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An Ardent Prayer


My Treasure Jars


Quorum Sensing in Bacteria


MAY • JUNE 2011


With a glass of tea comes friendship for forty years! Even the hardest hearts soften by goodness Revenge and hatred ease, cooling off souls Who would say this was the key that opens all locks?

CANADA: $5.95 • TURKEY: 6.00 TL • UK: £4.00 • USA : $5.50 • AUD: $7.00

The Fountain Talks report p. 48 “Building a Story Line for the Universe” with Dr. Priya Natarajan p. 52

May / June 2011


Arts & Culture

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ınterfaith Dialogue Mary: Her Conception and the Birth of the Messiah
Clare Julian / Meryem Tuz

MAY • JUNE 2011
Building a Story Line for the Universe
Interview with Dr. Priya Natarajan

Memoirs Of Grapes and Guilt
Mirkena Ozer

education Utilizing Social Capital through Exemplary Leadership in Schools
Erkan Acar

Yunus Emre

sociology Bringing the Soul Back In: A Spiritual Conception of Human Nature for the Social Science
P. Geoffrey Bakken

lead Artıcle
An Ardent Prayer
M. Fethullah Gülen

Perspectives The Islamic Propensity for Science
Stephen Pant


Poem You Are the One I Need


Fiction My Treasure Jars
Belinda Sturgill


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Biology Divided They Survive, Together They Prevail: Quorum Sensing in Bacteria
Bill Sayoran

34 60
Irfan Yilmaz

emerald Hills of the Heart Thankfulness

Q&A Tying Altruistic Work to Personalities

Human Genome The Astonishing Story of Genome Organization: DNA Packaging in the Cell
Ahmet Mir Fazil

Food The Onerous Journey of a Meatball
Ali Uguz

58 64

Microbiology Creation of the Zygote (Nutfah)
Arslan Mayda


see-think-Believe It’s Us Peter, Your Salivary Glands

science square 1. When it comes to fighting flu, gut bacteria are on our side 2. Less talking with longer words 3. Ups and downs of sleep with alpha waves 4. Killer whales imitate enemies and friends








reADınG tHe MeDıA AnD tHe unıverse

f you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed,” quoted Barney Zwartz from Mark Twain on April 2 at the University of Melbourne. This short quote was enough to draw laughter and an entertaining start to his speech at the “Media and Values” panel co-organized by the Australian Intercultural Society and The Fountain magazine. The media continues to influence our lives with an ever growing capacity, for it is no longer solely in print form and thus commands a much larger potential of accessibility in a much shorter span of time and space. For ma ny, the print edition still offers the best experience of the news but with a much smaller frequency, velocity, and flexibility. Such an influence that comes along with the amount of exposure and yet instant mutability of new media forms brings up concerns about the “values” that set the main guidelines for this power and change in media outlets. This was our main topic of discussion this past March and April in Singapore, Jakarta, Melbourne, Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, and Shah Alam. We are thankful to local organizers in these cities for their cooperation. We are especially indebted to Professor Radhi al-Mabuk from the University of Iowa and Professor Jon Pahl from The Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, who generously spent their time with us during this tour and gave presentations in each of these cities on our behalf. You will find in this issue brief notes and photos from the “Media and Values” panels, in addition to two other the Fountain talks events in Austin, TX and Manhatt tan, NY. We would like to offer our appreciation to the local organizers of these events. For more information, please visit “An Ardent Prayer” leads the current issue. It is the prayer of a painful heart filled with sorrow for our weakness in responding to the blessings bestowed on us; a heart that is concerned with the troubles of our society and yet hopeful for the divine mercy as he prays to be treated not according to our distance from Him, rather in light of His proximity to all of His creation. “My Treasure Jars” comes from a lifetime resident of the Appalachian Mountains. Belinda Sturgill shares with us a very thoughtful piece on what a woman, a mother, and a grandmother can leave behind as a legacy to her family, to her nation, and to humanity. This is an award-winning essay from The Fountain Essay Contest of 2010. Our interview with Dr. Priya Natarajan from Yale University is another “treasure jar” in this issue. She describes her job as “building a story line for the universe.” Who else other than a cosmologist could dare to offer such a description of her work? Or perhaps we should put the question the other way around: who on the face of this earth does not want to learn the story line of the universe?

O King of Mercy, who restores life to the rocks and soil and with His grace brings those whose spirit is also open to devilry into the realm of angels—furnish us with endowments beyond our capacity and improve us in our endowments!
LEAD ArTICLE M. Fethullah Gülen

he Almighty Creator is He whose existence is the origin of all existence, whose might is the source of power for everything, and whose will is the only means by which all things and events occur. The very soul of our essence is nourished by divine knowledge. He is the one and only Sovereign who has created the whole universe, establishing the world and the heavens as an exhibition, putting His creation on display, fashioning a feast every single night with the stars, planets and the moon, presenting the lowlands, mountains, forests, rivers and seas with all their forms, colors and features to the view of the people of perception, like a book that is to be read, all serving to bring the heavenly beauties to the mind. It is He who opens the ways for us mortal humans to observe the Heavens through the emerald hills of the heart; it is He who expands the breasts of the believers through faith, brightening their senses with their worship;

it is He who grants a transcendent value to their standing before God when they bow in prayer, crowning them with the mark of prostration on their forehead. It is He who intensifies the goodness of His servants with divine favor and grace; it is He who puts those with God-conscious spirits on a par with the angels. It is He who overlooks His servants’ mischievous feelings, thoughts, and behavior with His mercy and forgiveness, both in this world and in the hereafter; it is He who forgives the transgressions of wrongdoers, exempting them countless of times from the punishment they deserve. It is He who manifests His majesty and grandeur in a manifold variety of shades and hues at every moment, sufficing for all existence and who has power over all things; it is He who shows us the ways of seeking refuge in Him, lifting the veils from our eyes slightly, reminding us of our triviality and trifling nature, our insufficiency and discrepancies. It is He who is the supreme ruler of eternity, awakening those who zigzag between the past and present in grief to endless longings and cravings that stem from their very human nature.

Given that the entire creation bears witness to all this, here I pray: O King of Kings, whose signs of Lordship we perceive from the collars around our necks! Make us feel and understand our servitude to You fully and execute Your decree on those who make use of Your blessings a means of getting wild and straying into evil ways. All those endless range of shades and hues of the realm of divine mercy and blessings which are present in human consciousness quiescently and which flow into the heart with
May / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine


heavenly joys on different wavelengths, even before getting into the Heavens—all these endless variety of shades and hues are from the divine grace and favor which are incommensurable with any quality or quantity. Were it not for divine favor and liking for us, what difference would there be between us and the flesh in the butcher shop? He not only livens up the earth with the fluffy clouds, rain falling down to the earth in drops, running rivers, and effervescent seas, but also enlivens our inner world and faculties, opening them into eternity through the inspirations, breezes, and springtides of divine grace. It is He who has created the soil mixed with rocks and has filled the earth with infinitesimal creatures, turning all the corners of the world into heavenly gardens. It is He who introduces the human being, which He has created with flesh, blood, and bones, to the angels and other celestial beings and has them strive as if in a race toward good works. It is He who has paved the ways from the passageways—which can also spread out to the cesspools—to Paradise and from the seventh heaven to 6
The Fountain Magazine May / June 2011

the observation of the divine “countenance” and has shown how coal can turn into diamonds. O King of Mercy, who restores life to the rocks and soil and with His grace brings those whose spirit is also open to devilry into the realm of angels—furnish us with endowments beyond our capacity and improve us in our endowments! Either show those who are ignorant of You, with souls as black as coal, how to turn into diamond-like souls or condemn them to punishment! If the pulses of the faithful quicken with hope now, if their hearts beat with the excitement of future bliss, and their minds are enraptured with the beauties of the otherworld, this is because of the divine breezes we feel in our conscience and due to God’s making us aware of the divine presence at every stage. From Him is the light of the heavens and the earth; the openings to the treasuries of both this and the other world are not even like a keyhole to the door of His Kingdom. In comparison with the real worth and virtue in God’s sight, the world that we constantly run after, filled with fancies, has not as much value as even the wing of

a fly before God. Even a particle of this world—which is in fact futile in its entirety, but which gains a manifest value in accordance with Divine principles—becomes great enough to pave the way to eternal bliss. O Mighty King who brings— through His Existence—all existence out of non-existence, who endows a drop of water with the immensity of the sea, and who grants an atom the power to be the sun! Every thing and being, from the animate to inanimate, from human to animals, from the faithful to the nonbeliever, from the conscious to the unconscious, and from the fortunate to the unfortunate, subsist under Your banner— may this divine banner always fly above us and may we continue to live in the shade of Your light which emanates from Your existence! Were it not for Your special Will and turning towards them, nothing would have come into existence, humanity would not exist, faith would be unattainable, Your existence would be imperceptible, and those fortunate souls upon whom You have bestowed an endless depth of thought with faith would not excel themselves.

You are the source for all the sparkling and fading lights. We come into the world, grow up, and die, whereas You are the Necessarily Existent One beyond any time or space. You call hundreds of thousands into being at every moment, You manifest Your existence through them, You remind us of Your will and knowledge by the divine wisdom in their creation. You draw attention to Your perpetuity by evolving and transforming everything, whispering the secrets that lie behind things and events to those who are on the way to God, and talk confidentially about the glamour of the road. Your Name is the dearest thing in our conscience—may it reside in our heart constantly! Your Essence is the one and only source of light for our spirits. Our hearts, which have been seeking for an eternity on each and every horizon—as if they are programmed for an awareness of eternity—shout out the infinitude of Your Mercy. The earth cringes in servility and submissiveness to Your command and has been on a blessed journey since the very first day it was created: The heights and mounts stand in awe of You, showing their readiness for Your commands. The rivers bow down onto the ground, rapturous with the flood of Your light, flowing with vivacity and calling out Your beautiful name, the All-Living. Gardens and orchards, and birds and chicks are in a cheerful rush everywhere so that they can observe the beauty of the manifestation of Your “face.” The snow and the ice, and hail and storms accompany the composition of Your majesty and grandeur. The spring and the fall, and the night and the day make constant mention of You in their diverse languages, as they change colors, turning green, yellow, white, and black. It is blindness not to have knowledge of You despite seeing all this, and it is ingratitude not to adore You in servitude while being blessed with Your favors in all places, at all times. It is our duty, as Your servants, to remember You all the time, and it is a need of our spirit to flee to You at every moment in every situation. What is left for us other than displaying our displeasure and taking a stand against those who deny Your mercy. It is the voice of conscience and the very requirement of being a loyal servant at Your door to not mention those people who do not mention You. O the eternal King, even the dust of Whose doorway is kohl powder to ap-

The rivers bow down onto the ground, rapturous with the flood of Your light, flowing with vivacity and calling out Your beautiful name, the All-Living. Gardens and orchards, and birds and chicks are in a cheerful rush everywhere so that they can observe the beauty of the manifestation of Your “face.”

May / June 2011

The Fountain Magazine


Your forgiveness is so immense that it will exterminate all wrongdoings and faults, and Your proximity is nearer to us than our jugular vein. Admit us not in accordance with our rebellion, but rather in accordance with Your forgiveness; treat us not with our remoteness, but with the warmth of proximity.

ply in a fine line around our eyes! We are constantly on this journey since the day we achieved—or we supposed we achieved—an awareness of being on Your way, laying our head on Your doorstep. We enthuse our hearts through Your guidance and persevere to be Your guests. Your unceasing favors—which are reference to Your blessings for the future as well—give so much vitality to our hopes that we become distanced to everything and everybody, turning to You only with expectations that cannot fit even into our dreams. With the shackles of Your Messenger on our ankles and the collars from the divine will round our necks, we are zealous, determined, and bound by our oath to not let a stranger touch even one strand of hair on our head. If we are like much-loved doves in Your private garden, then bless us with an unending breath and a tongue that never tires out in our requital for our existence and everything You have given us! We become enthusiastic only if You enthuse us and experience feelings that only You make us feel. We accept all that which is not from the Divine abode as senseless prattle and seek refuge in You from the tongue that does not mention You. If all this is nothing but spelling out our state and situation to You, then loose any knot from our tongue, elevate our speech in the shade of Your speech, give our hearts steadfastness, and deepen and bolster our breaths with divine breaths. We cannot have anything if You do not give it to us; we can never drop a word if You do not cause us to speak. How can these poor wings of ours be capable of reaching the horizon of Your pleasure? How can this poor heart open up to the secrets of the treasury of the knowledge of You? How can this poor tongue be adequate to praise You? We are doubled up and ashamed of our withering conduct and grating talk, but at the same time we are relieved from worry due

to our turning to Your immense lenience and mercy. Our sins are of the same magnitude as the revolt of those who have been sunk into the earth and our aloofness is within the borders of Your wrath; however, Your forgiveness is so immense that it will exterminate all wrongdoings and faults, and Your proximity is nearer to us than our jugular vein. Admit us not in accordance with our rebellion, but rather in accordance with Your forgiveness; treat us not with our remoteness, but with the warmth of proximity. Make us feel Your being with us, comfort our weak hearts, and foster our spirits with Your favors. The ways ahead are difficult and steep: many evil spirits are waiting guardedly at every corner for an ostensible motive to attack, always wheeling out words of retrogression, backwardness, theocracy, and fundamentalism in their denunciatory language, holding every means and power in their hands, and a great many intrigues in their mind. O God, if we are against faith, knowledge, science, or progression in any way— as some claim—save us then from going in this wrong direction! If we are not good enough for this, take us then to Yourself and open the ways to those who are pious, refined, erudite, and progressive! If those who claim us to be as such are, however, in the wrong, then favor those among them whose spirits are open to faith and salvation with Your guidance; destroy the unity of those who obstinately persist in their deviance and who continually engage in evil! Bring their schemes to nothing and let them fall into their own traps! Leave them with unalleviated misery and sorrow! Safeguard the loyal servants of Your door and all the believers from the outrages, derision, scorn, and schemes of such evil minded, extremely wicked, and demonic people!


The Fountain Magazine

May / June 2011

Figure 1: Bacteria under an electron microscope. Scale bar (red) is one micron, which is one thousandth of a millimeter. Orange arrow shows a bacterium that is about to divide (figure modi-

Divided They Survive, Together They Prevail:

fied from Wikipedia).

QuoRum SENSiNg iN
BIOLOGY Bill Sayoran

Freelance writer who lives in Boston. He can be reached at


Globally, 30% of the yearly oxygen on earth is produced by a certain “breed” of bacteria. There are 1,000 different species of bacteria in and on a single human body, resulting in 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells.


acteria are single-celled organisms which are visible to the eye only under a microscope (Figure 1), hence are known as microbial creatures. Lacking specialized internal structures and (obvious) social interactions, we consider them to be dwellers of a simple and boring life as compared to multi-cellular forms of life. Bacteria consume nutrients to grow, essentially “cut themselves in the middle” at a certain size to divide, and thus reproduce. It looks as if the greatest feat a single bacterium can achieve is to become two, and we tend to think that they primarily live as individuals who are seemingly devoid of any social traits or any kind of sophisticated behavior whatsoever.

We know that bacteria can make us unwell at times (causing diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis, pneumonia, leprosy, diphtheria, tetanus, ulcers, etc.), but they usually are considered rather exotic living entities either living in the sewer or somewhere in the thermal vents of the ocean – hence being envisioned as distant organisms. To most, they are the simplest life forms which are merely trying to make ends meet, struggling to survive and having little, if any, effect on the rest of life on earth. All these are blatant misconceptions. Globally, 30% of the yearly oxygen on earth is produced by a certain “breed” of bacteria (footnote 1a). There are 1,000 different species of bacteria in and on a single human body, resulting in 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells (footnote 2). Correspondingly, there are a total of 1,000 times more bacterial genes in our body (footnote 3). Nevertheless, these bodily bacteria are not necessarily parasites, but are mostly beneficial. Primarily, they inhabit our digestive track and help us digest food that would otherwise go non-utilized, or produce various vitamins that we are unable to make ourselves (reference 1). The type and relative abundance of such intestinal bacteria is known to be linked to obesity (Figure 2). Last but not least, bacteria help our immune system to mature, thus helping us in being protected against their harmful kin
May / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine


Figure 2: Mammalian intestine bacteria come primarily in two groups: Type B (footnote 1d) and Type F (footnote 1e). Recent studies (reference 2) indicate that the obese mouse (left), compared to its normal cousin (right), which has been fed an identical diet, has fewer Type B and more Type F bacteria. Similar patterns can be observed in humans: Type B bacteria increase (while Type F decrease) in obese individuals as they lose weight. The bacterial species that inhabit our body at birth may have significant consequences on our metabolism later in life, and can be the culprit, at least partially, behind various disorders, ranging from overeating to diabetes (figure adapted from reference 3).

(reference 4). Bacteria are not always random drifters: some can swim towards a food source (footnote 1b), while others (footnote 1c) can navigate their way towards the bottom of the ocean by sensing earth’s magnetic field (reference 5), where they can live better for they do not survive in atmospheric oxygen levels. In this article, I will try to further convince you that bacteria are more than “bags of enzymes” by elaborating on a mechanism that enables bacteria to carry out a “population census.” As we will see, this simplest social interaction helps an oceanic squid camouflage itself to hide from predators, as well as enabling pathogenic bacteria to evade the immune system before getting numerous enough to wage an effective war against the host.

A day in the life of an oceanic squid The bobtail squid, which lives in the shallow coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean, is a nocturnal animal. That is, it buries itself under the sand in the daylight to sleep (Figure 3), and comes out at night to hunt and eat. In this habitat, a threat to life comes perhaps from a most unexpected source: The moonlight can penetrate the shallow waters, casting the squid’s shadow on the ocean floor to alert predators swimming above. Similarly, a predator swimming beneath can easily recognize the squid’s dark silhouette above the moonlit background. But fear not, because the squid is safe and sound thanks to an organ it harbors. Essentially, this organ produces light to counter-illuminate the shade on the seafloor (and similarly, when viewed from below, to match the amount of light coming from above) to make it invisible, like the stealth aircraft which can fly undetected amongst the radars. Furthermore, using a curtain-like structure 10
The Fountain Magazine May / June 2011

Figure 3: Using its tentacles, the bobtail squid buries itself in the sand (A-D) during the daytime to sleep (figure modified from reference 6).

that covers this light-producing organ, it can modulate the level of light it produces according to the intensity of the ambient moonlight which is detected by the receptors on the squid’s back. This is undoubtedly one of the most amazing camouflage patterns, but how on earth does this little

creature access light in the middle of nowhere to unfurl this “invisibility cloak”? This is where bacteria come into play. Bacteria’s way of conducting population census: Quorum sensing A particular kind of bacteria (footnote 1f) inhabits the squid’s light organ.

Figure 4: Let there be light, and there was light. A) Satellite image of the bioluminescence across shores of the Indian Ocean, which is caused by another kind of light-generating marine bacteria. Such bacteria uses light to portray its otherwise unattractive home (that is “fecal pellets”), which is consumed by the marine organisms that end up in the animal’s nutrient rich gut. B) Glowing lab cultures of the squid’s bacteria that have reached high densities in the lab flasks (figures taken from references in 7). C) A potpourri of light-producing organisms. Bioluminescence is unique not only to the bobtail squid’s friendly inhabitant, but is rather a ubiquitous beneficial trait employed by many different organisms as a means of accessing food, attracting mates, or avoiding predators (figure modified from reference 8).

Figure 5: Auto-inducers (red dot, marked with a red arrow) released by the bacteria diffuse before being detected at a low bacterial cell density (left), hence creating no bioluminescence. At high bacterial cell density, the auto-inducers are detected by the bacteria, indicating that the critical density (or “quorum”) has been reached, and a cascade of biochemical reactions are triggered that lead to the bioluminescence of the population as a whole (figure modified from reference 6).

This is a much better place to live, as nutrients are more abundant compared to the otherwise planktonic life of the ocean. Within the body of the squid, the bacteria reach densities they can never be achieved in open waters. The bacteria release small chemicals known as auto-inducers. As the name suggests, the auto-inducers can normally be detected by the very same bacteria, and consequently induce a series of biological events. However, when the bacteria are low in numbers, the auto-inducers float away after release without being detected. As the bacteria multiply in the squid’s light organ, reaching greater numbers, the external concentration of auto-inducers also increases as a function of the cell density. After a certain threshold concentration is reached, the auto-inducer is detected by (all) bacteria. This is how bacteria sense when the population has reached a quorum (footnote 4), hence “quorum sensing.” When a quorum is reached in this fashion, a set of chemical reactions are triggered in each and every bacterium. Such biochemical reactions essentially resemble those which make fireflies glow. This process of light production by living organisms is known as “bioluminescence” (Figure 4). Therefore, after reaching a certain number in the squid’s light organ, the population of bacteria starts glowing, providing the squid with the light it needs to hide its silhouette from predators (Figure 5).

From an individual bacterium’s point of view, this is a very clever strategy if considered in terms of cost-benefit: Such light production through chemical means consumes a great deal of energy, hence is a costly transaction. Notwithstanding, a single bacterium will produce undetectable light levels alone. To this end, it is a “smart” move (footnote 5) for the bacteria to wait until the population reaches a “quorum” when a single bacterium will start making a difference. Then, the bacterium’s efforts to produce light will not go unnoticed. As a matter of fact, the light organ of the squid is not just a nesting place for bacteria, but is also equipped with
May / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine


light-sensing capabilities. It was recently discovered that the squid can identify and then reject a (cheater) all-time non-luminous mutant strain of bacteria from its light organ (reference 8) via such a detection capability. The mutual benefit between the bacteria and the squid occurs in cycles that overlap within a 24-hour routine. In the daytime, as the squid hides itself for sleeping (hence cannot feed the high population of bacteria anymore), it releases 95% of the bacteria into the open waters. The cycle is thus reset: The diluted bacteria starts growing from low numbers in the non-glowing state. By approximately the time the bacteria has multiplied enough to reach a glowing density, the squid wakes up and comes out to feed (Figure 6).

Figure 6: The daily cycle of the squid-bacteria interaction. The blue curve indicates the number of bacteria (marked as “bacterial population level”) which the squid houses in its light organ. Starting from low numbers during the sleeping period of the squid, bacteria gradually grows to reach the “quorum” level at which it starts to glow. Around sunrise, the squid buries itself, releasing 95% of the bacteria: this is indicated by a sudden drop in the blue curve. This cycle happens repetitively with a 24-hours period (figure modified from reference 6).

neither the “complexity” nor the “mysteries” of life, but rather our (ever-deepening) knowledge that should make one believe in the Sustainer of all life. The flaws in “God of gaps” fallacy were outlined in the recent The Fountain article “Natural Is Nothing Less than Miraculous,” based on an interview (reference 10) with Dr. Denis Alexander of Cambridge University, UK: “I think the idea of the God of the gaps is a very unfortunate idea; that has a very long history. Actually, it goes back many centuries. I’m not quite sure when the idea first began. But I think it’s always been tempting as science got going, especially in the nineteenth century when science was less developed than it was now. It was a temptation for people to try and locate their God within the present gaps of the scientific knowledge. So obviously, as the gaps are closed, so one’s understanding of God will shrink. God is then located in smaller and smaller mysteries. “So whether we have current gaps in our knowledge now has no

Quorum sensing as a social trait The phenomenon of quorum sensing, discovered by Bonnie Bassler, currently a professor at Princeton University, is not specific to the bacteria of the bobtail squid, but is a ubiquitous feature that enables almost all kinds of bacteria to carry out feats of multi-cellular life. Collectively, they can accomplish what they cannot when they are alone. Analogous to different languages, different bacteria have different auto-inducers that they use to communicate with each other (intra-species communication). On the other hand, different bacterial species can also communicate with one another (inter-species communication) via a common auto-inducer; which is essentially the “Esperanto” of bacterial communication. One opportunistic type of bacteria (footnote 1g) which can cause diseases in animals and humans uses quorum sensing, but not to help others. These bacteria grow and multiply in the host without harming it until they reach to a certain concentration. It is only when they become numerous enough, which is once again determined via quorum sensing, to overcome the immune system of the host that they release the virulence factors that lead to disease (reference 6). On the other side of the coin, medical researchers are looking for ways to disrupt the quorum-sensing mechanisms of pathogenic bacteria to render them ineffective by making them “mute and deaf.” While synthetic therapeutic molecules are currently being investigated, recent findings indicate that garlic locks quorum-sensing in the aforementioned bacteria (reference 9) providing promise for clinical applications. Conclusion “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.” Albert Einstein Although most living systems currently appear to be very complex, it is 12
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theological significance as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t matter. It’s of no particular interest, so theology has no hidden investments in gaps in our knowledge. It really doesn’t matter. It simply says we’re ignorant about many things.” As simple as they may seem, bacteria execute daunting tasks: They may be friendly inhabitants as well as harmful foes. Despite being envisioned mostly as “loners,” bacteria can exhibit the basic features of social interactions and collective behavior. More intriguingly, all such tasks are carried out with a limited number of genes within a minuscule body. How do we define life? What attributes are entitled with the process of “living”? What is the minimum number of genes that can constitute a living organism? What aspects discriminate bacteria from being a simple “bag of enzymes”? Although we simply do not yet know the answers, it seems as if scientists will continue to eavesdrop on bacteria; the revelation of many amazing mysteries are just around the corner. After all, bacteria are no small matter.

1. The following are technical terms for further reference: (a) cyanobacteria (b) chemotaxis (c) magnetotactic bacteria (d) Bacteroidetes (e) Firmicute (f) Vibrio fisheri (g) Pseudomonas aeruginosa At first glimpse therefore it sounds like we are a “super-organism” that consists of multiple species, but since the volume of bacteria is 1/1000 of our own cells, we are still 99% human in mass. In total, there are approximately 20 million different bacterial genes in the body of a single human, outnumbering the 20 thousand-some genes within the human genome by a factor of 1,000. According to, the literal definition of the word quorum is: “The minimal number of officers and members of a committee or organization, usually a majority, who must be present for valid transaction of business.” Similar language is used throughout the text merely as a figure of speech. The bacteria is not even close to being “intelligent” enough to plot any strategy whatsoever, but rather have been equipped in creation with capabilities to develop such means. Furthermore, establishing explicit links as such is purposefully refrained from in the article so as not to constrain thinking or limit the imagination of the reader.

1. Irfan Yilmaz. 2008. “It’s me, Peter, your intestine!” The Fountain. 2. i) Turnbaugh et al. 2006. “An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest.” Nature. ii) Ley et al. 2006. “Microbial ecology: Human gut microbes associated with obesity.” Nature. 3. h t t p : / /s c i e n c eb l o g s .c o m /n o t r o c ke tscience/2008/10/human_gut_bacteria_linked_ to_obesity.php 4. Clarke et al. 2010. “Recognition of peptidoglycan from the microbiota by Nod1 enhances systemic innate immunity.” Nature Medicine. 5. Ahmet Uysal. 2010. “The Tiniest Captains of the Ocean.” The Fountain, March-April. 6. Bonnie Bassler, HHMI. 2009. “Shedding Light on an Invisible World.” Holiday Lectures on Science. 7. i) ii) 8449sci2.html 8. E. Widder. 2010. “Bioluminescence in the Ocean: Origins of Biological, Chemical and Ecological Diversity.” Science. 9. Bjarnsholt et al. 2005.“Garlic blocks quorum sensing and promotes rapid clearing of pulmonary rudomonas aeruginosa infections.” Microbiology. 10. Mustafa Tabanli. 2010. “Natural is Nothing less than Miraculous.” Interview with Denis Alexander, The Fountain, May-June.
May / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine






INTErFAITH DIALOGUE Clare Julian / Meryem Tuz
On behalf of Sisters of the Book


hy we chose Mary

We are a small group of women of Turkish-Muslim and Catholic origins who became acquainted in the Spring of 2009 and immediately recognized our soulful connection with one another. Since that time, we have been meeting regularly to share our faith and love of God. During our studies we discovered that Mary holds a unique place of reverence in both our traditions. For instance, she is the only woman mentioned by name in the Holy Qur’an, and is mentioned in twelve chapters throughout the Qur’an, a total of thirty-four times, (The Fountain Magazine, Issue 72, pg 46ff). One chapter in particular, Sura 19, (Maryam), is named after her. In addition, within the Catholic tradition the honors given to Mary are innumerable. Litanies composed in her honor and prayed at various times through-


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out the year reveal such titles as: Mother of our Redemption, Mother of Comfort and Understanding, Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, just to name a few! But why did we actually choose Mary to begin our more formal studies together? Perhaps on a more unconscious level the need for the universal, open-hearted Mother is keenly felt by many of us at a time when other sources of grounding and spiritual nourishment are so troubled in our world. Perhaps it was because we intuitively understood that Mary reveals to us a sublime expression of what it means to be truly human; to be incomparably holy, yet void of any judgment or dualism; of strong Jewish culture and spirituality, yet universally receptive to all of God’s people.

The conception and the birth of the Messiah Christianity and Islam each teach that Mary was chosen to be the mother of the Messiah Jesus/Isa, and that her conception was accomplished by God’s miraculous intervention, and not by human intimacy. Both traditions record that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary announcing to her that she had found favor with God:
Mary, full of Grace, blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. (Luke 1:26ff) Mary, God gives you the glad tidings of a Word from Him, to be called the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, highly honored in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those near-stationed to God. (Sura 3:45)

When Mary questioned the angel as to how this could be accomplished, since she “did not know man,” Ga-

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Perhaps on a more unconscious level the need for the universal, open-hearted Mother is keenly felt by many of us at a time when other sources of grounding and spiritual nourishment are so troubled in our world. Perhaps it was because we intuitively understood that Mary reveals to us a sublime expression of what it means to be truly human; to be incomparably holy, yet void of any judgment or dualism.

May / June 2011

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briel once again responded very similarly in both Holy Scriptures.
The Power of the Most High will over shadow you so that the Holy One to be born shall be called, the Son of God. (Luke 1:34-36) God creates whatever God wills. He does but say to it “Be” and it is. (Sura 19:35); We breathed onto her out of our Spirit and We made her and her son a miraculous sign. (Sura 21:91)

Christianity and Islam agree that Mary was alone when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. Islam, however, also holds that at the actual moment in which Mary gave birth to Isa in Bethlehem, she was again without human companionship. Mary was alone in the desert and that during moments of great distress, just prior to Isa’s birth, God comforted and reassured her.

Although the Qur’an makes no direct mention of Mary’s visit with her cousin Elizabeth, as recorded in the New Testament, the encounter is well-known among Muslims and is tenderly represented in a beautiful Muslim film depicting the life of Mary.[1] Further, both the Qur’an and the Bible make mention of Zachariah’s three days without speech during these events, as a consequence of his having asked God for a “sign” (Luke 1:18ff; Sura 19:10). Christianity and Islam agree that Mary was alone when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. Islam, however, also holds that at the actual moment in which Mary gave birth to Isa in Bethlehem, she was again without human companionship. The Qur’an records that Mary was alone in the desert and that during moments of great distress, just prior to Isa’s birth, God comforted and reassured her. He provided nourishment to her from a nearby sacred date palm tree, as well as refreshment from a rivulet which miraculously appeared. Shortly after his birth, the infant Isa/Jesus spoke reassuring and comforting words to his mother who vowed to remain in silence that day and “enter into no talk with any human being” (Sura 19:26). The Christian image of the birth of Jesus differs on several accounts. In the New Testament, Mary is betrothed to Joseph who assumes the role of her chaste companion, and the guardian and protector of her and her child. It is usual for Christians to visualize Mary and Joseph together in a stable or cave with the babe Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger; indeed this


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May / June 2011

is the scene described in the Gospel account by St. Luke. However, the precise moment of Jesus’ birth is not revealed to us, only the setting following his birth. It is actually later that night or perhaps the following day that is described by St. Luke in the Gospel account when the shepherds arrive and “marvel,” in the company of Mary and Joseph, at the sight of the infant Messiah wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger (Luke 1:8ff). It is interesting to note that in contrast to the “marveling” of the shepherds, Luke uses the phrase, “but Mary kept all these things in her heart.” Might we consider this notation a subtle reference to the vow of “silence” Mary may have been keeping that day, which the Qur’an more explicitly makes reference to? It is also worth noting that accounts of Jesus’ actual birth, revealed in both the writings of Mary of Agreda and Catherine Emmerich, [2] indicate that Mary was alone in the company of the Divine during the moments in which she gave birth to the Messiah. Catherine Emmerich, a Catholic nun and mystic of the seventeenth century, for instance states that Joseph noticing the supernatural light surrounding Mary, “went into his little cell and threw himself on his face in prayer.” Similarly, Mary Agreda, also a Catholic nun and mystic of the fourteenth century, records that Joseph had retreated to another section of the cave and kept prayerful vigil through the night. Reminiscent of the scene in the Qur’an, she writes that shortly after his birth the infant Jesus actually spoke comforting words to his mother![3] Of further interest is an account given by Catherine Emmerich of what happened just hours before the Nativity, in which Mary and Joseph take a walk through the valley behind the Cave, and visit the “tomb of Mahara (Abraham’s nurse).” This tomb was situated near a “sacred tree.” While at this site, Joseph and Mary spent time in prayer together. At one point it was decided that Joseph would go into the city of Bethlehem to obtain some provisions, leaving Mary by herself. This image of Mary being alone on the outskirts of the city and

near a sacred tree shortly before the birth of Jesus bears a remarkable resemblance to the scene recorded in the Qur’an where Mary, just prior to Isa’s birth, is alone in a remote area of Bethlehem and near a sacred date palm tree. Catherine Emmerich records that when Joseph returned with their provisions he accompanied Mary back to the cave and shortly thereafter she gave birth to Jesus.[5] Muslims believe that Mary gave birth to her child at this sacred tree (Sura 19:23ff). We would like to make one last observation regarding Mary’s conception and the birth of the Messiah. As clearly noted in the Qur’an, but only alluded to in the Gospels, Mary is scorned by those who judged the birth of Jesus to be the product of an adulterous relationship. This may account in part for the distress she experienced recorded in Sura 19 above when God comforted her moments before giving birth. Other passages in the Qur’an make reference to a confrontation between Mary and her own people regarding Isa’s birth. They exclaim to her, “O Mary! Assuredly you have done unexpected and strange things. O sister of Aaron, your father was never a wicked man, nor was your mother unchaste” (Sura 19:27-28). In comparison, one may

examine a subtle reference made in the Gospel of John. In chapters seven and eight St John describes a setting in which Jesus was confronted by a few false religious leaders. In the course of their taunting, they infer that Jesus was the “son of a Samaritan.” Though more subtle in its inference, the judgment being made regarding Mary’s reputation and the implication that Jesus was the product of an illicit relationship is apparent. Jesus’ response to them, “you dishonor me” is particularly appropriate in light of this. Hence, the Qur’an seems to convey more clearly the painful experience which Mary in particular underwent in this matter. Although not completely identical in their details, these accounts of Mary’s experience regarding the conception and birth of Jesus contain many astounding parallels. Perhaps what seems at a first reading to be irreconcilable differences presented in the Gospels and in the Qur’an are in reality only partial glimpses of a more total picture. This more “total” picture is not absent in the sacred writings of each tradition, but merely some aspects are hidden. If we ponder them with an open heart perhaps they will allow us to enter something much greater and more profound. Mary - the “Kli” of Jewish mysticism: Although the virgin birth of Jesus by Divine intervention is not honored in Judaism as it is in Christianity and Islam, it is interesting to note a comparable theme revealed in the spiritual teachings of Jewish mysticism, known as “Kabbalah.” Though complex in theory at times, an aspect of Kabbalah teaching may be applied to Mary and perhaps thus more easily understood. Essential to the teachings of Kabbalah is the understanding that God, the Divine Creator, is in His very essence the “Will to Bestow.” In other words, God is God because He is continually in the act of Self-Giving, and possesses no other desire than to Bestow His Abundance onto His Creation. By contrast, the created

May / June 2011

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were created and designed to receive God’s Abundance. This is known in Kabbalah as the “Will to Receive.” Thus, God created His creation in order to receive of His goodness and thereby accommodate His Desire to Give and Bestow. The created’s will to receive is compared to an empty cup or vessel waiting to be filled by God’s abundance. This vessel is known in Kabbalah as “Kli.” Kabbalah teaches that although God’s Will to Bestow is continually and perfectly being manifested, the created’s will to receive is limited and marred by egocentric needs.[6] If one takes a quantum leap of association one may use the teachings of Jewish mysticism to perceive Mary as the ultimate model of “Kli,” (i.e. the human receptivity to God, totally emptied of the self-serving ego). In her pristine human desire to please God and receive God’s Will, referred to in the Gospel’s as her Fiat – “Be it done unto me according to your Will” – Mary perfectly fulfills the essence of her existence. By way of her selfless love for God, her unwavering trust in His Benevolence, and complete receptivity to His Will to Bestow, Mary, the perfect “Kli,” becomes a means that God brings forth through her what has been previously unrealized – the fullness of His own Divine bliss manifested in the soul and humanity of Jesus. 18
The Fountain Magazine May / June 2011

Just as we are discovering through quantum sciences that our own thoughts or intentions will eventually be manifested on the physical plane in some form or other, so too, a thought or word or intention that exists in the “mind” of God – so to speak – will ultimately be realized in physical reality as well. It is interesting to note that Jesus is known and referred to as the “Word” of God in both Islam and Christianity (Qur’an 3:45; John 1:1-3,14). On the mundane and practical level, the human mind has difficulty grasping Mary’s miraculous conception and the virgin birth of Jesus, but in the mystical realm of Kabbalah, for instance, we may come to acknowledge Mary’s experience as the receptivity to God as we were all created to be and the manifestation of His Love as we were all meant to bring It forth into the world. From the heart – how Mary has personally touched us Who is Mary in my life? by Ayse When we first started to come together and share our faith with each other, I realized how much more I needed to learn about my own faith. I had always been told that my faith brings together all Abrahamic religions and the name of my faith stood for peace: Islam. I could understand it in my

mind. But as we came together, as we studied the Bible and the Qur’an and found how God loved diversity and thus created us in different shapes, colors, nationalities and so on, my heart started to agree with what my mind had been saying. That is when my heart began to work with my mind. Now, I feel God in my heart. As time passed and as we studied Abraham, Jesus, the Night Journey, and Mary, my own faith started to get stronger. Mary was Jesus’ mother and one of the most praised female characters in the Qur’an; I knew this before we started to study Mary in both traditions. Now Mary represents how much God loves women as His own creation, as He gives her name to a large section of His own sacred book. In my country I was asked so many times about the women rights in Islam. Now I think I know the answer. Mary is obedient to God’s order, she stands strong in her community and is proud of her baby, while being very humble in her relationship with God, as pure as an angel. In this way, Mary (may God be pleased with her) has taught me: I am obedient, I am humble, I refrain from sins and I am still standing as a woman of my time in my community; as I do these I become closer to God. I would love to spend my whole life in this way. I would like to thank all my

What appears to our mind at times as irreconcilable differences may be transformed and integrated into a greater perspective when we open it to God’s grace. This is what we experienced in our study of Mary.

friends who worked together on this article and who helped me to understand Mary in my mind and feel her in my heart. Mary in my life by Hulya K. First of all, during our meetings I learned how important the interfaith dialogue is. God loves diversity and created us so different from one another. At the same time, He created us with common values. Yes, we all have eyes, ears, fingers, and even fingerprints but they are also all different from each other. Similarly, our faiths have the same values, like Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mary. The discussion of Abraham, Jesus, and Mary in Christianity and Islam makes my faith stronger and deeper. In addition, I have learned many things about the life of Mary. I am inspired by her trust in God. It is not important how bad the situation you are in or what people say about you. Just trust God. Just do what He wants. Just accept what He gives you. Do not say a word. Be silent and trust God. He knows and gives the best for you. In Turkey, she is known as “Mother Mary.” Now, I can understand why this is so... Thank you my dear friends and thank you Fethullah Gülen for your ideas which encourage us to come together. Another dimension of awareness of Mary - by Clare As present as Mary has been these many years in my life, the depth of my awareness and love for her has grown even more deeply during these weeks of our inter-faith study of her. As a Christian I am particularly blessed by exposure to aspects of Mary’s life found in the Qur’an but generally absent in the Gospels. They have opened up for me another dimension of Mary’s great heart and soul. I think of Mary as a key to true peace among people. When she is revealed in the heart, the heart grows to love her, but also feels it is loved and welcomed unconditionally by her. In the Catholic tradition one of her titles is, “Our Lady of all the Nations.” Through the “virgin point” in her heart and soul, which she never abandoned, I am led into further depths of knowing and loving Jesus, and through her

universal motherhood and love of all people, I am led into further depths of knowing and loving my sisters and brothers of all faiths. My feelings towards Mary by Hulya T. My feelings towards Mary began when I watched a movie about her during my pregnancy. Later, I started reciting Sura Mary from the Qur’an and also read the translation of it many times. When I was in difficulty, I remembered her. I thought how she coped with so much trouble. How brave she was, how self-confident she was. How powerful her faith was. In our meetings, a different window opened for me. I learnt the perspective of different faiths of Mary. I learnt their respect towards her. The more I learnt, the more I loved. Most importantly, I saw the whole picture. Actually, the similarities between our faiths are much greater than the differences. These sentences are just an example of what I feel. Last but not least, I would like to thank my dear friends. Conclusion Relating to one another and learning from one another in a spirit of trust and love is the most precious gift. As Rumi, the beloved Sufi mystic of the thirteenth century expressed, “There was a dawn I remembered when my soul heard something from your soul.” This “dawn remembered” is nothing less than our common oneness in God’s “heart.” What appears to our mind at times as irreconcilable differences may be transformed and integrated into a greater perspective when we open it to God’s grace. This is what we experienced in our study of Mary. In the Catholic tradition, it is believed by many that Mary has been appearing to visionaries in Medjugje, Bosnia since 1981. Her continual message to the world has been to “Pray, Pray, Pray.” During the early years of apparitions, it was recorded that her message also included admonition to respect the beliefs of all people. “God is One and Indivisible,” she said and cautioned against the dreadful divisions being created in the world. Around this same time, Mary made special mention of a holy and humble woman named Pasha

and asked that we try to become more like her. It was discovered that Pasha was a Muslim woman who lived in the nearby city of Sarajevo. [7] Mary’s message that day reveals a profound wisdom and all-inclusive love for us to ponder. In the context of apparitions considered to be “Catholic,” the Blessed Virgin Mary admonished her children to be more like a holy Muslim woman. The Qur’an states that no one knows the true meaning of the Book (i.e. the Qur’an, the Torah and the Gospels) except God and those of true understanding, (Sura 3:7) and that He will one day make clear our misunderstandings. “Whatever you differ on, the final judgment about it is with God. Such is God, my Lord: in Him I put my trust, and to Him I turn in devotion” (Sura 42:10). These words reassure us that God Himself will bring into clarity what is now dimly understood, as the apostle Paul also states in his letter to the Corinthians, “Now we see through a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face to face (1Cor. 13:12ff). Mary has given us a great gift on this journey. We praise and thank her for it. There is still a great distance yet to go. In trust we wait for God to show us more. A former member of a Catholic Contemplative Order, Clare Julian is a licensed clinical social worker who currently lives and works in SLC. She has a deep passion for the potential of healing through inter-spiritual dialogue and friendship, and has been greatly blessed by both. Meryem Tuz is a dialogue activist in USA. She graduated from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, with a major in chemistry. Notes
1. 2. “St. Mary” directed by Shahriar Bahrani, 2007. Catholic nuns of the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries who received divine revelation of Mary’s life. Catherine Emmerich. 2006. The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Baronius Press, p. 197. Mary of Agreda. Mystical City of God, p. 231. Emmerich. pp. 195–197. See B’nei Baruch Kabbalah, kabbalahlearningcenter.inf0 Mary Craig. 1988. Spark from Heaven: Mystery of the Madonna. Ave Maria Pr.
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4. 5. 6. 7.


of gRAPES AND guil uil uilT
MEMOIr Mirkena Ozer
Freelance writer. She is pursuing MA in women studies at the University of Georgia, Atlanta.

May / June 2011

f all the details I remember from that ominous August day, what impressed me most was the sweat trickling down the workers’ faces as they harvested the vineyard. They carried crates filled with grapes, coming and going among the countless rows of vine, making me dizzy with fear of getting lost. Would I be able to find my way back to the white building where my mom, the accountant, was checking calculations in the kooperativa, the collective farms books?

Land in my country was state property and it was divided into collective farms like this one. Mom worked for the only state bank in our town and was expected to come out once a year and check the procedures on this collective farm. I enjoyed coming here with her. Walking among the vines, I wondered how those dry trunks could produce such a juicy fruit. I suspected that rain and the sweat drops of the kooperativists had contributed to the process. I loved the outdoors, yet the reason I wandered as far as possible from where Mom kept comparing numbers was something else. You see, Mom was a pure Communist at heart. She would not eat grapes she hadn’t paid for. And I wouldn’t dare eat them either, at least not in front of her. “C’mon Comrade Liri, eat some,” her colleagues would insist. “Don’t be so self-righteous. Everybody else eats these grapes. It’s no big deal.” And I secretly agreed. What harm would eating some grapes do to the huge harvest of this collective farm? Mom shook her head stoically to these objections while I sneaked outside to the tempting juicy globes. In my country nobody owned anything other than the clothes they had on and the food on their table. Everything else was state property. Yet, the state was us, the people; so in a sense everything belonged to everybody in general and nobody in particular. This was confusing enough to make me give into temptation. After finishing one big cluster of grapes, I started picking randomly juicy balls here and there, selecting the biggest ones, which were shining like jewels under the sun. Meanwhile I listened to the talk of the workers as they snapped 20
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“Comrades, something despicable has happened in our

the grapes from branches with large scissors. They were talking about some important members of Political Bureau, a top organization within the Socialist Party, who had come all the way from the capital to visit their successful collective farm. They were now having lunch with the foreman. The workers, it seemed to me, picked the grapes with diligence, as if to impress the PB members. Later the talk shifted to plain gossip and I was losing track of it when all of a sudden somebody started blowing a whistle. Whoever was blowing the whistle so loudly intended to challenge his lungs to full capacity and I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had blown his brains into the whistle. Everybody around dropped their scissors and hurried in one direction, which was a good enough reason for me to run along, perspiring profusely. The crowd gathered in front of the white stucco building. The foreman stood on the front steps, whistle in hand, brain intact, taking in the view of the sweat drenched kooperativists and the vineyard shimmering under the sun. “Comrades,” he shouted when everybody had gathered, “something despicable has happened in our exemplary Kooperative. This wretched person,” he said pointing to a middle-aged man who stood apart, head bowed, not moving to even wipe his sweat from his face, “this person with no conscience, no morals, this degenerate was caught red-handed stealing grapes.” All turned around to the degenerate, noticing that he still held a bag half full with grapes. I found Mom among the onlookers. Her face seemed a mix of unreadable emotions. Contempt? Anger? Pity? My mind, out of its own volition started estimating whether the amount of the grapes in my tummy came any where close to the amount in the bag, while I searched for the whereabouts of my conscience. Feeling my cheeks blush, I wished I had stuck to Mom’s resolution of not eating grapes that belonged to everybody. “Comrades,” continued the foreman, “this man is an enemy of the proletariat and his act will not be overlooked. He dared violate the code of work, the fruit of his comrades’ sweat. What do you have to say?” the foreman sternly asked the red-handed enemy. The once-comrade spoke, without raising his eyes to look at the people who were co-workers, his neighbors, his relatives. “I am sorry. I shouldn’t have done it.” His voice broke into sobs and tears joined drops of perspiration on the edge of his chin. I felt my spit dry in my mouth. A couple of fellow kooperativists spoke in turns, shaming their brother and at the same time, trying to appease the anger that, like rain clouds, had started to gather on the PB members’ faces. As they say, wet wood burns along with the dry wood. “Comrades,” Finally, the oldest PB member spoke as the whole crowd shifted on their feet. “We will set up a makeshift court right here, right now and condemn this shameless act.”
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He asked the foreman to appoint someone from the crowd to take part in jury. “Comrade Lavdi.” The foreman startled my mom and made my heart skip a beat. “Would you volunteer to be part of the jury?” Even a thirteen-year-old girl as myself knew that the question was only a formality, because the Party people never took no for an answer. The three Bureau members went into the building, my mom in tow, while the crowd scattered to sit under the shades of the two big oaks. The “enemy” remained on foot under the sun. Three wasps flew in a circle around the bag, trying to get in, without worrying about guilt or sin. I don’t know how long we waited for the verdict, but I suspect it was long enough that we began to worry that something had gone wrong. Finally one of the Bureau members came out and whispered something to the foreman, who was fanning himself with his hat. The foreman jumped to his feet and they both went inside again. The person closest to the foreman, who had overheard something of the whispered message, passed it around with no delay. Somebody was refusing to sign the verdict! As people gasped at the news, my heart trembled with recognition that that somebody had fixed himself for big trouble. That somebody risked being declared an enemy of the people, getting a large stain on their personal reference records and would face grave consequences. “That somebody can’t be my mom,” I remember convincing myself wishfully. “She hates dishonesty, especially stealing. She wouldn’t mind if they hanged the man” Yet, I couldn’t think who else could possibly break the unanimity

“I can’t believe it,” Mom was saying, sniffing, “sentence a man to death for a bunch of grapes! What is happening?” demanded my mom, raising her voice. “This is not Communism. This is despotism!”
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that every decision required in our country, a place where dissidents did not exist. I couldn’t imagine the three Bureau members disagreeing. They even walked in concord, like soldiers in a military parade. Finally they came out. Mom, pale as a dead woman, walked out last. Fear gripped my heart. I remember only vaguely what happened afterwards: the shock of the crowd upon hearing the death sentence, the pleading eyes of the guilty, my Mom’s right hand trembling and her transfixed gaze that betrayed disappointment. All were dismissed. Mom and I walked home on the dusty road after refusing a ride in the PB members’ jeep, the guilty man inside. Mom cried silently all the way home holding my hand in a tight grip, as if the ground was slipping under our feet. That night I woke up to my mom’s muffled cries and my father’s soothing words. “I can’t believe it,” Mom was saying, sniffing, “sentence a man to death for a bunch of grapes! What is happening?” demanded my mom, raising her voice. “This is not Communism. This is despotism!” “Shshshsh. Somebody will hear,” worried my dad. “They made me sign the verdict,” she continued in revolt. “They threatened me. They said unanimity was a must, otherwise people would think that the Party could be wrong. They assured me that the death penalty was just to frighten people, that a higher court will overrule it and sentence the man to prison for a couple of years. But, what if they don’t?” Mom paused to catch her breath than continued: “This is not what my father fought for in the war to liberate this country. This is not what they promised Communism would be.” Both of them fell silent. Only Mom’s occasional sobs spoiled the dark silence. I don’t know if Mom became an enemy of the people that night, but she surely wasn’t a die-hard Communist anymore. Weeks later we heard that the higher court did indeed overrule the death penalty, sentencing the thief to five years in prison. Mom never spoke of that day and everything went back to normal, except that her eyes never shone again upon hearing the victories of our country under the lead of the Socialist Party, and she never reminded me what a fortunate people we were to be living in the last stronghold of Communism in Europe. Years later, long after Communism had collapsed and the land had been privatized, Mom came home one day with a black plastic bag in one hand and red-rimmed eyes. She said that a man had thanked her for a signature she had hesitated to give so long ago and had given her grapes in a plastic bag saying, “Eat them with a clean conscience sister! They are the fruits of my pure perspiration and of my honest toil in my own land under the sun.”

BIOLOGY Ahmet Mir Fazil
Research scientist in Boston. Fazil holds Ph.D. degree in molecular biology.




ike most other experimental scientists, I hardly spend time in the library. In one of those rare occasions, while trying to find an article in an archive, I was truly amazed when I for the first time saw the mobile book shelving system there. In this system, a large number of books are stored in a way that saves a lot of space. With a push of a button, you can open up a particular section and search for a book you are interested in. If for some reason your book is not there, you can re-close that section and open up new shelves, again with the push of a button. In libraries, books are organized according to specific rules, such as their subject, their title and the name of the author.
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Without this structural organization, it would be immensely difficult to find one book among thousands of others. I have to confess that it still took me a while to find the book I was looking for, despite all these structural organizations and advanced shelving systems. Spending so much time in the library for a particular book further amazed me about the answer I was searching for in my research. I am trying to understand how our genome is organized and how it functions. In order to make myself clear, let me first try to explain what the genome is. I bet you will be amazed by the impressive genome organization and its flawless function, too. The genome can be thought of as a library. Each book in the “genome library” is what we call a “gene.” Every gene is different in size and the information they contain, just like the books in the library. Like the different sections in the library, our genes are also compartmentalized into different chromosomes. We have 23 pairs of chromosomes. One pair contains the information from our father and the other one from our mother. Therefore, unlike libraries, where you may find more than one copy of a book, our genome has two copies of each gene (except the genes on the X and Y chromosomes which carry only one set of genes). Every cell in our body carries its own library: the genome. Our genome is the smallest library in terms of physical volume, yet contains relatively the largest amount of information. In our body, which contains roughly 100 trillion cells, we carry 100 trillion of these libraries. Here comes the amazing part; each of these libraries contains 3 billion letters of information. If this information were to be printed, it would take 1000 books of 200 pages each. The information in our genome is coded by a 4-letter alpha24
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bet; Adenine (A), Guanine (G), Cytosine (C) and Tymine (T). These four letters (A,G,C,T), called deoxyribonucleic acids, are the building blocks of every DNA strand on earth. The collective amount of these letters in any organism constitutes of its genome. We, as humans, have about 3 billion of these letters in our genome, which is encapsulated in the nucleus of every cell in our body. The total length of our genome is 2 meters long. This 2-meter long stretch of DNA (3 billion letters of information) is highly compacted and packaged in the nucleus, which is only 2 micrometer in diameter, an amazing 1,000,000 fold compaction! How is our genome, which is 2 meters long, compacted so much that it fits in a nucleus only 2 micrometer in size? In the nucleus, DNA is wrapped around a group of 8 proteins called histones. This combination of DNA and histone proteins forms a special structure called “beads on the string.” Each bead is called “nucleosome” (Figure 1).

Multiple nucleosomes are then coiled together and stacked on top of each other. This organisation further packs the DNA up into a thicker fiber called “chromatin.” This chromatin fiber further condenses by forming tight loops. The structure which we call a “chromosome” is actually the most compact form of the chromatin fiber, which is only visible under the microscope during cell division. This remarkable chromatin organization allows a 2-meter long DNA to fit into the nucleus of each cell, an object so small that 10,000 of these nuclei can fit on the tip of a needle! This remarkable genome organization further impresses us when we think about the utilization of this genetic information by over one hundred trillions of cells in our body. These many cells in our body are not all similar to one another. Most of the cells in our body are specialized to carry out specific functions. We have more than 200 different cell

types specialized for unique functions. Some cells, like B and T cells in our immune system, are dedicated to fighting against infectious agents, whereas other cells, like neurons, function by transmitting signals between our brain and muscles. Since these cells have different structures and carry out different functions, they require different sets of instructions coded by genes in the genome. There are roughly 20,000 genes in our genome. Importantly, each specialized cell in our body utilizes only a subset of these genes, not all of them, at any given time. In other words, from the library analogy, roughly two third of the books (i.e., genes) are needed for each cell to function. The remaining one third of the genes is not necessary for that particular cell type. For example, the MYOD1 gene encodes a protein required for muscle cell differentiation. Therefore, this gene is absolutely required for muscle cells. However, the same gene is not required for the B or T cells that function in our immune system. While the MYOD1 gene has to be stored in an easy access location (open chromatin) for muscle cells, immune cells do not need this gene, and therefore it is stored in the depository section of the “genome library” (closed chromatin), which is not used very often. In line with this, each cell has to organize its genome in a special way so that the genes needed for its function should be easily accessible. This remarkable genome packaging and organization allows each cell to easily and very quickly access the required genes for transcription into the proteins. On the other hand, those genes that are not going to be used are stored in relatively inaccessible regions in the genome library. Therefore, the genome is not packaged similarly all along. Certain regions of the genome are “open” and therefore easily accessible (called euchromatin) for transcription, while other regions are kept “closed” by condensed and packed structure (called heterochromatin). Since each cell type requires different set of genes, the genome is also differentially organized between cell types. Genome organization in a muscle cell is remarkably different

than genome organization in, let’s say, a skin cell. After all these explanations, I hear you asking, “How does each cell in our body know how to organize their genome? How does, lets say, a muscle cell decides to become muscle but not a blood cell?” These are exactly the same questions that many scientists are asking nowadays. Since the completion of the Human Genome Project (HGP),1,2 which determined the entire sequence of information of our DNA, scientists have been trying to understand how this amazing alphabet is being used in each and every cell in our body. Francis Collins, one of the great scientists of our time and the current director of National Institute of Health (NIH-USA), is especially noted for his landmark discoveries of diseaseassociated genes, as well as his leadership in the Human Genome Project. He calls the information coded in our DNA the “Language of God” in his recent book.3 Recent technological advancements allow scientists to better study the structure and function of this language and get better clues about the organization of this genomic library. Whether we believe that this genomic information is “the language of God” or not, we are closer than ever to understanding the codes of this amazing language. New technological advancements allow us to get better insights about the organization and utilization of this information. The more we learn about it, the more we are amazed about not only its flawless packaging but also its differential utilization in each cell. At any time and in any tissue, trillions of cells are using different sections of the genome library to get the necessary instructions decoded from “the Language of God” and continue their journey in our bodies without any conscious decision making on our part. References
1. International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium. 2001. “Initial sequencing and analysis of the human genome.” Nature 409 (6822): 860–921. Venter, JC, et al. 2001. “The sequence of the human genome.” Science 291 (5507): 1304–1351. Francis S. Collins. 2006. The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. Free Press.
May / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine




uTiliziNg SociAl cAPiTAl ThRough ExEmPlARY lEADERShiP iN SchoolS

Ph.D. candidate in education at Marywood University, Pennsylvania.


he United States and many other developed countries are becoming more multicultural, multi-ethnic, and multiracial than ever before. This may to a certain extent cause less communication, interconnectedness or dialogue between diverse individuals. This lack of communication and dialogue, especially in education, manifests itself as less participation and involvement, which negatively affects educational success. Since
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educational success is highly associated with parental and community involvement, social capital plays a critical role in improving overall successes in education. Educators and policy makers should seek new ways and strategies to improve social capital with greater efficacy. This

The command-and-control techniques of the Industrial Revolution are no longer applicable. Leaders must work to make people feel strong, capable, and committed.
also includes reexamining leadership styles, practices and setting exemplary leadership frameworks.

1. Social capital Due to the abstract nature of the concept, social capital is mostly defined by its functions or manifestations. In other words, definitions mostly answer the question of what social capital does rather than what it is. Don Cohen and Laurence Prusak (2001) refer to social capital as a dynamic and even organic phenomenon. Their approach also emphasizes social capital’s role and function, rather than social capital itself. They underline (1) how social capital works in organizations, (2) how investments are made in social capital, and (3) the return that these organizations and individuals experience from these investments (p. 3). In this framework, Cohen and Prusak (2001) offer the working definition of social capital as “the stock of active connections among people.” Yet, there seems to be a more concrete definition offered by The World Bank Social Capital Initiative (1998). According to The World Bank Social Capital Initiative, social capital is the “internal, social and cultural coherence of society, the norms and values that govern interactions among people and the institutions in which they are embedded” (p. iii). Thus, social capital is seen as the glue that holds societies together. Consequently. without social capital, society at large will collapse. Due to its importance, researchers from different fields, such including political science, economics and education, investigate social capital, as many people see social capital as a solution to persistent social problems. 2. Social capital and education In the world of education, social capital is formed by social networks connecting families, schools and communities. In other words, parental and community involvement are the forms of social capital which are most associated with academic success. The World Bank (1998) argues that there is evidence that schools are more successful when parents and community members are actively involved. Discussions about school issues, parental monitoring, active tutoring, providing encouragement, attending school events, responding to school obligations, etc are all examples of parental involvement. Less effective community involvement examples include (1) supporting schools financially, (2) participating in school events, and (3) involving schools in community meetings. Community involvements render teachers more committed. Furthermore, it effects students’ general achievement, including achievement in reading, math, or other specific curricular areas, as well as IQ scores and an array of attitudinal and behavioral outcomes. 3. Education and leadership Even a cursory review of the leadership literature reveals that there are multiple definitions of leadership, and these all arise from mainly different perceptions and specific disciplinary conceptualizations. For example, some authors choose to treat leadership as a psychological fact while others see it as sociological (Pierce & Newstrom, 2008). In different disciplines, such as education or health, the definitions are based upon the references of that particular discipline. Therefore, a wide range of definitions of leadership are offered, but not a single model or term given. Accordingly, while some leadership approaches focus on the different characteristics between the followers and the leaders, others look at internal or external variables such as representation and effectiveness. In education, leadership is mostly represented in schools by school administrations. Specifically, principals and teachers are expected to possess the leadership skills necessary to run their schools. Leadership practices are not only expectations but also obligations and requirements as part of the profession. This is especially true for principals. Since they form school policies, they’re considered critical for academic and disciplinary success. Kouzes and Posner (2007) see the concept of leadership as a practice rather than as a personality type. After several case analyses, surveys and questionnaires, they uncovered five leadership practices common to personMay / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine


If leaders want to gain commitment and better standards, they must be models of the behavior they expect from others. Overall, leaders model the way.

al-best leadership experiences as guidance for all leaders. These five practices of exemplary leadership are essentials and applicable for all leaders who want ot get extraordinary things done in organizations, including educational institutions. The five practices are: (1) modeling the way, (2) inspiring a shared vision, (3) challenging the process, (4) enabling others to act, and (5) encouraging the heart. 4. Exemplary leadership, K-12 education, and social capital To improve and benefit from the existing social capital in a family, school and community, the five practices of leadership proposed by Kouzes and Posner may be implemented in K-12 institutions. Accordingly, this model may improve academic and disciplinary success in K-12 education. The following titles will focus on possible actions, attitudes or procedures to improve social capital as conducted by school principals and teachers.

a. Model the way Behaviors are more important than the title that people carry in organizations. It is through behavior that people win the respect of other members of an organization. If leaders want to gain commitment and better standards, they must be models of the behavior they expect from others. Overall, leaders model the way (Kouzes & Posner, 2007). School principals and teachers should act and behave in the best way possible, as exemplary models, towards colleagues, parents and community members if they wish to utilize and improve social capital. Modeling the way can be done by more involvement and participation in the activities organized in and out school. However, principals and teachers should prioritize their needs when they are choosing activities and events. For instance, different ethnic and cultural groups in a community can isolate themselves, since other members of the commu-


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nity may not want to communicate. Although these different groups may open their activities to all community members, lack of communication and dialogue creates isolation and, as explained before, cause lack of trust, reciprocal respect, interaction and safety, all of which are essential to building social capital. Thus, principals and teachers should prioritize communication and dialogue rather than basic social needs such as entertainment. Modeling the way can also include mutual family visits, joining social organizations and participating in community workshops, conferences and diversity meetings. In short, principals and teachers should represent – model the way – rather than present what social capital requires as a discourse. b. Inspire a shared vision Keenness, interest, diligence, inspiration, enthusiasm, dreams and imagination are essential factors for leaders in an organization (Kouzes & Posner, 2007). When leaders are visionary, and if their visions are realistic and if they have confidence in their capacity and skill, remarkable achievement can be realized. According to Kouzes and Posner (2007), every organization and social movement begins with a dream. Dream is a force which helps shape the future. However, dreams cannot work alone and must be shared. Leaders with dreams, or even leaders with more tangible projects, may not initiate an organized movement or substantive change. People will not follow leaders unless they accept the vision or dream as their own. To do so, leaders need to inspire people to share their vision. A shared vision is as important as modeling the way in the process to utilize and improve social capital. People need to be convinced about the benefits of social capital in academic and disciplinary success in schools. Since many studies (Dika & Singh, 2002) show positive links between high social capital and overall success in K-12 education, making people believe in its benefits may not prove a difficult task for principals and teachers. However, a simple belief does not help much with improving social capital. Kouzes and Posner’s (2007) second practice

of exemplary leadership, which is inspire a shared vision, might help leaders, principals and teachers achieve sufficient utilization and improvement in education. The visions and dreams may include (1) high involvement in activities and events, (2) strong connections with parents and community members, and (3) moral and financial support. The first step towards realizing such visions is telling them to the targeted individuals. The second is paralleling the visions with people’s expectations, hopes, and dreams. To do so, principals and teachers should engage in dialogue, not only with their colleagues, but also with parents and community members. The third involves further interaction and dialogue with people to amend or modify the vision for more effective utilization, if needed. Thus, plans and preparations for the planned goal or for the better utilization and improvement of social capital can be improved, and thus become more appealing. c. Challenge the process Leadership cases mostly involve a case of change or are perceived to be a challenge to the status quo. Studies done by Kouzes and Posner (2007) confirm this. For example, leaders may challenge a system, its processes or procedures so that they obtain new or better products, processes, services, systems, or outcomes. Challenge might involve an innovative product, a cutting-edge service, a revolutionary piece of legislation, or a reformed cadre of different personnel. In a school environment, change and challenge occur in and through the existing policies, internal culture and the status quo. To achieve a significant or better organized transformation, school leaders, primarily principals, happen to take risks. Change might be perceived as a challenge in different forms to the existing attitudes, means, methods and personnel. It might not be seen within the framework or practice of the existing action-plans that allege to benefit social capital within a community. By and large, attempts to improve or further utilize social capital can be perceived as a challenge if there is already some resistance to and confrontation with the rank-and-file towards the process of change and development in any community. As for schools, school leaders can challenge the attitudes and processes that are not effective and valuable for better social capital. Their action plans need to include overall participation, steady attendance, constant involvement, frequent visits and positive relations which would invoke further responses, participation, and contribution from individual families or lager communities. Challenging stagnant, unpromising, unproductive methods, means, or processes with a positive attitude is usually acknowledged as a needed form of action and practice towards achieving objectives.

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d. Enable others to act Leadership is about team work, and cannot be restricted to a small group of loyalists. It must include peers, managers, customers, clients, and citizens – all those who have a stake in the vision. The command-andcontrol techniques of the Industrial Revolution are no longer applicable. Leaders must work to make people feel strong, capable, and committed. They need to enable others to act and to participate in team efforts in order to accomplish either an organized movement or significant change (Kouzes & Posner, 2007). Kouzes and Posner’s fourth practice of exemplary leadership is an essential instrument, especially when a single person leads an activity or a project in an organization. This is true for school principals. At schools, principals give direct orders to realize internal and external procedures. In many cases, teachers, parents, and community members fulfill or complete these orders without becoming a part of them. Teachers, parents, and community members need to be inspired and encouraged to feel like team members who can actively participate in utilizing and improving social capital for their schools. For instance, teachers should be able to contribute to an event organization not only as guests but also as team members who arrange the event. Parents and community members should also be enabled to work as team members working towards improvements or success. Rather than simply participate, they can get involved in the events and organizations, at least to a certain extent, as controllers, coordinators, sponsors, or organizers. This simple involvement naturally attracts and increases the level of interest in school and overall education by society at large, and of course results in the improvement and utilization of social capital accordingly. e. Encourage the heart Encouraging the heart is another practice of exemplary leadership offered by Kouzes and Posner (2007). It is essential for leaders, because peo30
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ple get exhausted, frustrated, disenchanted, and often tempted to give up. Leaders encourage the hearts of their constituents to carry on. Encouragement may come in many forms, ranging from dramatic gestures to simple actions. For instance, in recognition of performance of the constituents, a simply participating in their celebrations encourages people’s hearts. Such simple actions show that their performance is recognized and appreciated by the leader (Kouzes & Posner, 2007). Similar to principals, teachers, as leaders, also should encourage the hearts of their students and students’ parents. Teacher-parent contacts, interactions and dialogues should be accommodated between individuals for academic success and educational progress. Conclusion As argued, there are several factors that promote academic and disciplinary success in K-12 education. Educators, in most cases, have the initiative and inherent power to utilize and modify these factors. Social capital is one of these factors and has a critical role for the overall success in schools, especially in K-12 education. Statistics and research show positive links between improved social capital and educational success in the US and elsewhere. Environments with improved social capital have better educational success, whereas low social capital

environments have lower educational success, with high dropout rates and lower tests scores. Although studies clearly support the importance of developing social capital, further proposals, action plans, or practices are still needed to improve and utilize the social capital in K12 education. These proposals can be set by specific disciplines and also by interdisciplinary approaches, such as sociology, psychology, and education. References
Cohen, D. & Prusak, L. 2001. In good company. How social capital makes organizations work. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press. Coleman, S., J. 1988. Social capital in the creation of human capital. The American Journal of Sociology, 94, (supplement) 95120. Dika, S.L. & Singh, K. 2002. Applications of social capital in educational literature: A critical synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 72(1), 31-60. Fukuyama, F. 1999. Social capital and civil society. Retrieved September, 1, 2008, from seminar/1999/reforms/fukuyama.html Kao, G. 2004. Social capital and its relevance to minority and immigrant populations. Sociology of Education, 77(2), 172-175. Kouzes, J. M. & Posner, B. Z. 2007. Leadership the challenge (5th Ed.). San Francisco: John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Pierce, J., L. & Newstrom, J.,W. 2008. Leadership & the leadership process: Readings, selfassessments & applications (International Ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. The World Bank Social Capital Initiative. 1998. The initiative on defining, monitoring and measuring social capital. Social Capital Working Paper, 1.

FOOD Ali Uguz
Teacher of biology. Uguz lives in Turkey.


of a


was once a delicious meatball. I should, in fact, say “we,” not “I,” for I was a foodstuff with such ingredients as fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamins. Humans – especially kids – loved me very much. Imagine: I have just been cooked, and I am now waiting on a dish. Oh, what’s that? A metal thing with four prongs has just stuck itself into my chest, and it threw me into a shaking room with a gate moving up and down. There are, in this room, 32 flat and occluding rocks, some of which are sharp, while some are like millstones, all being lined up in a U-shape row. The frontal rocks have divided me into large pieces by squeezing and cut-

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ting. My pieces are pushed backwards by a soft shovel underneath. The rear rocks have made me almost like a paste, thoroughly mashing my pieces. Meanwhile, many taps on the right and left sides and in bottom of the room began flushing water upon me, and the carbohydrates within me have begun dissolving by the pityalin enzyme (alpha amilaz) in this water. The flushing water contains substances such as lyzozym and antichore to eliminate any probable microbes within me. I was fully softened and turned into something almost like gruel, when suddenly I was impelled by the actions of that soft shovel to an extremely tight tube inside of which movements continuously push me downward. A gate opened while I was being brought down and, as I was hoping to enter into a more spacious room and be saved from the compressive movements, I suddenly flopped into a well containing a light-colored liquid. I have come to know, while I was expecting to have some refreshment, that the liquid I flopped into was an acid capable of eroding marble (pH=0,8). I cried “Oh My God!,” but it was too late. This acid began to break my proteins down. The pepsinogen which was simultaneously being secreted by some cells over the walls of this large room and which were ineffective within an acid-free environment, became instantly activated by this acid and began to thoroughly break me up. Most of my proteins were broken. While I was wondering and asking “how come the liquid I flopped into is capable of eroding the marble but not capable of breaking up this well?” I have come to notice that walls of the well were coated with a thin layer of mucous substance (membrane) which is unbreakable by acids. I said “God! As long as you do not permit, these acids, which can erod marble, are not capable of damaging a soft tissue!” Together with other foodstuff, I have been both blended and broken in this well-like room for about an hour. Later, the outer walls have again squeezed us, and we have been ejected yet again, this time into a new tube at an opposite direction to the one we were 32
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just pushed out of, by a sudden loosening and opening of a valve. This tube (called duodenum in Latin) has a length of about 15–18 cm and, appears as if lined up side by side. Here too, we felt wretched and were faced by a basic secretion (sodium bicarbonate) being ejaculated from a tap. This liquid was inactivating (neutralizing) the acids mixed with us, i.e., preventing them from damaging the unprotected walls of the tube which we were in. Here again the amylaz, lipaz, trypsin, kymotrypsin and carbocsypolypeptidas attacked me, all of which break up, in a respective order, carbohydrates, fats and proteins of my ingredients, along with a lot many other enzymes, and they broke me up to my smallest constituents. Meanwhile, I started pondering the reasons why these enzymes, which are making mincemeat of me, are not damaging the tap (pancreas), which are composed of the same proteins, fats and carbohydrates that they come from. Then, I have come to realize that these enzymes could not become activated in pancreas tissue, since it does not have any activating factors, but they gained shredder features only after we arrived in the tube we are in, and only with the help of such factors which are being secreted from the intestinal walls. After having been fully shredded within this narrow tube, a green liquid (bile), was poured on us as we were approaching its end. This detergent-like liquid was particularly responsible for shredding the fats in my ingredients. I understood, after all of this, that I was passing through a very excellent factory. As I and my fellow meatballs proceeded inside this narrow tube of approximately three meters long, no part of us remained un-shredded, except the cellulose fibers of plants such as parsley and onion which accompanied us. They continued their journey until arriving at a very thick and short tube. I have found out that their sap have been absorbed and their leftovers, after being amassed for some time, have been thrown into a cesspool called a toilet. In the meantime, we have noticed that the walls of this tube are plicate and protuberant. These walls are apparently the places where

our particles penetrate into another realm through two different ways. We understood that, via rather thin capillary channels situated inside these protuberances, we were being transferred into narrower tubes which contained two different (red and white) types of liquids (blood and lymph vessels). Now, there isn’t “me” anymore, instead, there is only an “us” which is composed of very smaller particles. While glucoses, the simplest forms of carbohydrates

and aminoacids, the simplest forms of proteins are being transferred into the red liquid, our fat acid siblings are transferred into the white liquid of lymph vessels. Our glucose and aminoacid siblings have been carried by the red liquid to a factory called a liver. They are being returned to the red liquid after having passed through certain processes and being equipped with some useful characteristics here. But, the fats (lymphs) of the white liquid are, for some reason or another, being separately transferred into the red liquid,

bypassing this factory. I learned the reason later: if the fat acids came to the liver together with glucoses and aminoacids, they would spoil this factory and kill its workers. Finally, the red liquid carried us to tiny cell chambers numbering almost 100 trillion. Each of our tiny particles were sent to separate cells. Here, water, carbondioxide and energy were being produced by primarily coupling of our sibling glucose with oxygen. I learned that energy was needed for the functioning of these cells. Our fat

siblings were also being utilized (consumed) for producing energy if glucoses were found insufficient for that purpose. Our amino acid siblings were being utilized (consumed) in the production of sound (strong) proteins and glucoses, and of energy in cases of the unavailability of fat sources for use in the cells’ structures. Excessive amounts of fat and glucose were being stored in these tiny cells. That is to say, I, who was a meatball at

the beginning, was converted into water, carbondioxide and energy at the end of this painstaking journey. I was promoted (exalted) to the degree of humanness and rewarded a great deal of honor, as some parts of me became constituent of and some other parts of me assumed responsibility in vital cell functions of the human body. After all these disintegrations and absorptions, some parts of us took their share in the structure of the body, while some others which were used in energy production including me were converted into a choky and dirty gaseous state called carbondioxide. We have been thrown back into the red liquid again since we would perhaps choke the cells we are within should our density increase very much. We have been brought to a marvellous and sponge-like factory named a lung, and composed of millions of vesicles, by being placed onto a molecule called hemoglobin, which is being pushed by a big pump. We have replaced the oxygen of the fresh air arriving to the lung vesicles. Now is the time for bidding farewell to the human body. I thanked God, for I regained my freedom as a carbondioxide passing through and escaping from very dark and narrow places. However, I was placed upon the leaf of a green plant after roaming in the air for some time. After being filtered through the little windows (stoma) over the leaf, I was brought inside by the chlorophyll factory marvelously functioning inside these cells. Here, they forced me to unite with the water brought by tubules from the soil. Upon telling them that I cannot afford to do that, they instantly changed my true nature with solar rays and turned me into a chemical energy depot. I was no more a simple carbon atom; thus, I found a place for myself within an energy-emiting glucose molecule. I was in a position suitably convertible to starch, protein or fats in accordance with the true nature and genetic program of the plant I was within. Something incredible happened while I was swinging around on a green clover leaf. The leaf I was in has been eaten by a cow with real pleasure. A new chapter has now opened inside the cow’s body. I was assigned with certain duties within the muscle proteins of my new host after having passed through a number of chemical processes. And I really enjoyed them. I was feeling myself more as an animal protein than a simple grass. By leaving the grass for a cow’s body, I was promoted (exalted) one more degree on the way to becoming manifestations of the divine attributes of God. This blessed animal in whom I was assigned has been sacrificed during a Muslim feast of sacrifice, its meat ground into a meat grinder, and I have been served to you once again as a meatball.
May / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine


EmERAlD hillS of ThE hEART
Practical or bodily thankfulness, according to others, means observing all acts of worship. Since thankfulness relates directly to all aspects or branches of belief and worship, it is regarded as half of the faith.
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iterally meaning gladness felt about and gratitude shown for the good done to one, Sufis use shukr to mean using one’s body, abilities, feelings, and thoughts bestowed upon one to fulfill the purpose of his or her creation: being thankful to the Creator for what He has bestowed. Such thankfulness is to be reflected in the person’s actions or daily life, in speech and in the heart, by admitting that all things are directly from Him, and by feeling gratitude for them. One may thank God verbally by only depending upon His power and strength, as well as upon His bestowal or withholding of favors, and acknowledging that all good and bounties come from Him. As He alone creates all good, beauty, and bounty, as well as the means by which they can be obtained, only He sends them at the appropriate time. Since He alone determines, apportions, creates, and spreads [all our provisions] before us as “heavenly tables,” He alone deserves our gratitude and thanks. Attributing our attainment of His bounties to our own or to another’s means or causes, in effect thereby proclaiming that He is not the true Owner, Creator, and Giver of all bounty, is like giving a huge tip to the servant who lays before us a magnificent table and ignoring the host who is responsible for having it prepared and sent to us. Such an attitude reflects sheer ignorance and ingratitude, as mentioned in: They know only the outward face of the life of the world (apparent to them), and they are completely unaware of (its face looking to) the Hereafter (30:7). True thankfulness in one’s heart is manifested through the conviction and acknowledgment that all bounties are from God, and then ordering one’s life accordingly. One can thank God verbally and through one’s daily life only

if personally convinced, and if one willingly acknowledges that his or her existence, life, body, physical appearance, and all abilities and accomplishments are from God, as are all of the bounties obtained and consumed. This is stated in: Do you not see that God has made serviceable unto you whatsoever is in the skies and whatsoever is in the earth, and has loaded you with His bounties seen or unseen? (31:20), and: He gives you of all that you ask Him; and if you reckon the bounties of God, you can never count them (14:34). Bodily thankfulness is possible by using one’s organs, faculties, and abilities for the purposes for which they were created, and in performing the duties of servanthood falling on each. On the other hand, some have stated that verbal thankfulness means daily recitation of portions of the Qur’an, prayers, supplications, and God’s Names. Thankfulness by the heart means that one is certain or convinced of the truth of the Islamic faith and straightforwardness. Practical or bodily thankfulness, according to others, means observing all acts of worship. Since thankfulness relates directly to all aspects or branches of belief and worship, it is regarded as half of the faith. With respect to this inclusiveness, it is considered together with patience, meaning that according to some people, thankfulness and patience are considered as the two halves of religious life. In His eternal Speech, God Almighty repeatedly commands thankfulness and, as in the phrases so that you may give thanks (2:52) and God will reward the thankful (3:144), presents it as the purpose of creation and of sending religion. In such verses as: If you are thankful I will add more unto you. But if you show ingratitude My punishment is terrible indeed (14:7), He has promised abundant reward to the thankful and threatened the ungrateful with a terrible punishment. One of His own Names is the All-Thanking, which shows us that the way to obtain all bounties or favors is through thankfulness,

which He returns with abundant reward. He exalts the prophets Abraham and Noah, upon them be peace, saying: (Abraham was) thankful for His bounties (16:121) and Assuredly, he (Noah) was a grateful servant (17:3). Although thankfulness is a religious act of great importance and significant “capital,” few people truly do it: Few of My servants are thankful (34:13). Very few people live in full awareness of the duty of thankfulness, saying: Shall I not be a servant grateful (to my Lord)?, and try their best to perform their duty of thankfulness and order their lives accordingly. The glory of humanity, upon him be peace and blessings, whose soles swelled because of his long supererogatory prayer vigils (tahajjud), was a matchless hero of thankfulness. On one occasion, he told his wife ‘A’isha: “Shall I not be a servant grateful to God?” He always thanked God and recommended thankfulness to his followers, and prayed to God every morning and evening, saying: “O God. Help me mention You, thank You, and worship You in the best way possible.”
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Thankfulness is the deep gratitude and devotion of one who, receiving His bounties or favors, directs these feelings toward the One Who bestows such blessing, and the subsequent turning to Him in love, appreciation, and acknowledgment. The above Prophetic saying expresses this most directly.

Thankfulness is the deep gratitude and devotion of one who, receiving His bounties or favors, directs these feelings toward the One Who bestows such blessing, and the subsequent turning to Him in love, appreciation, and acknowledgment.
The Fountain Magazine May / June 2011

People are thankful for many things: the provisions, home, and family with which they have been favored; wealth and health; belief, knowledge of God, and the spiritual pleasures bestowed on them; and the consciousness with which God favored them so they could open themselves to the knowledge that they must be thankful. If those who are thankful for such a consciousness use their helplessness and destitution as “capital” and thank Him continuously, they will be among the truly thankful. It is narrated from God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, that the Prophet David, upon him be peace, asked God Almighty: “O Lord. How can I be thankful to You, since thanking You is another favor that requires thankfulness?” The Almighty responded: “Just now you have done it.” I think this is what is expressed in: We have not been able to thank You as thanking You requires, O All-Thanked One. One can be thankful by recognizing and appreciating Divine favors, for feeling gratitude to the One Who bestows favors depends to a great extent on due recognition and appreciation of them. Belief and Islam (including the Qur’an) lead one to recognize and appreciate favors and thus turn to God in gratitude. One can be more aware of these favors, and that they are given to us by God out of His mercy for our helplessness and inability to meet our own needs, in the light of belief and Islamic practices. This awareness urges us to praise the One Who bestows upon us those favors and bounties that we consume. Awakening to the meaning of: As for the favor of Your Lord, proclaim it (93:11), we feel a deep need to be grateful and thankful. Everyone is naturally inclined to praise the good and the one who does good to him or her. However, until this feeling is aroused there is no awareness of being favored by someone else, just as fish are not conscious of living in water. Furthermore, these favors may be attributed to the means and causes used to obtain them. If it is blindness and deafness not to see and appreciate the favors we continuously receive, then it must be an unforgivable deviation to attribute them to various blind, deaf, and unfeeling means and causes. The Prophetic statements: “One who does not thank for the little does not thank for the abundant,” and: “One who does not thank people does not thank God,” express blindness and deafness to favors and remind us of the importance of being thankful. Such verses as: Mention Me so that I will mention you, and give thanks to Me and do not be ungrateful to Me (2:152), and: Worship Him and give Him thanks (29:17) tell us that it is God Who truly deserves to be thanked, and also remind us of His absolute Unity. Thankfulness can be divided into three categories. The first category consists of thankfulness for those things that everyone, regardless of religion or spiritual attainment, desires. The second category consists of thankfulness for those things that, although apparently disagreeable or displeasing, reveal their true nature to those who can see them as favors requiring gratitude. The third category of thankfulness is that kind performed by those who are loved by God and view favors or bounties from the perspective of the One Who bestows them. They spend their lives in spiritual pleasure that begins in observing God’s manifestation of Himself through His favors, and take the greatest pleasure in worshipping Him. Although they are always enraptured with the spiritual delight flowing from their love of Him, they are extremely careful of their relationship with Him. Such people constantly strive to preserve the Divine blessings that have been bestowed upon them, and always search for what they have missed. While they constantly deepen their belief, love, and gratitude along the way toward Him, the “nets of their sight” are filled with different blessings and gifts. O God! Include us among Your servants whom You love, have made sincere, and have brought unto You. Grant peace and blessings to our Master, the Master of those loved, made sincere, and brought near unto You.



Your love took me away from me, You are the One I need Day and night I burn gripped by agony, You are the One I need I find no great joy in being alive; if I cease to exist, I would not grieve, The only solace I have is your love; You are the One I need Your love slays lovers; makes them dive into the sea of love Fills them with the image of God; You are the One I need Let me drink the wine of love; like Majnun, live in the mountain of hardship, Day and night, You are my sole concern; You are the one I need The Sufis seek for friendly conversation; the Akhis look for the hereafter Majnuns (lovers) seek for their Leylas (beloved); You are the One I need Even if, at the end, they make me die; And scatter my ashes up to the sky, My soil would break into this outcry; You are the one I need. Yunus Emre, the mystic, is my name; Each passing day rouses my flame, What I desire in both worlds is the same; You are the one I need.
May / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine


Medical doctor at Sifa Hospital, Izmir, Turkey.

of ThE


For insemination to be possible, an average of 400 million sperms should be available at every ejaculation. Only 300 to 500 of these sperms would reach at the spot where they couple with the egg (ovum) in tubes.

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s all the living beings, human being is also created from a male and a female. Gametes (germ cells) of male and female are being coupled at the widest point of cervix within a time span of 12 to 48 hours and thus resulting in the formation of a new and different human zygote. Although 300 to 600 million sperms set off at the beginning of this period in order to meet with ovule, only the predestined one of them enter into the egg. For insemination to be possible, an average of 400 million sperms should be available at every ejaculation. Only 300 to 500 of these sperms would reach at the spot where they couple with the egg (ovum) in tubes, for as much number of sperms as possible should encircle the egg in order for the zygote to be formed. In case the number of ejaculated sperms would be around 60 to 70 million, only 60 to 70 of them would reach at the spot where they couple with the egg in tubes and this is one of the reasons of male infertility. The 300 to 500 sperms which strive to enter into egg meet with the cell layer (corona radiata) which is being serially positioned around the zona radiata. A liquid is secreted from this zona radiata which punctures the euchromosome (1) placed on tip of sperm. Each of various enzymes set free following


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the puncture of euchromosome is assigned to overcome a separate obstacle before the sperm. Duty of the hyaluronidase enzyme, for instance, is to puncture the outer cell layer (corona radiata) which is assigned to protect the egg. Resultantly, the sperm passes through this cell layer and sticks onto the zona radiata (zona pellucida). The quasi-trypsin dissolutive (proteolytic) enzymes are employed for overcoming the zona radiata. Only one or rarely two of the few sperms which stuck onto this zona radiata manages to penetrate into the egg. It has been estimated that plurality of sperms around the egg, contrary to their rarity, facilitates their entry into the egg. The sperm penetrates into the egg with its tail but tail membrane stays outside. The protective membrane of the ovum (zona pellucida) starts diffusing calcium within the very first minutes of sperm’s penetration and resultantly, granules are released, receptors are exterminated and the egg becomes structurally transformed. Consequently, a thick layer is formed over the protective membrane (zona pellucida) for prevention of penetration of another sperm. Following the sperm’s penetration into egg (cytoplasm), the “fusion” process starts. Fusion is the unification process of sperm and egg cells (pronuclei) each of which are separately containing 23 chromosomes. Thus, construction of a genetical library which is containing 46 chromosomes and being prerequisite of formation (creation) of a new human baby is completed. Afterwards, the first mitotic division gives way to a double-celled zygote and the embryo starts forming while settling into the secure base of the uterus. As the outcoming child is going to be a mixture, i.e., a genuine and particular blend of the genetic codes available in the inherited gene pool, he/she will have resemblance to his/her parents and thus to their reciprocal kins (paternal and maternal grandparents, uncles and aunts and etc.). Prophet Muhammad and Genetics Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, pointed in his various sayings and explanations to the fact that the baby in mother’s womb carries a

number of genetic features (characteristics) which are being inherited from the parents : When a Jewish person asked Him, “what is man created from?”, he replied: “Man is created from a blend (mixture) of zygotes of both man and woman.” Then the Jew said: “Moses as well said the same before you.”2 Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, also shed light onto the fact of resemblance or inheritance of character by way of genes: “Is bathing a must for women?” asked Umm Sulaim to the Prophet. “Yes, it is a must when her seminal fluid outflows and seen,” he replied. “Do women have wet dreams?” she asked. “May God grant you goodness! How otherwise a child resembles to his/her mother?” He replied.3 …. As seen and understood by His above hadith (saying), He who was the great teacher of mankind was the first person who said that women do also see wet dreams. He has also been the first person who articulated the concept of “dominancy,” which was not understood before 1850s. He said: “The child resembles to either side of the parents whose seminal fluid comes to the fore and surpasses the other’s in mother’s womb during the intercourse. If there is an equi-

librium, then, resemblance is also in equilibrium for both sides.”4 “If, during the intercourse, seminal fluid of the man precedes and surpasses that of the woman, then, the child resembles to the father, and if semimal fluid of the woman precedes and surpasses that of the man, then, the child resembles to the mother.”5 “If seminal fluid of the woman surpasses that of the man, then, the child resembles to his/her maternal uncles, and, if seminal fluid of the man surpasses that of the woman, then, the child resembles to his/her paternal uncles.”6 In another one of His sayings, He points out to the fact that the recessive characters (features) in the grand ancestorial gene pool would dominantly and collectively emerge after following a couple of generations: “A man having a blackish baby boy approached and said to the Prophet: “I am suspecting my wife.” “Do you have camels?” the Prophet asked him. “Yes,” he replied. “Then, how are their colors?” The Prophet asked. “Red.” “Is there any one with grey color among them?” “Yes, there is.” “Then, where did this grey color come from?” asked the Prophet. “Presumably from a line of its ancestors,” the man responded. “Here you are! This child of you is also presumed to be coming from a line of your ancestors,” the Prophet told the man. 7 Notes and References
1. An euchromosome zone enriched by lysosome enzymes is noticed on stem of a mature sperm cell. The lysosome enzymes penetrate into the egg cell and impregnate it. 2. Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Aynee, Ramouz Al Ahadeeth, Kanz Al Ummal, Jami’ul Saghir 3. Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawoud, Aynee, Ahmad Bin Hanbal. 4. Muslim, Ibn Majah. 5. Bukhari, Ahmad Bin Hanbal. 6. Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawoud. 7. Abu Dawoud, Muslim, Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Ibn Majah.
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May / June 2011


Why have the efforts of an army of social scientists working over several generations not yielded more tangible progress in combating our most pressing social problems?

P. Geoffrey Bakken
PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin



he development of the modern social sciences has been intimately bound up with the Enlightenment belief that scientific investigation can be used towards the perfection of human society. Auguste Comte argued in the mid19th century that society had evolved towards a scientific phase in which social problems could be resolved by way of reasoned analysis. Karl Marx, another father of sociology, offered a tremendously influential, self-consciously scientific analysis of capitalism and the subsequent inevitability of communism, through which poverty and inequality would be eradicated. Following in this Enlightenment tradition, disciplines like sociology, economics, and political science have in recent decades concerned themselves with the amelioration of devastating social problems like inequality, underdevelopment, environmental degradation, oppression, and violent conflict. Yet, despite all the attention devoted by academic observers, activists, and policymakers, progress in remedying these still endemic social problems has been limited, uneven, and all too reversible. Why have the efforts of an army of social scientists working over several generations not yielded more tangible progress in combating our most pressing social problems? In this essay, I argue that the lack of a coherent conception of human nature has contributed to the frustrating results of our attempts to
May / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine


Social action can follow both the rationalist “logic of consequences” and the normative “logic of appropriateness,” but social theorists have yet to construct a coherent framework that can explain when action might follow one or the other logic.
advance human society through scientific inquiry. I suggest that greater understanding of the human spirit can contribute to the overarching project of improving the human condition that unites all of the social sciences. Speaking broadly and simplifying vastly (as limited space necessitates), two meta-paradigms concerning human nature have guided much social science research in the past several decades. On the one hand, there is a rationalist paradigm that theorizes human beings as egoists rationally pursuing their self-interest. This understanding of 42
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human nature provides the foundation for the discipline of economics and has become increasingly dominant in political science. In emphasizing that actions follow a “logic of consequences” in which decisions are based on how expected outcomes will affect an individual’s utility, the rationalist paradigm does not consider morality an inherent dimension of human action. In this framework, people are portrayed as largely amoral, only taking normatively proper actions if doing so benefits them personally or if they happen to derive unusually high utility from virtuous behavior due to idiosyncrasies in character. In political science, the assumptions underlying the rationalist paradigm lead to a rather pessimistic outlook on the likelihood of arriving at morally agreeable outcomes. For instance, there is no reason to believe that a dictator will stop employing violence against his own citizens just because the international community urges that it is the right thing to do; rather, such behavior will continue until the leader’s incentive structure changes, making political repression too costly to continue. However, characterizing people as rational actors need not entail such a bleak outlook. In economics, for example, there seems to be an almost axiomatic faith in Adam Smith’s notion that the rational pursuit of self-interest benefits the entire collectivity. In contrast to the rationalist approach, there is a normative paradigm that conceives of human beings as primarily concerned with aligning their actions to standards of appropriateness for particular roles and identities in different social situations. While the rationalist paradigm thrives in economics and political science, the normative paradigm is most prevalent in sociology. From this perspective, people are less concerned with doing whatever it takes to achieve their aims than with determining which actions are prescribed for given circumstances and behaving accordingly. In this way, actors do what is perceived as right for its own sake, operating according to a “logic of appropriateness” rather than a “logic of consequences.”1 In a sharp contrast to the amoral egoists that populate rationalist models of the world, human actors in the normative paradigm are conceived of as fundamentally moral beings, deeply influenced by what their communities consider right and proper. While acknowledging the potential for a gap between standards of appropriate behavior and the capacity to adhere to those standards in practice, the normative paradigm tends towards an optimistic estimate of the possibility of achieving morally desirable outcomes. Problematic behavior can be corrected through moral suasion based on clearly articulated normative standards, without necessarily appealing to the self-interest of deviant actors, as in the rationalist paradigm. For instance, pro-democracy international institutions might be able to socialize officials from authoritarian countries into valuing democracy for its own sake, transcending their rational inclination to perpetuate oppressive arrangements. How can we reconcile these profoundly disparate visions of humanity in analyzing and attempting to remedy social problems? Many acknowledge that social action can follow both the rationalist “logic of consequences” and the normative “logic of appropriateness,” but social theorists have yet to construct a coherent framework that can explain when action might follow one or the other logic. Far too much energy has been expended in unproductive debates in which analysts draw on limited empirical findings to assert the superiority of their favored approach. To be sure, both paradigms are intuitively plausible, and one can easily find cases that fit the predictions of each. But both approaches are incomplete, and unable on their own to account for the full range of human behavior. The rationalist paradigm offers no explanation for why discourses about norms and morality comprise such an essential part of everyday human experience, while the normative approach fails to account for the pervasiveness of anti-social and immoral behavior. But if we are neither the self-seeking sociopaths envisioned by the rationalist paradigm nor the perfectly socialized au-

tomatons imagined by the normative paradigm, then who are we? I suggest that social scientific analysis and policymaking might be well served by drawing on conceptions of human nature that derive more from the inherited wisdom of religious traditions and less from the abstract deductions of contemporary theoretical paradigms. The perspective I advocate takes up a broad theme of the Abrahamic faiths – the universal corruptibility of the human spirit, beginning with the transgressions of the very first human beings in the story of the Garden of Eden. In other words, I argue that it is analytically useful for social science research to conceptualize human beings as sinners. With this characterization, I suggest that people are highly aware of and concerned with the normative prescriptions of the various social groupings to which they belong, and typically act to uphold and reinforce these standards of behavior. However, as the fallible creatures that we are, we fall prey to a range of spiritual lapses that lead us to use to violate even our most sacred moral codes. Common-sense reflection on the historical record of human behavior can shed light on how our penchant for sinfulness expresses itself. We have shown that we disregard the lives of others in the pursuit of profit and power. We dehumanize and oppress those whom we perceive as different from ourselves. We grow comfortable in positions of wealth and influence, protecting our own standing against changes that would benefit the rest of society. We think only of our own short-term gain rather than our longterm responsibilities to those who will come after us. We are indifferent to the suffering of strangers. We break promises, tell lies, and act hypocritically. We take for granted and hurt the ones we love. Of course, our propensity for sinful behavior does not mean that we are only capable of depravity. Indeed, most of the time we follow the moral standards of our communities in an unreflective, straightforward fashion. And we are certainly capable of deep compassion and heroic self-sacrifice. But our spiritual imperfection means that we all

have an inherent potential to stray from a righteous path, especially during extreme conditions like warfare, political instability, poverty, and economic depression. This potential is universal and timeless, and exists within men and women, rich and poor, traditional and modern, educated and illiterate, believer and skeptic alike. The exact nature of our vices, and the extent to which they impact other people, might vary according to our social positions (a prince’s failings can cause greater harm than a pauper’s), but corruptibility is something we all share. Imagining human beings as sinners makes sense of the paradoxical views of humanity offered by the rationalist and normative paradigms while overcoming their limitations. This perspective incorporates the normative paradigm’s insight that people care about upholding the standards of appropriateness of their communities, but sheds the naïve expectation that they will almost automatically abide by these standards. This perspective also accepts the rationalist paradigm’s premise that people often engage in aberrant, selfserving action. However, while the rationalist paradigm suggests that people pursue their own satisfaction without considering the normative implications of their behavior, the view of humans as sinners recognizes that people generally aspire towards decency, even if they are sometimes susceptible to moral breakdown. Eschewing firm a priori assumptions about people’s inclination towards normatively appropriate behavior, the spiritual paradigm I propose starts from acknowledging our demonstrated capacity for both upstanding and immoral behavior. A social science research program built upon such a vision of humanity would aim to investigate the social conditions under
May / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine


which people engage in different types of behavior – virtuous and vicious – and draw upon this knowledge to design policies that will better confront the most lasting and pernicious social problems. An inadequate understanding of humankind’s spiritual character can lead to two types of problems that have plagued modern attempts to shape our societies for the better. First, we often craft policies that rest on naïve assumptions about human nature, and which could only work in practice if we were saints rather than sinners. For instance, a laissez faire approach to economic regulation stems from the notion that allowing people to freely pursue their economic self-interest leads the economy to thrive. But this position underestimates the extent to which economic actors, left unchecked, are prone to greedy or shortsighted behavior that can harm society as a whole. The current financial crisis resulted from the creation of highrisk financial instruments that led consumers to take on mortgages they could not afford and companies to over-invest in dubious mortgagebacked securities. These policies enriched the finance industry and expanded the ranks of homeowners in the short-term, but the bursting of the housing bubble led to an epidemic of foreclosures, a stock market crash, a drying up of credit, and a global economic recession. The policy of abstinence-only sex education is another case in which the likelihood of virtue is overestimated. This policy relies on the sexual restraint of young people to reduce pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections among teenagers. Such programs have been found to be ineffective because they fail to appreciate the difficulty of resisting the temptation to engage in risky sexual behavior for even the most steadfast advocates of abstinence. These examples suggest that policies too dependent on the proper behavior of those involved will tend not to be very successful. A second problem deriving from our inadequate understanding of human nature is our tendency to divide the world into rigid categories of those who are righteous and those 44
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who are wicked, often succumbing to the hubristic assumption that God is on our side. Rather than recognizing that we are all equal in our potential for moral failure, we forget our own sinfulness, with the ironic result that those most ostensibly committed to social progress along Enlightenment principles can be guilty of the most brutal inhumanity. Idealistic political movements have frequently illustrated such a dynamic. The French Revolution, for instance, produced the Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789, proclaiming liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression to be natural rights. Just a few years later, Robespierre’s Committee for Public Safety launched a program of arbitrary executions to protect the revolutionary government from the perceived threat of internal enemies, an absurd blasphemy of the Revolution’s foundational principles. Similarly, the vanguard of the Bolshevik Revolution viewed itself as leading the world towards a communist future that would eradicate inequality and establish the conditions for universal human flourishing. Yet this project devolved into a paranoid police state that imprisoned and executed millions of kulaks, Cossacks, and other class enemies for the sake of the unquestionably righteous Revolution. As casual observers of history, we tend to attribute such atrocities to the uncommonly evil character of the key figures involved: Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao. But such horrors as chattel slavery, colonialism, the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, and the Darfur crisis are not simply the work of a single monstrous leader or a few bad apples. They require many hands, and arise from an all-toohuman capacity to inflict harm on others, to be overcome with hatred, to turn a blind eye to suffering and injustice – in short, to be inhumane. The urge to dissociate ourselves from such evils is powerful, as we like to think of ourselves as good people, incapable of such savagery. But the history of human suffering is the story of allegedly good people doing terrible things to each other. Thus, we must accept any sin committed

by another person as potentially one of our own. Treading a righteous path – as individuals, as corporations, as nations – is difficult, but certainly not impossible. Bringing our aspirations for values like equality, liberty, and peace closer to fruition requires not just technical knowledge, but also attention to how the spiritual character of human beings shapes the implementation and effectiveness of policy initiatives. When we acknowledge the darker aspects of our nature, the design of policies becomes a matter of identifying and protecting against the sources of temptation we may face. The structure of American political institutions might serve to illustrate a well-crafted policy in this regard. Wary of the concentration of power in the hands of any one entity, the drafters of American institutions dispersed authority among three distinct branches of government. While members of each branch have worked to enhance their own power, the separation of powers ensures an ongoing wrangling between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, the result being that no one branch can accumulate absolute authority. Instead of trusting political actors to refrain from power seeking, the founders anticipated the temptation to extend one’s reach and devised mechanisms to check that tendency. In this way, democratic rule has survived for over two centuries. The modern social sciences offer an impressive array of techniques for acquiring systematic knowledge about human societies. But scientific knowledge will not lead the world on a linear march of progress if not coupled with an honest and accurate reckoning of human nature. Turning with humility to the insights into the human spirit offered by religious traditions may be the best way to appreciate and temper the shortcomings we have shared from the beginning. Note
1. I borrow these terms from the work of James March and Johan Olsen. See, for instance, “The institutional dynamics of international political orders” in International Organization (1998), 52: 943-969.

ThE iSlAmic PRoPENSiTY foR SciENcE
PErSPECTIvES Stephen Pant
Freelance writer. Pant has a degree on philosophy and history from Monash University, Melbourne.


he naive view of religion and science sees them in direct opposition to one another, and given the chequered history of religion and science this is perhaps understandable. Examples such as the incarceration of Galileo, the Scopes Trial and more recently the issue of creationism are at the forefront of the social consciousness, so undoubtedly there is some history of confrontation between religion and science. Islam, on the other hand, has historically seemed to have fewer difficulties with science, and indeed often has been conducive to it.

It was once thought that Islamic science during this time was little more than a translation of Greek conclusions, however there is now sufficient evidence to suggest that this was a scientific revolution in its own right.

There are many possible explanations for this, not least of which is the presentation of science and the use of reason in Islamic texts, but also sociological factors, such as different economic situations during the Middle Ages, and internal political structures. There is also the fact that the Qur’an simply doesn’t contradict scientific findings. The Middle Ages (or the Dark Ages as they used to be known) of European civilisation extended between the 5th and 16th centuries, encapsulating the Islamic Golden Age spanning the 7th to 16th centuries.1 It was once thought that Islamic science during this time was little more than a translation of Greek conclusions, however there is now sufficient evidence to suggest that this was a scientific revolution in its own right, and it contributed greatly to the basis of modern scientific thought.2 Part of the reason science played such a key role in the Golden Age of Islam is surely because of the importance placed on it in Islamic texts. There are hundreds of references in the Qur’an related to human knowledge and contemplation, including the first command of God, instructing humanity to “read.” The hadith also contains hundreds of references the Prophet made to seek knowledge, including one instance of him saying, “Seek for science, even in China”3; the significance of ChiMay / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine


na being that it is the furthest known country to the Muslim Empire. There is a moral obligation for Muslims to seek knowledge; in fact, learning is often seen as a form of worship and a quest for spiritual perfection through knowledge. This surely acted as an incentive that enabled them to become the great scientific civilization they were during the Golden Age. The Renaissance, which followed the Middle Ages, could be described as the Western equivalent. There is nothing in the Bible to discredit specific scientific discoveries,4 though it also doesn’t encourage the scientific pursuit in the same manner as the Qur’an. The Bible does convey an ordered world in which science is not only possible but should tend towards the truth, but any such scientific commendation can also be levelled at the Qur’an. What’s unique about the Qur’an, however, is that it is not as susceptible to the human fallibility excuse as is the case with the Bible, in that it was written immediately after the Archangel Gabriel imparted the Revelation to Muhammad, it was arranged by Muhammad himself, and has remained unchanged since, at least when speaking of the original Arabic and not a translation.5 The areas of science explored in the Qur’an range greatly from astronomy to physics to biology, and all seem to be in well keeping with modern scientific findings.6 46
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Perhaps not surprisingly, the Qur’an does not contain any hardline indisputable science, however. The meanings of many of the Arabic words are subtle and open to interpretation, and different interpretations of the same passages have been used to support different scientific enquiries at different times.7 The rapid expansion of the Muslim empire beginning in the 7th century brought great wealth and security, and this naturally led to great advancements in science and technology, similar to the Greek and Roman empires before them. Once an empire establishes itself and can comfortably support its population in terms of food and security, it can turn it sights on its lesser problems, and attempt to solve them using its ingenuity, thus making great strides in science and technology.8 The West had, as already noted, become stagnant in these fields following the collapse of the Roman Empire. Europe was unified once more under the Catholic Church, but there was much animosity between the destitute working class and the selfinterested ruling class. It was a time of prosperity for few, and the Muslim empire attracted great minds and became the hub of scientific achievement. Viewed in this context, the Islamic Golden Age is not so much a religious achievement as it is a cultural achievement of a burgeoning civilisation. But undoubtedly theology played its role, if only in as much as it kept its interference into the scientific world to a minimum. The contrast with the Western Renaissance is clear. Galileo, a friend of the pope and of the church, is the most famous example. Upon expressing his approval of Copernican theories, he was incarcerated for heresy. The pope famously rebutted Galileo’s arguments by stating that Galileo could not assert a scientific theory that contradicted the scripture unless it could be shown that God, in his infinite power, could not have brought it about that all the evidence in support of the theory existed and the theory itself not be true. This is of course an impossibly high standard of truth for science to achieve, and furthermore put in jeopardy all scientific knowledge.

Isaac Newton

Leonardo da Vinci

Galileo was, however, purposefully antagonistic towards the church, and may have done more harm, especially for the relationship between religion and science, than he is usually given credit for. Rene Descartes was on the verge of publishing a similar paper in support of Copernicus, but suppressed it upon seeing the treatment that Galileo received. During this time, it was required that all work be approved by representatives of the church before it was published in order to avoid the publication of any heretical material. This was catastrophic for any scientific theory that may have contradicted the interpretation of the scripture as advocated by the Church.9 Islamic science avoided this problem—while the Church, as a figure of authority, advocated a particular interpretation of the scriptures and had in the past exercised this authority with punitive measures such as excommunication and incarceration, Islam had no

centralised authority with the same level of control. The closest analogous administration is the caliphate, whose role has changed over time, but never gained the overarching power of the Christian church. This could well be due to the Muslim Empire being founded by many small tribes with Bedouin roots, and city states, who had no history of being subject to a greater authority. Also, due to their disparate nature, both culturally and geographically, such an overarching authority was a logistical impossibility. Furthermore, the legitimacy of any one caliph was always controversial; the most divisive split of course being between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, the former believing Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s fatherin-law, was his rightful successor, while the latter preferring his cousin and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib.10 Such disagreement continued and constantly threatened the supreme power of the caliphate, despite Mu-

hammad’s assertion that Muslims should fulfil oath of allegiance to only one caliph.11 This disagreement in turn led to a lack of a single ruling authority, and a lack of one single interpretation being enforced across the empire. Often, the interpretation of the Islamic texts varied from community to community. Further supporting a lack of enforcement was the Qur’an. “There is no compulsion in religion”12 can be interpreted both as a decree of tolerance to other religions, and also a decree of tolerance within Islam itself. This aspect of religious tolerance must surely have played some part in the ability of Muslims to abide alternate interpretations of their text, and also rationalise discrepancies between the text and the constantly evolving hypotheses of science. Without an authority to push an anti-scientific agenda, the Muslim Empire became a hub of scientific enquiry which, along with an unusual tolerance for religion, attracted scientific minds from across the entire region. There is another hypothesis that should be noted, which is that the view of Christianity and science being in direct opposition to each other is unwarranted. After all, modern scientific prosperity grew out of the Christian West, and it can also be argued that without the fundamental view that nature is uniform and has an observable order and organisation, provided initially only by religion, science would never have even had a grounding on which to start. Perhaps religion and science are not as diametrically opposed as they seem, and their previous confrontations have been due to misunderstandings that are not fundamental to their positions. While it is undoubtedly true that Christianity and science have in the past had a tolerant, if not a symbiotic, relationship, it is nevertheless the case that for quite some time the two held hostile policies in regard to each other, and these policies have resulted in animosity that exists even to this day.13 This animosity is not a necessity, however, as demonstrated by Islam. It seems it can then be concluded that the roots of the Islamic propensity for science are a product of both Islamic texts and sociological factors,

such as a lack of a centralised authority pushing a particular interpretation of the text. The search for knowledge which the Qur’an advocates must surely have helped initiate this scientific resurgence, but it was also the ability of the Muslim population to interpret the findings of the scientific community (and it should be noted that Muslim and scientific groups were by no means mutually exclusive) in a way that didn’t conflict with their theological beliefs which allowed science to flourish. The Golden Age of the Muslim Empire should stand as an exex ample to all cultures that science and religion can coexist, and not just tenuously, but harmoniously. Notes
H.R. Turner. 1997. Science in Medieval Islam: An Illustrated Introduction, Austin: University of Texas Press, pp. 5-9. 2. George Saliba. 2007. Arabic Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance, Cambridge, Mass. MIT Press. 3. A.H. Syed, Islam and Science, New Delhi, 2003, p. 111. 4. Ibid. 5. Maurice Bucaille. 1978. The Bible, the Qur’an and Science: The Holy Scriptures Examined in the Light of Modern Knowledge. Indianapolis, p. 92. 6. Syed. 2003. p. 116. 7. Syed. 2003. p. 115. 8. F. M. Donner. 1981. The Early Arab Conquests. Retrieved 16/5/2009 from http://www. 9. John Cottingham. 1991. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. Cambridge: CUP, pp. xi–xiii. 10. Sachiko Murata, William Chittick. 1994. The Vision of Islam. New York, p. xxiv. 11. A. H. Siddiqui. Translation of Sahih Muslim. 2007, 20:4543. 12. Qur’an 2:256. 13. Syed. 2003. p. 112–113. 1.

“There is no compulsion in religion” must surely have played some part in the ability of Muslims to abide alternate interpretations of their text, and also rationalise discrepancies between the text and the constantly evolving hypotheses of science.
May / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine


• Singapore: Nanyang Technological University (March 29) Professor Greg Barton of Monash University, Melbourne, was invited by The Fountain magazine to Singapore to give a talk to the faculty staff on the recent developments in the Middle East. Professor Barton analyzed the perception of Islam in the West, the role Indonesia and Turkey can play in this context, and how social movements like the Hizmet Movement inspired from Fethullah Gülen can contribute to the welfare of respective societies. Professor Kirpal Singh. Moderated by Hakan Yesilova, the editor of The Fountain, the panel attracted 200 students and academics, including the SMU president Arnound De Meyer.

• Indonesia: UIN Syarif Hidayatullah University (March 30) Organized with the Fethullah Gülen Chair in UIN, “Media and Values” panel was acknowledged by the university administration as a certificate program for participant students. Over 250 engaging students attended the panel in which values cherished by The Fountain magazine were discussed.

In this one of Jakarta’s well-grounded universities, The Fountain magazine was introduced to over 300 students and academic staff. We offer our sincere thanks to Dr. Soeprijanto, the Vice Rector for Cooperation Affairs, for the organization of this event.

• New York: TCC, Manhattan (March 31)
Julie Ann Cunningham, a freelance writer and a musician, discussed her recent article in The Fountain, “Music of the Spheres.” With examples from different traditions, Cunningham’s presentation looked at the notion of music in our lives from a unique perspective.

• Singapore: (SMU) Singapore Management
University (March 29) “Media and Values: A Global Perspective” panel featured Professor Radhi al-Mabuk, Professor Jon Pahl, and Associate

• Indonesia: Universitas Negeri Jakarta
University (March 31)

• Australia: University of Melbourne (April 2)
A panel titled “Media and Values”

IAIS – International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (April 6)

(SMU) Singapore Management University (March 29)

Austin, Texas
Huston-Tillotson University (April 5)

witnessed the detailed examination of the media and its biases by local and international journalists and academics. Organized by the Australian Intercultural Society and The Fountain Magazine, the conference was held at the Sidney Myer Asia Centre in Melbourne University and was attended by 300 participants, including the Aydın Nurhan, the Turkish Consulate General, Jose Alvarez, the State Director of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Andrew Crisp, Assistant Commissioner of the Victoria Police, academics and university students.

Radhi al-Mabuk, and Hakan Yesilova of The Fountain magazine at the prestigious Customs House. Over 80 select participants attended the panel which was moderated by Peter Longman, the State Director New South Wales for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

• Austin, Texas: Huston-Tillotson University
(April 5) Rabbi David Komerofsky, Executive Director of Texas Hillel Foundation, Dr. Yetkin Yildirim, founding member of The Institute of Interfaith Dialog, and Dr. Davidson Loehr, Retired Unitarian Minister discussed on April 5 at Huston-Tillotson University, the roles of the elderly in our society, the problems they face, and whether we are increasingly isolating them.

Morality: Challenging Issues”, in which press freedom in Malaysia was discussed. The Fountain magazine and its publishing ethics was also a part of the seminar, which was organized by IAIS and Malaysian Turkish Dialogue Society, featuring Mr Abdul Jalil Ali, Mr Nizal Mohamed, Dr. Cristoph Marcinkowski, Dr Ahmad Murad Merican, and Emeritus Professor Osman Bakar. More than 160 academics, journalists, and members of diverse religions attended the seminar.

• Malaysia: Unisel – University of Selangor
(April 7) The seminar on Media and Values at Universiti Industri Selangor was for the academic staff only. Professor Jon Pahl, Professor Radhi al-Mabuk, and Hakan Yesilova spoke on The Fountain’s publishing ethics in this seminar which was moderated by Datuk Ahmad Rejal Arbee, Senior Fellow, Centre for Corporate Communications at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

• Australia: Customs House, City of Sydney
(April 4) Organized in cooperation with the City of Sydney, Affinity Intercultural Foundation, and Living in Harmony Festival, the panel titled “Media and Values: Its Influence and Responsibilities for Social Ethics” featured acclaimed journalist Peter Manning in addition to Professor Jon Pahl, Professor

• Malaysia: IAIS – International Institute of
Advanced Islamic Studies (April 6) IAIS hosted a half-day seminar titled “The Media, Human Values, Ethics and


Customs House, City of Sydney (April 4)

Australia: University of Melbourne (April 2)


Indonesia: Universitas Negeri Jakarta University (March 31)

A MOMENT FOr rEFLECTION Belinda Sturgill
Freelance writer from McRoberts, KY. Sturgill was awarded an honorable mention for this essay in The Fountain Essay Contest 2010.

The Fountain Magazine May / June 2011

can only imagine how I would feel if I knew I only had seventy-two hours to live. I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains and though I am forty-five years old their beauty still amazes me. The lush greens in the Spring and Summer, the marvelous colors in the fall, and—when Old Man Winter does his magic—the snow-capped mountains are a sight to see! The thought of never seeing them again makes me very sad.

I would buy five-hundred mason jars in different sizes, then I would put my “prized” possessions in them. Next, I would distribute them in unique ways so that the people getting them would surely smile.

In the mountains, people use mason jars for everything: canning, flower vases, gifts, moonshine, drinking glasses, treasure jars – the list goes on and on. There’s not much a good old mason jar can’t do for us country folk. Believe me, a person has never had a good glass of tea until they have drank it from a mason jar full of ice, with a slice of lemon shoved down in it. It is m.....m....good! The treasure jar is the one I want to write about. The name treasure jar explains itself. It’s very simple. People decorate the jars and then put items in them that they treasure themselves. The treasure can be a simple recipe passed down generations through the family, or it can contain rare old coins worth a fortune. It all depends on what the person holds dear to them in their own hearts. Once the jars are filled, they are given as gifts. When I was a child, I would catch lightning bugs and put them in an old mason jar and set them on a table beside my bed. I would watch them light up until I fell asleep. It was a “simple” but “great” treasure in my young eyes. But no matter how hard I would pray for them to live forever beside my bed, they would always die. I have thought about it a lot, and if I only had seventy-two hours to live, this is what I would do: First, I would buy five-hundred mason jars in different sizes, then I would put my “prized” possessions in them. Next, I would distribute them in unique ways so that the people getting them would surely smile. Remember that where I’m from, “prized” possessions do not have to have monetary value. They only have to mean something special to the one giving the jars. The people that I would give my jars to would be chosen very carefully because, after all, I’m giving away “my” prized treasures. The first jars made would be for my four grandchildren. I have three boys and one girl, ages running from newborn to age seven. In my granddaughter’s jar I would put some pictures of us together, as well as a recording of

my voice with a special message just for her. I would also add my pearls and ask her to wear them on her wedding day. That way a part of me will be with her on her special day. I would arrange for the jar to be given to her on her wedding day. The boys’ jars would also contain a recording of my voice and some pictures as well, but one would contain a watch given to me by my father. Another, a case knife I’ve had for years. The last one would contain an old engagement ring of mine, so that whoever receives it can give it to his true love someday. I would want their jars given on special days as well, such as their senior graduation or eighteenth birthday. The next jars would go to my son and daughter. My daughter’s jar would contain the rest of my jewelry, and then I would share with her my whole life story. I would tell her things about myself that I have never told anyone. I think she would be very surprised about some of the things she would learn. I believe some things are better left unsaid until the time is right to share them. My son’s jar would contain some old coins that belonged to his father and all of my old love letters written by his father when I was only fifteen years old. I would also include the poetry and songs I’ve written over the years that no one else has ever seen or heard. The next thing I would do is take twenty of the jars and write down all of the hopes and dreams and goals that I had, but never got to accomplish. I would release them into the river along with a note to those who found them that would say, “live everyday like it’s your last, because it may well be.” The rest of my jars would travel across the seas, to other states, and hopefully to the White House. Some jars would be painted red, white and blue and sent overseas for the men and women serving our country. Their jars would contain thankyou notes for their brave gestures, and also a lucky penny in each one. Next, I would love for one of my jars to make it to the President and his

family. In their jar I would place inspirational notes for them to read to lift them up when times seem really hard. I would also explain how happy I was to have lived long enough to see a historical moment in time. I would also include two handkerchiefs that were embroidered. One would say, “MR. PRESIDENT’ and the other one would say, “FIRST LADY.” The only way I can think of to get it to the President is to go to the media, so that’s exactly what I would do. Finally, the rest of my jars would be divided in half and shipped to The Shriners Hospital and to The St. Judes Hospital, because they treat very sick children for free. The jars would be decorated and filled with small toys and trinkets along with an inspirational note to encourage them to keep on fighting until they find a cure for their diseases. I would want the jars to be given to the children as soon as possible, because these children are fighting for their lives, and some may not make it. I believe my jars would bring peace to others as well as myself because they would know they were on my mind in my final moments of life. It would also bring me peace to know that I left a part of myself all over the world. And that’s something special, considering I’ve always lived in the mountains and have lived a very simple life. Once my goal was achieved, I would spend time in prayer. I would pray for my loved ones as well as myself because I would not tell them I was going to die, because I want to remember them with a happy, joyful spirit, not with a sad broken one. But if, for some reason, I was given more time to live, I would do the things I’ve always wanted to do, like write a book, record the songs I’ve written, and I would love to be able to travel to places I’ve never been to. Life is short, and time passes quickly, but I want to live. But just like the lightning bugs I caught as a child, I will eventually die. Life and Death walk together hand in hand. Life screams, “LIVE!” and Death screams, “YOU BETTER LIVE BECAUSE I AM COMING AFTER YOU SOONER THAN YOU THINK!”
May / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine



Dr. Priya Natarajan is a Professor of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University, and an Associate at the Dark Cosmology Center, which is part of the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Her research interests include cosmology, gravitational lensing, and black hole physics. She earned a B.A. degree in physics and mathematics at M.I.T. and her doctorate at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge in England, where she was a member of Trinity College and elected to a Title A research Fellowship that she held from 1997 to 2003. She is currently on leave from Yale to take up her Guggenheim Fellowship. She is deeply invested in the public dissemination of science and is currently a member of the Science Advisory Board for the public television series NOvA.

Mustafa Tabanli
Producer at Ebru TV. Tabanli conducted this interview for the Emmy Award winning television series Matter&Beyond.

Building a Story Line for the universe

Introduction Human beings have wrestled with questions about the origin of our existence and the fabric of our universe for thousands of years. This questioning formed the discipline of cosmology. Dr. Natarajan explores the nature of our world and shares her perspectives about how new scientific discoveries are reshaping our understanding of the universe and our place in it. Until very recently, the universe had been considered a vast empty space. But the Dark matter theory states that the universe is not empty,


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May / June 2011

but rather filled with an invisible matter. As new mysteries unfold, Dr. Natarajan points out that it is our fundamental human curiosity that leaves us no choice but to explore the universe and how we fit into its grand picture.


: Dr. Natarajan, you work on dark matter in the universe. What is the theory?

It turns out that the bulk of the matter in the universe is not made of ordinary atoms that you and I or the universe that we know and experience is made of, but instead made of this mysterious particle. Ninety percent of all the matter in the universe is dark matter, and we believe this is a set of particles which were generated very early in the universe. These particles do not have charge, but they have mass. Since they dominate the mass of the universe, it turns out that they really form the scaffolding in the
May / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine


universe around which all galaxies, stars and so on form. They are sort of the basis or the framework within which normal atoms actually cool to form star galaxies, and then have generated us.
Q: What is the evidence for their existence?

The reason dark matter remains a mystery, – although there is incontrovertible evidence for the existence of dark matter – is the fact that you only detect it indirectly. What I mean by that is you detect its presence because it has mass, and since it doesn’t have any charge it doesn’t couple to any radiation. So you don’t see radiation in any wavelength in the electromagnetic spectrum: no X-rays, no gamma rays, no visible light, nothing. But since dark matter has mass, it aggregates gravitationally, so they feel gravitational pull towards each other and they cluster. It’s the clustering of the dark matter, the fact that it gets compact, that we detect the effects of dark matter.
Q: What happens near the regions where dark matter clusters? In your research papers you use the bending of the light rays. How do you observe it?

“I build a story line for the universe. I build a story of the sequence of events of how a structure forms and assembles. The key there is that you are guided, you have a few snapshots, so you have a bit of data, but then you have to extrapolate and you make some predictions.”

The primary evidence is the gravitational bending of light produced by these aggregates of dark matter. The universe is really composed of a smooth distribution of dark matter, with a lot of clump regions where this dark matter has aggregated, and then enabled the formation of galaxies. The presence of these large amounts of dark matter causes light from background galaxies coming towards us to bend. The actual shapes of galaxies that are behind a big clump of dark matter, which is along our line of sight, are actually distorted when we see it. The dark matter in general is smoothly distributed everywhere in the universe. But there are these particular regions that are denser. So we can look at regions in which the dark matter is not so densely distributed, look at the shapes of undistorted shapes of galaxies, and then use that to infer how much distortion we’re actually seeing when we see a lump, and infer its

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May / June 2011

existence from the distortion. Because the strength of the distortion is directly proportional to the mass, you can directly infer how much mass there is between us and those objects.
Q: Is there evidence other than the bending of the light rays?

we see these cold and hot spots. And these and isotropy’s in the microwave background are exactly predicted by this model, the cold dark matter model, which I said you know is postulated on the very early generation of the universe and these dark matter particles.
Q: So we know that they exist. But what is their essence? What are their properties?

The other evidence eludes to the fact that dark matter actually gives the basis for the formation of stars and galaxies. If you look at the motions of stars and galaxies, you find that, unlike the solar system, if you look at the velocities of the planets in the solar system as a function of distance from the sun you find that it’s falling. So the planets in the inner regions are moving very fast; they feel the gravity of the sun much more strongly than the outer planets, which are not actually moving as fast. So if you plot the velocity from the center or from the sun outwards in the solar system, the velocities are falling. Whereas if you go to a galaxy and you do the same experiment, you look at stars at different radii and you try to see what their speeds look like. They are speeding up as you go outwards. And the only way they can do that is there is something that is sitting outside the galaxy that holds it up as it were, and has gravity. And it turns out that our current picture is that most galaxies have very extended dark matter halos. The key point is that there’s a lot of dark matter sitting outside the galaxy well beyond where we see the stars. The other compelling lines of evidence for the existence of dark matter come from larger scale observations of the universe. One of the leftovers of the big bang or relic of the big bang is this microwave background radiation that is detected today in the universe. It was a very hot radiation that has cooled with the expansion of the universe, and we are bathed in it. I mean it’s everywhere, in every direction, and measurements of the directional dependence of the microwave background shows that it’s very uniform. But in one part it’s anisotropic, so there are cool zones and hot zones in the sky. On very small scales

not made of dark matter. This is a black hole that has gobbled gas and grown to about a million times the mass of the sun, and which is sitting at the center and it creates a very violent place for stars because it can rip them apart and so on. And this whole system is sort of embedded in this very, very dense region full of dark matter.
Q: How is your everyday work? Where do you get data about the light rays coming near the regions with high Dark matter density?

This is still a mysterious kind of beast. In fact, we don’t know the nature, but it appears that it’s collisionless. It’s very counterintuitive. That’s one of the things I find fascinating about the fact that it is so counterintuitive. These particles are actually collisionless. What that means is that when two dark matter particles approach each other, they pass through each other, they don’t actually bounce off of each other, so these particles don’t collide, which means they don’t have pressure, because pressure is generated by collision. So they are pressureless particles that have mass. Gravity holds them together, but they don’t actually collide. So a current understanding of dark matter is that it’s definitely generated very early in the universe and that it clusters very strongly and it’s distributed on very different scales in the universe, so there’s like a smooth background and there are lots of clumps on top of it and so on.
Q: As far as the mass of Dark Matter how much mass are we talking about? If there is no clustering, something like in the volume of the earth, for example, how much total dark matter mass do we have?

I’m a theoretical person and what that means is that I actually build models but models that are guided by observations. The theory has transformed in the past 10 to 15 years because of the amount of data that technological progress has given us. For example, the Hubble space telescope has really transformed the kind of modeling that can be done. So I actually use data that other people have procured. They’ve cleaned it up and they give it to me. These are very distorted images of background galaxies whose shape has been distorted because of the huge amounts of dark matter that is contained in a cluster of galaxies.
Q: The bending of the light rays is predicted by the general relativity theory. Is it what you use for your calculations?

Well I guess the thing is at the position of the earth and at the position of the sun from the center of our galaxy. We are not really dominated by dark matter anymore, so dark matter at that radius doesn’t constitute significant portion of the mass. We are bathed in it, but the density is quite low. It’s at the innermost part of our galaxy where the density is very, very high, so we actually expect that the innermost regions of our galaxy is a very complicated, violent place where not only do you have a black hole which we know exists. This is a black hole that is

It’s a beautiful theory. I think that people really have understood the iconic status of Einstein. What is most fascinating about him for me is the profound insights that he had of such despaired phenomenon. There was a way in which he was able to see connections and synthesize. You know the whole understanding that the geometry, the fate and the contents of the universe ought to be linked is a profound insight. And I think you know it’s incredible that he enabled, you know, his mind enabled him to formulate it in the way that he did, which has allowed people like me to use general relativity and the sort of elegance of general relativity because of how simple it is in fact to apply and test.
Q: This looks like an intriguing line of work?

May / June 2011

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ine myself, if I had been born 200, 300 years ago I would have been one of those explorers. And I think there are people like that amongst us always, who want to explore in different ways. I mean, there are some people who want to explore via music. And there are frontiers that they want to break through in music, and they have the creativity to do that. And I think that for a lot of us who are doing science, and cosmology in particular, there is a sense of exploration, there’s a sense of examining or grappling with things that are really at the limits of our capabilities in a way.
Q: In some ways one of the most important fruits of the process is our imagination. And the human imagination is also a part of the universe.

I want to stress that this is a particularly wonderful time for cosmology. It’s a particularly special time. I don’t want to use the sort of often abused golden age as it were, but it’s the confluence of technological progress with the kind of data that we can obtain and the level of understanding that we have built up. This is a very special time to be doing this kind of work. And while the mystery of what dark matter might be made of, you know, it may or may not get solved in my lifetime.
Q: If you want to describe your work, what term would you use?

Absolutely. It is an inescapable part of the universe and what is fascinating is the idea that we have the capability to even contemplate the origin of the universe given that we are a part of the universe.
Q: Many people approach science in a utilitarian way and this is not what you are doing.

In a more descriptive way, I guess, what I really do is I build a story line. I build a story line for the universe. I mean, I build a story of the sequence of events of how a structure forms and assembles. The key there is that you are guided, you have a few snapshots, so you have a bit of data, but then you have to extrapolate and you make some predictions. The goal of the kind of work that I do is to make predictions, and have them be taken seriously, to either be falsified or shown to be true, and what’s exciting about this particular time is that people can falsify your theories or your models in a very short time.
Q: Isn’t it interesting that we can actually make a story out of universe?

Well, I mean, I think that what is fascinating, and this is a personal view, what is fascinating about cosmology is the… you know it’s mystical and it’s mysterious at the same time and it’s highly abstract. It’s not intuitive because the scale that I’m working with in terms of distances, masses, and energy are just unfathomable. So there’s a real irresistible pull for certain kinds of people to do this kind of work. And I think the universe is a pretty good subject for a narrative because of the range of phenomena that occur in it. This is possibly why in all ancient civilizations there is some notion of cosmogony and this idea of fascination with where we came from. I don’t want to sound arrogant by saying that it’s the fundamental question, but you know it’s an inescapable question for anybody to ponder where we came from.
Q: Is there a sense of awe that motivates you in your studies?

There is a sense of wonder that the universe generates and I think that you know personally for me I’m a bit of an adventurist, and I think if I can imag56
The Fountain Magazine May / June 2011

I think the fact that it is not utilitarian is precisely what attracts me to it. I think it is the other side of the coin of this, which is why we probably aren’t as well funded and we ought to be better funded than we are, because this is such a fundamental human curiosity. There is enormous public interest in what we do and the level of funding that we have does not reflect that. For instance, obviously medicine is very critical. It’s critical to our existence. But the disparity in how they are funded and how the pure sciences are funded is sort of disturbing. Because I think as a culture, as a world, we can afford to indulge in understanding basic sciences partly because there are spinoffs from all the work that we do. It is unpredictable, and I think that is what’s fascinating. There are no guaranteed benefits to humankind and society today that cosmologists can bring. However, they satisfy this hunger for knowing and going beyond, you know, satisfying your hunger and thirst on a day-to-day basis.

May57 / June 2011

The Fountain 2011 MArcH / AprIl Magazine




Irfan Yilmaz
Professor of biology in Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir.

ometimes, when you get mad at someone, you feel like spitting in his/her face. But you should know that saliva is not a worthless liquid to be wasted by spitting. It’s not at all like the material you discard from your kidneys and intestines and try to keep yourself clean from. Contrarily, our valuable secretion lets you taste your food, enables you to soften and swallow many hard foods, and helps you to prepare them for digestion in the stomach. If it weren’t for us, you couldn’t talk halfway decent, because your tongue would stick to the roof of your mouth. Your teeth would decay, cankers would appear, and you would be disturbed by your own bad breath, all due to the bacteria in your mouth. We are three pairs of large glands that secrete into the mouth through canals and hundreds of very small glands around the throat. The large glands in front of the ear area are called the parotid glands, the glands under the chin are called the submandibular glands, and the ones under the tongue are called the sublingual glands. The parotid glands secrete saliva from the sides of the upper molar teeth, the submandibular glands from the front under the tongue, and the sublingual glands from many openings in the mouth’s base. There are also many more salivary glands in your inner cheeks and lips, and in all other wet spots in your mouth and throat. Every sugary and starchy food you eat must first interact with our secretion in order to be digested. For this, an enzyme called ptyalin has been placed within us. But for this enzyme to work properly you
The Fountain Magazine May / June 2011

Saliva lets you taste your food, enables you to soften and swallow many hard foods, and helps you to prepare them for digestion in the stomach. Otherwise, you couldn’t talk halfway decent, because your tongue would stick to the roof of your mouth.

must chew your food well. Also, you shouldn’t eat anything that is too hot or too cold, or anything that could change the pH (acidity) level of your mouth. Otherwise, this enzyme cannot function correctly. We produce an average of about 1000 milliliters (one liter) of secretion every day; however, we have the capacity to produce 1.5 liters of saliva per day. Sometimes, the calcium in our enzymes may precipitate and form tartar due to acidic foods. Tartar can sometimes block our secretion canals. When you eat something, saliva production accelerates; but if our secretion canals are blocked by tartar, then the saliva cannot flow. This causes infection accompanied by severe pain and swelling. If our canals aren’t completely blocked, we may swell a little while eating, but we will slowly deflate after a while. Microbes can reproduce easier in accumulated saliva that cannot flow, thus causing severe pain and swelling. Our most frequently seen infection is the one that makes the parotid glands swell up, and is called the “mumps.” Even though it is seen more frequently in children, it may also be observed in adults. The swelling of both of the parotid glands is more frequent in alcoholics. The thiocyanate ions that have been put in our saliva secretion kill the bacteria in your mouth by breaking them apart. In addition, lysozyme enzymes attack and kill bacteria in your mouth while digesting food remains to prevent the bacteria to feed and reproduce. Hungry bacteria perish more easily. Our infinitely merciful Lord put special proteins called anticorps in our saliva to prevent many diseases that can enter from the mouth before they develop. These anticorps act like special agents that attack and destroy bacteria. If we don’t secrete enough saliva, ulcers will develop in your mouth frequently. If they last long enough, they will get infected and also cause tooth decay. The control of our secretion is connected to an area that includes the appetite center in the brain stem through the involuntary nervous system. When you smell or taste foods you like, we immediately start secreting saliva as a reflex. When you

come across foods that you don’t like, or when you get scared or excited, we slow down saliva production, again reflexively. Suspects in the past used to be given a handful of rice to swallow, with the thought that the real culprit would not be able to swallow them, because the excitement caused by the feeling of guilt would cause his/her mouth to dry. Diabetes, which is a systemic illness, also has a negative effect on our functioning. Diabetes presents itself with drying of the mouth, along with excessive intake of water, and the frequent need to visit the restroom. One type of rheumatoid arthritis may also cause dry mouth and dry eyes together with joint pain. As you see, Peter, I’ve briefly explained to you how invaluable and necessary your saliva is. I have not even mentioned our histological and anatomical structure, which resembles a bunch of grapes. I believe you can imagine how each and every one of my gland cells is like a perfect biochemical factory. You wouldn’t relate all these to your mouth being wet for no reason, would you?
May / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine


Question: What would you say about tying some altruistic work to certain individuals?


to your side. However, if your teacher wants and expects others to stand up, then he is at a loss. In fact, one day drawing attention to the sensitivity of this matter, the Prophet said to the Companions who stood up for him, “Don’t stand up when I come upon you as others do (who stand up to exalt their master)!” Of course this is the refined manner of a great person or, in other words, the attitude a great person should take. It is our responsibility to behave respectfully to them in spite of this kind of wish. Another aspect of the matter is that good works, which require full, comprehensive, and strong support, should not be built on personalities. People in service to others should establish agreement and accord among themselves and in view of their successes they should say, “God is bestowing all of this on our collective body.” They should convince their egos of this because the blessings coming to them come as a result of their coming together. Meanwhile they should cast from their minds the thought, “If such and such a person leaves this circle, it will give harm to our group.” For if a cause is really for God, no one can give harm to His cause by leaving the circle. Consequently, becoming tied to certain individuals and knowing everything to be a result of their efforts within the understanding, “Our group will disintegrate and disperse,” is contrary to Islam’s pure and clear belief. In order for the matter to be better understood, I would like to give one or two individual examples: It is not possible to imagine a person who could love the Blessed Prophet as much as Abu Bakr. In fact, in one hadith the Messenger of God expresses this truth, “When everyone denied me, he affirmed me.” Ali expressed Abu Bakr’s love and attachment to the Prophet as follows:


he place of some individuals in altruistic work cannot be denied; however, individuals are not all there is to this work. Personalities are important, on the one hand, for the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is a personality and God commanded us to become bound to him. The most important factor in this is virtue. People become tied to others because of their virtue. For example, if it were not for Abu Hanafi, we would not know the Hanafi school of thought. For this reason we have a heartfelt tie. In the same way, someone from the Shafii school is tied to Imam Shafii, a person from the Maliki school is bound to Imam Malik and someone from the Hanbali school is tied to Ahmad b. Hanbal. Just as virtue is a means for connection among people, everyone’s applauding it is a sign of appreciation. Yes, as an expression of appreciation, it is necessary to salute those who enlighten humankind. This is our duty. However, if the person who is saluted sees the situation as connected to himself, then he has
The Fountain Magazine May / June 2011

attributed a partner to God. In a hadith the Messenger of God says, “Let the person who awaits the salute of others prepare his place in Hell.” For example, you need to stand up when your teacher comes

Good works, which require full, comprehensive, and strong support, should not be built on personalities. People in service to others should establish agreement among themselves and in view of their successes they should say, “God is bestowing all of this on our collective body.”

“When it was time for the Prophet of God to go, no one had the courage to go with him. Abu Kuhafa’s son (i.e. Abu Bakr) stood up. When everyone was making suggestions in the apostasy events, he mounted his horse and said, ‘I will follow the Prophet’s path even if I am alone.’” We see that although he loved the Messenger of God this much and never left his side for a moment, Abu Bakr was not at Ali’s side during the Prophet’s funeral. For at that moment there was a more important matter; achievements of the Prophet could fall apart, some could sow discord among Muslims and irreparable division could occur. Just at that moment Abu Bakr immediately appeared and said, “Whoever worships Muhammad should know that he has died. Whoever believes in God should know that He is the All-Living and the Self-Subsisting.” When he recited the verse, “Muhammad is no more than an apostle. Many were the apostles that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will you then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to God. But God, on the other hand, will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) in gratitude,” (Al Imran 3:144) Umar, who reflected the general feeling, would say, “(Upon Abu Bakr’s recitation) I felt like that verse was just revealed. Abu Bakr warned us.” Later, as is known, very conscientious believers who grasped the Messenger’s cause well, like Abu Bakr, Umar, and Abu Ubayda, gathered at Bani Saqifa and resolved the matter of caliphate there. All Companions loved the Prophet very much and all were bound to him from the heart. Actually there is no harm in such a tie. However, seeing the message he brought as tied to him and thinking that everything is finished when he left is wrong.
May / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine


We also see this portrait of consciousness that Abu Bakr displayed in Umar’s time as well. Halid was the commander of Caliph Umar’s army. When he rode his horse over Persia, he demolished all of Persia’s forces. When he rode over the Roman Empire, he destroyed its walls as well and showed an unequaled military genius. Umar discharged this great commander and gave the following reason for it: “Halid! God knows I love you very much. But the people are attributing victories to you. But I know that God is bestowing these victories. For this reason, I am relieving you of your duty.” After Halid was removed from duty, the victories continued and the people understood that the victories were from God, not Halid. Just as in the past, today there are those who fall into this mistake and attribute matters to individuals. Whereas, just as conquests in Islam continued after the Prophet’s death, conquest in the spiritual field always continued. For example, Abd alQadir Gilani and Shah Naqshiband have died, but their followers have continued until today. Bediuzzaman, the great thinker of our time, died, some viewed things as if everything was over. However that great man said, “While I am an individual in this life, when I am under the ground I will be like an ear of corn. In comparison to service to the faith appearing in one place, after my death it will appear in perhaps one hundred places.” Again this same great man gave us this yardstick on this subject. He once said that his students confused the real cause with the apparent cause when they said, “If our teacher had not come here, we would not be learned.” Bediuzzaman continued that he would do the same confusion, “I once was saying that if there had been no one holding a pencil like these brothers, how could a half-literate person like me serve this cause (and produce books)? 62
The Fountain Magazine May / June 2011

Later I understood that after giving you the sacred blessing by means of a pencil, God bestowed success in this service upon me. Two things that have conjoined one another cannot be the cause of one another. I do not thank you, I congratulate you. As the price of your gratitude to me, you, too, pray and give congratulations.” Actually every believer should think like this. For God’s grace comes to all of us commonly. There is a conjunction everywhere from the doorkeeper who opens the door to an institution to the director who manages the institution. May God give us success in showing effort in this comprehension and association!







Speech is the key that opens the locks on the doors of the treasury of thought. Speech is the key by which a wide-ranging central move stimulates the periphery. Speech is the throne of humans who have been elevated to the position of Almighty’s vicegerents and given the authority to rule on the earth. ***

May / June 2011


When ıt comes to fıghtıng flu, gut bacterıa are on our sıde

Original Article: Ichinohe T. et al., PNAS (published online before print 2011).



Influenza, also known as seasonal flu, affects up to 5 million people annually. Flu viruses infect and damage the animal respiratory tract, especially the lungs. Upon flu virus infection, a life or death battle between an animal’s immune system and the flu virus begins. To defeat the flu virus, the animal’s immune system synthesizes important flu-fighting molecules. Researchers at Yale University discovered that mice on the antibiotic regimen, a treatment that wipes out certain bacteria which normally live in the guts of the animal hosts, showed deficiency in immune responses against flu virus in the lungs compared to mice that had not been treated. This finding suggests an unexpected link that the bacteria living in the animals seem to control the production of these flu-fighting molecules. These commensal bacteria, or good bacteria, prime the immune system in making flu-fighting molecules even before infection, and this priming is important for subsequent flu-fighting strategies. The exact bacterial species that helps fight the flu are yet to be identified. It is interesting to contemplate why the immune system trusts bacteria with such an important job. Whatever that reason might be this finding warns against misuse or abuse of antibiotics. We don’t want to kill the good bacteria that might just protect us in the next flu season.

Less talkıng wıth longer words

Original Article: Piantadosi S.T. et al., PNAS 108, 3526 (2011).


What factors affect the length of a word? Do we prefer to use short words or long words while we are talking? For many years, researchers believed that the most frequently used words tend to be short in order to make the language more efficient. It is intuitive when we think of words such as “a,” “the,” “but” and their popularity in our everyday life. However, according to a recent study done by Piandatosi and coworkers in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, the length of a word reflects the amount of information it contains. They observed that people use many words in predictable sequences along with other words in their daily life. Most of the time a short word may not contain information per se, but carry information as a collection with other familiar words. This observation led the researchers to look at the problem from an “information content” perspective. A word is said to have more information if it is less predictable in a sequence. An analysis was done on the Google text database in 11 different languages. The results show that word length closely correlates to information content. Once again, it is not important how much you talk. It is important how much you mean. 64
The Fountain Magazine May / June 2011






S c I e n c e S q u a r e //




Ups and downs of sleep wıth alpha waves

Original Article: McKinney S.M. et al., PLoS One 6, e17351 (2011).


Why do we randomly wake up in the middle of the night? Searching for an answer for this question, researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) discovered a brain rhythm that determines one’s susceptibility to disturbance by the outside world while asleep. Scott McKinney and his colleagues conducted a study where they analyzed the electroencephalographs (EEGs) of 13 volunteers, who spent 3 nights in MGH’s Sleep laboratory. EEG devices use electrodes on the scalp to detect electrical activity in the brain. There are four major brain waves that can be detected by EEG: alpha, beta, delta and theta waves. Alpha waves usually emanate from the back of the head during relaxed wakefulness, particularly when your eyes are closed, and they are thought to gradually disappear when a person goes to sleep. Researchers developed a special computational method that can probe EEGs in much deeper data resolutions. Their analyses revealed that alpha waves never disappear during sleep; they just go below conventional detection levels. Moreover, when alpha wave activity spikes just before an obnoxious auditory stimuli (e.g., loud talking or traffic noise) is played, volunteers seems to wake up more easily than when alpha wave activity was low. These findings suggest that maybe the alpha wave activity is the brain’s way of keeping us aware of our surroundings during sleep, and perhaps it enables us to wake up quickly in case of danger. Of course, too much alpha activity might also have a downside: it can make you a light sleeper and give you restless nights.

Kıller whales ımıtate enemıes and frıends

Original Article: Weiß B.M. et al., Marine Mammal Science (published online before print 2011).



In marine mammals, as individuals frequently cannot see each other, sound is particularly important for communication. Killer whales live in groups or clans, and these different clans have their own dialects. A recent study showed that whales can do more than just talk in their own language: they can mimic calls from other groups with a different dialect. While analyzing the social behavior of wild orcas living near Vancouver Island in British Colombia, a group of researchers from the University of Vienna discovered that resident whales occasionally produce call types from the repertoires of other vocal clans. The calls resemble the calls of foreign groups that the original group interacted with before.

When different clans are in close proximity, it is quite challenging to reliably distinguish original calls from resembling calls. For this reason, researchers recorded calls that resemble call types of a different clan in the absence of that clan and compared them to the originals of the respective call types by analyzing their sonograms. Sonograms reveal distinctive information about the structure of the sound waves, i.e. the spectral density of these signals, and this information can be used to classify animal sounds. The comparative analysis clearly shows that killer whales can imitate calls from other groups even when members of that group are not around. Researchers suggest that this could be a way of labeling outsiders or keeping tabs on their location. Maybe by impersonating the calls of a group, they are conveying a message about that group to their own family members. It is exciting to see that vocal mimicry is not limited to songbirds and dolphins, and that killer whales have more complex social lives than we previously thought.
May / June 2011 The Fountain Magazine










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May / June 2011

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Absolutely, you are a marvel of architecture Obviously, God was behind the one who built you It is blindness and deafness not to understand you Indeed, you are the last stop before the gates of the Divine.


The Fountain Magazine

May / June 2011