Sunday, April 27, 2014

Cartoon evolution

Recently I was zapping through the tv channels and suddenly stopped in awe as I started feeling like a little boy again. It was the jungle book and as I sat and watched the whole thing including singing along to the songs I wondered why children movies and cartoons changed so much. The old movies I used to watch told a magical story with memorable characters and catchy songs that I still know and love today. I have to admit that I am certainly not up to date with childrens movies and cartoons, but there are changes to be noticed, not always for the worse. While the hand drawn animations of the 90's have a charm of their own, todays CGI animated movies seem light years ahead with their graphics. Also the stories didn't lose their wit.
Only the humor in newer movies seems to be aimed for a little older audience. I doubt that some of the jokes are understood by 10 year old children, though possibly they are meant for their parents who are forced to accompany them to the movie theatre. What has me really concerned are the cartoons nowadays. I definately prefer Ducktales for example over Spongebob. After watching todays cartoons for more then five minutes I can almost feel my brain cells committing suicide. I guess it's only a more mature point of view. Probably my parents thought the same thing about the cartoons that I was watching as a kid. My guess is that the targeted age group has shifted upwards, which is amused by the simplest kind of humor. But maybe my sense of humor is just rusty and old fashioned. We will never know and it will be interesting to see the changes in the next ten or twenty years.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The importance of sport

Since it is slowly (and I emphasize "slowly") becoming summer now and getting warmer outside I can't help but notice that the gym is filling up with people trying to get in shape for swimming season. But actually it is important to do sport and be active all year around. Not only do regular sportive activities make it easier to achieve the desired weight or body shape, but it is also very healthy. Doing sport is good for relieving stress and keeps you fit even in old age.

Now occasionally I like to go for a good run for example. The only problem with running in my opinion is that it's very boring unless I listen to music. Also I find it hard to motivate myself to go outside and do a couple laps, especially when it's not sunny. What I found really helpful as motivation is having specific goals. I for example plan to participate in a public event with many other people, which gives me a specific distance I will have to run and I can set a specific time for myself that I can work towards.

What I like even better than running is going to the gym. It gives me alot more possibilities so I can do whatever I feel like at that moment. One could argue that going to a gym isn't necessary since you can do the same things at home. But let's be honest here, when staying at home we all rather lay around and watch tv. Once we made the effort and left home we are much more likely to do an efficient work out. Though working out isn't everything, a healthy diet is just as important as doing sport.

What I also enjoy doing and what is especially important for children in my opinion, not only for health but also for social reasons, is team or competitive sport. When I was 6 years old I started to do judo and play
tennis and I stuck with both of them until I couldn't attend regular practice anymore due to classes in  university. Both of those activities were in retrospect not only good for developing body coordination skills but were also aiding my social life since I found many friends while having a fun time.

My point is: doing sport and being active is important. Add a healthy diet and you will save yourself alot of doctors appointments. It doesn't matter if you go running, lift weights, play tennis or go dancing as long as you stay active. Enjoying what you do is also an important factor, because if you don't, motivating yourself is hard. So don't be afraid of trying different things. Hopefully I could encourage some of you to get off that couch and go out to do some sport.

Stay active :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Zombie Science: Wounded Zombies

This is a continuation of my thoughts concerning the science behind Zombies (see older post) as we know them from popular media like movies or computer games. This time I focused my attention to the question: what happens when Zombies are wounded?

Assuming it is possible for corpses to be reanimated and walk on earth as living dead, killing humans and consuming their flesh, the question might be raised if other than defying death the rules of human biology still apply to them.
Thus it is questionable that despite being dead they can survive heavy injuries.When their bodies are severely damaged they consequently lose great amounts of blood. Though in order to move muscles it is necessary to transport oxygen into the muscle tissue. Heavy blood loss prevents this from happening. Greatly injured zombies therefore may not necessarily die but should be disabled or not able to move at all. For the same reason it is not possible that a severed zombie head continues biting for a longer time period since its connection to blood supply is cut off. For a short period of time however it seems possible, similar to a chickens body running around for a little bit after being beheaded. The only plausible explanation that I could come up with was the scenario that a virus infection is causing the Zombie outbreak and said virus produces and supplies the reanimated body with a sufficient amount of oxygen. This way it would either have to feed the oxygen into the blood stream, which would result into the same problems or it would have to administer oxygen directly into the desired muscle tissue. Either way the brain is still needed to control everything, therefore it is still the weak point of the Zombie.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Around the world: Istanbul

I love to travel. Ofcourse it's not the transportation itself that I think is great, but seeing other places, other countries and other cultures is what's fascinating me. There are many good memories connected to visiting interesting places and I would like to share them so I can maybe inspire others to travel and discover the world aswell.

The first place I want to talk about is the only city that lies on two continents, Europe and Asia, Istanbul. It is a huge city with a population of about 14 million people (2012) and still growing. The home of Turkeys three most popular and successful soccer teams has much to offer and after 4 visits now, I still feel that I havn't nearly seen everything. I believe that you can only get the true experience of a place if you speak the same language as  the people living there. Since my Turkish is limited to a beginners level it might take alot more practice and some more visits for me.

Being from a state capital, one of the bigger cities in Germany, I always thought I am used to city life. Istanbul tought me otherwise. The sheer amount of people and traffic combined is very impressive, if not intimidating. At first I had a really hard time getting used to being one in a big crowd no matter where I go. This especially struck me when using public transportation. For every trip to a destination out of walking distance a  significant delay due to traffic jams can be expected, especially during rush hour. A much more efficient and frequently used way of transportation is using a taxi. They are much more affordable than in Germany or the United States and due to a higher tolerance of breaking traffic laws they are also much faster. In general turkish drivers seem to see traffic laws as more of a guideline than a rule, which took some time for me to get used to since Germans tend to follow rules just because they are rules and there needs to be order at all cost. Having mastered the art of transportation in Istanbul I was  ready to discover the remains of Constantinople and everything that the modern city Istanbul has to offer.

Turkey being a muslim country also meant some cultural differences that were new to me and were very interesting to see. The most obvious difference is the so called Adhân, an invitation to prayer, comparable to a church bell ringing, that can be heard five times a day in the entire city via speakers. For someone without any experience or knowledge about the muslim religion the arabic songs can seem very strange. Also not every woman in Istanbul is wearing a head cover. From what I could observe the majority of women seemeed to not wear one. Ofcourse that was just my impression and could have to do with Istanbul being a modern and very diverse city. As to other cultural differences I only noticed a couple small ones but I only took notice of them at the time and can't recall them now. One that stayed on my mind though is that people eating a snack like crackers next to you in the bus for example tend to offer to share it as good manner. I usually declined politely but I like that custom.

Turkish cuisine in general is quite delicious. In Germany you can find a Döner shop at every corner, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. The streets of Istanbul are full of restaurants or street vendors selling a great variety of turkish food specialities just waiting to be dined upon. A selection of my favorite dishes includes the following: Köfte, Kumpir, Kumru, Iskender Kebab, Lahmacun, kisir, künefe and many more. Also very interesting is that a turkish breakfast typically consists of tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, butter / kaymak (a kind of sweet dairy butter), jelly, honey and bread or simit (a bread ring topped with sesame or other seeds) aswell as tea and coffee. Especially the olives for breakfast part was an interesting new concept for me.

Beside the gastronomic delights and wonderful cafes and tea houses, there are many old and very interesting buldings to visit in Istanbul. There are palaces to admire, great mosks to visit and boat tours on the Marmara Sea to take.

The most glorious of the mosks is the famous Hagia Sophia that used to be a christian church in the East Roman Empire and was made a mosk after the city had been conquered by the Ottoman Empire. Therefore influences of both religions can be found there. This very impressive structure can be found in the center of touristic activities along with a number of other landmarks like the German Fountain an old roman cystern or the Obelisk of Theodosius.

Other sights are better enjoyed at night. Istanbul has the habit of enchanting marvelous buildings with a wonderful display of light. Examples of this are the Galata Tower, the Bosporus Bridge or simply the skyline of the city itself.

But not only sightseeing can be enjoyed at night but Istanbul also has a flourishing night life. It doesnt matter if you go to the bars and small night clubs around Taksim Square and on Istiklal Street or if you go to the noble night clubs at the sea shore next to the Bosporus Bridge, you can always find a good time in Istanbul because the city never sleeps. Though one shouldn't be surprised to also hear a variety of turkish songs in clubs with everybody singing along. Those songs usually sounded sad to me, but that might be caused by the slightly different way of turkish singing and the unfamiliar tunes. Also it didn't help that I didn't understand a thing.

It was a great experience and very interesting to see the balance of ancient buildings and modern city. But this balance also had its toll. Being german I am used to flat land and pavement and streets that are perfectly good cared for. In a large city like Istanbul this is simply not possible. Furthermore the land that the city is built on is far away from flat but hills and steep angles dominate the area. As a result I regularly tripped and sometimes almost fell since not everything was perfectly straight and I was walking not anticipating sudden dents in the ground or pavement stones sticking up a little bit.

All in all I very much like Istanbul (more and more every time I visit) and I doubt that I have seen all it has to offer. It is always worth a trip because there is still so much to discover.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Zombie Science: Are Zombies possible?

I am a huge fan of everything that has to do with a Zombie apocalypse scenario. It is simply fascinating to me, although I wouldn't want to experience it myself. While reading and watching 'The Walking Dead' or playing 'The Last of Us' I have always wondered one thing. Is it even possible for Zombies to exist in the real world?

At first it all seemed quite scary, the dead rising to eat the living, and every night the week after watching it I suspected one of those rotten bastards in every dark corner or behind ervery door of my apartment. But then I started thinking about wether or not a Zombie apocalypse would really be possible in real life and after thinking about it a while, I wasn't scared anymore. This could also be due to getting used to watching Zombie movies and series and the realization that one Zombie isn't too dangerous. They are slow and dumb, you can always outrun them, just dont get surrounded.

I started thinking about that question and took a scientific approach that is by no means professional or proven, just what I came up with. I broke my thoughts about that topic down into several parts or rather several aspects of it, so this will turn into a small series of Zombie posts.

When I saw the trailer to Naughty Dog's game The Last Of Us, I learned that the developers were inspired by a parasite, or a fungus to be precise, that controls ants in a zombie like manner as part of its life cycle. In the game a similar parasite targets humans and a zombie apocalypse breaks lose. I started questioning if that would really be possible and this is what I came up with:

Parasitic mind control on a human has not been observed so far, but principally it is possible for a parasitic life form like a virus or a fungus to infect a brain in order to control its host.

Examples of this phenomenon are the eggs of the liver fluke, a worm like parasite or the fungus called cordyceps. They both target ants and force the still living insect to climb plants and grab hold of them with their jaws.

Even though the human brain is far more complex than the brain of an ant, it seems possible that typical primitive Zombie behavior or insticts can be triggered by a parasite in the brain. Also a parasite might be able to suppress memories or the conscious mind.

While it appears possible for a human Zombie to be created through a parasite, the parasite's motives remain unclear. As in the examples mentioned before, parasites typically take action with the goal of reproduction. When a victim is bitten or scratched by a Zombie, it is infected and becomes a Zombie itself shortly afterwards. At the same time the human resembles the main and seemingly only food source of the Zombie and therefore of the parasite. This means the parasite / Zombie can not survive without eating since the parasite is either feeding on the eaten flesh or the host itself or is at least dependant on a functioning host body. How long the life span of a Zombie / the parasite without food intake is can only be speculated. Given a too long life span, a too rapid infection rate and the assumption that Zombies do not feed on each other, the risk of the extinction of humanity is high, ultimately meaning extinction of the parasite aswell.

If said parasite would occurr naturally there is a good chance that nature would implement a system of regulating its population (similar to the Lotka-Volterra-Laws) to avoid its own extinction. Regulators could be for example the infection rate (hunger), the parasitic life span or under certain conditions canibalism.

Therefore I concluded that the possibility of real Zombies exists, but it is very unlikely.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hello World!

Everything has a beginning.

For so long now I have been wanting to start a blog, but I simply couldn't figure out what I could possibly write about that is interesting to other people. Better yet, which topic would be interesting to read about and at the same time be entertaining for me to write about? Also which language should I write in?

Obviously, by reading this far into my first post, you surely have figured out the answer to the third question already. I decided not to write in my native language (German) since English would grant me a greater potential audience and therefore a greater chance that anyone might ever read the stuff I write here. Also I found that writing in English is for some reason much more entertaining to me.

However, after debating the pros and cons in my mind for a long period of time, it was a slow process that took place over the span of about two years, I finally decided that thinking about it more wouldn't get me anywhere. Since I still couldn't choose a topic and would never know if people actually read what I write until I actually write something, I will just toss the whole topic idea out the window and will just write about whatever comes to my mind and seems interesting to me or might interest others. So there is no topic. Or if there has to be one, it's whatever is occupying my mind.

Welcome to Patteyayo's World