Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why are we born . . . . . . Young ??

An intriguing question that was recently asked by one of the scientists at my departmental retreat. Although simply stated I believe this is a rather important question that would be asked by several biologists . If you look deeply into the question it has two aspects to it.
 The first one is the basic question of being born at all. Why does life have to propagate and why at all do species give rise to progeny. A simple answer would be that genetic information needs to be propagated and maintained and there is natural adaptation in response the changing environment which could lead to the "survival of the fittest". With increasing age and individual accumulates several harmful signals such as mutations, Telomere shortening, accumulation of Reactive Oxygen Species etc, just to mention a few of these defects, .that eventually lead to aberrant cellular programming and eventually death . But what if we could find ways to counteract these phenomenon? What id nature evolved to counteract these mechanisms? why do these exist at all? I earlier stated that being born or giving rise to healthy progeny could be a counter mechanism to adapt to the changing environments. But what changes the environment and I guess most of we know the answer to that, it's us the humans. So why did is nature not selecting against a species that could eventually be the cause of all chaos.
Speaking of evolution, just to bring up a point, I would not lose this opportunity to mention another aspect of evolution. There still exist several primitive species that have specific mechanisms that id acquired by a higher species might lead to the better survival. E.g. the long life span of turtles, the cancer fighting properties of snake venom etc. and we are still trying to understand why humans evolved in the first place and for how long could the species survive without disturbing the balance of nature.
What if we were able to create an individual with all the suitable characteristics to live for a 1000 years(or even more) would it still be necessary for life to propagate via reproduction and both? Would this individual not survive that long or could it be possible that such people cold actually have evolved and present amongst us without getting noticed..constantly moving... could they have witnessed or been Gods themselves because of the loss of aging and degeneration over years and the scientific knowledge lacking at the time, to understand this phenomenon.
Well, considering that the existing mechanism of reproduction and propagation is the most efficient and effective method evolved for persistence of life, I would then like to move on to the second part of my question as to why we are born young or for that matter any birth means the emergence of a new and young individual, but why young? To answer this I would like you to consider a continuously accumulating system. What is to stop the earth from getting overpopulated and eventual depletion of all natural resources? So I believe that being born young could have several reasons to it: (1) It has been shown experimentally that aging can be reversed or so to say the human cells could be reverted to a healthier and younger state. Being young means having fresh a fresh cellular milieu leading to less number of cells to begin with and therefore less DNA damage, mutation, telomere shortening etc., meaning a more healthier state over all. (2) There is also a time delay to sexual maturation.. again why?? probably to get the right body mass and size.. but could this also not be a mechanism to check on the population size allowing only a certain number of individuals to be present in the restricted availability of natural resources... but in any case the current population numbers  tends to overrule this. Coming back to the question of being born young... If all of these arguments hold true then why is a young one not born earlier and has to undergo gestation for a certain amount of time inside the womb and why did nature select it this way and not anything else?? 
Well there is plenty of food for thought here and i assume that its time that scientists would want to give a second look into the biology of different organisms to decide for themselves alternate mechanisms that could have been present and lost during natural selection or advantageous characteristics of the biology of young organisms. After all we are still evolving and looking back in time could give us a glimpse of the future.. or at least we could predict and be prepared several possibilities to be ready for what evolution might bring our way in years to come.

Friday, September 19, 2014

"Sensory Adaptation" at play

Ever wondered why you are able to hear your heartbeat ofr a clock ticking when you try and focus on it while the ticking just disappears into the background when you are doing your daily tasks. Its the brain receiving the same information for a long time, it stops processing it. The same goes for vision. As demonstrated very nicely in this video below the brain processing information s the key to all form of interpretation to the outer world. Ever wondered if this phenomenon is present only in higher vertebrates including humans or present throughout evolution. 

Wow.. It does work... Its amazing how our brain perceives signals... And also amazing is the anatomy ... Does the cellular architecture of the human eye have any evolutionary advantage... But then why the blind spot???

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

100 Pieces of Advice from 100-Year-Olds

Celebrating a 100 years may seem to be a great achievement for some while the others may have gone through all the experiences you could ever imagine, or even some those you cant even think of. Going through the ups and downs of life these centenarians have experienced several special moments, losses of loved ones, living through all the happy and sad moments that we might never have. 

Even as the life expectancy increases there are only a handful few who could hit that century mark. As the saying goes "You do not grey your hair in the sun" , these people have considerable worth if their knowledge and experiences they would definitely want to share. Recently the "metal_floss" magazine came up with a list of things that these centenarians would like to share. The list of 100 pieces of advice given by 100-year-olds is given at the link given below. As I go through the list I do feel that several of them might be worth considering, some are very true in their very essence while others might be just what they perceive of their life experiences. Though you may not find them all very useful you could still consider others as lessons learnt from some person who has gone through and survived the most harsh, good, bad and ugly phases of their life. Hope you enjoy reading. Here is the link:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

One life...

Despite the busy lifestyle some people often tend to enjoy their lives while also being able to indulge in what they want to or feel like. It is indeed essential that one gets off the couch and gets on the ground to explore the various beauties that their surroundings have to offer. A few of these are :

  • A child holding on to your hand: It give the utmost feeling of being able to support someone in the purest of its form while being able to feel the soft hands of a child, guiding him through the walk of life

  • A dew drop hanging from the leaf in the early morning mist amongst the calmness, with a bare feet walk on the grass, feeling the chill in the morning air

      • A mother feeding her child: One of the most beautiful things that resemble a bond that not everyone could understand

      • An elder brother or sister looking after the younger one
      • Gazing at the free birds flying high in the sky with no limits to be bound to and an endless journey to take up
      • The sunshine through the clouds giving warmth and courage

      • Friends; laughing, fighting, teasing, playing, and happy creating beautiful memories
      • The never ending questions of a child

      • A walk on the beach

        And the list goes on and on. What is important though, is that we take some time form our busy lives and look around to see the miracles that nature has to offer. Forget the cellphones and the internet for a while and go talk to the near and dear ones for time is treacherous and you might not get the chance again. Go grab that moment that you would remember for a lifetime and more importantly give memories that others will cherish even when you are gone. That your treasure and your legacy. 
        Life is too short and you get to live it only once.... So break the rules. Forgive quickly. Kiss slowly. Love deeply. Laugh uncontrollably. And never regret anything that made you smile.

      Friday, October 4, 2013

      Adult neural stem cell lineage tree.

      A very interesting discussion on how Neural Stem Cells form a lineage and can commit to different cell fates 

      Monday, September 16, 2013

      Monday Mornings

      While all Facebook and Twitter fans may agree that Monday mornings are the worst part of the week, I would have a different opinion. Monday marks the beginning of the week (well for most of the people with regular day jobs). It is supposed to bring along fun and enthusiasm. Despite this feeling, The widely tweeted and posted status messages might just be having a placebo effect and might make you feel lethargic.

      Just to pump you up, think of Monday as the beginning of a new day, week and an opportunity to start afresh. you have taken all the rest you needed on a Sunday and you are all ready and pumped up to begin something new or give a new direction to something of importance. So its best that you leave everything that happened behind and start a new day as it should be. Besides, what could be a better opportunity(for optimists) or an excuse (for pessimists) to start of.... Let the spirit of Monday be.. and put your best step forward with all the enthusiasm and leave behind any laziness... For it will be in you best interest.

      Make the best of everyday..... set a goal, not for anyone but for yourself, and aim to fulfill it. Be away from people who would be ready to pull you down or make you fell any worse. Moreover, the brains cognitive potential is at its high at the morning. So, it would be best to make the most of it. You may choose to take some time to set your priorities and set your task with a clear head in the morning. And why let it be for Monday...let it be for any other day. Its important that you realize that days wont make a difference, its your attitude that does. 
      And if all this does not work, maybe you are doing something wrong. Maybe you are not taking enough rest on Sundays, or maybe you are just lazy in your head. Its time you realize your times worth and do something radical to change it; 

      Have some fun : Life's not just about work, and there nothing wrong in finding some fun in your work.

      Prioritize: Strike a balance between Important and Urgent. If required you could set deadlines at Fridays rather than Mondays to avoid overworking yourself on weekends

      Set your goals: Its always about looking forward to something. People who don't have goads, don't have any thing to work for. They are the real bores.

      Embrace: I personally try my best to do that. Accept what has to be... and enjoy it .... or do something to change it if it doesn't suit you... losers complain... Go and do what you have to do...

      Despite all this I am pretty sure still some might think this to be a post not worth going through..but that's because you are too lazy to do something about it. Let not Monday be an excuse for having 'blues'. Get up and get on with it while you can still make the most of it... Have a nice day and 'Enjoy'

      Saturday, September 14, 2013

      When people feel all grown up

      On day you wake up and you feel as if everyone around you is behaving a little different from usual  You try to talk to them. You feel maybe its just a bad day... But this just goes on... Its either the people around you or yourself... You just cant makeup your mind... and then you suddenly realize that your friend and colleagues have suddenly realized that they have grown up and they need to do something with their lives. You try to straighten things up... maybe try and talk them out of it, while all you do from the bottom of your heart is you pray for them not to change...

      You ask your self, maybe, that why do people need to change... and why do they... After all its you and them and everyone else, the same as they were a few days/years back, not so long ago... All you really want is for them to understand you and keep being the same as they always were... But the sad truth of life is not only that everyone grows up..but they also move on... Its none of your fault.. At times you are left feeling all alone... and ten eventually one of two things might happen (1) Either you find new and like minded people and continue to enjoy life or (2) You change yourself to adapt.... no matter what the situation might be you could never get rid of the moments and memories (no matter how much time you spent) and several years down the line as you grow old, you start to remember your long lost friends and dear ones , who could had been there right besides you. You just try to figure out the mistakes you did or perhaps what others did and start being judgmental... All this just for the feeling of being grown up...

      Why is it that growing up means you have to let go off your friends and dear ones, or that you cant make any new friends without the existing ones being jealous or possessiveness about it. Why cant everyone in your life be just right where you want them to be... the truth is that like you would want your feelings to be understood so would they ... And believe me, not everyone thinks alike, nor might everybody be as accepting... But you just try to figure out your fault in all of this... Just just honestly try and make it up to everyone and just keep failing... A few years later even the closest of friends  who once knew your feelings by the look on your face, would be mad at you for just missing a call for congratulating them for their promotion...

      You still honestly and with a pure heart try and make new friends... but as they say... "there is a age beyond which you don't make friends  you just have colleagues"... But why not so... I have seen a 70 year old being friends with a 5 year old boy... and its absolutely cool.. Why is it that after a certain age friendship comes with so many conditions: what others might say... what will my boyfriend/girlfriend think... how will it affecting my impression on boss/colleagues...etc..

      What wrong has a person done who honestly would like to be someone's friend... and in doing so pour his heart out... while others are just so judgmental of the fact that they so much influence others thinking that they might just be skeptical of the other persons honest friendship...I wish people could really give a thought to what they mean of  "Friendship"... what they mean when say that you need to grow up... what is the cost for growing up... 

      Friday, June 28, 2013

      Transhumanism (H+).... and beyond....

      Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international cultural and intellectual movement with an eventual goal of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. Transhumanism thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human limitations, as well as study the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. They predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman".


      What exactly is transhumanism? To give an example, the recent use of prosthetic limbs to substitute for lost legs and other body parts may be a part of transhumanism. In addition there is a coming revolution in the field of aging and longevity where debates concerning "indefinite life extension" are constantly being struck. Whether this would be ethical or not would be a secondary thing to think about. But would it be possible in the near future is a thing to worry about (or not) considering its implications.

      The biocomplexity spiral is a depiction of the multileveled complexity of organisms in their environments, which is seen by many critics as the ultimate obstacle to transhumanist ambition.

      The sole purpose of reproduction, replication of DNA and evolution (as a result of the aforementioned processes accompanied by accumulation of variations of mutations), could be summarized as a means to conserve the genetic material and to select for the fit and adaptable individual (relative to the current or local environment). While transhumanism would serve to increase extend or improve the lifespan wold it be able to aid in the evolution of fit and adaptable species. As evolution might be a never ending process would it be advisable to overburden the ecosystem with a less fit or less evolved species to share and consume the resources with the newly produced individuals and would they be able to co-exist. While the answers to these question may not be in sight yet but it would be intriguing to observe this while it happens and who might know if this might actually work out.

      Of late, transhumanists have grown in numbers and transhumanism has come about to be more of a belief rather than a process or movement. It is interesting to know that science and technology are beginning to be merged to attain a state of fusion where fields like robotics, mechanics, physics, chemistry and biology are beginning to merge and new "biologically inspired" instruments have been synthesized to aid in the betterment of life quality. Will this prove to be an interference in the natures selection and 'speciation' process or will it assist in enhancing the survival capability of a species which might lead to the emergence of a new and superior species is a tale that only time would tell. 

      As far as my views stand it is an exciting era of science to envision and I feel that it is the right of an individual to have access to a better quality of life. Whether life extension is a good idea or will it lead to intolerable memories could only be told by people who choose it. 

      Transhumanism has great promises to offer. Several examples have come up including the development of artificially 3D printed trachea ro aid breathing of development of an artificial hand or leg using robotic prosthetic to the making of synthetic natural substitutes for eatables such as meat. Each thing perturbed might have its own "butterfly effect" in the course of evolution. We might not be there to visit the future, but with transhumanism and the promises it has to offer, we might......