New superheroes – Science, Math and Botany #researchsaves

Gravity (2013), Interstellar (2014) and The Martian (2015), movies whose stories all take place in zero gravity, dusty martian surfaces and interstellar environments are trying to send us a very subliminal message inadvertently of course.

An artist's rendering of a monster black hole at the center of a galaxy. Yes, we have one also in the center of our beautiful galaxy.
An artist’s rendering of a monster black hole at the center of a galaxy. Yes, we have one also in the center of our beautiful galaxy.

Is the message coming to us from beings that have understood the string theory and managed to treat time like the edge of a table they sit on everyday?

337742_the_martian
The Martian,now a major motion movie playing everywhere brings a whole new kind of player to the superhero game- science, math and the botanist.

If these beings had a message they were trying to impart to us, I would take a gander and say that they are trying to say, ” Wake up everyone, its time to science the shit out of all our problems and save humanity.” Anyone who has seen the Martian know this line which Matt Damon’s character jokingly says with an underlying truth i.e. the problem is real, it is a life or death situation but we can do it by using science.

“Gravity Poster” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

The movies all stand witness to the problem solving nature of the human brain and what we are truly capable of in order to survive. For 200,000 years, since the human brain of our species Homo sapiens diverged from the common human ancestor, we have been solving problems to help our species survive.

This is what I want to see when I open the paper tomorrow, headlines that read:

                                                                            “Scientists cure cancer.”

                                                                                “Scientists cure HIV.”

                                     “Scientists find a way to create a renewable energy source.”

Plants grown in space last year by NASA
Plants grown in space in 2014 by NASA

“Scientists grow plants in space.” Well this actually happened last year as NASA              scientists figured it out.

But, what do I get instead?

(Photo composite: Yahoo News, photos: Riccardo De Luca/AP, Brendan McDermid/Reuters)
(Photo composite: Yahoo News, photos: Riccardo De Luca/AP, Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

It really is time to wake up, use the power that has been given to each and everyone of us in the space between our heads, instead of wasting our intelligence.

Scientists in the movie The Martian (2015) unite from every corner of the globe regardless of nationality, color, creed, race or any other categorical definition that can separate us and solves the problem. Considering that the world was witness to the U.N General Assembly drama, a week before the movie was released serves as a stark reminder that the ideal situation of global co-operation in the movie is a far cry from our woeful reality. The movie also serves a stark reminder to our government, that without the kind of money that needs to be put BACK into research, we stand a chance of grievously falling behind. #POTUS, please increase the NIH funding :),  it will be the greatest executive order you could fulfill before you leave office.

One can only hope, that future generations will get to read the headlines I posted in this article #researchsaves, and my personal message to #KimDavis, please leave the Pope alone.

خداحافظی                                              

Cloned dogs for $100,000 now available, Frankenstein not yet.

Cloned dogs in Louisiana. Click on picture for NPR article and Photo Credit.

Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, a literature classic that showcased the feelings of a monster that was reanimated to life from different human cadaver parts. At the end of the book, the monster’s humanity far outshone its creators- a mad scientist trying who wanted to defeat the scourge of death in 1818.

J.R.Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings trilogy had characters called Ents who highlighted the importance of ecological and scientific conservation of nature for survival of all life on earth soon after World War I.

Will we ever learn or are the classics of literature and its lessons to be relegated to the dusty shelves of old libraries?

Dr. Hwang Woo Sook from Soam Biotech in Korea, a disgraced scientist who claimed he had cloned human embryos was found to be false and unethical on many counts in 2006. However, he is now being reported to clone dogs for pet owners for $100,000.

Am I going to judge a grieving pet owner with money to spend for cloning his or her dog? No.

What I am worried about it is how much longer will unregulated genetic cloning without proper oversight from a world body go on before we find out that human embryos have been cloned secretly if possible for an absurd inordinate sum of money.

Science without regulation has the power to be misused and much like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the cloned dog embryo is zapped with a jolt of electricity to kickstart its division. Are we on our way to loosing a part of our humanity as well with that jolt of electricity as was seen in Frankenstein?

Sayonara.

Viruses, maybe they live!! Also President Obama, Putin and Zarif shakes hands. #Virus #news #Putin #POTUS

Anyone who has studied any level of Biology has been fed the dogma of the definition of the word “alive” or “life”. A virus by definition is not technically “alive” because it can only “come alive” or become active in a specific environment that activate it i.e the inside of a nice cozy nutrition rich cell or body fluids. They are host specific but can be manipulated to infect new hosts if gene re assortment occurs, they can only duplicate using host machinery but till today, they were for all intents and purposes not technically “alive”. Consider this news article that talks about reanimating a 30,000 year old huge Viral particle found underneath the Siberian ice to see how it behaves.( Am I the only one who sees the beginning of yet another zombie movie script with B-actors and even worse cinematography about to happen 🙂 ? )

30,000 year old virus unearthed under the Siberian ice
30,000 year old virus unearthed under the Siberian ice

However a new paper published recently using phylogenmics is forcing scientists to revisit that question along with how, and why viruses have originated. The paper published in Science Advances talks about the evolutionary ancestry of viruses and how they may have come from ancient cell progenitors which harbor segmented RNA.

So, well, that begs the question, what the viral progenitor and the ancient cell progenitor share in common and who belonged to who and when did the break up happen if indeed that is what happened?

Are we finally going to have to change our “life” paradigm about viruses?

Then again, yesterday, President Obama and Prime minister Putin shook hands, President Obama and Iranian Foreign minister Zarif shook hands. The United Nations General Assembly, yesterday was witness to new alliances forming, old ones breaking and political paradigms being tested severely because of certain viruses like ISIS and the unending Syrian conflict putting everybody to the test.

So maybe, change is in the air, in what direction, that is yet to be determined, however as science progresses forward, the most important thing to remember is to never stop asking and questioning.

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