Aloe Blacc, Ghana and Malaria

Hey Geeks,

This is short and sweet. I came across this video yesterday on Al-jazeera world news and wondered why we had not heard about it here in the UK and why it wasn’t on UK online news? or maybe I just missed it? :-/

I decided that I am going to put this story on blast here. I mentioned before that my first ventures into the scientific world centered around Malaria and Mosquitoes. This is a short film featuring Aloe Blacc’s trip to Ghana in Spring 2012. Aloe joined forces with No More UK, a charity, to support Ghana’s goal to make sure every home in the country has access to a mosquito net by the end of 2012.

A very admirable and amazing feat. The same NEEDS to happen all over the world. Click on the video below and see how beautiful the smiles of the children he speaks with are. They made my heart melt and I donated a Starbucks Chai Tea Latte and Muffin worth. Click on the hyperlink and show your support Ghana and the UK, if only one more Kid gets a net, it is one more kid who has a better chance of not falling ill to Malaria. Surely that’s better than nothing.

Peace and Love

E

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Man Made DNA- New frontiers in Science and Medicine or Dangerous Grounds?

Hey Geeks,

Hope you are all well. Due to popular demand from my out-of-the-closet geeks, I promised a while back that I would add a new category which would deal with the major scientific theories and here it is.

Now, because I am a genetic and molecular biology specialist by training, I think you will all forgive me if I indulge in my area of expertise to begin with :-). And I hope you will understand why.

Yesterday, the world was introduced to one of the biggest new developments in the world of genetics since the Human Genome Project.  Scientific researchers at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, in Cambridge, have developed chemical procedures that turn DNA and RNA, the molecular blueprints for all known life, into six alternative genetic polymers called XNAs.

I want you to take a moment and really take this in. It basically means that scientists have created artificial genetic material that can store information and evolve over generations in a similar way to DNA. WOAH. This is BIG. Not only is this expected to open up new doors for researching medicines and systems in biotechnology to fight major diseases such as cancer and hereditary disfunctions, but it provides a real tool that could enable scientists to make new novel forms of life in the lab.  All the science fiction lovers must be silently whispering “I told you so”.

Here comes the Hard-Core Science. The process swaps the deoxyribose and ribose (the “d” and “r” in DNA and RNA) for other molecules. It was found the XNAs could form a double helix with DNA and were more stable than natural genetic material. More importantly, the XNAs are shown to be able to stick to a protein, an ability that might mean the polymers (protein “strings”) could be deployed as drugs working like antibodies (the things that fight disease in our bodies).

Further, Vitor Pinheiro, a co-author on the paper, said the research could help scientists work out how DNA and RNA became so crucial in the evolution of life, and perhaps even help in the search for extraterrestrial organisms. “If a genetic system doesn’t have to be based on DNA and RNA, what then do you define as life? How do you look for life?” he is quoted as saying.

This sounds crazy right? but other scientists, including Craig Venters team, who are the “oracles” of the genetics world are hoping to make synthetic organisms from scratch! However, the majority of the work so far has used conventional DNA. Which leads me to the ethical and religious arguments that I am sure will follow this paper. As a spiritual/religious person I have had the creation discussion many times before and some believe that as a Muslim I should not be messing with DNA etc etc. I disagree. It is not that simple. However, this far outweighs just religion, as a human, how far do you think we should go in-order to further science, medicine and technology? Click on this link to read the full abstract and get the article from the journal Science.

The Avengers movie is out, it all seems a bit more likely now….I will leave you to ponder

Let me know what you think? how does this discovery make you feel? Please share, re-post, re-blog, tweet this post if you enjoyed reading it.

Until next time

E

Random Geekformation- Coca Cola and Cocaine

Hey Geeks,

Hope you are all having a great week so far. I was having a discussion with my sister the other day whom I believe is actually addicted to the Coca-Cola soft-drink. I thought everyone knew the story behind Coca-Cola and it’s “success” or “rise” but apparently not, so I decided to write this post and wet your appetite for random bits of geeky information (geekformation) that I tend to collect in my already cluttered brain 🙂

Coca-Cola is one of the most well known and wealthiest companies in the world. However, the company has a very interesting narrative. Coca-Cola was started by John Pemberton during a short lived prohibition on the sale of alcohol in Atlanta. Pemberton sought an alternative to alcohol, so he made a tonic that contained carbonated water, kola nut extracts, fruit flavors, and coca leaves. Brilliant idea. Here comes the crazy part; cocaine from the coca leaves was included in the drink, which is why it caught on so fast! Once this was realised by the Drugs Enforcement Administration (DEA) it was made illegal and the government limited the usage of the leaves. Not the greatest of starts right?

Then the story goes that no more cocaine was in the drink, yet the flavor was still necessary and had to be obtained from the coca.Therefore, Coca-Cola continued to use coca leaves. It was not until later when the US government completely banned any importation of coca leaves into the country that Coca-Cola was really in trouble. Because the procurement of coca leaves was illegal, Coca-Cola no longer had their key flavor. Now what are they going to do?

Of-course, money talks and Coca-Cola struck a deal with the DEA allowing them to continue to import the leaves, but ensuring the cocaine was removed. This is still the practice.The leaves are imported from Peru and Bolivia and DEA officers “watch closely” to make sure all the cocaine is removed from the leaves sent to Coca-Cola factories to be made into cola! Not think off how big Coca-cola is around the world and think of how much cocaine uhm I mean coca leaves are needed for total production. Crazy right? Peru and Bolivia…are they rich countries? hmmmm I wonder….

RIP Amy

Hope you enjoyed the random but true fact. Until next-time. Share the knowledge please.

Take Care

Magnetism at The British Museum

Hey Geeks

Hope you are all having a great weekend so far. I wanted to share with you this piece of Art I saw at the British Museum at the Hajj Exhibition.

The piece is called Magnetism, by Artists Ahmed Mater (b.1979) and is a Photogravure etching of a cubic shaped magnet and iron fillings (similar to what is used in schools to teach the science of magnetism). It Represents pilgrims circulating the holy Kaaba in the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

I Love this Image and hope you enjoy it too, please share it.

E

Young, Gifted and Amazing

Hey All,

Again, apologies for taking so long between posts but mama comes first and I have been busy helping her complete her physio routine until she gets more confidant with it all. Today, we took mama to get her stitches removed post her knee replacement surgery. (Thank you to the lovely nurse who did her job brilliantly today). I have been meaning to post about this amazing young boy since I first came across his story and I thought what better day than today.

This young boy, Tony Hansberry II, age 14, has made medical history by developing a stitching technique that reduces surgical complications and the chance of error among less experienced surgeons. Say whaaaaat? I mean, really, do you remember what you were doing at the age of 14? 14!!! He is quoted as saying:

“The project I did was basically the comparison of novel laparoscopic instruments in doing a hysterectomy repair”

Click here to read more about his story and click play to watch him present his work to renowned surgeons.

Recently, a huge amount of negative press has been circulating around young black men (London Riots, Trayvon Martin, Hunger Games twitts! etc). I hope you share this post as here is a positive and beautiful story about a young black boy. Tony is born to African-American parents and we should ALL be PROUD of his outstanding achievement so early on in his life. Everyone should be amazed by his story, black, yellow, white, purple or green.

I could not think of a better song than this to express to you how this story made me feel, if you do not know who Esperanza Spalding is and/or you have not heard this song, you NEED to click play. Enjoy.

Have a great weekend everyone and I will try and keep up, I have loads if Q’s to answer, I will get onto them, I promise.

Ex

Surgeons Rock

Hello All,

I haven’t blogged for a minute, but I have a really really good excuse :-). I have been super-busy helping my mother prepare for her full knee replacement surgery! That’s right, a FULL KNEE REPLACEMENT.

I titled this geek out post surgeons rock because it absolutely amazes me that Doctors and surgeons have advanced so much that they can replace whole body parts. It is a whole different thing knowing something and actually seeing it happen personally. Watching my mother take on the pain that comes with the surgery with so much grace and the unwavering confidence of the surgeons was a huge inspiration to me. It puts many things into perspective.

Even more amazing, whilst at my mums bedside I tried to keep up-to date with general news and I came across this story on the guardian detailing one of last weeks medical miracles, a successful full face transplant.

FACE TRANSPLANT GEEKS! SOMEONE GOT A NEW FACE! AMAZING.

Press play to watch the video of this amazing story that made headline news:

But wait, does anyone remember the lady who’s face got ripped up by a chimpanzee? I remember the shock of that story and how it made world-wide news, even Oprah interview her. Click on the blue link if you want to watch that interview with Oprah but you must click play below and see the miracle these surgeons worked on this womans face. Outstanding work.

Now for my music segment and this may seem like a strange choice of song but I chose it for two reasons. One, me and my younger sister have been “schooling” each other on “new” and “old” music whilst watching mama sleep, walk and eat in the hospital, so this is a combo of my “old” Mayer Hawthorne and her “new” Rizzle Kicks lol. Two, I actually like the song and it fits the theme of this post as I am starting to worry that my mama will soon remember that she will soon have the ability to chase me down again and I cant just slowly walk away!

Until next time, count your blessings and stay blessed.

Ex