The Future Awaits – A Science Jedi
Today is the thirty-first day, counting each day as one, of the Easter season. It is the thirtieth anniversary of Chernobyl, a nuclear reactor plant disaster that occurred in Russia. The plant remains closed to this day with radiation levels still in the danger zone.
This post will discuss the thirty-ninth female inventor and yes, there are many more to come. I hope by now you have had affirmed or come to the realization that ingenuity is not a gender-related trait. Humans are a species that is known for determining what needs to be done and then doing it. Regretfully, sometimes in that quest, things happen as is the case with Chernobyl and the earlier Three Mile Island Accident in Pennsylvania in March, 1979.
Science only happens when the experiment goes awry. When the experiment does what we expected, it confirms what we already knew. Sometimes an experiment can go awry and, at the same time, ot only provide us with new answers but also confirm old ones. Chernobyl was one such example. We are still learning from Chernobyl and the strictly controlled government-blackout on such events in Russia have prevents more knowledge from being obtained.
Radiation poisoning was also seen after the bombing of Japanese cities during World War II. One of the more common side effects has been cancer. Cancers are caused by many things and radiation poisoning or exposure is just one of many culprits. Some are habits that are known and yet still practiced, habits like over-exposure to the sun or smoking.
In an effect to combat such illnesses, scientists have turned inward to the human body itself in an effect to determine if we can heal ourselves. A giant step in this effect is stem cell research. While the topic of stem cells and research surrounding them has become hot button topics for politicians and even some religious zealots, few people really understand exactly what they are.
Most of us have seen the Star Wars movie franchise and few can forget the opening of the very first with a narrative scrolling from top to bottom on the large movie screen. “In a galaxy far, far away….’ Was the beginning of an adventure, a journey in which the immature grew up, the good revealed themselves, the evil was destroyed, and the strongest of the evil were transformed into something good, a legacy from the past that led us into the future… all based upon “the force’, a mysterious power within those who sought it and developed it, a few known as Jedi warriors, protagonists out to save the world.
Dr. Ann Tsukamoto is a science nerd, a lady geek, a Jedi warrior when it comes to human illnesses. Her weapons are the force within all of us, stem cells. Stem cells are basic cells within the body but unlike most cells, stem cells have the force, the ability to become something more and sometimes, something different. Composed of the body’s most basic matter, these cells of raw materials can be matured and transformed to create second generation stem cells or daughter cells.
Daughter cells (No, I do not know why they are not called son cells but I think it is because they can give new life, much like a female parent does. After all, while sons are glorious to have, it is the daughter who continues the family life by giving birth to successive generations.) can either become new stem cells which is called self-renewal or become specific cells with specialized functions.
These daughter cells are differentiated from other stem cells and can become blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle or even bone. While all cells in the human body have the same basic make-up and structure, stem cells alone are the only ones that can transform into other cells. There are over two hundred different types of cells in a human body with about twenty different types of structures but daughter cells alone can become a different cell.
Dr. Ann Tsukamoto is a leading researcher in the field of stem cells and in helping eradicate many of the issues that plague the human body and lead to early demise. She currently holds at least seven patents in this field. Advancements in such diseases as liver and pancreatic cancers are a direct result of her research and techniques.
Unfortunately, many of us are not very kind to our bodies. We delight in partaking of things that are not healthy and we fail to listen to the lessons learned from the past regarding healthy and productive habits. Researchers such as Ann Tsukamoto are not playing like they are deities, trying to create new life. They are simply trying to help us all improve and survive the life we have. Stem cell research is a gateway to better living and we owe a large measure of gratitude to all involved in this field.
The future awaits us all but only if we prepare for it. We must use our own personal force within to live as healthy as we can. It may not seem exciting but it will be worth it. There are enough accidents in life that can create havoc with our health without creating chaotic lifestyles. Fortunately, there are people engaged in stem cell research that are saving lives. They are not giving us original life but they are helping us preserve the life we have been given by our creator spirit(s).