Bronchioles in Human Lungs–Microscopic Captures

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Bronchioles: We all know that, when we breath, the air goes to our lungs and from thereon the oxygen from the air is extracted and carbon-dioxide is released. However, contrary to common perception, air (which we have inhaled) is not passed to lungs via a large pipe. When we inhale, the air goes inside via Trachea, which is generally 4-5 inches long. Subsequently, the trachea merges into bronchi pipes or Bronchus. The bronchus branches get diverged into smaller tubes, where each tube is referred as Bronchioles. There are millions of such Bronchioles in each Human Lung.

This below microscopic capture is the cross-sectional view of a Bronchioles.

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PS: The above shots were captured by my sister (Ayesha Batul), who is currently doing Pharmaceutical Engineering. I have been pressing her to start a blog, however, she doesn’t listen to me. 

Microscopic captures–Part2

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Here’s a little experiment I did. I took a tiny drop of water, approximately around 1mm in diameter. When I put it under microscope, it quickly evaporated. I recorded the whole process of evaporation. Here’s the YouTube link.

Evaporation of water–Microscopic View

As you can see, first the thickness of the water drop reduces… and then it breaks apart (at 1:00). At notice, a micro-organism floating in the water.

Here’s some other microscopic shots I have got.

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Fig: Feather of a mosquito

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Fig: Sticky fluid

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Fig: Head of the ant

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Fig: Tip of mosquito leg

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Fig: Leg of Mosquito

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Fig: Red thread made up of cotton straws dipped in water.

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Fig: Red Cotton straw

More pictures to follow soon.

Microscopic captures – Part1

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An year back I added a microscope to my collection of gadgets, however, didn’t get much time and interest to play around with it. Finally, I got some time to experiment and I must admit, I am falling in love with microscopic world. Here are some microscopic shots, will be sharing more in future posts.

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Fig: Mosquito head: The dots are the eyes of mosquito.

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Fig: Feature of the mosquito.

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Fig: 40x Close-up of Cotton

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Fig: Plant Cells

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Fig: Plant cells. The odd cell in the middle could either be a parasite or a starch cell.

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Fig: Skin cells: I distinctly remember drawing this diagram back in school.

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Fig: Stem Cells of a plant

Technical Conferences in India – The rise of Educational Mafia

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Arranging technical conferences in govt. and private engineering colleges has become a revenue generating business in India. I was going through different conferences that are being held in India in the fields of computer science and was totally shocked at the registration fee for each of these conferences. Registration fee in the range of $200 – $500 is ridiculous for the economy like India.

Now, let’s try to understand the facts. I run a discussion community called “Technical Research papers” on Orkut and it has over 1500 members. Most of these members are students, who aren’t aware much about research and how technical papers needs to be written. After moderating the community for more than a year, one thing that was clearly evident that, majority of the students in India don’t care about research. All they want is a tag of publishing a research paper to enhance their chances for securing an admission in a university (mostly foreign universities in US/Australia/Europe). These students pick the research papers from internet and publish it claiming that it’s their own. Apparently, they don’t even realize that its plagiarism. This is where the educational mafia assists such students.

The conference organizers are well aware that majority of the Indian students are doing plagiarism and they also know that, these students desperately need a publication to their credit to get an admission in a university. This is where the ‘give-and-take’ relationship begins. Or rather, I should say, educational mafia takes over. International and National Conferences are organized by govt. and private educational institutes that accept plagiarized papers. The trick here is that, these conferences generally have inflated registration free, something of the range $200-$500. Considering Indian economy, this price is too high, however, the organizers of the conferences are well aware that, they will receive papers from students who want to publish papers at any cost.

Now, I don’t mean to say, all the conferences organized in India are of this type and all the Indian students do plagiarism. However, majority of the conference are of that type and majority of the students do plagiarism. When you question these organizers, they act like mafia. Typically, when asked for scholarship/registration fee waiver, they would simply reject the paper. In fact, there is no concept of scholarship/fee waiver in majority of the conferences. The worst thing about all this fraud is, it is being done by highly educated professors. When you meet them in person and question them, they would say “they are promoting research among students and they are being lenient so that student attends conferences and learns about research’. That’s a very lame excuse. If they want to promote research among students, they should arrange workshops for students so that they learn the art of research and publishing papers. Accepting plagiarized papers should be strictly avoided.

In India, AICTE provides funding for educational institutions to arrange conferences. Even if a particular institution fails to acquire funding from AICTE, the institution should fund the conference. However, majority of the govt. and private colleges don’t take this route. Instead, they arrange the conferences purely from the money they obtain from the registration fees from the participants. And to make things worse, they try to derive profit out of it.

I wonder, for how long this education mafia and plagiarism would continue in India. And I fear, this will deeply affect the reputation of Indian researchers…

Study: Alcohol ‘most harmful drug,’ followed by crack and heroin

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Below article is published in CNN Health… thought of sharing with you all.

Note: This is not my justification for not consuming alcohol. I have always maintained, I don’t consume alcohol because it is strictly prohibited in Islam.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/01/alcohol.harm/index.html?hpt=C2

London, England (CNN) — Alcohol ranks “most harmful” among a list of 20 drugs, beating out crack and heroin when assessed for its potential harm to the individual imbibing and harm to others, according to study results released by a British medical journal.

A panel of experts from the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs weighed the physical, psychological, and social problems caused by the drugs and determined that alcohol was the most harmful overall, according to an article on the study released by The Lancet on Sunday.

Using a new scale to evaluate harms to individual users and others, alcohol received a score of 72 on a scale of 1 to 100, the study says. It was compared to 19 other drugs using 16 criteria: nine related to the adverse effects the drug has on an individual and seven on its harm against others.

That makes it almost three times as harmful as cocaine or tobacco, according to the article, which is slated to be published on The Lancet’s website Monday and in an upcoming print edition of the journal.

Heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals, the study says, while alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the most harmful to others.

In the article, the panelists said their findings show that Britain’s three-tiered drug classification system, which places drugs into different categories that determine criminal penalties for possession and dealing, has “little relation to the evidence of harm.”

Panelists also noted that the rankings confirm other studies that say that “aggressively targeting alcohol harms is a valid and necessary public health strategy.”

The Lancet article was co-authored by David Nutt, a professor and Britain’s former chief drug adviser, who caused controversy last year after he published an article saying ecstasy was not as dangerous as riding a horse.

“So why are harmful sporting activities allowed, whereas relatively less harmful drugs are not?” Nutt wrote in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. “I believe this reflects a societal approach which does not adequately balance the relative risks of drugs against their harms.”

Nutt later apologized to to anyone offended by the article and to those who have lost loved ones to ecstasy. He said he had no intention of trivializing the dangers of the drug and that he only wanted to compare the risks.

In the article released by The Lancet on Sunday, ecstasy’s harmfulness ranking — 9 — indicates it is only one-eighth as harmful as alcohol.

The study was funded by the London-based Centre for Crime and Justice studies.

Karvachauth – How does fasting by wife increase the life expectancy of her husband?

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In India, more specifically among the followers of a religion called Santana Dharma (popularly known as Hinduism), wives fast a day every year for the increase in lifespan of her husband. This custom is referred as ‘Karva-Chauth’. In this blog post, I would make an attempt to list out the scientific reasons behind this custom i.e. how does fasting by wife increase the life expectancy of her husband?

Foundations of Santana Dharma are deeply rooted in the advance scientific culture that once existed in ancient India. However, due to decline of science in India, several customs of Santana Dharma have become blind beliefs. Also, over the years, several customs have gone through unscientific modifications resulting in ambiguity. Nevertheless, there still remains several customs that reflect the rich scientific understanding of ancient Indians. Let us now, understand the scientific explanation for Karva-Chauth custom.

Fasting for a limited duration (~12 hours) has scientifically proven to have positive results on both adult men and women. Various publications on this can be found in the literature. Following are the core advantages highlighted by several researchers

  1. 1. Fasting results in biological process called ‘autolysis’, which is breaking down of fat stored in the body in order to produce energy. Autolysis leads to higher detoxification, a normal body process of eliminating or neutralizing toxins through body organs such as kidneys, liver, skins, etc. In layman terms, detoxification is equivalent to body cleaning.
  2. 2. It is proven that, during fasting, healing process occurs faster within the body due to higher efficiency in protein synthesis resulting in healthier cells, tissues and organs. (This is also proven in several animals. When animals get wounded, they stop consuming food to increase the rate of healing.)

Note: Prolonged fasting for more than 24 hours can be harmful to health. In above paragraph, fasting refers to ‘not consuming any food for duration of approx. 12 hours.

Now, that explains why fasting can be helpful to human beings. Better health is equivalent to better life expectancy. But the above scientific explanation doesn’t explain why fasting by a wife would result in higher life expectancy of her husband. To understand this, let us look at some recent biomedical results.

According to recent research done by Giana Angelo and Marc R.Van Gilst, female worms when subjected to fasting (starvation) have shown increase in their life-expectancy and more remarkably have shown increase in their reproductive longevity. In a paper titled ‘Starvation protects Germline stem cells and extends reproductive longevity in C. elegan’ published in Science journal highlights these findings.

“The study of starvation-resistant biological programs has elucidated numerous mechanisms influencing aging. Here we present the discovery and characterization of starvation-induced adult reproductive diapause (ARD) in Caenorhabditis elegans. ARD differs from the C. elegans dauer diapause in that it enables sexually mature adults to delay reproductive onset 15-fold and extend total adult life span at least threefold. The effectiveness of ARD requires apoptotic death of the entire germ line, except for a small population of protected germline stem cells (GSCs). When feeding is resumed, surviving GSCs regenerate a new germ line capable of offspring production near the level of non-starved animals. The starvation-sensing nuclear receptor NHR-49 is required for ARD entry and recovery. Our findings establish mechanisms for preserving stem cell potency and reproductive potential during prolonged starvation.”

Dr. Van Gilst goes on to quote, “Many paradigm-shifting discoveries in C. elegans have since been replicated in humans. Therefore, the idea that our findings will be relevant to human reproduction is a possibility that certainly needs exploration” and “If such a process exists in humans, it likely evolved to help our ancestors preserve fertility during periods of famine or food shortage. We certainly don’t have a prescription for famine. Consequently, our study should not be used to promote potentially dangerous interventions such as severe caloric restriction and starvation as a means to restore a woman’s fertility”

If we assume that, fasting indeed improves the reproductive longevity and life expectancy among women, it still doesn’t prove ‘fasting by wife increases the life expectancy of men’. For this, we need to look at another important biomedical result.

According to the research done by Davey Smith, S. Frankel and J. Yarnell from University of Bristol, sexual activity seems to have a protective effect on men’s health. As per their research paper titled “Sex and death: are they related? Findings from the Caerphilly cohort Study”,

“Mortality risk was 50% lower in the group with high orgasmic frequency than in the group with low orgasmic frequency, with evidence of a dose-response relation across the groups. Age adjusted odds ratio for all-cause mortality was 2.0 for the group with low frequency of orgasm (95% confidence interval 1.1 to 3.5, test for trend P = 0.02). With adjustment for risk factors this became 1.9 (1.0 to 3.4, test for trend P = 0.04). Death from coronary heart disease and from other causes showed similar associations with frequency of orgasm, although the gradient was most marked for deaths from coronary heart disease. Analysed in terms of actual frequency of orgasm, the odds ratio for total mortality associated with an increase in 100 orgasms per year was 0.64 (0.44 to 0.95).”

Now, let’s combine the two results and understand the bigger picture. It can be summarized as follows,

  • · Fasting increases reproductive longevity and female lifespan
  • · Higher Reproductive longevity implies potential for more sexual activity by women during lifespan.
  • · Higher Sexual activity has protective effect on men’s health, increasing the life expectancy.

As per Karva-chauth custom in India, a wife fasts for the increase in life expectancy for her husband. Scientifically, her fasting leads to higher reproductive longevity, leading to higher sexual activity during her lifespan. And since Santana Dharma strictly prohibits adultery, husband is the only option for sexual activity for married woman; hence her increase in sexual activity is directly proportional to her husband’s sexual activity, which in turn means, husband is going to have higher life expectancy due to increase in sexual activity.

The above scientific explanation can be easily tested on animals and humans, hence one can safely say, ancient Indians could have conducted scientific experiment and come to the conclusion that, by ‘fasting by wives would result in higher life expectancy for their husbands’. Note, this result is statistical in nature, individual cases might vary. But overall, it would increase the life expectancy.

Now, that explains why, ancient Indians started the custom of Karva-Chauth.

References:

[1] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090827141340.htm

[2] http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1178343

[3]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9448525?dopt=AbstractPlus