June 08, 2006

Can't Spam The Ovum

Email spamDo you have the courage to ask your friends to spam your email inbox? I guess not. Though I will not be talking about e-mails in this post, I'll only compare the challenges a tiny ovum throws to a spam (flock) of sperms and wins the challenge too.

During procreation, sperms from the males are ejected (ejaculated) through the external urethral meatus. They get vigor (energized, by the action of fructose, a simple carbohydrate found in the vagina; a process called capacitation) in the female genital tract. Spirited and intoxicated, as they become, they (actually, millions of them) now charge towards the lonesome ovum like a raging bull (of Spain!). But this microscopic ovum is quite fussy in choosing just one (among say those 200-300 million!) .

Whether the ovum chooses the sperm or any random sperm or the fittest sperm chooses the ovum is something I do not know. Nobody knows for certain. But the accepted theory says it is the random sperm that hits the bull's eye. As it takes two to tango, the sperm and the ovum dance a jig and they drop their "veils" (polar bodies). They kind of, have a one to one talk, before they finally unite to achieve their goal (zygote).

Meanwhile the 'other' sperms continue their ova-ward journey, but now that the ovum has activated it's own firewall, it dodges them very efficiently. This firewall called zona pellucida is active once one sperm has unloaded its DNA in the ovum.

May be we can improve our own computer's firewall if we learn the ova's dialect. We have learned a few things like AI (artificial intelligence) from our knowledge of the brain and the plasticity of its synapses.

What happens next is very interesting. The 'ball of cells' (blastocyst) metamorphoses into the animal that are us. This is what Embryogenesis is about.

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