Rationality VS Emotions

 

Which one is applied in our lives?

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Sociology scholars argue that majority of labels that are given to ideologies, individuals and groups are derived from religious doctrines, as the notion of US and THEM is present in most religious scriptures. The social conducts of societies toward others is usually ethnocentric and based on principles and norms adopted by the majority that have common and mutual ground. Therefore, labels like Evil, Good, dangerous and others are assigned or given to anyone or any group that looks, thinks and talks different. In addition, these sociologists think that even though a society might be tolerant to others, the notion of acceptance is entirely different than tolerance and co-existence, which is why co-existence has become the essence of social fabric. Therefore, subconsciously individuals tend to label others as evil, dumb, criminals and terrorist, racist, abusive or any other negative label, which they would use for their enemies or nemesis.

Max Weber’s rationalization theory, which refers to replacing traditions, values, norms, emotions and personal motivations with calculated rationales, suggests that bureaucratic ideals responsible for presenting and developing rationales for decisions. However, other sociologists have suggested that the notion of bureaucratic ideals is also used in religions to rationalize a certain label for a certain individual, group or an ideology. Although Weber argues that due to increased rationalization inherent in social life, especially in western societies, individuals are trapped ‘Iron Cage’, scholars use the same notion for religious bureaucracies. Therefore, individuals that follow a certain ideology or religion become trapped in their own created Iron Cage, which makes them unable to accept others, but at the same time mandate them to co-exist.

Rationality VS Emotions

Although it is argued that rationality through bureaucratic ideals is used for social structures and tendencies adopted by individuals, the theory of ‘affectual action’ suggests that emotions are the driving force behind all rationalities. Emotions such as hate, love, fear, loyalty, insecurity, security, dependency, independence, anger, gratitude, hope, curiosity, panic, desire, aversion, pride and frustration are the rationales behind almost all actions and decisions taken individuals.

Therefore, the following wondering as raised, which questions the argument presented by sociologists: Religions are developed and delivered to direct the emotions of individuals, as desires and emotions of people vary in kinds and levels, which means that rationalization is not necessary the primary goal of religions. In addition, if rationality was the purpose of religion, the criteria and bases for good and evil would have been formed in accordance with populist tendencies rather than the current common comprehension of good and evil. Therefore, why would religions be responsible for the social labels used by societies toward groups and individuals or ideologies?

There is a famous quote by Imam Ali, where he states: “People are the enemy of what they don’t know (or comprehend)’. Therefore, the emotions triggered by ignorance can vary from one individual to another, based on geographical position, interaction, past experience and grievances. These emotions are satisfactory to form an unorthodox and unscientific view about an individual, a group or an ideology, which can become a social norm or emotion that is adopted by a large portion of the society.

Categorization

Racial profiling, ethnic profiling and any sort of labeling used for others is a type of categorization that is used socially by individuals to distinguish themselves from anyone who is different. However, categorization is present and evident in the best idealistic case of equality and just environment.

  • Ignorance VS Knowledge
  • Powerful VS Weak
  • Ugliness VS beauty
  • Disability VS Healthy

These are some of the categories that would still exist regardless whether social acceptance is present or not, which will still be a sort of profiling a certain group within a society. Therefore, why would it be any different, when a certain ideology or a religion presents its own set of categories like believers and non-believers? Why would it be different when a religion outlines the criteria, which identifies good and evil based on its own principles?

The notion of categorization and profiling has existed since the beginning of creation, or as some theologians suggest, categorization has been a divine methodology that is used in creation. The notion of hell and heaven, the notion mortals and angels, the notion of prophets and random people are all examples of categorization outlined and created by the almighty. However, these categorizations are emotion-free, as they are bound by the will of a divine entity that cannot have emotions. In addition, the categorizations created by mankind have been affiliated with emotions and struggles since ancient days. The notion of elites and peasants, the notion of devoted and infidels, the notion of social classes (Upper Class, Middle Class, Lowe Class, Bourgeoisie, and proletariat) and many other categorizations have been catastrophic in many cases. These categories are affiliated with progress and conduct methods that are full of emotions and motivations driven by desire and need.

Conclusion

Regardless of faith and believe, the principles of good and evil are outlined by a set of criteria and guidelines that are universal. Therefore, a believer and a non-believer both agree upon the atrocity and benefit of certain actions and deeds. In addition, unorthodox action or decision that profiles and labels others or confiscate their rights and will or supresses them, doesn’t need rationality, as no rationality can be presented for such notions. Therefore, religion bounds emotions with rationality, and not the other way around.

Where Do We Stand on an Ebola Cure?

Ebola cure! Are we getting closer to a cure for ebola?

By Ali Reza
Recent years have brought a number of terrifying headlines about the rise of the Ebola virus, and its continued spread through Africa and even into the United States. More recently, though, the Ebola-related headlines have all been considerably more positive. Consider that in early August, the medical journal Lancet published a report that a new Ebola vaccine had been developed, and that—wonder of wonders—the vaccine is allegedly 100 percent effective.

Obviously, this is huge news from the world of epidemiology. Not surprisingly, groups like Doctors Without Borders began urging the vaccine to be distributed right away. But some experts are urging caution: Maybe, they have suggested, this 100 percent effective vaccine is actually too good to be true.

So where does humankind actually stand in its quest to eradicate Ebola? Clearly, there is at least some room for optimism: A new vaccine is here, and it must as least show some promise. Additionally, it’s worth noting that Ebola cases have dipped down to fewer than 10 per week, which is a promising figure.

An Incomplete Study

But here is where caution comes into play: The data to back up this “100 percent effective” claim is not at all complete, and at this point never will be. There is no real scientific rigor or statistical clout behind it, and as such this claim of perfect efficacy does not mean as much as we all wish it did.

Here’s what happened: The vaccine exhibited a lot of success early in the clinical trial process. As such, the scientists running the trial judged that all the people in the study should receive the drug immediately. This is a natural human response, and not necessarily a bad one: People were dying of Ebola and the new vaccine seemed like it was working, so why wouldn’t it be administered as quickly as possible?

This is a good way to save lives, but it is imperfect science. What it means is that better data collection will now never be possible, due to the rushed nature of the study. Drug regulators will be less inclined to approve the drug because of this incomplete data, which means that, down the line, this vaccine may be harder to get to the people who really need it.

The Best of What’s Around

So why all the rush to anoint this new vaccine as a perfect cure? A lot of it stems from the simple fact that there is no alternative. Trials of Ebola vaccines have always been challenging to orchestrate; because Ebola is a major world health crisis, trials have been conducted largely in unstable and remote regions, which has made it difficult to attain useful data about drug safety and effectiveness.

This latest round of testing moved from Phase I to Phase III efficacy tests in less than a year’s time, which is remarkable by any standard, but when the trials started in earnest the Ebola epidemic was already beginning to wind down on its own. That’s nothing to complain about, of course, but it did mean that scientists had a harder time finding community clusters where they could test the vaccine.

All of this is really just to say that the claim to 100 percent effectiveness is a little overinflated, as there is not much evidence to base such claims on. It is true that the vaccine was 100 percent effective for those immediately exposed to Ebola—only a handful of trial participants—but because exposure levels are dropping all on their own, this doesn’t have the weight it might have, once upon a time. Meanwhile, the trial had 16 individuals who did exhibit Ebola symptoms following a delayed vaccination. To say that the drug prevents all Ebola outbreaks, then, would just not be honest.

Make no mistake: All signs suggest that we are getting closer to an Ebola cure, and the numbers for this study are certainly positive. They are just not as positive as early claims might suggest, and the study itself is not quite serious enough to warrant full celebration just yet.

All About Lab-Grown Diamond

Diamonds are not what you’d call common. Actually, a really clear, sparkling diamond is pretty rare, which is a big part of the appeal. Diamonds are sought after—and valued—because they are so difficult to come by. In fact, it takes potentially billions of years for a diamond to be formed!

Unless, of course, you get one that was grown in a laboratory. Yes, scientists have determined a way to generate their own diamonds in a laboratory setting. And as it turns out, science works a lot quicker than Mother Nature does: a laboratory-grown diamond can be generated in as little as three months, which is—comparatively—no time at all.

The Diamond Economy

Because they take less time to develop, they come with smaller price tags—sometimes costing 40 percent less than naturally-grown counterparts.

This is good news for a world that’s wild for diamonds. Though the diamond has always been a coveted symbol of elegance and rare beauty, global demand for diamonds has actually increased quite a bit in recent years. A lot of this rising demand can be traced to the growing middle class in India and in China—consumers who crave sparkling, clear diamonds to wear.

The naturally-grown diamond market cannot quite keep up with this demand—and in fact, diamond demand is slated to surpass diamond supply by 2019.

In the Lab

Thankfully, we no longer have to look to nature to meet that diamond demand. Diamonds are being made in the laboratory, and actually have been ever since the 1950s. Basically, a laboratory can be used to replicate the extreme heat and pressure needed to cultivate diamonds underground, and significantly expedite the process.

These diamonds have not always been of the highest quality—many lab-grown diamonds turn out to be discolored, most are quite small, and some are just powder—but they are, technically, diamonds. As technology improves, so do the diamonds themselves.

More to the point, though: Aesthetic imperfections are not necessarily significant for many diamond buyers, who want diamonds not for their style or elegance but for their hardness. Because diamonds can withstand high levels of radiation, they are widely used in industrial applications, including nuclear engineering. That’s where a lot of these lab-grown diamonds are going.

In fact, 2013 saw about 1,500 tons of diamonds used in some sort of industrial capacity—and 99 percent of these diamonds were made in a laboratory. For lab-grown diamonds, there is clearly a big market.

Making Diamonds Better

Still, there is a push to make diamonds purer and purer—a push that has already yielded positive results. A company called Ila Technologies has perfected a process called chemical vapor deposition, wherein a vacuum chamber is used to shower diamond “seeds” with microwave rays and pressurized gases.  This causes carbon bonds to form. The result is diamonds that are, generally speaking, quite aesthetically pleasing and “real”-looking.

Ila runs the biggest diamond-growing facility on the planet, located in Singapore and responsible for making 300,000 carats per year—expending just about half the energy of diamond mining. These diamonds have become so good that, to the naked eye, they are indistinguishable from Mother Nature’s own.

An Uphill Climb?

Even so, diamond growers are facing reluctance from jewelers, and most of their business still comes from selling diamonds to industry. In fact, lab-grown diamonds make up less than one percent of all diamonds used in jewelry making. Even though the product itself is more or less identical to what comes out of a diamond mine, there remains a perception that lab-grown diamonds are simply not authentic.
Diamond-growing scientists have clearly made inroads with one market, though, even as another remains elusive. For those who are curious about science, this is simply a cool story: Diamonds can be made in a lab, in a short span of time, and with minor environmental impact—and whether jewelers acknowledge it or not, these diamonds look good.

Artificial Intelligence and the Quest for Better Drugs

Role of AI in Modern Medicine

By Ali Reza
The way researchers diagnose and treat diseases has changed over time—and it seems poised to change again. In fact, new experiments point to a possible use of artificial intelligence in the medical research field. If deployed properly, these AI units could effectively revolutionize the search for better, stronger, more effective medications.

The Way it Was

The search for drugs has not always been a particularly efficient one. Historically, as researchers have tried to diagnose and treat diseases, they have devoted their search to isolating the single mutation on a given gene that might have caused the problem. The problem with this approach is that the onset of a disease is typically triggered by more than just a single genetic variant. There is usually a complex array of factors in play—environmental issues, multi-gene interactions, demographics, and more.

That’s obviously a lot of information to synthesize, which is precisely why drug research has been so laborious, at times so slow and so ineffectual. Computers have never been up to the challenge of analyzing all of this information, either, because there is simply too much of it to fit within standard databases.

Rise of the Robots

Where traditional computing has failed, artificial intelligence may hold some answers. Artificial intelligence may make it possible to tease out interactions from more complex and far-reaching health data, perhaps even offering a quick way to sequence full genomes and ultimately gather more molecular information than ever.

But what exactly does all this mean? What it means, most promisingly, is that precision medicine may one day be a real possibility, not just a pipe dream—and we’ll have AI to thank for it. AI may lead to a world in which researchers can identify all of the unique characteristics that a person has that might lead to the onset of a certain disease, and also to potential avenues of precision treatment.

Practicing Precision

The concept of precision medicine is nothing new. It has long been a sort of Holy Grail among medicine researchers. Actually treating human beings in a precise manner can be complicated though—because, well, human beings themselves are so complicated.

Precision medicine embraces that complexity. The concept behind it: All of us are wildly distinct, genetically speaking. We differ not only in our genetics, but also in our environmental histories. In precision medicine, the goal is to provide each person with a specific, individualized treatment that takes these distinctions into account—as opposed to the more generalized approach to treatment that is necessary today.

What the Research Says

But back to the robots. Researchers recently presented their approach to AI-empowered healthcare at a New York Academy of Sciences conference. What they presented was, basically, a scenario in which computers are asked to think about genomics, diseases, and disease treatments in the same way that human beings do—only much faster and on a grander scale.

The applications for such a scenario could prove myriad. One particularly noteworthy application is drug research. According to this initial report, AI could be used to identify new uses for existing drugs—uses that previous research methods may have missed. It currently takes an average of 14 years and $2.6 billion to develop a single drug for clinical use, so the implications of AI-enabled methodologies—for pharmaceutical companies as well as for patients—are obviously exciting.

In fact, the researchers who presented these findings have already used an AI system—they call it EMERGENT—to identify new biomarkers that could prove to be drug targets for glaucoma.

Where Next?

So what is the next step for all of this? One immediate goal is to develop a new method to visualize the data produced by these research robots. After all, the AI results will not be useful unless biologists can actually sit down, understand them, and extrapolate. Right now, apps are being developed to make this possible, including some that will allow researchers to immerse themselves in AI data within the confines of a gaming system!

All of it seems promising—and certainly, medical research seems like it could be the best application yet for artificial intelligence.

Robots That Think for Themselves: Not Just Science Fiction

By Ali Reza

Robots are nothing new—but robots that think for themselves? That actually show

some self-awareness? That’s long been a topic of pure science fiction.

Of course, you may think that such robots sound like a great deal of fun, potentially

even helpful; you may just as easily assume them to be a looming threat, just one step

away from rising up against humanity, a favorite sci-fi trope.

Whatever you think of self-aware robots, though, know this: They’re not purely science

fiction any longer.

That’s because recent experimentation has resulted in humanoid robots exhibiting

glimpses of true self-awareness. No, we’re not quite dealing with Rosie from The Jetsons

just yet, but scientists have taken us one step closer toward robots that can solve

problems and, to some extent, think on their own.

Problem Solvers

The experimentation in question hinges on three old Nao-model robots—robots that

proved themselves able to independently solve a classic philosophical dilemma.

Here’s what happened. The robots were all programmed to “think” that two out of the

three had received some sort of a “dumbing pill”—something that left them unable to

speak. Two of the robots were effectively silenced, in other words yet none of them

knew which two had received the dumbing pills and which was still able to “talk.”

The robots were then asked which ones had received the pill, and they tried their best

to respond honestly: I don’t know! Of course, two had been silenced, so only one of

them was actually able to utter and hear the words. What’s remarkable is that this robot

knew it had answered aloud, and that the other two hadn’t. This robot was then able to

change its answer, affirming that it now knew and could prove that it was not one of the

ones to receive a dumbing pill.

Basics of Self-Awareness

This is obviously a very minor philosophical hurdle to jump, and again, we’re a long way

yet from robotic butlers, personal androids, and/or killer robot invasions. Nevertheless,

what this experiment shows is groundbreaking: Robots were able to fulfill some of the

basic requirements of self-awareness.

One interesting facet of all this is that this potentially revolutionary discovery came

about on the heels of a very old induction puzzle, often known as The King’s Wise Men

puzzle. In this puzzle, the king takes three of his wise men and puts hats on them, telling

them that their hat is either blue or white. They can see each other’s hats, but not their

own, and they are instructed that at least one of them is wearing a blue hat. The answer

to the puzzle, incidentally, is that all three are wearing blue; no white hats are given.

But what matters most here is the robotics. The experiment in question—the “dumbing

pill” variation on The King’s Wise Men puzzle—was conducted by Selmer Bringsjord,

who is a professor at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. He came up with

and implemented the dumbing pills test as part of his ongoing research into artificial

intelligence systems, based in computational logic.

Though the findings and full ramifications of the test will be unveiled in greater detail at

an upcoming robotics conference in Japan, those who are curious about such things can

find full footage of the robot experiment over on YouTube.

What’s Next for Robots?

So what’s the next step—and how close are we, really, to robots that will prove smarter

or more adept at problem-solving than people? Those who are fearful of a robot

takeover may find some reassurance in the words of Professor Bringsjord, who notes

that, in his opinion, robots will always be inferior to the human mind.

And yet, there is no question that his experiment is a breakthrough—the first real

evidence that robots can develop self-awareness. The ramifications of this have yet to

be fully unpacked, and one imagines that all manner of applications are being

hypothesized even now.

It is, of course, important to note that self-aware robots are still very much in the

experimental phase—but all of this points toward a whole new world of possibility.

New Handheld Device Could Curb Pain

By Ali Reza

The problem of pain is innate to the human experience: For as long as people have existed, they have experienced different levels and different types of physical discomfort, and anything from a stubbed toe to a major automobile accident can cause that pain to intensify. Of course, countless dollars and man hours are devoted to finding new ways to mitigate pain, sometimes to some effect and sometimes to little effect at all—but what if we told you that there is a new device that can literally put effective pain management into the palm of your hand?

Well, we should clarify: It wouldn’t be your hand, but the hand of your surgeon. A new handheld device could provide doctors and physicians with a revolutionary new approach to treating pain—and of course, medical patients the world over could benefit from this technology’s implementation.

The Rise of Chimaera

So what is this groundbreaking new surgical tool? Its mythology-referencing name is Chimaera, and its intent is to help surgeons identify the correct nerve with effortlessness and ease, providing them with real-time feedback during their operations. In short, it will make delicate nerve procedures much more manageable and much less unwieldy for surgeons—which could in effect revolutionize medicine.

That’s because nerves, as you might have heard, are pretty important, and in particular they are vital to the Body Paintopic of pain. Pain emanates from nerves. Whether you’re talking about the pain of a migraine headache, a twisted limb, or a paper cut, pain is experienced through the transmission of electrical signals from the nerves. Researchers, seeking new ways to manage and minimize pain, have long focused on overriding these nervous signals.

And there has been some progress made in this undertaking. Over the past few years, researchers have unveiled devices called neuromodulators, which function as implants and can, in theory, cease the experience of pain. The efficacy of these devices, however, depends on surgeons being able to locate the right nerves—no easy feat.

Getting the Right Nerves

There are many dangers to this process, because nerves often lay in big jumbles- especially in the face and behind the eyes. As such, picking through them to find the one that’s transmitting pain can be a big challenge—and getting it wrong can provide extreme damage to the patient.

Enter the Chimaera. This device helps surgeons to locate and access specific nerves, and it functions with Chimaera Devicerelative ease. The surgeon holds the device—a kind of hand-held wand, wireless and portable—near the point of planned incision. Chimaera then sends information about that place to a computer, where it is combined with a CT scan of the patient’s brain. All of this data is then combined into something that looks a little like an X-ray. Surgeons then don Google Glass (yes, really!) to examine the place of the surgery, and the data from the Chimaera allows them to see a map of the pertinent nerves, making it possible for them to implement their surgical tools with as much precision as possible.

The bottom line? Using Chimaera technology, surgeons can operate while doing as little damage as possible, sparing healthy nerves and ultimately implanting that pain-reducing neuromodulator with much greater effectiveness than would otherwise be possible.

A New World for Pain Management

It is difficult to overstate the potential significance of Chimaera. Consider this: Right now, delicate nerve operations can only be conducted by a handful of surgeons—the most skilled and in-demand surgeons across the planet. But if Chimaera is implemented and proves successful, it could make neuromodulator use commonplace, which will be good news indeed for anyone who suffers from migraines or other forms of chronic pain.

This technology is still in its conceptual stage, and probably won’t be in widespread use any time soon—but it is remarkable to think how this confluence of handheld technology with Google Glass and a good old-fashioned CT scan may make pain management more possible and more effective than ever before.

Optical is Optimal: Treating Cancer with Light

By Ali Reza

Though it is well known that there does not yet exist a cure for cancer, there are numerous drugs that can be used to treat cancer—slowing its growth, minimizing its effects, and in some cases killing cancer cells altogether.

These medical therapies have done much good for many cancer patients, yet they almost always come with a downside: A drug powerful enough to fight cancer is, by definition, powerful enough to wreak havoc throughout the body, and nearly all cancer treatments result in side effects that range from irritating to debilitating.

But what if there was a way to negate many of those hazardous effects, allowing cancer treatments to do their thing with minimal side effects? And what if it could be done not through still further medication, but through something as simple and as pleasant as… colorful lights?

New advances in cancer treatment suggest that such a thing may well be possible—and it could offer a beacon of hope to the many cancer patients who live with treacherous side effects.

The Science of Cells

To understand how this new advance works, it is important to first understand a little bit about the human body—even on a cellular level.

As a cell is preparing to divide, little fragments of its internal skeleton—known as microtubules—arranged

Microtubule
Microtubule (Credit: Wikipedia)

into spindles, allowing for associated chromosomes to divide into two bundles. These bundles, in turn, form the nuclei of daughter cells; the spindle formation is necessary for the cellular replication process, then.

Yet, it is the cellular replication process that is so hazardous to cancer patients, as cancer is essentially a disorder that sends cellular replication out of control. This is how most cancer drugs work: They interfere with the activity of the microtubules, thus halting cellular replication. The problem is, healthy cells are stopped from replication, too—not just cancer cells.

This death of healthy cells is the very reason why cancer patients tend to undergo so many nasty side effects. It also explains why oncologists rarely get to use the dosage of cancer drug they might like to; they have to keep things on a “low” setting so as to avoid potentially catastrophic complications.

Seeing the Light

All of this might change, thanks to researchers from Ludwig Maximillian University in Munich, Germany. What they’re trying to do is genius in its elegance and simplicity: They’re developing a microtubule-controlling drug that can be switched on and off with light itself.

Conceptually, this is nothing new. Researchers have long sought to embed drugs in molecular structures that can be unlocked only through optics. The idea is that you shine a light on the drug at the right time to ensure that it is activated only where it stands to do good, not harm.

This is a great idea with a significant downside. Once the drugs are “freed” through the shining light, they can’t be recalled or deactivated. They can continue to roam through the body and likely do some damage—so this methodology doesn’t quite address the underlying problem with cancer drugs. (To make things worse, past iterations of this plan have relied on intense ultraviolet light, which can itself have negative effects on the human body.)

Barking Up a Different Tree

The Munich researchers have refined this idea, finding a microtubule-disrupting molecule that is itself light sensitive—to the extent that light can actually switch it on and off. The molecule in question is called combretastatin—and it is found, oddly enough, in the bark of the South African bushwillow.

This molecule is comprised of two isomers, which have the same chemical formula but different shapes—and one of which happens to be an exceedingly effective microtubule disrupter while the other is not at all.

The Munich team’s idea, then, is simple: To release this molecule into the body, use light to activate its microtubule-disrupting isomer just long enough to have a healing effect, and then to use light again to revert it to its innocuous state.

This is still in the research stages, but early results have shown promise in honing and refining the effects of this cancer-fighting substance—suggesting that cancer treatment without nasty side effects may be possible yet.

Quoted from Nahjul Balagha – Imam Ali (a.s.) on Man’s creation

The eye

“He sees through the layers of fat (eyes).”

By M.K.

This quote depicts Imam Ali’s (a.s.) divine knowledge that transcends beyond normal
human capacity and confirms scientific facts. A human being is indeed a wonderful
creature, such that it is ‘complete’ from every biological aspect. Here, human organs
constituting eyes, ears and the tongue are being discussed. Let us first start with the
human eye and it’s ‘layers’ of fat. The eye’s basic structure has an eyeball that comprises
of different layers and fluid chambers. Here, the layers are divided into an outer, middle
and inner compartment while the fluid chambers are also dissected into anterior, posterior
and vitreous sections. The outer eye layer has cornea and sclera. Cornea is responsible for
transmitting and focusing light into the eye while sclera is an opaque tissue serving as an
outer protective coat. It is also commonly referred to as the eye’s ‘whiter’ part. In the
middle layer, there is the iris and pupil in addition to the eye’s primary blood supply. The
iris has a centered pupil and these two structures together regulate and accommodate the
amount as well as availability of light entering the eye. Eye’s inner layer contains a retina
and this structure is what senses light and participates in transmitting the light signal to
the brain via the optic nerve. The fluid chambers are all filled with a watery fluid that aid
in the interior eye’s nourishment and helping the eye to stay inflated. The diagram below
briefly demonstrates the various eye structures discussed above.

The Eye

Image source: Sclera – Eye Anatomy. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.stlukeseye.com/anatomy/sclera.html

The Ear

“hears through a bone (ears).”

Similar to the eye, the ear is comprised of an outer, middle and inner section as illustrated in the diagram below. Outer ear or the pinna is composed of a ridged cartilage underlying a skin covering. It is this pinna, through which sound funnels into the exterior auditory canal. In the middle ear, sound waves cause the eardrum along with the smaller attached bones to vibrate. From here, these vibrations are then conducted to a spiral shaped cochlea inside the inner ear, responsible for transforming sound into nerve impulses, which then travel to brain parts that process auditory signals.

The Ear

Image source: About your hearing health. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.lakesideaudiology.com/hearing_health.php

The tongue

“and speaks through a lump of flesh (tongue).”

A movable muscle set, the tongue is mouth’s muscular organ coated with a layer of connective tissue as well as a mucous membrane. The tongue is anchored to the mouth by this mucous membrane and a complex net of tough tissue. The back of the tongue is anchored into a small bone, called the hyoid or lingual bone and the latter is connected to the voice box in the throat. Essentially, several sets of small muscles keep the tongue hanging in the throat, allowing it to move freely and enabling functions of chewing, swallowing and speech.

Tongue
Image source: Oral Care. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/picture-of-the-tongue

Now with a bit of reflection, one may see the depth of knowledge of our first Imam and the intricate way our eye structures receive and process light and vision, and our ears process sound with the tongue engaging in speech.


Sources:

  1. Nahjul Balagha Sayings. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.nahjulbalagha.org/Nahjul-Balagha/Nahjul-Balagha-Sayings/
  2. About your hearing health. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.lakesideaudiology.com/hearing_health.php
  3. Basic Eye Anatomy. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.eyesightresearch.org/background.htm
  4. Brain & Nervous System Health Center. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/brain/picture-of-the-ear
  5. Dentist Reviews: Great Dentistry. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://dentistreviewsite.com/page/3/
  6. Eye anatomy. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.visionexpress.com/eye-health/eye-anatomy/
  7. How does the tongue work? (2013, January 23). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072591/
  8. Oral Care. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/picture-of-the-tongue
  9. Sclera – Eye Anatomy. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.stlukeseye.com/anatomy/sclera.html

What is Bird Flu? And Why is it Spreading?

By Amanda C.
Edited by Ali Reza

The news has been abuzz recently with stories about the bird flu or avian flu. As with any disease outbreak, this causes concern among people who worry about what it means for their health. This virus, known as H5N1, has garnered much attention as it has been affecting poultry throughout the world. But what is bird flu and why is it a concern?

The bird flu is a virus that has been spreading among wild birds worldwide. It occurs naturally but these wild animals can pass it on to domestic animals that are used as food sources. The virus is rarely passed to humans, but it is possible. Many of the outbreaks have occurred in the Middle East and Asia with Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam experiencing ongoing infections in their poultry. In many birds, the disease is fatal.

Because wild birds have also spread the infection to other species, this can make it more difficult to contain and eradicate. Flocks or individual animals with the disease must be dealt with immediately to help prevent the spread of the virus and contamination of other animals.

How is the virus spread?

The bird flu passes relatively easily from animal to animal, but this is not the case with humans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that, “since 2003, 650 human infections with highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by 15 countries. About 60% of these people died from their illness.”

Many people were infected by coming in close contact with infected birds or poultry. They may have handled sickened chickens or ducks when plucking feathers to prepare them for cooking, or while disposing of their bodies. Another way of contracting the disease is through the fecal matter of these animals. Bird droppings may have contaminated water used for bathing or swimming. In rare instances, close contact between two humans could transmit the disease. However, for the most part, the bird flu is a much greater danger to animals than humans.

It is important to note that you cannot get infected from poultry that has been properly handled and prepared. All meat should be cooked to recommended temperatures to kill bacteria and viruses that may be present. Eating undercooked meat can lead to a variety of illnesses.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of bird flu in humans can be similar to those of the regular flu. They include abdominal pain and diarrhea, fever, cough, and acute respiratory distress. As with any illness, the virus can cause complications in people with pre-existing health conditions. Scientists believe that typical flu medications can help to treat humans infected with H5N1.

In birds, certain strains present few or no symptoms. More contagious strains can make birds very ill and have high mortality rates. The disease can spread quickly among flocks and lead to poultry shortages as infected birds are not used. Farmers will often cull their flock to try to stop the spread of the virus and protect other animals. As a result, communities may notice an increase in price of poultry products such as meat and eggs.

Protecting Yourself

While human contraction of the bird flu is rare, people should still use caution when handling poultry or being exposed to areas where birds are raised.

  • Use warm soapy water to wash your hands both before and after handling any raw poultry.
  • Make sure that all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned after coming in contact with raw poultry.
  • Cook poultry to at least the minimum recommended temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When using eggs, make sure they are thoroughly cooked as well and all surfaces are cleaned.

Officials are doing their best to contain and prevent outbreaks but it is a difficult virus to eradicate since it is spread so easily among birds. People should make sure they are vigilant about protecting themselves when handling poultry and when traveling to regions where the bird flu has been detected.

How Nonprofit Organizations can use Mobile Apps

Nonprofits Can Benefit from Mobile Technology to Advance Their Cause

By Amanda C
Edited by Ali Reza

Mobile technology has changed the way that many businesses operate and engage with customers. Smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices have put a wealth of information at users’ fingertips. It is easier than ever to find what they need and stay connected. For nonprofit organizations, mobile apps can serve a variety of purposes and help them to raise awareness and support for their cause.

Creating a Mobile App

One option for nonprofits is to create an app specific to their cause. They can either have an in-house developer design it to meet their needs, or it is something that can be outsourced. The most important thing to remember about developing an app is that it should serve a purpose for users. It is not cost effective or advantageous to have an app simply for the sake of having one.

  • Up-to-date Information. Apps can be used to instantly deliver information to users. Nonprofits can share details and reminders about upcoming events so that attendees are kept informed about exactly what is going on. Details can include locations and times along with maps, activities, tips, and other essentials.
  • Raise AwarenessAn organization’s app could be used to raise awareness about a certain cause or condition. It could focus on impact, warning signs, solutions, and how users can get more involved or be more proactive. For example, the Red Cross uses its app to share advice for dealing with emergency situations and administering first aid.
  • Promote Change. Another use for apps is to give people options and information that allows them to create changes. For instance, a way to locate stores that offer organic, gluten-free, or environmentally friendly products. They may share videos and images that share a message and encourage people to take action. Or they could be a resource for valuable information pertaining to a specific cause or topic. Organizations can also increase engagement by allowing users to interact with one another.
  • Support Fundraising.The option to solicit donations will depend on the platform. Some allow for in-app donations while others support links that take users to an outside site where they can donate. However, this can make it easier for users to find out how they can provide financial support and actually make donations in a fast and easy manner.
  • Increase Involvement.There could also be features that allow users to register as a volunteer for events, track their personal information and activities, or share information with others. Organizations can use apps to convey special promotions and coupons to users as well that are only available through the application.

With these features, organizations gain access to a wide range of analytics. This can help them to better understand their customers and users and make improvements not only to the app but also to business strategies and products. It provides valuable insight into business and customer engagement.

Using Existing Mobile Apps

If nonprofits don’t want to create their own app, they can partner with companies who have developed apps that would benefit their cause. One such app is Check In For Good. Users download the app and when they check in at businesses that the nonprofit has partnered with, the business makes a donation. The nonprofit can set up a page that educates the public about their cause and connects people with businesses that support the nonprofit. Both organizations gain exposure and awareness.

Another great option is Charity Miles. Users raise funds for nonprofits simply by being active. Through walking or running they can earn up to 25 cents per mile and biking earns 10 cents per mile. The more miles they log, the more money gets donated to the nonprofit they have chosen to sponsor. This is a great way for nonprofits to fundraise while also encouraging people to continue being active.

When used effectively, mobile apps can be a wonderful way for organizations to increase awareness and build stronger connections throughout communities. They can disseminate valuable information and give users ways to get involved and provide support.