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LIBERATION: Freedom from something that inhibited or oppressed a person. (See FREEDOM, LIBERTY.) (DM)


LIBERTY: Free to do what one likes. (DM)

LIBRARY: A collection of clones in no obvious order whose relationship can be established by physical mapping. Compare GENOMIC LIBRARY. (DM)

LICHENS: (Greek: leikhen "licker"). Lichens are organisms formed by the symbiotic association of a fungus, forming the vegetative body, and either cyanobacteria or unicellular algae undergoing photosynthesis. Lichens are often seen as green, gray or yellow crust-like forms growing flush on rocks or tree-trunks. The symbiotic combination functions so effectively that lichens flourish in some of the harshest environments on earth such as the extreme cold and aridity of Antarctica. They are however very sensitive to air pollution since they cannot excrete toxic substances. Lichen die-back has been used as an effective biological indicator of rising pollution levels (see INDICATOR SPECIES, SYMBIOSIS). (MP & IP)

LIEBER CODE: Perhaps the first expression of modern military law, the Lieber Code, or Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field, was compiled by Franz Lieber for Abraham Lincoln in 1863. (See CLAUSEWITZ, GENEVA CONVENTIONS, HAGUE CONVENTIONS, INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW) (MP)

LIES: Honesty, openness and reasons (containing truth) are distinct from lies, which include dishonesty (deliberate untruth), excuses (dubious correlation to truth), exaggeration (embellished truth), euphemism (covert truth), bluff (implied truth), white lies (minor untruth), black lies (serious untruth) and secrecy about issues relevant to another (withheld truth). (See EUPHEMISM, HONESTY, OPENNESS, PROPAGANDA, SECRECY) (MP)

LIFE: The self-reproducing capacity of living organisms is the best-recognized characteristic of life, but the continuum between life and non-life has a shifting borderline depending on the inclusiveness of the definition. The originally recognized qualities of life were birth, growth and death. This requires the extraction of energy from the environment for metabolism, nourishment and healing, followed by its relinquishment during death and decay. A mystical or spiritual component was also considered necessary to activate the living, a "vital force" which elevated life from inanimate matter. The Darwinian revolution highlighted other defining capacities of life: replication, adaptation, variation, heredity, and evolution by natural selection. Complexity theory added another characteristic; life displays complex system behavior such as high levels of organization and emergent properties. Modern biochemistry has further narrowed the definition, with the fact that life as we know it contains molecules acting as a genetic "program", the DNA blueprint. Further, there is a general reluctance to relinquish the organic status of life, which is founded on carbon based compounds in an aqueous medium. However, such a definition of life may be too narrow, since it appears probable that life exists in other parts of the universe, and possible that other bases such as silicon may equally provide the characteristics of origin, energy use, inner program, replication, adaptation, heredity, complex behavior and evolution. (See ALIEN LIFE, ARTIFICIAL LIFE, BIODIVERSITY, EXTINCTION) (MP)

LIFE CYCLE: The passage or ‘ontogeny’ of an individual organism from conception to death. Unitary organisms (e.g. humans) have highly determinate form throughout their life, whereas modular organisms (e.g. most plants) may have stages of reproductive transformation, seen for example in the age-structure of new versus mature shoots. Life-tables displaying body size by length of life can illustrate semelparity (large investment in one reproductive bout), iteroparity (energy conserved for return bouts), survivorship curves (reverse of mortality) and fecundity schedules (reproductive timing). (See AGE DISTRIBUTION, ONTOGENY) (MP)

LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a method used in environmental science, industrial design and commercial research. LCA is a model which examines the impacts of a product through its life cycle from extraction, transport, manufacturing and marketing through to use and disposal. (See ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT, ENVIRONMENTAL FLOWS, PRESSURE/STATE/RESPONSE MODEL) (MP)


LIFE EXTENSION: The development or use of techniques for retarding the process of aging. (See LIFE EXPECTANCY, HUMAN IMMORTALITY) (DM)

LIFE INSURANCE: Insurance that will pay a benefit to family or appointed persons upon the insured person's death. In many countries it is necessary in order to obtain a mortgage or bank loan. (See GENETIC DISCRIMINATION).(DM)

LIGHT YEAR: A unit of distance in space, defined as the distance light can travel in one year (9.46055 x 1015 meters). Alpha Centauri, the star closest to our Sun, is about 4.5 light years away. (See ASTRONOMICAL UNIT) (MP)

LIKERT SCALE: A common survey method developed by R Likert in 1932 for measuring respondent attitudes towards a certain question or satisfaction with a particular decision or state of affairs. The Likert scale is typically a three, five or seven-point scale such as ‘strongly agree’, ‘agree’, ‘undecided’, ‘disagree’ and ‘strongly disagree’. The question and the items on the scale must be designed to represent only one continuous dimension of the problem. (MP)

LIMBIC SYSTEM: first used by the French anatomist Paul Broca in 1878 to describe that part of the brain surrounding the brain-stem and lying beneath the neocortex. It includes the hippocampus, olfactory regions, hypothalamus and amygdala. Functionally, the limbic system is concerned with 1. visceral processes maintaining homeostasis 2. monitoring emotions particularly ones associated with fear, anger, fight and flight 3. adaptive integration of behavioral response patterns essential in the development of social and nurturance skills. (See BRAIN NEUROTRANSMITTERS, DOPAMINE). (IP)

LIMBO: In Catholic teaching, an alternative place for souls which are neither in heaven nor in hell. The two primary reasons for souls to be in Limbo are: a) souls of those who died before the arrival of Jesus. These souls did not have the benefit of Jesus' sacrifice, and so, they are in Limbo, because even though they may have been righteous, this is still not sufficient for their entry to heaven. b) souls of infants and unborn children who did not commit any sin themselves, but did not receive the benefit of Jesus' sacrifice either. (AG)

LIMITING FACTOR: An element of a process which acts to restrict the rate, magnitude or quality of an outcome. In chemistry, the rate-limiting factor holds up the flow of a chemical reaction. In ecology, limiting factors which control populations may be density-dependent limits (e.g. carrying capacity limitations such as food, predation and shelter) or density-independent limits (factors unrelated to population, e.g. weather, hazards, environmental disruption). (See LIMITS OF ACCEPTABLE CHANGE, LIMITS TO GROWTH) (MP)


LIMITS TO GROWTH: A 1972 book edited by Donella Meadows and Dennis Meadows, and published by the Club of Rome, that projected the future results of trends in population, industrialization, resource depletion, food production, and pollution. The primary conclusion was that if these trends continue, then rapid declines in population and industrial capacity are likely to result. The publication of this book stimulated both the environmental movement and business-as-usual interests, and it remains controversial. (RW)

LIMNOLOGY: (Greek: lÌmno "lake"+ logos "reason") The scientific study of fresh water, such as the geography and ecology of lakes and streams. (MP)

LINGAM: From Sanskrit, the lingam refers to the penis or masculine gender, sometimes represented in Hindu phallic images or statues. (See YONI) (MP)

LINGUA FRANCA: A medium used for communication between people of different languages, commonly 'World English'. A pidgin is a type of localized lingua franca, and Esperanto was an attempt at a global lingua franca. (See ESPERANTO, MULTIMODAL COMMUNICATION, PIDGIN, TRANSLATION SOFTWARE) (MP)

LINGUISTICS: Linguistics, originally known as philology, is the scientific study of languages, including vocabulary, grammar, style, phonetics, semiotics, lexicography, linguistic evolution, artificial languages, translation, the philosophy of language and the relation of these to human thought and behavior. Linguistic relativity/determinism is the idea that the characteristics of a language dictate cultural and world outlook. Biological linguistics investigates language in relation to human evolution, child development and neurological processing. Psycholinguistics studies language in relation to memory, attention, comprehension and mental health. Sociolinguistics investigates language as a reflection of social function and cultural diversity. A linguist is a person who studies the structure of language and/or is able to speak and translate multiple languages. Famous philosophers of linguistics include Saussure, Bloomfield and Chomsky. (See ARTIFICIAL LANGUAGES, DEFINITION, EUPHEMISM, LEXICOGRAPHY, MULTIMODAL COMMUNICATION, PIDGIN, SEMANTICS, SEMIOTICS, TRANSLATION SOFTWARE) (MP)

LINKAGE: The proximity of two or more markers (e.g., genes, RFLP markers) on a chromosome; the closer together the markers are, the lower the probability that they will be separated during meiosis and hence the greater the probability that they will be inherited together. (DM)

LINNAEUS, CAROLUS: (1707-1778) Swedish naturalist. Linnaeus established the system of taxonomy for plant species in Species Plantarum (1753) and for animal species in Systema Naturae (1758). He served as a professor of botany at the University of Uppsala, and ten years after his death, the Linnaean Society of London was established to continue his work on taxonomy of plant and animal species. (AG)

LITERACY RATE: The proportion of a population that read and write. (DM)

LITHOSPHERE: Refers to areas of the surface of the Earth not covered by water (see BIOSPHERE, HYDROSPHERE). (IP)

LITHIUM: A most reactive silver-white metal. Its salts; such as lithium carbonate, are effective in stabilizing recurrent manic-depressive cycles, although its mechanism of action by which they help return homeostatic flexibility to emotional behavior, is not clear. Mood-stabilizing drugs are essential modern tools in the long-term management of manic depression (or bipolar illness), and lithium carbonate was the first drug to be discovered with therapeutic properties. Since lithium is not effective in all who suffer bipolar illness, during the 1980s a group of drugs already successful in the treatment of epilepsy - the anticonvulsants - have become a valuable addition to its treatment. The usefulness of lithium in mania was serendipitously discovered in the late 1940s by John Cade, an Australian psychiatrist. While seeking a toxic agent in the urine of psychotic patients, Cade combined lithium with uric acid to make the latter more soluble in water in order to inject the compound into guinea pigs who, in turn, became very quiet without falling asleep. By an intuitive leap, Cade decided to give lithium salts to several agitated and manic patients who were under his care. One of the first patients Cade treated had been in the hospital, chronically manic, for five years, yet within three weeks he was "enjoying the unaccustomed and quite unexpected amenities of a convalescent ward", and after three months he was so improved that he left the hospital to return to work and to his family. This extraordinary discovery has revolutionized the pharmacological treatment of manic-depressive illness and lithium salts are now used widely across the world. However, the toxicity of lithium in high doses to the heart and kidney is of concern, and there are also other adverse side-effects such as stomach upsets and hand tremors. In common with the anticonvulsants, lithium reduces the excitability of the neuron, probably by changing the dynamics of the ions passing back and forth through the membrane wall. In addition, lithium alters the balance among the neurotransmitter operating systems of the limbic system, strengthening the serotonin messenger system which is important in preventing depression. Manic depression is the most predictable recurrent mood disorder. Approximately 95% of those who suffer mania will experience recurrent manic or melancholic episodes throughout their lives, and before discovery of lithium many became irretrievably ill (Greek lithos stone) (see BIPOLAR DEPRESSION, BRAIN NEUROTRANSMITTERS, DEPRESSION, ELECTROCONVULSIVE THERAPY, LIMBIC SYSTEM, SEROTONIN RE-UPTAKE INHIBITORS, UNIPOLAR DEPRESSION). (IP)

LITTORAL: (Latin: littorālis ‘shore’) Existing on or pertaining to a shore; the shoreline environment of a lake, river or sea. (MP)

LIVE ABORTED FETUS: When an aborted fetus is alive, in many countries ff doctors wish to perform experiments legally they must seek statutory authority. Some consider it is a person, no matter how short the period of gestation and using it for an experiment would in law be at least an assault upon it. (JA)

LIVE DONOR: A term used to refer to a person who remains alive after donating part or all of an organ, e.g. one kidney or part of a liver, to another person. (DM)

LIVING: A recognition of the self-reproducing capacity of alive organisms.

LIVING DICTIONARY: A living dictionary is a dictionary which is never finished. Its authors hope to keep adding, deleting and improving entries for many years to come. Readers are invited to take part in this process, submitting new entries or additions or revisions to old ones. In this way a living dictionary can continue forever. The idea of a living book, with no limit to its size, its changes or the number of its authors, recognizes the limitations of human intelligence and the fact that knowledge is never finished, but can always grow and improve. This dictionary is a living dictionary. (FL)

LIVING MODIFIED ORGANISMS: The term used to refer to living Genetically Modified Organisms in the Cartegena Protocol of the Biodiversity Convention. (See CARTEGENA PROTOCOL OF THE BIODIVERSITY CONVENTION, GMOs). (DM)

LIVING RELIGION: A self-regulated set of behavioral mores.

LIVING WILL: Written, witnessed declarations in which persons request that if they become disabled beyond reasonable expectation of recovery, they be allowed to die rather than be kept alive by extraordinary means. (see ADVANCE DIRECTIVES). (DM, +IP+FL)




LOCKE, JOHN: (1632-1704) English physician, political theorist and philosopher. He is thought of as the father of liberal democracy, urging in his "Letter Concerning Toleration" a free society where all beliefs, especially in religious matters, are to be allowed and their expression is to be permitted. Locke makes exceptions, however. Adulterers, whom he classes with thieves and murderers, are not to be allowed. Nor are atheists, who -- Locke says -- cannot be trusted to keep their promises.

Locke's political writings, especially the Second Treatise on Civil Government, gave the ideological explanation of the Glorius Revolution, which forced the abdication of James II, and brought William of Orange from Holland, to rule England with highly limited powers. This idea of a monarch whose powers are limited by an agreement with the people who crowned him, is explained in Locke's political writings as the "Social Contract". Although the idea appeared earlier, in the writings of John Milton, who wrote ideological pamphlets for Cromwell's revolution earlier in the same century, Locke usually gets the credit. The idea of a social contract between people and sovereign, with the sovereign having those, and only those powers which the contract grants, is the source of the "contractual model" of the physician-patient relationship, which one often sees in the bioethics literature. (FL)

LOCUS: The position on a chromosome of a gene or other chromosome marker, and also the DNA at that position. Some restrict use of locus to regions of DNA that are expressed. (See ALLELES, GENE EXPRESSION).

LOD SCORE (Logarithm of the Odd): Measures the likelihood that two loci rest in close proximity on a chromosome. In linkage analysis studies, multiple loci are probed to search the for a candidate gene for the disease. The LOD score values  3 indicate there is a 1000:1 probability that the marker and the disease locus are close one from another, whereas values  -2 indicate the probability of proximity is 1:100, excluding the gene from that chromosomal region. (GK)

LONELINESS: An experience of absence and unhappiness involving longing for human companionship, and feeling as though there are no inner or outer connections within oneself or to other people. It is different from being alone, as solitude can be an invigorating experience. Loneliness is most common during a transitional period following the loss of a friend or loved one. (See SOLITUDE) (MP)

LONGITUDINAL STUDY: A study or survey which extends over a certain period or is repeated at certain intervals in order to analyze changes over time. (See , CROSS-SECTIONAL STUDY, MONITORING, TIME-SERIES DATA) (MP)

LOVE: 1. an intense affectionate concern for another living organism or object 2. the biological imperative for humane survival 3. an intense sexual desire for another person. Love often becomes the last refuge or common denominator and has been given other names: God, the soul, values (see LOVE OF LIFE, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE). (IP)

LOVE OF LIFE: The concept of Bioethics as the Love of Life was developed by Darryl Macer in 1994, and was the title of his 1998 book. The ethical ideals of self-love, Loving others, loving good and loving life are used to help resolve moral dilemmas. (DM)


LOW BIRTH WEIGHT: A birth weight of 2500 grams (5 lb., 8 oz.) or less, in the USA. As technology develops the weight of a baby at borth that places them at danger decreases. As nutrition improves the average weight may increase, so each country may define this differently. (DM)

LOW FREQUENCY ACTIVE SONAR: Recently developed US military technology designed to detect ‘quiet’ submarines across as much as 75% of the ocean. Unfortunately, low frequency sonar is in fact a long-range and high intensity signal which interferes substantially with the tranquility of the global underwater environment and the safety of oceanic animals, especially those which rely on sonar for navigation and communication. Harassment and actual death has been evidenced during previous tests of the technology in the Bahamas and Canary Islands, in which rare beaked whales, among others, washed up with hemorrhaged eardrums. (See NUCLEAR SUBMARINE, SONAR, SUBMARINE) (MP)

LREC: Local Research Ethics Committee, United Kingdom.


LUST: 1. sexual desire; 2. some other strong primal urge. (RW)

LYME DISEASE: A disability disease caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorfei . No vaccine has been developed, but research is ongoing. (JA)


































MAB: Man and Biosphere Program; Monoclonal Antibody.

MABO CASE: In 1992 the High Court of Australia upheld the claims of the Meriam people of Murray Island, represented by Edy Mabo, maintaining that since they had continually occupied their land they had a legitimate native title claim to it and, therefore, land rights. This legislation led to the establishment of Land Councils across Australia to administer land, community legal claims, act as advisory council on issues of heritage and so on. Native Title Legislations and Anti-Discrimination Acts were tangible achievements reflecting an increasing community desire for spiritual reconciliation and healing (see RECONCILIATION), particularly following the 1987 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody which found that high levels of Aboriginal incarceration were the result of inequities experienced by Aboriginal people (see NATIVE TITLE LEGISLATION - AUSTRALIA). (IP)




MACRO- : Combining prefix indicating large, great, long (as opposed to micro-), from Latin makrós. Macro-scale systems include habitats, ecosystems, communities, cities, nations etc. (See INTER-, MEGA-, META-, MICRO-, SCALE, TRANS-) (MP)

MACROECONOMICS: The branch of economics which investigates monetary policy in terms of aggregate economic statistics at a national level, such as budget and trade deficits and overall growth, unemployment and interest rates. (See ECONOMY, MICROECONOMICS) (MP)

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