Saptarishi
Saturday, May 27, 2006
  Origins of AIDS Virus
This news item - The origin of AIDS virus, really got me thinking about the role of Statistics in helping human beings understand so many intricate patterns in the nature.

The finding represents the culmination of a 10-year hunt for the source of the pandemic and provides a crucial link between HIV, which causes AIDS in humans, and the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a strikingly similar virus that infects monkeys and chimpanzees.
It seems that scientists, who have been tracing the path of the AIDS virus for the last ten years, have finally determined that the virus jumped from the Chimpanzees to humans in Cameroon sometime in the beginning of the century. Slaughtering of the chimpanzees by human beings for food might have been the cause of the virus jump from the animals to human beings. Getting bitten by a chimpanzee might have been another plausible cause for the jump. Here is a quote from Dr. Paul Sharp from the report filed by the Sydney Morning Herald:

"For us, this is really the last piece of the puzzle," said Paul Sharp, a professor of genetics at the University of Nottingham. "This is where it probably all started. We've got these viruses in south-east Cameroon, which are so close to HIV, and it's difficult to envisage there could be any which could be closer."
I am amazed by the data collection and archiving ability of the team that made this possible. As a researcher, I have immense problems in trying to archive and analyse the data for my research in multimedia communication networks. These guys struggled for 10 years around the world to pinpoint the source of the AIDS virus. They would have collected, archived, and analysed thosands of samples of God knows what before arriving at their results. At the end of this remarkable journey, they did find the source of the origins of the virus. It is a stupendous scientific achievement and would probably help the other researchers develop a vaccine or medicine for the virus in few more decades. Patience, faith, and generous funding has made this kind of research work possible.
 
"Saptarishi" in Sanskrit means the Seven Sages or rishis who are extolled at many places in the Vedas and other Hindu literature. They are regarded in the Vedas as the patriarchs of the Vedic religion. The constellation of Ursa Major is also named as Saptarshi. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saptarishi)

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