The Ferrari of the Virus World

Structure of the virus that causes the flu
Image courtesy of edicionesmedicas.com.ar

There are a lot of different creatures in this world. From the biggest like the blue whale, the hippopotamus, the elephant… until the smallest like a Sumatran fish, ants, bees… However, another kind of creatures lives surrounding us every day. They are even smaller and they are also the most dangerous. You can be afraid of a lion, a caiman, an anaconda or even a group of wolves or a mad dog. You can also be afraid of people from your own species because the evil could be inside any creature. But in the case of this tiny adversary, we could be all afraid because a lot of species have the battle lost against all of them.

This little adversary is not other than a virus: a small infectious agent that can replicate only inside the living cells of an organism. It did not difference if the organism is unicellular or it is composed per multiple cells because its unique function is to replicate itself and with that destroy all around it.

Maybe a lot of people do not know exactly which is the process that the virus uses to do that and they only think that a virus is that thing which makes you feel ill, like the flu for example, and in a few days or weeks you are healthy again. But, unfortunately, not all the virus are equal and some are extremely dangerous and can kill you only in a few days.

Almost all the virus work in the same way. They infect the cells injecting a piece of their genetic material. The cell could not difference the pieces of their own DNA from the fragments of pieces of DNA, or RNA, from the virus so the cell starts to use its own resources to create more virus. They replicate until there is no more espace inside the cell, the virus break the cell wall and tonnes of virus escape to infecte other cells.

It is like if a thief infiltrates himself inside of a bank and he had access to the money. Each day he could take a few coins to his home until he would have enough coins to pay another thief or, a corrupt employer who can hep him in extract more coins. That process will continue indefinitely until, in the end, that would be more thieves, or corrupt people inside the bank, than money inside the deposit box. It seems that this example that I used it, it is no so different that our actual reality with some banks, in some countries.

Meanwhile, these thieves in the banks need days or years to destroy a company and to create a huge economic crisis. A tiny virus could make the same in only a few hours and to kill the subject in the process. Everything happens because some virus can replicate faster than the cells. But not all the virus are interested in to kill. Most of them are only like our bank thieves. Unfortunately, their acts could have terrible consequences for the health or, the global economic crisis.

Inside of the virus world, there are a lot of kinds of classifications. For the type of structure that they have outside, for the velocity of

VIH
Image courtesy of medtempus.com

replication, for the symptoms they create, for the kind of cells they use to infect, for the mortality they have… Anybody who understands a bit in this could be hours talking about this little dangerous world. Talking about the VIH, the flue, the ebola…

However, what it caught my attention to write this was another little one: a Norovirus, or best known as the winter vomiting bug. What a “lovely fellow” it is this little thing. You can get exposed to it everywhere and to finish without to cannot go further than one meter of the toilet. Definitely, he is a bada**. And if you have been sick you know why.

But the thing that most captivated me about this virus it was not its structure, its evil symptoms or how many people have been affected this year by it. What it got my attention was this article from BBC. And how the poor “vomiting Larry” passes all the day throwing away different particles and virus. Seriously, I understand the work of the professor Ian Goodfellow of the University of Cambridge. And I think that they are making a good work. But do not tell me that have a dummy vomiting all the day is not nasty and shocking.

It seems, despite all these investigations today they have not could find so much information about the virus or how to stop it and one of the only few things that they have discovered is that a Norovirus it is one of the fastest viri in reproduce itself doing it thousand times faster than a human cell.  So, if we make an easily visible example of how fast is one reproduction of another, we could say that a human cell is faster like a Citroën DS and a Norovirus is a Ferrari, the fastest model of this brand that it is in the market.

Well, maybe, that was not a good example but what we could learn in this piece of news from BBC, it is not only more about a particular virus that it is affecting thousands of people each year. What we have could learn, it is that not in all the horror movies with possessed people, who vomit, they are effected for the evil. Maybe, all that violence, spasms, and nasty vomits or other fluids from the movie The Exorcist  were only caused by a tiny being: a Norovirus.

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Losing the Innocence

Kids playing Image courtesy of news.discovery.com

Kids playing
Image courtesy of news.discovery.com

I am a person who has always liked to write. Normally, fictional things and my own fantasy inventions but I also like to write another kind of things. The problem is, if you make me choose what I should start today probably, I will always pick the option: fiction. Maybe it is because for me it is funnier to write about magicians, dinosaurs, or rabbits… Maybe, I like to avoid the raw and cruel reality. But it is not an excuse to always write about fantastic things.

I remember when I was studying and I had to make all kind of paperwork. In most cases, there were investigations and write heavy articles about vitamins, the molecular structure of the chlorophyll, how a cell duplicates itself at a molecular level, how acts the human being in different social situations, the story of the cinema… Now, a lot of people would be asking themselves what I have studied to have written those sort of things. Well, I can confess that I like to explore very different fields and I made the same with my education. But, this year, I proposed to myself to write more about the cruel reality and to come back “a bit” to my sociology and anthropologic studies. So here it is a puzzling text about how the children lose their innocence.

All of us have been kids and some of us remember better our early years or our experiences than others. This is a fact, and not only because some human being has a better capacity to memorise things, events, sensations… It is because some human prefer to forget their early years; some because they feel ashamed of them, others because that memories do not fit with the standard protocol of a happy childhood, and others because they had traumatic experiences in their past. Whatever it is, everybody is in their right to keep their memories to them but I wonder why the actual kids are not equal than the ones of some years ago, or of the kids when I was a kid too, or the kids when my parents or grandparents were kids.

It is something that anybody can ask another person: “Which was your favourite game when you were a kid?”. And depending on the age of that person probably s/he will tell you a different thing. Of course, you can always find people that have passed a lot of traumas in their childhood but it is not the habitual and, normally, anybody could tell you that they played with cars, dolls… they liked to play with a lot of friends, alone… they liked the hide and seek or they preferred football… That used to be normal: that the kids until ten years old liked to play with toys or to go outside to play with their friends. They were innocent and their only major worries were the school and to play.

But now, times have changed. It is completely shocking how most of the kids in the same age range are not thinking of the same. They are thinking of electronic devices and sex. Yes, you have read it the last word well.

Annie Leibovitz: Alice in Wonderland. Sometimes people could act like pigs.
Image courtesy of Vogue

I am not sure if there is an official study about this theme or if anybody is studying the different causes. However, I think it must be someone who will worry about this and s/he will try to look for a solution. I like to be with kids because I like to write stories for them and what I am finding is that the classical stories that we have read when we had their age: any tale from Dr Seuss, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins… Now, for these new generations, those stories are boring and they do not have any interest in them. Most of this kids have lost very soon their capacity of imagining things and they cannot understand how Mary Poppins could fly with an umbrella when everybody knows that you only can do that with a plane. They cannot imagine how Alice could be very tall or very small only eating things. They need to see it in an electric device. What that gadgets show are for them what is real.

If there is a kid in the same group of children that s/he conserves yet the capacity of to have imagination and dream, create things, draw, invent things or to enjoy the stories that we have read it all our live. That kid will be discriminated by the others and s/he will be condemned to be treated as a weirdo who nobody would like to play. Fact, that could be very traumatic for some children and, in consequence, they would come equally as the rest only for to try to be integrated inside the same social circle.

But the most worrying thing is not the fact of that incapacity of to dream and that dependency of being connected or to see the world through electronic devices. The most worrying thing is that it is considerably increasing the number of kids that they are having premature sexual experiences.

I remember when I was young that any sexual relation before the sixteen years old was premature. Today, we are observing that the normal is that at twelve or fourteen they have had sex with anybody in the school and I am not talking about sexual abuses or children that have been abused when they were younger. However, it is terribly worrying when you start to find tonnes of cases around you of kids that have masturbations only with three years old, six, eight, or why not they go to her cousin and they say:”let’s going to play”, they take out their undies and they made it as if they had made it all their life. Correct me but I think this is not normal and the worst is this behavior is like a pandemic virus which is affecting a lot of places of our world. And I am not talking about kids who live in suburbs or ghettos. I am talking about middle upper classes with parents with a good job and a good education.

There is a theory which says that maybe, these kids are doing this so early because they saw on the electric devices, things that supposedly there are not for their age. It could be a valid theory if you always suppose that all the kids have the tendency to copy all that they see. And this is the same theory which applies to the increase of massacres in the USA and other countries: that like they see violence and shooting people in their televisions and video games people wants to do the same. Yes, it is easy to always find something to blame and in the cases of psychological problem or sociological conducts, the fault is always of the movies, television and video games. But I always had a question about this theory of the “monkey sees monkey does”: if humans really copy what we see in the movies why always people copy the bad acts or the ones which usually are not socially accepted? Why has nobody copied that lovely character as it is Forest Gump? Because he seems retarded? Well, retarded or not the fact is Forest Gump got in his life more success than a lot of human beings in the world. So why do not copy and to learn a bit of his innocence and determination? Or why do not copy the attitude of Guido Orefice the main character from Life is Beautiful? Imagine how hard was the times in which that character lived. However, he always found the positive path to keep going and do not let that his son suffered more. Why do not copy him?

It seems when the human being decides to copy people or they act they prefer the bad behaviours. Or, almost, when they do not want to recognise what they have done was wrong they prefer to accuse the video games and films. So, as Sylvester Stallone said recently in an interview, why did not people copy me when I have done Rambo or Rocky and now you are afraid people will copy me shooting to everybody? (about his new movie). And he is right.

In all the historic time’s people has confronted themselves to traumatic experiences and children were not the exception. Still, and despite some kids lived their childhood watching how other people killed other people like rats, violate their mothers, send them to refugee camps or to the gas chamber. Most of those kids who today are elders have not become criminals and murders, or violators or child abusers. And they have not become like what they saw everywhere because they were young but they knew the difference between what was right and what was wrong. Some lost their innocence because they were obligated by the circumstances to grow up fast but it does not mean they became evil.

Now, we are in a new era in which our children, even most of adults, do not want to grow up. They do not want to accept responsibilities of their acts, behaviour or thoughts. They only want to act without any responsibility and to accuse other things or people when they are caught doing something wrong.

I do not know how this will finish if we do not find a remedy. If we do not find the capacity to teach to our younger ones what it is wrong and what it is right. Because I am afraid that if this continues in this way the last thing of what we should worry it will be that they will lose their innocence. I am afraid that if they start with those sexual practices so young and they continue with the weapons, believing only what any electronic device will say, we will find that in our future it will not be innocence. It only will be like the Far West.

Annie Leibovitz: Alice in Wonderland. Everything’s got a moral.
Image courtesy of Vogue