Saturday, January 29, 2011


I was tweeting on when the thought came to me – what if there was twitter when I was preparing for JAMB, would I not have scored above 300 and been admitted to read Medicine and Surgery at the University of Nigeria?

Well, there was no twitter then and I did not read Medicine.

I do not recommend that you cheat in your JAMB exams. Although I know that cheating goes on at the examination halls , but unfortunately, can help you cheat if you are only a little tech savvy.




36AAEBB 41CCBCC 46ADECB. Sucess.  

The blue text above is the first tweet my collaborator outside the hall would have sent me. The complete answer to the fifty (50) questions and with no sweat. No running up and down thinking about the invigilators, no wondering if the JAMBITO by your left will give you the answer to question number fifteen (15).

How to achieve it? Simply have an account on Tell whoever is going to be your collaborator to also have an account. Set your account to follow the tweets of your collaborator; for the period of the exams if you wish. Then set up mobile notifications on your twitter account for the tweets of your collaborator such that each time he tweets the answers, the tweets are delivered straight to your handset.

It’s really easy and simple in today’s world of technology and computers to cheat seamlessly in JAMB; it also takes a little smartness and ingenuity.

I discovered that one of the don’ts is that: 1. Don’t turn on sound for your SMS notifications. It would call the invigilator’s attention to your desk. And you might be discovered. 2. Don't allow sounds for incoming calls during the exams. 3. Don't spend so much time in copying. Better use a handset with text reader software and earplug.

You’re smarter than I am. Discover other ways you can make sure you succeed.

My parents were disappointed that I did not read Medicine and Surgery. They sent me to one of the best schools in Lagos, Alakoto High School and expected the best of and from me. Although they are deeply religious people, the urge to please them and the urge to pass in JAMB were two conflicting desires I could not satisfy at the same time. Fortunately, I refused to  cheat during my exams, for reasons of conscience, but in today’s Nigeria, it seems everyone has given their approval and go-ahead to the game.

It is appalling how much students spend to pay collaborators to do the Mathematics, English, Chemistry etcetera for them; run around to know the invigilators, bribe them with huge tips to allow the cheating answers enter the hall and every sort of gimmick.

It is laughable, but that is the reality of today’s Nigeria.

With, though, as long as the exam is on multiple-choice, a little tweet can solve so much problems. The only problem your collaborator would have is laying their hands on the question papers in good time so they can solve them and tweet the answers to you before the end of the exam.
But if you get caught, maybe in the exam hall , or because JAMB went to and asked for all tweets sent during the exams, then you are on your own. Think about it – if you start cheating at JAMB and WAEC, when will you stop?


follow me on twitter, @emeka_david

Monday, January 10, 2011


Have you found yourself doing maths while walking on the road? Sometimes I do, especially when I am looking for some distraction.

These are some of the facts I discovered on the road: that the sum of the numbers on most plate numbers fall between the numbers fifteen (15) and nineteen (19). Some eccentricity, right? I also found that it takes me thirty-eight minutes to walk from home to the market where I trade, on a very good day and when I want to walk fast, and fifty minutes on a bad day when I am just slouching it.

What about you? Maths does not need to be boring if you find creative ways of playing with numbers and keeping yourself busy.

Unfortunately, I have found out that people think it is boring because of its reliance on tradition. Tradition, as well all know, are stamped on time and do not easily change. That is the way with maths and mathematical equations. Not only the equations, the way maths is done itself.

Sometimes, you also find that the subject seems closed to outside influence or
changes. Maths deals with numbers and numbers only. Although so many disciplines play with maths, maths plays only with numbers and manipulation of numbers. It’s so unlike psychology, or linguistics, where you deal with laws that can be borrowed from even mathematics, physics, biology etc. Maths is like a foundation to every other field and how often do you want to change your foundations? Hardly.
Also, many persons rarely use maths after the high school, and if they do use it often in business, it is confined to the knowledge from high school and a little from college. So because at this stage of their life many young persons are inexperienced and are more taken to elegant, fashionable, or chic subjects, they throw maths to the background and stamp it the label, BORING. The teachers are also not helping matters. I think this will be the subject of another blog. I do not have to recall how many times I had a teacher at the class during my high school days? Not more than a month in a semester. Well, this will be the subject of another blog.

we could go on and on about why the uptake of maths is so deficient that one wonders whether Nigerians are interested in science and technology?

One of the ways I have found one can play with maths and remove the boredom is playing the game of Sudoku. You can find it daily on the back pages of punch newspapers. It’s really an entertaining game. During my teaching days, I try to de-emphasize the maths and emphasis the foundation character of mathematics. Rather than teach a boring lecture of longitudes and latitudes, I want to color every section and most examples with how applicable this subject was to Ferdinard Magellan, how google maps would not be possible without it, neither would the modern gps systems you can find even on your mobile devices. How many students know that the popular Photoshop graphics drawing program relies on matrices? Do you know that most banks do not like paying interest in savings accounts, which is against the law, but with a little knowledge of simple interests and compound interests you’d be in a position to question this lawlessness, if and when it applies to you?
What is your take on this subject? Does anyone have creative ways of playing with maths? How beautiful if we can share it.

follow me on twitter, @emeka_david

Friday, January 7, 2011


Henricia spp.; marine scavenger

Imagine, our soldiers are at the battlefield and suddenly they realize a nerve agent is being used by the enemy, or a farmer goes to the hospital to complain of muscular pains and the doctor tells him he is suffering from organophosphate poisoning from the pesticides he is using. These two scenarios have become everyday that the effective protection and treatment for organophosphate poisoning is a vital concern for public health.

How do organophosphates poison the body? At the cholinergic receptors of the brain or the synaptic clefts of neuromuscular junctions, acetylcholine, a chemical released to transmit messages between neurons or cause the muscles to contract, binds to a receptor molecule and causes action potential to be transported that causes contraction. When the task of acetylcholine is complete, it has to be degraded quickly otherwise, after the first contraction, flooding of acetylcholine would lead to repeated contractions at the postsynaptic membranes, neuromuscular paralysis and death might eventually be the result due to respiratory and cardiac paralysis.

The body responds to these need to degrade acetylcholine using bioscavengers. These scavengers seek out unwanted molecules in the body and either neutralize them or destroy them. Two bioscavengers that are of interest in organophosphate poisoning are acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE).
Acetylcholinesterase is produced at the nervous system. It degrades acetylcholine to acetic acid and choline, therefore preventing an acetylcholine flood at choline receptors at the brain or synaptic clefts at neuromuscular junctions, while Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) is produced at the liver and circulates in the blood of mammals and birds; its job is to search for molecules that desire to hinder or block the function of acetylcholinesterase (AChE). Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) destroys agents that act as an anti-cholinesterase or blocks the activity of cholinesterase by scavenging the agent. BChE is more of medical importance than AChE because it can easily be extracted from the blood supply and stockpiled.

Organophosphate poisoning has become a threat of visible importance in today’s world. Pesticides are used regularly in farming in Africa and they cannot do without them. The allure of using a nerve agent is very high, especially for rogue or terrorist organizations, as these lethal nerve toxins are relatively easy and inexpensive to manufacture and store.

That is why a research led by Tsafrir Mor, a biochemist in the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, is very important. He and his team have shown that BChE can be synthesized from plants and is effective against both pesticide and nerve agent organophosphate poisoning.
Currently, treatment for organophosphate poisoning is atropine. It is a chemical that saves lives and can alleviate acute symptoms of the poison but it cannot meet to the challenge of curtailing the long-term neurological effect of such poisoning which may include muscle weakness, seizures and convulsions, permanent brain defects and social or behavioral symptoms.

On the other hand, although BChE if sufficiently high in the blood can work better than atropine, this is not always the case. The need to extract BChE and stockpile it in preparation for a warfare involving toxic nerve agents is therefore important but deficient. If BChE can be synthesized at the lab, then doctors can administer them to patients when needed and then save lives. Tsafrir Mor has successfully synthesized BChE using transgenic tobacco leaves. This means that he incorporated the genetic code for BChE from mammals into tobacco leaves which successfully produced the enzyme and then extracted the enzyme from the leaves.

According to Mor, BChE synthesis is a breakthrough research because to extract these enzyme naturally, a few thousand troops would involve the entire blood supply of a country like the United States of America. Furthermore, in addition to its possible treatment for cholinergic ailments resulting from organophosphate poisoning, BChE could be used post-surgery for patients who naturally lack the enzyme and have difficulty recovering from the effects of anesthesia. Also, there is high evidence which suggests that BChE could be useful for treatment of patients suffering from drug overuse and addiction, especially cocaine and most possibly, as a prophylactic or preventive measure, which would save so many lives lost to that habit, drug addiction.

The research was successful. Mor’s group could demonstrate successful protection from pesticide and organophosphate poisoning in two animal models. In addition, the synthesized enzyme, when coated with Polyethylene glycol (PEG) had an extended half-life which more closely replicated the persistence of naturally-derived BChE in the bloodstream, as a proof of the effectiveness of the synthesized BChE.

On the other hand, more work still have to be done. According to Mor, the synthesized BChE acts stoichiometrically, that is, every molecule of an anti-cholinesterase needs a molecule of the synthetic BChE. He aims to make the molecule work catalytically such that a little quantity of BChE is enough to destroy or scavenge enormous quantities of an anti-cholinesterase at and as needed, permitting for a low effective dose of the enzyme.
The scare of an attack the like of the sarin attack in the Tokyo subway system in 1995, perpetrated by the religiously-motivated group, Aum Shinrikyo, is a possibility that can not be ignored. If the world can gain more insight into understanding acetylcholine-linked diseases like Alzheimer’s Dementia, as well as be able to solve the drug problem that has become global, in addition to making biological warfare less threatening, then it would become a safer world, where science and technology should not be seen as a threat but as allies to human efforts to solve his medical and social problems.
Inspiration for this article: Plant-derived scavengers prowl the body for nerve toxins