I’ve had a question about Ebola posted on the StackExchange Biology page for some time without getting any answers. Basically, I was wondering about how antibody responses to Ebola can drive either sterilizing immunity (the goal) or actually improve the virus’s entry into host cells (a big problem). The idea that Ebola antibodies may be detrimental to the host was first raised by Baize et al, and my question is how this has impacted efforts to develop an effective vaccine. For background, I’ve written about this topic previously.
If anyone knows what the current thinking is in this area, please point them my way.
In preparing for a new semester, I’ve been downloading a few free question compilations for the TEAS test. TEAS is the ‘Test of Essential Academic Skills’ that students wishing to enter into nursing programs must take. Since many of my students in both my Biology and Microbiology classes wish to enter nursing programs and are taking required classes for that purpose, I find these questions to be very useful in directing my syllabus creation.
However, today, I found this question amongst the free samples offered at the practicequiz.com website:
Category – Science
Q – What is a term used to describe the subtle energy running through the body?
Your answer: –
Answer: C – Chi is a term used for the subtle energy that runs through the body.
Chi is specific to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Other terms used are ki, prana and life force.
What am I to think?
I’m not sure that I am comfortable with ‘Chi’ being a legitimate concept being taught in science classes.
Am I wrong to think that the science and medicine taught to students of these disciplines should be objectively verifiable? Is ‘Chi’ a documented phenomenon? Or is this just a word / description that describes some metaphysical concept?
Wikipedia uses the following to define Chi:
“Qi is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts…Elements of the qi concept can also be found in Western popular culture, for example “The Force” in Star Wars.”
Given this loose definition for an equally loose concept, I think “The Force” is an equally reasonable answer to the question as it is posed. And no answer to this question should be acceptable or expected in a serious exam. I certainly hope that this question is an example made up by practicequiz.com, and not one that my students are ever likely to see on a real examination.
See this link for a review of chi, also known as qi or qidong, in medicine.
Next week in Microbiology, we will be starting to look at viruses. Presented here, is a video illustrating the mechanism by which one virus enters the cell. This video may also be of interest to my General Biology students because of the illustration of receptor-mediated endocytosis, one of the methods by which materials may enter the cell.
Of note in this video is the fact that viral attachment and entry is mediated by a very specific interaction of proteins on the membrane of the virus as well as that of the host cell. These are examples of cell recognition membrane proteins. It is also worth mentioning that once the virus enters the cell, it must still escape the endocytic membrane if it is to get access to cellular tools such as ribosomes, amino acids, etc. required for manufacturing new viruses.