The Fountain Magazine http://www.fountainmagazine.com The Fountain en (C) 2012 fountainmagazine.com Blind mice have vision restored - The Fountain http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/blind-mice-have-vision-restored Blind mice have vision restored

Zhu et al. Immunosuppression via loss of IL2rγ enhances long-term functional integration of hESC-derived photoreceptors in the mouse retina. Cell Stem Cell, January 2017.

 

Your ability to read these words relies on your retina, the eye’s nerve center. Light passes through the lens and iris and strikes the retina at the back of the eyeball, which consists of light-sensing rods and cones. This process allows you to see these letters. When things go awry in the retina, people experience partial or complete loss of vision; to date, no efficient treatment has been found to stop or reverse blindness. Researchers have been trying to transplant new photoreceptor cells into the retina for the last decade, but the success has been very limited, and the transplanted cells usually did not survive long enough to restore vision. In a recent study, researchers were able to restore vision in completely blind mice by transplanting photoreceptors derived from human stem cells. They demonstrated that the blind mice were able to perceive light as late as 9-months following the transplantation. The key to their success was simultaneously blocking the immune response that causes transplanted cells to be rejected. The researchers determined that the mice which lack the immunodeficient IL2 receptor gamma (IL2rl), a specific immune cell receptor that rejects transplanted foreign cells, experienced longer-term survival of the transplanted cells. These findings give a lot of hope that the same stem cells used to cure blind mice may also be used to treat humans. It is now possible to identify other small molecules or recombinant proteins to reduce interleukin 2 receptor gamma activity in the body, increasing the possibility the body will accept transplanted stem cells.

The moon may be formed from a group of smaller moonlets

Ru...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 To Reach "The Emerald Hills of The Heart" - The Fountain http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/to-reach-the-emerald-hills-of-heart 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 http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/we-are-not-spectators-a-christian-perspective 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 bewilderment for believers in a loving God, t...]]> 2017-03-17 15:05:53 What On Earth Has Gone So Wrong in Turkey? - Greg Barton http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/what-on-earth-has-gone-so-wrong-in-turkey 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 http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/the-age-of-self-awareness 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 http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/the-mist-poem 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.
Rather,
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 http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/quinoa-an-alternative-grain 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 http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/the-narcissist-and-the-pool 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 http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/technological-singularity-the-digital-rapture 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 http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/walaya-sainthood 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 http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/grandma 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 http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/medical-imaging 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 http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/the-world-through-the-eyes-of-honeybees 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 “We Have to Move Forward, Collectively” - The Fountain http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/we-have-to-move-forward-collectively Laila Muhammad is the Family Counseling Coordinator at Compassion Action, a New Jersey-based foundation. Community work and advocacy are a family legacy for Muhammad: her grandfather, Elijah Muhammad (d. 1975), was the founder of the Nation of Islam movement in the United States. Her father, Warith Deen Mohammed (d. 2008), was voted into the leadership of the movement after his father and led a great majority of its members to adopt more mainstream forms of Islamic faith and practice.

When we visited Laila Muhammad in her office at the foundation, we found her involved in a number of important programs: aid for underprivileged families in the Newark area; a charity drive raising school and office supplies for orphanages in Haiti; raising funds helping patients-in-need get cataract surgery. We spoke with her on the responsibilities she inherited from her family, her involvement in interfaith dialogue, the current problems haunting our world, and how we can move forward from here.

 

The Fountain: Your family made history in the US. You carry on your shoulders a heritage of wisdom and a struggle for civil rights that will be studied for many decades in the future. How would you describe that heritage?

Laila Muhammad: My parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and community members, we call them pioneers. I have really embraced that idea, maybe in the last fifteen to twenty years. Prior to that, I didn’t really understand it. But I also know that it is a great responsibility. Before, I loved my family; I understood that my grandfather, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and my grandmother Clara Muhammad, as well as my father Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, were historical people and leaders, but I didn’t understand the dynamic of it. Sometimes as a child or young adult I was a little irritated, because I had to share my father with people, or because I felt like everybody was watching me....]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 The Universe A Short History - Civan Ozturk http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/the-universe-a-short-history Has the universe existed forever? And how much do we really know about it? Only 4-5 percent of the universe is made up of what we can see today: stars, planets, and galaxies. This means that all of today’s known scientific information is from about just 1/20th of the universe. Scientists cannot detect and comprehend the remaining 95%.

Dark matter, the mysterious unseen mass, and dark energy, the universe’s mysterious force, comprise the rest of the unknown universe. We still know very little about dark energy and dark matter. Dozens of institutes and thousands of scientists have organized international collaborations in search of both. In fact, scientists hope the biggest energy particle collider [1], the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, will help solve the puzzles of dark energy and dark matter.

            It is common for people to ask, how did the universe begin? After decades of observing and measuring, today the majority of scientists explain the beginning of the universe via the Big Bang theory. Two astronomers, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, established the Big Bang theory of cosmology by observing the cosmic background of radiation [2]. According to their theory, everything in the universe was contained in one single mass and there was no space or time. Everything started with the explosion of this extremely dense and hot mass. This explosion was not like an explosion into an empty space; rather space itself began with this explosion.

The idea that led scientists to the Big Bang came from observing the universe’s expansion. Edwin P. Hubble found that almost all galaxies are moving away from the center of the universe [3]. He did so by measuring the light from these galaxies to determine their velocities. This proved that the universe was not static, but was instead expanding. After scientists realized that the universe is expanding, they tho...]]> 0000-00-00 00:00:00 Peace and Dialogue in a Plural Society - Justin Pahl http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/peace-and-dialogue-in-a-plural-society It is a difficult global moment for the Hizmet movement, the civil service group inspired by the ideas of Fethullah Gülen. Targeted in a far reaching witch hunt by the Turkish government, Hizmet has been forced to defend its noble goals of peacebuilding, dialogue, and religious tolerance. Thomas Michel’s book Peace and Dialogue in a Plural Society is a great source to discover these goals.

Michel, a Catholic priest, has studied the Gülen movement for decades. As an outside observer and religious scholar, he’s able to both verify Hizmet’s extraordinary contributions to the world of education and service, while also explaining its ideology and history to readers who might not be familiar with the context of Islamic civil society groups.

The book is a collection of essays, speeches, and articles Michel has written over the years, and they encapsulate his knowledge of, and interactions with, Hizmet. Broken into two parts, the book begins by placing Gülen’s work as thinker and teacher in its proper context. Gülen has been called many things over the years; none of them, Michel argues in his first essay, quite accurate. Despite the claims of his critics, Gülen is not a politician, and he is the antithesis of an extremist. Though he shares elements with traditional Sufi sheiks, Gülen is not a traditional Sufi, either. Instead, Michel posits, he follows in the footsteps of many great thinkers. Chief among them are Bediüzzaman Said Nursi and Rumi, whose faith and devotion, as well as their commitment to love and acceptance, deeply affected Gülen and his philosophy.
Michel also draws on Gülen’s extensive connections to thinkers from the other Abrahamic faiths, including Pope John Paul II. He examines the strong commonalities between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, and the way Gülen’s open, tolerant teachings have sought to build bridges between the faiths – an important...]]> 2011-07-04 05:32:23 Small Molecule Drugs - To Fight Cancer, Heart Failure, etc. - Ali Fethi Toprak http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/small-molecule-drugs-to-fight-cancer-heart-failure-etc In the pharmacology, a small molecule is described as a low molecular organic compound showing high binding affinity to targets of interest such as proteins, nucleic acids, or polysaccharides. This allows small molecules to alter their biological activity. Their small size allows easy transport in the body and a strong ability to diffuse across cell membranes, enabling them to reach their binding targets.
The functions of small molecules vary. In the body, natural small molecules can serve as cell signaling molecules. A number of neurotransmitters – which play a role in the communications between two nerve cells such as dopamine, acetylcholine, and epinephrine – could be given as examples of small molecules in the human body.
There are a number of small molecules used as drugs, too.  Researchers are searching for more small molecules that can be used to treat diseases in the future.

Small molecules as therapeutics
The identification of active compounds holds the key to the future development of therapeutic agents.  Upon synthesis of the analogs of these compounds, derivatives of the initially identified compound could be selected for increased activity. 
Initially, scientists investigated peptides or oligonucleotides, hoping they would have some therapeutic qualities. However, poor oral activities, rapid clearance from the body, and limited bioavailability meant that peptides were not good candidates.
Small molecules, however, which generally have molecular weights smaller than 600-700, presented themselves as interesting candidates for therapeutic use. Screening these small molecules and forming a catalog of them become a major goal in molecular biology, with the hopes of developing new treatments for various diseases.
Small molecule stimulation of nerve stem cells to maturation
It had been believed for decades that the adult mammalian brain co...]]> 2007-12-31 01:49:42 Chaos and Flourishing Hopes - The Fountain http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/chaos-and-flourishing-hopes None of us are willing to remain in the period to which we belong; we use our imagination, journeying back to the vastness of the past where we experience scenes of courage, or we spread our wings towards the future, carrying hopeful expectations.
We live the scenarios we fictionalize. We live them with our faith, our trust in God, and our dependence on Him. We expand out into a world that can be seen only in movies. We interpret what we see in our imaginations, are absorbed in dreams bearing no relationship with the truth, and pursue various psychic visions.

The people of a peaceful and prosperous past, or to be more precise, who believe they had such a past, may occasionally plan journeys into their history within their inner worlds and constantly roam the meadows and fields of the past. But they are never truly successful in exceeding the boundaries of history.

Today, due to the expectations of life, the young, dynamic, and globalized generations, who are unaware of the past and after fanciful thoughts, submit themselves to their dreams of perfection and excellence, and pursue the climates of tranquility that they are unable to find today, in the coves of the future. 

Indisputably, there is a degree of truth in each of these observations; however, conveying the past, with its own values and dynamics, into the present – as well as the ability to enter the future – depends on efficiently analyzing the present without overlooking a split second of it. Indeed, we can better begin the plans, projects, strategies, and implementations for the future if our emotions are purer, our hearts are more joyful, our souls are more enthusiastic, our bodies are healthier, our time is more abundant, our economy is more dynamic, and where our relationships among nations are more consistent and desirable. If we are successful in implementing what is required in every stage of life, then the past-future-presen...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 Establishing Perspective - The Fountain http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/establishing-perspective


In this issue, we are celebrating Black History Month with Laila Muhammad. The grandchild of Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam, and the daughter of Warith Deen Mohamed, she is recognized more by association with her family, but she has continued her family’s incredible legacy of community work. In our interview with her, you will not only read about her family, but you will also encounter a social activist with common sense and compassionate vision. Anyone who is involved in any type of community work will benefit from her words. “We have to move forward,” Muhammad says, adding “collectively” at the end, with emphasis. This message is more relevant than ever at a time when our society is growing more polarized on multiple axes of race, religion, and gender.

Laila Muhammad’s message resonates with a book Justin Pahl reviews in this issue: Peace and Dialogue in a Plural Society, by Fr. Thomas Michel. Fr. Michel is a Catholic priest and a professor at Georgetown University who has been involved in interfaith dialogue with Muslims for many decades. He’s traveled and lived with Muslims in many countries including Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, the United States, and Europe. His research in this book focuses on the Hizmet Movement and how the movement’s educational and dialogue efforts around the world are contributing to peace in the plural society of the twenty-first century.

A complementary piece to the above themes is “The Age of Self-Awareness” by Caroline Halford. Halford writes, “The world became connected very quickly and with that came not only conflict, secrecy, and fear, but also progress, growth, and knowledge, or at least, attempts at these things.” This global plural society has stepped into an age of self-awareness in the twenty-first cent...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 Science Square - The Fountain http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/science-square-november-december-2016 Neutralizing the Zika virus
Sapparapu G et al. Neutralizing human antibodies prevent Zika virus replication and fetal disease in mice. Nature, November 2016.

Scientists have identified a human antibody that can reduce Zika infection, giving rise to hopes that a vaccine may be developed. Zika is a mosquito-borne flavivirus, named after the Ugandan forest where it was first isolated from a monkey in 1947. Zika has become a global public health threat over the past decade because of its rapid spread, first to the Asia-Pacific region, and then to the Western hemisphere. Zika is found to cause microcephaly, unusually underdeveloped heads, and other congenital malformations in children born to infected women. In addition, Zika has been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disorder that can lead to paralysis and death.  Scientists have discovered naturally occurring human antibodies, called ZIKV-117, which reduced the effects of infection in lab mice and their fetuses. The antibodies were found to react with the envelope or "E" protein on the surface of the virus. They then generated a variety of monoclonal antibodies against this envelope protein. This allowed researchers to rapidly generate a large amount of antibodies against specific viral targets. The next set of Zika studies will be performed on primates. If the potency and extent of inhibition holds up, ZIKV-117 could be developed as the first protective antibody treatment for pregnant women at risk of Zika infection.

Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Turned Earth’s Surface into Liquid
Morgan JV et al. The formation of peak rings in large impact craters. Science, November 2016.

 

A recent study of the massive Chicxulub crater in the Gulf of Mexico gives important insights into the formation of planets and life. The crater was formed when ...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 Consultation and Sumbission - The Fountain http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/consultation-and-submission Question: When a consultation committee makes a decision but the decision seems to contradict some of the participants’ minds and opinions, then what would be the best attitude for them to take moving forward?

Submission – to use the dictionary definition – would be fulfilling the rulings, determinations, and decisions of an individual or a council comprised of various individuals who have been endorsed by the general public and are authorized to make decisions on different matters. These can be governmental institutions like the army and the police force, or civil society organizations. However, this does not mean that submission is to the individuals who are involved with the decision-making; especially for civil initiatives, no member has such a right to claim submission to themselves.

However, if the decision handed down is about a nationwide mobilization, then these decisions are crucial for collective success. As such, they should be obeyed. Under those conditions, consultation and submission are like the different faces of the same reality.

As mentioned in the question, matters accepted by a majority of a council may not seem reasonable to everyone and may not be accepted by everyone. To be absolved of responsibility before God, those who are members of the council can articulate the differences in their reasoning, refrain from rashly saying “yes,” and make a note of their opposition to decisions made. Actually, this is the real meaning of consultation. However, if a decision has been made on the issue at hand in spite of the opposition of some, then afterwards the opposing parties should not say a word against the decision and should conform to the decision. This kind of talk is back-biting, especially if the committee is convening to serve a lofty cause. Back-biting is a violation of the rights of a group that is serving the Truth and requires the one who back-bites to as...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 Nature Inspired Self Cleaning Surfaces – An Example of Lotus Leaves - Melissa McPen http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/nature-inspired-self-cleaning-surfaces-an-example-of-lotus-leaves How small is “Nano” scale? For most of us, it is difficult to imagine such a small unit of measurement. To help you imagine how small Nano scale is, here’s a comparison: a single human hair is about 80,000-100,000 nanometers thick.
Nanotechnology is any kind of scientific application that deals with such small materials.  Nanotechnology has become a very important branch of development in the last 30-40 years. As advanced microscopes, such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM) or atomic force microscopy (AFM), became more popular, nanometer scale visualizations become easily accessible in universities and laboratories. This has allowed laboratories to try modifications on different materials or biological samples. Nanotechnology is relevant for every branch of science; however, in this article we will talk about the application of it in materials science, which is the study and design of new materials.
Hydrophobic means water repelling, as the name implies. A super hydrophobic surface means a surface that does not hold any water. On the other hand, super hydrophilic means a surface that loves water, and therefore is completely absorbent (Figure 1).
A material that doesn’t get wet is desirable for many applications. These kinds of materials don’t hold any dirt or mud, and can be especially useful as military clothes or as water repellant glass for the front window of cars, etc. Even though today’s nanotechnology can make the surfaces of materials super hydrophobic, the materials can remain so only for a short period of time. These kinds of modifications either get torn off the surface or lose their hydrophobic properties due to friction, etc. Therefore, water repellant surfaces haven’t become commercially popular – yet.

Figure 1. The surface on the left hand side is a hydrophilic surface meaning, it is highly absorbent. The surface on the right han...]]> 2013-08-28 07:55:06 The Lace Decorating the Beyond - M. Fethullah Gulen http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/the-lace-decorating-the-beyond On the slopes of emerald hills
Voices and whispers stir our happiness
Heavenly fountains cascade in all corners
At the eternal reunion gates
Every moment, each soul is wrapped in delights

Roses, daisies, dandelions, lilies, all in mesmerizing colors
Dew sparkling on violets, jasmines, and leaves,
Bleary-eyed hyacinths and tulips
Moths flying between light and colors
Appearing on every horizon is the brightest of beauties.

When my heart is filled with the best dreams,
My faith is my honest guide
My prism to see and love everything
Making me feel all the mystery
In every step of the colorful world

As the spirit coils up into the ether
Traces of meanings emerge in my imagination
Silent whispers flow into my heart
In an incomprehensible language, without letters and words
As if the gates to the heavens creak open nearby

At that point humans listen to existence
Hearing the tunes of the Infinite One in their hearts
On the prairies, valleys, and shores every spring
They look for the lost Heavens
Feelings of hope and longing are side by side

They embrace everything on their path
The grass, trees, rocks, earth, all of existence
For them, the light and darkness are the same
They welcome sickness and health with contentment
They are slaves, living like kings

...]]>
2003-11-12 09:02:38
NOT EVEN WATER! Turkey’s Refugees in America - Sophia Panda http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/not-even-water-turkeys-refugees-in-america Safiye is a teacher who fled Turkey a day before the July 15, 2016, attempted coup. She left to join her husband, who had already left in June and had settled in Seattle. With her eleven year-old daughter in another room, she explained with a pained, intense earnestness, “If we go back to Turkey, he will kill us. He has said, ‘I won’t even give water to the Hizmet volunteers.’ And he actually did cut the water source to some of our schools.” Safiye was referring to Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan, who had already begun to steer his country towards repressive authoritarianism even before July’s attempted coup. He had especially targeted those, like Safiye, involved in the Gülen movement, also known as “Hizmet” (Turkish for “service”). Hizmet is a civil society humanitarian organization inspired by the ideas of Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen and mystical Islam, and it is committed to interfaith dialogue. It has opened thousands of cultural centers and science-focused schools in Turkey and around the globe. However, after a rift grew between Erdoǧan and Gülen in 2013, the Turkish president (then Prime Minister) pronounced, without any credible evidence, Hizmet a terrorist organization and launched a witch hunt against those even vaguely associated with the movement.

After the attempted putsch on July 15, 2016, Erdoğan’s government lost no time in blaming Hizmet, even though Gülen himself vehemently denies any involvement, declaring that those actually behind the events “committed treason against the unity of their country” and “caused hundreds of thousands of innocent people to suffer under the government’s oppressive treatment.” Immediately afterwards, Erdoǧan began to accelerate his course of harassment, detaining...]]> 2016-10-20 08:00:00 When Our Brain Asks for Help Remembering - Geffrey Olsen http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/when-our-brain-asks-for-help-remembering The first time you rode your bicycle, the first day of the school, or the time you ran into an old friend: all these may still be fresh in your memory. Immediately recognizing the faces of your friends is only one of many amazing functions that our brain performs every day. The human brain contains billions of nerve cells (neurons) and just as many connections between the cells, which carry information amongst them. These connections allow our brain to adapt to changing external factors, such as stressors. The scientific definition of “stress” is slightly different than the one we may use to describe a difficult work assignment or a long commute in traffic.

As a phenomenon, stress is a must for humanity’s survival; however, it becomes harmful when encountered excessively. Stress is what makes you run away from a giant bear in the middle of the forest. And it is the same force that drives you to fight when cornered. This fight or flight response primarily involves the sympathetic nervous system, which initiates a chain of reactions in communications between the body and the brain. Within seconds, stress hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine) are released into the bloodstream, which in turn increase heart rate and blood pressure. This response occurs rapidly, though the hormones clear out of the system just as quickly when the threat passes.

What happens if our fight or flight response is constantly triggered? What if stress hormones become a normal part of our bodily system? For instance, you might have taken your first “F” on a calculus test; this is followed by many others later on in the semester. Or you may have wanted to start your day with a fresh cup of coffee; instead, you were stuck in traffic and were late for work, and then forgot to hand in a big report to your boss.

Imagine that these kinds of events are repeated more often than no...]]> 2017-01-06 11:20:00 Through A Mirror Brightly - Tony Mitchell http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/through-a-mirror-brightly Historians and other students of history will look back at the 21st century and see that it passed through three phases.

The First Period

This first phase saw a rise in conservatism, fueled by quasi-taxpayer revolts and an increasing oligarchical minority seeking to control all aspects of government and business.

As this early period of conservatism rose, it became evident that the desire by many for smaller, more responsive government and less taxes would not be met. Evidence would later surface that the oligarchy, much in the manner of the 19th century “robber barons,” colluded to gather power and wealth for themselves while using the taxpayer’s own  dissatisfaction against them.

Governments became, in fact, larger and more military oriented, subservient to the demands of business and the oligarchy for less and less regulation. With each increment in the reduction of environmental and other regulations came a concurrent reduction in personal liberties.

Believing there was a need for more energy, restrictions against the mining of coal, the drilling for oil and natural gas, and seeking alternative ways to obtain fossil fuels were reduced and/or eliminated. The need for more and more of these fossil fuels led to more global conflicts, as countries sought to find and secure the rapidly diminishing supplies of fossil fuel. This in turn necessitated increased military, defense, and security-based spending. Wars became the norm rather than the exception, which created an age gap, as an entire generation was squandered fighting in these conflicts.


The reduction or removal of environmental-based regulations, long proclaimed by conservatives as barriers to economic growth, led to an increase in air and water pollution levels, and the destruction of natural habitats, which in turn had a devastating impact on the planet in general. The increase in ...]]> 2017-01-06 11:20:00 AFRICAN-AMERICANS, TURKEY, AND HIZMET - Abdullah Aymaz http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/african-americans-turkey-and-hizmet 2007-10-03 07:05:02 Letting Beings Be - Al Freeman http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/letting-beings-be There is a growing awareness that the natural world cannot sustain modern civilization in its present form. Humanity must change if the whole chain of life is to continue living on Earth. A plausible solution for the persistent problems caused by modern economic, scientific, and political applications cannot be achieved merely by using better engineering or more advanced technology so long as we are bounded by the limits of our modern philosophical underpinnings. The conflict between man and nature has reached an impasse, and resolution seems impossible within the dominant paradigm; the roots of this stalemate are linked to the very assumptions of the modern worldview. A radical transformation is needed and a very important first step is to discover and reconsider the root causes of our predicament.

This article examines the philosophical underpinnings of modern humanity’s problematic relation with the bio-physical environment. These views, many critics say, suffer from anthropocentrism and dualism. After establishing these problematic viewpoints, I will turn to investigate nondualism, an alternative mode of thinking mostly promoted by religious traditions, which I believe can help us transcend the predicaments of the contemporary man-nature relationship.

Anthropocentrism and dualism
Modern humankind is anthropocentric. The centralization of humanity, accompanied by an ontological hubris, leads to the prioritization of humanity’s needs and pleasures. This justifies the transformation of the Earth into a titanic factory that supplies security and pleasure for humankind whilst destroying the biosphere.

There is another problematic aspect of anthropocentrism as it pertains to ethics in general and environmental ethics in particular. Ethical relativism seems to be the logical conclusion of human-centeredness. When an indi...]]> 2017-01-06 11:20:00 Ghayra ( Endeavor ) - M. Fethullah Gulen http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/ghayra-endeavor Endeavor (ghayra) literally means making every effort of concern, and being alert in striving to preserve chastity, honor, and esteem. It signifies being on the alert in respect of religious prohibitions. God is limitless in His concern for the purity of His servants and is infinitely pleased with the care they show and the endeavors they make in preserving it. For this reason, He has made some things, including indecencies and evil acts in particular, unlawful. So His servants, at least, must respond to His concern by being as careful as possible not to commit such acts. This is endeavor (ghayra); in this lies a person’s honor.
In order to remind us of this point, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, said: “Do you wonder at the degree of Sa‘d’s concern? I am more concerned than Sa‘d, and God is more concerned than me.” Concern requires fulfilling with great zeal whatever God likes and orders and being as determined as possible not to commit whatever He dislikes and forbids. It also requires loving from the bottom of one’s heart the Essence, Attributes and Names of the Necessarily Existent Being, and doing one’s utmost so that He may be loved also by others, and preferring relationship with one’s Lord to everything in the world and the Hereafter. In expressing these last two points in particular, the following verse of a saint is highly significant:
I wish all the people of the world love Him Whom I love,
And all that we speak about would be the Beloved.
If the endeavor required is the assumption of a determined attitude not to commit evil and therefore related to God’s absolute dislike of such acts, then this would mean that one must adopt a manner that belongs to God. He who was the voice of truth, upon him be peace and blessings, said: There is no one more concerned than God. It is because of His concern that He...]]>
2003-11-12 09:02:38
The Future of Staying Connected - Mubina Muftc http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/the-future-of-staying-connected The Web turned 20 in 2011 (the first web page was launched on August 6, 1991). Today, there are 644, 275,754 web pages, according to Netcraft.com, and even that is not the most accurate number, considering the dynamics of the web. No one could have predicted back in August 1991, at the beginnings of the Web, the incredible development and crucial impact the World Wide Web would have on late 20th- and 21st-century society, economy, and culture.

However, in just 20 years, the “soul” of the Web has changed: what began as the ultimate democratic tool, the Web is increasingly turning into a “global village” and a limitless market where the consumer is the commodity.

In this essay we will examine how these changes affect our online and real lives, and whether we can glimpse at the future of staying connected.

 

The Web: 20 years ago and now

In a BBC documentary series, “The Virtual Revolution,” Dr. Aleks Krotoski analyzes the development of the Web and its all-encompassing impact on our lives. She speaks with the prominent and important online social strata: the founders of Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft, and the inventor of the Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who acknowledges the discrepancy between the intended purpose of the Web and what it represents today.

At its beginnings, the Web was the epitome of democratization: its defiance against authority and tendency to uphold horizontal allegiances, and the fact that it gave voice to everyone and censored no one. Even now these characteristics are closely tied to the definition of the Web; however, we are also witnesses that these democratic hopes are being challenged by the growing influences of giant web companies, such as Google and Amazon, and some governments’ interests at controlling the content thei...]]> 2017-01-06 11:20:00 Is It Possible to Measure Everything? - Dennis Joy http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/is-it-possible-to-measure-everything Over the centuries, humankind has spent a great deal of effort on measuring almost everything we encounter in our daily lives. Even the earliest societies attempted to express mass, length, and time in terms of numbers. Although the origin of some measurements is not definitively known, the tools used to measure mass, length, and time were among the earliest ones invented.
It was very natural that people focused on these measurements, as they were critical to everyday life. One of the first known attempts to measure length was the Egyptian cubit, developed around 3000 BC, which was based on the human body, one of the best tools then available to humanity. A “cubit” was the length of an arm from the elbow to the fingertips.
Similarly, early civilizations used what they had at their disposal to measure time, which was determined based on the regular movements of the sun. People used sundials, then candle clocks, water clocks, and sandglasses to measure time. As a result of the different methods used, the lengths of generally used time periods varied greatly from place to place – just as the units used to measure mass and length varied, too.
After the world became more interconnected, people needed a universal measure that could mean the same thing from one society to the next. In order to avoid confusion, an international standard unit of measurement, called the metric system, was created by France in 1790.
Latent constructs
During the last two centuries, the focus of measurement has shifted from observable objects to latent constructs such as traits, attitudes, and abilities. Latent constructs are based on certain theories. They can neither be observed nor measured directly. We attempt to measure them through some observable indicators, which are assumed to represent the underlying construct. For instance, the measurement of unobservable personal characteristics...]]>
2017-01-06 11:20:00
A Culture of Peace - Deborah Moldow http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/a-culture-of-peace The 21st century finds humanity at a crossroads. After centuries of material progress have brought undreamed of comforts, and travel and communications opened the world to us, we have reached a perfect storm of unprecedented crises. Every one of the complex systems we have developed – in agriculture, business, finance, education, health care, governance, and more – has reached the end of its paradigm, requiring radical change. On top of that, the climate changes that are coming threaten everything our civilizations have built. The only solution to all of these challenges will be a great shift in human consciousness. The good news is that it is happening before our very eyes.

The United Nations actually has a name for the new consciousness that is emerging across the globe: a culture of peace. There are two main hallmarks of this consciousness. The first is the understanding that we are all members of one human family. All our religions teach us to follow a path of righteousness, defined by caring for one another with generosity, compassion, mercy, and love. In previous times, we have limited the expression of these virtues to those within own tribe while arming ourselves against outsiders. The key realization of the 21st century is that there is no “other.”

Our quickness to judge others according to their race, religion, gender, ethnicity, or culture is fast diminishing. We no longer live in isolated pockets of people who look like us. Those who go to school together, work together, and meet as neighbors can’t help but notice our common humanity. And blood feuds, bigotries, and grudges nurtured for generations in closed societies are evaporating in the fresh air of inclusivity. This trend is helping us transcend the ideal of mere tolerance, as we move onto firmer ground of respect, caring, and appreciation.

The 20th century saw the rise of the interfaith movement, an important step in the advanc...]]> 2017-01-06 11:20:00 Mosquitoes for Painless Cure - Kamil Ezgin http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/mosquitoes-for-painless-cure Microneedles in Medical Treatment – Can Science and Technology Mimic a Mosquito Bite to Cure Diseases?

There are biological barriers that protect the human body from various kinds of detrimental and foreign substances. Although these barriers defend our body, sometimes we need medicine to help us heal faster or to prevent serious diseases. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the biggest in the world. A significant amount of resources is devoted to finding easier, cheaper, and more effective cures for many illnesses.

The drug molecules that are supposed to be curing us also need to overcome our body’s defense mechanisms. Let’s look at some of the body’s defenses and the way drugs overcome them, before we examine an unexpected inspiration for a new method of delivering drugs.  

Our skin is the largest barrier preventing toxic substances from getting inside our bodies.  The intestinal mucosa or the blood-brain barrier is a physiological defense barrier. If a drug molecule can pass through these barriers, the next step to be overcome is the biochemical barrier, where myriad enzymes play a role. Therefore, drug molecules have to be designed with optimal physicochemical properties. These include the proper size, charge, and hydrophilicity (water solubility) to ensure their permeation across our bodies’ biological barriers.       
There are a few types of drug delivery systems. They are oral, pulmonary (via inhalation), intravenous (via injection), and transdermal. All of them have their own advantages and limitations.

For oral applications, a drug molecule needs to traverse the epithelial layer of the gastrointestinal tract. Thus, there are many factors which have to be taken into consideration for enhancing the delivery of molecules through the intestinal mucosal barrier. Many of the newer drugs on the market are composed of peptides and proteins, and they canno...]]> 2010-03-16 03:34:16 Archimedes Universe - Adeel M. Khan http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/archimedes-universe Staring upwards at the vast night sky, which is riddled with stars, have you ever wondered just how many stars are up there? And more fundamentally, just how many things – i.e., particles – are up there? For people curious about humanity’s place in the universe, these questions have been asked by ancient thinkers and contemporary scientists, and have even been answered, at least as much as contemporary instruments allow us to answer them.  

In a famous story about Archimedes, the ancient Greek mathematician sets out to calculate the hypothetical number of grains of sand that would fully occupy the known universe. Archimedes wished to know just how large our universe is, as well as how many particles might fill its vastness. Archimedes’ bold attempt at answering this question pioneered two important contributions: first, a numerical system to denote extremely large quantities (which led to modern-day exponents) and second, a guess at how voluminous the universe is and how many particles it might contain. The answer that Archimedes arrived at is that 1063 grains of sand would fill the known universe, which is a 1 followed by 63 zeroes.[1]

This number 1063 is as large in the physical world as it is deceptively compact in its written form. Ultimately however, Archimedes did not have the advantage of modern-day telescopes to verify his answer. Furthermore, he could not answer the natural and more scientifically-challenging follow-up question to his thought experiment: just how many particles make up this universe? In fact, the true number of particles composing the known universe is believed by modern day astronomers and astrophysicists to be over a quadrillion times the value of Archimedes’ number.

But how did scientists arrive at their number? That is, how do we count the particles in the universe? A basic version of the calculation is actually straigh...]]> 2017-01-06 11:20:00 The Strategy Game of Our Immune System - Brian Turk http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/the-strategy-game-of-our-immune-system The organs and systems of the human body work together in perfect harmony. If kept in optimal condition, they function for many years. Our body is the perfect environment for life, but not necessarily just for our own cells. There are thousands of different types of microorganisms living mutually with our cells. Unfortunately, not all microorganisms have good intentions. Harmful bacteria and viruses could damage our body without much effort, if it weren’t for one thing: our immune system.


Our immune system handles our body’s security. It’s equipped with the resources necessary to deal with different levels of security threats. This system walls off the body, but also has the equipment to hunt down any intruders. We can think of our immune system as a game of strategy, where defensive and offensive maneuvers are equally important. This game is not a simple, single-session one. It involves constant information gathering, weapon developing, and soldier training. In short, it involves constant change.

The body’s general defense mechanisms, called the innate immune system, can be considered the first line of defense, aimed at preventing bacteria or other pathogens (sickness-inducing factors) from entering the body in the first place. These include the skin (the walls of the castle), as well as mucus, tears, saliva, and acids (the boiling oils of the castle). Vulnerable entry points such as the respiratory system are covered with thick, sticky mucus, which traps pathogens and then disposes of them by way of sneezing or coughing. Other sensitive spots such as the eyes are constantly washed with tears. Tears are produced on top of the eye and drain into the bottom, near the nose, ensuring sterility.

The innate system also uses a mechanism called inflammation to handle pathogens that manage to breach the outer defenses. The main goal of...]]> 2015-05-04 14:40:56 “Let Us Speak with Our Hearts,” We Said - M. Fethullah Gulen http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/let-us-speak-with-our-hearts-we-said There are many concealed paths connecting all of our hearts. As every individual continues on their life journey, they will experience solidarity with other groups or people at surprising times, either intentionally or unintentionally. As humans seek the ultimate truth, there are many various steps, bridges, and detours that must be navigated in order to advance and reach the ultimate goal. People of good character, and souls which are devoted to universal values, advance towards the firmament of their own specific truths without conflict. They rarely experience any obstacles on their journeys. In their world, different skin colors, different shapes and sizes, different cultures, different ideas, and different opinions are merely superficial. In the depths of their souls there is always a silent camaraderie, a balanced dynamism, a poetical motion, and these devoted souls display an enviable example of repose and tranquility. 
We have tried to achieve this vastness in our souls for years. We have always wanted to recognize and accept people – not for the ill-temperedness they display due to certain exterior reasons, but for the spiritual immensity of their inner worlds, their silent spiritedness, their energetic harmony, and their continual openness to self-reform. And it was impossible for us to think otherwise. Such acceptance is required by the superior commands of faith, a testament to its universality. Indeed, while we have always tried to embrace our own faith completely, we have also regarded other religious thoughts and philosophical ideas as a natural part of our life. We have always sought coexistence. Our slogan has always been “accept everyone for who they are, and show respect.” And we have always tried to be faithful to this principle and have never condemned or abused anyone due to differences in religion, faith, sect, or opinion.
Though we have suffered various kinds of abuse, and were subjected t...]]>
2003-11-12 09:02:38
Exhausted, But Moving Forward With Hope - The Fountain http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/exhausted-but-moving-forward-with-hope Around the world, many people feel exhausted. Americans are exhausted from their elections and revelations of troubling conspiracies. Europeans are grappling with waves of immigrants and unsettling political developments. The Middle East is wracked with war. Immigrants are weary from months and years on the road, as well as enmity and even hate crimes in their new homes. Minorities are still trying to overcome the scourge of racism. Journalists are fighting to maintain the freedom of the press, and women are battling to overcome misogyny. The West struggles for its values, the East wants to maintain its traditions. Secularists battle extremists, religionists try to overcome zealous secularists, and everyone, but especially Islam, is trying to beat back the evils of ISIS.

2016 did not offer much hope that solutions to these many problems and exhaustions are just around the corner.  On the contrary, things seemed to get worse – maybe the worst they’ve been since World War II. Many of us wondered, “When is this going to end?” As the Rev. Deborah Moldow, the World Peace Prayer Society’s Representative to the United Nations, writes in this issue, it seems like “after centuries of material progress have brought undreamed of comforts, and travel and communications opened the world to us, we have reached a perfect storm of unprecedented crises.”

So, what is the way out, if there is any? Rev. Moldow believes one solutions is what the United Nations calls the “culture of peace.” According to her, there are two main hallmarks of this consciousness. The first is the understanding that we are all members of one human family. And the second is the renewal of our sense of deep connection with nature, realizing that our future must include new ways to live in harmony with our environment. Rev. Moldow expounds on these themes in her essay “A Culture of Peace.”

On a similar...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 Synthetic 3D-printed bones for reconstructive surgery - The Fountain http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/synthetic-3d-printed-bones-for-reconstructive-surgery Synthetic 3D-printed bones for reconstructive surgery

Jakus AE et al. Hyperelastic "bone": A highly versatile, growth factor-free, osteoregenerative, scalable, and surgically friendly biomaterial. Science Translational Medicine. September 2016.

Bone implantation surgery is both challenging for doctors and a painful process for patients, especially children. It usually requires either harvesting existing bone tissue from elsewhere in the body, or using metallic implants. While these approaches may work for adults, they are not a permanent solution when used for growing children. In a recent study, scientists reported a 3D printable ink that forms a synthetic bone implant and induces bone generation and growth. This biomaterial is composed of a mix of 90% hydroxyapatite, a calcium mineral found in human bone, and 10% biodegradable polymer, which is commonly used in medical applications, including sutures. The key feature of this new hyper-elastic biomaterial is its ability to create porous structures where blood vessels and other cells can infiltrate to create a scaffold. Animal studies showed that when stem cells are placed on these scaffolds, they turn into bone cells and initiate the regeneration process. Additional factors can also be easily integrated into the biomaterial, such as antibiotics to prevent post-surgery infections or growth factors to further enhance the regeneration process. The advantage of 3D printing technology will enable doctors to create personalized bone structures with custom shapes and properties for each patient.  In the near future, hospitals with biomaterial and 3D printing facilities may revolutionize the field of craniofacial and orthopedic surgery.

 

Gene behind “sixth sense” discovered

Chesler AT et al. The Role of PIEZO2 in Human Mechanosensation. The New England Journal of Medicine...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 Service in the Face of Obstructions - The Fountain http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/service-in-the-face-of-obstructions Question: People trying to serve humanity through education, dialogue, and charity are usually facing challenges, antagonism, and defamation from others in different parts of the world; how should these people respond in the face of suck attacks?

 

Throughout history, people dedicated to service have always faced animosity from those with hatred and envy in their hearts. There have also been many people who, to protect their own interests, attacked the innocent. Such animosity, and even violence, is, unfortunately, a fact of human history. Volunteers on the path of service should not be surprised by it. In spite of all the mistreatment and obstructions they face, these volunteers should keep on their path, moving forward with a pure conscience, ready to embrace all of humankind.

While walking on this path, they may sometimes be betrayed by those from whom they would anticipate fidelity; be deserted by their companions; or even find the most unexpected to be traitors. However, they should not be hindered by such negativities. On the contrary, they should find a new rationale for service, and develop new methods of serving humanity; they should be continually raising the bar with their service.

Flawless dependability
Some religious sources foretell about the “latter times” to be dominated by all sorts of evil. If we are living in these latter times, then they will be characterized by upheaval and turmoil on a large scale. Human virtues will – and already have – suffered. One such virtue is trustworthiness. In a period in which trust is lost and deception is considered to be a merit, humanity will need, and look for, individuals of flawless dependability. At a time when people are desperate to find companions who do not deceive or misguide, individuals striving for the good of humanity should serve as brilliant representatives of trust and dependability. ...]]> 2003-11-12 10:03:42 You - M. Fethullah Gulen http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/you-m-f-gulen-poem A lover who has seen You
Would not look for another.
A loyal one who has befriended You
Would not ask for another.

Once ears have heard You
They are deaf to another.
You sit upon the throne of hearts;
They do not desire another.

Your Name, sweetest on the tongue
Praised in every breath;
Once your love is tasted,
No other honey is needed

Once a soul loves You,
Has come to meet You,
And attained Your privacy,
It needs no more prosperity

The poor are rich with You.
You are the only strength of the weak.
Those praising You with zeal
Will suffer no more

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