Blood Moon and Quantico #bloodmoon #quantico #priyankachopra

Priyanka Chopra. Click on picture for article
Priyanka Chopra. Click on picture for article

The next super moon eclipse will not be till 2033. People who were not out in a dark field like I was with a telescope and Nikki my Nikon D-80, along with a bunch of friends who found a way to throw a frisbee despite the pitch darkness on a slightly cloudy late September evening were probably watching the premiere of Quantico on ABC.

Photo Credit: Varun Kumar
Photo Credit: Varun Kumar

I watched the premiere of Quantico the next day and I could not help but wonder, what will our world be like in 2033. The show is the most popular mainstream show showcasing a talented beautiful actress from a different country to date. Homeland with Nazanin Boniadi was another, but only available to Showtime subscribers.While Americans have been exposed to characters such as Appu from the Simpsons and Kumar from Harold and Kumar along with other stereotypical panderings, this is the first time, I feel that a character is being showcased as a true American-Indian, no, not native American, but a diaspora of people whose heritage is from the Indian sub-continent but grew up in the United States creating a distinct cultural identity which deserves a look free of stereotypes.

Photo Credit: Jacob
Photo Credit: Jacob

Yes, twitter was filled with comments both positive and negative, which comes as no surprise that the positive comments focused on her drop dead gorgeous looks while the more negative ones pointed out that she had an “accent”. Following the GOP candidates and debates, and the liberal use of the term ” American”, to stand for a paradigm that Ben Carson and Donald Trump seem to ascribe to, one must ask, what will that term “American” mean in 2033 when the next blood moon appears.

Will a TV show featuring a beautiful woman from a different country playing an American character be scrutinized for comparisons to other roles from the same ethnicity or will an actress or character’s ethnicity even matter?

Good question, a very good question.

On a lighter note, kudos to ABC for starting the journey to showcasing the distinct Indo-American demographic on TV.

Sayonara

Romance in the deep south. Song by Carolina Lane #bestofme #NicholasSparks

“She turned to face him. ‘What were we thinking?’ ‘We weren’t,’ he said. ‘We were in love.’”-from the The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

'Best of Me' book cover available at nicholassparks.com
‘Best of Me’ book cover available at nicholassparks.com

Who remembers saying these words or something similar to another person close to our heart? I do.

I have always been a secret fan of watching Sparks’s movies with Nights in Rodanthe being my favorite. However, it is not something I readily profess at parties. We all carry within us scars of close emotional bonds that have been broken or best forgotten, but not resolved, perhaps to never be resolved.

All we have to do now is simply delete the person from our smart phones, block their number, email, on every form of social media and it is like the person never existed and the complicated or unresolved situation can be swept away to the far corners of our mind ( I did not say heart, because as a neuroscience guy, it behooves me to point out that the heart does not feel, it is the brain or rather its manifestation- the mind).

As this story shows, in places where lives are intertwined, such as the deep south, digital media and smart phones don’t really hold sway when everyone you know, knows everyone else and it is in these small towns, that the best of Nicholas Sparks’s stories come from in my opinion. Having lived in Mississippi for a year, I found this sense of non-urbana America that held close ties close and where the depth of feelings were deeply felt amidst the small bbq joints and the many churches.

So, is there a person in your life that you have chosen to forget, or have been forgotten by, a relationship that needs to be resolved, or healed- reach out to that person and it is not easy to do so but nothing truly good in life has ever come easy. A rose is nothing without its thorns to protect it and that is true for most real life stories.

Update: Check out this beautiful song by Carolina Lane inspired by the book and movie The Best of Me.

Song inspired The Best of Me movie and book by Carolina Lane.

Adios

An espresso and neuroscience. #researchsaves

20150924_163545The espresso, smooth if prepared well with just enough bitterness to wake you up to the jolt of energy about to come, once the caffeine molecules start antagonizing the adenosine receptors in the central nervous system.

The antagonistic effect of caffeine on these receptors gives you the ‘energy boost’ your brain is craving. Yes, I used the word craving because caffeine is the most unregulated psychoactive nervous stimulant with respect to the quantities it is consumed at, in the world.

While sipping this beautiful cup of doppio, I came across this article posted in the Journal of Neuro-engineering and Rehabilitation which talks about the possibility of setting up an external interface to help a paralyzed man walk again or gain ‘motor’ control over his lower limbs.

The caffeine boost from the doppio is working and I can feel the effects of the stimulant slashing through the mid-afternoon drowsiness, but there are thousands of people for whom this communication between the central and the peripheral nervous system is broken and by extension, the nerves and the muscles. It is akin to having an engine that sends out a signal but due to a bad transmission, the wheels do not turn or the brakes do not stop.

While spinal cord injury research is ongoing in its attempt to repair a broken nerve or restore the communication, it is easier said than done, however, as my hashtag always says, #researchsaves and a majority of this blog will be devoted to talking about science and its insurmountable role in saving lives.

One interesting approach as pointed out in this paper, is to bypass the broken region in the nervous system by having a brain to computer interface that can receive the signal from the brain and then relay it to the muscle.

Now keep in mind, just because you restore the electrical circuit or connection between the brain and the muscle through this interface, the muscles still need to be conditioned to receive the electrical response and act accordingly.

Who remembers the scene from The Matrix(1999) in which Neo escapes from the matrix for the first time after spending his entire life to that point in a jelly filled cocoon?

He spent a good amount of time in a chamber getting all his muscles conditioned to respond to the neural stimulation from his brain which for the first time was actually reaching his muscles unlike the dream like stage he was in till that point.

The paper points towards promising research which one day I hope can help people who have broken spinal cords or some neural communication problem to be able to gain or regain control of their muscles.

Well, I think I need a recharge, do click on the link in the article to read the paper and feel free to share this article with the hashtag #researchsaves

Arrivederci