Posted in Life & Happiness

Standards Of Happiness

If we list some things that affect our happiness, they can sound a little ridiculous.

The angle the chair reclines to, where you sit at the meeting table, the country your bag was made in, a few letters at the sole of your shoes, the number of toilets at home…

Or respectively:

Business class or economy, boss or employee, “Made in Italy” or “Made in China”, famous brand or cheap brand, one-bedroom apartment or three-bedroom house.

Just a few hundred years ago, these things were not standards of happiness.
These standards were artificial sources of happiness created by consumerism to promote constant spending, or to create competitiveness to improve productivity.

Artificial happiness is usually relative. No matter how much you own, if you meet someone who owns more, you will feel unhappy.
Happiness itself has become a competition.

On the other hand, we also have these sources of happiness:

The number of friends who you can really connect with, flowers and trees, caring and love from your family, a healthy body, a delicious meal.

Above are natural sources of happiness that are absolute rather than relative. This means that once you achieve them, you do not feel less or more happy when you compare yourself to others.
Natural happiness was likely the standard of happiness hundreds of years ago, and will remain so hundreds of years in the future.
Natural happiness enriches the relationship to your soul.

In modern life, we are often systemically pushed into seeking artificial happiness.
But if you only seek artificial happiness, we will forget the absolute happiness we get from natural happiness, and be put in an ironic situation where we are competing to be happier than others.

What kind of happiness are you living today?


(Image source: Puuung

(from 1cm+ by Eun Joo Kim)

Posted in Science & Nature

From Cell To Birth: Fertilisation

Once the sperm enters the vagina, the real battle begins. The vagina is highly acidic, an environment in which sperm can only survive 2~3 hours. It is crucial for the sperm to enter the uterus through the cervix, but only 1% of the 200~300 million sperm make it through.

Even within the uterus, they must brace harsh conditions as they travel against gravity. After about 5 hours of intense swimming, the sperm reach the top of the uterus. Here they face a choice: go left or go right. Half the sperm make the wrong choice and head down the eggless fallopian tube and ultimately die. The rest navigate their way through the maze of folds in the fallopian tube, often getting lost or sticking to the wall thinking that it is an egg.

About 200 sperm finally make it to the egg, which sits in the ampulla of the fallopian tube. But as always, there is competition even at this final moment. Only one sperm can win the race, and the fastest one will ultimately produce a new life.

When the first sperm touches the egg, a series of chemical reactions occur, essentially “priming” the sperm. This causes it to start the acrosome reaction, where it releases a hoard of enzymes from its head, digesting away the covering shell (zona pellucida) of the egg. It then becomes supercharged, using all of its energy to drive itself inwards until it reaches the oocyte within. As soon as this happens, the tail breaks off, and one final chemical reaction as the calcium level spikes occurs to release more enzymes that prevent the acrosome reaction in other sperm. It also solidifies the zona, forming an impenetrable shield to prevent other sperm coming in (polyspermy can lead to a failed pregnancy).

The calcium spike that causes the above cortical reaction also triggers the egg to divide, so that it reaches the most mature stage. The winning sperm can then combine its nucleus with the oocyte, forming the 46 chromosomes that will set the genetic basis of the new zygote (first stage of a baby).

To reach the egg, the sperm must travel over 20cm – beating its tail over 20,000 times. The probability that a certain sperm will fertilise the egg is 1 in 500,000,000.
Life starts under a near-zero probability condition.

(Full series here: