- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 8, 2006

Roger Lewin is one of the world’s leading science writers, well known for his numerous magazine articles and award-winning books. In Making Waves: Irving Dardik and His Superwave Principle (Rodale Books, $25.95, 211 pages), Mr. Lewin has produced an engrossing account of the achievements and theories of Irving Dardik, a physician and researcher who is an original thinker by any criterion.

Dr. Dardik was born in 1936 and grew up in Long Branch, NJ, the young child of economically struggling orthodox Jewish parents who had emigrated from Russia. Young Irving rebelled against the routines of home and school but loved observing nature. In high school, he discovered a talent for running, became a state and national sprinting champion, and as a student at the University of Pennsylvania, won an athletic scholarship.

Unexcited by his studies, he did not accumulate enough credits to graduate, but nevertheless gained admission to medical school. Informed that he had to choose between his medical studies and an opportunity to join the 1956 U.S. Olympic track team, he gave up his Olympic ambitions. But he found himself bored at Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia and skipped all his classes. However, after his self-study of the assigned textbooks for five different medical schools he aced his finals and earned his MD, then backed out of an internship at Hahnemann to become a resident in surgery in New York’s Montefiore Hospital.

Practicing as a vascular surgeon in the early 1970s, Dr. Dardik conceived the idea that umbilical cord tissue might be far superior for vein transplants than either the synthetic or animal-origin materials then being used. After experiments on baboons showed that the idea worked, Dr. Dardik and his brother, also a surgeon, used cord transplants to save many patients from amputation of limbs. The technique became widely adopted, and the Dardiks’ patent on it earned them a healthy income.

Dr. Dardik, once again restless, began spending half his time as a sports physician, andbecame head of the American sports medicine establishment. After noting that sprinters were generally healthier than distance runners, he theorized that an ideal exercise regime would alternate intense activity with relaxation. He developed a cyclic exercise protocol (“cardiocybernetics”) with which he successfully treated patients with chronic diseases.

One of his patients, though, a TV investigative reporter, found that his treatment did not cure her multiple sclerosis. She reported him to the New York Medical Board, which fined him and stripped him of his license to practice medicine. Shortly thereafter, he was jailed for failure to pay support to his ex-wife. During his time in prison, the irrepressible Dardik turned many of the guards into devotees of his exercise program.

Free again, he found generous funding from some wealthy executives whose physical health he had turned around, and persuaded reputable medical researchers to run a major study of the efficacy of his exercise regime. He also developed an overarching theory that the functioning not just of the human body, but of the entire universe, could be explained as a superposition of waves of different frequencies, and that the same wave patterns replicate themselves on scales of all sizes.

Beginning with his son’s bar mitzvah teacher, Dr. Dardik used a series of connections to interest a number of leading physicists in his ideas. The experiments they inspired, which continue today, have produced dramatically successful results in areas as diverse as high-temperature mixing of steel alloys, and cold fusion — a goal that refuses to die almost two decades after it supposedly was conclusively debunked.

Mr. Lewin ends his intriguing book with a series of recommendations based on Dr. Dardik’s work that should appeal to readers who want to achieve health and happiness by putting themselves in sync with nature.

While Irving Dardik’s ideas are highly idiosyncratic and freewheeling, those of Alan Turing (1912-1954) grew out of the rigorous tradition of mathematical logic. In The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer (Atlas Books/Norton, $22.95, 288 pages), David Leavitt provides a compelling account of Turing’s brief life and extensive achievements, which include two of the most famous ideas in the history of the computer: the Turing Machine and the Turing Test.

The Turing machine is an idealized device that can carry out any mathematical computation automatically by following a set of instructions, and is a generic term for all automatic computers. Turing himself introduced the device, which he called an “automatic machine” or “a-machine”, in a paper he wrote in 1936 while a fellow of King’s College, Cambridge.

The paper, which drew little attention at the time, settled a fundamental problem of mathematics, the “decision problem,” or Entscheidungsproblem, as it was termed by the famous German mathematician David Hilbert. Earlier in the decade, Kurt Gdel had dashed Hilbert’s hope that mathematics could be put on a truly solid foundation by showing that some true mathematical statements could never be proved.

Following in Gdel’s footsteps, Turing put another nail in the coffin of Hilbert’s program after he conceived of his purely theoretical device, which he showed would be unable to take any mathematical theorem and decide whether it could or could not be proved.

A few years later, he demonstrated his practical talents by breaking German codes during World War II while posted at Britain’s top secret Bletchley Park establishment, thereby playing an important part in winning the war. To assist in this task, which involved unscrambling coded messages produced by the fearsome German Enigma machine, Turing helped to build one of the earliest electronic computers.

He continued his practical computer work after the war, and became a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence. A firm believer that there was nothing singular about human intelligence, he proposed that at some future time, if questions were posed to a human being and a computer behind a screen, the answers they produced would not enable the examiner to distinguish between the man and the machine. This procedure (which no machine has yet passed) is now known as the Turing Test.

Mr. Leavitt is best known as a novelist and short writer whose work mainly deals with homosexual themes. This is presumably why he was chosen to write a biography of Turing, whose indiscreet homosexual behavior ultimately led him into trouble with the law. Turing was convicted and sentenced to a course of hormone treatments that left him in a depressed state. In 1954, he committed suicide.

However, while “The Man Who Knew Too Much” certainly does not avoid this aspect of Turing’s life, the book is mainly concerned with explaining his ideas and achievements in mathematical logic and cryptanalysis, which it does in as clear and comprehensible a manner as can be imagined. Considering that Mr. Leavitt tells us that he had studiously avoided the study of mathematics or computer science until he began to read about Turing, it is a remarkable achievement.

Jeffrey Marsh has written widely on scientific topics and public issues ranging from nuclear strategy to social policy.

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