Tuesday, March 31, 2015

[cartoon] Procrastination: putting off tasks until deadline has passed!

Procrastination, to put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness. Some people allow panic, complicated tasks, fear and nervousness to get over them, and delay doing that important job. Procrastination is not a problem when it happens once, but it becomes so when you repeat it again and again that it becomes a habit. As the cartoon below shows.

Created on Bitstrip.com. See the full image.

This is the time to take control of your life. Step back and ask yourself: "Am I allowing situation and complications to get over me?" "Do I put off doing important things and rush over them just seconds to the deadline?" Many people have lost opportunities of making a significant progress in life because of the weakness of procrastination.

If you see yourself under the spell of procrastination, try to imagine yourself under the spell of taking action, of approval by others who trust in you and are inspired by you. Which image do you desire?

Comments in the comment box below, please!

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Apple Logo memory test even UCLA undergraduates failed.

Credit: Flickr.com

Can you draw the Apple logo? When some UCLA undergraduates were asked to test their memory of the ubiquitous Apple Logo, they failed the memory test. I want you to pass. Take the test.

Hold your breath! Now Click to enter!

If you cannot draw the logo, take a look at it on that mac!

Friday, March 27, 2015

When genetic diversity and diseases like Ebola are at stake, the success of the fittest has to be clarified.

“There is nothing as sweet as success” might be a trite statement but the realization that success will always thrive when disaster strikes is not stale. Archaeology, linguistics, psychology and now genetics attest to it. Successful people have a greater chance of giving birth to children, of getting married and on average, of surviving disease outbreaks like Ebola.

When diseases like Ebola strikes, success will always thrive.
Credit: DFID on flickr.
A recent research conducted globally on genetic diversity during a period where genetic diversity was declining globally found that those who were wealthy and successful had a better chance of having their genes inherited than those who were not. The consequence of this is related to chances of surviving against diseases and inheritance of genetic traits.

In another related archaeological study it was found that men who were wealthy, measured by the tools recognized with the rich at that period, the Neolithic, or stone age, had access to better land than those buried without tools. Class existed in the stone age!

These two studies conducted at about the same period, the stone age, are not treatises on materialism. They emphasize what is known by man for ages: the successful will always dine with Kings.

But the question those researches did not breach is: what is the definition of success? I really wanted to read the article, the first that related wealth and success to genetic diversity, because it made a relation to “survival of the fittest.”

Fittest is a quarrelsome word in biology. Take a Bill Gates. Is he the fittest on earth? Yes, if you were living in a democratic country where the rule of law is adhered to, but no if you were living in a country ravaged by years of warfare like Afghanistan or Iraq. Well defined property rights do not exist in such countries!

During the Neolithic the main occupation was sedentary farming. Farming requires physical prowess and knowledge of the supernatural forces that controlled agriculture. That was sufficient to be successful. Success does not always translate to material wealth, but success is enough for genetic advantage. Success in the information age is related with the ability to code, to use multiple intelligences, to understand data and how data relates to the world around us and to make money, physical cash.

The two researches above are not treatises on materialism but an exhortation to be successful. Success is what nature wants. Success is what everyone smiles upon. Excellence is a good that must be pursued by the modern man.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What creative lessons can we learn from wound healing cells?

Geese migrating in V formation.
Credit:Karthijaygee on Wordpress
It is not a new phenomenon in nature: creatures migrate in a patterned leader-follower fashion. For example, geese fly in a V formation with the leader ahead of them. When tired, the lead goose drops back and hands over leadership to another goose. Researchers working in the field of bioengineering have discovered that cells migrating to the site of a wound exhibit this same pattern.

A delicate biomechanical and biochemical interaction is at play during the cell migration of wound healing cells. At the site of a wound the cells sense that the force between cells, what holds them together, is missing and a protein called DII4 is released. This protein then transmits a signal that activates the migration of wound healing cells to that site. During the migration, the cells are divided into two groups: leader and follower cell groups. The leader cells are distinguished by the possession of a token. That token is a protein called mRNA or messenger RNA which is used for sending biochemical signals to follower cells during migration. Eventually, when the cells arrive at the wound site, the wound healing process is begun.

Astonishingly, just as for migrating geese, it was found that if a leader cell gets missing, in a randomly chosen process, another leader cell is chosen from the ranks of follower cells.

This discovery has much application in medicine.

  • In tissue and organ transplants.

  • Bio-engineers can speed up the process of tissue and organ transplants in humans if they can successfully coordinate this process of wound healing.

  • In tissue regeneration.

  • Since wound healing is similar to tissue regeneration, understanding and controlling this process could help in regeneration and elongation of life.

  • Treatment of diabetes.

  • A non-healing diabetic wound which is the number one cause of lower limb amputations in the United States could be cured when this process is under medical control.

  • In cancer treatment.

  • Cancer cells that invade healthy tissue could be prevented from succeeding when this cell migration activity is coordinated and regulated.

This discovery can open doors to innovations in medicine and engineering.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

[[Cartoon]] Why do men and women cheat?

Why do men and women cheat? That is one of the oldest questions humanity has asked. I asked it when I was in my late teens. The answers I receive are numerous.

Cheating presupposes a relationship. Cheating supposes that someone has gone outside the agreement of that relationship. It could be a marital, financial or emotional relationship.

The picture below illustrates one.

Most of the times, we think emotional and marital relationship when we associate the word cheating in our minds. Lack of reciprocal sex, lack of love, lack of trust and willpower to be faithful are some of the reasons given for cheating.

Greed is one of the principal reasons why people cheat in financial relationships.

Could we add more? Please do. I’ll be privileged to have your comments

Monday, March 23, 2015

Love thy enemy at your peril!

Probably helped by Toxoplasma gondii.
Credit: The New York Times (NYT)
The predator-prey rivalry between the cat and rat is famous. It inspired a popular cartoon series, Tom and Jerry Show. One parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, can bring about changes in the rat so that it forgets its natural fear and apprehension for the cat. The parasite makes the rat to love its enemy, the cat.

The preferred site of the Toxoplasma gondii parasite is the brain. When it eventually gets there and encounters the lymphocytes, cells that protect the body, it retreats and encysts itself. The parasite sleeps when encysted, awaiting when the host’s immunity is compromised.

The same story for the rat can be told for man. Yet, the behavioral changes the parasite causes in the rat have not been demonstrated with certainty for humans.

When the cyst persists until favorable conditions, it attacks the nervous system, causing behavioral changes. The rat takes to liking the odor of the cat. Eventually, it gets attracted to the cat and does not take it as an enemy. The rat becomes easy prey and is then eaten.

Having the rat eaten is advantageous to the parasite because the cat’s intestine is where it undergoes sexual reproduction. Therefore, finding a cat host is more important than living inside a rat.

What about humans? Research has discovered that humans can have behavioral changes based on gender when infected with Toxoplasma gondii. Males have been found to be introverted, suspicious and rebellious while women could exhibit extroverted, trusting and obedient behavior. Pregnant women infected with the parasite could have a miscarriage or birth defect.

Lifecylcle of Toxoplasma gondii.
Credit: ScienceNews.org
As you can see from the picture above, the life cycle of the parasite involves these three hosts. Humans are not prey for the cat, but they can make themselves susceptible to parasitic invasion through unhygienic practices – not washing hands carefully after handling cat litter, eating unwashed vegetables and undercooked meat.

Scientists have not yet decided if the parasite changes human behavior to docile obedience in face of danger like the rat. Such a discovery could help in treatment of schizophrenia and helping persons infected with the disease when their immune system is compromised.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Breast milk can increase your income and your IQ even when you are an adult of 30.

Breastfeeding has benefits beyond childhood.
Credit:U.S Department of Agriculture on Flickr.
The benefits of breastfeeding for children health and development are not in dispute. It strengthens mother-child bonding, protects children against early childhood diseases and stimulates brain development. In a recent study, Dr. Bernardo Lessa Horta of the Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil, has established that breastfeeding has benefits beyond childhood. It can persist even to adulthood.

He found that longer duration of breastfeeding is linked with increased intelligence in adulthood, longer schooling and higher adult earnings.

This study was conducted on nearly 6000 infants born in Pelotas for 30 years, starting from 1982. In the study, he discounted for well-known facts about breastfeeding such as the linkage between duration of breastfeeding and social class and income, effect of mother’s smoke on childhood development, and the effect of parents’ education on the child. In Pelotas, every mother breastfeeds her baby irrespective of social class, income or education.

The results of the study showed that infants breastfeed for at least a year had more significant adulthood gains than infants breastfed for less than a month, and that the longer the duration of breastfeeding, the greater the gains. Such gains included a full four IQ points, 0.9 more years of schooling and a higher income, of about 341 reais per month, when they get to the age of 30.

According to Dr. Horta, the likely mechanism at work are long-chain saturated fatty acids (DHA) found in breast milk which are essential for brain development.


Friday, March 20, 2015

The evolving world of flying cars and driverless cars.

Roadable Aircraft - Jess Dixon's flying automobile, c. 1940
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Cars kill people. Cars lose you time. They cause pollution of the environment. Building roads for cars, trucks and major vehicles costs money, planning time and involves infrastructure overhaul. Cars are cheaper and getting faster, you’ll agree. But can cars fly?

Yes, cars can fly. Prototypes have been tested and they are workable. Welcome the “Flying Roadster” by AeroMobil (the video). Version 3.0, according to official sources, will be available in 2017. Jacob Hall, who covered a South By South West (SXSW) pitch by AeroMobil for the Entrepreneur.com quotes AeroMobil co-founder and CEO Juraj Vaculik as saying: "We deeply believe we need a revolution in personal transportation.”

In another related development, which is no longer news because Apple, a rival technology company has publicly made its intention of going into electric cars known, Google has announced that its driverless cars will be available to the public come 2020.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

UCL researchers discover how to create colors through silicon skin with a greater amount of flexibility.

Imagine cars that change colors on-demand, or bridges and buildings whose colors reflect the amount of strain or stress applied to them. We would all benefit from such innovation.

Last week, March 12, researchers at the University of California, (UCL), Berkeley, announced the creation of a thin semiconductor film of silicon, 120 nanometers thick, that when flexed or bent can reflect colors on a wide variety of the light spectrum; a color-changing sensor film.

Attempts at creating a color changing sensor is not new. Last year, in a research funded by the National Science Foundation, (NSF), researchers at the same University, but the Riverside campus, created a nanosphere-laced polymer that changes color under stress using gold nanoparticles. What differentiates the silicon film from other sensors is that the range of reflected light is much flexible and the material used was much more permeable to bending or flexing.

The colors of a butterfly excites the emotions.
Credit: Stux on Pixabay.
The idea behind the invention came from nowhere but nature. They conceived the idea of imitating butterflies and beetles who create iridescent displays of colors.

According to one of the researchers, "the next step is to make this larger-scale and there are facilities already that could do so," said Chang-Hasnain. "At that point, we hope to be able to find applications in entertainment, security, and monitoring."

Cars of tomorrow might respond like a chameleon to its environment, or change to colors reflecting the amount of pressure applied to the body, or in relation to the amount of stress or strain undergone during its lifetime. The possibilities are enormous.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

[picture link] Osama's Bin Laden's Pakistani Hideaway - an ordinary everyday suburban house!

You will not believe it. The house of the world’s number one terrorist, before his death, looks like an everyday house you can find on the streets of Lagos.

It’s not his house actually; just a hideaway in Pakistan.

This series of 21 pictures on Time.com shows a man running away from the world, lost to worldly splendor but surrounded by death, destruction and disaster. A man who had seen his dying days and that of the terror organization he helped to create.

The room has an ordinary bed, common wardrobes and looks like an everyday suburban house.

One would have hoped his hideout was somewhat luxurious; with the wealthy and powerful of Pakistan. Wishful thinking!

Osama Bin Laden's Paskistan Hideaway.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

[Cartoon]: Between the devil and the blue sea?

What would you do, if like Sam below, you were asked to choose between one of the two options offered?

Choices are a basic fact of life. Some choices can be a turning point in our lives while some are inconsequential and will only satisfy some ego.

Whatever choice you are making, now and in the future, judge the merits of the possible outcomes of that choice before taking the leap.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Nigerians are not that barbaric!

Take a look at the picture below. This is a horrible sight. The deed is a barbaric act. The victim concerned has accepted her fate; look at how calm and composed she appears! Justice will never come to her aid. The mob has decided on her. The mob is justice.

This is barbaric, oh Nigerians!
Credit: Onlinenigeria.com
That is the face of Nigerian law. The rule of law has vanished. It exists only for the well-to-do. As a Nigerian, who reads the daily news, I understood that the people, our people, are scarred beyond repair, both mentally, physically and emotionally. The stories of crimes that go perpetrated without the criminals getting punished, rather the criminals become victors, is aplenty. The quest for riches and money is beyond imagination.

These and many more reasons have made people to resort to taking laws into their hands.

The rule of law can go to hell, a typical Nigerian on the street will tell you. If you cross check his stories, he’ll turn out speaking the truth.

Does it mean our society should endure mob injustices like this?

No matter the crime she must have committed, as a human, she deserves to be taken to the authorities; handed over to the police. The law should be a constraint upon human behavior and not something to be shunned because the poor and the weak are not protected since they do not have the money to fund a case.

In Nigeria, let respect for human rights be a platform we should be standing on.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

The müller cells also play a role in our making sense of color and light

Do you have cataract? It is a disease of old age. Most times, cataract affects an individual due to exposure to radiation, chemicals and other environmental factors that reduce the ability of the eyes to function properly. Cataract, as a disease, is due to the lens that captures light in the eyes becoming opaque, thereby preventing light from passing through to the photoreceptor cells at the retina.

I wrote an article this week on the dress that caused a sensation on social media circles because of the difficulty it imposes on a viewer as to light perception. Persons who suffer visual problems like cataract do not enjoy and revel in the sensation of light and color as others. French impressionist, Claude Monet, is in that class. Her visual problems made her paintings imprecise and muted in colors. If you suffer from visual problems, you have to cope with inefficient light reception.

Is it white and gold, or blue and black?
Credit: User swiked on www.tumblr.com
Apart from the cones and the rods in the retina which distinguishes daylight from night vision, there is another group of cells in front of the retina which work towards our enjoying color.

Those cells are called Müller cells or müller glia. These cells function as light and color filters. Their position in front of the retina makes sure that the light getting to the rods and cones are already sorted, filtered and organized. Clever, not so?

Müller cells, according to Dr Erez Ribak from Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, are at just the “the right height, and their light-bearing trunks are just the right width, to filter the wavelengths correctly”.

So, as you look at the dress again, and if you wonder why so many persons disagree on what color they perceive, you could place the müller cells as one of the candidates at the heart of their visual problems, if not a disease like cataract.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Soon, an end to gang wars with guns and rifles; here comes the fiber optics laser.

In the nineteenth century, there were many prodigious inventors. One of them believed in inventing weapons of warfare and wanted them for pacifist uses. He was Alfred Nobel (21 October 1833 – 10 December 1896), nicknamed “the merchant of death” in an obituary published in error. I wonder if he would turn in his grave if he were to witness the power packed in directed-energy weapons, or weapons of warfare that use light and electromagnetic radiation to produce their powerful devastating impact. Some call them laser weapons.

It is no longer news that laser weapons are now commonplace in military research. What makes news is when they are made deadlier, more portable, more efficient and more affordable.

Introducing ATHENA (Advanced Test High Energy Asset), a directed energy prototype, developed by Lockheed Martin; a 30 kilowatt single-mode fiber weapon system. From a distance of a mile (1.6km) it reduced the engine of a car to flames.

Imagine the power packed behind the ATHENA fiber optic laser system!
Photo credit: www.ibtimes.com
A mile is just a distance for the prototype. ATHENA can go farther and its uses can go furthest, even beyond the military.

The potentialities for such portable weapons is beyond the imagination. Sci-fi and Dr. Who will be shows of the past. Welcome to the real world. The same way guns replaced knives and arrows, these weapons could be the weapons of the streets of the future.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

I wonder if the demand for personal locator beacons are rising?

It’s sad. 365 days after the disappearance of Malaysia airlines flight MH370, the report that was recently published offered no satisfactory answers. The locator beacon without a battery was a false hope indeed.

The emotion was touching. The sadness could be felt even when the victims were not related to you.

One of the posters, “Dad I miss you,” stirred a nerve in me.

In Nigeria, the Chibok girls abducted on April 14, 2014 have not yet been found. The President, Goodluck Jonathan, made a promise recently that the girls were safe. At the approach of another anniversary for dearly beloved missing persons, we could be faced with another false hope? Maybe, maybe not! I’d place my cards on the maybe.

If I was taking a trek to the mountains, going scuba diving, or visiting Northern Nigeria, I’d be wise to take along a personal locator beacon. Did you know locator beacons could also be fitted to one’s person?

I searched on Google and found some myself. Like this site that offers personal locator beacons for rent. I was wondering: maybe the demand for locator beacons should be on the rise!

Monday, March 9, 2015

[Cartoon]: How do you mix business with friendship?

A friend once told me: “I’d rather an enemy I know than a friend whom I don’t trust.” Not the actual words but something along those principles.

Losing my teaching job a week ago, I thought up this cartoon on the way from an interview.

Photo credit: S.J. de Waard via Wikimedia Commons
Speech bubbles created using Phrase It.
I still haven’t gone over the lose because I thought I was doing my best and didn’t deserve it.

Maybe I shouldn’t; I shouldn’t have been working the extra mile.

Maybe!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

What I call white and gold, you might call black and blue. Why?

The brain perceives color when light falls on the retina and interprets these colors by sending the light, as electrochemical signals, to the brain. The rods perceive night vision while the cones at the retina perceive color. It’s not so simple as that because vision involves more than just perceiving darkness and color.

It includes, as this BrainHQ.com article describes it, distilling foreground from background, recognizing objects in various orientations and accurately interpreting spatial cues.

A dress was recently posted on tumblr.com (click to see it yourself), the social networking site, and the question was: what is the color of the dress? Is it white and gold, or blue and black?

The question brings up the concept of how the brain interprets color. At least, the following factors determine how your brain interprets colors so you do not go about thinking you must have an eye problem.

  1. Time of the day, whether during the day, when the cones are at work, or the night, when the rods are more at work.
  2. Surrounding light conditions or illumination.
  3. Distance between the eyes and the object or dress, in this case.
  4. Medium of perception: air, monitor, cellphone screen or TV screen.
  5. Stored memory of past experiences and interpretations.
You can find these explained on abcnews.go.com.

Actually, the dress is not white and gold, but shades of black and blue. The brain at work tweaks colors in varied ways that no color stays true throughout the day.

Friday, March 6, 2015

[Infographic]: Summarized facts on MOOCS, massive open online courses

MOOCS which stands for Massive Open Online Courses provide learning opportunities for millions of people who are working full time or part-time.

The link below is to an infographic that summarizes the essentials of MOOC: definition, providers, statistics etc.

MOOCs.com: Massive Open Online Courses.

Thanks. Pass it on.

Stop! Stop stereotyping boys and girls.

A good teacher should be quick to recognize the fact that gender stereotypes exist. I personally can attest to that being a teacher myself; though presently out of favor.

A recent OECD study, reported by the BBC, has shed more light on that fact.

I can prove it! I'm smarter.
Battleofthesexes by Welleman via Wikimedia Commons
If we tend to label boys as stupid and girls as cleverer, the answer does not lie in the gene. It lies in us, the adults and how we have structured the society. The answer lies in the self-confidence we have imbibed in these young adults as teachers, parents and guardians of their psycho-social, moral and intellectual capabilities.

The answer lies in parental and educational expectations we place on them. These expectations have created a gender inequality in education in Africa because most parents believe girls are good only in the kitchen and for giving birth to babies, so what uses wasting hard-earned money investing in them?

The answer lies in our cultural biases; as noted also above. How many girls are taught leadership education? A girl would be scoffed at if her aim is to be the President of the country in the future.

It is also found in the school system. How are the curriculum developed? What is the aim of policy, educational programs and teacher professional development programs in our schools?

Let’s start making these issues straight before labeling those young adults as clever, stupid, dull, smart, brilliant etc, especially writing gender labels that won’t wipe away easily.