Saturday, June 11, 2016

10 facts about blood you weren't aware of

10 facts about blood you weren't aware of

June 11, 2016 10:08 IST
Did you know that one pint of blood can save up to three lives?
World Blood Donor Day is on June 14.
Before you go ahead and make a positive contribution, there are some interesting facts you need to know about this life saver.
For example, did you know that our blood makes for seven per cent of our body weight?
The human blood is actually red and white blood cells floating in a yellow liquid called the 'blood plasma' which is made up of almost 90 per cent of water and takes up 55 per cent of the body volume.
The plasma also contains hormones, nutrients, carbon dioxide, dissolved proteins, electrolytes, and glucose.
The blood plasma acts mainly as a protein reserve and serves as the primary medium for excretion of carbon dioxide. It also helps transport white blood cells through the body for fighting infection(s).
The red protein content in the blood called haemoglobin is what actually makes the blood red in colour.
Here are some more fascinating facts that'll blow your mind:
1. One pint of blood can save up to three lives
Components of donated whole blood can be bifurcated and administered to patients as per their requirements. For instance, a patient suffering from thrombocytopenia, i.e. low platelet count that hinders blood clotting, needs only additional platelets.
Similarly, the plasma may be required by patients suffering from liver or kidney diseases for assisting appropriate fluid circulation in the body.
The requirement of both these patients can be satisfied from the whole blood of a single donor.
2. There is gold in blood
Your blood contains about 0.2 milligrams of blood that is spread all over the blood stream.
Though it has no nutritional value it is a permitted food additive used in chocolates and liquors in Europe and Switzerland.
Also due to its blood compatibility, gold is used as a medicine to control rheumatoid arthritis.
Alternative medical treatments like Ayurveda also use gold for treating infertility, muscular and sexual weaknesses.
3. 'O' for Universal
The red blood cells of blood type 'O' do not have any antigens on their membranes, i.e. virus, bacteria, fungi, and other non-living substances including toxins on their surface. Therefore, they are easily accepted by individuals of all other blood groups.
4. Coconut water a substitute for blood plasma
During emergencies, coconut water can be used for fluid replacement when IV hydration is not available due to its sterility and electrolytes.
5. White blood cells in the sky
Also known as blue-sky sprites, these are white dots which are visible to the eye only for a second and sometimes less.
Especially when you look up into the bright blue sky you see them swirling around in random formations.
These dots are nothing but white blood cells moving in the tiny blood vessels in the eye in front of the retina.
White blood cells are lesser in number than red blood cells and they do not absorb the blue light. Therefore, they create a visual gap in the blood vessels and become visible as tiny dots.
6. White blood cells form only 1 per cent of the total blood volume
It is remarkable how the small percentage of white blood cells makes a great difference to the immune system of an individual.
The increase in the count of these may be in response to infections or bone tumours.
If the rise is on account of a tumour or due to autoimmunity where the white cells do not distinguish between the good and the bad bacteria in the body and attack both.
7. The amazing red blood cells
These cells are made inside the bone marrow and circulate in the body for about 120 days.
They squeeze through the blood vessels delivering oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and also take carbon dioxide back to the lungs for excretion.
During the time of infection, the red blood cells assist the white blood cells by cracking the membranes of the pathogens, instantly killing them.

8. There are about 30 recognised blood types
The familiar 'ABO' system classifies the blood groups into A, B, AB and O categories.
This system is actually based on the pattern of the natural antigens (pathogen and non-living toxins) present on the cell membranes of the red blood cells.
Another known system for blood types is the Rh (short for Rhesus). It deals with 50 antigens the most predominant being the D antigen the presence or absence of which leads to a Rh+ or Rh- blood group classification.
There are over 30 epitopes contained in the D antigen. Variations in this D phenotype, arise when the epitopes are only weakly expressed ("weak D phenotype") or when some are missing ("partial D phenotype").
9. Blood-derived medication
Donated blood is not only used for blood replacement procedures like blood transfusions but is also used to make medication.
These medications are derived from human blood or frozen blood plasma extracted from blood and are used for treating blood clotting and immunity disorders.
Currently, the cost of technology and raw material (blood and blood plasma) used for creating these medications is extremely high.
Moreover, the multiple safety measures involved in the process also add to the cost. Hence, the number of patients receiving treatment from such medical drugs is small.
It also has to channel through the issues of unrestricted access to raw material and reimbursements, for securing its position into mainstream medication.
10. Apheresis: Donors need not donate whole blood
There is technology available through which only specific components of the blood may be collected and the remainder may be returned into the body.
This procedure uses centrifugation to separate the component of the blood and extract only what is required.
Blood is passed through an apparatus where the blood cells, platelets, blood plasma, etc. are separated by force. Then the required element(s) are extracted from the apparatus and the remaining blood is returned into the blood stream of the donor simultaneously.
In India, more than 38,000 blood donations are required every day.
A red blood cell transfusion requires about three pints of blood on an average. But as opposed to the 5 crore units of blood required only 80 lakh units are available.
The requirement of blood is ever more among cancer patients as their platelet count drops considerably during chemotherapy.
Apart from the clinical scarcity, a healthy blood flow is required in the human body as it is instrumental in carrying oxygen and food to the tissues while taking impurities away for excretion.
Many psychological and physiological factors contribute to the abnormal blood flow leading to problems of high blood pressure. Also, impurities are ingested into the blood through consumption of alcohol and recreational drugs.
Leading a healthy lifestyle is the only way you can keep blood-related issues at bay.
Blood is precious as it cannot be generated synthetically the only source of blood is that which is generated in the body.

Yoga or gym: What's best for your body?

Yoga or gym: What's best for your body?

Both these methods are loaded with equal benefits, which might make it tough for you to choose either one of them.
The World Health Organisation recommends 150 minutes of any moderate physical activity per week for individuals aged between 18 and 64 years of age.
Physical activities like yoga or gymming are high on the priority list of every health-conscious individual.
Yoga may keep you younger, while gymming on the other hand, may help in keeping you stronger.

Read on to find out what works best for you.

1. If you want to lose weight, hit the gym!

Intensive training or cardio-vascular exercises are particularly effective in shedding extra kilos as they keep your heart pumping fast, while also burning calories.
A single gymming session can be helpful in burning up to 3,500 calories in your body, which is equal to losing half a kilo of weight.
If you weigh 68 to 70 kilos, a 30-minute yoga regime can help you burn about 85 calories, whereas if you perform a moderate-intensity exercise routine of 30 minutes on an elliptical trainer , you may end up burning up to 340 calories.

2. If you want to gain strength, hit the gym!
Pull-up bars, barbells and other gym equipment are especially designed to build your physical strength.
Gym training requires muscle contractions and stretching, and if you perform them regularly, your muscles contract more efficiently and for a longer time, without injuring your tendons.
This also helps in increasing your endurance and energy levels, while building stamina.

3. If you want to gain composure and balance, practice yoga!
Yoga comprises sets of meditative postures or asanas that can help in relaxing your tired muscles and mind.
Unlike most exercise routines, yoga focuses more on achieving harmony of the mind, body and spirit, rather than just giving you a fitter frame.
Regular yoga practice can alter your body's physical and emotional response to stress, anxiety, depression and hypertension.

4. If you want to be flexible, practice yoga!
Inflexibility in your muscles and connective tissues can cause poor posture in your body, resulting in various aches and pains.
Yoga can increase your flexibility by loosening stiff muscles, which can eventually result in the disappearance of all bodily aches and pains.
The contraction and stretching of muscles in yoga asanas help in improving the functions of your immune system as well.
It also helps the lymphatic system of your body fight infections, destroy cancerous cells and dispose off toxic waste products, thereby keeping you fit and healthy. 

Prediction of the Future -- This is worth a read

Didn't think it was moving that quick! I've seen the changes coming for a good while now but didn't think I'd see it in my life time!

The Future Is Here!

In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide.  Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt.
What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 year - and most people don't see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again?

Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore's law. So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became way superior and got mainstream in only a few short years. It will now happen with Artificial Intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs. Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Welcome to the Exponential Age.

Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.
Uber is just a software tool, they don't own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don't own any properties.

Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. In the US, young lawyers already don't get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So if you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90% less lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain. Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 time more accurate than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.

Autonomous cars: In 2018 the first self driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don't want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver's licence and will never own a car. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% less cars for that. We can transform former parking space into parks. 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000 km, with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km. That will save a million lives each year.

Most car companies might become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. I spoke to a lot of engineers from Volkswagen and Audi; they are completely terrified of Tesla.

Insurance companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear. 
Real estate will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood.
Electric cars will become mainstream until 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all cars will run on electric. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can only now see the impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. The price for solar will drop so much that all coal companies will be out of business by 2025.
With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter. We don't have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.

Health: The Tricorder X price will be announced this year. There will be companies who will build a medical device (called the "Tricorder" from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and you breath into it. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medicine, nearly for free.

3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies started 3D printing shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to have in the past.
At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they already 3D printed a complete 6-storey office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that's being produced will be 3D printed.

Business opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: "in the future, do you think we will have that?" and if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner? If it doesn't work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed in to failure in the 21st century.

Work: 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a small time.

Agriculture: There will be a $100 agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in 3rd world countries can then become managers of their field instead of working all days on their fields. Aeroponics will need much less water. The first Petri dish produced veal is now available and will be cheaper than cow produced veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces is used for cows. Imagine if we don't need that space anymore. There are several startups who will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labeled as "alternative protein source" (because most people still reject the idea of eating insects).

There is an app called "moodies" which can already tell in which mood you are. Until 2020 there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where it's being displayed when they are telling the truth and when not.

Bitcoin will become mainstream this year and might even become the default reserve currency.

Longevity: Right now, the average life span increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span used to be 79 years, now it's 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more that one year increase per year. So we all might live for a long long time, probably way more than 100.

Education: The cheapest smart phones are already at $10 in Africa and Asia. Until 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smart phone. That means, everyone has the same access to world class education. Every child can use Khan academy for everything a child learns at school in First World countries. We have already released our software in Indonesia and will release it in Arabic, Suaheli and Chinese this Summer, because I see an enormous potential. We will give the English app for free, so that children in Africa can become fluent in English within half a year.