The Next Big Thing

All through time scholars and fortune tellers have tried to predict the next big thing to hit, whether it is general or a specific, they have tried. No one knows when it will hit until it does, like Fleming's serendipitous discovery of the antibiotic penicillin.At this, the dawning of a new millennium, we should recall that little more than a hundred years ago it was a popular opinion that nothing of any great importance was left to be done, and then radioactivity, quantum mechanics, antimatter, and various vaccinations came along. Today's science is an open forum for all. Serendipity contains a collage of significant scientific discoveries in the fields of physics, biology, chemistry, astronomy, medicine, and even archaeology. My hope is that the next big thing is the advancement of immunology. According to National Geographic Magazine, the health of the body is dependent on the immune system's ability to recognize and then repel or destroy foreign invaders that may cause disease. Every minute of every day wars rage within our bodies. Usually we never even notice the battles in the incessant wars within us. We have evolved legions of defenders, specialized cells that silently rout the unseen enemy. Sometimes these warriors mistake harmless invaders, such as pollen, for deadly foes, and they mount an allergic reaction. Sometimes our defenders are caught unprepared, and we develop a cold, the flu, or worse. Occasionally some of our own cells begin the mutinous proliferation of cancer and manage to evade the surveillance of our body’s defense forces. But for every successful penetration of our defenses, thousands of attempts are repelled. We sleep securely, trusting the invisible vigilantes of our immune system.For decades immunology-the study of the immune system-was a backwater of medicine. In reality we did not have the instruments to explore the battlefields within us. In the past 20 years, however, powerful micros…

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