Month: February 2015

SETI-The Quest for Evidence?

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project, which was formerly a NASA program was established in 1959. The SETI program uses radio telescopes to probe deep into outer space to try and catch some form of radio waves that might be sent by some other civilization beside ours here on earth. In other words, the SETI project says “Who is out there?” It is a cosmic “Hi.” The advantage of radio telescopes is that they have the ability to travel way deep into outer space without being hindered by dense clouds of gas and dust found in some regions of space. The late atheist scholar, Carl Sagan, said that receiving just one message from outer space through these radio telescopes would be enough evidence to believe in the existence of intelligence in the universe besides our own! Getting a message from outer space would also confirm the hypothesis promulgated by atheist scholars such as Richard Dawkins and Francis Crick (co-discoverer of the DNA double helix) and others of their ilk that life was brought to this earth by space aliens.1 This is a theory that is known as “directed panspermia.” Anything other than God, right? But we ask, how did these aliens come to be?
The complexity of living organisms itself points to purposeful Intelligence Design, for how can we account for the information that makes up the genetic code in the form of a written language spelling out life? If we reject Intelligent Design, how do we explain the information stored up in the molecular structure and function of the cell? We are talking about 30 volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica-in only one single cell of a lower life form-an amoeba!!!2 The entire amoeba itself carries information in its DNA that is equivalent to 1,000 complete sets of Encyclopedia Britannica-sets not just volumes.
The average human brain is said to have 100 billion nerve cells. This is what Carl Sagan himself said about the human brain: “The information content of the brain expressed in bits is probably comparable to the total number of connections among the neurons- about a hundred trillion…bits. If written in English…that information would fill some twenty million volumes, as many as in the world’s largest libraries. The equivalent of twenty million books is inside the head of every one of us. The brain is a very big place in a very small space.”3 So, if this staggering amount of evidence is not enough to convince us that an Intelligent Designer was at hand here, how can one single message from space convince anyone of anything? Isn’t this astronomical biological information storage and retrieval system enough evidence for Intelligent Design, for a Creator God? How about the longest letter word that we have so far, the 3 billion letter word of the human genome (also known as the human DNA)? Was it a result of random mutations as well? We are not talking about a meaningless word. This word comes complete with instructions of life. Isn’t this another pointer toward Intelligent Design?
Sources

1 Scott Youngren, Why Life Could Not Have Emerged Without God. Accessed from http://godevidence.com/2012/01/why-life-could-not-have-emerged-without-god/

2 Nelson L. Price, Creation Part 1. 2010. Accessed from http://www.nelsonprice.com/creation-part-i/

3 Carl Sagan, Cosmos. 1980. New York: Ballantine. pp. 230.

Age of Superbugs…

The current hospital outbreak of superbug carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) connected to the death of two patients at a UCLA hospital is unnerving some patients scheduled to undergo the same procedure in other hospitals as well. CNN reported on Thursday, February 19, 2015 that the infection was caused by medical endoscopes or duodenoscopes manufactured by Olympus, which the FDA reportedly admits “cause challenges for cleaning and high-level disinfection.” The hospital has contacted other 179 patients who had undergone the same procedure from October 2014 to January 2015.
For almost a century now the medical profession has been using antibiotics to combat and control bacteria that make people sick. But in recent years these antibiotics seem to have lost their power to destroy some of the bacteria. The way these antibiotics have been used sometimes seems to have contributed in the creation of drug-resistant bacteria which we now know as superbugs. Superbugs are strains of bacteria that have developed the ability to resist many forms of antibiotics. The CDC claims that each year 2 million people are infected with a drug-resistant bacteria of some sort and 23,000 of them die due to the infection- in the United States alone.1
Antibiotics are among the most common types of medicinal drugs prescribed by clinicians to their patients. Sometimes antibiotics are given to livestock for disease prevention and for growth stimulation. But these antibiotics are not always a necessary treatment regimen, and their over-use as well as misuse ends up creating drug-resistant bacteria. Sometimes people take antibiotics when they come down with the flu, but antibiotics cannot destroy the flu-causing virus. They are not able to fight a viral infection. In these cases, the antibiotics only succeed in destroying a wide variety of bacteria in the body including the ‘good’ bacteria that help with the digestive process and general well-being. But some types of bacteria are tough enough to survive this form of “treatment.” They seize this as an opportunity to grow stronger and to multiply. Sometimes they even spread to other people.
As more people continue to take unnecessary antibiotics, the bacteria become more and more drug-resistant and spread, and may even share their drug-resistant characteristics or traits with other bacteria, making them stronger still while the antibiotics become less and less efficacious.
This places a responsibility on each one of us to take antibiotics only when necessary and in a manner prescribed by the healthcare provider. It is important to refrain from insisting on antibiotics against the advice of a provider.
Sources

1 National Institutes of Health (2014). Stop the Spread of Superbugs. http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/feb2014/feature1

2 Ibid.

When Once Is More than Enough!

A new study finds that when young people binge drink alcohol, it disrupts their immune system, and that disruption happens more quickly than drinkers might think.

Published in December in the journal, Alcohol, the study found that within just two hours of young, healthy adults drinking up to five shots of vodka, their immune systems were less active than when sober. The findings are particularly relevant as binge drinking increases the risk of a number of injuries that might land young people in the emergency room, where physicians could benefit from knowing that a patient’s immune system may be impaired due to too much alcohol. Majid Afshar, MD, MSCR, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor within the Loyola University Chicago Departments of Medicine and Public Health Sciences, said the findings illustrate the importance of asking about a patient’s alcohol consumption. He added that some patients are likely arriving at trauma centers with alcohol-related injuries at a time when their healing capacity is weakened.

“This supports the idea that physicians should be aware of these patients and be more aggressive in how they treat them,” Afshar said.

To conduct the study, researchers recruited eight women and seven men, with an average age of 27, who each drank enough vodka shots to meet the definition of binge drinking, which was defined as reaching or exceeding the legal blood alcohol limit for driving. Study participants’ blood was collected and tested before drinking as well as 20 minutes, two hours and five hours after peak intoxication. The study found that 20 minutes after peak intoxication, participants’ immune systems exhibited increased activity; however, at the two- and five-hour marks, their immune systems exhibited decreased activity. The study found that such effects happen after just one episode of binge drinking.

“The clinical impacts of these changes are not yet known but occurred during the post-alcohol ingestion time frame when trauma victims are exposed to (internal) activators of inflammation and microbial pathogens,” the study concluded.

Afshar said that while he and his colleagues expected some type of immune system disruption, they were surprised that it occurred so quickly. From a public health perspective, he said the study’s findings are another reason to support alcohol-related education and prevention efforts.

“The idea that one single episode of binge drinking can cause such a significant disruption — it’s something we can take to the public and show them that there are harms even for those who don’t consider themselves problem drinkers,” Afshar told The Nation’s Health. “We need to do a better job on educating the public about the harmful effects of heavy drinking in people who otherwise consider themselves healthy.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month and consumes about eight drinks per episode. Binge drinking is more common among adults ages 18 to 34, with more than half of the alcohol consumed in the U.S. drunk in the form of binge drinking.

Study: One episode of binge drinking enough to weaken immune system. The Nation’s Health. http://thenationshealth.aphapublications.org/content/45/1/E3.full

Your Specified Complexity, Is It By Chance?

The amazing thing about living organisms is their distinctive specified complexity, which is a type of orderliness carrying specific instructions and messages and functions within the organism. For example, the human cell is of such immense complexity it is mind bogglingly overwhelming. Inside this tiny structure is the DNA molecule, which is the building block of all organisms. It is like a biological library with hundreds of volumes of information store in its molecular system. A deeper examination of the DNA molecule reveals storage of information in four-letter format, the language of DNA: A, T, C, G-which stand for Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine, and Guanine. The human genome has 3 billion of these letters or bases.
The four letters, A, T, C, G are also known as nucleotides. These letters are arranged into 64 3-letter words known as codons used to specify the 20 different types of amino acids used by living organisms. The 3-letter words are arranged in such a manner that they form sentence structures, known as genes.1 These genes are organized in sequential order to form equivalents of paragraphs of information known as operons. The operons or paragraphs are also arranged in chapter structures of information known as chromosomes. Finally, these chapters of information put together form a manuscript or an entire book which is the living organism itself. Such an exhibition of intellectuality can never be by chance.
Amazingly, the information found in a cell carries the same pattern of letters similar to that human beings utilize to deliver information to each other. To believe that this is a mere product of matter, time and chance is inconceivable, to say the least.
Talking about chance, read the part of satirical poem from the pen of Steve Turner below: 2

If chance be the Father of all flesh,
Disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
And when you hear
State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Bomb Blasts School!
It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker.

Sources

1 Norman Geisler & Peter Bocchino (2001). Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith. Bethany House Publishers. Bloomington, Minnesota. pp. 127

2 Steve Turner, (English journalist), “Creed,” his satirical poem on the modern mind. Taken from Ravi Zacharias’ book Can Man live Without God? Pages 42-44

Physician Burnout

All of us are familiar with being burned out in our professions. It happens when we feel physically worn-out and emotionally drained.  Physicians are equally prone to being burned out; particularly so since they work in stress-saturated environments. The creators of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) define physician burnout as “…an erosion of the soul caused by a deterioration of one’s values, dignity, spirit and will.”

Reducing Belly Fat by Weight Training

Belly fat or visceral fat is one of the most insidious nuisances that plague a significant percentage of individuals. This fat sits in an apron-like flap of tissue under the belly muscles that blankets the intestines. If it is not controlled it can lead to high blood pressure, elevated levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and increased sugar levels in the blood. Although it may be difficult to shed off belly fat once it has accumulated, it is NOT impossible. The article below suggests how to reduce and even prevent belly fat accumulation.

According to a new study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers and colleagues, Healthy men who did twenty minutes of daily weight training had less of an increase in age-related abdominal fat compared with men who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic activities. Combining weight training and aerobic activity led to the most optimal results. Aerobic exercise by itself was associated with less weight gain compared with weight training. Even if the fat is already there, regular exercise can reduce its pathophysiology.

“Because aging is associated with sarcopenia, the loss of skeletal muscle mass, relying on body weight alone is insufficient for the study of healthy aging,” said lead author Rania Mekary, a researcher in Harvard School of Public Health’s (HSPH) Department of Nutrition, and assistant professor of social and administrative sciences at the School of Pharmacy of MCPHS University. Mekary further said that “Measuring waist circumference is a better indicator of healthy body composition among older adults. Engaging in resistance training or, ideally, combining it with aerobic exercise could help older adults lessen abdominal fat while increasing or preserving muscle mass.”

Mekary and colleagues studied the physical activity, waist circumference, and body weight of 10,500 healthy U.S. men aged 40 and over, participating in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study between 1996 and 2008. Their analysis included a comparison of changes in participants’ activity levels over the 12-year period to see which activities had the most effect on the men’s waistlines. Those who increased the amount of time spent in weight training by 20 minutes a day had less gain in their waistline (-0.67 cm) compared with men who similarly increased the amount of time they spent on moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise (-0.33 cm), and yard work or stair climbing (-0.16 cm). Those who increased their sedentary behaviors, such as TV watching, had a larger gain in their waistline.

“This study underscores the importance of weight training in reducing abdominal obesity, especially among the elderly,” said Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH and senior author of the study. “To maintain a healthy weight and waistline, it is critical to incorporate weight training with aerobic exercise.”

Article: Courtesy of Harvard School of Public Health: Harvard T.H. Chan (2015):

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/weight-training-appears-key-to-controlling-belly-fat/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Harvard%20Chan%20School%20Update%20January%202015%20–%20Friends%20%281%29&utm_content=

From Non-Life to Life??

From Non-Life to Life?

Mathematicians and astronomers who are researching how life began in our universe continue to expend considerable time and other resources to find out how all this began in our universe outside of Intelligent Design.[1] Using the Law of Specificity which measures the level of order in a given system, some of these individuals have tried to establish the probability of biological life arising from mere natural forces. Findings by some mathematicians engaged in the same research such as Marcel Schultzenberger have denied the feasibility of mutations randomly producing life. Schultzenberger claims that the odds of random mutations evolving into complex biological life are 10-10,000.[2] Similarly, astronomers Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe claim that the probability that life could have originated from non-life through random mutations is 10-40,000

In the discipline of science all scientific conclusions should be based on probability. That is to say, there must be a level of probability that a given cause could have triggered or produced a subsequent effect. Now, the figure 1040,000 is larger than the number of atoms in our universe which is 1080. As such, any figure outside the realm of 1080 claiming that life sprang from non-life is less than the probability of finding one single atom in our entire universe. Furthermore, it is reported that the rule of thumb in physics is such that when the probability of the occurrence of one event is reduced to below 1/1050 it has reached the realm of the impossible. In a nutshell, there is no way life could have emerged from non-life through random mutations.

Sources

[1] Norman Geisler & Peter Bocchino (2001). Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith. Bethany House Publishers. Bloomington, Minnesota. pp. 132-133

[2] Lane P. Lester & Raymond G. Bohlin. Natural Limits to Biological Change; In Norman Geisler & Peter Bocchino (2001). Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith. Bethany House Publishers. Bloomington, Minnesota. pp. 133