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NEIJING: (Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine). A classical text of Chinese medicine written about 3rd century bce. This text is attributed to the "Yellow Emperor" (Huang-di).The Neijing provides the basis for Chinese traditional medicine. It is divided into two parts: Su Wen (Plain Questions) and Ling Shu (Miraculous Pivot). The book includes a detailed description of traditional Chinese theory of medicine, including acupuncture (see ACUPUNCTURE). (AG)

NEOLITHIC AGE the archeological age beginning around 10,000 BC characterized by agricultural practices. (IP)

NEOMORTS: See BRAIN DEATH.

NEONATAL DEATH: the death of a live-born infant during the first 28 days after birth; however, early neonatal death is usually considered to be one that occurs during the first 7 days (Greek neos new + Latin natus born) (see NEONATAL PERIOD). (IP)

NEONATAL PERIOD: the period from birth to 28 days of age, during which the newborn must make the physiological and emotional transition from the warmth and security of the womb to independent survival. It is a period when the infant needs protecting from infection and other environmental stresses, normally freely provided through loving care. (IP).


NEONATOLOGY: Neonatology is that branch of medicine, which deals with new-born babies. Neonate intensive care units (NICU) treat both premature babies and babies born with serious anomalies. NICU nurses develop a close relationship and intimate familiarity with their patients and their problems, which gives them considerable professional autonomy and recognition of their authoritative status in clinical decision making. Some neonatologists think that eventually the nurses will run the NICU, and the physicians will only be consultants. NICU nursing is therefore a model for nursing ethics.

Some of the most difficult ethical problems in the NICU arise from disagreements between staff and parents. Sometimes the parents want to continue treatment, while the staff are ready to discontinue. In this case, the staff will often make the extra effort, knowing that if they do succeed in saving the baby, it will receive all love and care. But sometimes the parents want to discontinue treatment while the staff want to continue. In this case the fact that the baby is not the parents' property, but a human being in his or herself, may lead the staff to ignore the parents' wishes and to save a human life. But the subsequent burden on the parents cannot be ignored. A policy of saving life whenever possible must be accompanied by the development of appropriate social services and institutional care, in order to ease the burden on parents. (FL)


NEONATE: An infant from birth to 28 days of age (see NEONATAL PERIOD). (JA)

NERVE CELLS: See NEURON.

NERVOUS SYSTEM: See AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM, BRAIN, CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM, NEURON.

NEST: 1. Home of an animal, e.g. burrow, bird nest, ants nest. 2. Topological term for a grouping of modules within a network or a subsystem nested within a system. (See SYSTEMS THEORY) (MP)

NET: 1. A snare comprised of an interlaced network of lines thrown across an area to catch fish, insects etc. (See DRIFTNETS) 2. Colloquial shorthand for the Internet. (See INTERNET) (MP)

NETHERWORLD: Alternative to the heaven-hell model of the afterlife. In various traditions around the world, the souls or spirits of those who have died go to a place called the Netherworld (i.e. the world below), and their existance continues there. In this model of the afterlife, all go to the Netherworld, regardless of the merit of their actions, because this is simply the domain of the dead, just as the previous world is the domain of the living. In the Old Testament, the Netherworld is referred to as She'ol, and no clear mention of either heaven or hell appears in the Old Testament. It would appear that these concepts were borrowed from the Zoroastrian view of the universe (see ZOROASTRIANISM). This Zoroastrian view had a profound effect on Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In Greek tradition, the Netherworld was reached by ferry across the river Styx. The ancient Greeks had a custom of burying their dead with a coin in the mouth, so that the dead person would have the fare to pay the ferryman on the river Styx. In Babylonian tradition, the netherworld was reached through a series of gates. (AG)

NETIQUETTE: ("Internet" + "Etiquette") Online standards of practice and social codes of politeness for e-mail and internet communication. New circumstances in social relations such as anonymity and interactivity on the internet and the dynamics and efficiency of e-mails necessitated this new adaptation of "etiquette". Cyberspace opens up a realm of communication opportunities, but netiquette reminds us that these are connections to real people who deserve ethical online behavior. Nevertheless, the net is often a much more informal and flexible place, with surprising linkages and humorous web avenues, formality foregone in many net interactions, and sloppy spelling and grammar often considered ok in e-mails. (See E-MAIL, EMOTIONS, INTERNET) (MP)

NETWORK: At its simplest, a network is a system of intersection points (nodes), and flow routes (links). This type of system is modeled using ‘network geometry’ and the ‘network flow diagram’ in which the nodes and links are retained and extraneous complicating detail sacrificed. A network may be a tangible real-world system (e.g. ecosystem, transport network) or a model of intangible concepts (domains of philosophy/information, e.g. the Internet). (See NETWORK DYNAMICS, NEURAL NETWORKS, SYSTEM, WEB) (MP)

NETWORK ANALYSIS: It is a technique used to control and plan large projects It monitors the progress of the project and plans for the completion of a project in a given time. (JA)

NETWORK DYNAMICS: Network dynamics are the factors in networks changing with time. In the ‘network flow diagram’ the node is a graph vertex and the links are graph edges. ‘Flows’ (money, information, material) may be one-way or both ways along a ‘link’ (circuit, road, production chain, economic relationship, internet connection etc.) to be distributed or transformed at a ‘node’ (individual, town, institution, cluster of activity etc.). A ‘connectivity matrix’ can be used to arrange numerical network data for statistics. (See CYBERNETICS, FEEDBACK, NETWORK, SYSTEM DYNAMICS, THRESHOLD) (MP)

NEURAL COMPUTING: Computational models based on neural networks, which use associative memory, inductive reasoning, pattern recognition, parallel processing, interactive networks and learning algorithms. (See ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, ARTIFICIAL NEURAL NETWORKS, GENETIC ALGORITHMS, NEURAL NETWORKS, SMART DUST) (MP)

NEURAL NETWORKS: 1. Nerve cells (neurons or neural connections) are arranged and act in a network. The neuron is comprised of a nucleus (node), dendrites (inputs), axons (outputs) and synapses (transmission of signals). Patterns of excitation across the network code for larger-scale information or emergent properties such as thoughts. (See AXON, DENDRITES, NETWORK, NEURON, SYNAPSE) 2. Any network with properties analogous to biological neural networks, for example artificial neural networks in computing. (See ARTIFICIAL NEURAL NETWORKS, NEURAL COMPUTING) (MP)


NEURAL TUBE DEFECT: A condition resulting from the failure of the neural tube to close during fetal development, resulting in spina bifida or anencephaly (see FOLIC ACID, SPINA BIFICA).

NEUROLOGY: (Greek: neuron "nerve" + logos "study" or "science"). Neural biology and medicine. The study of the anatomy, physiology, processes, function and diseases of the brain and nervous system. (MP)

NEUROHORMONE: a hormone produced in neurones such as those of the hypothalamus and released into the bloodstream, the cerebrospinal fluid, or intercellular spaces of the nervous system. (IP)

NEURON: (Greek neuron 'nerve'). A nervous system is made up largely of nerve cells or neurons derived from the embryonic ectoderm and characterized by a membrane potential (electrical charge) that can change in response to stimuli generating action potentials (electrical discharges). Neurons form the grey matter of the nervous system and are found at the periphery of the brain, in the center of the spinal cord, in groups called ganglia outside the brain and spinal cord and as single cells in the wall of organs. Action potentials are generated along an extension of the cell (the axon), which makes junctions (synapses) with other neurons, muscle cells, or gland cells. The primary function of the neuron is conduction and information processing. (See AXON, BRAIN NEUROTRANSMITTERS, DENDRITES, NEUROHORMONE, NEUROLOGY, SENSES). (IP)



NEUROTRANSMITTERS: see BRAIN NEUROTRANSMITTERS.

NEUROTOXIN: a poison that acts directly on the tissues of the central nervous system; such as the toxin secreted in the venom of certain snakes, or present in the spines of certain shellfish, or produced by certain bacteria (Greek neuron
nerve + toxikon poison). (IP)

NEUTRON BOMB: also known as 'enhanced-radiation weapon' or 'nuclear weapon' that is designed to emit radiation penetrating armored vehicles killing the occupants inside. Unlike the atom bomb, it causes little blast or thermal effect but cannot be countered by normal nuclear, biological or chemical precautions. NATO regards this bomb as its only secure defense against armored attack. (See ATOM BOMB, PLUTONIUM). (IP)

NEW TESTAMENT: Sacred literature of Christianity, centred on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The New Testament was composed by many authors, mainly in the Greek language during the 1st Century. The New Testament advances from the 'eye for an eye' mentality, Christ teaching the oppressed instead to 'love thine enemy'. (See BIBLE, CHRIST, JUDEO-CHRISTIAN, OLD TESTAMENT) (MP)

NEWLY EMERGED PROBLEM: In the field of bioethics (see BIOETHICS) this means, a problem or question raised by new scientific and technological procedures or discoveries, which human kind was not faced before. In the field of Islamic bioethics it gains another concept which means a new problem or question which did not deal or answer directly, in the primary sources of Islamic jurisprudence like Qur'an and Hadith (Mostah-dath'ah in Arabic).The Islamic Jurists have to extract the answer for that question, from the primary sources of Islamic law with cooperation with the specialist of the field. (AB)

NEWLY INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES (NIC): The NICs are countries which have been able to take advantage of their entrepreneurial skills and manufacturing base to boost their development in the international economic system. These countries often have open, stable political systems but poor workers rights, allowing cheaply produced export goods. The NICs include the "Asian Tiger" States such as Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore, as well as some emerging South American markets. (See DEVELOPED NATIONS, DEVELOPING NATIONS) (MP)

NEWTON, SIR ISAAC: (1642-1727). English scientist who developed, among other things, the general rules of calculus, advanced understanding of the nature of light, constructed reflecting telescopes and formulated the idea of universal gravitation when, by his own account, he saw an apple fall to the ground. In 1687 Newton synthesized his research in one of the most important books in the history of science 'Philosophia Naturalis Principia Mathematica' or 'The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy' which established Newton as one of the greatest of all physical scientists. Principia deals with the science of moving bodies and establishes Newton's three laws of motion. (See CLASSICAL MECHANICS, EINSTEIN, NEWTON'S LAWS OF MOTION, PLANCK, QUANTIM THEORY). (IP)

NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION: The three laws of motion include the law of universal gravitation, and the law that planets move in ellipses under a central force which is inversely proportional to the square of the distance. (See CLASSICAL MECHANICS, NEWTON). (IP)


NEW GENETICS: Modern branch of genetics, using genetic engineering technology dealing with GMOs and cloning. (JA)

NIACIN: (Nicotinic Acid). Niacin is a vitamin of the B complex group and occurs in both plant and animal tissue but in different forms. The body changes the niacin from plant food to niacinamide for use while animal foods contain niacinamie ready for use. Niacin takes part in the production of energy and tissue respiration and is essential for the maintenance of a healthy skin, normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, maintenance of the nervous system and the synthesis of sex hormones. Pellagra is a niacine deficiency disease. It’s water-soluble and not sensitive to heat. The vitamin is found in good quantity in brewer’s yeast, unpolished rice, wheat germ, whole grain wheat, dried apricots, almonds, avocadoes, lentils and lima beans. Rich animal sources are meats like poultry, fish, liver, kidney and eggs. (See MINERAL AND VITAMIN DEFICIENCY, MINERALS, NUTRITION, VITAMIN A, VITAMIN B, VITAMIN B COMPLEX, VITAMIN C, VITAMIN D, VITAMIN E, VITAMIN K). (IP)


NIC: See NEWLY INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES.

NICHE: (Latin: nidus "nest") The place or role of a species within an ecosystem. The combination of tactics and resources which comprise the competitive strategy used by a species for success in natural selection. The ecological niche of a species may be defined by its food, shelter, foraging habitat, mating season and other ecological interactions. A niche may also refer to any competitive position particularly suited to the occupier of that position, such as a person’s niche in the workplace, or a specific market which is advantageous to a company. (See ECOLOGICAL NICHE, NICHE DIFFERENTIATION). (MP)

NICHE DIFFERENTIATION: Co-existence within a species or between similar species who share fundamentally the same ecological niche, but are distributed with different sub-habitats, seasonal periods and/or habitat partitions as a result of resource competition. (See ECOLOGICAL NICHE, NICHE) (MP)

NICOTINE: A liquid alkaloid obtained from the dried leaves of the tobacco plant Nicotiana tabacum first synthesized in 1904. Nicotine is an extremely poisonous drug where a few drops in the stomach may be sufficient to cause death due to respiratory paralysis. Since the drug is readily absorbed through the skin rapidly entering the bloodstream, smoking is the most effective method to gain a quick fix. Pharmacologically, nicotine stimulates the sympathetic autonomic nervous system and drug-dependence readily develops being characterized by a strong desire to continue to smoke. (See ADDICTION, SMOKING, TOBACCO). (IP)



NICOTINIC ACID: See NIACINE.

NIH: National Institutes of Health of the USA.

NIMBY: Shorthand for "Not In My Back Yard", highlighting public concern about the location of potentially dangerous nuclear, industrial and biotechnology developments. (MP)

NITROGEN: An abundant, chemically inert gas that makes up 78% of the atmosphere, but unlike carbon dioxide which photosynthesizers use directly, nitrogen cannot be used by most organisms in its gaseous form but has to be converted into biologically useful forms by a few species of bacteria and cyanobacteria. Usable nitrogen is often in short supply in ecosystems and is the reason why it is supplied in commercial fertilizers. (See EUTROPHICATION, NITROGEN CYCLE, NITROGEN FIXATION). (MP & IP)

NITROGEN CYCLE: (Greek: nitron "soda" + genein "to produce" + kyklos "circle). The conversion of organic molecules containing nitrogen (a component of amino acids) into inorganic molecules (mostly in the form of nitrates or ammonia) in several stages by different organisms, followed by their uptake into plants and organic molecules. This movement of nitrogen among organisms accounts for about 95% of all nitrogen fluxes on Earth (see NITROGEN, NITROGEN FIXATION). (MP & IP)

NITROGEN FIXATION: The process of conversion or fixation of inorganic nitrogen gas from the atmosphere into substances such as ammonia, which makes nitrogen available to living organisms. Nitrogen fixation is essential in the synthesis of amino acids, proteins and other nitrogen-containing compounds. The organisms responsible for nitrogen fixation are either symbiotic bacteria living in association with a plant, such as those living in the root nodules of leguminous plants or inside lichens, or free-living forms such as blue-green algae. (See BIOGEOCHEMICAL CYCLES, NITROGEN CYCLE). (MP+IP)


NITROUS OXIDE: Nitrous oxide, (N2O) is a colorless gas used as a short-lasting, incomplete general anesthetic in dentistry, childbirth and minor surgery. It should be administered in combination with oxygen to prevent anoxia and asphyxiation. Also called laughing gas, it induces giggling and temporary impairment of senses and is sometimes abused recreationally by inhaling commercially available "whipped-cream bulbs" through a cloth filter. (IP, MP)

NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US).

NOISE: 1. Sound waves, measured in decibels. (See DECIBEL, NOISE POLLUTION) 2. Data which is random or unorganized; the opposite of ‘information’; precision is a measure of freedom from noise; different to bias, noise is random variability or a non-directional type of error; noise averages to zero and can be equalized out using statistical inference; noise (e.g. ambiguity, typing errors, static interference) is an unavoidable characteristic of research and communication. (See BIAS, ERROR, FUZZY LOGIC, INFORMATION, STATISTICAL INFERENCE) (MP)

NOISE POLLUTION: 1. Sound, at sufficient volume or constancy, can become a form of pollution. Noise at greater than 100 decibels (hard rock concert, jack-hammer, jet engine) can cause pain and hearing impairment. Noise which is at a lower level but constant (e.g. underwater Low Frequency Active Sonar used by the US Navy) also acts as a broad environmental pollutant. (See DECIBEL, LOW FREQUENCY ACTIVE SONAR) (MP)

NON-BIODEGRADABLE: Inorganic or persistent organic materials in human pollution which cannot be broken down in the environment by bacteria and other decomposers within a time frame of many generations. These long-lived waste products may be present in the atmosphere, land and water systems, and include non-compostable domestic wastes and chemical/industrial constituents of the solid waste stream. (See BIODEGRADABLE, PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS) (MP)

NON-CONSUMERISM: See DEMATERIALIZATION.

NONDIRECTIVE COUNSELING: Counseling in which the counsellor lets the person being counselled make up their own decision without leading or dogmatically stating which is the best choice. (See GENETIC COUNSELING). (DM)

NON LETHAL WEAPONRY: Weapons designed to detect, prevent or negate aggression without taking human life. Perhaps the turning point in the concept of weapon lethality was realization of the ridiculous levels of destructive power contained in nuclear weapons. Even with conventional weapons use of lethal power is counter-productive, exacerbating hatred and revenge attacks. In this age of peacekeeping we must not succumb to the notion that war is about killing. Non lethal weaponry includes rubber bullets, tear gas, catch-nets, sticky foam, calmative & sleep agents, microwave guns, infrasound, blinding lasers, and mines & grenades designed to maim not kill. Other weapons are designed to immobilize vehicles, machinery or command & control systems, for example cyber-warfare, directed energy weapons, high power microwaves, metal embrittlement, anti-traction lubricants and polymer adhesive glue. Another class are weapons designed only to minimize allied casualties, for example body armor, unmanned aerial vehicles and virtual warfare. One argument says that any world power wanting to exert influence based on a reputation of human values should be focused on non lethal weaponry. Even hardened old military commanders see strategic and psychological advantage in wounding. The horrible after-effects of wounding have sparked protest - possibly people are more desensitized to killing than to the creation of cripples. Skeptics are concerned about the spread of crippling weapons in that grey area approaching lethality. They may be misused against peaceful protesters in crowd control at the hands of oppressive security forces. There is also potential for misuse such as terrorist sabotage and hostage capture. Conversely, one of the most promising applications is in terrorist response and hostage rescue. (See CYBER WARFARE, DEMILITARIZATION, DISARMAMENT, GENEVA CONVENTIONS, JUST WAR THEORY, LASER WEAPONS, PEACEKEEPING, SPACE WEAPONS, VIRTUAL WEAPONS) (MP)

NONMALEFICENCE: The state of not doing harm or evil; compare beneficence. 1.non-harmful or non-evil, bioethics= loving life 2. Medical usage non-malpractice or conduct, an obligation to not inflict pain, harm, misinformation or risk on others- avoid malevolence [Latin non not] see MALIFICENCE. (DM)


NON-OBVIOUSNESS: One of the criteria applied for PATENTS to be awared. (See OBVIOUSNESS) (DM).

NON-PATERNITY: The presumed father is found to not be the genetic father. (DM)

NON-REPRODUCTIVE CLONING: See STEM CELL.

NON-RENEWABLE RESOURCES: Sources of energy and materials from nature which are unable to be replaced or regenerated within a timescale similar to the human utilization of the resource. Examples include fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, or irreplaceable ecological resources such as endangered species/habitats, old-growth forests and wilderness areas. (See RENEWABLE ENERGY, RENEWABLE RESOURCES, RESOURCE) (MP)



NON SEQUITUR: Latin for “it doesn’t follow”, a non sequitur is a statement whose conclusion doesn’t follow from its premises. (See FALLACY, PREMISES, REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM) (MP)

NON-THERAPEUTIC : Something which does not serve the purposes of benefiting an individual patient. (DM)

NONTHERAPEUTIC RESEARCH: Research that is not intended to benefit the subject on whom it is performed . (DM)

NONVIOLENCE: See AHIMSA, PACIFISM.

NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE: Non-violent resistance may include strategies of diplomacy, political means, appeal to world opinion, civil disobedience, industrial action, protest and nonviolent direct action. Examples of nonviolent resistance include Gandhi’s pacifist defiance of the British Raj, response to the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the American civil rights movement of Martin Luther King Jr. Outbreaks of violence may undermine an otherwise well-meaning protest, and may be sparked by aggressive action by unrestrained security forces, or perhaps reflect an utterly disenfranchised minority or the depths of pain and emotion invested in the issue. In the words of advice of John F. Kennedy to oppressive governments: “Those who make peaceful revolutions impossible will make violent revolutions inevitable.” (See NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION, PACIFISM) (MP)

NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION: Protests outside the institutionalized framework which do not incorporate aggression, threat, violence or property damage. Activism which is morally steadfast is more able to provoke admiration and sympathy for the cause. (See ACTIVISM, CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, DIRECT ACTION, NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE, PACIFISM, PEACE MOVEMENT) (MP)

NOOSPHERE: The noosphere is the cognitive layer of the Earth, used by Teilhard de Chardin to imply some kind of emergent ‘global brain’. (See ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, BIOSPHERE, GLOBAL BRAIN, INFOSPHERE, INTERNET, SMART DUST) (MP)

NORMAL DISTRIBUTION: The ‘normal distribution’ is a function in which the variables fit the symmetrical, unimodal ‘bell curve’, which has the majority around the measure of central tendency, tapering off either side in a probabilistic manner without any skew or kurtosis. Parametric statistics assume the normal distribution. Many ecological variables and biological functions approximate the normal distribution. (See EXPONENTIAL, FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION, KURTOSIS, PARAMETER, PARAMETRIC STATISTICS, SKEW) (MP)




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