Tag Archives: physical insights

Uneasy Reality of the Zika Virus

The Zika virus promises a new reality for the USA and ‘the rest of the world.’ The virus will be infecting more individuals in the coming months, and ‘the true tragedy’ becomes apparent for those not infected by the virus.

Many of us will do our best eliminate standing water and ‘dangerous hot spots.’

Otherwise, ‘some encouraging words’ come from the researchers–


Purported MECHANISTIC DETAILS of Zika’s Infection in humans and in animal models:

The word mechanism implies that researchers, doctors and most of the ‘informed community’ understands how the virus infects ‘new borns and adults.’ It is also called a ‘mode of action’ — in some circles.

The impaired neurogenesis (in the fetus) is the focus of research and the impaired growth of  ‘neural stem cells.’ The virus causes what is termed as apoptosis–a death of cellular material. The precise ‘chemical mechanism’ is unknown… if it were known, the scientific community would know the best approach for deterrence. The public is justifiably upset, skeptical, confused and frightened. However, research is a slow and a precise affair in which progress –is marked by ‘repeatable and accurate experimentation.’

The entry point for the virus can happen at multi-sites –and can happen before, during and after ‘egg fertilization.’ The placenta– a safe haven– is, in this case, susceptible. The plea to the public is–be safe and minimize potential exposure.

Treatment Options (Future)… Detection? Vaccines? and Potential Therapies?

Presently, some in the medical community believe it will find a vaccine within two years while others speculate one year and even three years. The discovery of a vaccine hinges upon poorly understood aspects of the viral replication cycle and diagnosis of infection — an intimate knowledge its bio-chemical and mechanistic details is needed.

Diagnosis of viral infection has returned false negatives in some instances–a terrifying outcome. The reasons for diagnostic problems arise when one understands that Zika–is an arboreal virus– it is similar to Dengue Fever and West Nile with its mode of infection. Mosquitos, the culprits for much death, can carry other viruses. That is a challenge we face…

Presently, the medical community believes its best chance to contain the spread of the illness is through vaccination.

A vaccine for Zika is pursued in at least three ways: targeting DNA replication of Zika, modifying live viruses of Zika and modifying inactive Zika virus. There are a number of different strains of the Virus. Namely, the original 1947 virus (less problematic to people) transformed– aspects of its biochemistry changed from the Zika River Valley in Africa to its infectious form of 2007-08 Micronesia and the present infection of the  Americas.

How a virus transforms  would go far in understanding how to treat the infection. That type of mechanistic detail would expedite the path to vaccination and therapy.

Therapies, presently, are in planning stages. One route of investigation subverting viral replication —

The immuno-suppressor, Rapamycin is one potential candidate for therapeutic success. It subverts the immune system and may interfere with a viral replication.

ChemSpider 2D Image | Sirolimus | C51H79NO13

The anti-biotic macrolide, Rapamycin is a therapeutic candidate for Zika infection. The therapy is in the beginning stages of research. It may be awhile. Credit for Image Chemspider

As with many candidates such as Rapamycin, it is a ‘hot compound– toxic to many vital organs.’ However, in the war against pathogens, humanity can not afford to rest…



Adapting the Stess Response: Viral Subversion of the mTOR Signaling Pathway

The Global Zika virus to pregnancy: epidemiology, clinical perspectives, mechanisms, and impact






An Effectiveness Between Math and Science

By Mets501 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Mets501 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

–Or Why are the Two illustrations Technically Equivalent?


John Jaksich

By Hannes Grobe (own work, Schulhistorische Sammlung Bremerhaven) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Hannes Grobe (own work, Schulhistorische Sammlung Bremerhaven) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Free Fall Experiment in 20th century parlance.

In the physical sciences, at least, the language has always been Mathematics. However, in the early 20th century, Mathematics and Physical Science started upon a path of divergence; and Quantum Mechanics and Einstein’s Relativity became the common language in which mathematical language was more complex than experimentation. The mathematics became more than a tool but “a means justifying an end.”  Mathematicians explored nuances of physical theory in ways that were not always amenable to practicing physicists—as evidenced by mathematical movement such as the secret Nicolas Bourbaki Society: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/75700/Nicolas-Bourbaki. The secret Bourbaki society revised the methods in which mathematics were practiced and taught—and the late 20thcentury served to launch a “counter-movement” of sorts against the reforms. Experimentation is the bedrock of science and the truly successful theoreticians understand how to intertwine physical insights with mathematical formulas. (If you happen to peruse calculus books from 40 years past do a comparison of today’s standard—you may notice a difference!) Currently, the paradigm is more amenableto physical application, while the Bourbaki reforms were algebraic (and less intuitive, physically).

In “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences,” which appeared in print in February 1960 *; the author—(mathematician) Eugene Wigner effectively argues: mathematics truly serves as a tool for the scientist. In a style indicative of his genius, Wigner states that scientists such as Kepler, and Galileo realized that observation must trump mathematical formalism. Kepler, who was renown for his mathematical skills, did not understand the orbit of Mars within his mathematical paradigm. Kepler turned to Tycho Brahe’s data—but he struggled because of his preconceived paradigm. Eventually, Kepler established his three laws, but only when he understood his “data” by the true light of Nature. Galileo, the father of experimentation, realized that science depends heavily upon regularity (and not upon a drastic contrast of actions). It was Galileo who first looked for regularity in the falling masses from the Tower of Pisa; he further discerned this pattern in the inclined plane experiments. To the 21st century physicist, it is as if this observation is second nature , but in the 17th century—it was revolutionary.

 * “The unreasonable effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences”  appeared in Communications of Pure and Applied Mathematics vol. 13 No.1 (February 1960)

Eugene Wigner’s 1963 Nobel Address may be found here: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1963/wigner-lecture.html