SWASTIKA: 1. counterclockwise- Ancient symbol of good luck. This symbol is found in inscriptions and on monuments of several different cultures. In India this symbol has special connection with the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. In several countries in East Asia it serves as the symbol of Buddhism, 2. clockwise- symbol adopted by the National Socialist (Nazi) party in Germany as the official symbol of the party.(AG)
SWINGING: Extra-marital sex in which consenting couples temporarily exchange partners with one another. Previously termed "wife-swapping", this became "swinging" to remove the sexist connotation that men are the only eager instigators. Closed swinging is when the pairs have intercourse in private, but open swinging, or a foursome, lessens the anxiety and jealousy of not knowing and allows the emergence of repressed bisexuality. Research has shown that 75% of such cases include lesbian activities, but male homosexual sex is rare. Swinging can of course be emotionally dangerous, and is best if it happens in a relaxed, natural way between non-jealous committed partners interested in outside experience without the conventional and emotionally immature Western solution of adultery. (See OPEN MARRIAGE, ORGY) (MP)
SYMBIOSIS: "Living together" (from the Greek: sym "together" and bios "life"). In ecology the term is commonly used to describe cooperation between two or more species in which there is mutual benefit from the association. Sometimes the term is used more broadly and broken up into mutualism, commensalism and parasitism. Examples of mutual symbioses include the interaction between zooxanthellae and cnidarians to form coral reefs, or between plants and their pollinators. Symbiotic organisms may be more vulnerable to disturbance because the preconditions for both species must be preserved. (See COMMENSALISM, MUTUALISM, PARASITE) (MP)
SYMPATHY: (Greek: sympatheia "together in suffering") A feeling of awareness and pity for another person’s distress or sorrow, perhaps with sharing of the other's emotions. Sympathy between two things refers to behavioural harmony, for example sympathetic vibrations, sympathy for a cause, or in biology the mutual interaction of paired organs. Sympathy for another person allows the more objective emotional insights of empathy and leads to compassionate behaviour. (See COMPASSION, EMPATHY). (MP)
symPATry: (Greek: sym ‘together’ and Latin: patria ‘homeland’). Occupying the same geographic distribution or range. (Compare Allopatry) (MP)
SYMPTOM: (Greek: sumpiptein ‘to occur’) In medicine, any subjectively experienced change in body function, sensation or ill-feeling which is indicative of a particular physical disease or mental disorder. This is distinct from a sign, which is a more objectively observable bodily manifestation indicative of disease. In non-medical usage, symptom is similar to sign - an indication of the existence of something. (See SIGN, SYNDROME) (MP)
SYNAPSE: The synapse is the junction between two nerve cells (neurons). Communication is achieved across the synapse by converting electrical nervous impulses into neurotransmitter chemicals which travel from the axon to the dendrites of neighboring neurons. In a neuromuscular synapse, transmitter substances such as acetylcholine cross the synaptic cleft between the motor neuron and the muscle to be stimulated. (See AXON, BRAIN NEUROTRANSMITTERS, DENDRITES, NEURON) (MP)
SYNDROME: The combination of signs and symptoms which occur together in any particular disorder. A family of diseases E.g. Down dyndrome, AIDS. (JA)
SYNESTHESIA: (Greek: syn 'together' + aisthetikos 'capacity for perception/sensitivity') A phenomenon in which sensations of two or more modalities accompany one another; for example a visual sensation is experienced when a particular sound is heard, or a smell is experienced on seeing images on a TV screen, or the different letters of the alphabet are seen in differing but specific personal colors. The phenomenon is also termed secondary sensation and can be dramatically induced in some drug states, presumably through the loss of the normal inhibitory mechanisms which isolate the central processing of the senses (Greek syn together + aisthetikos capacity for perception/sensitivity). (IP+MP)
SYNERGISM: The combined effects of two substances/pollutants/chemicals are greater than the sum total of their individual effect. Or the ability of two organisms to bring about changes (usually chemical) that neither can accomplish alone. (JA) (IP) (See CUMULATIVE EFFECTS)
SYNGAMY: The mingling of the male and female haploid chromosome sets following the breakdown of the pronuclear membranes. This results in the formation of the zygote. (DM)
SYNROC: (Synthetic + Rock) An artificial ceramic substance which can incorporate nuclear waste. (MP)
SYNTHETIC: See ARTIFICIAL.
SYNTHETIC HORMONE DISRUPTORS are man-made environmental toxicants implicated in reducing male fertility in humans and wildlife and in causing several types of human cancer, most controversially breast cancer. In the book Our Stolen Future, authors Colborn, Dumanoski and Myers assembled significant evidence, accumulated over many years, which implicate a wide range of industrial chemicals; such as the widely used alkyl ethoxylate detergents, brominated flame retardants, polychlorinated pesticides, biphenolic chemicals in epoxy resins, polycarbonated plastics and anti-fouling agents and synthetic steroids used in the female contraceptive pill, in highly disturbing environmental phenomena. Not since 1962, when Rachel Carson in Silent Spring highlighted the reproductive toxicity of DDT, has there been such public and scientific concern about the health risks posed by a single group of environmental toxicants (see DDT, POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYLS). (IP)
SYPHILIS: A sexually transmitted disease caused by the spirochete Treponema pallidum. There are three clearly marked stages of the disease. After an incubation period of several weeks, the primary sore (chancre) appears at the site of infection; for example, the vulva, vagina, perineum, penis and round the mouth. After several weeks the chancre subsides spontaneously. Secondary lesions, consisting of skin rashes and raised papules (condylomata lata) on the external genitalia and vaginal walls, appear 3-4 months after infection. The rashes subside after several months and are followed by a latent period of a variable number of years after which tertiary lesions (gumma) develop in the nervous system and many organs - sometimes causing a generalized paralysis. Sexual transmission occurs during the primary and secondary stages when the infectious discharge, containing living spirochetes, is transferred. Congenital transmission occurs when microbes from an infected mother cross the placenta to the fetus. Accidental spread of infection may also occur during childbirth or by blood transfusion. Syphilis, like AIDS, spreads most rapidly among the poor and mostly in developing countries. Syphilis and AIDS are very different diseases medically, but if they are juxtaposed then their similarities, especially in relation to their initial incurability, popular reactions provoked and the sense of emergency generated, become evident. (See AIDS). (IP)
SYSTEM: An organized unit with many components, a functional unit with an input and an output, at least two components are needed to create a system, components are independent and interdependent at the same time, components regularly interact to make an output, e.g. a watch, output = shows time, ecosystem's output is ecobalance, see ecobalance- has many subdivisions- simple, complex, open, closed, mature and youthful. H.T Odum defines " A system is a group of parts that are interacting according to some kind of process, and systems are often visualized as component blocks with some kind of connections drawn between them." There are several types we can include:
Simple system: has limited number of components with limited control systems e.g. A bottle and a screw cap.
Complex system: Has many components, intricately interconnected with many control systems. E,g, a spaceship.
Open system: indicates the free flow of matter and energy in and out of a system e.g. a pond/agricultural field. It has one or more inflows and outflows, biosphere is an open system. solar energy comes in and infra red radiation goes out.
Closed system: A system totally cut off from the main system. restriction in the flow of matter and energy in a system. eg. Nearest example - a sterile algae culture flask with nutrients, except for the input of energy source, as there is no system in complete isolation, such systems are rare and temporary.
Sub systems:systems within systems, A cell is a system and organ is a system, these form biological system, one sub-serves the other. (JA)
SYSTEMS ANALYSIS: Systems analysis looks at the nature and requirements of a system (e.g. a task, organization or ecology) and the conceptual feasibility of potential new arrangements. Systems theory investigates the interdependent parts, their functions and relations. The goal is systems engineering, design and construction of integrated systems (e.g. management models, software, hardware) using systems analysis in association with information technology. (See HIERARCHY THEORY, SYSTEM) (MP)
SYSTEM DYNAMICS: The factors changing in systems; the action of processes on systems. Components of systems affecting their dynamics include energy, mass and momentum (or their conceptual equivalents). Also pertinent are inputs, outputs, flows, feedback, rates of change, chemical reactions, mixing conditions etc. Behaviors and changes in the larger scale systems are often dependent on those of the smaller scale systems, but may also have unpredictable emergent properties. (See EMERGENT PROPERTIES, ENVIRONMENTAL PROCESSES, FEEDBACK, NETWORK DYNAMICS, PRESSURE/ STATE/ RESPONSE MODEL, PROCESS, SYSTEMS THEORY) (MP)
SYSTEMS THEORY: ‘Systems theory’ deals with the nature, function, behavior and organizational structure of systems. A system usually has properties of size (scale), shape (distribution), location (boundaries), mass (content), dynamics (energy/momentum) and organization (subsystems). Systems are composed and organized in ‘nested’ hierarchies of ‘subsystems’. These associational relationships lead to coordinated behavior in subsystems and ‘emergent properties’ of meta-systems. Awareness of this hierarchy of systems nested within systems is important; clusters of activity differently organized but correlated somewhat with the concept of ‘scale’. Primary categorizations of systems are by spatial (and temporal) scale, from micro-scale (molecules, cells) through macro- (ecosystems, cities) to mega-scale (global environment). ‘Complexity theory’ studies information, patterns and predictability and ‘emergent properties’ of systems. ‘Network geometry’ describes the network-type of system. ‘Systems analysis’, system dynamics’ and ‘fuzzy logic’ are other models. (See COMPLEXITY THEORY, ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS, FUZZY LOGIC, NETWORK, SCALE, SUBSYSTEM, SYSTEM, SYSTEM ANALYSIS, SYSTEM DYNAMICS) (MP)
TACTICS: Tactics are localized techniques or stratagems, the immediate means to desired or strategic ends. Strategy is the larger-scale framework of direction and control. Military tactics include specific offensives or maneuvers in the presence of battle. The ethics (jus ad bellum) of tactics, the blunt end of war and peacekeeping, are matters of great concern. (See JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL, JUS AD BELLUM, STRATEGY) (MP)
TAIGA: Northern hemisphere (Eurasia, North America) cold-temperate coniferous forest environment, habitat and ecological communities (evergreen conifers, pine, spruce, fir trees, mink, elk, wolf etc.) (See CONIFEROUS FOREST, TUNDRA) (MP)
TALMUD: The Talmud is a Jewish holy book, next in authority after the MISHNA (q.v.) The Talmud actually contains the Mishna, together with detailed commentaries on the Mishna, which are called the Gemarra. Just as the Mishna consists of Rabbinical attempts to explain what is unclear in the Bible, the Gemarra consists of later Rabbinical attempts to explain what is unclear in the Mishna. The Mishna is written in Hebrew. But most of the Gemarra was written in Babylon, after the Babylonians conquered the Land of Israel and forcefully exiled the Israeli people to various parts of the world. The Gemarra was written, therefore, in Aramaic, a language similar to Hebrew, which was the international language of much of the Middle East in those days. (FL)
TANAKH: The Jewish Scripture. The word Tanakh is an acronym (Torah+Nevi'im+Ketubim, i.e. Torah+Prophets+Writings). The concept of Tanakh differs from that of "Old Testament" in the Christian Bible, although two texts may appear quite similar. The traditional Jewish order of the text is based upon a tripartite division in which the category of "Writings" is a miscelanious category including Psalms, some historical books (such as Chronicles), and some books of wisdom literature (such as Ecclesiastes). The books of the Apocrypha are not included in the Tanakh. In addition, the authoritative language of the Tanakh is Hebrew. Translations into other languages are secondary. Finally, whereas the term "Old Testament" presupposes a New Testament, the Tanakh is self-contained from the Jewish perspective, and later books can at most serve as commentary to it. (AG)
TAO TE CHING: (Chinese: Classic of Tao "the Way" and Te "virtue") Philosophical Chinese text of Taoism, unsubstantiated authorship usually ascribed to Lao-Tse (alternate spellings Lao-zi or Lao Tzu), 6th Century BCE, possibly a composite of earlier philosophy from the 4th Century BCE. The Tao Te Ching promotes effortless harmony and spontaneity in accordance with the natural flows of the cosmos. The ornate style of the text leaves it open to varying interpretations. Taoism stands in general opposition to the ritual structure and moral discipline of Confucianism. (See CHUANG TZU, LAO-TSE, TAOISM) (MP)
TASTE: (Middle English tasten 'to taste'). The sense of perceiving different flavors in soluble substances. Taste buds are found in the papillae of the tongue, soft palate, pharynx and epiglottis and consist of small bundles of cells and nerve endings of the glosspharyngeal, facial and vagus nerves (cranial nerves VII, IX & X). Chemical substances in solution that enter the taste buds stimulate the nerve cells which transmit impulses to the thalamus of the brain and then to the taste area in the cerebral cortex where taste is perceived. There are four fundamental sensations of taste - sweet, sour, bitter and salt; however, this is probably an oversimplification because perception varies widely and many 'tastes' cannot be easily classified. (See SENSES). (IP)
TAXIS: The ability of a wide variety of microorganisms, simple animals and plants to respond to light, magnetic fields and chemical substances in the surrounding environment (see CHEMOTAXIS). (IP)
TAY-SACH’s DISEASE: A single gene disorder which destroys the insulating sheath around nerves and leads to death in infancy - is particularly common among Ashkenazi Jews as a consequence of the founder effect. (DM+DR)
T-DNA: transferred DNA . E.g in the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens a portion of its plasmid DNA is transferred on to a plant inducing the formation of a gall structure, a tumor like hard structure. (JA)
TEAMWORK: The coming together of an alliance or group of minds to collaborate, co-operatively work on a project, solve problems, negotiate, resolve conflict etc. Teamwork may involve a business or research team, a friendship group or marriage, may use techniques like brainstorming, group decision-support or the Delphi method, and may result in compromise or consensus. Whereas competition results in duplicated effort and lost efficiency, collaboration and cooperation ensure a certain balance and multiply the scale of possibilities. (See BRAINSTORMING, COLLABORATION, COLLECTIVE, COMPROMISE, CONSENSUS, COOPERATION, DELPHI METHOD, MARRIAGE, MATESHIP, MEDIATION, NEGOTIATION, UNITY) (MP)
TECHNOCRACY: Combining technology and democracy, the term technocracy was coined by William Henry Smyth to refer to democratic progress served by scientists and technicians. More recently its meaning has reversed and strengthened into a socio-political system controlled by 'rational' scientific, engineering and technological experts rather than true democratic principles. (See TECHNOCRAT, TECHNOLOGICAL DETERMINISM) (MP)
TECHNOCENTRIC: A condition of social orientation around technology; the philosophical viewpoint giving central importance to human technology (including economic, industrial and urban living). Technocentrism is a reminder of the modern predicament of our created environment alienating us from nature and our origins. (See ANTHROPOCENTRIC, BIOCENTRIC, ECOCENTRIC) (MP)
TECHNOCRAT: One who believes in technological determinism and technocentric social organization, basing political opinions and decisions upon technological 'requirements' rather than human needs and humane values. (See TECHNOCRACY, TECHNOLOGICAL DETERMINISM) (MP)
TECHNOLOGICAL DETERMINISM: Term coined by Thorstein Veblen to describe deterministic faith in technological progress, in which socio-political decisions and development processes are controlled by technological capacity rather than philosophical or ethical value systems. Technological determinism may increase apathy and environmental risk-taking due to faith in the technological 'quick fix'. Social guidance and political restraint should determine the advancement of technology, rather than humans becoming controlled and ensnared by our own inventions. (See TECHNOCRACY, TECHNOCRAT, TECHNOCENTRIC) (MP)
TECHNOLOGY: The modern world makes it almost impossible to unlink scientific discovery from subsequent technological use of that information. Scientists cannot dodge ethical consideration of the implications and possible impacts of proposed research. Semi-permeable barriers to the development of technology include whether to do the science (research and development stage), whether to publish the information (academic journals and media editors), and the ethics of engineers (design, engineering and production stages). Defense, economics and scientific curiosity have typically been the drivers of technology. Technologies have beneficial or detrimental impacts on human and ecological wellbeing depending on how they are used. Many have been found too dangerous and had their production reduced, for example biochemical weapons, thalidomide, DDT, CFCs etc. But technology has a habit of only appearing in the public consciousness once already at the design or application stages. Genetic engineering is an example, despite potential for accidental damage to ecosystems and potential future misuse in the form of biological weapons. The first nuclear explosion was detonated despite fears that unknown upper limits to the chain reaction might ignite the atmosphere. Artificial life and nanotechnology may be the technologies of the future which pose the greatest threat to humankind, specifically due to their potential for replication in an unlimited chain reaction. If we had a desire to block the dangerous implications of these two technologies then molecular electronics may be one of the few remaining bottlenecks. It is generally difficult to prevent the emergence of new technologies - before they become unstoppable except by the laws of physics. In parts this is due to the fragmented nature of international research, including corporate alliances, secret defense science, different national laws, and the widespread electronic accessibility of information. One argument goes that since the emergence of global-scale dangerous technologies are inevitable, benign powers must develop someaspects of them first to ensure appropriate global defenses. The other argument says that we must oppose them entirely with the use of new instruments of global law and professional codes of ethics. (See ACCELERATING PACE OF CHANGE, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, ENGINEERING ETHICS, MOLECULAR ELECTRONICS, NANOTECHNOLOGY WEAPONS, ROBOTICS, SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGIES, TECHNOLOGICAL DETERMINISM, VISIONARY COMPANY) (MP)
TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT: The evaluation of a technology in terms of its efficacy and impact on society. (DM)
TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER: The process of converting scientific knowledge into useful products. (DM)
TELAESTHESIA: See TELESTHESIA.
TELECOMMUTING: Working at home with the use of an internet connection to the workplace. (See VIDEO CONFERENCING) (MP).
TELECONFERENCING:See VIDEO CONFERENCING.
TELEOLOGICAL: Teleo (God) purpose oriented creation by God, beingness of human beings in the image of God. E.g. Purpose of the heart is to pump blood as opposed to Darwinism where the work of the heart is to pump blood. Genetic engineering alters the telos or being-ness of a being. (JA)
TELEOLOGY: A teleological explanation is explaining phenomena by their design, purpose, or final causes. A branch of moral philosophy dealing with cause and effect of an action, a belief that there are purposes and design in nature, consequently a belief in the existence of a Creator. Telos :end; the doctrine of ends, purpose or final causes e.g. The purpose of the heart is to pump blood to other parts of the body. Christians have used it to imply a design and purpose in creation by God, intrinsic value. (DM, JA)
TELEPATHY: (Greek: tele "far" + patheia "perception") The alleged ability to communicate thoughts and perceptions with another mind over a distance without the use of the sense organs. Traditionally scorned by scientific skeptics, a form of telepathy may conceivably be achieved through advances in cybernetics and wireless technology. Using implantable microchips grafted to the nervous system and a connection between two people with a wireless internet linkage, rudimentary telesthesia should be achievable, and potentially even the invisible bond of telepathic communication. Such research has been proposed and begun by the self-experimenting cybernetics pioneers Kevin and Irena Warwick. (See CYBERNETICS, MICROCHIP IMPLANTS, PSYCHOKINESIS, TELESTHESIA) (MP)
TELEPORTATION: The concept of Star Trek’s transportation beam has been a science fiction staple for many years, but the principle has also been worked upon by serious science, for example in IBM laboratories. The structure of an object could theoretically be mapped at an atomic level and converted into a coded signal for transmission at light speed, to be resurrected at the other end rather like a three-dimensional fax machine. The future advent of quantum computing combined with nanotechnology may provide the necessary technology. There would remain serious ethical doubts about the teleportation of living organisms. Leaving aside potential DNA mutations caused by copying errors, there would be philosophical questions as to what constitutes a continuous life-experience. There is no guarantee that the person at the other end would not just be a clone with your memories. From the perspective of Captain Kirk or Spock entering a teleportation device, each transfer may in fact be the death of their subjective existence. Current technology is far from this dilemma, with work rather being done at the atomic or quantum levels. Such research is nevertheless uncovering interesting questions, such as the tunnel effect in which information has been observed apparently moving faster than light. (MP)
TELESTHESIA: (Greek: tele "far" + aisthesis "sensation") Almost synonymous with telepathy, telesthesia is the ability to receive sensations or feelings from another person over a distance. This may be achievable through advances in cybernetics and wireless technology, with emotional states signaled between people via the internet. (See TELEPATHY) (MP)
TELEVISION (TV): TV is today so ubiquitous that it hardly needs defining to anyone in the world likely to be reading this. On the one hand it is a physical device which converts electrical impulses transmitted by radio waves or cable into audiovisual programs on a screen, first demonstrated by J. L. Baird in 1926 and broadcast into homes from the 1950s. On the other hand it is a massive medium of information distribution, a manipulator of emotions and a communications tool with immense potential for creating social change. The antenna skylines of most human settlements and the spread of popular icons such as the Simpsons are testament to the power of TV; perhaps more of this power could be today harnessed against human apathy and towards global awareness and ethical value systems. Control of the media is also control over human culture. The commercialization of TV has seen programming content reach new lows of pointless consumerism and violence, and the encroachment of entertainment into news and current affairs. The remote control also had a dramatic influence on viewing patterns, and by shortening attention spans has increased the tendency towards sensationalism and shallow treatment of subjects. Especially in the West, TV is a culturally sanctioned addiction. In addition to the costs of lost opportunity, prolonged watching may inhibit the development of active mental skills. Viewing requires minimal brain activity; a constant stream of input leaves little time for thinking or reflection. Unlike the internet, which involves motivation, or books which engage the imagination, TV is essentially a passive pursuit. The nature and content of television is changing, however. The transition to internet broadcasting and digital choice may increase viewer interactivity and the number of specialized channels, but may herald an end to the era of centralized direction and control of this means of mass education. (See CULTURE JAMMING, INTERNET, PROPAGANDA, SBS, TELEVISION ADDICTION, TELEVISION AS A TOOL FOR CHANGE, VIOLENT MEDIA) (MP)
TELEVISION ADDICTION:See INTERNET ADDICTION, TELEVISION AS A TOOL FOR CHANGE.
TELEVISION AS A TOOL FOR CHANGE: See TELEVISION, TELEVISION ADDICTION.
TELOMERASE: See CLONING, TELOMERE.
TELOMERE: See CLONING, LIFE EXTENSION, TELOMERASE.
TEMPERATE RAINFOREST: Moist closed-canopy evergreen forest in temperate climates. These mid-latitude rainforests usually have a simpler structure and composition than tropical rainforests, often with only a single canopy, a lower diversity of species, smaller-leaved slender trees, and ferns abundant but palms rare. Temperate rainforests may interface with subtropical, wet sclerophyll, broadleaf or evergreen mixed forests. In the Australian example most temperate rainforests are to be found in New South Wales, which also contains dry and subtropical rainforest types. They include cathedral-like cool temperate rainforests dominated by Antarctic Beech Nothofagus moorei or Pinkwood Eucryphia moorei, and warm temperate rainforests often dominated by Coachwood Ceratopetalum apetalum and Sassafras Doryphora sassafras. (See TROPICAL RAINFOREST) (MP)
TEMPERATURE: Temperature is a property of matter which measures the kinetic energy of particles resulting from the application of heat. All objects emit and absorb radiation, and are at a constant temperature when these are balanced. Temperature is measured by observing gas pressure or liquid expansion in a thermometer. The Celsius scale has the reference points of 0°C for freezing and 100°C for boiling point of water. The Fahrenheit scale has 32°F for freezing and 212°F for boiling. The Kelvin scale is widely used in science, beginning at absolute zero (0K = -273°C) with the same change per degree as the Celsius scale (thus 0°C = 273K). (See CELSIUS DEGREE, FAHRENHEIT, HEATING, THERMODYNAMICS) (MP)
TERATOGEN: Any reproductive and /or developmental toxicant that induces structural malformations, metabolic or physiological dysfunction, or psychological/behavioral deficits in the offspring, either at birth or in any defined postnatal period (See CONGENITAL MALFORMATION, TERATOLOGY). (DM)