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Mental Health in the 21st Century

Mental Health in the 21st Century

According to experts, more than 800,000 people commit suicide every year. This is a huge number and it is getting larger, with suicide being the second leading cause of death in the world for those from 15 to 29 years old. However, even though this number is startling, many are still afraid to take mental health seriously. Whether it is because of fear, stigma, embarrassment, or ignorance, people are just not getting it. Instead of treating mental illnesses, they are blaming it on behaviour or personality issues. 

Violence and Mental Health

What does this mean for future generations? Well, there may be less of them to worry about if the suicide rate continues on like it is. And it is not just about suicide. A large number of people suffering from mental health conditions end up hurting others before hurting themselves. What with all of the mass killings in the news recently, mental illness has jumped into position as one of the major hot topics. As many of those committing these crimes are being found to have mental illnesses, the public wants to know what we are going to do about it. 

Neurological Disorders

Mental health studies have been done to determine the cause of some of these mental conditions and have found that neurological disorders and brain injuries could be two of the problems. For example, Alzheimer’s disorder and Huntington’s disease have been determined to be caused by neurological damage. Whether it is a brain injury or a genetic flaw, these abnormalities can cause severe disability in many. Stroke is the second most common cause of mortality in older people and over 1/3rd of them who survive are disabled permanently. 

Breaking the Silence

While it is important to find a cure for these and other mental health disorders, it is even more important to get those with these disorders to acknowledge that they have them. Many with depression suffer in silence and self-medicate with drugs or alcohol while struggling to maintain a normal life. Those with anxiety disorders are trying to go about their lives without letting anyone know how stressed out they are, making them even more stressed out. These people are the ones who can end up having a breakdown of some kind and without treatment, may end up taking their own lives. 

The Cures Act

A new bill called the 21st Century Cures Act was introduced in 2016, which is focused on reforming mental health care. With new strategies addressing serious mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disorder and schizophrenia, the Cures Act includes the assertive community treatment (ACT) model. This provides a team of professionals who are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to expand outpatient treatment as well as inpatient care. Some of the other benefits include:

  • Paying for inpatient psychiatric care
  • Treating criminals with serious mental illness instead of incarcerating them
  • Reduces red tape that slows progress of scientific projects for cures
  • Identifies programs to promote innovation
  • Highlights the impact of disease and treatment on patient’s lives to get the FDA to evaluate new drugs
  • Enhances the impact of data
  • Advances the clinical research
  • Forces states to use at least 10% of their mental health grants to fund early intervention programs
  • Supports major fights for cures
  • Speeds up the initiation of research and new discoveries

Researchers are also noticing a connection between mental and physical health, which shows more of a need for mental health care in the United States as well. In the 20th century, life expectancy had increased due to better health care and advances in treatment for heart disease and cancer. However, by the end of the 20th century it was becoming obvious that even with the breakthrough treatments, physical health was being affected by mental health. Whether it be from suicide, secondary disease of the liver, heart, or lung from drug or alcohol use, or a comorbidity issue, mental health and physical health seem to go hand in hand.

New Mental Health Help

In the 21st century, we have seen a plethora of new mental health care progressions such as virtual reality headgear for phobias and other illnesses, mental health apps, new drugs and ways to use them, and online mental health care. 

Virtual Reality (VR) Headgear

In the past two decades, VR headgear has been used for exposure therapy to help those who have phobias. For example, those with acrophobia, which is the fear of heights, are being safely exposed to their fear with VR headgear to help them overcome those fears. This experience has been extremely successful and along with treatment from a therapist, patients have been able to overcome their phobias within just a few sessions. 

Mental Health Apps

The amount of mental health apps available to the public has gone from a dozen to thousands in the past decade and they are extremely popular. The choices vary from meditation apps such as Breathe2Relax, Headspace, and Smiling Mind to mood apps such as Happify, Mood Tools, and Mood Kit. There are even apps that teach cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) such as Anxiety Coach, iCBT, and Live OCD Free. The apps range from free to $19.99 per month, depending on the services they offer. For example, some of the apps provide instant access to a mental health professional so you can get help with anything whenever you need it. One of the main benefits of these apps is the anonymity they offer as people are still not completely comfortable talking about mental health care. 

Wearables and Other Technology

From wristbands and watches to high tech earrings, technology has jumped on the wearable bandwagon. It may have started with the smartwatch that tracked your moods but now it has transformed into mood sensors and bands that can read your emotions. For example, there are bands that you wear on your wrists that read your pulse and can tell how anxious you are by body temperature and even how much you sweat. There are also clip-ons that you wear that read your breathing and heart rate all day and keeps track of how your moods change. You can even get a headset that will train your brain how to respond to stress and other emotions. 

New Drugs

Medication is also being improved with technology. A new type of drug that just hit the research labs is potentially able to prevent neurons from dying with metabolism changes. This new medication can be used to treat neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and Huntington’s disease. The new nanotechnology is confirmed to be able to inhibit and prevent cell death and reduce brain infarctions while protecting neurons from plaques. 

Online Mental Health Care

The use of online mental health care has been going on for some time now and with online counselling platforms such as BetterHelp, individuals are able to talk to a licensed mental health care expert 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. No appointment needed and you do not even have to leave your home to do it. This can be especially beneficial to those who have transportation or mobility issues, financial issues, or those with anxiety or other mental issues that make it difficult for them to go out. For example, those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who have had anxiety attacks from being in a crowded place will have a much easier time talking to a therapist from home on their cellphone or tablet. 

Easier and Cost-Efficient

Similarly, those with severe depression sometimes have trouble getting out of bed, let along making an appointment and going to see a therapist. With online therapy, there is no need to go out, you do not have to wait for an appointment, and you save money because the cost is just a fraction of what traditional therapy costs. Online therapy with BetterHelp is $40 to $70 per week compared to $200 to $400 per hour for traditional face to face counselling. The cost is so much lower because the expenses are lower for the therapists. They do not have to pay for an office, staff, or other office expenses and can see more patients since they are not bound to only seeing seven patients a day for one hour each. They can talk to as many patients as they want since they are not confined by appointments. 

Find What Works

Whether you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or have a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disorder or another neurological illness, there are many new treatments coming. And whether you choose to use the old traditional type of treatment or one of the new technological advancements, it is important to get the help you need when you need it. Contact a mental health care professional today to get treatment. With all of the advances in medical and mental health care, you are sure to be able to find what fits you best.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk: The Real-Life Tony Stark (Iron Man)

Elon Musk, one of the most inspiring businessmen of the 20th century is the CEO and CTO of SpaceX CEO, chief product architect of Tesla Motors, chairman of SolarCity, and co-founder of PayPal. Musk is associated with many other revolutionary projects like Hyperloop and he owns many potential companies like Neuralink and OpenAI. So, let us know more about this revolutionary man and get to know how did Musk manage to achieve so much.

See: A beautiful infographic on Musk’s Life

Personal Life and Education

Elon Reeve Musk was born on 28th June in the year 1971. He was born in the city of Pretoria, South Africa and then moved to Canada to attend the Queen’s University – one of the top schools in Ontario.  Musk was a child to a South African father named Errol Musk who was an engineer by profession and a Canadian mother named Maye Musk who was a nutritionist and a model.

He exhibited early computer and entrepreneurial talents. Musk was fascinated by science fiction and computers in his teenage years. When he was twelve, he developed the code and programming for his own video game and immediately sold the prospects to a company.

Musk left South Africa in 1988 after acquiring a Canadian passport because he was reluctant to help dictatorship through compulsory military service and because he was searching for higher financial prospects in the United States. Musk went to Canada and studied at Queen’s University.

In the year 1992 Musk left Canada and went to the USA. Musk studied business and physics at the Pennsylvania University in Philadelphia. He then graduated with a degree in economics and continued to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in Physics. After completing his courses at Penn, he went on for a Ph.D. in the subject of Energy Physics from Stanford University. 

This drastic shift was completely and totally timed with the Internet boom, and after just two days of joining he dropped out of Stanford to become a major part of the internet boom, starting his first business, the Zip2 Corporation. The company developed and marketed an Internet city guide for the newspaper publishing industry. Zip2 soon began providing content for the newly curated websites of the famous Chicago Tribune and The New York Times. But then Compaq acquired Zip2 for around 341 million USD in February 1999.

PAYPAL THIEL ELON MUSK

Chief Executive Officer Peter Thiel, left, and founder Elon Musk, right, pose with the PayPal logo at corporate headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Just one month after selling Zip2 Musk co-founded X.com which then went on to become PayPal after merging with Confinity in 2000. In October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for a whopping 1.5 billion USD in stocks out of which Musk got 165 million USD. Then Musk went on to set up, own and lead massive companies. Let us look at those companies.

List of Companies Elon Musk Owns

Tesla Motors

Tesla Incorporation, which was originally known as Tesla Motors was incorporated by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. These men played active roles until the involvement of Elon Musk. He had been interested in the possibilities of electric cars for a very long time and was intrigued by science and fiction. In the year 2004, Musk became one of the major funders of Tesla Motors.

Elon Musk devoted the firm to the manufacture of inexpensive, mass-market electric vehicles, battery products, and solar roofs. Musk now extensively supervises the creation, architecture, and layout of all the products of the company.

Almost 5 years after Tesla was created, the company unveiled the Roadster. It is a sports car capable of going from 0 to 60 mph in approximately 3.7 seconds. The Roadster is also able to drive nearly 250 miles between various charges of its lithium-ion battery. 

Tesla Motors went public in June 2010, earning $226 million with a share in the business taken by Daimler and a strategic alliance with Toyota.

The company’s additional achievements include the ‘’Model S’’, which is the first electric sedan of the firm. The Model S was honored by Motor Trend magazine as the 2013 Car of the Year, capable of covering 265 miles between charges.

Tesla has also launched its Model 3 recently. The car was initially priced at $35,000, a much more accessible price point than the $69,500 and up for it’s Model S and X electric sedans.

Tesla has also launched its Model Y and Semi-trucks recently.

SpaceX

Musk founded his third company, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, in 2002 with the intention of building spacecraft for commercial space travel. By 2008, SpaceX was well established, and NASA awarded the company the contract to handle cargo transport for the International Space Station—with plans for astronaut transport in the future—in a move to replace NASA’s own space shuttle missions.

On May 22, 2012, as the firm launched its Falcon 9 rocket into orbit with an aerial capsule, Musk and SpaceX created history together. With 1,000 pounds of supplies and types of equipment for the astronauts stationed there, the vehicle was sent to the International Space Station, marking the first time a private company had sent a spacecraft to the International Space Station. Musk was quoted from the launch as saying, “I’m very lucky… It’s like winning the Super Bowl for us.”

Today, Musk has various ambitious plans with SpaceX ranging from sending humans to Mars to building a network of 12000 satellites (Starlink Project) in lower earth orbit to provide super fast internet

Solar city

Musk provided SolarCity with the initial concept and financial capital, which was then co-founded in 2006 by his cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive. SolarCity was the second most massive solar power system provider in the United States by the year 2013. Tesla, Inc. acquired SolarCity in 2016 and is currently a completely owned Tesla subsidiary. 

The underlying motivation for both SolarCity and Tesla Motors was to help combat global warming. In 2012, Musk declared that SolarCity and Tesla Motors are working together to ease the effect of rooftop solar on the power grid by using electric vehicle batteries.

Some other companies of Elon Musk also include:

Elon Musk’s Achievements: 

Elon Musk is definitely considered to be one of the biggest inventors and innovators in this era. Some of his incredible life achievements can be summed up as:

  • In the year 1983 Musk taught himself computer programming and at the age of 12, he programmed and sold the code for a BASIC-based video game he created called Blastar for approximately US$500.
  • In 1995 he started Zip2, a web software company.
  • In 1999 Musk co-founded X.com, online financial services, and e-mail payment company, with US$10 million from the sale of Zip2. He used every single penny he had and invested it into his business and had to borrow money also. 
  • In 2002 PayPal was acquired by eBay for US$1.5 billion in stock, of which Musk received US$165 million.
  • CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors. Elon Musk has revolutionized the concept of electric cars. 
  • Founder of Space Exploration Technologies, also known as SpaceX.
  • Proposed the concept of Hyperloop in 2013
  • In 2015 Tesla launched Powerwall.
  • In 2015 Musk stated the creation of OpenAI.
  • Musk unveiled a concept for a high-speed transportation system Hyperloop.
  • Acquired  SolarCity for $2.6 billion.

Elon Musk’s Vision and Views

Space exploration’s boundless potential and the conservation of the human race’s future have become the foundations of Musk’s ongoing concerns. He has established the Musk Foundation which is completely devoted to space exploration and the advancement of renewable and clean energy sources.

Elon Musk

Credit: Flickr

In a more political manner, Musk has evidently portrayed himself to be a half Democrat and a half Republican. He considers himself to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Elon Musk has also actively stated that he doesn’t want the US government to provide subsidies to various companies but should instead use and implement a carbon tax to put a price on the negativity of air contamination and to discourage their poor behaviour. 

Artificial Intelligence:

Musk has frequently spoken about the proposed risks of artificial intelligence, calling it “the most severe threat to the human race’s existence.” During a 2014 interview at the MIT AeroAstro Centennial Symposium, Musk outlined AI as the greatest existential threat to humanity, adding, “I am increasingly willing to believe that there should be some parliamentary supervision, perhaps at the national and International levels just to make sure that we don’t end up doing something foolish.” 

The creation of Artificial Intelligence has been described by Elon Musk as something similar to that of summoning the demon. 

Conclusion

In a nutshell, we can definitely say that Elon Musk is not an average human being. From the creation of Zip2 to that of SpaceX, he is a self-made man and has taught himself how to code in just a matter of a few days. He has earned degrees in both Physics and Economics and is now a billionaire. 

Quite interesting to know, Robert Downey Jr, used Elon Musk as his inspiration for getting into character like Iron Man. Musk’s enthusiastic embrace of technology for technology’s sake and his passion to push the limits of what was considered to be potential for private enterprise made him a close real-world analog for Marvel’s billionaire arms dealer.

If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it. Click To Tweet

For all the entrepreneurs looking for motivation, Elon Musk sure acts as a character of success. The goals that Musk have persevered have been those that have not only inspired himself but also the team of people he’s assigned to work with him. 

An Infographic on Musk’s Life

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Elon Msk infographic

Can we stop Aging

Can we stop aging?

I am sure that all of us think about aging at some point in time and also wish to be eternal in some situations. So, do you know that there are many studies going on to find out the reasons for aging and also to find ways to at least slowdown aging? Let us know about these studies and what they have found till now and let us try to answer the ultimate question Can we stop aging?

Populations are getting older

(Credit: WHO)

Content

  1. What is aging all about?
  2. Why and how do we age?
  3. Possible reasons why human beings age
  4. Can we stop aging?
  5. Conclusion

What is aging all about?

Although everyone is acquainted with aging, it is not so simple to define. The word “evolving” relates to the biological process of getting older in a toxic sense. In 1991, the book Evolutionary Biology of Aging provided the following definition of aging: a persistent decline in the age-specific fitness components of an organism due to internal physiological deterioration.

Aging is the accumulation of various errors in our body which slows us down and leads to malfunctions and diseases. Click To Tweet

Let me tell you about aging in simple words, aging in one word is simply an error, aging is the accumulation of various errors in our body which slows us down and leads to malfunctions and diseases.

Let me tell you some fun facts about aging , all the creatures doesn’t age like we do. Some creatures doesn’t age at all. Crocodiles and aligators, for example doesn’t age at all. There also exists a jellyfish named Turritopsis dohrnii which can age in reverse way through a process called transdifferentiation and thus it is also called the “immortal jellyfish

Why and how do we age?

Only a few wide, underlying concepts try to clarify why we and almost all living organisms age. These ideas clash with each other, rendering it impossible that more than one of them might be accurate and is also highly unlikely to be true.

Some ideas have gone out of approval as others have become more commonly recognized by a wide range of people.

Possible reasons why human beings age

Reduction in the number of cells: As we age, our functional tissues contract and are not replaced entirely. Engineered stem cells or neurons like exchanging components of a mechanical device could potentially substitute the old cells.

Special Enzyme called NAD+(nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide): NAD+ is an enzyme that tells our cells to take care of themselves. NAD+ decreases with our age and thus our cells get worn out and our cell mechanisms slow down. Low amounts of NAD+ can lead to a range of diseases.

Mitochondrial mutations: Mitochondria are small proteins and tiny structures present in our cells that turn the power and energy collected in our food into useful energy for all our bodies cells and neurons.

Mutation

(Credit: Lab Test Online)

Mitochondria have their own genes controlling their body functions. As we age, mitochondrial functions decline and thus the so-called powerhouse of the cell slows down and affects all repair processes of the body. This happens due to somatic mutations in the DNA of mitochondria.

Antagonistic pleiotropy: It means that some genes that increase the odds of successful reproduction early in life may have deleterious effects later in life. Such a gene is P53. P53 prevents cancer in younger people but it would contribute to aging by preventing cell divisions in old people.

Senescent cells: We all know that our cells divide and copy the chromosomes. There are long strands of DNA called Telomeres at the ends of chromosomes that prevent small DNA losses. But after some number of divisions, these Telomeres are gone and this makes the cell a Senescent cell that doesn’t die. These cells grow in number with your age and leads to many diseases like diabetes etc.

Can we stop aging?

Aging is just a natural element of nature. Researchers and scientists have worked for centuries to unlock the key secrets behind what keeps us looking healthy and young. There have been some incredible breakthroughs in the sector of anti-aging technology.

As we learn new things about the human psyche and how the human body works under different conditions, we are now becoming even closer to let old age be a thing of the past. Let us see what all are the aging-related things where we have got good progress.

Possible ways to at least slow Aging

  • The stem cell technology:

Researchers at California’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies succeeded in reprogramming aging mice cells using artificial pluripotent stem cells in 2016.

Cell

(Credit: PublicDomainPictures)

These stem cells are produced from adult cells,  which allowed researchers to reprogram skin cells into an embryonic state so as to make them active. Researchers discovered in their research that the mice whose cells were reprogrammed lived 30 times longer than the control group that was not reprogrammed. The use of induced or artificial pluripotent stem cells involves risks, and human trials are definitely a long way away, but the study provided some of the most interesting data on the use of stem cells in anti-aging efforts so far.

  • Repairing aging cells by targeting Mutant mtDNA:

CalTech and UCLA scientists found a technique of manipulating cell mitochondria to efficiently repair DNA in November 2016. Typically, cells comprise two kinds of mitochondrial DNA-ordinary mtDNA and mtDNA mutant. The research observed that cells age and eventually die due to the build-up of mutant mtDNA over the moment.

Mitochondria

(Credit: Wikipedia)

The research focused on whether autophagy or the method by which cells consume themselves could be used to target the mutant mtDNA and stop the aging process.

They succeeded in enhancing mitophagy activity in a fruit fly, noticing in their muscle cells a separate decrease in mutant mtDNA. If comparable methods can be used to repair damaged aged cells in humans, it would definitely lead to wonders.

  • Gene Obliteration process:

Researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing and the University of Washington disclosed in 2015 that they had managed to identify and delete genes that could prolong lives after ten years of studies. The scientists recognized 238 proteins that resulted in a rise in the longevity of 60 percent when deleted.

Many of the identified genes are also present in mammals, which means that the same process can be applied theoretically to humans. That being said, it took researchers 10 years to find and remove the genes responsible for yeast aging through a trial and error process. It may take a long time to replicate the outcomes in individuals, although the findings are still helpful.

  • Lengthening Telomeres

Human beings have been attempting to attain immortality for a long time, or at least have been living for and beyond 100 years. Some individuals believe we’re getting nearer, and fresh study will surely reinforce that faith: scientists claim they’ve been able to reverse aging in human cells.

“We can make older cells younger,” said Dr. John Cooke, department chair of cardiovascular sciences at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, lead author of the paper published in the American College of Cardiology Journal. Cooke’s group targeted patient cell telomeres, the caps at the ends of chromosomes whose size approximately matches and corresponds to age.

Telomeres

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Telomeres are the main focus of the anti-aging community. Cooke’s group accumulated cells with progeria from kids in fresh research, an unusual genetic condition that leads them to mature quickly.  

Cooke’s group used RNA therapy technology that provides RNA straight to cells to drive cells into producing telomerase, a protein that lengthens telomeres. The method enhanced the longevity and operate of cells. Before that, cells would “grow very poorly and then die,” said Cooke. “Cells proliferated usually after the operation. It was a drastic enhancement.” Markers of aging have been modified, such as the discharge of inflammatory proteins.

Cells in a dish are, of course, distinct from living people breathing. Cooke thinks that while there is still plenty of studies to be undertaken, it is a hopeful indication that age-related disease can be combated with apps. “When we lengthen telomeres, a number of the issues connected with aging can be reversed,” he said in an accompanying interview.

  • Supplying NAD+: 

In an experiment, the scientists from Harvard Medical School put a few drops of NAD+ into the mice’s water. Within hours, levels of NAD+ in their cells had risen significantly. Within a week, the tissues of the NAD+-fed mice had reversed to youthful levels. A human trial was conducted in November 2017, which showed similarly promising results. It needs a lot more testing.

  • Clearing Senescent Cells:

We have some proteins in every cell which tells our cells about when to die, but the senescent cells mentioned above doesn’t die due to lack of these proteins. Scientists have found that we can clear these cells in mice by supplying the proteins externally.

Senescent cell

(Credit: Nature)

This could help us prevent the slowing down of internal functions due to senescent cells.

Conclusion

Aging is a natural process and there very limited ways that you can reduce the signs of aging. While you definitely can’t stop the aging process now, you can make decisions that improve your ability to move forward and maintain a healthy and active life, do things you can enjoy and spend time with your loved ones. Probably in the future, you could take a variety of therapies and live a longer life and even become immortal

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Aging

Food Safety poster

Everything You Need To Know About Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is a short-term illness that is caused by eating contaminated food.  Also called as foodborne illness, it occurs due to the consumption of contaminated food.

The report by World Health Organisation which estimates the burden of foodborne diseases caused by 31 agents – bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins and chemicals – states that each year as many as 600 million, or almost 1 in 10 people in the world, fall ill after consuming contaminated food. Of these, 420 000 people die, including 125 000 children under the age of 5 years.

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of foodborne disease outbreaks is increasing year by year.

foodborne illness break out stats

(Credit: Centre for Disease Control and Prevention)

So, let us know everything we need to know about food poisoning so that we can take proper measures against this growing problem.

Content

  1. What causes food poisoning?
  2. Types of harmful bacteria, parasites, and virus that cause food poisoning
  3. Food Poisoning Symptoms
  4. When is it important to consult a doctor?
  5. What to do in the case of food poisoning?
  6. Food poisoning is more harmful to:
  7. Food safety tips
  8. Conclusion

What causes food poisoning?

Food poisoning is any illness resulting due to pathogens bacteria, viruses, or parasites that contaminate food, as well as toxins such as poisonous mushrooms and various species of beans that have not been boiled for at least 10 minutes.

food production chain

Food production chain (Credit: CDC)

Harmful toxins and almost 250 different types of bacteria cause food poisoning and these can contaminate food at any stage of processing or production. We will get to know about the most common bacteria and toxins in the further sections.

Cross-contamination can take place right at your home if the food you eat is treated or cooked incorrectly. Since these foods are cooked incorrectly, there is a high chance that the food items aren’t cooked well enough and they are still raw and the harmful organisms are not destroyed before eating.   

So, just protecting our food from contaminating agent is not enough, we also have to cook it well

Types of harmful bacteria, parasites, and virus that cause food poisoning:

There are a large number of Bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause food poisoning.

Bacteria and Virus: Bacteria and viruses are the most common reason for the contamination of food. The symptoms and the severity of food poisoning may although differ as it depends on what type of bacteria or virus has actually contaminated the food.

Most illness is caused by the below-mentioned bacteria and viruses.

  1. Salmonella: A rod-shaped bacterium belonging to the  Enterobacteriaceae family
  2. Campylobacter: A comma- or s-shaped bacteria belonging to Campylobacteraceae family
  3. Escherichia coli (E. coli): A rod-shaped bacteria belonging to Enterobacteriaceae family
  4. Clostridium perfringens: A rod-shaped bacteria belonging to Clostridiaceae family
  5. Norovirus (Norwalk Virus): A genetically diverse group of single-stranded positive-sense RNA belonging to Caliciviridae family
  6. Listeria: A rod-shaped bacteria belonging to Listeriaceae family

For exact details about each microorganism, its onset time, symptoms it shows visit FDA’s article or FSIS’s article

Parasites: Parasites are those organisms that derive required nutrients and protection from other living organisms known as the ‘’Host”. In the US, the most common foodborne parasites to be recorded are protozoa, tapeworms, and roundworms.

The most dangerous parasite which causes the most number of food poisoning in America is a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii and it causes Toxoplasmosis

Read about parasitic food poisoning in detail here MedlinePlus’s article

Mould, harmful toxins and other contaminants: Most food poisoning is caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites rather than toxic substances in the food. But, some cases of food poisoning can be linked to either natural toxins or chemical toxins.

Read more about moulds in detail here on FSIS’s article

Food Allergies: Food allergy is an abnormal response of an individual to a food triggered by their body’s immune system. People can have allergic reactions to nuts, milk, eggs, seafood, berries, etc.  as these are most common allergy triggers in the US

Below is the pie chart which tells about Food That Sickened People in Outbreaks with a Single Known Source from 2009 to 2016 in the US

foods that sickened peopleSome of the most common contaminants and the foods that get contaminated because of them are:

Contaminant: Campylobacter

Foods that are affected: Meat and poultry items. This type of contamination mainly occurs during its processing. when animal faeces come in contact with meat and poultry surfaces. This also includes unpasteurized milk and contaminated water. The symptoms of Campylobacter infection can be experienced by the individual in between 2 to 5 days of consuming the contaminated food.

Contaminant: Listeria

Foods that are affected: Hot dogs, canned meats, unpasteurized milk, dairy products like cheese and raw produce. The symptoms of listeria-contaminated foods can be experienced by an individual within 9 to 48 hours. Expecting mothers need to be extra careful of Listeria because it can cause an early miscarriage.

Contaminant: Hepatitis A

Foods that are affected: Raw food, readymade produce, canned foods, raw fish and meat, shellfish or oysters which reside in contaminated water. Listeria also contaminates soil and water. The symptoms of Hepatitis based contamination can be experienced by an individual within 28 days.

Contaminant: Salmonella

Foods that are affected: Egg yolks, raw and contaminated milk, poultry, raw dairy products. It can be spread through uncleaned surfaces, dirty kitchen knives, and vessels, or an infected food handler.  The symptoms can usually be experienced by the individual within 1 to 3 days of the contamination.

Contaminant: Rotavirus

Foods that are affected: Raw food, canned food, infected food supplier or handler. The symptoms can usually be experienced within 1 to 3 days by the individual.

Food Poisoning Symptoms

Every individual has a different body and their immune system may function in a different manner. If someone has low immunity, they are much likely to be suffering from this illness for a longer period of time. Whereas someone with a strong immunity may recover from food contamination quickly. The way their bodies react to diseases depends upon the intensity of the contamination too.

Some individuals may experience severe symptoms while some might experience really mild ones. In either way, it is important to receive medical help and consult a doctor.

Food poisoning symptoms may vary with the source of the poisoning. Most of the types of food poisoning cause one or more of the following signs and symptoms.

food posioning symptoms

Food poisoning symptoms(Credit: CDC)

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Headaches

An individual may experience the signs and symptoms within hours after consuming the contaminated food or they may even begin after a few days. The sickness can generally last from a few hours to a span of several days.

When is it important to consult a doctor?

If one experiences any one of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Inability to eat
  • A frequent episode of vomiting
  • Blood stools or vomit
  • Extreme body pains and aches
  • Severe abdominal cramps
  • Dehydration
  • Absence of urination
  • Weakness or light-headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Neurological weakness such as a blurred vision, weakness in muscles and faint tingling in the arms.
  • High fever.

What to do in the case of food poisoning?

Food Poisoning Medication: Treatment of food poisoning tends to depend on the main source of their illness and the seriousness of their symptoms. The disease resolves within a few days for most individuals without treatment and therapy, although some severe cases of food toxicity may last longer.

Individuals who have food contamination in a mild range may get relief from loperamide (Imodium A-D), or bismuth subsalicylate also known as Pepto-Bismol. These are the medicines recommended by doctors.

It is always recommended to visit a doctor and never take medicines without doctor’s prescription.

A doctor will also prescribe certain antibiotics if you have specific types of bacterial poisoning and the symptoms range from severe to critical.


For instance, food poisoning caused by the contaminant Listeria needs treatment with an intravenous antibiotic during hospitalization,  Antibiotics will not assist a patient if they have a food poisoning that is caused by viruses. Antibiotics may often worsen the symptoms in various kinds viral food contamination.

Another treatment for food poisoning may include the replacement of lost fluids from your body.

Due to persistent diarrhoea, a lot of bodily fluids are lost. Fluids and electrolytes that contain minerals such as sodium components and are rich in potassium and calcium maintain the balance of healthy fluids in the body and also contribute to keeping your heartbeat normal. All of this needs to be replaced during food poisoning.

The patients diagnosed with food poisoning will receive intravenous treatment such as salts and fluids through the veins to prevent and treat dehydration in the body.

Alternatively, you can sip water throughout the day or have small ice chips if you need to.

Since diarrhoea and incessant vomiting can throw off your body’s share of fluids and protective electrolytes, you can drink more water, soups or broths, or an electrolyte solution to replace the fluids and minerals that have been lost.

It is important to stay away from carbonated soda or any other fizzy drinks, caffeine or alcohol. It is advised to stay away from spicy and fatty foods.

You can consume small quantities of bland and nonfatty foods such as dry crackers, mild flavour biscuits or toast and rice.

Food poisoning is more harmful to:

  • Adults and old age groups of people who are 60 years and older.
  • Babies and children
  • Pregnant women
  • People with an existing chronic illness.
  • Those who have a weak immune system

Food safety tips

To prevent food poisoning at home, keep the following things in mind.

food safety tips

food safety tips(credit: CDC)

  • Always consume fresh foods.
  • Avoid raw food and unprocessed food
  • Wash your hands always before eating
  • Keep utensils clean and place them on a clean surface.
  • Cook foods to the proper temperature and avoid eating raw meat or uncooked meat
  • Refrigerate leftovers or freeze the perishable foods.
  • Defrost food and do not thaw it at room temperature.
  • Avoid unpasteurized foods such as juices, milk and dairy products and ciders.
  • Avoid soft cheese such as Feta, blue-veined cheese, and unpasteurized cheese and dairy products.
  • Those with weakened immune symptoms and children should avoid consuming raw or undercooked eggs, meat, shellfish including oysters, clams, and scallops.
  • Avoid raw sprouts such as bean and radish.
  • Throw away leftover food whenever in doubt.

Let nature do its job:

Health conditions and illness is a part of our life, unlike many other things. Its quite natural that when you experience the symptoms of food poisoning and contamination, you will need to rest.

You would need quick relief but as tempting as that sounds, it is advisable to avoid some over the counter medications to stop the vomiting and diarrhoea. The vomiting and diarrhoea are practically helping your body fight the harmful toxins and get rid of whatever is making you feel sick.

If you think you require medications, consult a doctor and seek medical advice. And make sure not to take any medications without a prescription and give the same to children. The side effects of that could be pretty dangerous.

Food poisoning usually seems to go away on its own, but make sure to visit a doctor if the symptoms you experience are severe. Talk to your doctor and tell him about your condition in detail and he will prescribe the right medicine for you.

Conclusion

Taking care of your body is an integral part of your life. Make sure to take the necessary precautions and prevent the cases of food poisoning before they can actually affect you for a long time. Children, feeding mothers and those who have a weakened immune system should take extra steps and be careful from food poisoning.

Food poisoning generally doesn’t last for a long period of time but can cause severe illness and dehydration of the human body. Take the necessary steps and precautions to stay safe from such illnesses at all times.

Embed Image

An infographic on Food poisoning

CERN particle accelarator

Particle accelerators as black hole factories?

One peculiar feature of string theory, one of the candidates for a theory of quantum gravity, is the presence of extra dimensions of space. Typically, string theory models, or models inspired by the theory, include some way of explaining why we do not notice those extra dimensions in everyday life – they are either “rolled up” (see the spotlight text Extra dimensions – and how to hide them), or our world occupies only a small part of the higher-dimensional universe.

Can the presence of such extra dimensions be detected? Depending on how well they have hidden away, the answer might be yes. Typically, the presence of extra dimensions influences the way how strength of gravity increases as you get closer to a given mass. Ordinarily, strength increases (or decreases) with the square of the distance. If you halve your distance to a massive body, the gravitational pull you feel will be four times as strong as at your original location. With extra dimensions in the game, gravity will typically grow stronger much faster – at least at very small distances!

However, for most realistic models with extra dimensions, the length scales at which this stronger-than-usual gravity becomes important are very small – far smaller than the size of an atom, or even an atomic nucleus! The tools to probe such small distance scales are the most powerful “microscopes” that experimental physics has to offer: particle accelerators!

Particle accelerators, length scales, and gravity

In particle accelerators, physicists routinely accelerate elementary particles and bring them to a collision. The particle energy is a measure of the length scales being probed – roughly, the higher the energy, the closer the colliding particles approach each other. If the length scales reached are those where gravity becomes significantly stronger through the presence of extra dimensions, then the result of such particle collisions, which are monitored using sophisticated detectors, should be influenced by gravitational effects.

For some of the models with extra dimensions, this critical threshold would be reached by particle accelerators of the next generation, namely with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European particle physics laboratory CERN near Geneva. This illustration shows a view of the tunnel in which the LHC have. The blue tubes are the covers of the magnets which keep the particles on track:

View of the LHC tunnel

[Image: CERN]

The most striking gravitational events that could be observed in particle colliders would be the formation of minuscule black holes.

Black holes in particle accelerators?

According to general relativity, a black hole should form whenever any mass is squeezed into a very small region of space. The meaning of “very small” is defined by a length scale called the Schwarzschild radius. This radius depends on the mass, but also on the properties of whatever hidden extra dimensions, there can be. For certain kinds of extra dimensions, the Schwarzschild radius of a given mass will be significantly larger than otherwise. Consequently, in order to form a black hole, you wouldn’t need to compress matter nearly as much as in a space without extra dimensions. Under those favourable conditions, collisions of protons with other protons at the LHC should result in the formation of miniature black holes.

More concretely: Protons consist of subcomponents called quarks. When two quarks in the collision do not just fly past each other but collide nearly head-on, then, at the energies achievable with the LHC, a sufficiently high concentration of mass would result, and a mini-black hole would form. In the following animation, the relevant portion of our three-dimensional world is represented by a plane, embedded in a higher-dimensional (in the image: three-dimensional) space. Ordinary elementary particles are confined to the world-plane – they cannot ever move out into the extra dimensions. When the two particles moving in that plane have almost reached each other, a black hole forms, its horizon represented by the black sphere:

Particles in the plane in near collision, resulting in the formation of a black hole

[Animation size 222 kB, please allow time for loading](Credit:einstein-online.info)

Black holes with extremely less mass are extremely unstable. The intensity of Hawking radiation, a hypothetical quantum process by which black holes emit elementary particles, depends on the black hole’s mass – the smaller the mass of a black hole, the greater the amount of energy emitted in this way. By this process, the mini-black holes formed in particle accelerators would evaporate nearly as soon as they are created – typically, such black holes would only exist for a few tenth of a trillionth of a trillionth (10-25, in exponential notation) seconds. Their decay would result in a blast of a few energetic particles. Possibly, some exotic remnant object might survive as well (however, what such an object could be, and whether or not there really are exotic remnants, is not at all clear to present physics):

Minuscule black hole decaying into particles and into gravitational energy leaving the brane

[Animation size 194 kB, please allow time for loading](Credit: einstein-online.info)

With respect to the numbers, types and energies of the resulting particles a decaying black hole would look different from other particle collisions. Some of its characteristics are directly related to the existence of the extra dimensions: For instance, in the animation above, you can see that some energy associated with gravity (shown as brown, wiggly arrows) is carried off into the extra dimensions – from the point of view of a physicist in our three-dimensional universe, this energy would simply vanish!

When physicists study collisions in particle accelerators, they use sensitive detectors to keep track of the different types of resulting particles and their energies, which enables painstaking reconstructions of each collision. The following image, based on a simulation, shows what physicists might be seen in their detector when a mini-black hole decays:

Simulated particle traces for black hole decay

(Credit: R. Godang using IguanaCMS)

The image shows a sideways cut-away view of the particle detector CMS currently under construction at the LHC accelerator. The colliding particles move at right angles to the image, either directly towards the observer or directly away. The lines represent traces of particles produced by the black hole decay. The green line is the trace of an electron, while the red lines are traces of particles called muons, which are similar to electrons but more massive. The blue and cyan lines denote particles consisting of quarks and are thus distant kin to protons and neutrons – so-called Kaons in blue, pions in cyan.

The detector contains a powerful magnet which produces a strong magnetic field. This field deflects all moving particles which carry an electric charge – in the illustration, their traces are curved. The degree of curvature, combined with other data, is used to infer each particle’s momentum and mass.

By studying collision products, physicists at LHC will be able to identify and study the decay of mini-black holes. In this way, they might be able to prove the existence of extra dimensions, and even gain some insight into their properties.

How often would black holes be produced? The answer depends on what model of the extra dimensions one uses for the calculation. According to some models, black holes should be produced at the LHC at a rate of one per second!

If particle collisions at high-energy may indeed create black holes, we should also expect the creation of other gravitational objects which are predicted by string theory, such as higher-dimensional spatially extended solutions of the gravitational equations called branes – cousins of the three-dimensional extended subdomain that is our world.

Artificial mini-black holes – should we worry?

Do we need to worry? Can these mini black holes start growing and, eventually, devour the whole earth? We should not worry about this. Even if you do not trust the calculations predicting a quick demise for such minuscule black holes, there is solid data to go by.

If black holes really form in high-energy particle collisions, they are also continuously created in the earth’s atmosphere by the collision of Ultra-High-Energy Cosmic Rays (UHECRs) with nuclei of oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and other elements present in the atmosphere.

UHECRs are particles of unknown origin and identity (protons? light atomic nuclei?) reaching the earth from outer space. In such collisions with atmospheric nuclei, a shower of new particles is produced (consisting mostly of electrons, their slightly more massive cousins called muons, and photons). These particles can be detected by specialized observatories on earth or in space, as sketched in the following illustration:

Incoming cosmic ray colliding with atmospheric nucleus, producing a shower of particles, some of which are detected by a detector array on Earth

[Animation size 194 kB, please allow time for loading](Credit: einstein-online.info)

The collision energies for UHECRs can be enormous – some observations show energies of hundreds of TeV (hundreds of trillions of electron volts), which is much larger than the collision energies in particle collider experiments. And while the events with very high energy are exceedingly rare, this type of collision has been going on for literally billions of years, so an inordinate number of mini black holes would have formed. Since the earth has not (yet!) disappeared into one of these black holes, the much less massive man-made mini black holes should be quite safe.

The rarity of ultra-high energy collisions is also one of the reasons that physicists have not been able to confirm or disprove the formation of mini-black holes in this way. Still, this could change over the next few years, as the Pierre Auger Cosmic Ray Observatory in Argentina, which has just started taking data, becomes fully operational.

So will we actually find these tiny black holes? Hard to tell – at the moment, we have no direct evidence that the models predicting the existence of extra dimensions are on the right track, and if they are, that among all the many possible shapes and sizes for the extra dimensions, those realized in our universe allow the production of miniature black holes at a detectable rate. Our search is akin to playing the lottery – we will need to get very, very lucky to find what we seek, but if we did, the payoff would be enormous: We would have the first direct evidence that space has extra dimensions!

Source: http://www.einstein-online.info

Salmonella

Salmonella Infection (salmonellosis) and Animals

What is Salmonella

Salmonella germs can live in the intestinal tract of many different animals. Salmonellosis (sal-mohn-el-OH-sis) is a bacterial disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella. Most people have diarrhoea, fever, and stomach pain that start 1 to 3 days after they get infected. These symptoms usually go away after 1 week. Sometimes, people have to see a health care provider or go to the hospital because the diarrhoea is severe or the infection has spread from the intestines to the bloodstream, and then to other body sites.

Important Tip!

Protect yourself against getting Salmonella from animals. Simply wash your hands with running water and soap after any contact with animal faeces (stool)

Can animals make me sick?

Yes, although Salmonella is most commonly transmitted through contaminated food, Salmonella is also one of many zoonotic pathogens that can be spread between people and animals. Animals can carry Salmonella and pass it in their faeces or stool. Salmonella germs are shed in animals’ faeces and can easily contaminate their bodies (fur, feathers, and scales) and anything in areas where these animals live and roam. Therefore, people can also get a Salmonella infection if they do not wash their hands after contact with animals or their environment, such as touching contaminated animal bedding or tank water.

Many Salmonella infections occur in people who have contact with certain types of animals — or “risky” pets. These include reptiles (turtles, snakes, and lizards), amphibians (frogs and toads), and poultry (chicks, chickens, ducks ducklings, geese, turkeys). Also, pocket pets (guinea pigs and rodents like hamsters), dogs, cats, birds (including pet and wild birds), horses, and farm animals (goats, calves, sheep) can pass Salmonella to people. It is important to know that these animals can carry Salmonella germs and still appear healthy and clean. Additionally, reptiles and amphibians that live in tanks or aquariums can contaminate the water with Salmonella, which can lead to illness in people. You should also know that some pet products, like pet foods and treats, can be contaminated with Salmonella and other germs. Pet food and treats might include dry dog or cat food, dog biscuits, pig ears, beef hooves, and rodents used to feed reptiles including frozen feeder rodents.

Who is most at risk for serious illness?

Some people are more likely than others to get salmonellosis. A person’s age and health status may affect his or her immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick. People who are more likely to get salmonellosis include infants, children younger than 5 years old, older persons, and people with weakened immune systems such as people with HIV/AIDS or organ transplant patients and people receiving treatment for cancer.

How can I protect myself from getting Salmonella?

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching animals, their food (e.g., dry dog or cat food, frozen feeder rodents, etc.) or treats (e.g., rawhide bones, pig ears, biscuits, etc.) or anything in the area where they live and roam.
  • Running water and soap are best. Use hand sanitizers if running water and soap are not available. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water as soon as a sink is available. Directions for washing hands can be found here. Adults should always supervise hand washing for young children.
  • Do not let children younger than 5 years of age, older individuals, or people with weakened immune systems handle or touch high-risk animals (e.g., turtles, water frogs, chicks, ducklings), or anything in the area where they live and roam, including water from containers or aquariums.
  • Keep live poultry, amphibians, and reptiles out of homes and facilities with children younger than 5 years old or people with weakened immune systems.
  • Don’t eat or drink around high-risk animals (e.g., turtles, water frogs, chicks, ducklings), or in areas where they live and roam. Keep animals away from areas where food and drink are prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.
  • Use soap or a disinfectant to thoroughly clean any surfaces that have been in contact with animals. Children older than 5 years of age should perform this task only under adult supervision.
  • Habitats and their contents, such as food and water bowls, should be carefully cleaned outdoors, if possible. If bathtubs must be used for these purposes, they should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with a bleach solution afterward.
  • High-risk individuals should avoid cleaning habitats and their contents, but if unavoidable, they should use disposable gloves when cleaning and do not dispose of water in sinks used for food preparation or for obtaining drinking water.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov

Higgs Boson

What is God Particle aka the Higgs Boson?

The Higgs Boson God particle has been widely talked about in the recent past. You might have heard people talking about how its discovery has simplified explanations for why electrons have mass. You might have even heard about how it has aided in proving that the Standard Model is not incorrect. The discovery of the particle received tremendous attention from the press, and, was celebrated quite remarkably. So, what is all the fuss about? What really is the Higgs Boson? How does it help explain certain phenomena? Why is it called God particle? If you are looking for answers to any of these questions, or, are simply intrigued and want to know more about the Higgs Boson, then, look no further, you’re at the right place.

The Higgs boson is considered to be the particle excitation of the Higgs field and is named after the physicist, Peter Higgs. Peter Higgs and five other scientists are credited with coming up with the mechanism that provided evidence to the existence of such a particle.

What is all the fuss about then?

The reason there has been so much buzz surrounding the Higgs boson till recently was because its existence was only experimentally proven as recently as 2012. The reason it took so long for scientists to confirm its existence is the fact that the technology needed for confirming the existence of the Higgs boson, had not existed for a very long time. This discovery was a physics version of the discovery of DNA.

The discovery of Gods Particle is the physics version of the discovery of DNA.--Science News Click To Tweet

The discovery of this particle was made possible by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The Large Hadron Collider is a particle collider and is gigantic in nature. It is the largest machine in the world. It is present in a humongous tunnel near Geneva in Switzerland.  Without the LHC, it would have been an extremely daunting, and some can even say, an improbable task to prove the existence of the Higgs boson.

You can read everything about search and discovery of Higgs boson here ->The Higgs Boson discovery pdf by CERN

Particle accelerators and the Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider is a particle accelerator that is used to accelerate charged atomic and subatomic particles to large enough speeds to observe their behaviour. The Large Hadron Collider is currently the largest among such colliders. The tunnel in which it lies is massive and is 27km in circumference. It was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and is used for studying the observations made by the collision of particle beams, generally, proton beams.

CERN LHC Particle Collider

CERN LHC Particle Collider (Source: CERN)

Particle accelerators such as the LHC are considered to be fundamental in answering some of the questions that remain in the field of particle physics. These accelerators generally use an electromagnetic field to carry out the acceleration. You may ask, why is there a need for an electromagnetic field? To understand this, you will need to know how particle accelerators work. Particle accelerators need to have a source. A source is what generates particles such as protons and electrons. The electric fields are used in the process of accelerating these particles while the magnetic fields are responsible for controlling the paths of these particles.

To generate electrons for these particle accelerators, ‘electron guns’ are generally used. The electron gun consists of a cathode, which, is heated to high temperatures causing electrons to be produced from its surface. The electron gun consists of electrical and magnetic deflectors and the electron beam is obtained from a narrow hole at the end of the gun. This electron gun can also be viewed as an accelerator since it also consists of an electric field that accelerates the electrons, and magnetic deflectors that help in controlling the path. These electrons move towards the anode present in the gun and while passing through the electric field pick up speed and come out of the gun as a narrow beam.

To generate protons for the accelerators, hydrogen gas is used since only the nuclei of hydrogen atoms consist of single protons. The gas is ionized, and the protons and electrons are separated through electric fields and the beam of protons is obtained through a hole.

The beams produced are then collided and the particles that result from the collision are observed by detecting electrical signals. The detectors used in particle accelerators are built so that the electrical signals can be converted to digital data and analyzed. Higgs boson was detected in 2012 during such collisions.

Now that we know how Higgs boson was detected, let’s delve into what it really is.

The Higgs boson is a particle that is generated by the quantum excitation of the Higgs field. You may ask, what is the Higgs field? Well, the Higgs field is a field that exists evenly distributed throughout the universe. Some particles are said to interact with this field and obtain mass while some particles are said to not interact with it. The Higgs field is quite dissimilar to other fields, since, it is scalar. A scalar field is one where every point in the field can be associated with a scalar value.

So, what does that mean? It means that the Higgs field is directionless, it has a spin value of 0. Unlike other fields such as electromagnetic fields, the Higgs field has no preferred direction.

Random Quiz

The particles carrying the strong force are the:

Correct! Wrong!

The strong interaction is observable at two ranges: on a larger scale (about 1 to 3 fm), it is the force that binds protons and neutrons (nucleons) together to form the nucleus of an atom. On the smaller scale (less than about 0.8 fm, the radius of a nucleon), it is the force (carried by gluons) that holds quarks together to form protons, neutrons, and other hadron particles.


What is all this stuff about the Standard Model then?

All things in this world are constituted by atoms. Atoms, in turn, are made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. These particles are made up of even smaller subatomic particles. The Standard Model was able to explain the interactions between these subatomic particles and hence provided the basis for the explanations of electricity, magnetism and radioactivity. However, the Standard Model, before the discovery of the Higgs boson, was unable to provide evidence for how these particles gained mass.

This is where the Higgs field comes into play. Like I mentioned earlier, some particles interact with this field, while some do not. The ones that do not interact with this field, like the photons, do not gain mass and can hence travel at the speed of light. The ones that do interact with this field, like the electrons, gain mass through the interactions. Think of it this way, if the Higgs field did not exist, there would be no interactions with the field and therefore, all subatomic particles would have no mass.

Why is the Higgs Boson called the God particle?

Perhaps, the term ‘God particle’ is justified. The Higgs boson helped fill a large hole in the Standard Model and is considered to have provided evidence that proves a large number of phenomena. In some sense, this particle is truly Godly!

But, the term ‘God particle’ arises from the title of Leon Lederman’s book, ‘The God Particle’, in which, the Higgs boson is the primary subject of discussion. Leon Lederman is credited with providing this particular title to the particle. But, the story is actually even more fascinating. Lederman wanted to title his book as ‘The Goddamn Particle’ because of how difficult it is to find the particle and actually prove its existence. His publishers, however, would not allow for such an audacious title and the book was then titled ‘The God Particle’.

Is this particle dangerous? Can it prove to be detrimental?

Stephen Hawking has cautioned the world about the potential dangers that the Higgs boson might harbour. Some researchers believe that this particle could lead to the destruction of the universe. However, this destruction will not take place anytime soon. These researchers estimate that this catastrophe is at least billions of years away. The mass of the Higgs field will be to blame if this occurs. Since the Higgs field is present everywhere, even a small change in its mass would cause major instability in the universe, causing the universe to collapse.

Let’s recap

In conclusion, the Higgs boson is the result of the excitation of the Higgs field. The Higgs field is a scalar field that provides mass to the subatomic particles that interact with it. Without the Higgs field, all subatomic particles would have no mass. This entire mechanism was suggested by Peter Higgs and five other scientists in 1964. The Higgs boson, however, was not discovered until 2012, when it was first discovered by the Large Hadron Collider, which, is a particle accelerator. The name ‘God particle’ was the result of Lederman’s similarly titled book about the Higgs boson.

Although the ‘God particle’ certainly seems to be a misnomer, the name given to the Higgs boson might have done the world a whole lot of good. The title given to the particle has ensured that more and more people look for the Higgs boson on the internet and try to understand what it means and how much effort has been put in, to find it. The name, ‘God particle’ could even be the reason why you are currently reading this. Any scientist would give you the death stare for calling the Higgs boson, the ‘God particle’, but, maybe the name is not so bad after all. Perhaps, the magnitude of the reception of the news of the discovery of Higgs boson should be entirely credited to this misnomer!

Read More:

  1. Here’s What Happens When a Higgs Boson Dies — and What It Means for Particle Physics
  2. Physicists’ search for rare Higgs boson pairs could yield new physics
  3. What exactly is Higgs Boson?
Mariana Trench

Mariana Trench: the Deepest Part of the Planet Earth

The world is full of spots that mankind love to explore. Whether it is a mountain or sea, an island or a desert, people love to have a different experience by exploring the concerned avenues. There are many areas which pose such challenges for adventure lovers. Though many have lost their lives for such explorations, the craze for the same has not stopped, and people keep on hunting such new locations as well.

Do you know about five of the deepest points in our world, here is a list of them:

RankNameLocationDepth (feet)
1Challenger DeepIzu-Bonin-Mariana Arc, Mariana Trench, Pacific Ocean36,197
2Tonga TrenchPacific Ocean35,702
3Galathea DepthPhilippine Trench, Pacific Ocean34,580
4Kuril-Kamchatka TrenchPacific Ocean34,449
5Kermadec TrenchPacific Ocean32,963

 

While thousands of individuals have summited Mount Everest, the premier point on Earth, less than a few have succeeded to explore the planet’s deepest point, a site known as the Challenger Deep in the Pacific Water’s Mariana Trench. It is a famous place much-known for its varied sea lives and depth as well as the wonder of the nature below the surface of the earth.

If you cut the famous mountain pick of Himalayas, Mount Everest off at the sea level and place the same at the marine bottom here, there will be still a couple of miles of water over the top of it. This trench is positioned in the parts of the western Pacific Ocean. It lies to the east of the Philippines. The Mariana Trench is a curved shaped blemish in Earth’s shell that measures more than 1,500 miles long and 43 miles wide on average.

Content

  1. How was the Mariana Trench formed?
  2. Why is a Mariana Trench expedition difficult?
  3. Expeditions
  4. Life in the trench

How was the Mariana Trench formed?

This famous Trench was shaped because of a process known as subduction. The crust of the Earth is made up of thin tectonic plates which “float” on the layer of the planet which is in melted form. While floating on the mantle, the boundaries of these plates gradually bump into each other and from time to time even strike head-on.

Cross section of the Mariana trench (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

When two plates bang into each other, a sea plate plummets down into the mantle, while the other plate trips up over the top. This crusade creates a ditch where the plunging oceanic plate slogs down the edge of the superseding plate. This crusade also creates the largest known seismic activity, which often creates tsunamis.

The majority of the Mariana Trench is under a U.S. protected zone. This is currently the part of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. This was established in the year 2009.

Why is a Mariana Trench expedition difficult?

Part of the reason that the Mariana Trench is uncharted is due to the hydrostatic burden. When you cross the threshold any body of water and start plunging from the surface, the deeper you dive, the more water conceals you. The greater the load of water on you, the greater will be the pressure on your body.

When you dive into a swimming pool and go all the way to the bottommost of the deep end, you can often feel the hydrostatic pressure in contrast to your ear membranes. You get a feeling of having them squeezed. Now just magnify the same feeling by nearly a thousand times when you are in the deepest trench. You can apprehend how incredible the weight would be in the Challenger Deep with nearly 7 miles of water above your head.

Expeditions:

As thought-provoking as it is to discover the Mariana Trench as well as the Challenger Deep in particular; numerous fearless pioneers have prospered in this task.

The trench was first broadcasted during the Challenger voyage in 1875, using a weighted rope, which logged a depth of 8,184 meters. The Mariana Trench was also measured in 1951 by the British Survey ship, Challenger II. Again in 1984, the Japanese guided a survey vessel to the Trench to gather data using a multibeam echosounder.

The waves of sound sent in the research from the device known as echosounder bounced from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. They are received on a graph which helped to create the ocean’s bottom map. This method helped the researchers to assemble important ecological data without jeopardizing a diver deep in the sea. In the year 2010, a sonar survey was conducted with multibeam echosounders by the University of New Hampshire. They found new features of the seafloor and obtained the most precise depth of Challenger Deep which is 10,994 meters. This is said to be one of the most accurate measurement.

Most notably, and also most in recent times, in 2012, director James Cameron made a significant, solo dive down to the bottommost of the Challenger Deep in a specially – designed operated submersible named DEEPSEA CHALLENGER. This voyage unruffled data and samples previously unidentified, leading to prosperity of scientific information about one of the least known parts of our Earth.

Life in the trench

Contemporary scientific voyages have exposed astonishingly diverse life in these punitive conditions. Fauna existing in the deepest portions of the Mariana Trench lives in widespread dark and life-threatening pressure.

Sustenance in the Mariana Trench is tremendously inadequate because the deep gorge is far away from land. Leaves, coconuts, and trees are hardly ever found its way into the bottommost of the trench. Instead, some microorganisms rely on substances, such as methane or sulfur, while others being gobbled up marine life lower on the food chain.

Recently studies found microbes in the Pacific Ocean surviving on arsenic which is a poisonous element.

There are three most general entities at the bottommost of the Mariana Trench known as amphipods, small sea cucumbers, and xenophyophores.

The lone celled xenophyophores bear a resemblance to massive amoebas, and they eat by nearby and gripping their food. Amphipods are glossy, shrimplike scroungers that are found in the trenches at deep-sea. There is also holothurians which can be considered as a new species of radiant sea cucumber.

amphipods

Amphipods(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers have also acknowledged more than 200 dissimilar microbes in sludge collected from the Challenger Deep. The sludge was carried back to labs on dry land in an exceptional container and is meticulously kept in circumstances that simulate the crushing cold and pressure of that of the Mariana Trench.

However, a misleadingly susceptible viewing fish is not only right at home here, but it is also one of the area’s top predators. In 2017, scientists reported they had gathered samples of a rare creature, nicknamed the Mariana snailfish, which lives at a depth of about 26,200 feet.

With sustained research with modern tools and technology used for the measurement helps the researchers get the accurate picture of this trench.

Immunotherapy a Modern Cure for Cancer

Immunotherapy: A Modern Cure for Cancer

Immune systems are made up of various WBC or White Blood Cells with several tissues and organs. The main job of the immune system is to fight against germs and microorganisms and keep the body healthy. Immunotherapy drugs aid the immune system to work well, and that makes it easier for the body to get rid of certain cancer cells.

Immunotherapy helps to slow down the growth and flow of cancer cells. It restricts cancer to spread in the body and helps the immune system to respond well by destroying the cancer cells. There are numerous immunotherapy drugs explicitly tested in labs, which can fight cancer.

Immunotherapy can have major side effects. If you are being advised for immunotherapy by your doctor, then there are a lot of reasons to talk about them before you decide to go for this curing process. Immunotherapy is known to be a cancer treatment which can boost your body’s natural defenses to fight against cancer, but it can also make them rogue which may end up attacking healthy, functioning parts of a person’s body, causing unpredictable side effects that may be life-threatening if not treated early.

All you need to know about Immunotherapy

There are numerous treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiation which are widely approved as the standard way of treatments to stop cancer. Many additional drugs are utilized to restrict the growth and spread of cancer cells. Treat your side effects which arise due to radiation, surgery, and you can manage the pain. Moreover, the traditional cancer treatment can kill several diseases where the patient’s body is under attacked by different diseases.  However, it is sometimes dangerous, exhausting, and its side effects are explicitly substantial.

The idea and the new treatment have caught several attentions of doctors and scientists. The results for different patients are credible. And it is known as Immunotherapy, and the goal is to boost your immune system to stop cancer. Those who are interested in the medical field of immunotherapy recognize the main power of the human body. According to the sources and researches, it has been found that the immune system can eliminate the tumors on a patient body by simply co-opting inhibitory pathways. Thus it put a break on the response of the immune system. The idea of immunotherapy includes the engineering, or it enhances the immune cells of the patients that wipe out the cancer elements.

The therapy is also known as ACT (Adoptive Cell Transfer), and its clinical results are simply remarkable. Remain cancer free by simply eliminating the cancer cells and improve your health. Experts clearly agree to the fact that the human immune system can do well if the right amount of tools is provided to it.

Immunotherapy is classified as a ‘Living Drug.’

Immunotherapy is known as the ‘living drug’ because it is responsible for building the T-cells. A patient’s blood collects these, and the cells are further altered to build “special receptors” which are referred to CAR’s or Chimeric Antigen Receptors. Basically, these CAR’s are the protein which allows these T-cells to strikes the antigen-protein which is found in the cancer cells.

The T-cells are then engineered in the lab which is simply allowed to grow in billions. These T-cells are injected inside the patient, and hence the T-cells reproduce to soak out the antigens and damage them. First, the T-cells experimentation was begun in the late 1990s, and the researchers considered it as the new cancer treatment. And today, the scientists and the researchers are finding many different ways for generating new yet powerful T-cells which can eliminate the cancer cells from a patient’s body.

How the concept of Immunotherapy works?

  • The T-cells protects your body from getting infected, and hence they destroy the infected cells.
  • As you know, cancer cells produce the molecules that stop the T-cells and helps cancer to grow in your body.
  • The drug gets attached to the T-cells and blocks the cancer cells. The T-cells continuously attacks and destroys the cancer cells. And meanwhile, the ipilimumab helps the T-cells to multiply.

What are the benefits of Immunotherapy?

There are many great benefits of Immunotherapy, and it’s a good choice for patients to get rid of cancer diseases. There are many cancers such as skin cancer which doesn’t respond to chemotherapy and radiation. But the use of immunotherapy has helped the patients to eliminate the cancer cells.

The T-cells are largely grown in the laboratory and then it is injected inside the patient’s body, and hence your body performs well. Hence, immunotherapy is classified as the broad category that is designed to stimulate the immune system of your body for better recognition and fighting cancer.

Some side effects of Immunotherapy

The ACT simply causes bothersome effects which are referred to as Cytokine- a release syndrome. The T-cells that are engineered eliminates the cytokines- which are the chemical messengers which help T-cells to complete their mission. A large number of cytokines in your bloodstream can cause low blood pressure and high fever.

Many of the patients have experienced syndrome, and on the other hand, some have reported only mild side effects. Researchers and scientists are putting their best efforts to improve the ACT process so that it can be used as a standard process for the treatment of cancer.

Most of the drugs have delayed the spread of cancer but unable to cure the cancer disease. Your immune system is designed in such a way that it couldn’t destroy or attacks your own cells. The immunotherapy is not being used for a long period, and it is a long hope that the immunotherapy drugs can teach the body to destroy the cancer cells.

Later, cancer will be banished, and you will be enjoying your healthy life in the coming years. And it is truly an exciting idea for patients who are suffering from cancer diseases. These researches show that the patients can give a powerful one or two punch against these virally infected diseases.

What is the Age of the Earth

What is the age of Earth and how did we find it?

Earth is not like a human being who has got documents and parents to be aware of its birth date or age. The age of Earth is a great matter of interest to human beings. Many verifiable pieces of evidence claim that the Earth is nearly 4.54 billion years old. Scientists have spent numerous amount of time to determine the age of Earth. The scientists have used the process of carbon dating on rocks and gave the assumed result with an error range close to 50 million years.

One may wonder why it requires to know the age of Earth as practically there is no use of such information. However, this is very much true for a layman but not for the researchers. They carry a number of experiments where the age of Earth can be helpful, and that is why with the help of different methods they have tried to calculate the age of Earth. Though with different methods the researchers have found a huge range of the age, still it is closer to the declared age and hence one can believe that our planet is only 4.54 billion years old, much younger as compared to many other bodies in the universe.

Assumptions regarding the age of Earth:

Where did metals come from in Earth’s core?

Earth’s core is made of Iron and Nickel. So the question arises, where did those metals come from, where does one find iron in the universe? The answer is in the core of a dying star. A star like Sun may take more than 10 billion years to die. Moreover, certain stars can take up to 1 trillion years to die. There are some who come up with the argument that the formation of the Earth in the universe was because of a supernova explosion.

But this assumption is ruled out, as it is not possible to have the presence of water on it which is older than the sun. Scientists have been making attempts from over the past 400 years to calculate the age. Scientists endeavoured to foresee the age grounded on altering sea levels, the period it took for Earth or the sun to cool to existing temperatures, and the salinity of the ocean. But as the development in science and technology grew ahead, these techniques were proved to be unreliable.

How old are the rocks?

In an exertion to compute the age of Earth, experts turned to the rocks that shelter its surface. However, since plate tectonics continuously fluctuates and facelifts the crust, the first rocks have long since been castoff, liquefied down and rehabilitated into new boulders. In the early 20th century, researchers sophisticated the process of radiometric dating.

Previous research had revealed that isotopes of some radioactive rudiments decay into other rudiments at rates that can be easily prophesied. By inspecting the present elements, researchers can estimate the preliminary quantity, and thus how long it took for the rudiments to deteriorate, permitting them to decide the age of the rock.

The oldest rock on the planet is the Acasta Gneisses. They are found in northwestern Canada near the Great Slave Lake. They are estimated to be around 4.03 billion years old. The other such old rocks are found in Greenland. These rocks are known as Isua Supracrustal. These rocks are estimated to be around 3.7 to 3.8 years old.

acasta-gneisses

A fragment of the Acasta Gneiss, the oldest known rock outcrop on our planet. In an exhibition at the Natural History Museum in Vienna (Source: Wikimedia.org)

The scientists began to further refine the age of Earth. The substance that shaped the solar system was a bank of a cloud of dust and gas that enclosed the young sun. Gravitational connections amalgamated this substance into the planets and moons at coarsely the equivalent time. By reviewing other bodies in the solar system, researchers were able to find out more around the early times gone by of the planet.

The adjacent body to Earth, the moon, does not agonize from the resurfacing problems that cover Earth’s scenery. As such, rocks from the early lunar past should be existent on the moon. Illustrations reimbursed from missions such as Luna and Apollo revealed ages which are somewhere between 4.4 billion to 4.5 billion years, helping to coerce the age of Earth.

In addition to the huge builds of the solar system, researchers also have premeditated minor rocky visitors to that fell to Earth. Meteorites coil from a wide variety of bases. Some are cast off from other worlds after fierce smashes, while others are surplus chunks from the primary solar system that on no occasion grew large enough to form a consistent body.

Although no rocks have been purposely returned from Mars, examples exist in the form of meteorites that fell to Earth long ago, letting researchers make estimates about the age of rocks on the red planet. Some of these examples have been dated to 4.5 billion years old, backing up other calculations of the date of early terrestrial formation. More than 70 meteorites have tumbled upon the Earth to have their ages considered by radiometric dating. The eldest of these have ages between 4.4 and 4.5 billion years.

Fifty thousand years ago, a rock tossed down from interstellar space to form Meteor Crater in Arizona. Ruins of that asteroid have been poised from the crater rim and baptized for the nearby Canyon Diablo. In 1953, Clair Cameron Patterson determined ratios of lead isotopes in examples that put tight restraints on Earth’s age.

The Canyon Diablo meteorite is significant because it characterizes a class of meteorites with constituents that allow for more accurate dating. The samples obtained from the meteorite show a spread from around 4.53 to 4.58 billion years. Researchers deduce this array as the time it took for the solar system to grow, a measured event that took place over almost 50 million years.

Using not only the rocks on Earth but also evidences gathered about the system that environs it, researchers have been capable of placing the age of Earth at roughly 4.54 billion years. For contrast, the Milky Way galaxy that comprises the solar system is almost 13.2 billion years old, while the cosmos itself has been dated to 13.8 billion years.

I really get amazed to knot that our planet was formed around 4.5 billion years ago. How would we be, if we humans were born at least 50 million years ago? We would probably be ruling our galaxy. What do you think? Tell us with a short comment.