A time of fear and a time of hope – the starting of 2023.

On New Years Eve, I talked with three people in two different western states about problems they were facing.

One woman had taken chemo in the summer to treat two dangerous tumors. She told me the tumors had shrunk, which was good news, but that the oncologist had said this could change at any time. The woman was surprisingly positive and insisted her life and work would go on as normal.

A man, retired, said his mother, in her eighties, had a form of dementia and was receiving full-time home care. He wanted her to move in with him so he could take his turn to provide the needed care. His mother turned him down. He was distressed over the refusal because he felt keenly it was his responsibility to get involved. “I tried,” he kept saying.

A third person, a woman who has experienced hardship all through her life, said this. “Sometimes you have to get up off the floor, dust off your clothes, wash your face, and start making plans to accept new realities in your life.”

A time of fear.

I watched a movie last week called On The Beach. The movie starred Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner. It left me feeling depressed. A nuclear war had occurred in the Northern Hemisphere. A US submarine lost contact with North America while it was heading south toward Australia.

The submarine disembarked in Melbourne where the people were carrying on their lives as best they could – knowing the radiation cloud is spreading southward and will overtake southern Australia in about 5 months.

The submarine is sent back to the USA to try to locate the source of an erratic morse code signal that comes in every day. no more… No spoiler.

It’s a gripping story about how people deal with fear of impending doom. It’s also a timely reminder of the danger of nuclear holocaust that has been threatened by Russia during its attack on Ukraine.

This is not the only fear experienced by the Ukrainians – in the middle of winter their electricity and heat and water supplies have been cut off by continuous bombardment by missiles from Russia.

I complain when my electricity goes off for an hour or two, let alone for days and nights when food cannot be cooked and it’s difficult to keep warm or to work or to sleep. I sent a contribution to Ukraine today through my church.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope revisited the Pillars of Creation in 2014 to reveal a sharper, wider view in visible light (above left). A new, near-infrared-light view from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, is at right. The thick, dusty brown pillars are no longer as opaque and many more red stars that are still forming come into view. Source: NASA.

A time of hope – nuclear energy.

On the flip side of the nuclear threat in Ukraine lies this:
For 20 years the US Department of Energy has funded the concept and development of a Small Modular Nuclear Reactor (SMR) called the NuScale Power Module. Safer, cheaper, scalable, and carbon-free are the advantages. It’s the only SMR to receive design approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Less than 100 ft tall, the module is a 15 ft wide cylinder that sits in a bath of water below ground level. It can produce 77 MegaWatts of electricity that can power 60,000 homes. The goal is to be up and running in Idaho by 2029.

A time of hope – cancer.

The lady who had taken chemo for her cancer helped me recall a treatment for cancer called immunotherapy. I wrote about this several years ago.

The medical establishment has a recent breakthrough in treating certain cancers. The method takes T-cells, which are part of the immune system that fights cancer, out of the body to genetically modify them, using the CRISPR technique, and then reinject them back into the body as a “living drug”.

Using CRISPR (the innovative aspect of all this), the T-cells can be fine-tuned and made more deadly in their attack on particular cancer cells.

These “off-the-shelf” T-cells can be manufactured in large amounts quickly using CRISPR, rather than having to wait weeks or months previously.

On December 12, 2022, Dr McGuirk from University of Kansas, announced trial results that opened a new door to treatment of cancers: tumors shrank for 67% of 32 patients with lymphoma cancer. 40% of the patients achieved complete remission.

The results are surprisingly good and there is great enthusiasm for the potential of this technique to cure many other kinds of cancer.
The Gray Nomad ….. For all who read this, my new year wish is that you will live your life on tiptoe, stretching and reaching for new things.
Your sun shall no more go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended.
[Book of Isaiah, chapter 60.]

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1 year ago

Thanks Ian for another interesting and informative blog post. Always a pleasure to read and always beneficial.

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