Who says we are happy?

A recent study by Professors from University of Vermont has suggested that our happiness has increased by 4% in the last few years. The internet based study collected data from blogs and analyzed the mood of its authors. A Science NOW article reports the results that is to be published in the Journal of Happiness Studies.

Is this really a good news? I do not think so...

Its hard to understand the rationale behind this 'investigation'. This study seems to assume that majority of people in the world have access to internet and that the most favorite activity of people around the globe is blogging and writing songs and making it available to strangers on the internet.

It is probably right to say that blogs reflect the mood of an individual. However, it is grossly inaccurate to believe that blogs reflect just that. There are blogs about virtually everything including fictitious accounts of one's life. Using selected words to assess the emotion of the blogger at the time of writing can lead to false picture of his/her state of mind. This is highly error-prone when the group under study comprises of young people who find it fashionable and trendy to use words that hold "dark" emotional values.

Have the scientists tried to analyze content from other languages? English is certainly not the only language people use. Neither is it the language used by majority of people in the world. This study is very clearly US-centric. It says, "The happiest day since 2005 was 4 November 2008, the U.S. presidential election, with a score of 6.3." While the population of United States hardly constitutes a major chunk of the world population, the number of people who find this news sensible is likely to be far too less and its incorrect to say that this study reflects the 'mood' of the world. I believe this is true even if one considers only those who use internet regularly.

The views of the professors are equally 'regional' in its implications and can never be extrapolated to the real world out there!


Bringing Back the Light

Glaucoma is a condition where the fluid present in the eyeball exerts too much of pressure onto the cells of retina causing the retinal ganglion cells to die. If left undetected/untreated, it causes blindness.

Progressing Darkness - Through the eyes of a glaucoma patient

It is the second cause of blindness in the world. In addition to this, there are 2 reasons why one has to take this with utmost seriousness:
  • It is known as 'sneak thief of sight' because people lose sight slowly and almost unknowingly. Often, it becomes recognizable only at the advanced stages.
  • The damages to the optic nerve fibres are irreversibile.

This was the case until now...
If what a group of researchers from University of Rome are claiming is right, it will be possible to help revive the damaged retinal cells of the patients suffering from this painful disease. That too without having to undergo more painful therapeutic procedures or surgery but with just a few drops of an NGF - Nerve Growth Factor.

They have discovered that administration of NGF in the form of drops directly in the eye produces a considerable reduction in the damage caused to the retinal ganglion cells by increased intr ocular pressure. After success with rats, the same experiment was tried with humans. Amidst concerns about the soundness of the experiment and its interpretations, the neuroscientists have claimed that this works with humans as well.

While scientists debate on the authenticity of the results and the need to indulge in verifying the claims, one can only hope that this simple solution to this dangerous disease guides research leading to achieving the ultimate reversibility - bringing back light into the life of many of its victims!