James Nestor (writer)

American journalist

James Nestor is a journalist who has written for Outside, Men's Journal, Scientific American, Dwell, National Public Radio, The New York Times, The Atlantic, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

James Nestor in 2020

Quotes edit

  • [I]n many ways, rocks at the bottom of the deep sea, buried under a mile of Earth’s crust, or covered in bird crap on Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago aren’t inanimate objects at all. They are undulating, "breathing" systems crammed with organisms so tiny and metabolizing so slowly that nobody ever noticed.
    Most researchers never bothered. Seeking out extreme life requires traveling to some of Earth’s most far-flung and miserable environments. Only a handful of microbiologists and geologists have had the will, fortitude, and resources to endure weeks in the triple-digit heat within African mines, or months in the frozen expanses of Antarctica, or years sifting through the polluted oil fields of Dagestan to find answers.
    • "Searching for the Origins of Life Thousands of Feet Underwater: A journey to the deep seafloor offers clues to how life flourished on Earth—and how it might evolve elsewhere in the universe." (Nov. 30, 2017) The Atlantic.

  • It's a hard thing to fathom, the concept that you, me, the birds, and the bees—all life that is and has ever been—came from a few chemical reactions on some ugly rocks a few billion years ago. Proposing such a theory... [e]ven 50 years ago... might have gotten you... ostracized by the scientific community.
    That all changed in 1977 when... Jack Corliss chartered a research vessel... to the Galápagos Trench. Corliss suspected that a... hydrothermal vent, was erupting on the deep seafloor... [A]t a depth of around 2,500 meters... ANGUS’s temperature gauge registered a... spike. After several hours, the team... developed the film. ...There was life..—crabs, mussels, lobsters, worms—all flourishing... The incredible pressure, 250 times that on the surface, kept the water from turning to steam.
    • "Life on the Rocks: Scientists are probing deep beneath the ocean's surface to learn how life on Earth began" (Feb. 12, 2018) Scientific American.

Deep (2014) edit

: Freediving, Renegade Science, and what the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves
  • Truebridge just dove thirty stories... all on one lungfull of air... The pressure... is more than ten times that at the surface, strong enough to crush a Coke can. At thirty feet. the lungs collapse to hald their normal size; at three hundred feet they shrink to the size of two baseballs. ...The dives don't look forced... as if they all really belong down there. As if we all do.
  • [T]here is no oxygen tank at the end of the rope, and if there had been... their lungs would have exploded... and their blood would have bubbled with nitrogen before they reached the surface. ...The human body can withstand the pressures of a fast three-hundred-foot... ascent only in its natural state.
    Some humans handle it better than others.
  • I watch several more competitors... Many can't make it... They resurface with blood running... from their noses, unconscious, or in cardiac arrest. ...And somehow, this sport is legal.
  • During the three minutes beneath the surface... the body bears only a passing resemblance to its terrestrial form and function. The ocean changes us physically and psychically.
  • The ocean is the last truly quiet place left on Earth.
  • These more philosophical freedivers get... the same look one sees in the eyes of Buddhist monks or emergency room patients who have died and then been resuscitated... who have made it over to the other side.
  • [B]est of all, divers will tell you, "It's open to everyone."
  • Other than BASE jumping... freediving is the most dangerous adventure sport in the world.
  • Scientists call it the mammalian dive reflex or...the Master Switch of Life, and they've been researching it for... fifty years. ...[C]oined by Per Scholander ...it refers to variety of physiological reflexes in the brain, lungs, heart [etc.] that are triggered the second we put our face in the water. The deeper... the more pronounced... Ancient cultures... employed it... to harvest sponges, pearls, coral and food hudreds of feet below the surface of the ocean...
  • We're born of the ocean. ...At the fifth week of a fetus's development, its heart has two chambers, a characteristic shared by fish.
  • Human blood has a chemical composition startingly similar to seawater.
  • An infant will reflexively breaststroke when placed when placed underwater and comfortably hold his breath... longer than many adults.
  • At sixty feet... The heart beats at half its normal rate. Blood starts rushing... toward the more critical... core. ...The senses numb, the synapses slow. The brain enters a heavily meditative state.
  • At three hundred feet... pressure... is ten times that at the surface. ...The organs collapse. The heart beats at a quarter of its normal rate, slower than... in a coma. Senses disappear. The brain enters a dream state.
  • If you compare the ocean to the human body... current exploration... is equivalent to snapping a photograph of a finger...

"Deep dive" (Oct. 18, 2017) edit

": What we are learning from the language of whales" TEDx Talks, TEDxMarin. A source.
  • [T]hese clicks are so loud you can actually feel them in your body. Your body starts heating up after a few minutes.
  • I swam with these animals about 4 years ago. Some friends and I had heard that off the coast of Sri Lanka these huge congregations of sperm whales would gather in March and April.
  • These animals came up to us, welcomed us into their pods and started showering us with these clicks.
  • I found out later that these clicks are actually used for communication. These animals also use them to see in the deep ocean. ...It's a form of sonar called echolocation.
  • They're able to see better with sounds than we are able to see with our eyes.
  • Inside of these clicks is encoded information... a secret language...
  • [T]he more you focus in on these clicks, the tinier... they get, [growing] into more complex structures. ...[O]ther cetaceans such as dolphins and orcas also use these. It's this secret language... discrete codes... down to the millisecond.
  • He had a dolphin telephone... and he would listen in as these dolphins would have these very complex conversations...
  • He... had dolphin English language immersion workshops... where... an intern [would] grant dolphins sexual favors if they learned English words, and this... worked.
  • Lilly... wanted to... figure out the sperm whale communication code. He said these animals are by far the most intelligent... on the planet. They have a form of communication that is far more sophisticated than ours. But you can't quite put a 60 foot long whale into a lab.
  • So for the past 50 years we've been... studying these animals from the deck of a boat. Now this is very limiting. You can't see... you... have to put... hydrophones off the deck... But... they've found... that... sperm whales have dialects... they can shoot this click communication in focused sound beams to other whales across great distances... [T]hese sperm whales can cram 1600 micro-clicks into a single second... and move discreet frequencies around...
  • But they could not crack the communication code. To do that you have to get below the surface. You have to see these animals... to gauge their behavior.
  • [A] few years ago a French researcher and a Belgian freediver... thought "What if we try freediving with whales? Maybe we could get close enough... and start communicating..."
  • [A]fter around 30 feet... the water stops buoying you... and starts dragging you down to the sea floor. ...[T]he deeper ...the more your body changes. ...Your organs allow for the free flow of fluids so they don't collapse. Your brain waves slow down. Your heart rate will slow to about 1/3 its resting rate.
  • [T]he lowest recorded heart rate [of a free diver]... was 7 beats per minute... about 1/2 of someone in a coma...
  • The animals are usually very wary of scuba but... they saw something similar to themselves. ...[W]hales also have mammalian dive reflexes. That's how they're able to dive down to 8,000 feet for 90 minutes...
  • [T]he divers were able to commune with these animals for hours... and get footage that no one else has ever gotten.
  • The whales welcomed them into their pods, started shooting them with echolocation to figure out what they were, and then started shooting them with... communication clicks. ...[T]his lasted for a series of days ...
  • The sperm whale's brain is about 6 times the size of ours... They've had it for 15 million year longer... We've had our current size brain around 200,000 years.
  • [I]f we're able to understand just the rudiments of this communication, we may be able to save them. ...70% of the population is gone, and it's declining very quickly.
  • Japan and Iceland... want to keep hunting sperm whales, and are petitioning to do that... [I]f we're able to prove their intelligence and their capacity for communication we might be able to establish them some... rights.
  • It's going to a lot harder to kill an animal that's able to speak its name.
  • A group of scientists, acoustic engineers and free divers have... the goal of trying to crack the sperm whale communication code in the next 2 years. ...We're going to use machine learning and AI algorithms... We're already doing this with mice... bats...
  • [F]or the first time... in human history we have the technology and... methods to... understand these animals and crack into their code...
  • In the next 10 years the U.S. ...is going to spend $100 million looking for signs of intelligent non-human life in the skies. But there's already intelligent non-human life... on our planet deep beneath the sea. It's been trying to reach out to us for thousands of years... [W]e should start talking back.

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art (2020) edit

  • [M]y doctor... told me, "A breathing class could help." ...strengthen my failing lungs, calm my frazzled mind, maybe give me perspective.
  • I'd just recovered from pneumonia, which I'd also had the year before and the year before that. I was... wheezing, working, and eating... in a rut—physically, mentally [etc.]
  • I... signed up for an introductory course in breathing to learn... Sudarshan Kriya.
  • [T]he voice of a man... flowed from the speakers... too melodious to sound natural... instructed me to inhale slowly through our noses, then exhale slowly. To focus on our breath.
  • [S]omething happened. ...[I]t was as if I'd been taken from one place and deposited somewhere else. It happened in an instant. ...I had somehow sweated through my clothes as if I'd just run a marathon.
  • The next day I felt even better. ...[T]here was a feeling of calm and quiet that I hadn't experienced in a long time. ...The tension was gone from my shoulders and neck. This lasted a few days...
  • I went to Greece to write a story on freediving... When most people go underwater... they bail out at ten feet... ears screaming. The freedivers told me they'd previously been "most people." ...To freedive, they said, all anyone had to do was master the art of breathing.
  • "There are as many ways to breath as there are foods to eat," said one... instructor... Another diver told me that some methods of breathing will nourish our brains... others hasten our death.
  • I read through reams of literature on the subject. ...The problem was, the sources were hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years old.
  • Seven books of the Chinese Tao dating... to around 400BCE focused entirely on breathing... Even earlier, Hindus considered breath and spirit the same thing, and described elaborate practices... to balance breathing and preserve... mental and physical health. ...Buddhists ...use breathing ...to lengthen their lives [and] reach higher planes of consciousness. Breathing... for all... these cultures, was powerful medicine.
  • I looked for... verification... recent research in pulmonology... but found next to nothing... breathing technique wasn't important. ...Pulmonologists work mainly on ...maladies of the lungs ...collapse, cancer, emphysema.
  • [B]reathing research has been taking place... in the muddy digs of ancient burial sites... dental offices, and... mental hospitals.
  • They discovered that our capacity to breath has changed through... evolution, and that the way we breath has gotten markedly worse since the dawn of the Industrial Age.

Joe Rogan Experience #1506 (Jul 10, 2020) edit

Interview. A source.
  • [C]oaches in the 50s used to have their runners take a... mouthful of water, run around the track and then spit out that same amount of water... to force them to breath through their nose.... to move their diaphragms... more, because breathing is so essential to their recovery... endurance, and performance.
  • 25-50% of the population... breath through their mouth. ...[This causes] neurological problems... respiratory problems... snoring, sleep apnea, even metabolic disorders [etc.]
  • I had been talking to the chief of rhinology research at Stanford... He had warned me how bad mouth breathing was, but no one knew how quickly that damage came on. ...[W]e knew that after years, it can change the structure of your face. It's so common in kids that it is has a term called adenoid face... because they've been mouth breathing so long... the musculature and the [skeletal structure] has changed. ...It creates a longer face... and that also makes these people much more apt to snoring and sleep apnea.
  • We had to pay for this study... to actually measure what happens.
  • The less you use your nose, the less you're going to be able to use [it]... When people start habitually breathing through their mouths, their noses are going to start to close...
  • The doctor of speech, language pathology at Stanford... measured people who had laryngectomies... She found between 2 months and 2 years, their noses were completely blocked.
  • We know that the more you breath through your nose, the more that it's going to open... [P]eople who are habitual mouth breathers, who are also joggers... start breathing through the nose. In the beginning it's really... hard... then weeks... months go by and their noses open up... [T]he benefits... they're innumerable... not only oxygen, but it helps defend your body, humidifies... conditions air [etc.]
  • [R]esearchers... were a bit frustrated... seeing so many chronic conditions ties to mouth breathing, and how so many... could either be improved or... cured by switching the pathway in which you breath.
  • [B]reathing has to be considered along with diet and exercise as a pillar of health, because even if you eat keto, vegan, paleo, whatever. Even if you exercise all the time, if you're not breathing right, you're never going to be healthy. We know that to be the truth.
  • If you were to take [a billiard ball]... and... imagine just pushing it inside your head, that's about the volume of your nose and all your sinus cavities. ...[T]hey even stretch out above your eyes... [T]hey call it the nasal concha because it looks exactly like a seashell.
  • If you were to split a seashell in half and look at it, that's what's happening in your nose. ...[A]ll of this ...evolved for a reason... [A]ir that comes in through the nose is slowed down... filtered... humidified and it's conditioned, so by the time it gets to your lungs, your lungs can absorb that oxygen so much easier.
  • The nose is really the first line of defense.
  • [T]he nose... produces... nitric oxide... a vasodilator that plays an essential role in oxygen delivery and also helps battle... viruses, bacteria and other pathogens.
  • [T]his is all happening in the nose. In slowing down that air all of these other functions allow us to gain 20% more oxygen breathing through the nose than... through the mouth.
  • So you can breath less and get more by breathing through the nose.
  • You can overbreath. When people at a gym or... jogging... [through heavy panting] you're offloading... too much CO2. You're causing constriction in your circulation. ...If you were to breath 30 deep breaths, you'll feel some tingling in your head... maybe your fingertips... your toes will get cool. That's not from an increase in oxygen, it's the opposite... a decrease in circulation.
  • [Y]our body wants to be in balance... the right amount of CO2 and oxygen for optimum delivery, and that's what the nose helps you to do.
  • Just look at freedivers... [A]t the World Freediving Championship [Seventh AIDA Individual World Championship] in Greece... [Y]ou see these people [of all sizes] from all walks of life,.. something like 30 countries had representatives... [T]hese people weren't born with these enormous lungs... They did this by... breathing and expanding their lung capacity. ...Once they explained to me ...the benefits ...go beyond just diving deep. It can allow us to heal our bodies (problems). It can allow super-endurance. It can allow us to do all these things that we've been told are medically impossible. ...I didn't believe them. ...I spent several years... talking to people at Stanford, Harvard... the leaders in the field in... this research, and what they'd told be is absolutely true.
  • [Swami Rama] was able, on command, to make his heart beat 300 times a minute. ...[I]t was so fast, they were looking at the EKG readout, and they said, "He's stopped his heart." Then they looked... a little closer and said "No, it's beating 300 times a minute." ...[T]hen he would snap out of it.
  • [B]reathing... allows us these levers into systems that we can't otherwise control. ...[T]he autonomic nervous system is supposed to be beyond our control. ...When you breath a certain way, you can influence ...functions and you can start taking control of these other elements of your body, as Wim is showing... [N]ot only the nervous system, but with immune function. All of this was supposed to be impossible until he showed up and said "...test me"...
  • People who say that this is a placebo effect don't understand that this is a biological function that you're taking control of... [I]f you can elicit such a strong response in a couple of minutes, imagine what you can do in a couple of days.

Quotes about Nestor edit

  • Most people take breathing for granted. ...James Nestor's new book about how breathing properly can transform your physical and mental health, feels eerily well-timed. It lays out how we breath incorrectly or at least fail to maximize our potential.
    • Stuart Miller, "Yes, changing how you breathe will help you live longer" (May 21, 2020) The Boston Globe
  • Mr. Nestor claims 90% of people breathe incorrectly. ...As for why we breathe through our mouths, he traces the trouble to our diets. ...[S]oft, processed foods ...leave our jaws and facial bones underworked and smaller ...Nearly every cliché of the Western Spritual Quest makes an appearance ...He's a bit wide-eyed in repeating claims from self-proclaimed... "pulmonauts"... who can supposedly kill E. coli, or cure hemorrhoids and gout, or treat epilepsy and diabetes and arthritis... Mr. Nestor slaps down... curing cancer. But... purge[s] a schizophrenic woman's hallucinations... [W]hile there's no reason to doubt... that his breathing exercises improved his life, the real question is why... so much. ...Placebos have real, documented medical benefits ...[H]e never grapples with the effect as a plausible explanation ...
    • Sam Kean, "'Breath' Review: Eager Breather" (May 31, 2020) The Wall Street Journal

See also edit

External links edit

Wikipedia has an article about: