Thursday, 27 October 2011

Embryology- A Quranic Basis

The miraculous inception of life is well documented within the literature. Embryological texts presenting the cellular, chemical and biological basis for ovulation, fertilisation and creation. It was however, a text represents not the likes of science, history, not a sermon nor an academic work; rather itself, the Holy Quran. The Quran remains the central text to Islam, its believed revelation 1400 years ago to an illiterate Meccan, Muhammad (pbuh) is an astonishing factor when dissecting the very basis it forms for one of the more recently founded fields. The study of embryology deals with the developing human in its mothers womb, furthermore, it is intriguing note that remaining a field originating in the modern west, its central tenets were unveiled along the treacherous deserts of Arabia. The Quran itself comprises of approximately 3500 verses segmented across some 114 chapters known as 'Surahs' in the Arabic linguistics. Several Surahs and their verses describe in the deepest of detail the most prominent of stages of human development. In Surah 'Al Muminoon' (Chapter 23) verses 12-14, Allah states, "And certainly did we create man from an extract of clay, then we placed him as sperm drop in a safe lodging, then we turned that sperm drop into a clinging clot and made the clot into a lump of flesh, then fashioned it into bones, then we covered those bones with flesh and created another creation". It is this analytical series of verses that cover the inception of the developing human in conjunction with Surat ' Al Alaq' verses 1 to 2, "Recite in the name of your lord who created , created man from a clinging substance". Dr Keith Moore, on of the most eminent authorities in modern science commended the Quran and its scientific proofs, claiming that such a revelation 'must have come from God to Muhammad. The third edition of his publication, 'The Developing Human', was inspired by much of the embryological proofs proclaimed in the Holy Quran. In addition, this places the Quran and the Islamic faith as an interconnected series of concepts. A scientific basis for a Holy text is nothing short of profound, more specifically the detailed outlook of the development  of the species for which practices its teaching and commandments. Moreover, it paves a steadfast in the belief and faith in a deity that is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent. Embryology's humble origins can be seen evidently and manifestly through the not the theoretical throught of the Greeks nor the anatomical images sketched by Da Vinci himself, rather in a text that incorporates perfect linguistics with both form and function.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Partners of the Heart- Dr Vivien Thomas

Medicine. A specialty of prestige often viewed as the pinnacle of human thought and wisdom on the physiological level. Often viewed as a field composed of individuals with rigor, vigorous learning and abstract thinking skills. But during the great depression of the 30s, an African American carpenter set to rewrite both the rules and the literature as his live affair with surgical precision and the heart set a revolutionary feat in modern medicine. Backed by Dr Alfred Blalock, he was delegated a laboratory position at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University hospital. His meticulous effort in the lab, helped solve and age old conundrum, Blue Baby Syndrome, a condition arising from the instance of cyanotic heart lesions that inevitably resulted in death. It is crucial to credit the fact that overnight studies of cardiovascular anatomy and physiology forged his passion for the heart. His name was Vivian Thomas. Driven by the urge to attend college and earn a degree and break the racial attitudes of the day. However, his recognition was cut short , instead of his revolutionary stances being credited in the vaults of history he remained in the background as his unworthy colleagues tasted the fruits of fame. Nearly 30 years after his death, he was portrayed by Mos Def, in the 2004 film, 'Something the Lord Made'.  Thomas went on to earning an honorary doctorate at Johns Hopkins. Dr Thomas  set a new standard, a new benchmark and in turn is the undisputed founder of modern Cardiac-Surgery . A living, breathing representation of African American heritage and medical excellence at its best.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Alzheimer's- The Dementia Realm

The erosion of thought and its processes. In short, that is what the most common form of Dementia is. Alzheimer's disease stems from the extensive research executed by german psychiatrist Alios Alzheimer and the observations made regarding it anatomy and physiology. The degradation of memory, logic, reasoning and some of the most fundamental tenets of human intellect sees the onset of Alzheimer's, a lingering, malicious disease targeting none other than our esteemed seniors. Statistics explicitly indicate both an exponential increase in the incidence of Alzheimer's and an increase in the chance of its diagnosis every five years once an individual has reached their late sixties. Inevitably leading to death, those confined with Alzheimer's become mere 'living corpuses', having no intellectual basis for their observations and and having a severe encounter with Amnesia and other related memory disfunction.
So what can be derived? Alzheimer's is indicative that the brain is susceptible to disease, disorder and disfunction that morph into the degeneration of consciousness and ones ability to manipulate thought and recall some of the most memorable of memories. Alzheimer's is merely another front that physicians and neuropathologists alike have to conquer, in conjunction with a long line of disorders that have been evident since the existence of life. Alzheimer's disease is analogous to that of Cancer; a highly malignant impairment in which we are no closer to finding a cure than our attempt to irradiate the common cold.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Howard Hughes- Bizarre Billionaire

The story of one of the most prolific industrialists in the history of the United States is nothing short of bizarre. A concoction of endless years of drug-abuse, compulsive disorder and traumatic brain injury led to his downfall, literrally. Howard Hughes remained in the american public spotlight as a charismatic billionaire filmmaker and aviator, who later converged onto another psyche, a reclusive hermit. His tale of fame and fortune was stained with accounts of disordered behaviour and an unhealthy desire to fly. His death in 1976, revealed much finer details. Broken Needles, Bones and a poor standard of personal hygiene painted the picture of a individual, the product of neglect and abuse. My account of Hughes' life sparked numerous questions regarding both the onset and cause of such compulsive behaviour. Ironically, a series of isolated incidents throughout his life revealed evidence for Traumatic Brain Injury otherwise referred to as 'TBI', in which the  brain is exposed to brute force as a result of impact on a fixed object. Dissecting more intimately, numerous psychologists of various educational orientations have published their finds as to the root cause of obsessive compulsive disorder. TBI seems the ideal basis. Impact on regions of the human brain such as the pre-frontal cortex has the potential to profoundly change one's personality and mentality. Hughes, being a frequent aviator, experienced consistant encounters with TBI across accidents spanning years in frequency. It is however critical to add Hughes' repeated abuse of drugs such as tranquillisers with may have consolidated the effects of TBI. Surprisingly, their is always an anatomical and physiological basis for behaviour. Howard Hughes still remains etched in the vaults of history as a charismatic public figure but medically he remains a mere study for millions of medical students world wide.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Steve Jobs- Visionary, Pioneer, Revolutionary

"I skate to the puck where it's going to be, not where it's been". A deeply favoured quote by Apple's co-founder Steve jobs lies deeply encapsulated within his legacy. An eight year struggle with a malignant, lingering disease ended with the prospect of death, Jobs has finally realised the very fragility of life. It was his everlasting flair and technological enthusiasm that brought the magic of the Macintosh, the iPod and the iPhone. A visionary who refused to accept the notion that the sky was the limit, he intended to make a dent in the universe and what a miraculous feat he achieved. The foundation of one of the most favoured and respected tech industries from a rundown California garage to the formulation of a culture, that fostered love for art, creativity and open-mindedness. A competitor of proportions never witnessed before, destined to eliminate the monopolisation of the Windows operating environment.
Jobs seemed never short of limitations as his ideas evolved to compose and deploy a more user-friendly experience. His legacy seems analogous, a memorandum  of timeless innovation inspired by a passion for success and the love of life.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

John Searle and the Chinese Room Conundrum

Computers. That everlasting realm of ones and zeroes encapsulated within the magic of hardware and software. Seems the specifications of Intelligence, Consciousness, logic and understanding? A prominent concept within modern neurophilosopy suggests that computers and their silicon counterparts possess the ability to reason and understand spoken and written language, a critical function of the human mind. This came to be known as the 'Chinese Room Test', first conceived by John Searle suggests that when an individual carries out a conversation with computer in Mandarin, the computer, programmed so perfectly to reply to all statements given. The damning factor is the prospect that the individual and the computer are separated by a door and the individual believed he is speaking to a fluent Chinamen due to the perfect replies given in chinese. but does this suggest any room for artificial intelligence at such s profound level?

If one were to critically analyse the logic displayed in the conjecture we can reach certain conclusions to refute Searle's claims. Firstly, the computer being programmed perfectly to speak chinese is encoded with an infinite series of chinese language conventions and more critically, the letters. In effect, all the computer is doing is matching letters and symbols to produce the perfect response and shares no consciousness regarding the meaning or nature of the questions and statements. Thus, the potential for artificial intelligence seems far-fetched for even a Quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) transistors are outweighed by the the pride of the nervous system, the Neuron. Secondly, the individual who shares no fluency in the language of Chinese, replies using the same rules exhibited by the computer program.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Consciousness- The Sixth Sense

Conventionally, we are taught at infancy the five faculties of sensation. Whether it be sight, smell, taste, hearing or touch. But one critical tenet of human intelligence has been overlooked, to the extent that children have no understanding of the mechanisms behind the perception of the world around them. It becomes critical to acknowledge the sixth sense as consciousness; such a concept has been paramount to the tenets of western and eastern philosophy and pondered analytically by some of the most prominent figures of thought.  Da Vinci himself regarded the fluid filled ventricular system of the brain as the source of consciousness whereas; Greek philosopher Aristotle visioned the centre of sensation as the heart. To this day, the advent of the digital revolution little is known regarding the anatomy and physiology of consciousness. Neuroscientists are aware of the hippocampus and its intervention in the consolidation of memory from a short to a long term state, the Limbic system and its role in the relaying of behaviour and emotion, but what is the Anatomical Basis for Consciousness?
Consciousness is intangible, it cannot be seen, touched, sensed or smelt, and it is an almost inconceivable fundamental of intelligence. And mark my words, consciousness and its mechanisms will never be understood for regardless of our technological innovation, limitations are inevitable