An Educational Blog
Synthetic Biology (synbio): _______ Scientists Elizabeth Allman and Kristin O’Brien teach a course in synthetic biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. O’Brien said that the goal of synthetic biology is not to build “better organisms” but rather to create biological machines. _______ Prologue: The advent of digital technology is considered one of the biggest revolutions of all time for how quickly and deeply it changed the world forever. Even more powerful revolution is coming, which goes under the name of synthetic biology. The potential of this discipline is very well understood in the biological scientific world. It is time I make general public aware of the impact it will have on our lives. Synthetic biology brings together a bewildering number of disciplines: biotechnology, molecular biology, systems biology, biophysics, computer engineering, genetic engineering, and more. Synthetic biology will allow scientists and engineers to create biological systems that do not occur […]
Artificial Intelligence (AI): _____ ______ Prologue: Mention Artificial Intelligence (AI) and most people are immediately transported into a distant future inspired by popular science fiction such as Terminator and HAL 9000. While these two artificial entities do not exist, the algorithms of AI have been able to address many real issues, from performing medical diagnoses to navigating difficult terrain to monitoring possible failures of spacecraft. In the early 20th century, Jean Piaget remarked, “Intelligence is what you use when you don’t know what to do, when neither innateness nor learning has prepared you for the particular situation.” A 1969 McKinsey article claimed that computers were so dumb that they were not capable of making any decisions and it was human intelligence that drives the dumb machine. Alas, this claim has become a bit of a “joke” over the years, as the modern computers are gradually replacing skilled practitioners in fields […]
Are ordinary people bad? ________ _______ Let me start by giving 3 examples from India: _ _ Example-1 On August 10, 2016 Matibool is on his way home from an overnight shift as a watchman, carrying a cellphone in his hand as seen in the figure above. It is dawn in Delhi. Suddenly, a speeding three-wheeled tempo barrels down on him from behind, knocking him into the air. The driver gets out, sees Matibool’s crumpled body and decides against even approaching him. In a matter of seconds, the driver is back in the truck, and away he goes. As Matibool lay bleeding for an hour, men and women riding in 140 cars and 82 rickshaws would avoid his dying body. So would 181 bikers and 45 pedestrians. At one point, an emergency response van used by the Delhi police drives by. A cycle rickshaw passes his body and stops a […]
HEARING AID: _______ _______ Prologue: I was working in Saudi Arabia as a doctor from 2001 to 2006. I was designated female medical specialist. All female medical patients used to come to me for treatment. I noticed that I cannot hear properly what they say. The language barrier and lack of lip reading (Muslim women wear burka covering their face) compounded hearing disability. I got myself checked and found that I was suffering from otosclerosis. I started wearing hearing aid which improved my hearing significantly. Although one should remove hearing aids while sleeping at night, I used to wear hearing aid in one ear and sleep on side with ear having hearing aid on the top to attend night calls for emergency. In 2007/2008, I got operated in both ears, and after surgery my hearing improved so much that I did not need hearing aid. Hearing is one of the […]
ZIKA: ______ _____ Prologue: On 18 April 1947, a rhesus monkey that researchers identified as 766 ran a fever of 39.7°C, about 2°C higher than normal. The monkey was part of a study hunting for yellow fever virus and was living in a cage on a platform built into the tree canopy in the 1.5-kilometer-long Zika Forest, which runs adjacent to an arm of Lake Victoria in Uganda. Three days later, the investigators took a blood sample from Rhesus 766 and injected it into the brains of Swiss albino mice. The mice “showed signs of sickness” after 10 days, and the researchers harvested their brains, from which they isolated a “new filterable transmissible agent.” Come January of the following year, the same researchers trapped mosquitoes from these canopy platforms and took them to the lab, hoping to isolate yellow fever virus. Others had shown that one of these species they […]
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