To Hold a Heart….Literally

Over spring break, I got the opportunity to visit Rowan University of Osteopathic Medicine, one of the top medical schools in Osteopathic Medicine in New Jersey. I am very interested in the school and, after talking to the Dean at Rowan and one of the school ambassadors, I arranged to drive down to Stratford, NJ and check out the school. I met up with both the Dean and the student ambassadors at Rutgers events (now you know the importance of those HPO emails and premed events).  Luckily I had chosen a special day to go visit the school. The student ambassador I was touring with had cadaver lab that day!

After changing into a pair of scrubs (I was already seeing myself as a doctor lol), we went into the lab full of 20-30 cadavers. Most people don’t know that these bodies are donated for the scientific cause by people who have passed away. It is because of their incredible and generous donations that medical school students are able to study with real life human bodies (synthetic bodies are getting very popular nowadays; I definitely recommend that you all look into the technology behind them). Usually, I think most people would be fainting or vomiting because of the smell, but I was completely fine. I guess that’s a good trait for an aspiring doctor.

“Scrubs” is one of my favorite shows lol

That day, the medical students were studying the muscles and nerves in the arm and hands. It was very fascinating stuff. My student ambassador even allowed me to cut through some flesh to see how it really feels like. The first thing the students have to do is remove all the fat and tissue that surrounds the nerves, muscles, and other parts of interest.

Then out of the blue, my student ambassador tells me, “Hey Saad, wanna hold a heart?”. When he placed that organ in my hand, the first thing I thought was that it looks nothing like a heart! But seriously, it was amazing to feel and grasp (the cardiovascular surgeon within me was coming out). Looking at the four chambers, the superior and inferior vena cava, the pulmonary arteries, and the aorta was incredible. Gen Bio 2 was really helpful here!

Afterwards, he showed me some other organs, including the lungs. Out of this experience, my interest and curiosity for the human body increased ten fold. One of the first things we learn in Gen Bio is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The human body is so amazing and so incredible because all our organ systems work together to keep us functioning and alive. It is a wonderful and beautiful interconnected system.

My visit to Rowan included meeting professors, students, and the Dean. I loved the small campus and family-like community. It was a great experience to learn so much and witness so many new things. To all you premeds out there, I highly recommend you take many opportunities in your college career to learn about medicine and explore your interests first before you commit your life to medicine.

The Mind Twisting Puzzle of Sudoku

Recently, I became interested in the simple yet complex game of Sudoku. The simple looking puzzle can really strain the mind to great lengths. While many people think of this as a math game, Sudoku actually doesn’t involve knowing math at all and is mainly a test of your logic. The game of Sudoku is actually very straightforward. You start off with a 9×9 grid that is divided into 9 blocks (each block is a 3×3 grid). Each block must contain a number from one to nine, only once however. Each row and column must also contain a number from one to nice, again, only once.

Pretty simple right? Nope! What makes Sudoku so confusing is that there is only one correct number for each of the 81 boxes for each puzzle you work with –each puzzle already has a few numbers already included. So one mistake and you’re done!

So even though Sudoku might seem hard and confusing, here are some tips that can help crack the puzzle.

  1. Fill in the obvious boxes. If you see a row, column, or block that can only contain one number and must belong in only one space, you can instantly solve that box quickly. This step is very important because you are able to fill in several boxes and therefore lessen the real confusion that will soon begin.
  1. Take notes of possible choices. At this step, you need to scan each box individually and “pencil in” any possible choices for a number. Make sure you keep in mind the rules that every row, block, and column can only contain one of each of the nine digits. After completing this step, you will be able to see if there are any boxes with only one choice.

  1. Work off your notes. Remember how each row, block, and column can only contain one of each digit. Now scan each of these three features of the puzzle and see where there is only one option based off your notes. Usually this step will solve half of you puzzle if you are working with easy to intermediate level puzzles.
  1. Use logic to figure out other tricks. The reason Sudoku is called a logic puzzle and not a math puzzle is because most of the advanced tricks to solve this game are simply logic-based. One of the advanced tricks to help you complete the puzzle is commonly called “Naked pairs”. This basically says if there are two boxes in a row, column, or block that only contain two same digits from your notes, no other box in that respective row, column, or block can contain those two digits. Simple logic. For example, if two boxes in a row are the only ones that contain “2” and “5”, then if one box is “2” the other one must be “5”. Using basic logical thinking, more and more tricks to solve the Sudoku puzzle can be created.

Even though there are many more tricks and tips, you can now solve or nearly solve almost all Sudoku puzzles now. I highly recommend you print the puzzle if you can as most of the time you cannot take notes on your puzzle from your computer or laptop. Also, I recently learned playing Sudoku frequently can help improve brain activity, including memory and keeping you mind “fit”. Now you should be able to impress your parents when they see you completed that annoying Sudoku puzzle in their newspapers.

Now that you have learned these basic skills, test your skills by trying out this Sudoku puzzle.