July 24, 2016

Voice of Conscience

We sometimes weigh productivity and ethics. Should I continue to keep a rule of community lowering efficiency seriously? The answer is YES. It is because I feel guilty conscience for violating a rule. For example, whenever I infringed a traffic rule due to urgent affairs, I was tormented by a guilty conscience although my action was not found. A renowned Athenian philosopher Socrates chose death pleading that "In no case would I act except in accordance with the law." He seemed to listen attentively and humbly to the low voice of conscience from inner Spirit. In the book "The Language of God", Dr. Francis Collins mentioned, "the motivation to practice this kind of love exists within all of us despite our frequent efforts to ignore it." C.S. Lewis explained that it comes from the Moral Law as a "universal feature of human existence." Since The Moral Law definitely comes from God, it would be essential for improving my faith to repent all my past actions of violating any small (good or bad) rule.

Further readings
  1. Collins, F. S. (2007). The language of God : a scientist presents evidence for belief. Free Press.
  2. Lewis, C. S. (2001). Mere Christianity. Harper San Francisco.

July 19, 2016

Sharp Images Key to Spotting the Earliest Signs of Compromised Pregnancies

(Source: Innovation District)

"As anyone trying to capture a photograph with a digital camera knows, sudden movements are the enemy of a sharp image. The challenge is the same for fetal researchers aiming to capture crisp functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the developing brains of fetuses who are always on the move. Over two years, a Children’s National Health System research team led by Wonsang You, a research associate in the Developing Brain Research Laboratory, worked out complex mathematical algorithms to account for independent fetal and placental motions, to erase those noise artifacts, and to validate the accuracy of the technique." (read more)

(Source: Innovation District)

July 17, 2016

A Scientist Loving the Fetus

知之者不如好之者, 好之者不如樂之者。 - 論語 雍也篇
They who know the truth are not equal to those who love it, and they who love it are not equal to those who delight in it. - Confucius in Chapter VI, The Analects
The Confucius' quote is one of my mottoes as a scientist. A true scholar is one who does not only know the truth but also love the truth. I have been studying the functional and structural development of the fetal brain and placenta using magnetic resonance imaging, and their pathological abnormalities associated to congenital heart defects (CHD) or intrauterine growth restriction since I started to work in the Children's National Medical Center in Washington DC.

I have quickly fallen in love with the attractive mysteries of the fetal brain and placenta. The fetus grows up in the uterus in a fast pace through being supported with nutrients and oxygen from the maternal placenta. The interplay between the placenta and fetal brain is elaborately designed is incredibly marvelous. For example, in the experiment of maternal hyperoxia where 100% oxygen was supplied to the mother through a facial mask for a few minutes, the increase in cerebral oxygen saturation level during hyperoxia was negligible in healthy fetuses while the vessels in the fetal brain were more significantly oxygenated in fetuses with CHD of single ventricle [1]. This might be an indirect evidence such that the fetal brain has its own auto-regulation process to keep its oxygen level responding to the change in external environment.

Who could design such a sophisticated biological system as feto-placental circulation which is adaptive to external environment? In the point of Christian view, it is obvious that this was designed by the Almighty who created all beings. I have been extremely excited in exploring the mysterious world of the fetal development who was designed by the God. As long as I have research opportunities, I wish to dedicate myself to studying the development of fetal brain and placenta, meditating the Jesus word,
"Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you." (27 John 6)

Further readings
  1. W. You, M. Donofrio, D. Wessel, Z. Zun, J. De Asis-Cruz, G. Vezina, D. Bulas, R. Jonas, A. du Plessis, and C. Limperopoulos, "Abstract 19532: Maternal Hyperoxia Increases Cerebral Oxygenation in Fetuses With Complex Congenital Heart Disease: A Functional MRI Study," Circulation, vol. 132, no. Suppl 3, pp. A19532–A19532, Nov. 2015.

July 16, 2016

Faith Moves Life

One of what I really want to avoid from my life is an unfair experience attributed to physical disability. When I was young, I had suffered from stuttering, which inevitably hurt me due to unfair experiences. Because of stuttering, I had to be excluded from some important activities of a community I had been involved although I wanted to join. Because of stuttering, I used to be underestimated in my capabilities in either school or work projects although I believe I have sufficient capability to achieve the goals required by the project. Moreover, I used to be chaffed and talked as an object of ridicule whenever I stammered. Such experiences of being ignored or less recognized had seriously hurt me throughout my life; as a result, I sometimes got stuck in depression.

The desire of being loved and recognized from communities might be intrinsic and instinctive for all human beings. Insufficient achievements in satisfying the desire may result in abnormality in mental health. Nevertheless, our lives seemingly do not always have sufficient conditions to satisfy our unique desires.

What was Jesus' solution for such a problem? In other words, how did Jesus satisfy his desire of being loved and recognized? Needless to say, he had not been sufficiently satisfied over his life. He was born in a stable in Bethlehem. Since he started to deliver good news, he had been misunderstood to make spiritual rebellion against traditional Judaism. He was finally accused by Pharisees and crucified on a cross being ridiculed. Although he was already aware of how his life would be tragic, he did not avoid his way.

Thinking scientifically, there had to be a third intangible resource satisfying his desires of being loved and recognized. I think that it was his "Faith" to the God; in other words, he believed he was the Son of God. His firm belief to God kept him from being shaken by ridicules and denunciation. Timothy Keller said, "if you're intolerant of people you think are intolerant, you're still intolerant." What I believe determines my personality and my attitude as Virgil spoke "Mind moves matter" [1]. I would say, "Faith moves life." Therefore, let me ask myself: what would I believe in?

Further readings
  1. You, W., A Thought on Drowsiness, Brain in God (2016).

The Attack in Nice, but Love Enemies

Blood in Nice. Photo via @martelclem

There was an attack to a French city of Nice by ramming a heavy truck into crowds celebrating the Bastille Day, which resulted in killing lots of people. I have no idea of how I could express my message of condolences for victims, and comforts for surviving people. Confronting of this news, I gave a question to myself on 'why terrors have been explosively increasing over the past decades'.
I had a thought on it although it might be better to hear the professional analyses by experts who are specialized in religious and political affairs of Middle-East. As a Christian, it is obviously viewed to be a challenge in faith with Jesus' instruction of 'loving enemies'.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (43-48 Matthew 5)
One of the dramatic scenes in the Bible might be the moment that Jesus was arrested by servants of high priests. One of Jesus' companions cut off the servant's ear by his sword. However, the Jesus said to him.
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (52-54 Matthew 26)
How beautiful the word it is! What we have to do is 'not to resolve' to get revenge on the assaulter, build more tangible or intangible walls against refugees, and to cruelly attack the attackers' headquarters. It is obvious that the best action is to 'Love Enemies'. This is also the challenge for me as well. There exists something invisible, called Satan, which lets me severely hate someone who deserves to be loved. I want to win a sequence of victories in all lifetime battles against Satan in which my sword and shield should be the Word and Prayer of life and love. I firmly believe that my Father in the Heaven would lead all of us who believe Him to the victory.