Of scientific research and other titbits

All over the world scientific research is being carried out to understand man’s relationship with his environment and to unravel his own mystery in the cosmos. As such, many ideas, supported by research, are being put afloat. However, one cannot always vouch for the veracity of the final results, because the research tools used may be inadequate as to the standard of the methods and analysis applied to reach such results. Yet, it would be interesting to have a glance at all these ideas in the pipeline and even to query explanations given to some theories.

For example, when an old patient has unremitting fever, the current best treatment proposed is to inject his children’s faeces into the alimentary tract of that patient. This treatment is becoming a fad with some treating medical personnel. In the UK there is even an abuse of it for treating diseases like obesity, Parkinsonism and even autism, though this has not yet been approved by mainstream medical experts. As Canadians and Americans are not so lucky in their countries, they can still fly to the Bermudas where one British clinic has set up shop to promote ‘faecal’ tourism – for their transatlantic cousins!

In Europe there are 150 million people suffering from some form of allergy! From the late 1980s, researchers have noticed that very clean people are at a disadvantage compared to less hygienic people – their immune system is less than efficient. Nowadays it is being recommended that children under 3 years should be exposed to as much as possible to open air life, more so if they can spend that time in farms, playing with mud. This would ensure a lifelong solid immune system.

Some studies have shown that women who harbour round worms in their alimentary tract have been found to be more fertile than those who have none!

What to say of these two batches of mice? One had its intestinal microbes modified in its food, while the other was fed normally. Gradually the former one became fatter, and the latter remained thin. Are we humans also dependent on our intestinal microbes to account for our excess adipose tissues?

It has been found that when the sun, earth and moon are aligned, then any earthquake occurring will most probably register more than 8.2 on the Richter scale; however only a dozen cases have been investigated so far in this study.

If you want to add a few centimeters to your height, then book a trip into space for some time: when you return to terra firma you would be taller.

Now it is being realized that we are landing into a ‘post genome blues’ and a ‘post AI winter’ ; the enthusiasm that had caught most of us after the human genome was decoded, with the hope of achieving numerous medical breakthroughs, is being shattered. So also artificial intelligence, the nomenclature of which is itself a misnomer, is not holding its promise – because human intelligence is far more complex than realized, and replicating it is proving a hard nut to crack.

Gravity slows down the clock, as Einstein predicted. The earth’s iron core is younger than its crust, because gravity is strongest at the centre. As a result, after some 5 billion years, it has been calculated that that earth’s core is some 2. 5 years younger than the outer crust. Hence our feet, being nearer to the core, must be younger than our head!

When the price of petroleum falls, OPEC countries restrict their production to stabilize it. But in Germany, where renewable energy production is far developed and there is a surplus of electricity, consumers are being paid to use more electricity with a view to making its production cost effective! To think that in some poor countries people are being paid to use toilets or latrines, instead of doing it in the open – and they are resisting that arrangement!

Patients in modern ICUs are connected to many medical monitors. Since electrical wiring tends to be messy to the surrounding, a new apparatus has been invented to do it wirelessly. Soon we’ll be monitoring our patients from afar; scanning their skin, colour and pulsation will tell us a lot and should prove to be quite an advantage. Pilot studies are already on in some British hospitals.

Do animals dream? Researchers have fixed electrodes to the brain of mice and allowed them to go about in a maze. As they negotiate the labyrinth, the scientists could follow their itinerary on a monitor. At some point even when the mice are asleep or immobile, the monitor would come alive with the previous itinerary tracing showing up on the screen. Are these mice dreaming about that old trip?

Why do mothers nurse their babies on the left side? It has been suggested that when in utero, the foetus got used to the maternal heart beats on the left, and after birth the tot would be more pacified by the mother’s heart sounds. The latest is that the mother’s left eye, controlled by the right side of the brain which processes social cues and reinforces relationships, likes to see the youngster on her left. Even among animals, it has been found that in case of danger from predators the young ones move to the left side of the mother for comfort. Or it may simply be that, in humans, the mother being right-handed would like to be always free to use that right upper limb for other work… and defense.

Why did some of our ancestors around the world start painting the walls of their caves some 20-30,000 years ago? Why did they indulge in animal paintings? Why not trees, waterfalls, forest fires or volcanoes? What was so special about those beasts? Did they paint for the fun of it, or is it possible that our poor ancestors, sitting in those cold caves in winter, were dreaming of venison and food for survival or worshiping and praying for better plentiful days? Did this stimulate their artistic talent?

Later those ancestors started burying their dead. Why did they suddenly become more concerned for the deceased? They had been witnessing other vultures gorging on other dead animals, and gradually they evolved finer feelings for close relatives – and their sense of disgust at the appetite of those vultures. May be they went still further in their thinking and started asking what would happen to themselves when they die: would the vultures also come for them? Could they prevent that fate? Possibly they covered their dead under stones, and later still dug holes to place the dead therein, as they developed tools.

And who and when did those ancestors start to have vivid dreams for the first time? How did this affect their behaviour? Did they believe that they had another, separate being inside them? Could this have been the origin of the concept of a spirit? And a super being, connecting all living entities together? Could dreams have been at the origin of such an abstract belief?

As marijuana becomes legalized in some countries, business people are already including its active, oral ingredient in chocolate! And if someone eats more than 10 milligrams of TH Cannabinol in his chocolate, within 2 hours he could land up at the hospital because of severe temporary psychosis!

We have heard of assisted suicide (euthanasia) for terminally ill patients who go through a lot of pain. Some advanced countries are applying it also to very severe psychiatric patients with unremitting depression! But some experts are not convinced of this cavalier treatment.

If we cross our legs and someone should tickle our left sole, we would find it difficult to say for certain that it is the left one that is being stimulated. Blind people are more precise in their assessment – just like 4-month old babies are; but by 6 months they lose that capacity and start behaving like normal grown-ups. It is as if those 4-month old “have not yet learned to relate their tactile appreciation to the physical space their body occupies”. Their visual, tactile and auditory worlds are still separated and not yet combined as in adults. In maturing adults get their senses haywired – and become confused!

And finally, if we discover an unknown ancient script, how to determine whether the old generation of people wrote it from right to left, or vice versa? Look at the last line of the text; if it starts at the complete right and ends in about the middle of the line, then we would know that the writer wrote from right to left. And vice versa.

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