SCI-ART LAB

Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

Q: I am taking treatment for TB. It has been a month since I started my antibiotics course. But still the cough persists. How much time will it take to completely get rid of my disease? When can I stop taking medicines?

Krishna: Tuberculosis is one of the diseases that has become alarmingly resistant to antibiotics. Therefore, these days tests are being done whether the strain (a strain is a genetic variant or subtype of a microorganism) a patient got infected with reacts or not or how much it is susceptible or resistant to a particular antibiotic before starting the treatment. 

Doctors prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria that cause it. Generally, you’ll need to take them for 6 to 9 months, depending on the strain you got infected with, your health condition and several other factors. What  medicines you take and how long you’ll have to take them depends on which works to eradicate your TB. Sometimes, antibiotics used to treat the disease don’t work. We call this "drug-resistant" TB. If you have this form of the disease, you may need to take stronger medications for longer.

If several types of medications don't do the job, you have what we call “multidrug-resistant TB.” You’ll need to take a combination of medications for 20 to 30 months.

A rare and serious type of the disease is called "extensively drug-resistant TB." This means that many of the common medications -- including isoniazid, rifampin, fluoroquinolones, and at least one of the antibiotics that are injected -- don't have much affect at all. Research shows that it can be cured only around 30% to 50% of the time.

It’s important to take every dose of your antibiotics. Don’t stop, even if you feel better. If you don’t kill all of the bacteria in your body, the remaining germs can adapt and become drug-resistant. The doctor will conduct tests from time to time to decide about dose and the duration of time you need to take the medicines. Strictly follow what your doctors prescribe. Don't take things lightly. 

Antibiotic resistance is a serious thing. 

One more thing ... if you have active TB of the lungs, you can infect other people. For that reason, you have to stay  home during the first few weeks of treatment, until you’re no longer contagious. During that time, you should avoid public places and people with weakened immune systems, like young children, the elderly, and people with HIV. You’ll have to wear a special mask if you have visitors or need to go to the hospital.

Q: Does spinal TB spread from person to person?

Krishna: Spinal TB doesn’t spread as it is. However, some cases of prevalence of spinal TB and concomitant active pulmonary TB were reported ( Ref 1). The prevalence of both spinal and pulmonary TB (both inactive and active) can be alarming.

TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, or speaks. People nearby can breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

When a person breathes in TB bacteria, the bacteria can settle in the lungs and begin to grow. From there, they can move through the blood to other parts of the body, such as the kidney, spine, and brain.

TB disease in the lungs or throat can be infectious. This means that the bacteria can be spread to other people. TB in other parts of the body, such as the kidney or spine, is usually not infectious.

But simultaneous spinal TB ( or infection of other parts of the body) along with active pulmonary TB, can spread TB.

However, not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. People who are infected, but not sick, have what is called latent TB infection. People who have latent TB infection do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms, and cannot spread TB to others. But some people with latent TB infection go on to get TB disease.

Reference 1: ScienceDirect

Q: How does one get spinal TB?

Krishna: TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

When a person breathes in TB bacteria, the bacteria can settle in the lungs and begin to grow. From there, they can move through the blood to other parts of the body, such as the kidney, spine, and brain.

TB disease in the lungs or throat can be infectious. This means that the bacteria can be spread to other people. TB in other parts of the body, such as the kidney or spine, is usually not infectious.

People with TB disease are most likely to spread it to people they spend time with every day. This includes family members, friends, and coworkers.

Q: Dr. Krishna, I get very nervous to visit a hospital. To get tested by a doctor. To get treated. The very thought of surgery scares me. How can get rid of my phobias?

Krishna: If I tell you- you are not alone? There are millions of people like you to give company to you! Only thing is different people differ with regard to the extent of fear they face. Some only have anxiety. Some have some sort of nervousness. Some have very severe form of phobia.

 Nosocomephobia is the name of the phobia relating to the fear of hospitals. Tomophobia is a fear of surgery or surgical operations. Pharmacophobia is a fear of medicine. Millions of people around the world have hospital anxiety, fear of surgery, and are afraid to take medicines.

This is because when you have a health condition, you think you lost control over the situation. You feel weak both physically and mentally. You postpone the medical procedure because you are too afraid it might hurt or won't work, as honest doctors cannot give you full guarantee that it really works. A bad earlier case either faced by you, your loved ones, or the reports you read in a news paper or a magazine can psychologically affect you too. The cost of a treatment bothers some. The worst reason is that going to the hospital and having surgery or taking lifesaving medicine brings up fear of your own mortality.

We can understand all these reasons. But try to think the opposite too. 

When once successfully treated, you can again gain control over the situation and your life. Surgery hurts but there are pain killers that can effectively manage your pain. And your pain will be only for a limited period. Once the wound heals, the pain disappears to a large extent. Medical science works most of the time. Even if it doesn't get you the full results you expect of it, atleast, it can get partial results which are much better than full scale suffering you have to endure without treatments. Try to take health insurance to manage costs. For every bad story told to you, there are thousands of good stories which go unreported. Think about them. 

Finally, the Q of mortality. No human being is immortal.  Every living being  who takes birth has to die. The reasons for death vary but death is certain. Worrying about it doesn't make you avoid it. If you visit a hospital, you can postpone death to a large extent. 

Look for a good doctor who has tremendous genuine knowledge and experience about the subject, not any doctor. Trust him when he says something. The very feeling that you are in safe hands  and that person is in control of the situation you are in, calms you down to a large extent. 

Gain confidence by talking to your doctor and learning how your health condition can be cured or at least managed. Educate yourself fully and correctly about the condition. Trust that you can do what you can to give yourself the highest potential for maximum recovery, like eating good food, going for physiotherapy etc. Try to divert your mind from the health problem by doing things you like the most - spend time with your loved ones, pets,  pursue a hobby, read a good book, watch a good movie. Stop listening/ reading negative stories about the health condition you have if they scare you a lot. But be realistic about your condition. Gain mental strength by pursuing all the stories that tell you how this condition was treated successfully earlier.  Surgery, even if it is elective,  will either lengthen your life or give you a better quality of life. You take medicine for the same reasons. 

Remember: Hospital anxiety is temporary. The moment you are cured, it goes away. There is very little to worry after that. Be assured about it and this will help you manage your nervousness efficiently. 

Q: Can scientists still find new kind of life?

Krishna: Yes!  Why only this week Canadian researchers have identified new kind of organisms that're so different from other living things that they don't fit into the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom, or any other kingdom used to classify known organisms.

Two species of the microscopic organisms, called hemimastigotes, were found in dirt collected on a whim during a hike in Nova Scotia by Dalhousie University graduate student Yana Eglit.

A genetic analysis shows they're more different from other organisms than animals and fungi (which are in different kingdoms) are from each other, representing a completely new part of the tree of life, the researchers report this week in the journal Nature. There's nothing we know that's closely related to them.

Based on the genetic analysis they've done so far, the Dalhousie team has determined that hemimastigotes are unique and different enough from other organisms to form their own "supra-kingdom" — a grouping so big that animals and fungi, which have their own kingdoms, are considered similar enough to be part of the same supra-kingdom.

There is still a lot to find. Watch this space for more news.

Q: Can science prove we dreamt?
Krishna: Yes, science can say whether a person is dreaming. Scientists say they can predict whether people are dreaming by looking at the brain activity in a region at the back of the brain, which they dub the posterior cortical "hot zone."
"Monitoring this posterior 'hot zone' in real time predicted whether an individual reported dreaming or the absence of dream experiences … suggesting that it may constitute a core correlate of conscious experiences in sleep”.
The neural correlates of dreaming

Q:  Can science prove your thoughts are legal or correct or social? 

Q:What is the term dharma according to science? 

Krishna: "Prove something right or wrong''  can be done in courts using forensic science. 

When it comes to questions of morality and meaning, the way we go about deciding what is right and wrong, and meaningful or not, is not the same as the way we discover what is true and false or facts. Some emotions like kindness and empathy will be involved. Controlling them is highly important to arrive at a good decision. Just because a criminal cries and acts funnily, you cannot support him. Oh yes, his brain could be differently wired! You try to analyze what could make any person behave so differently from others. On the other hand you can empathize with a poor thief when he steals food. But if you are a logical thinker you will try to understand what circumstances made him stole the food and try to correct them. Critical thinking given to us as part of our scientific training helps here.

If something causes pain or emotional distress to a person, as a person of science, I can understand that in terms of nerves, brain connections. Anyone who knows how a nervous system works during pain processing can do no physical harm to any living being. And anyone who knows how the brain really works at the emotional level will never try to harass another living being. Any person who has seen how the scientific rules are followed universally in a given set of conditions, and understood its beauty can never think in local terms and can never come under the influence of artificially created races, castes, groups, communities or citizenships. He sees all the living beings as his own images - following universal rules of life and as citizens of this universe.

Unlike what several people think, science deals with moral ( derived from reasoning related to...empirical evidence) issues too and can be a good guide to life's journey through the checkerboard of blacks and whites!

That ‘s all it is there in the relationship between dharma and science.

Science and Spirituality

Q: Why does science say ancient beliefs or knowledge based on it is not good? I don't agree with this at all!

Krishna: Oh, my! I will give just two examples to show you what way your thoughts 're leading you to . In ancient times, Egypt people believed that Egyptian royals were descendants of God and therefore, should not breed with outside people to protect the royal lineage. I won't dub it bizarre but the intermarrying of Egyptian royalty is a cultural tradition we now found to be a bit odd. Marrying family members and having children with them caused various physical deformities and shortened the lives of infants and children, because there was no genetic diversity. All this inbreeding led to physical deformities, genetic disorders, and many stillbirths.  Pharoah Tutankamun, of the 18th dynasty, is one of the most famous Egyptian rulers. On the other hand, according to history, his legend is more beautiful than he was. He had a clubbed foot and walked with a cane. He also suffered from a degenerative bone disease, as well as a curved spine, a cleft palate, and a weakened immune system that saw him die from malaria. Its highly ironic how this custom, intended for preservation of his descendants, actually ended his familial lineage. Although he had two children with his half sister, Ankhesenamun, both babies died due to complications of mixing the blood lines. The tiny baby girls were mummified and later buried with their young father when he died.

We feel so sad to hear this. How can such beliefs and actions based on ignorance be good?

Another one: Is rubbing dung or urine from various animals onto a wound or infection  to cure them  right? This practice causes more infection and even death! Is this right?

Are these what you want to depend on? It is up to you to decide now!

If you think ancient is good, atleast test them using scientific method. If science confirms what you think is right, you can follow it without any harm. Until, then, keep away from baseless beliefs.

Q: How do bacteria, mosquitoes etc. know where their victims are?

Krishna: Bacteria and other microscopic organisms sense varying concentrations of chemicals in their environment—concentration gradients—to approach or avoid something. This is a process known as chemotaxis (movement of a motile cell or organism, or part of one, in a direction corresponding to a gradient of increasing or decreasing concentration of a particular substance). Even sperms use this technique to home in on eggs to fertilize them. 

Positive chemotaxis occurs if the movement is toward a higher concentration of the chemical in question; negative chemotaxis ( like bacteria avoiding phenyle) if the movement is in the opposite direction.

Likewise compounds and odours people exude that might  attract mosquitoes. Mosquitoes have 27 odourant receptors and lactic acid to detect the sweat  of human beings that activates their 'radars'. For instance, people with high concentrations of steroids or cholesterol on their skin surface attract mosquitoes. Mosquitoes also target people who produce excess amounts of certain acids, such as uric acid. People who emit large quantities of CO2 too attract mosquitoes more than others.

On the other hand if you use chemical repellents, they keep away from you.

Q: Why do sea levels rise? What does this lead to?

Krishna: Melting of glaciers and ice caps due to climate change is one of the reasons.  Also water expands because of the heat of a warmer climate (the oceans are absorbing more than 90 percent of the increased atmospheric heat associated with emissions from human activity).

Higher sea levels mean that deadly and destructive storm surges push farther inland than they once did, which also means more frequent flooding, shoreline erosion and infrastructure damage. Moreover, low lying areas will disappear under the sea.

Q: Are some people right when they say science gives us nothing apart from false hope and illusion?

Any person even with little knowledge knows the quote above is 100% true. Science doesn’t need anybody’s appreciation or recognition.

Remove science from the universe, it just collapses! Because, this universe is based on scientific principles and it is science run. Life is based on science. We cease to exist without it. You find science every millimeter and Angstrom of this universe. Period!

It is the limitations of the human mind that are restricting us from having full knowledge about this universe made of science. Why blame science for our inadequacies?

People say science cannot solve all the problems and doesn't answer all the questions human minds pose. True! But think about this: This universe started with a Big Bang ( according to one theory - which is not yet proved!) some 14 Billion years ago. But science is just a few hundred years old.

The universe in which we find ourselves is 14,000,000,000 years old, planet Earth is about 5,000,000,000 years old, the species Homo sapiens, to which we belong, 300,000 years old, and modern science a mere 500 years old.

Science is still in its infancy. It has to learn a lot, study a lot, think a lot, experiment a lot and then only it can come up with all the answers we are seeking right now. How can you expect a child to solve all the problems of his ancestors? And answer the questions posed by his great, great, great, great grand fathers? Is it appropriate to even expect such a thing? I don't think so.

There is science every millimeter and Angstrom of this universe. And the universe is unimaginably vast! But the scientists are so few! How can the limited number of scientists read the language this universe is written in such a less time?

We should be amazed at how we have been able to get so far in understanding the things in this universe despite our inadequacies! Science is doing its best with the limited resources it has to both answer the questions and solve the problems. As the time goes by, I am pretty sure, it will succeed more and more. Please have patience! Give science some time.

And let me assure you when science answers these Qs, they will not be silly stories but universe-shivering true facts.

Science is the language this universe is written in. It is already there before living beings came into existence and scientific principles rule this universe and run it. It is the human understanding that isn’t developed to match it. We, the scientists, are not bringing things from somewhere. We are discovering things because they exist in the universe.

And people bring in several concepts to explain things human mind can’t yet comprehend blaming science in the process.

I want to ask all the people who ridicule science and belittle it, if your Creator thought science ‘s not the best, why did he choose science as the language to write this story of the universe? Why did your Creator base everything here on science?

Come on, answer me!

( After reading this answer of mine a student sent me this message ... "I love the fire in your answers ma’am. I hope to emulate the same in my science classes. Your passion for science is contagious!")

Krishna: WOW! If I can spread this love for science of mine to everyone!

Q:Why do people get upset when you say that science is a method for finding the truth and not merely truth itself?

Krishna : Okay. If science is not truth itself, why is this universe based on scientific principles, and run by it? This universe, you, I and and all the living things in it just cease to exist without the scientific principles governing them! This universe would collapse if you remove science from it! Realize that!

There are two aspects to science:

1.The thing all the people think and give definition as … science is a method for finding facts about the universe.

2. Scientific principles that govern this universe and run it.

We might get wrong with the first one because of our inadequacies. But if the second one goes wrong, this universe would collapse and we cease to exist. That is a fact.

It is not the Q of getting upset, it just is a lopsided argument if you take only one thing into account. 

Q: Why do most people in the world accept Einstein's theory of relativity without any difficulty but don't accept Darwin's evolution?

Krishna: Because Darwin's evolution clashes with creationism and some people's religious beliefs. Pure and simple! Einstein's relativity doesn't touch religious beliefs at all.

Q: Is there really evidence for evolution? Some people say there is no evidence and evolution is just a belief and not science.

Krishna: What a Q?!   Google Scholar lists more than 5 million scientific papers that dea...

l with evolution .

People who don't know the difference between opinion and evidence based facts can say anything they want. But that doesn't become truth. No weight should be given to ignorance based arguments.

Evolution in reverse gear : Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa's art work based on the theme

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