The Fountain Magazine The Fountain en (C) 2012 Scientists have cloned monkeys; are humans next? - The Fountain Liu, Z. et al. Cloning of macaque monkeys by somatic cell nuclear transfer. Cell, January 2018.

After two decades of failures, scientists have finally cloned monkeys using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), the same method that was used for the first animal clone, Dolly the sheep, over 20 years ago. Long-tailed macaques Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua were born in early December at a laboratory in China. SCNT is a type of cloning that involves taking the nucleus from any cell in the adult animal to be cloned and injecting it into the cell of a fertilized egg, whose nucleus has been removed. Since Dolly, 23 other species have also been cloned using SCNT, including cows, horses, cats, and pigs.  However, transitioning from cloning sheep to cloning primates proved far more difficult than expected. Scientists removed the DNA-containing nucleus from monkey eggs and replaced it with DNA from the monkey fetus. The newly reconstituted eggs grew, divided, and finally differentiated into an early embryo, which was then placed into female monkeys to grow until birth. The whole process is extremely inefficient, as it took 127 eggs to get the two babies. While the researchers are optimistic that the ability to have genetically identical monkeys will allow unprecedented insights into human diseases, these experiments prompted concerns that the technical barrier of cloning primate species and humans is now broken.

An unexpected culprit behind climate change

Rysgaard S et al. High geothermal heat flux in close proximity to the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream. Scientific Reports, January 2018.

Greenland is a critical component of the global climate system. The ice sheet covering 80% of the island reflects so much of the sun’s energy back into space that it helps keep the Earth cooler. This is known as the “albedo effect.” But Greenland is particul...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 Q&A: How to be effective while “enjoining the good” - The Fountain Question: What points should we consider to avoid doing more harm than good while carrying out the duty of “enjoining the good and forbidding the evil”?

Answer: The Qur’an outlines that “enjoining the good and forbidding the evil” is a distinctive characteristic of being the best community (Al Imran 3:110). The Qur’an addresses believers that they are a community brought forth for the good of all mankind. You are responsible for teaching human values to humanity. Actually, this feeling in you does not arise from your own will. God, may His glory be exalted, has opened your hearts to the rest of humanity, put you on the stage, and assigned you a role in the scene He set.

The Good and Evil
The good, or ma’ruf, is what the religion commands, what sound reason gladly accepts, what sound feelings approve of, and what the conscience opens its doors to and welcomes. Therefore, the syntactic priority given to “enjoining the good” bears significance. Accordingly, a believer must first of all speak of goodness, rather than referring to what is evil or ugly; he must give priority to what is good and beautiful. However, while doing this, it is necessary to consider both whom to address and the manner of address very well.
As for the evil, or munkar, it is what the religion forbids, what sound reason accepts as harmful, what sound feelings dislike, and what the conscience closes its doors to and rejects. As well as enjoining the good, by forbidding the evil believers must try to save others from being condemned to a mistake, swept away by some current, and from drowning in deep waters. They must dissuade oppressors from oppression by exposing its ugly face, transgressors from transgression by exposing its hideous face, and unbelievers from unbelief by exposing its horrible f...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 Jesus & Muhammad: Commonalities of Two Great Religions - Lawrence Brazier Jesus & Muhammad: CommonalitiesofTwo Great Religions
by Daniel Hummel
Tughra Books
pp. 228

A pleasing coincidence of mutual thought has occurred because some years ago your correspondent was asked why he had not embraced Islam. My reply was that had Jesus and Muhammad ever met they would have got along splendidly. Here is the book to tell us why.

This timely work, which is published during (yet another) period of religious upheaval and widespread misunderstanding, addresses some of the factors that could lead to mutual awareness of a shared religious and ultimately spiritual source. Daniel Hummel, a professor of public administration at Bowie State University in Maryland, has rightly seen the need and provided the insights that could be of great use for an appraisal of Islam and a pertinently related Christianity. One thing is for sure, the author has his heart in the right place and one can only applaud.

The title of this book tells us that under consideration are the numerously similar teachings of Jesus and Muhammad. Quite naturally one would assume that of the essence would be the commonalities of the two men themselves. Both were extremely pious during their formative years. Their inspiration, their receiving, were logically from the same divine source but it should be mentioned that another factor, which was addressed by that divine source, was shared by all of the most prominent monotheist prophets. The four pillars of monotheism, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, all shared a common concern and, of consequence, a common cause. They were appalled at the falling of their peoples into idolatry and heathen superstition by turning to an outer world and ignoring the kingdom within; for one does not speak to God, one listens. The fallen peoples no longer listened, which meant that they had lost ...]]> 2014-06-06 08:55:33 Who Taught Science to Dolphins? - Yakup Kagan Teaching science is sometimes a challenge, and teachers need to find ways to draw kids’ attention. Young children are naturally interested in the behavior of animals. They especially enjoy making friends with pets and observing birds. Teaching science to kid with examples from animals always work. And dolphins are always a great example to show that science is out there in the nature, and even animals can make use of it in the best possible way.

Dolphins produce clicking sounds to navigate, to collect information about their environment, and to locate food. Each and every dolphin has a different sound just like every human being. Distinguishing between different sounds, they have been known to instruct each other, receive instructions, and act accordingly.

Sounds for hunting and navigating
Dolphins send out clicking sounds. When those sounds hit an object, they bounce back vibrations to the dolphins. These echoes allow them to identify where objects are located. It also gives them information about the location of the object and some indication of the shape and size of it. This system is called “Echolocation” or “Sonar,” just like what a submarine uses to navigate while underwater.

How can dolphins analyze the information contained in these echoes?

Dolphins produce sounds with their larynx and a complex system of cavities connected to their blowhole. The sounds used in echolocation are a rapid series of clicks. The clicks contain a wide range of frequencies, but most of the sound energy is in the range between 50,000 to 200,000 cycles a second, or hertz. These high frequencies are necessary for echolocation in water. Because sound waves travel at about 340 meters a second (m/s) in air, and the speed of sound in water is five times greater than in air. The wavelength of a sound of a given frequency in water is five tim...]]> 2018-02-14 06:20:17 Too Often - Ed Stevenson Too often, O God,
the terrors of the world
seem to overwhelm
the promises of Your love.
Too often, O God,
the smallness of our talents,
resources and opportunities
dishearten and distract us
and make us doubt
the promises of Your love.
Too often, O God,
we do not even think of You,
do not even listen for You,
do not even look for You
in the struggles and joys
of our daily life.
Open our hearts and minds
and our daily activity
to the persistence of Your promise,
the power, the joy,
the real presence
of Your love.

2018-02-14 06:20:17
The Thorny Devil: A Lizard with Unusual Physical Features - Rumeysa Yazar Australia is an extraordinary part of the earth, with its scorching sand mountains that stretch across barren plains, rock columns each unique and amazing, labyrinth-like domes that rise like towers, spine-chilling cliffs, misty rainforests, highlands and national parks. A land of dreams for many people, Australia is also a paradise for endemic creatures. A visit to the desert offers a chance to extend dreams beyond the horizon if the visitor happens to spot a reptile or snake rushing past from among the cracks in the red-hot rocks. This is an entirely alien place. The letters the Lord has presented for eyes to see inspire a different kind of awe of the Artist.

One such wonder, the thorny devil (Molochhorridus), is an endemic creature that presents itself as a source of contemplation. It is a lizard between 10 and 15 cm long, with a broad body that is completely covered with cone-shaped sharp spikes, and has a rather big head and small eyes. Its appearance is made even more frightening with the two spikes on the sides of its head, which look like horns and are stronger than the others. On the back of the lizard’s head is a separate bump that resembles a second head on which there is another big spike. These unusual physical features have earned it the name the thorny devil. The lizard’s golden and brown patchy skin provides camouflage in the desert environment. Having a lifespan of between 12 and 20 years, this work of art is equipped with unique features that inspire greater awe as they are studied.

Deterrent tactics
Living in the harsh conditions of the desert, the thorny devil is equipped with tactics, each more interesting and unusual than the rest, to keep enemies at bay and stay clear of danger. First and foremost, the thorny devil’s color gets dull when it is frightened or cold, which adds to its melding with the environment. It also breathes in and holds the breath t...]]> 2017-08-25 08:27:02 3 Lessons from Mount Fuji - Nahida Esmail Every nation has something to be proud of. Japan has Mount Fuji, a mountain that proudly stands at 3,776 meters. Although less high than other iconic peaks around the world, it is still a challenge to climb.

Life lessons are learnt every day by those climbing. But the lessons learnt from the peak of an active stratovolcano, which last erupted some 300 years ago and is overdue to erupt anytime, makes these lessons more valuable. I understand the Japanese proverb now and decide to be the wise man:
“He who climbs Mount Fuji once is a wise man; he who climbs it twice is a fool.”

Like any other mountain, the climb was grueling. And the difficult part about this was there was no nature to admire or reflect upon. The mountain is barren and exposed to wind from all directions, all the way to the peak. It is open to visitors only two months a year, and was therefore packed with trekkers. Going on a weekend, during the school holidays and peak season, makes it the most crowded mountain I have ever climbed.

The first life lesson I learnt was: Carry only what you need

Each trekker had to carry his own load. Other mountains give you the luxury of getting an extra guide to carry your belongings up to the peak. On Mount Fuji, you carry everything yourself, including the rubbish that you end up with. There is no place to throw garbage at the top, so you have to bring everything back down with you. We were warned that the weather at the summit was going to be freezing. So all the thermals clothing and jackets were necessary. Energy bars, water, head torch and my gloves all went in my backpack. As the climb got steeper, I realized I had packed in excess. Things I thought I would not be able to do without, but which made my climb more challenging and my back more sore unnecessarily.

Life lesson one
The life lesson from here is that life is a journey. We nee...]]> 2018-02-14 06:20:16 How to Deal with Pain - Omer Yildiz Pain is like our sixth sense. Biology classes and textbooks consider pain as a sensation stemming from some injury to cells or tissue, which may have died, so it is wise to pay attention when we feel pain. One may consider pain as the alarm system or fuse installed in our body.

There are two types of pain. One is called sharp or acute pain, which for example might be caused by the prick of a needle, an injury from broken glass or a sharp object like a knife, or contact of skin with a hot object like an element. Such sharp pain is especially important to protect the body through reflex. Similarly, sharp pain in internal organs such as the stomach or intestines may result from a puncture or blockage that prevents the transport of oxygen, or leakage of toxic material such as the stomach acid.

Another type of pain is continuous or chronic pain, of which one obvious example is rheumatic pain. Cancer pain is mostly chronic, although cancer may also cause sharp pain. Whether chronic or sharp, cancer pain can be unbearable, and only endurable with morphine.

What can we do about pain?
Medication should be our last resort when dealing with pain. We should remember that every drug is potentially a poison, and drugs, especially when used for a long time and in high doses, can have numerous adverse effects. Thus no drug, including aspirin, is fully innocent.

The cause of pain must first be diagnosed by a physician. A pain in the chest may simply be a muscle pain, or conversely may be as deadly as a heart attack.

After diagnosis comes the required treatment or operation. Intense pain from appendicitis, for example, is easily treated with an operation. Pain from a heart attack, which causes pain in the left part of the chest, left shoulder and left arm, must be dealt with very seriously under the supervision of a cardiologist.

The first measure to be taken in ...]]> 2018-01-05 08:01:51 Waqt (Time) - The Fountain In the language of Islamic Sufism, waqt (time) denotes the time when the Divine gifts pour on a traveler to the Ultimate Truth in accordance with one’s nearness to Him. These gifts invade the inner world with their Divine quality according to the initiate’s capacity to receive them in the frequencies particular to them. If the gifts come with an air of fear and sorrow, the initiate becomes as an embodiment of fear and sorrow; if they come with the air of rejoicing and exhilaration, then breezes of peace and joy begin to blow in one’s world of feelings, without causing loss of self-possession.

One who is conscious of the Divine origin of the gifts may express resignation with such words as “Your favor is welcome, and so is Your retribution.” One acts in peace and contentment and tries to attain confidence in the valleys of reliance, surrender, and commitment. Negligence of what is necessary for a traveler to do in order to hunt these gifts that come from the Ultimate Truth—for example, neglecting to do what falls to the free will in order to obtain a desired result—is a fault on the part of the saintly ones, who have reached the ranks of perfect godliness and nearness to God. Since this means that the heart has lost some degrees in its relation with God, the Ultimate Truth, the traveler is punished according to his or her rank. Those who have risen to a certain rank are expected to use all their time in the most profitable way possible, and to try to strengthen their relation with the Almighty and multiply their rewards. It is because of this that a Sufi is called “a child of time.”

Being “a child of time” means that initiates always consider what they must do at all times and, doing what is best in God’s sight, use all times and opportunities given by God as if each were a seed capable of producing seven or seventy or seven hundred grains. This also mean...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 Future of Innovation: Ideas and Trends - Harotio I. Davis When we watch science fiction movies, and see all the incredible, futuristic technologies on the screen, many of us wonder when these technologies will be available: flying cars, spaceships, teleportation, and many others... Some of these innovations are just around the corner; however, some of them are centuries away.

Breakthroughs and innovations start with a very radical idea. They don’t try to improve a process or product; they often disrupt an existing solution or approach or displace an existing technology. This is a lesson to us: You don’t need to wait for others to shape your future.

Ideas can come from anywhere. Sometimes a conversation, or reading a book, or even a dream [1] can be the source of innovation. Our daily activities are all part of the inventive process. In fact, the internet provides many sources of information and inspiration. One can easily search for related patents and research on how to improve the idea. An average internet user can easily access new tools and platforms to take courses online, ask questions, and get answers from experts. New online platforms like Coursera, Udacity, and edX [2] provide free and high quality educational content and tools. One can easily take courses from these platforms, educating themselves and developing new ideas and technologies.

Crowdsourcing is another alternative for finding an innovative solution to a problem. Many companies and organizations are now organizing innovation challenges, seeking ideas and products for problems in many scientific and engineering fields. This approach allows companies to access the world’s smartest people to help solve important technical, social, policy, and scientific challenges. Governments and large corporations are also offering incentives for large scale scientific and technological projects. A well-known example of this approach are XPRIZE challenges [3]. The XPRIZE Foundation is organizing ...]]> 2018-02-14 06:20:16 Islam and Capitalist Modernity - Stefan Pacovski How Have Muslims Sought to Respond to the Challenges?

There are some who say Islam and Western capitalism are at odds, but as with any faith or ideology, there are many different strains of Muslim thought on the West.

Capitalist modernity emerged in the West out of a conservative and religious past. Society in the Middle Ages of the West was highly influenced by the Church and feudal law, and was based on an agricultural economy (Kelley, 2002). After the Renaissance and the Enlightenment Era of free thinkers and new social theorists such as Locke, Bentham, and other Liberals, the West dramatically transformed into a highly individualistic and capitalist society. It is worth noting that not everybody agrees as to what modernity is (McPherson, 2015). Some of the values that come with modernity, such as dress codes and legal drinking of alcohol, do not comply with the way many Muslims practice their faith. Even when pushed, liberal capitalism has always been uncertain in the Muslim world, from ultra-conservative countries to more liberal ones. Locke’s social vision of ownership of property through applying labor and exchanging products (i.e. principles of capitalism) are not all against the economic principles of Islam. Islam allows for regulated capitalism with the permissibility of small businesses, dispersal of property, and trade (Dunning, 2003). Of course there are still limits, such as dealing with usury, but the problem today is that there is no Islamic country or state, but rather only Muslim-majority countries, which is the term preferred by many Muslim political academics, such as Tariq Ramadan (2001). After Western colonization of many of these Muslim-majority nations, there has risen many different political strategies and responses to capitalist modernity, whether they be in the West or in Muslim countries that have adopted secular-liberal principles.

Political Islam was born after the c...]]> 2018-01-05 08:04:17 The Council of the Mute - The Fountain Some scholars and poets once formed a group called the Council of the Mute.

There were thirty of them, and they did not admit new members. The first requirement for being a member was engaging in deep contemplation and speaking very little.

Famous scholar and poet Mulla Jami aspired to take part in the council. When he heard one day that a member of the council had died, he went to the manor of the scholars, seeking to be a candidate.

He did not speak a word to the doorman. He wrote his name on a piece of paper and had the doorman take it to the council, which was holding a meeting.

The members of the council were saddened when they saw the note. Mulla Jami deserved to be there, but they had already admitted someone else.

There was no place for another new member. The head of the council filled a glass with water and had it sent to Mulla Jami, who understood the message right away: another drop, and the glass would overflow.

Mulla Jami immediately picked a leaf from a rose branch nearby and gently placed it on the water. The glass did not overflow, and Mulla Jami had it sent back to the council.

Seeing the glass with the leaf, the council gladly decided to welcome Mulla Jami among them.

The head of the council added Mulla’s name on the list. Instead of making the number thirty-one, je added a zero to the right of thirty and wrote 300.

This meant the value of the council rose ten times. When Mulla Jami saw the revised list, he erased the zero on the right and placed it to the left of the number 30 to make it 030.

In all his modesty, Mulla Jami was showing himself with no value; just as the rose leaf did not overflow the glass his presence would not add up anything to the present value of the council.
It is not easy to be a rose leaf. Yet it requires being a rose leaf to get along well with others.

2003-11-12 10:03:42
Education: Reconstructing Norms and Empowering Dialogue - Phyllis Robinson “…all cultures are partial and benefit from the insights of others [resulting in a genuine global universalism that] can be arrived at only by means of an uncoerced and equal intercultural [or inter-civilizational] dialogue.”
 Bhikkhu Parekh


Awareness and moral action of youth are malleable forces within global society that form from education. Dialog additionally enriches the character of youth to participate effectively within society to affect the moral nature of humanity in a global social network.

                Whatever is ill and unjust does not feign amid a world social construction.  The awareness and moral action of youth are malleable forces within societies, and these form through educational processes.  Dialogue can additionally enrich the character of youth, encouraging them to participate effectively within society to affect the moral nature of humanity.  Such constructive effort teaches youth the importance of a deliberative approach to dialog, helping them learn better to manage conflicts and differences.  Although the ability to control the inner self and moral makeup of individuals is impossible, constructing a social norm of moral ethos is not. Emile Durkheim has related that hegemony lays the foundation for social norms.  His tenets reveal that ruling ideologies derive a majority social consensus that reflects the popular sentiments of society.  These sentiments, however good or bad, however ignorant or educated, are maintained within the parameters of whatever is popular belief.  If individuals submit to a holistic approach that analyzes an entire system of beliefs rather than its single components, then a common ground for dialogue transpires.   A holistic understanding of good maintained by a recognizable constitution of global ethos can perfect a new hegemony. A formative education,...]]> 2018-01-05 08:01:52 Mmm, Mmm, Popcorn! - Safiye Arslan Who doesn't love popcorn! Eating popcorn is fun for everybody especially for kids. James Hörner’s [1] poem below might express feelings of Americans for popcorn that they consume 16 billion quarts annually [2].

Popcorn crowding all around,
Hot air blows them round and round,
Yellow corn kernels poppity pop,
One after another, when will they stop?
Whirling, swirling the popcorn pops,
In a bowl they quickly drop,
Fluffy popcorn, grab a bunch,
Light and tasty, eat them crunch.”
James Hörner

Popcorn is one of the most nutritious and economical foods available. You can see people enjoying huge buckets of popcorn at movie theaters, amusement parks, festivals, games… basically, anywhere associated with fun. How all this popcorn craziness started in the first place is uncertain and the exact birthplace of corn (Zea mays ssp. mays, maize) is not very clear either. According to Lance Gibson and Garren Benson of Iowa State University, Department of Agronomy archeological evidence shows corn has been in the Western Hemisphere for at least 80,000 years. Corn pollen samples were obtained from drill cores 200 feet below Mexico City. Radiocarbon dating revealed that the corncobs found in the bat caves in New Mexico were 5,600 years old [3].
Scholars agree that, thousands of years ago, maize was domesticated from a Mexican grass called teosinte (Zea mays spp. parviglumis). They know this mostly due to 1958 Nobel Prize winner George W. Beadle’s extensive genetic studies. It was not easy for him to convince others that teosinte, a wild grass with just a dozen dark kernels in a seed coat that was hard as a stone, was domesticated and turned into juicy and soft corn by early cultivators, who worked like agriculturalists and genetici...]]> 2010-09-07 08:46:01 To Remain Fresh and Strive for Renewal - M. Fethullah Gulen Relying upon the air, sun, water, and soil, a seed sprouts and eventually becomes a bud. Soon, this bud has become a full plant with grain-bearing ears. And when the appointed time is up, they bend to one side and return to the soil in whose cradle they were born.

Societies and individuals are like seeds. This is especially true of individuals who represent certain systems, thoughts, and philosophies. They feel, reason, strive, and are filled with enthusiasm to exist. They are affluent in their prime, but fade and droop during their own fall. By using their own inner dynamism, some have a long life and some short, but all walk toward their inevitable end.

When the day comes and regression takes the place of prosperity, all vital activity stops. Colors fade like leaves struck by fall, emotions and enthusiasm subside, and the world moans with the melody of death. We often ascribe such a disintegration to the weakness of centrifugal force, and other times to the lack of ideals. Sometimes we blame it on an inability to stay focused on the target, and sometimes to the failure to maintain sincerity. The real cause may be one of these, maybe all of them, maybe even the will of the overwhelming Power of God which is free of all causes. Regardless of the cause, if a person is not focused, serious, and hardworking wholeheartedly; if they do not or cannot pursue progress with ever-broadening considerations; and more importantly if they are not determined to sail toward new depths, then they will wither, and even decay or decompose.

Indeed, one’s eyes must perpetually be on the summit and one’s wings must always be ready to soar higher. Goals must follow a trajectory as elevated as “the masters of determination” if one is to reach higher peaks and maintain his or her elevation. Otherwise, stagnation and disintegration are inevitable.

“...]]> 2003-11-12 09:02:38 Time Moves On - The Fountain Time moves on – and it moves really fast! Busy with day-to-day affairs, many of us live for short-term objectives; the finer details of life become less significant. In this issue, “The Council of the Mute” is a reminder of how refined human beings can be – and actually once were. Unfortunately, such refinement is rare these days, but it can always be claimed anew. Reading the short story, one realizes how silence is more important than it seems. Silence, in fact, is a medium of communication, one that doesn’t cause damage. Speech is a unique human power, but our silence is no less precious.

Time passes, and while all things grow old and die away, the eternal messages brought by Jesus and Muhammad – peace be upon them – are still with us, and they continue to impact our lives. Lawrence Brazier reviews a book featuring these two giants of human history, Jesus and Muhammad: Commonalities of Two Great Religions. The title speaks of the author’s purpose, which is to bring forward what is more often than not veiled from our eyes: the fact that “both were extremely pious … their inspiration, their receiving, were logically from the same divine source … shared a common concern and, of consequence, a common cause.” The book, according to Brazier, also points to “where salvation from our present plight could possibly be found” by comparing the pertinent parts of the Bible and the Qur’an. Brazier contributes to the good intentions of the book by writing a very positive, constructive, and good-willed review.

Time comes and goes, fading colors and washing away prosperity. Just like seeds, Fethullah Gülen writes, humans also sprout and flourish, and eventually “bend to one side.” While this seems like destiny, for Gülen, the length of our lives and vitality is relatively dependent upon our inner dynamism. We may blame our disintegration on the weakness of cen...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 Hidden Oceans in Frozen Worlds - The Fountain Hidden Oceans in Frozen Worlds

Saxena P. et al. Relevance of tidal heating on large TNOs. Icarus, December 2017.

Searching for alien life, a new study from NASA suggests that some icy worlds in our outer solar system, including Pluto, Eris and other trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) may harbor liquid water oceans beneath the surface. These frigid worlds are too cold to have liquid water on their surfaces, where temperatures are usually below minus 200 degrees. But new evidence shows that there may have layers of liquid water beneath their icy crusts. Underground oceans have been previously suggested in a number of icy worlds such as the Saturn satellites Titan and Enceladus. It is considered that these subsurface oceans stay liquid as a result of a mechanism called "tidal heating." The powerful gravitational pull of these worlds' giant parent planets result in the stretch and flex of their interiors which heat up because of the friction. The NASA team used the equations for tidal heating and calculated its contribution to the “heat budget” for a wide variety of discovered and hypothetical TNO-moon systems. Their analyses revealed that tidal heating can be a tipping point that may have preserved oceans of liquid water beneath the surface of large TNOs like Pluto and Eris to the present day. Tidal heating is believed to be only a "tipping point" as there's another factor in play: the heat produced by the decay of the objects' radioactive elements. These subsurface oceans are potential reservoirs of water and life, which are two critical elements for extraterrestrial life. This study further supports the idea that our solar system may harbor many more potentially habitable worlds than previously thought.


Reading Aloud Boosts Memory

Noah D. et al. This time it’s personal: the memory benefit of hearing oneself. Memory, December 20...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 System Blindness and the Lifespan of a Society - The Fountain Question: It usually is inevitable to lose motivation in good works, which, like other things, may become ordinary and monotonous in time. Is this a consequence of system blindness? What can be done to prevent such blindness?

Answer: The credit for all of our achievements is first and foremost due to the Divine favors that shower abundantly over those who seriously endeavor for their lofty ideals. For these achievements, which are but the results of Divine favor, to continue, the sincerity of purpose and commitment to the core ideal of this issue must remain. We have no right to ignore these showers of blessings and lay a personal claim to the achievements, nor can we let the means replace the purpose; for then we will also fall like all previous societies did.

For a comparison, there are many who devote themselves to humanity and travel around the world for good work. Although they do not suffer for the good of humanity to the degree of forgetting their way home, their spouse’s face, or their children’s names, they are welcome in every land they go to, and receive appreciation for the services they fulfill. However, the endeavors they make in the places they go are becoming a means for good works with worldwide benefit. So, failing to recognize the Divine support, guardianship and protection behind all of these beautiful services, laying personal claim to them or thinking that what has come about as a result of Divine grace and favors will always continue, even without keeping up our spiritual state, is a serious kind of blindness.

Rising to an esteemed position, becoming institutionalized, or establishing a well-built system, might cause a person to become blind to the truth. In addition, people affected by such blindness might then fail a Divine test or fall for a Divine stratagem by laying personal claim to the graces granted by God. Thus, instead ...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 I See No Difference - Zuleyha B. Ozturk “I do not see color, or culture, or any sort of difference about anyone because that leads to discrimination; everyone is the same anyways.”
My ears picked up on this conversation right before a crowded organic chemistry lecture. Why students in the organic chemistry section ended up discussing deep ethics, embedded within the complexities of social diversity, is beyond me. Yet, this sentence lingered in my mind, and for longer than I would have anticipated. I wanted to stop the professor from speaking about aldehydes, and turn everyone’s attention to the sentence I’d heard. I had not seen the person who voiced this opinion; it was a faceless opinion. Yet the urge to address this mentality festered in my whole self, until I was able to let it cook for a while before writing about it.
Do not get me wrong. I am a supporter of equality, and an activist when it comes to human’s rights. If there is injustice or discrimination anywhere on this Earth, it eats away at my core until I let people know about it and can take action-based steps. However, equality does not equate to the sameness of all people. Ideally, it would be great if the human race believed in one set of morals, with one culture, and everyone was the same; or if no one saw the differences between each culture, race, religion, gender, etc.
Except, hold on a second: this would actually be agonizingly boring! This is the human race, and with it comes the complexities of identity and diversity.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, diversity has two definitions. One is “the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.” The second is “the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization.” Both definitions let us reach the conclusion that people are different. Depending on your location in the world, every...]]>
2016-10-20 08:00:00
Prejudice and Ways to Avoid It in Education - Esra Akdogan Prejudices are attitudes that may lead to the stereotyping of and discrimination against certain groups, usually minorities. Psychologists have conducted detailed studies on prejudice. In this article, we’ll approach prejudice, especially in education, from a psychological perspective.
What is psychological prejudice and discrimination? How does it occur? What factors are associated with it?

Prejudice involves, 1) a stereotypical idea that can be defined as an unfounded belief against a group of people; and 2) it is accompanied by strong emotions (Quillian, 2006).

In one of the first psychological studies of prejudice, Allport (1954) said prejudice is “incorrect or based on an inflexible generalization dislike.” Since Allport’s study, the psychological theories of bias have become more sophisticated. The name of the group being discriminated against, the words used against them, and the methods of discrimination may vary, but prejudicial attitudes are the common axis. The most common are nationalism, racism, sexism, and homophobia.

Unfortunately, prejudice is deeply ingrained in humans. For example, the social perception of anger has been shown to lead to more stereotypes and prejudices (Bodenhausen, Sheppard & Kramer, 1994). Anger affects our ability to be rational. Irrationality provides fertile ground for the blossoming of prejudice.

Prejudices are used, in thoughts and behaviors, without realizing it. Most of the time we do not accept that we, ourselves, are prejudiced, even though it is likely we hold, consciously or not, some prejudiced ideas. Becoming conscious of our own prejudices is an important step towards eliminating them.

Among many possible sources of prejudice, the following come forward more prominently than others:

Prejudice is learned in childhood: Children often learn prejudice from their parents or other adults in their co...]]> 2018-01-05 08:01:52 Teenagers and Eating Disorders - Gunel Mehraliyeva “You look great. Have you lost weight?” Most of us enjoy such compliments. Our culture’s messages maintain the importance of being slim. Dieting, exercising, skipping meals, body dissatisfaction, and a desire to lose weight are the norm for 70 percent of teenagers (Siegel and et al. 5). When these problems become more serious, they can be classified an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are not problems with food. Eating problems start out when someone wishes to lose weight, and this wish turns into behavior that is out of control. An eating habit becomes an eating disorder when it satisfies the psychological need of that person. Eating disorders are a combination of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa is a purposeful attempt to stop eating. Bulimia nervosa is eating a large amount of food in a short time and then making one’s self ill, “purging” one of the food they just ate. Binge-eating is using food to deal with emotional distress. Eating disorders can be symptoms of other psychological problems; a study in 2003 found that people with anorexia are 56 times more likely to comment suicide than people without anorexia (Polivy and Herman). Some teenagers develop eating disorders because of familial influences, psychosexual problems, or sociocultural factors.

Familial influences, such as using food as rewards, parental critical comments, and biological factors, can cause eating disorders in teenagers. Some problematic behaviors can seem innocent. For example, many parents use food to comfort their children after a stressful day. Food can act as a drug and calm a child’s anxiety (Siegel and et al. 32). In this case, the food may become a problem for teenagers who do not know how to deal with stress and painful feelings.

If over-indulgence is a problem, so is total prohibition. If parents try to limit their children&...]]> 2018-01-05 08:01:52 On Bodies - Justin Pahl 1.
Having a body is a strange thing – stranger, still, when you think about how rarely we consider our bodies and what goes on inside of them. When was the last time you stopped while taking the stairs two at a time and thought, How remarkable? When did you last give thanks for ease with which you sunk into a chair, or slung a bag over your shoulder? Like with many things, we tend to appreciate our bodies only when they break – forgetting, of course, that life itself is one long, gradual breaking.
On a cold, crisp, sun-kissed day last January, I went with two friends into the mountains outside my home, in Juneau, Alaska. The past week had brought rain in the city valley but snow up in the mountains – perfect conditions for skiing. Many of Juneau’s residents live for such weather: they suffer through long, mild winters when no snow falls just for these brief, glorious periods when the weather cooperates and the slopes are draped in soft, untouched powder.
Having grown up on the flatlands of the Midwest, skiing was still a curiosity to me. I’d only been a half dozen times – most recently on the gentle, eroded hills of the Poconos, in Central Pennsylvania. My knees still wobble when I pick up too much speed; my life still flashes before my eyes. But the speed is exhilarating. I love the way my eyes water in the cold, and the wind rushes over my ears.
I was excited to finally ski in Alaska, too. And throughout the morning, my excitement was justified. I picked my way down the mountain, falling occasionally, but generally avoiding disaster. By noon, I was ready to join my friends for some more difficult runs.
It was on one of these runs that my body broke – not seriously, mind you, but enough to recalibrate how I look at myself in the mirror; how casually I treat things like climbing the stairs or putting my shoes on.
We were going down a steep slope, part black diamond and pa...]]>
2011-07-04 05:32:23
Is There an American Muslim Song? - Zara Khan Islam in America presents a growing field of research for social scientists who explore Muslim societies and the contentions that arise around them, given the current political and cultural context in the United States. Only around 10% of the new immigrants to the US are Muslims; thus a great majority of those who subscribe to Islam are already the ones who have been here for generations. African American Muslims make up the largest percentage of Muslims in America (around 40%). Whether immigrants or indigenous, younger generations of Muslim communities in the US are facing challenges of identity formation, just like any other minority group, where values at home, especially as they are understood by earlier generations, do not always go hand in hand with the constantly transforming set of values that are imposed by the dominant culture outside the doorstep and in the palms of their very hands (i.e. personal devices and the universe of social media). With its capacity to nurture personal and communal identity, religion is an important dynamic in this equation in which habits, prejudices, dress codes, entertainment and many other social components have a major role to play.

With an inaugural conference titled “Islam in America: Civic and Religious Youth Identities” on October 21-22, 2017, Respect Graduate School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has made an important academic contribution to this field. Respect is an institution of higher education which grants Master’s degree in Islamic Studies. Founded in 2014, Respect has slowly grown indigenous roots in the Lehigh Valley’s various communities of faith and academic and artistic institutions. The vision with which Respect enthusiastically launched its Inaugural Academic Conference, “Islam in America: Civic and Religious Youth Identities,” was two-fold.

On the one hand, Respect aims to be an integrative learning platform for Isla...]]> 2018-01-05 08:01:51 Arteries and Veins – How and Why Are They Different? - Omer Yildiz The human body is an ideal example of the perfect harmony between structure and function; every part serves a purpose.

Arteries and veins differ in many ways, including diameter, strength, durability, and valves. Arteries have thick walls that can withstand high pressure. When the heart pumps blood, there is high pressure in the arteries, which we call blood pressure. High blood pressure is necessary for the heart to pump the blood to parts of the body, especially to the brain. In fact, in order to send enough blood to the brain, the sympathetic nerves press against the muscles around the walls of the arteries, by which the pressure is raised further and blood carried to every part of the body. The walls of arteries are thus created thick and strong so that they can resist such high pressure. When the system breaks down and the pressure is higher than necessary, the arteries may tear, resulting in bleeding in the brain, paralysis, or even death.

The walls of the veins, in contrast, are created thin. The arteries are vessels that feed us, while the veins shuttle used blood back to the heart. The arteries do not expand much, nor do they store much blood. No more than 15% of the blood in the body is found in the arteries.

The veins can expand due to their thin walls and store more blood. A total of 65% of the blood is found in the veins. While the arteries are equipped with features to function with little blood and high pressure, the veins are built to hold more blood, but at a lower pressure. The veins function as a blood tank that is tapped immediately in times of bleeding, especially to delay the death of the brain. In case of bleeding when the brain cannot get oxygen, the body declares a state of emergency. The sympathetic nerves convey messages to the arteries and veins. The muscles in the arteries constrict and stop unnecessary flow into organs and tissues other than the brain and the heart. ...]]>
2018-01-05 08:01:51
Stem Cell Treatments A Breakthrough in Medical Science - Rafiq Ebrahim There have been certain moments in human history that have stunned humanity and changed the way we thought. Some have even altered the very course of civilization. The late twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century have seen the realization of the fantastic dreams of scientists, researchers, and technological gurus. These dreams have changed how humans have lived and made us see and experience things we never believed to be possible. Humanity has crossed frontiers that were unknown before, enjoying the benefits of a myriad of advancements in technology. We have even found the cures for once incurable diseases.  

We have seen tremendous transformations in every field of human scientific study including artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, robots, animal cloning, computers, innovative internet devices, and thousands of other gadgets. Researchers and scientists constantly discover new technologies for the benefit of mankind. One of the most revolutionary breakthroughs has been the discovery and usage of stem cells.

Stem cells are undifferentiated biological cells that can be differentiated into specialized cells and can divide, through mitosis, to produce more stem cells. These new cells can be used to treat diseased human organs. They destroy the diseased cells and grow healthy cells within the organ until the organ becomes disease-free.

The discovery of stem cells
From 1961 to 1963, Doctor James Till and Doctor Ernest McCullach did pioneering research on hematopoietic (production of blood cells in the bone marrow) stem cells. Though they are called the discoverers of stem cells, some scientists are of the opinion that researchers were working on stem cells as early as 1918. Soon after Till and McCullach “discovered” stem cells, other scientists discovered ways to derive stem cells from mouse embryos. Scientists are now able...]]> 2014-03-14 00:00:00 Ghayba (Absence) - The Fountain Literally meaning disappearance and no longer being existent, ghayba (absence) denotes that the heart has cut its relationship with the corporeal world in order to give itself to exclusive devotion to God. Although derived from the word ghayb, which means being not present, ghayba (absence) signifies self-annihilation and no longer having a relationship with the surrounding world, despite being present.

Travelers to the Ultimate Truth experiencing absence no lon­ger have any interest in the laws that are in force in the life of existent beings and the conditions in which they find themselves. They have completely freed themselves from the states that belong to the carnal soul under the dazzling shower of the Divine gifts which have come uninterrupted to invade their hearts. In this state they are unaware of how and where they are or even of their own existence. Because of the intensity of the Divine manifesta­tions that they experience, they no longer can see although they look, they can no longer hear although they listen, and they are lost in feelings of wonder while thinking. For them, there is no difference between presence and absence. This can be partly explained by the analogy of the women who, when they saw Prophet Joseph, were so struck by his beauty that they cut their hands. Joseph’s beauty could only be a shadow of the shadow of the Divine Beauty, reflected from beyond many veils. If seeing Joseph’s face caused presence to change into some degree of absence, it does not require much explanation how the burning manifestations of the Divine Beauty can dazzle the eyes and bewilder minds.

Presence and absence change places, one turning into the other, only when initiates separate themselves from everything else other than the lights of His Essence. In this state, they feel and think of Him only and restrict their eyes to observing His manifestations exclusively. By so doing, t...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 Saadi Shirazi’s Influence on Ralph Waldo Emerson - Mubina Muftc “To Baron von Hammer Purgstall, who died in Vienna in 1856, we owe our best knowledge of the Persians,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson (d. 1882) in his essay “Persian Poetry.” Thus, it was an Austrian Orientalist who introduced Saadi (d. 1292) and his poetry to Emerson in the mid-1840s. Although Emerson read only a translation (which is inevitably deficient in comparison to the original), the intricate poetry of this 13th-century Persian became one of the major oriental influences on Emerson’s work.

Even though the dominant figure in “Persian Poetry” is Hafiz (Saadi is mentioned only once), Emerson showed quite clearly his admiration for Saadi in the Preface he wrote for the American edition of Gulistan (1865). In addition to this, he also wrote a poem entitled “Saadi” (1899) in which we can read the poetic similarities between Emerson and Saadi, or what was the distinguishing quality of the latter that proved such a powerful inspiration for Emerson.

Emerson seems to appreciate Saadi’s “wit, practical sense, and just moral judgments,” which are shown throughout his most famous work Gulistan, a collection of stories in prose and verse combined whereby each story appears to stand on its own; however, each chapter has its own topic, which also provides a connection between the given stories. In Sufi poetry, gul (or the rose) is one of the central motifs. Every rose represents the glory of God, and every rose is perfect in its own sense.

The stories are mostly comprised of Saadi’s personal experiences on his numerous travels,  and this is one of the aspects of Saadi’s poetry which could have been attractive to Emerson, especially because it is congruent with Emerson’s own ph...]]> 2017-01-06 11:20:00 Awesome Inspirations from SHARK SKIN - Adam Allison There are more than 500 species of sharks that have been identified. They can live both in the sea and in fresh water. According to the fossil records obtained to date, sharks have been around for about 400 million years. The average life span of sharks is 20-30 years, although there are species living up to 100 years. The whale shark (Rhincodon typus), which is not predatory and feeds on plankton, is the largest shark, with a length of 17-18 meters and a weight of approximately 36 tons. The white shark is the largest predatory shark, with a length reaching 6 meters. The egg of sharks is also a record holder: the size of the largest egg, found in 1953, was 30.5 centimeters, while the size of the embryo was measured at 35 centimeters. The smallest shark observed so far is only 14 centimeters long, and it was found on the shores of Louisiana in 2010.

Sharks are categorized in three groups according to their feeding style: those that feed on 1) plankton, 2) floating creatures, and 3) creatures on the sea floor. Although sharks are known as the best hunters in the sea, one out of two of their hunts ends with success. The prey is very unlikely to escape when caught by a shark.  The great white shark has about 300 sharp teeth that bite with a force predicted to be as powerful as 18,000 Newtons, whereas a human bite can be as much as 1,300 N. Sharks use a sonar system (sound waves) to locate prey.  The absence of swim bladders and the fact that their skeletons are cartilaginous rather than bony allow them to move quickly and swiftly underwater.  Sharks also have an acute sense of smell. Their nostrils are only for smelling, not for breathing. 

The unique design of their skin is part of what makes sharks such effective predators. In fact, suits made to imitate shark skin are banned at international swimming competitions. If you touch shark skin from front to back, it has a silky texture; but if you touch it from ...]]> 2016-10-20 08:00:00 In A Different Light - Lawrence Brazier Our cause is not the acceptance or rejection of religion, or the debate of Faith against Reason. We wish to make faith a matter of reason because, if the mystics are right, reason is not necessarily a matter of thought. We are concerned with the claim of the mystic, who would negate mood, which can be the enemy of objectivity. We must at least attempt to achieve the "other" state the mystics have told of, a state independent of mood or feeling or emotion, in which one "sees" with dispassion, but not coldly, for we agree with Jung who told us that coldness is also a passion. We wish to see things with objectivity, without self-applied coloring. We may consider, methinks wrongly, the mystic state to be something unrelated to logic or the empirical. On the other hand we may wish to consider the "state" a reality, perhaps the way to perceive reality. If we acknowledge the mystics’ claim, we are bound not to ignore it and are thus obliged to investigate it, perhaps for the same reason that Everest was climbed – simply because it is there. 

Our aim is not the application of a supposed objectivity, ours is the aim of first “being” objective. Our investigation should be undertaken empirically. It may be possible that reason will result from the empirical endeavor. A philosopher may first need to be in the right state for philosophy. Could this be the reason to be? If, as Goethe maintains in Faust, "...round and round we go, our teachers lead us by the nose" – could it be that both teacher and pupil haven't a hope of arriving at any verifiable answer? Must we unlearn rather than learn? We may well be concerned, here, with demystifying the mystic, which we hope will not irritate them. On the other hand, how could it?

We consider infinity. But we can’t define it. We are only able to use the word figuratively. Infinity is the stuff of the hypo...]]> 2014-06-06 08:55:33 Ethics: A Principle in Islamic Epistemology - Ali Gomaa Islam has been ordained for higher objectives designed to refine the conduct of those who endeavor to follow its guidance. The hope is to yield benefits both for society and individuals. These honorable objectives aim at providing safety and peace by ensuring the security of one’s life, freedom to practice one’s faith, right to obtain property and have a family, and safeguarding one’s intellect. 

God has prescribed us to act mercifully and charged us with the responsibility of getting to know one another and living together in peace so that religion is practiced for God alone, and no human is given authority over another. The purpose of this prescription is to ensure that everyone is free to practice their faith, is safe, doesn’t worry about their financial interactions, and can express one’s beliefs. In fact, all the rules, laws and regulations of Islam have actually been placed in order to secure, guarantee, and regulate these freedoms.

Community freedoms are different; some are shared by all, and some are agreed upon. While some are mutually inclusive, some might conflict or oppose the freedoms of others. By reminding of possible consequences and promises of rewards in the hereafter, Islam aims to prevent such conflicts by commanding virtue and prohibiting vice.

A truly free human being is one whose presence in a community is respected. A free individual can enjoy the opportunities of advancement and development, in realms both material and immaterial. Therefore, what befalls upon such a free person is to observe and respect the rights and freedoms of others and to defend these rights just like his own rights are defended. Free individuals seek equality.  

It is among one’s rights to discuss and debate with others regarding their thoughts and creeds; even to raise objections in light of one’s faith and creed. However, one is not allowed to cause any harm ...]]> 2018-01-05 08:01:50 Water Management and the Qur’an - Harun Avci Water is a unique blessing, given to all living beings. It needs to be used with balance, harmony, economy, and justice. Agriculture, industry, and ecology depend on our water sources. What happens in one country may affect another. The Nile river and its branches pass through nearly 10 countries. The Danube passes through 15. The pollution of water sources has a devastating impact on the entire ecosystem.

There are two essential problems around water sources: 1) the inability to meet the increasing need for water, and 2) pollution. Beginning in the mid-19th century, these problems grew in parallel with industrialization and an increase of urban populations. In time, nations started facing colossal problems concerning how to develop and manage their water sources.

The Dublin Statement
Particularly after the 1980s, worldwide water organizations as World Water Council and Global Water organization were founded to bring together state leaders, ministers, and scientists to seek solutions. Among these, the World Water Forum meetings were started in 1997, and the seventh was held in 2012, and the eighth one will be in Brazil, March 18-23, 2018.

Along with trying to find common, reasonable, and balanced ways for water management, these meetings sought to raise public attention to the issue of water conservation. One of the most important of such meetings was the United Nations Water and Environment Conference, held in Dublin, in 1992. The World Water Council and Global Water organization were founded thanks to this conference. The Dublin conference was organized to discuss the danger that if water sources were not managed wisely, human health, food safety, economic development and ecosystem would all be under risk.

In the conference, essential new approaches for utilizing, developing, and managing fresh water sources were demanded, and it was emphasized that these approaches must be supp...]]> 2003-11-12 10:13:24 Perhaps One Day We, Too, Will Be Revived - M. Fethullah Gulen In our gloomy lands, we have waited years for a breeze of revival, expecting the momentous sound of a resurrecting trumpet. Though we hope God will not make us wait any longer, we are determined to actively wait until the day we find our lost values. But I wonder, are we qualified for such an expectation? Is our spiritual enthusiasm high enough? And are we able to stand before God as duly required?

If not, obviously such a passive stance is everything but being in expectation. If the resurrection we are awaiting is a revival during which we become ourselves in our feelings, thoughts, spiritual lives, and lives of the heart – and there is no doubt that it is – then it is necessary to once more review our situation and our expectations. For according to the principle of causality, there is a proportional relationship between our current attitude, behavior, and our expectations.

This great expectation is not a task for the ignorant, those without ideals, those bereft of a cause, or those poor in wisdom. It is an ideal for those spirits who possess knowledge and wisdom and who are dedicated to the truth. If one day our ill-fated fortune is to change, it will change with God’s permission by the hands of these heroes, and anything other than God’s will is an unnecessary condition (shart al-adi). To date it has always happened like this – God knows best, after all, but it will be like this again, and attacks from both inside and outside will continue. Loyalty that is normally expected from friends will not be shown. Destruction will follow destruction. Our spiritual roots that make us who we are will constantly be harmed. Our hearts will long for love, and moans of death will be heard from all sides. But, despite all these negative things there will always be the vanguards of revival who will blow life in every direction.

Our society has suffered from many different ruptures and disintegra...]]> 2003-11-12 09:02:38 Is There an American Muslim Song? - The Fountain This question, posed by Dr. Ingrid Mattson during her address at the conference “Islam in America: Civic and Religious Youth Identities,” stresses the need for Islam to start feeling at home in the so-called “new world.” Despite its universal claim, many still view Islam as a religion of the Middle East, a faith presumed to be practiced only by Arabs. They view it as an alien phenomenon for Americans. These misperceptions do not reflect the truth for those who are more familiar with the facts about Islam’s history and demographics in America. Muslims have been a part of America for hundreds of years. Islam is not the only religion that originated in the Middle East, nor do Arabs consist of the great majority of Muslims, who live and practice their faith peacefully in the Middle East, Europe, Southeast Asia – and, yes, the Americas. Yet, many feel American Muslims still need to form their identity. In this issue of The Fountain, Dr. Zara Khan, from Respect Graduate School in Pennsylvania, analyzes this issue and the conference where Dr. Mattson posed her question. Can American Muslims produce more holistic, nuanced, and embodied forms of celebration, culture, and sanctified expression? Can American Muslims generate cultural forms that give importance to music, joy, celebration, and community? Can they use the American land, language, experiences, and tradition to produce songs and rituals?

Another perspective about Islam comes to us from Cairo, one of the earliest centers of human civilization. Ali Gomaa, the former grand Mufti of Egypt, writes about the main principles of ethics Islam offers to mankind. While reading his essay, one cannot help but realize how the image of Islam that is often portrayed in the media is diametrically opposite the real Islam, which is based on freedom, security, and the protection of human rights. According to Ali Gomaa, for a perfect manifestation of religious life, the f...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 How to Face a Disaster? - The Fountain Hurricanes, tropical storms, earthquakes … More people are being affected by more natural disasters. But life’s challenges do not only come in the form of natural disasters – individuals have to face all sorts of disasters in their personal lives. Sometimes it’s the loss of a loved one or a job, a first gray hair, a failed class, getting passed over for a promotion. These challenges make up the theme of this year’s essay contest: How to Face a Disaster?

Tell us how you survive difficult times. Give us your best advice. Share your greatest life lesson. For details, go to our website:

As a highly competitive and commodified industry, sport is not only a weekend, sit-on-the-couch pastime, but is also a political arena where ideologies fight. The recent “take a knee” protest in the US is not a standalone incident. From the ancient Olympic Games to modern-day World Cups, sports have been a means of national pride, and the athletes are considered heroes. Their lifestyles, opinions, and choices are always newsworthy, even if these choices mainly relate to their home countries thousands of miles away.  

One striking recent case is that of Enes Kanter, NBA’s Turkish star, who is at odds with the current Turkish government. Kanter (25) has been an open critic of the government’s corruption. After the July 2016 coup attempt, he started speaking up even more loudly to protest the government’s persecution of tens of thousands of innocent citizens. Justin Pahl talked with Kanter on his life as a devout Muslim in the NBA and on his struggle as an advocate for the oppressed in his home country.

As a follow-up to the story of Abraham (pbuh) in the previous issue, here comes the story of Joseph (pbuh). Two authors, one Muslim and the other Christian, shares their respective scripture’...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 “Pen” diagnoses cancer in 10 seconds - The Fountain Zhang J et al. Nondestructive tissue analysis for ex vivo and in vivo cancer diagnosis using a handheld mass spectrometry system. Science Translational Medicine, September 2017

A team of engineers and scientists has developed a “pen” that accurately identifies cancerous tissues during surgery within 10 seconds. This handheld instrument could one day be used by surgeons to quickly determine what tissue to cut and preserve. The instrument, called MasSpec Pen, was tested on tissue from 253 patients and found to distinguish between cancerous and healthy tissue with ~ 96 % accuracy. When a patient undergoes surgery to get rid of a tumor, a surgeon tries to remove all cancerous tissue while preserving the healthy tissue. Although maximizing cancer removal is critical to improving patient survival, removing too much healthy tissue can also have profound negative consequences for patients. For example, breast cancer patients could experience higher risk of painful side effects and nerve damage. Thyroid cancer patients could lose speech ability or the ability to regulate the body’s calcium levels in ways that are important for muscle and nerve function. The current technology is called frozen section analysis, and it takes 20-30 minutes for a pathologist to prepare and analyze the sample. Because the metabolites in rapidly dividing cancer and normal cells are so different, MasSpec Pen extracts molecules from the patient’s tissue with a tiny amount of water and then sends them through tubes to an instrument that can identify the molecular fingerprint of cancer. When the analysis is complete, the words “Normal” or “Cancer” automatically appears on a computer screen. For certain cancers, such as lung cancer, the name of a subtype can also be predicted. MasSpec Pen seems to be a big improvement on current methods, and the researchers hope to start testing it during oncologic surgeries in 2018.

2003-11-12 10:03:42
Why are yawns contagious? - The Fountain Brown BJ et al. A Neural Basis for Contagious Yawning. Current Biology, August 2017.

Why do we yawn if someone else does? Ecophenomena drives us to imitate other people's actions, but it's also found at excessive levels in neurodevelopment disorders such as Tourette’s, autism, and epilepsy, for which scientists have been intensely trying to find treatments. A new study suggests that the human propensity for contagious yawning is triggered involuntarily by primitive reflexes in the primary motor cortex, an area of the brain responsible for motor function. In the study, 36 adults who viewed video clips showing someone else yawning were asked to resist the act. Results showed that the ability to suppress a yawn after someone else does it is "limited" and becomes more difficult if someone tells a person not to do it. This study demonstrates that the “urge” is intensified by trying to stop yourself. Moreover, increasing brain excitability in test subjects using electrical stimulation was found to increase the propensity for contagious yawning. This experiment suggests that reduced excitability in Tourette’s might reduce the tics (repetitive involuntary movements) and vocalizations in affected individuals. Scientists are still puzzled by the reasons why we yawn when we're tired. For example, one theory suggests that we yawn when we lack oxygen or need to cool our brains. Another theory for the cause of contagious yawning is that it is linked with empathy for others, mimicry, and social bonding. But the evidence for these theories remains very weak, and more research is needed to understand the function and biology of yawning.

2003-11-12 10:03:42
Eat fat, live longer? - The Fountain Roberts MN et al. A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice. Cell Metabolism, September 2017.

As more people live into their ’80s and ’90s, scientists focus more on the issues of healthy aging. A recent study proved controversial when it demonstrated that a high fat, or ketogenic, diet not only increases longevity but also improves physical strength and memory. In the study, scientists raised three groups of mice: a high-carb diet, a low carb/high-fat diet, and a ketogenic diet. Researchers found that not only did the ketogenic diet significantly increased the median life span of the mice but it also augmented memory capacity and motor function and reduced age-related markers of inflammation and tumor incidences. A 13% increase in median life span for mice corresponds to 7-10 years in humans. Importantly, it’s not simply an extension, but a higher quality of life, too. The ketogenic diet is basically an extreme version of a low-carb/high-fat diet, in which your carb intake must not exceed an equivalent of a single apple per day. A typical ketogenic diet includes seafood, low-carb vegetables, cheese, avocados, nuts, seeds, and beef and poultry. The ketogenic diet exploits the natural metabolic response: when mammals like humans or mice run out of glucose, a process called ketosis starts and the body starts to burn fat as a primary energy source. One important challenge of the "keto diet" is that it contains few vitamins or other vital nutrients, making dietary supplements necessary. Despite the exciting findings, nutritionists warn that our bodies can't run on fat alone and everything, including carbohydrates, should be eaten and enjoyed in moderation.

2003-11-12 10:03:42
Sincerity - M. Fethullah Gulen “Always intend to earn God’s good pleasure when performing your deeds, for God accepts deeds that are done purely for Himself.”[1]


How can we purely seek God’s good pleasure in our deeds and become conscious and attentive about this endeavor?

Answer: Real believers who truly love God, may His glory be exalted, need to seek God’s good pleasure in all of their attitudes and behaviors; they should take no notice of themselves, even for a moment; they should not say “I spoke, I did, I achieved…” and they should erase what they achieved even from their memories. If believers are to speak for the sake of expressing the truth, their words must definitely echo the voice of their hearts. When something is achieved in the end, they must not lay the slightest claim to it.

Lifeless words without a visa from the heart

A consciousness as mentioned above is not something that can be attained in just a moment, of course. A person must constantly train to efface oneself to the degree of saying, “I wonder whether I exist or not,” and attain a state of being oblivious of oneself in the long run. Otherwise, the effect of the good deeds realized will be restricted to a very narrow sphere, and will not become fruitful. Even if at first there is some activity, it will be temporary and the services carried out will not likely be lasting.

Today, preachers constantly make speeches in places of worship and on TV shows; they keep preaching on and on. In Muslim countries, call to prayer resonate all over the land. Recitations and supplications in mosques are performed in a way that was never as ceremonial, even in the time of the Prophet. However, these speeches and recitations do not affect the hear...]]> 2003-11-12 09:02:38 Enes Kanter - A Dervish in the NBA - Justin Pahl Enes Kanter is unique among American athletes. He is one of the few practicing Muslim players in the NBA, and in a league known for its political activism, Kanter is still one of the most outspoken players.

It wasn’t always that way. Born in Zurich to Turkish parents, Kanter spent most of his childhood in Van, a lakeside city in Eastern Turkey. He played basketball for Samanyolu College in Ankara before being signed by Fenerbahce, one of the “big three” teams in Istanbul. When he moved to the USA, he broke Nike Hoop Summit records for field goal attempts, field goals made, and points scored, topping Dirk Nowitzki’s 12-year-old record. After being drafted by the Utah Jazz with the third pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2015, where he later re-signed. We had this interview with him before he was recently traded to the New York Knicks.

Were it not for the political situation back in Turkey, Kanter may have had a solid but quiet NBA career. But on the night of July 15, 2016, Turkey was rocked by an attempted coup. He is a vocal member of the Hizmet movement, one of the largest educational social movements in the world, and that originated in Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan falsely blamed Mr. Fethullah Gülen, the Muslim cleric who inspired Hizmet, for the coup, and Kanter soon became persona non grata in his homeland. In May, when he was traveling to promote his Enes Kanter Light Foundation, which works primarily with children, he was denied entry into Romania. His passport had been canceled by the Turkish government, which claimed Kanter was a member of a terrorist organization.

Despite being labeled a terrorist by the Turkish government and being threatened with arrest if he returned to Turkey, Kanter has been unbowed in his criticisms of the Turkish government – and especially of P...]]> 2011-07-04 05:32:23 Wet Cupping Therapy - Prof. Omer Serranur Wet cupping (hijama) – an ancient practice – is a form of alternative medicine that might be effective at treating certain medical conditions.

It was not an extraordinary thing when Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, won six medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The weird thing was he had dark circles in his back, on the shoulders and legs. At first many thought it was some sort of a rash; later it was learned that they were the temporary scars of a cupping therapy.

Usually practiced as an ancient form of alternative medicine, and criticized by some scientists as pseudoscience, according to recent research, cupping may have possible useful effects in removing heavy metals from the body [1] and on cardiac rhythm in terms of heart rate variability (HRV) [2].

An earlier study [3] also showed that wet cupping significantly reduced infarction. According to this paper, wet cupping therapy could help with recovery from strokes. The researchers had caused a stroke by tying up certain veins and then performed cupping on the animals. At the end of the study they examined the muscle layer of the heart that experienced the stroke and found that there was a significant reduction and recession in the area where heart muscle cells had died after the stroke. Equally interesting was the finding that the heart rhythm of the animals recovered after cupping.

"A recent animal study investigated the effects of wet cupping on hemodynamic variables, cardiac arrhythmias, and infarct size after myocardial ischemic reperfusion injury in male rats. Its results show that cupping did not change baseline heart rate or mean arterial blood pressure. Ischemic reperfusion injury caused an infarct size of 50%, whereas dry cupping and single and repeated wet cupping significantly reduced infarct size to 28%, 35%, and 22% of the area at risk, respectively. The rate of ischemia-induced arrhythmias was significantly modified by wet cupping." [3]...]]>