|HEALTH TRIBUNE||Wednesday, February 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
AYURVEDA & TOTAL
Some of Europe's most innovative and advanced computing systems aimed at predicting and protecting the environment are being successfully orchestrated by one of the UK's leading parallel computing centres.
Many people's perception of ultra-high computing power is that it is confined to solving esoteric problems of fundamental science, such as particle physics or biochemistry. The Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC), Scotland, is effectively demonstrating that some of the biggest computational challenges come from modelling the mundane features of our immediate surroundings that embrace topics such as the weather, the earth, water and the landscape.
In recent years, much progress has been made in tackling these large-scale problems for the first time. Powerful parallel computers based in Edinburgh University have enabled weather forecasters to improve the accuracy of their predictions. Nuclear safety planning can now be done without unnecessary test drilling.
New software for bio-remediation is a typical application that shows exactly how the EPCC is involved in this field. In a project funded by the European Commission (EC) and called Colombo ( Esprit 24907), the centre is part of an international consortium that includes construction industry consultants Ironside Farrar along with partner organisations in Italy and Germany. The software accurately simulates and analyses the bio-remediation process , making it visible and predictable. The in-situ bioremediation uses bacteria to accelerate drastically the natural soil decontamination process. The method employs indigenous strains of bacteria and is therefore environmentally safe.
Bioremediation is already used successfully throughout the world, such as in the oil fields of the Middle East or the nuclear wastelands of Eastern Europe. The quality, duration and cost of a bioremediation project largely depend on the success of time-consuming and unreliable laboratory or pilot-plant experiments.
Virtual-reality laboratories offer a solution to this problem, because the bioremediation process can be modelled and suitable simulations can replace the laboratory experiments. In this way the effect of the application of the bacteria can be predicted safely and cheaply. But more importantly the virtual experiments can be carried out on a realistic time-scale, through the use of extremely powerful parallel computers.
The Colombo project was a two-year collaborative EC project to develop a high-performance, large-scale bioremediation simulation system. With its expertise in large -scale simulation, EPCC was the natural partner to develop the simulation engine (known as CAMelot). The simulator uses cellular automata (CA) to model the remediation process. A CA is a collection of `cells' each of which contains a set of qualities which are known as its state. Each cell has a number of neighbouring cells with which it interacts.
The CA theory lends itself well to the bioremediation simulation. Bacteria and pollutants interact gradually over time and only within their neighbourhood area. Interestingly enough, this locality feature also benefits parallel programming, because one can decompose the model and map the components to cooperating computing processors and acceptable communication overhead.
During the project , large simulations were tested on EPCC's Cray T3E supercomputer. The software performed very well and the behaviour models predicted the bioremediation behaviour in line with scientific expectations.
Since the project ended in 2000 the partners have concentrated on improving the bioremediation models and planning the commercialisation of the software. EPCC has also worked with the UK Meteorological Office (UKMO) since 1991 on a large number of projects and training sessions. Back in 1991 the computer simulations used to predict the weather were run on Cray Research vector supercomputers. At the time these computers provided much more power than conventional microprocessor-based systems. At present, large massively parallel machines can be bought with as many as 1,024 microprocessors providing enormous computing capability.
But in order to exploit the benefits of parallel computing power, software applications written for vector processor-based systems have needed to be re-engineered and re-optimised. It is this process that EPCC has assisted the UKMO with over the past 10 years.
Most recently , EPCC has assisted the UKMO with optimising the routines that calculate the effect of solar radiation on the atmosphere. By speeding these routines, the time taken to predict the weather and run long-term climate simulations has been markedly reduced.
Any small increase in performance is vitally important to increase the complexity of the models which can be run in the available time and better predict the effects on our environment of global warming.
Designs on the environment
For most of the day this is simply a rugged, practical and attractive household table, usefully at home in any kitchen or living room. But for the rest of the day it transforms into a place of magic, a safe embracing house and play centre where young children can explore and develop a world of their own. A table can show the enormous potential of a novel material in the world of household furniture: bamboo. Denser than oak wood, bamboo grows abundantly and quickly in many parts of the world. It is one of the materials that London-based designer Joanna exploits to demonstrate how care for the world's environment is becoming the central driving force in the field of design for our future. This move towards sounder environmental design is being inspired in the UK by Goldsmiths College, London, where John Wood runs the Master of Arts Design Futures programme. The Goldsmiths College initiative is winning wide international recognition, with designers from many countries travelling to London for the 12-month course. Students are encouraged to use novel and imaginative techniques not only to exploit the benefits to environmentally strong materials, but also to question the long-term consequences of their approach to design.
As we proceed forward in the 21st century, among the many interesting social phenomena to be identified are the ageing of the skin and the attention it is generating. In the last century, life expectancy was approximately 45 to 50 years. Today it has increased to 70 to 75 years. In a highly competitive world, it has become essential to look good.
Science has advanced and it is possible to prevent the major signs of ageing — wrinkles. The last decade has seen significant and exciting advances in our knowledge of skin-care and hair-care. These have led to important discoveries and formulations in cosmetic products that can make an enormous difference to one's skin. Wrinkles can be treated by methods ranging from sunscreen to laser devices. Look for a full article on this topic next week by Dr Gurinderjit Singh, Senior Consultant and Head of the Department of Dermatovenereology and Hair Transplantation at Mohan Dai Oswal Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, Ludhiana.
Hepatitis B virus infection
The Hepatitis B Virus is one of the viruses which predominantly causes liver disease. It infects the liver causing inflammation ranging in severity from being asymptomatic and completely resolving, and symptomatic with progressive and even fatal illness. What should one do? Dr Yogesh Chawla, the renowned specialist at the PGI, will discuss the disease and its treatment, etc, on February 13. His article has been held over because of a mechanical failure.
Healthy time management
"Stress is the biggest bugbear of modern life. It not only bites but also licks away the very life energy. Pitiably, everyone is a victim — the doctor, the engineer, the executive, the politician, the bureaucrat, the lawyer, the professor, the housewife, the old and the young and even the school child carrying a satchel heavier than his own weight". Dr (Brig) M.L. Kataria, the legendary healthcare specialist, will review. Col. D S Cheema's latest book on healthy time-management on next Wednesday
Investors in people
"Employment gives health, sobriety and morals". — John Webster
AYURVEDA & TOTAL HEALTH
Ayurvedic texts, while discussing the pathogenesis of disease, have repeatedly mentioned the word "ama" which, if briefly explained, can be called the toxic material produced in the body as a result of faulty digestion. The concept of "ama", if properly explained to the experts of modern medicine and other health scientists, can really help in making a breakthrough in the treatment of many autoimmune disorders and other serious diseases. Nagarmotha is the herb which has been described in Ayurveda as the best ama-pachaka or corrective and remover of endo-toxins.
This ordinary-looking herb grows wild along water courses or wet places inmost parts of India. Known as mustaka in Sanskrit and Cyperus rotundus scientifically, it has been described as bitter, pungent and astringent in taste and light dry and cold in effect. Nagarmotha is a pacifier of kapha and pitta. Its different varieties possess an aromatic oil, besides protein, starch and carbohydrates.
Nagarmotha has very good digestive and carminative properties. It is an effective killer of intestinal worms, a diuretic and anti-pyretic medicine. Many ancient texts have also described it as an anti-inflammatory medicine, a general and nervine tonic, a promoter of uterine contractions and an excellent binder of stool.
Even in ancient times, nagarmotha was a favourite of ayurvedic physicians for treating a number of diseases. It is a drug of choice now for treating the majority of gastrointestinal problems like anorexia, vomiting, diarrhoea, dysentery and specific and non-specific colitis. Nagarmotha is also used in various other ailments like fever, burning micturation, skin diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, painful menstruation, neurasthenia and general debility. Here area few tips with regard to nagarmotha as a household remedy:
Nagarmotha, sonth and the dried pulp of the bael fruit, all crushed in equal parts, and two grams of this powder, if taken two or three times a day, works well in case of chronic mucous diarrhoea. Similarly, taking twice a day two grams each of the powder of nagarmotha and the pulp of bael and two tablets of the famous Kutajghan Vati has been reported to have reduced the frequency of stool besides controlling abdominal cramps in cases of ulcerative colitis. The same combination can be given with rice water to control the coming of blood in the stool.
The decoction of nagarmotha and pitapara is the most common household remedy for excessive thirst arising in fever and an episode of gastroentritis. During the flare-up phase of rheumatoid arthritis one gram each of the powders of nagarmotha, hararh and sonth can be given with any other anti-arthritic medicines. Acting as a detoxifying medicine, it help reduce inflammation and stiffness in the joints.
In the treatment of alcoholism (madatya roga) ayurvedic texts prescribe that the patient should be regularly given a decoction of nagarmotha. In case of alcoholic liver disease various preparations containing nagarmotha are prescribed. The regular use of it also helps lower the raised levels of serum uric acid.
Mustakadi kwatha, Mustkarishta and Mustadi Churna are the prestigious classic ayurvedic medicines which containing nagarmotha as their chief ingredient. The average dose of the powder of nagarmotha is three to five grams twice or thrice a day and that of its decoction 50 to 100 ml daily.
(Next week: Lavang (clove): the king of aromatic herbs)