: 2014  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1--2

Birth of a star

Yatish Agarwal1, Bipin Batra2,  
1 Editor-in-Chief of Astrocyte
2 Executive Director, National Board of Examinations

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How to cite this article:
Agarwal Y, Batra B. Birth of a star.Astrocyte 2014;1:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Agarwal Y, Batra B. Birth of a star. Astrocyte [serial online] 2014 [cited 2023 Sep 22 ];1:1-2
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The term Astrocyte is derived from ancient Greek: astron, which means a star, or a flame; and kutos, hollow vessel, or cell. The present journal will try and live up to this mission. The natural synergy between the house of mind and house of knowledge will allow astrocyte to take on a new connotation. Being an open access journal, it stands tall as a living tribute to the ways of Lao-tzu, the legendary 6th century BC Chinese philosopher, who wrote: If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it.

More than 120 years ago, while exploring the House of Mind, the Hungarian anatomist Michael von Lenhossek came across a hitherto unknown variety of cells. He was spellbound by their stunning star-shaped form, and therefore, gave them the name of astrocyte. Etymologically derived from ancient Greek (astron, star, flame; and kutos, hollow vessel, cell), this new coinage gained the acceptance of medical tribe in no time. Time elapsed. New truths got unveiled. New mysteries were unlocked. Still, the quest to find what these star cells did in the central nervous system continued to elude cell biologists.

Nonetheless, that is how all new beginnings are made. The discovery of something we do not understand scripts a new beginning, the birth of a new wave of knowledge. And today, we know. The functions of astrocytes are many: they create the brain environment; build up the micro-architecture of the brain parenchyma; maintain brain homeostasis; store and distribute energy substrates; control the development of neural cells, synaptogenesis, and synaptic maintenance; and provide protection for brain. Still, the journey stands unfinished. Who knows, these stellar cells might still cause many more ripples in the metagalaxy of science. Possibly, they may possess numerous other delicate functions, and science may find newer ways to probe and dwell on their molecular organization. Peer through the landscapes of time; sit in H. G. Wells' time machine, and you would be quick to recognize that all the past is but the beginning of a beginning, and that all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn.

The Second Coming of Astrocyte

When we first began to muse over the birth of this journal, our first thoughts were this must be an open-access journal, which will be inter-disciplinary and holistic; an independent and authoritative window to current thought and research in global medicine; a responsive habitat for meditation, scrutiny, and constructive debates; a crystal ball of dreams before their awakening; and a forum that will instill knowledge, inspire introspection, and ignite human minds in pursuit of excellence - be it any discipline of medical practice.

Once these goals stood defined, the search began: to give it a name, a name that would set it apart in a cosmos where hundreds of medical journals pre-exist. Just then, as if by serendipity, we chanced upon the story of Lenhossek's discovery. The die was cast. Close to 120 years later of the great cellular find, a new shining star was born in the expanding universe of medicine. Astrocyte had a second coming: it found a new connotation, and a new abode. It became a House of Knowledge. Being an open access journal, it stands tall as a living tribute to the ways of Lao-tzu, the legendary 6th century BC Chinese philosopher, who wrote: If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it.


The journey has begun. Again, Lao-tzu's simple yet powerful thoughts come to the fore and steer us through:

A tree that can fill the span of a man's armsGrows from a downy tip;A terrace nine stories highRises from hodfuls of earth;A journey of a thousand milesStarts from beneath one's feet.

Pray, let this journey grow into a global yajna, where men in pursuit of science share their thoughts, findings, deductions, and more, and bless us with the singular pleasure of standing upon the vantage ground of truth and leave us to dwell on the beauty of life. Just as Carl Sagan stated in Cosmos, "The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff!"