selected for the prize than anybody from the US. So if you are a writer and reach for the Nobel prize, you should try as quickly as possible to get a Swedish citizenship. If you are american, than better reach for something else (like the Oscar for the best movie script). Does this mean that Swedish people have a 30 times greater literature talent than Americans ? According to Horace Engdahl, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, this is the true. In an interview in 2008 he declared that "Europe still is the center of the literary world" and that "the US is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature."

No other country has received more Nobel Prizes for literature per capita than Sweden, and in absolute numbers is more succesful than all of Asia, as well as all of Latin America. There is just one exception, better described as a singularity. And this is Lars Gustafsson, whom the Swedish Academy with mind shaking consistence refuses its recognition. There is no doubt about the exceptional literature qualities of Mr. Gustafsson, about his influence on other writers worldwide and his recognition by readers, critics and academics in his own country and abroad. He is both a very productive writer with a broad horizon and interest in psychology, natural science, politics and history, and a great entertainer. His novels and stories deal with issues of our modern society, but are narrated in a fine and classical style. And all of his books are at least in part cosmopolitan. And here starts the problem of the Swedish Academy with their own compatriot writer Lars Gustafsson: He "deflected" for 23 years to the US, where he was lecturer at the University of Texas in Austin. He also lived for two years in Berlin and made several extensive trips to other countries. Reading his books like "The Tennis Player", "The Dean" or "Bernard Foy's Third Castling" shows that his style of writing and his sujets and his views about the individuum and the society is much closer to the contemporary US literature than to the scandinavian world. And this is the reason why the Swedish Academy ignores this great writer from their own country with stubborn resistance. In this view, literature as a global medium of communication has a poor stake in the Swedish Academy.

Take Care, my dear Michael



A reason to get excited: 19 year old plays Hendrix

Desiree Bassett learned her first guitar rifs at the age of five from her father. Now she is 19 and rocks the Boston areas regular with cover versions of Jimmy Hendrix, Eric Clapton and van Halen songs. She was born 25 years after Jimmy Hendrix' death, but look how she can revitalize his guitar spirit.


I hope it is no big deal for her to learn how to play it with a slightly slower pace, she seems to be in a rush at least at this concert. What I find amazing is to see that you don't have to play left-handed like Mr. Hendrix to get the "All along the Watchtower" right.