The Fountain Magazine The Fountain en (C) 2012 Stem cells as an arthritis vaccine - The Fountain Stem cells as an arthritis vaccine

Brunger JM et al. Genome Engineering of Stem Cells for Autonomously Regulated,
Closed-Loop Delivery of Biologic Drugs. Stem Cell Reports, April 2017.

Arthritis is an ancient disease that is associated with swelling and inflammation of the joints. It often results in stiffness, pain, and restriction of movement. In most cases of arthritis, the range of necessary treatments is very limited and common pharmaceutical treatments simply relieve the symptoms. However, a new study using stem cell technology may lead to the development of an arthritis vaccine that specifically targets inflammation in joints and stops pain before it even starts. Researchers used CRISPR technology, a revolutionary gene-editing tool, to reprogram mouse stem cells to combat inflammation caused by arthritis. These newly generated stem cells are called SMART (Stem cells Modified for Autonomous Regenerative Therapy). They are designed to develop into cartilage cells that produce anti-inflammatory agents. They also end up replacing damaged cartilage, reducing chronic arthritis-related inflammation. Researchers hope to package these reprogrammed stem cells as a vaccine for arthritis, which would deliver an anti-inflammatory drug to an arthritic joint, but only when needed. Current arthritis medications are given systemically, meaning they have the potential to interfere with other parts of the body. Since SMART cells deliver the medication only to the targeted location, this will significantly reduce the systemic effects.  The question is: will they be effective? In trials, SMART cells were observed to grow into cartilage tissue and even protect against inflammation over the course of a few days in mice.  Further testing is still in its initial phase in mouse models.  These stem cells have been engineered to fight rheumatoid arthritis.

2003-11-12 10:03:42
Love and Obedience - The Fountain Question: “Love should be learned from Satan and obedience from Adam.” What does this statement, which is originally attributed to Hallaj al-Mansur, mean?

Hallaj al-Mansur was inspired by the philosophy of Unity of Being (wahdat al-wujud), which he followed. When looking at his words we can understand love in two ways. First, love is an irrevocable desire for truth and the quest to discover it. Second, love is being preoccupied with someone, expecting favor from them, and not accepting any other rivals for their affection. Selfishness and egoism can easily be sensed in this second type of love.

As a matter of fact, Satan can be said to be superior to humankind in terms of its extensiveness in time and space – at least as far as its nature is allowed to reach. Being so blessed, one could think highly of oneself. Satan thought, “I will not prefer Adam to myself.” If we call this “love,” this is the kind of love Satan possesses.

Instead of such an impaired love, a love that expects reciprocity, we should follow a love of obedience, which takes a person to perfection. This obedience refers to doing everything for the sake of God’s good pleasure and expecting nothing in return. It means remaining remote from worldly grudges, never making one’s relation to God a matter of negotiation with God, and always behaving with submission and surrender.

Hallaj was referring to these considerations, which are by all means restricted by various boundaries, when he said, “Love should be learned from Satan and obedience from Adam.”

Love is associated with one’s weakness and neediness; as such, there are some gateways in its nature that are open to abuse. Perhaps, this was the case with Satan.

For this reason, it is very important to follow the Prophetic path in regards ...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 Technology Inspired by Wheat Stems - Sam Plat Human beings have made significant developments in technology. Better designs are emerging by the day.  The dizzying speed of development hasn’t just brought serious technological progress, but serious competition – which has, in turn, begat even more progress. Old, inefficient models are being replaced by high efficiency, energy-saving designs.  
As part of these new developments, humans are discovering inspiration in the works of art hidden in nature.  Although Biomimetics has recently emerged as a scientific discipline, many researchers are already switching over to it.  Biomimetics is the study of the design available with all its grandeur in nature and searching for ideal solutions to human problems. These solutions are then used to develop new technologies.  Basically, it aims to make progress in technology by imitating the perfection of nature.
Many examples of what has been transferred from living things to technology, in fields as diverse as robotics, optics, new materials, vehicle technology, and so on, are now all around us.  Yet, all engineering designs face a basic challenge: “ensuring the highest endurance with the least amount of material.” Spending less on materials will reduce overall costs, in both the long and short term. Lightweight materials mean saving money on energy over the lifetime of a project.
Thankfully, as Biomimeticians have discovered, nature is designed to be efficient.
Research into wheat stems has shown that they have remarkable characteristics when it comes to strength. Most of us have seen wheat fields waving in a wind strong enough to topple trees.  Despite carrying a relatively heavy ear of grain and being supported by a delicate stem structure, the wheat is able to withstand strong winds. It rarely breaks. 
This kind of strength could be an asset in building skyscrapers. While the ratio of the height of a wheat stalk to the base diameter is 500, ...]]>
2016-10-20 08:00:00
Slender But Strong Dragonflies - Ted Keene Many scientists have been conducting studies examining the natural world for clues that will hopefully improve human flight engineering. One of the studies they launched explored the miraculous design of dragonflies. Dragonflies are insects of the Odonata order. They’re distinctive from other insects of the same order because of their multifarious eyes, amazingly designed twin pairs of strong, transparent wings, and aerodynamically elongated bodies. The dragonfly’s independently flapping wings and body enable it to make unlimited maneuvers while flying, allowing it to capture prey by appearing stationary. The dragonfly conceals its quick aerial movements by generating a visual illusion – at least, according to scientist Akiko Mizu­tani, of the Centre for Visual Science at the Australian National University, and scientist, Dr Javaan Chahl, of the Defense Science and Technology Organization (

The dragonfly’s four wings allow it to deploy significant amounts of airflow through these wings, generating the lift necessary to keep itself balanced while striking its prey. This combination of airflow and the complex maneuvers the dragonfly can make have astonished researchers. A dragonfly can make complicated maneuvers even while approaching its prey at a speed of 60 km/h. It can also suspend itself in the air.
According to Akiko Mizutani’s observations, “while chasing its prey, dragonflies shadow their enemies in complex maneuvers that military fighter pilots can only dream of.”2. This statement highlights the fact that dragonflies are one of the most agile and maneuverable insects in the world. Dragonflies were, in fact, designed to be very talented predators that intelligently utilize their agility and speed. 
A dragonfly’s wings enable its speed and agility. All four wings are transparent, very strong, and flexible, and they have wingspans of up...]]> 2017-06-06 07:23:58 Praying with God-consciousness - Mary Lahaj At the acute-care, big city hospital where I trained as a Muslim chaplain, I was called to support a family who had been visiting their loved one, when he suddenly died. To personalize the patient, I will call him, “Mr. Griffin.”
When I entered the room, the patient’s wife and adult son were standing in a corner with a nurse, staring at the deceased, wearing grim and shocked faces. It was the oddest thing, because he died while actively getting out of bed to go to the bathroom. His wife looked at me, feeling the need to explain, and said, “He just said he had to go to the bathroom. That was all he said, and he started to get up.”  
One leg was already off the bed, not quite touching the floor. Mr. Griffin was wearing boxer shorts and a tee-shirt. He looked to be in his 50s. The whole length of his body was uncovered, revealing a tall, thin frame. He was lying on his side, on the edge of the bed, with one arm bent at the elbow, hand splayed, as if using it to push off.
Suspended in mid-air, Mr. Griffin was positioned like an action figure, basically half off the bed. I was inclined to run to catch him, before he fell. His facial expression was frozen, but not in surprise. Rather, his eyes were wide open, lips parted, and intent for his destination. But Mr. Griffin had been caught unaware in the act of dying and stopped by the instant of his death.
I asked the nurse to please place the man in a more relaxed position and cover him, while I escorted the family from the room to comfort them.
My grandfather, who lived into his nineties, would always say, “I’m not going to die one second before my time on earth is up.” As a Muslim, he was informed by the Qur’an, which states, not unlike the Bible, that every living thing has an appointed time on earth, known only to the Creator.
The image of Mr. Griffin sometimes visits me when I am praying. Usually, ...]]>
2008-05-29 07:04:47
Ibn Khaldun on Luxury and the Destruction of Civilizations - Alice Bolton “At the beginning of the empire, the tax rates were low and the revenues were high. At the end of the empire, the tax rates were high and the revenues were low.”

Former US President Ronald Reagan proudly referred to Ibn Khaldun’s above quote in an article for the International Herald Tribune in 1993 titled, “Excuse me Mr. Clinton, I must have misheard you” (February 21, 1993, p. 4). Reagan did not quote Ibn Khaldun first time in 1993. Actually he quoted him many years earlier, at the beginning of his term in the White House, as a support to his economy politics, so called Reaganomics. Although, some historians [1] saw no connection between Reaganomics and Ibn Khaldun’s theories, Reagan caught people’s attention with his reference to this notable, but mostly forgotten (at least in the West), scholar. The name was foreign to many ears, and for many Americans, it was the first time they had heard of him.

Who was Ibn Khaldun, really? Was he an economist? According to many accounts, he came up with many economic concepts 400 years before Adam Smith. Ibn Khaldun was the inspiration behind the concept popularly known as the “Laffer Curve.” Nevertheless, he was not an economist, per se.

Was he a historian? The famous historian Arnold Toynbee declared that Ibn Khaldun’s book, Muqaddimah, is the greatest book of its kind. But still others contend that he was mainly a philosopher and a political scientist.

Today, the consensus among scholars is that Ibn Khaldun was all of those things, yet today, he is primarily known for being the founder of sociology. In fact, Ibn Khaldun’s own accounts confirm this view. In his ground-breaking book, Muqaddimah, often translated as “Prolegomenon,” he declared that he had established a new science. In his own words:

            “It should be known that the discussi...]]> 2007-12-31 03:52:26 The Ethics of Human Experimentation - Dilara Guvercin Taking risks is an inevitable necessity when trying to achieve a breakthrough in modern science, technology, or human understanding. A moral dilemma, however, emerges when the risks threaten human lives and well-being. One must ask: can the well-being of one human be sacrificed in order to achieve a greater potential benefit for the larger population?

Human clinical trials have occurred throughout history, particularly in the fields of medicine and psychology. When comparing different periods, it is evident that over time, society has set more rigid and condition-based standards on what type of tests can be applied on people, as well as the necessary qualifications of the testers themselves. However, the issue itself has always been controversial, and the standards are constantly changing on the basis of legal, religious, and moral arguments. It is common sense that forcing someone to partake in a clinical study against their will, performing experiments on subjects without their knowledge of it, instigating unnecessary pain and torture, or not allowing someone to withdraw from the experiment, are unacceptable and morally, legally, and religiously unjustifiable. But such easy answers make it seem that there are strict regulations that are implemented when human clinical trials are carried out, and that there is an organized system that determines such issues. The reality is, even these “common sense” ground rules can be compromised in various situations where infringing upon one or more of the rules is pivotal to the success of the experiment.

There is a blatant discrepancy between the protocol that is implemented when handling vulnerable people, such as the mentally disabled, certain prisoners, or children, and those who are actually capable of making conscious decisions for themselves. Vulnerable people can be characterized by their inability to comprehend or, in some cases have a say in, the conditions the...]]> 2017-06-06 07:20:29 Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Madelaine Landry The Biblical book of Exodus tells of being a stranger in a strange land. It has universal resonance. To fully grasp the experience of terra incognita, recall a time you entered a place you’d never before gone. Think back to the inner dialogue that ensued, because it is there, at the intersection of self-awareness and self-talk, that our attitudes, beliefs, and values are formed.  Do I have what it takes to get through this? Undoubtedly, we have often asked ourselves this.

One of my most memorable experiences occurred when I returned to finish my undergrad degree in my late forties. Navigating the language and requirements of the online enrollment process left me feeling powerless, frozen with the inability to comprehend what was expected of me. Without lines to get into, there was no friendly conversation that could help me bluff my way through. By the time I figured out the process, all that remained open for my science elective was one geology lecture course. Why had it not filled up?  Was it the course? The professor? Was I about to sign up for something everyone else was smart enough to walk away from? I know nothing about rocks, nor am I at all sure I want to!  

My fingers hovered above the Enter key; my self-conversation told me I was making a huge mistake. My already shaky confidence ebbed away with every second I hesitated.  My options were limited by my lack of understanding. I felt restrained by my inadequate knowledge of the unfamiliar terrain. Reality can be a frightening destination when its streets are paved with bewilderment, delusion, and fear.

Fortunately, mine was a short-lived panic. The first day of class, I entered an auditorium with 300-plus other students. Three cups of coffee floated in me, a futile attempt to drown my insecurities. I can always leave, I told myself. You cannot be arrested for dropping a course.  ...]]> 2017-06-06 07:13:04 Ghurba (Separation) - The Fountain Literally meaning the state of being a foreigner, homelessness, loneliness, separation, and being a stranger in one’s own land, ghurba (separation) has been defined in the language of Sufism as renouncing the world with the charms to which one feels attachment on the way to the All-True, All-Desired and Sought One, or living a life dedicated to the other world though surrounded by this world and its charms. Separation can be viewed as the states in which those who try to improve the world spiritually find themselves. Some of these states, which we can also consider as kinds of separation, are moving from one state to another, turning one’s face from the created to the Creator, and descending from the limitless, heavenly realm to that of the created to guide the created to ascend to the heavenly one.

The following words were reported to have been said by God’s most illustrious Messenger, Prophet Muhammad, the greatest hero in ascension to God and descent amongst the people in order to guide them to God after the completion of his ascension: “The most lovable to God Almighty among His servants are those who are separate.” When asked who such people were, he replied: “Those who are able to keep themselves separate from people for the sake of their religion and live a true, religious life. They will be resurrected together with Jesus, the son of Mary” (Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziya, Madaricu’s-Salikin, 3: 195). The idea of taking the first step toward the eternal life of the Hereafter alongside our master Jesus is a meaningful way of expressing and understanding the depth of his feeling of separation.

There are Prophetic reports that a person who dies away from home dies a martyr (Abu Ya‘la, al-Musnad, 4:269; Ibn Maja, “Jana’iz,” 61). The separation mentioned in these reports also includes: the separation of God’s saintly se...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 Healing through Animals: Zootherapy - Atif Yorulmaz We have a good deal of literature on herbal medicine, which is even recognized, within a certain frame, in Western medicine. However, most people thinking of herbal medicine think of herbs – perhaps logically! But when we look at the giant pharmacy that is nature, which has been equipped with various cures for human needs, we see that not only herbs, but also animals and minerals, have a role to play. By focusing solely on herbs, we fail to appreciate the world of animals.

History is rich in examples of human health benefitting from animals – this is called zoo-therapy. Hippocrates, who lived during the 5th and 4th centuries BC, used cow’s milk, chicken eggs, mammal horns, and sea sponges for treatments. We know that about a thousand years ago, the Mayans used fly larvae to treat gangrenous wounds. In Mexico, bees, ants, chickens, and other animals have been used to treat different diseases since ancient times. In traditional Chinese medicine, it has been recorded that more than 1500 types of animals were used for medical purposes.

In ancient Egypt, historical sources refer to the use of cow’s milk, honey, lizard blood, ox organs, swallow liver, and bat wings, as well as ember and musk essences, to treat ailments and diseases. Likewise, it is reported that in Mesopotamia during the Assyrian and Babylonian periods fish oil, wax and honey, mongoose blood, tortoise shell, goat skin, the dungs of sheep, dear, and birds, and animal fats were all used as medicines or balms.

In the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean regions, 99 substances of animal origin have been used as medicine, from the early Middle Ages up to the present day. In the Islamic world as well, 52 different animal-derived powders and pastes were used from the tenth century until the end of the Ottoman Empire. It is recorded that 77 of those animal-derived products continued to be used in the twentieth century as well (Lev 2006, 2:1-11).

2017-06-06 07:04:37
Timbuktu: A Lost Center of Education and Trade - Adam Penale Located in the modern-day West African nation of Mali, the city of Timbuktu was once a bustling Islamic metropolitan center well known to traders and academics throughout Africa and the Middle East. While the city still exists as the capital of the Tombouctou region, it has fallen mightily in terms of size and fame. In this essay, we will explore the emergence and eventual decline of one of the last millennia’s most vibrant educational and economic centers. Its location and importance have been forgotten by mainstream society, as the city has been reduced to a symbol for a far-away land, as stated by Timothy A. Insoll, who said, “Timbuktu is perhaps best known as a metaphor for the most remote and far-flung corner of the globe.”  Historian Elias N. Saad wrote that Timbuktu has achieved high levels of “lore of mystery and enigma” and that its name “now often invokes the image of a remote, inaccessible place which never at all existed.” 
Of course, the city did exist – and it flourished, despite its desert climate and a cultural identity distinct from those of other African metropolises. Yushau Sodiq described Timbuktu as “one of the most radiant seats of culture and civilization in West Africa,” which has now “become a city of sand and dust.”  During its height, “West Africans perceived Timbuktu as the economic and cultural capital equal to Rome, Fez, and Mecca.” 
Located in the lower Sahara desert near the Niger River and founded in the 12th century by the nomadic Tuareg people, the site initially existed as a camp for traders before blossoming as a scholastic hub. By the 14th century it had become an Islamic center of learning, bringing students from across the region to its universities and libraries.  A century later, it would replace Djenné of Niger’s Mopti and Inner Delta region as the epicenter of scholarship in the Muslim world. One c...]]>
2017-06-06 06:48:01
The Gülen Community Who to Believe – Politicians or Actions? - Thomas Michel On July 15, 2016, while President Erdoğan was vacationing in the Mediterranean coastal town of Marmaris, Istanbul and Ankara were shaken by an attempted coup d’état carried out by certain members of the Turkish armed forces. 

About seven years before that, in May 2009, I received an award at the International Turkish Olympiad.  The festival was essentially a cultural event consisting of Turkish songs, dances, and poetry recitals performed by students from Turkish schools around the world.  It took place in a modern convention hall in Ankara with thousands of spectators in attendance.  The event was sponsored and organized by members of the Hizmet movement, a Muslim community inspired by the preaching and writings of Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen.  When I, together with a handful of other recipients, mounted the stage to accept our awards, there to shake our hands was the smiling Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.     

The incident underlines how less than a decade earlier relations between Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (known by its acronym, the AKP) and the Hizmet movement guided by Gülen’s teaching were characterized by cooperation and respect.  Foreign observers in Ankara even referred to Hizmet as “the religious wing of the AKP.”  Although inaccurate even in those days, such a characterization reflected a commonly held view among Turks and others that there was some kind of ideological link between the AKP and the followers of Gülen.

There is no doubt that the Gülen supporters had great influence in Turkey.  They ran the best high schools and college prep institutions, and students from those schools, year after year, obtained the top scores in the standardized college entrance exams.  Hizmet members published Zaman, the most widely circulated and highly regarded newspaper in Turkey, referred to by Erdoğan himself as “the guardian of democracy...]]> 2004-07-23 08:41:45 Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, and Umami - Osman Senkaya We are taught that there are four basic tastes. But what taste best describes chicken soup, mushrooms, or pastrami? An NPR story recently explored how the line between specific tastes is actually quite blurry – and how some tastes don’t fit neatly into any of the four classic definitions:

Auguste Escoffier was not just a chef; in Paris in the late 1800s he was the chef. He had opened the most glamorous, most expensive, most revolutionary restaurant in the city. He had written a cookbook, The Guide Culinaire. And, he also created meals that tasted like no combination of salty, sour, sweet, and bitter; they tasted new. He offered a spectacular new sauce that seemed to deepen and enrich the flavor of everything it touched.

But because it was neither sweet, bitter, sour, salty nor any combination of those four, as far as scientists were concerned, it wasn't real. People may smack their lips, drool, savor, and pay enormous amounts of money to M. Escoffier, but what they tasted wasn't really there. It was all in their heads.

Meanwhile, halfway across the world, a chemist named Kikunae Ikeda was at the very same time enjoying a bowl of dashi, a classic Japanese soup made from seaweed. He too sensed that he tasted something beyond categor[ization]. And it was, thought Ikeda, simply delicious.

But what was it? Being a chemist, Ikeda could find out. He knew what he tasted was, as he wrote, "common to asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat but… not one of the four well-known tastes." Ikeda went into his lab and found the secret ingredient in 1908. He wrote in a journal for the Chemical Society of Tokyo that it was glutamic acid, but he decided to rename it. He called it umami (pronounced "oo-MA-mee"), which means "delicious" or "yummy" in Japanese. Ikeda then crystallized monosodium glutamate (MSG), the chemical ingredient responsible for umami, as a seasoning that would become popular worldwid...]]> 2011-11-03 02:37:13 Another Eclipse Is Over - M. Fethullah Gulen Never despair, keep your willpower alive
If you can, be a source of hope for all

Our society is currently being challenged by a spiral of problems – problems of a rare kind. We are troubled by countless incitements. We are faced with depravation, contempt for values, decadence that leads to desultoriness, addiction to pomp and vanity, avarice and indulgence in pleasures, worldly ambitions and wishfullness for eternal life in this world, and – to be able to attain these ambitions – Machiavellianism that unscrupulously legitimizes all sorts of means.

While our hearts and souls are paralyzed by these devastating afflictions, there are also many other cases of baseness. They come in the form of outrageous indifference, embarrassing heedlessness, being silent like “a mute devil” in the face of sheer injustice, and closing our ears to the uproars of despots and oppressors and to the cries of innocents and victims. This level of wickedness has been rarely witnessed in history.

Notwithstanding all these concentric deviations, there have been a few dozen devotees of love who have always taken on all the risks and moved forward on their path of resurrection, even at the expense of their own lives and regardless of the bumpy road ahead. These devotees have tied their lives to the wellbeing of others and have always breathed with this lofty ideal. They say as Fuzuli said,

I can only be thankful, if the Beloved asked for my life,
What is its worth anyway, that I wouldn’t forsake it for my Beloved.

They have lived these sentiments joyfully; they rose with hope and moved with disregard for worldly ambitions. As they took refuge in the All-Patient One, they never slowed down while marching on the path of the Prophets, despite all the complicated and insecure directions, unyielding hurdles, and mercile...]]> 2003-11-12 09:02:38 The Rise and Fall of Civilizations - The Fountain Many past civilizations believed – and in fact many still believe – that a solar eclipse was an omen of a great event, be it for evil or good.Some believed the eclipse happened because a deity swallowed the sun. Others blamed beasts, wolves, and even frogs for the sun’s temporary vanishing. Babylonians would replace their king after an eclipse, as they thought it was bad for a ruler. In the Shakespearean drama Othello, the eponymous character expected a solar or lunar eclipse after the loss of his wife, Desdemona.

Considering the limited astronomical technology these civilizations had, it would be unfair to expect our ancestors to know that an eclipse was just the moon coming between the Earth and the sun. But for believers, regardless of time or circumstance, nothing happens without a purpose. A celestial event as big as an eclipse can, at the very least, inspire a sense of awe in all of us. We are reminded how easy it is for darkness to descend upon our lives. But we are also aware that just as the eclipse doesn’t last for long, these periods of darkness will also pass. The light will return.

This issue’s lead article uses an eclipse as a metaphor for a reason. For the author, Fethullah Gülen, a real eclipse is not a celestial event, but when we are faced with weaknesses like “contempt for values, addiction to pomp and vanity, avarice and indulgence in pleasures, worldly ambitions and wishfullness for eternal life in this world, Machiavellianism … outrageous indifference, embarrassing heedlessness, being silent like in the face of sheer injustice, and closing our ears to the uproars of despots and oppressors and to the cries of innocents and victims.” Yet Gülen believes that if there are a few souls devoted to lofty ideals, who are patient and seek the Divine good pleasure, then there is always hope; and eclipses, however long they may last, will eventually ...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 Schoolgirls Kidnapped in Nigeria! - Sophia Pandya Introduction

On the night of January 13, 2017, eight people were kidnapped at gun point in the Ogun State of Nigeria,[1] by masked members of a group calling itself “The Delta Militants.” Those kidnapped were students and employees at a private school located near Lagos. These include three female students, aged eleven, fourteen, and fifteen years, who were seized from the girls’ dormitory. The five women included two supervisors, one headmistress, one cook, and a teacher, and all are Nigerian, except for the teacher, who is Turkish. Beaten and threatened with their lives, the victims were released relatively unscathed twelve days later, and all of the girls returned to their school within days, as did their teacher. I was able to meet all of the children and their teacher only a month after their ordeal, during a visit to their school, and over a meal at the teacher’s home.

When the girls sat shyly in front of me, two of them wearing green and pink skirts and the third dressed in grey, purple and white, I took a deep breath, shocked, and thought, “...]]> 2016-10-20 08:00:00 Nobody Can Be Religious for Another Person - I Had to Affirm That for Myself - Ismail Tavaci The Fountain: Do you think religion and belief are still relevant in twenty-first century Western society?

Paul Weller: Certainly in terms of Europe in relation to matters of law and public policy, religion and belief are often focused on. In this context, by “belief” is meant nonreligious beliefs that are founded on ethical systems or presuppositions and are included alongside what is more traditionally understood as “religion.” So certainly, at the level of society, state, and law there is a presence and relevance of religion and belief.

In terms of the reality of religion and belief as lived, clearly in many societies the numbers of people who say that they belong to a particular religion has reduced in the Western world compared to what it was ten, fifteen, twenty years ago. But that of course doesn't always tell you about the nature of their connection to religious tradition. They may have only had a very broad cultural connection rather than one with which they were personally engaged. I think one has to understand what is meant by these terms and how they function in individual lives.

Some tend to call themselves spiritual rather than religious, or faithful in higher values but not in God. Why is religion less appealing to many people, especially the young? 2004-05-11 03:30:30 Religion and Science as One - Lawrence Brazier “On some evenings we would attend faculty parties,” she said. “It was a heady atmosphere, as we spent time with the world’s intellectual elite. There were scientists of all stripes, mathematicians and physicists, some of them of world renowned. Well, after about fifteen minutes of general chat they all started to talk about God.”


“They possibly felt that there was nothing left for them to do, nowhere else to go,” I suggested.


“Perhaps that is true,” she said. “After all, they above all others are aware of several unanswered questions. I supposed that for an intellectual, especially a scientist, the unexplained is irresistible.”


Home to seven billion people, Earth is one of the smallest planets in our solar system (its circumference is around 40 thousand kilometers at the equator) and its estimated age is about 4.5 billion years. It is the only planet we know of that supports life. In fact, it has so much life, that humans don’t even know how many species of Flora and Fauna call Earth home. Although scientists have identified 2 million species, the National Foundation’s “Tree of Life” has estimated the real number to be anywhere between 5 million to 100 million. Some entomologists are saying that we have only touched the surface of understanding animal life. And yet all these species rely on energy to survive, and a majority of them depend on a circular process of energy supply that starts with plants’ capturing sunlight (photosynthesis) that turn into food and oxygen for other living organisms.


However, the sun is not the only way humans can retrieve energy from nature. The use of fossil fuels as an alternative source of energy has been utilized by humans since the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, the use of fossil fuels has contributed to human-made climate change, which threatens all life as we know it. There are a number of effects of climate change, such as melting glaciers, a rise in ocean temperatures, drought and famine, and more frequent extreme weather events. Climate change is one of the greatest ch...]]> Giant Storms: A Mark of Magnificence in the Heavens - Kadir Firtina When taking a quick glance at the planets in our solar system you might be surprised to discover what rages beneath seemingly calm surfaces. Just as storms happen on Earth, the other planets are also afflicted by storms – only these storms are so strong, they can make a hurricane look like a gentle rain shower. 

A tornado that is bigger than the Earth: The Great Red Spot

The storms of a gas giant like Jupiter, a planet 1300 times bigger than Earth, are very fierce. Scientists who have studied Jupiter discovered that its high rotational rate – a day is only approximately 10 hours – leads to the formation of moving gas zones and east-west air jets. The air currents in these bands wrap the planet like colorful belts and they move in opposite directions at around 600 km per hour. The collision of these horizontal cloud bands leads to giant storms.

The most famous giant storm on Jupiter is the Great Red Spot. This giant anticyclone is three times bigger than the Earth. It rotates counter-clockwise and has existed for 340 years. Since Jupiter is made only of gas, it doesn’t have a physical topography. Therefore, the storm can’t find a place to empty its energy. The winds around the Great Red Spot, which looks like a red oval eye, have a speed of 400 km per hour.

It’s still a matter of debate as to how the Great Red Spot reached such a giant size.  Scientists have argued multiple theories. One theory states that this giant storm has been fed by an internal heat energy and engulfs all the other storms it comes across.  As the hot gases that comprise Jupiter's Hizmet (service, in Turkish) is a faith-inspired social movements with schools and cultural centers around the world. Hizmet’s ideological framework is based on humanism and Islamic sources, and manifests in the form of selfless individuals dedicated to serving humanity. The group’s humanistic qualities stem from universal values such as love, respect, freedom, democracy, and human rights; its Islamic sources are based on Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen’s reinterpretation of the Qur’an and hadith (ijtihad).

Hizmet’s activities can be classified into four categories: business associations, interfaith/intercultural dialogue activities, education,[1] and relief work.[2]  Its interfaith/intercultural dialogue activities provide safe zones w...]]> Dieting While You Are Healthy - Arif Eseroglu

The first step in preventive medicine is to diet while you are healthy.  If you are already sick, the diet will prevent the sickness from getting worse; it will support the immune system and the medications. A proper diet when you are healthy will make it less likely you will get sick.


A proper diet differs from person to person. It’s important to design your diet according to the genetic map of your family and characteristics of your body. By “dieting” I do not mean being undernourished, but eating a healthy balance of nutrients to supply your body’s daily energy needs. Balance is important, for if a person only eats protein, fat, or carbohydrates, after a while, the body’s organs can start to deteriorate.


<...]]> Tooth Development: The Remarkable Timing of Events, Molecular and Cellular Interactions - Masud Mahmud Bhaila At around five weeks of development, two U-shaped areas of bands of cells form in the human embryo’s developing mouth. These primary epithelial bands form precisely in the positions of the future upper and lower jaws. Each of these bands then subdivide by proliferating and growing into the underlying tissue (called the mesenchyme). The first of these subdivisions forms the zone where the teeth will form (the dental lamina), while the second, which forms in front of the dental lamina, will form the future vestibule of the mouth (the vestibular lamina).

At this time, within these bands, plate-like structures called placodes, mark the positions of future teeth. Proliferation of cells in these areas continue to grow into the underlying mesenchymal tissue while other cells called ectomesynchymal cells begin to assemble around these swellings of cells.

This sets the stage for the development of the teeth. The process can now be divided into the bud, cap, and bell stages. These three stages only describe the shape of the developing tooth during each stage. An innumerable amount of genes and proteins are involved during each of these stages, some of which are yet to be discovered. During these stages, cells transform into other cells by interacting with each other and by various complex molecular signaling pathways.

An astonishing feature during development, not unique to tooth development, is the predetermination of the fa...]]> Dad and Luna Park - Abdulkadir Korucuk Those were the days when we barely made ends meet. When we went to Luna Park, we watched other people as they rode bumper cars and the Ferris wheel. They laughed and had fun. We would not join them. My father would insist, but we couldn’t; we knew he couldn’t afford much. We enjoyed just being there, and our inexpensive amusement made our dad so pleased that we could see on his face the relief hidden in his soul.

Whenever our father was upset, we would ask him to take us to Luna Park, and he would. We never took any of the rides; not the cars, nor the wheel we adored watching so much. But it would make dad happy again. All the troubles plaguing his mind would be gone. Perhaps he was thinking how funny we were, and as he silently chuckled to himself he was forgetting his distress. Perhaps he was being proud of our rather early display of maturity.

Whenever our father was upset, we would take him to Luna Park, not the other way around.

Dylan and Rumi: A Common Destiny Centuries Apart - Hakan Yesilova ***

Bob Dylan won the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature. Dylan is undoubtedly one of the most popular folk singers and composers, not just in the United States, but around the world. So, arguably many of his fans already knew he was from Minnesota, but not many knew he was born to a Jewish family and his paternal grandparents were immigrants from the Kars province of north-Eastern Turkey. His grandmother’s family name was Kygryz, which is the name of a central Asian Turkic nation. His maternal grandparents came to the US from Lithuania.

This new finding – new for me, at least – sparked in me a light which shone back to Rumi.

In the West, many of us know Rumi for his poetry and sema dance. But few of us know the fact that he was born in a city called Balkh, which is today a part of Afghanistan. And when one sees the images of today’s war-torn Afghanistan next to the image and message of Rumi from 800 years ago – one cannot help but think: “how unlikely could this have been?” Not many of us also know that Balkh was one of the leading, if not the top, centers of knowledge and progress in the world 800 years ago – until invaded by forces from the east.

Construction is so difficult, but destruction is so easy. Images ...]]> 2005-07-29 01:56:49 How to Overcome Bad Habits - Amin Uighur Human feelings, thoughts, and behavior are a result of the complex and dynamic connections between our brain, ego, and soul. These connections are not just the source of feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, but also the control mechanism over them. They enable us to bring multi-dimensional and multi-layered perspectives in efforts to explain human behavior.


Many scientists disregard the functions of the ego and the soul, considering the brain to be the only point of reference to explain our feelings and actions. The brain itself is a complex web of innumerable connections among its cortexes. For instance, while the prefrontal cortex is the trajectory of functions that relate to behavior and personality, Wernicke’s area, in the dominant temporal lobe, is concerned with the comprehension of language. The infralimbic cortex has been found to be critical in regulating habitual behavior, and it may be argued that this cortex might be the place we can observe the possible connections between our soul and why we behave in certain ways.


An overwhelming majority of our thoughts and behaviors manifest without us being aware them; we are only conscious of a small percentage of our actions. The minimum energy principle in the universe is evident in this process: we act as if on auto-pilot as we conduct habituated behaviors, and this is when our brain consumes a minimum amount of energy, as opposed to the much higher consumption needed during consciousl...]]> Being on the Way: A Bouquet of Thoughts on the Path to the Divine - M. Fethullah Gulen If these guides happen to be the experienced, knowledgeable, and conscientious masters of that field, then, without any hesitation, one should follow along on their path, for they always travel on the shortcuts that lead directly to their Lord. They know well the peaks that give way and those that do not. They search for those horizons in case they need to retreat. They frequent the coves of reunion and are always attentive to the echoes of their goal; without any distortion or breakage, they pass on these voices to those following. They stand firm against any waves or tremors that may hit both themselves and their followers during this long journey.

This journey moves between light and darkness. Along the way, one might come across small packages of epiphanies coming from the ultimate goal; but it is also possible that all destined rewards be put off until the completion of the journey, when one receives a special accolade. 

During the trip, every traveler is sometimes filled with awe by an indistinct ray of light that flashes in the distance. Sometimes, as if being tested on the strength of their loyalty, one does not come across even a single ray of light their whole life; other times, one witnesses that the roads they pass have been illuminated with light all around. Sometimes, one is inspired as though they are being watched through unseen blinds, and with awe they grow attentive in all their senses. Considering this surveillance which has been opened to them by their faith as a sign of growing closer to the Divine Presence, one’s excitement and zeal grows even stronger, as in the case of a runner who has come close to the finish line. In fact, with the feeling of having joined the angels, their excitement grows to such heights that the harmony of the skies can be heard in the rhythm of their hearts. Question: What are the pathways to better experience and benefit from journeying into the horizons of our spirituality, which is also called “Emerald Hills of the Heart”?


In a time of strife, believers can find spiritual refuge in the “Emerald Hills of the Heart.”


First of all, we should accept the “Emerald Hills of the Heart” as a horizon and a goal. We should try our best to at least glimpse those sacred spaces, even if it is through a crack in the door. Then we can see their glory: their stars twinkling, the moon and sun rising and setting.

It is important to outline basic principles for reaching these targets. For example, habitual prayers and remembrances are one of the most important vehicles. Another vehicle, one that enables us to sense the divine, is prescribed prayers observed in due reverence to the One Who cannot be known. Deep contemplation is yet another vehicle, especially when it takes us to reach an awareness that “we are unable to know Him as duly as He should be.”

Sometimes a person can reach the target quickly because the intermittent distance is short. Sometimes, due to the hardness of his heart, his being not open to spirituality, and other obstacles, like giving importance to appearances, not even forty years is enough time to reach the goal. The great mystic Junayd al-Baghdadi said that according to his internal observations, the maximum period was 60-70 years. Imam Ghazzali’s assessment of the matter is a little different. In his memoirs, which were related to the development of his awakening, he wrote, “In my first 40-day spiritual retreat I had some awakening. In my second retreat I saw that what I had observed in my first retreat was wrong and I became aware of more profound things. With my third retreat I was able to catch the real horizon...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 We Are Not Spectators: A Christian Perspective - Richard Shields

In a letter to G-20 leaders in 2013 Pope Francis stated, “It is regrettable that, from the very beginning of the conflict in Syria, one-sided interests have prevailed and in fact hindered the search for a solution that would have avoided the senseless massacre now unfolding.”  The head of the Roman Catholic Church proceeded to call for “a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community.” In hindsight, his words were prophetic. It is now 2017. The atrocities of ISIL, and Boko Haram and the devastation from armed conflict world-wide have increased. The flow of refugees into Europe from Syria has reached epic proportions, testing the ability of diverse and at times conflicting religious cultures to establish mutual understanding and trust. But the situation of ethnic and religious conflict goes beyond narrow Muslim-Christian differences and extends to intra-religious, intra-ethnic, and intra-cultural hostilities.

Sustained commitment and constructive dialogue become difficult when one crisis supplants another in the non-stop flow of information-as-news. Real resolutions require diplomats and politicians to reach an (increasingly unlikely) agreement as to what is at stake, before rational decisions can be made about what to do.  With global political discourse focused on “country” and “region,” “national interest” and “homeland security,” responsive strategies lose sight of “the people” and their human right to life, safety, and self-determination. Military intervention does not honour that right; nor do Western strategies favouring partisan economic and geo-political options.

The degradation of human dignity and the apparent overwhelming power of evil is a cause of bewilder...]]> 2017-03-17 15:05:53 What On Earth Has Gone So Wrong in Turkey? - Greg Barton Six months on from the mysterious coup attempt of July 15, the situation in Turkey has become much clearer. Unfortunately, it has also become much darker. In the confusing hours of that terrible night, President Erdogan’s declaration upon landing in Istanbul that, “This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army,” was both enigmatic and foreboding. In the hours that followed, he sought to bring clarity to the confusion by alleging that a previously consistently pacifist civil society movement was in fact a terrorist organization and had been behind the coup attempt. At that moment, Erdogan had the empathy and attention of not just his nation but the global community. No one wants to see a military coup succeed and a democracy toppled – especially not when this democracy represented the hopes of the greater Middle East and entire Muslim world.

Whatever the circumstances of the coup, the president’s insistence on needing to root out the shadowy forces behind it were hard to argue with. In the days that followed, however, it quickly became clear that whatever prior knowledge Erdogan might have had of moves against him, he was well prepared with a very long list of people and institutions that, he insisted, needed to be purged.

If his attribution of blame to an unlikely religious civil society network beggared belief, even stranger was the extent and scope of the post-coup purge. Almost half of the military flag offices, the generals and admirals, were purged, along with one third of the judiciary, and thousands of academics, including every single dean and university president.  The rate of sackings, dete...]]> 2017-03-17 15:03:28 The Age of Self-Awareness - Caroline Halford Time periods are defined by the actions of those within the period and the thoughts of those who succeed them. The intentions of past societies are oftentimes forgotten in lieu of hindsight bias, leaving only the events and records to be sorted out by following generations. No age can truly be defined by a title, but the human mind compels us to sort, simplify, and categorize every bit of information with which we come into contact. Thus, ages are reduced to a single, unified idea.
For those of us who witnessed very little prior to the twenty-first century, it has seemed an eventful century thus far. The internet has connected people from every kind of background, new technologies are being constantly released, and societies are attempting to educate themselves and others on large issues of global importance. Some would argue that these facts make this current century The Internet Age, The Technology Age, or The Age of Education, but, as a member of this current generation, I would like to make the argument that what we are doing today cannot be reduced to ideas as small as these. Internet, technology, and education are simply the manifestations of what I hope will be the greater theme of this age. This is the Age of Self-Awareness.
Globalization in the twentieth century was perhaps the greatest change the world has seen thus far. The ideas and customs of countries spread out to the larger world at an outstanding rate, international conflicts became abundant, and nations had to learn how to deal with major influences from other countries. The world became rapidly connected, and with that connection came not only conflict, secrecy, and fear, but also progress, growth, and knowledge. It became popular in some cultures to borrow from others, whether it was through international cuisine, dress, or customs. However, when this was attempted, it was not always done correctly or properly. Customs ...]]>
2017-03-17 14:58:10
The Mist - Sumayya B. Sharaf Love is in the air,
in the early morning mist.
I inhale, and inhale
This secret should be kept
Here in the heart.
Only then will I hear,
It was never in the air.

All love comes from within.
Never tell that I revealed
this secret for humans to know.
I do not steal from others
Neither should you.
Even if it slipped between the lines
With the burden of love, the heaviness of the message,
And the light,
Only the hearts
That have it inside out
Will hear
Because it is not the air
That carries this secret
In words, spoken.
It is the unsealed hearts and eyes
Sending it to self-conscious
Ears of love

Love is a monk in the human heart.
To meet that sanctuary
is the moment of coming to life.
Being alive, or alove
when it shines inside out:
only then, when it reaches the wind,
Does it not travel
Ear to ear,
Does it not whisper,
But conquer


Sumayya B. Sharaf

2014-09-01 04:22:38
QUINOA An Alternative Grain - Adam Nelson Quinoa, unknown in many countries, is an easy-to-digest, nutritious grain which contains the same amount of protein as meat and a greater amount of usable calcium than milk. In South America, the Incas consumed quinoa for thousands of years, viewing it as the “mother grain.” Increasingly, people around the world are coming to view quinoa with the same level of respect, and production of the grain is on the rise. In fact, the United Nations declared 2013 as the international year of quinoa, referencing its potential for combatting food shortages due to its high nutritional value.
Combatting famine
Every organism needs a sufficient amount of food for the body to grow and develop. Although some countries are very prosperous, famine continues to be one of the world’s major problems. Almost half of the world’s population lives below the threshold of poverty – and a half of that population lives below the threshold of hunger.
While the world’s population increases 1.2% every year, grain production decreases at a rate of 1.2%. It is estimated that in 2050 the world population will be around 11.3 billion and we will need 60% more food than today. In addition, even if sufficient food production is achieved, it is still estimated that 300,000,000 people will face hunger.
Global warming and increased demand ensure grain shortages are inescapable in the near future. For this reason, by using the existing limited water sources and land to grow alternative plants like quinoa, which is not only highly nutritious but also resistant to extreme climate conditions, we may be able to address these shortages.  
The mother grain
The motherland of quinoa is the cold, high plateau of the Andes Mountains, along the Western coast of South America. Originally, it was grown in Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador. As more and more people learn of...]]>
2003-12-13 10:12:51
The Narcissist and the Pool - Al Freeman Ovid tells the story of Narcissus in his book Metamorphosis.
Narcissus is a hunter; one with talent, grandeur, good genes, and charm. But he is also an egoist. He is full of himself, to the degree that he cannot recognize anybody but himself. Eco is in love with him. But knowing Narcissus’ weakness, Nemesis leads him to the side of a pool and shows him his own reflection. Narcissus immediately falls deeply in love with this image.

Narcissus, or the Narcissist, is in love with what he sees in the pool. He loves it at the expense of the worldly reality around him. In a way, he is dependent on the pool, reality in a reversed form. The image provided by the pool makes him happy. Narcissus is nothing without the pool; it is that which enables him to replace the truth with an image.

Narcissus is so deeply immersed in his reflection that he is unable to recognize the image is just an image. He plays with his own image like a baby. In his sight, what he sees in the pool is truer than the truth. Narcissus is in a pathological state.

However, even Narcissus cannot escape reality, in spite of his ability to deceive himself. One day, he touches the water with his finger. The water moves in waves, and the image grows ugly. This depresses him. The finger breaks the illusion and points to the truth. Instead of thanking the truth for freeing him from the cage of an image, he prefers to get angry with the truth, since he prefers seeming to being.

This situation isn’t just true in the parable, but in reality. This inconsistency between reality and the image upsets the Narcissist’s balance. According to him, reality is ugly, and the image is beautiful. He does not know that real beauty is fostered in the bosom of truth.

Unfortunately, the Narcissist cannot break free of the image. He is ready to commit every kind of madness to maintain his altered reality. The poor N...]]> 2017-03-17 14:56:28 Technological Singularity The Digital Rapture - Yavuz Demirci Singularity describes the merging of human and computer intelligence and the rise of super-intelligence as a result. Proponents of the idea of singularity try to posit it as the next step in human progression, where humans will cease to exist as currently constructed and will instead transcend our given form and become a hybrid race that is part computer, part human. Singularity has been portrayed in popular culture in several movies, the most popular of which are the Terminator and Matrix movies.

History of discussion about singularity

Vernor Vinge, a science fiction writer, first wrote about the vision of technological singularity and coined the term in 1993. He wrote, "Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended."
Ray Kurzweil, inventor and futurist, is a fervid proponent of technological singularity. Kurzweil predicts the timeline of singularity as follows:

  • By 2019, a $1000 PC will have the computing power of the human brain. It will be capable of performing 20 million billion calculations.
  • By 2029, a $1K PC will be a thousand times more powerful than the human brain; the human brain itself will be successfully reverse engineered.
  • 2045 is singularity: machines will have surpassed humans in intelligence and in fact will have created next-generation robots even smarter than themselves. We should either merge with our creations or step out of their way. Immortality!
  • By 2055, $1K of computing power will equal the processing power of all the humans on the planet.

In 2011, Ray Kurzweil sponsored a movie/documentary about singularity, titled "Transcendent Man," which has been screened in five major cities in the U.S., as well as London. In December 2012, Kurzweil was hired by Google as a director of engineering t...]]> 2017-03-17 14:53:55 Walaya (Sainthood) - The Fountain Literally meaning a person, a community, or a country that is under the direction and rule of another, walaya (sainthood) denotes annihilation with respect to carnal selfhood and egoism in favor of awareness of being under the dominion of the All-Living, Self-Subsistent One and of the need to acquire nearness to the Necessarily Existent Being. Travelers on the way to God who has attained this level, having given themselves up to the direction of God, are favored with self-possession and live in nearness to God. The first step in sainthood is indicated in the verse (2:257): God is the Guardian of those who believe, bringing them out from all kinds of (intellectual, spiritual, social, economic and political) darkness into the light, and keeps them firm therein; and also in Know well that the confidants (saintly servants) of Godthere will be no reason for them to fear (both in this world and the next, for they shall always find My help and support with them), nor shall they grieve (10:62).
One who has been favored with sainthood is called a waliyy (which literally means a guardian or a close friend or confidant). Waliyy is one of the Names of God Almighty. A person on whom this Name is placed and who has become a polished mirror in which this Name is reflected is considered as having been favored with “self-annihilation in God” and “subsistence by Him.” Nevertheless, this favor can never make a saint indifferent to the master of the creatures, upon him be peace and blessings. On the contrary, whatever rank a person has attained on the way to God, one of the most blessed and illuminating sources for the confidants of God, the Ultimate Truth, is the person of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who is the sun of Prophethood and the pure source of truth; he is the one they must follow strictly. Moreover, he is the first among those sources that are the m...]]>
2003-11-12 10:03:42
Grandma - Nihat Balci The sun is shining down on us. We are walking down the road that encircles the small island. Men and women, young and old; the faces are solemn, earnest, and their steps neither fast nor slow.
She is taking her last tour of the island. We are all following her. She loves this place. Who wouldn't? As we turn the corner, we feel the breeze on our faces. A few yards to my right the waves are crashing on the small, pebbled beach, forming white swirls of foam that dance back and forth. The lake is blue-green, beautiful, with specks of light caressing the surface. There are about two hundred people living on this island. During the summer, the number increases dramatically. Like now. With a few exceptions, all the locals are here, though.
After passing beautiful stone and timber houses, we move past the historical Agios Stephanos Church and its arched windows. God knows how many last tours it has witnessed. We are almost there. We all meander to the left, and after walking a few more yards, smell the freshly dug soil. With one hand, I am holding my daughter's hand; with the other, I brush the tears on my face.
My grandmother is up front. Not walking this time though, but on the shoulders of men, in a wooden box. She died in Istanbul, two days ago. It was her will to be brought here. She even had her own grave built, and her name carved on the stone a few years ago. She was born, raised, got married, and had three kids on this small island. Even if she later went to Istanbul, I guess her heart always remained here.
We turn right for the graveyard and gather in the open space reserved for funerals. After she is placed on the pedestal, people start lining up. In less than thirty minutes, she will be in her final resting place, her last home she picked herself. Don’t think that she was all done and ready to go: I have rarely seen people as full of life as she was. In fact, she had so many plans and dreams, even at...]]>
2017-03-17 14:49:59
Medical Imaging - Bilal Buruk Medical imaging is used by medical specialists to create images and sets of data about humans and animals. This information is then analyzed in the hopes of preventing, diagnosing, or examining diseases. The objective of this article is to give an overview of medical imaging to readers who may not be familiar with the process.
As a field, medical imaging incorporates many disciplines, such as medicine, radiology, engineering, science, mathematics, and statistics. In order to discover innovative new findings in this field, knowledge and experience from different disciplines is necessary. Therefore, research teams consist of people from these diverse disciplines. It should be noted that with the increasing demand and interest in medical imaging, there are expected to be more job opportunities in the near future.
Medical imaging can be broken down into two steps: 1) Image acquisition; and 2) image analysis. In the last decades, there have been important improvements in both fields. Innovators working on the image acquisition side have been developing imaging machines to obtain better resolution images while also trying to minimize the radiation doses applied to, or drawbacks suffered by, patients.

It’s likely most people are familiar with the most common forms of medical imaging: Computed tomography scans (CT scans), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasounds. These are not the only forms of medical imaging, but they’re certainly the most well-known.

Each form of imaging has been produced for specific purposes. For instance, MRIs are usually used to view soft tissue, such as internal organs. CT scans are usually used to view more solid parts of the body, such as in the case of bone injuries, chest and teeth imaging, and cancerous tissues [1].

Each form of imaging has its own pros and cons. For example, in CT scans, exposure levels (X-ray tube amperage and peak kilovoltage), slice th...]]> 2017-03-17 14:48:19 The World through the Eyes of Honeybees - Aidan Yielding The earth and the sky are filled with “light,” which are really colors of countless different wavelengths. Different colors are visible or invisible to the naked eye. When we say “visible,” we usually mean, “visible to the human eye.” However, certain kinds of light that are invisible to humans are visible to other species. In spite of living in the same world, all creatures see and perceive different worlds.

One kind of light that is mostly invisible to the human eye is polarized light, which comes from sunlight reflecting off brilliant surfaces. Polarized light spoils our clarity of vision on sunny days. It appears as flashes on the sea or an asphalt road. In order shield our eyes from this light, we use sunglasses. We need to do this even though the naked human eye only perceives a very small amount of the polarized light on earth. However, this is not a shortcoming. On the contrary, it’s a blessing to us. If we were better able to perceive polarized light, we would not see any object clearly, owing to the dazzling lights around us.

As evidenced by polarized light, the human eye is actually quite limited. Just as it cannot see radio or television waves, it cannot see ultra-violet light either. Since ultraviolet light is harmful to the retina of a human eye, it is prevented from reaching the retina by the eye’s external structures.

Every animal has a different ability and threshold when it comes to seeing colors. For example, honeybees have three-color vision, just like humans do. In the human eye, there are three types of conical cells that perceive wavelengths in red, green, and blue. All other colors are perceived as mixtures of these three colors, albeit in different proportions.

Just as there are colors like green or red, ultraviolet light has a color of its own. We do not name the color, for we cannot see it, but ultraviolet color exists for many other c...]]> 2017-03-17 14:46:08