As for Israel, the basic spiritual source, the Bible, is ambiguous. One verse says: "And the Lord, God formed the human of the dust of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the human became a living being". (Genesis: II,7) This has been used (together with a Mishna in Tractate Yoma) to argue that the ability to breathe is the basic criterion for human life. So since the controls for spontaneous breathing are in the brainstem, the death of the brainstem is death. But the Bible says in another place: "Only be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life...." (Deuteronomy XII,23) So one can as easily argue that the circulation of blood is the basic criterion of life. So as long as the heart is beating and blood is circulating, one is alive.
Israeli law and the Chief Rabbinate (the major government-established religious authority) recognize brain death and both allow and encourage major organ donation. But a large number of other religous authorities in Israel refuse to accept heart transplantation. Their reasons are not simply a matter of religious faith, but based on scientific and clinical evidence of the kind cited in Truog's articles (cited above). But their conclusions from the evidence are of course the opposite of Truog's.
As for method's of determining brain death based on advanced imaging techniques, some rabbis argue that it is not necessary to use such procedures unless there is a doubt whether the patient is dead or alive. But if the patient should be alive (although dying) then subjecting the patient to these procedures is unnecessarily disturbing, and perhaps hastening the death, of a dying patient. (FL)
BRAIN NEUROTRANSMITTERS: (Greek: neuron 'nerve' + Latin: transmittere 'to transmit') A substance produced in and released by one neuron, that diffuses across a synapse and excites or inhibits the postsynaptic neuron or neurones. There are four principal neurotransmitters in the brain; dopamine, noradrenaline (norepinephrine), serotonin and acetylcholine and together they balance physical health and the chemistry of mood. Dopamine and noradrenaline are both members of the catecholamine family because they are produced from tyrosine, an amino acid present in the normal diet. Serotonin, an indoleamine, is a close cousin and manufactured from another dietary amino acid called tryptophan. Dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin are collectively known as monoamines and, together with another monoamine acetylcholine, which is more involved in muscle movement and thinking than in mood, they are the key brain messengers maintaining the flow of information across the synaptic junctions of the limbic system. The limbic system has three major functions; maintenance of homeostasis, development of nurturance skills and monitoring emotion. When, for whatever reason, the balance of these neurotransmitters is disturbed, emotional regulation becomes unstable and in those individuals genetically vulnerable to bipolar disorder, for example, the syndromes of melancholia and mania may develop. In cases of severe mania, acute schizophrenia or psychosis, it is dopamine which dominates the pathways of limbic communication. Antidepressants and many mood-altering drugs - including those that produce addiction; such as amphetamines or cocaine - similarly achieve their behavioral effect by blocking or mimicking neurotransmitter activity and altering the messenger balance at the synapse and the homeostatic mechanisms that regulate synaptic transmission (Greek neuron nerve + Latin transmittere to transmit) (see ADDICTION, BIPOLAR DEPRESSION, DEPRESSION, NEUROHORMONE, UNIPOLAR DEPRESSION). (IP)
BRAIN-STEM DEATH: See BRAIN DEATH.
BRAIN LIFE: Term used to refer to the beginning of functioning of a brain during fetal growth, as a point in which a moral person is argued to begin. It is the opposite of brain death. (DM)
BRAINSTORMING: A stage of rapid production of ideas in which a group of minds come together with an attitude of imagination and intent to thrash out lists of options or possibilities. During the brainstorming session no ideas are criticized or considered too fanciful the elimination and selection processes come afterwards. (See IDEAS PRODUCTION) (MP)
BRCA1, BRCA2 GENES. Major breast cancer associated genes. Mutations in these genes lead to predisposition to breast and ovarian cancers. Their normal counterpart code for ubiquitously expressed proteins that are required for cellular proliferation, homologous recombination and DNA repair and transcriptional regulation. Since mutations in the gene are not causal for cancer development, and many different mutations have been found in the different populations at risk so far analyzed, counseling in female carriers of mutations is a delicate issue. Scientists from the University of Utah and the US company Myriad Genetics discovered the gene in 1994. A patent has been received by them for normal gene sequence, various mutations and diagnostic tests, which has raised controversy. (GK, JA).
BREAD: (Old Teutonic: brot 'piece of loaf') Staple food made of usually leavened moistened flour , kneaded and baked. As the basic dietary component going back thousands of years, humans have enjoyed a special cultural and spiritual relationship with bread. We need a high glucose intake for our brains and cereal metabolism is the best way to secure this; thus as the single most consumed foodstuff it also serves as a widespread symbol supporting livelihood - "Give us our daily bread" or "Bread winner" and of friendship or hospitality "Break bread" (Old Teutonic brot piece of loaf). (IP)
BREAST CANCER. One of the most frequent cancers in wealthy countries. Many genes contribute to its development. To date, two of the high risk factor genes have been cloned, whose mutations have been associated to the development of the disease in family as well as sporadic forms of the disease. (See also BRCA1 and BRCA2) (GK)
BREADTH OF COVERAGE: See DEPTH OF COVERAGE.
BREEDING: Biological process of producing a progeny with desired trait in plants and animals under specific conditions. Involves identification and control of human of human-use-value traits in further offspring. Enhancement of recognizable trait by human selection yielding improved varieties/breeds, e.g. Color, height, yield; or to yield better products e.g. good barley to make whisky. Compare to - Back cross - cross breeding of F1 hybrid offspring with one of the parents varying in their toxicity; Crosses - breeding different parental stocks. (JA)
BRIBERY: 1. the offering, giving, receiving or soliciting of something of value for the purpose of influencing the behavior of a bureaucrat, voter, legislator or sheriff in the discharge of his or her public or legal duty 2. receiving undue reward in return for exploiting his or her proper behavior in office. In common law the gist of the offence is the tendency to pervert the course of justice. (IP)
BROWN GALL DISEASE: Is caused by the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens - a portion of the plasmid DNA is transferred into the cell Ti plasmid can be transferred to a plant cell so as to form a gall. (See Ti PLASMID). (JA)
BSE: See BOVINE SPONGIFORM ENCEPHALOPATHY.
BST: See BOVINE SOMATOTROPIN.
Bt: Acronym of Bacillus thuringiensis, produces a crystal endotoxin, protoxin, gut poison. Produces insect resistance protein, other variety of toxins. (JA)
BUCKMINSTERFULLERENE: Buckminsterfullerene is a hollow spherical molecule like a soccer ball made from carbon atoms. The are also known as ‘buckyballs’, and named by nanotechnologist Richard Smalley after the inventor and poet Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) who designed geodesic domes, habitats with a very similar shape to the molecule. Buckminsterfullerene (C60) is possibly the most symmetrically ‘round’ molecule possible, technically sixty carbon atoms shaped with thirty two pentagonal or hexagonal faces in a truncated icosahedron. Fullerenes such as these and carbon nanotubes have various applications in molecular electronics and nanotechnology. (See FULLERENES, MOLECULAR ELECTRONICS, NANOBOT, NANOTECHNOLOGY) (MP)
BUDDHA: Title of Gautama Shakyamuni, born in Nepal, approx 6th century bce. Gautama was born to a wealthy family, and at first his parents shielded him from the unpleasantness of the outside world. However, eventually Gautama was faced with real-life examples of sickness, poverty, old age and suffering. These things troubled him, and he set out to examine the problem of suffering in the world and how to eliminate it. A key point in his teaching is that if an individual is unable to break free from the cycle of suffering in this lifetime, that individual is reborn to continue the quest for the release from suffering. (see KARMA) Buddha's teachings focus on the problem of suffering, its causes, and ways to reduce and elminate it. In a more general sense, the term "buddha" is applied to other individuals who have managed to achieve the release from the cycle of suffering. (AG)
BUDDHISM: Belief in the philosophy of Buddha and the lifestyle based upon it. Two major branches of Buddhism are Theravada (school of the Elders) and Mahayana (lit. "Great Vehicle"). (AG)
BUFFER ZONES: Intervening areas of natural vegetation which provide National Parks and other forests protection from edge effects and the encroachment of other impacts. Buffer zones are important to reduce habitat fragmentation and demonstrate good environmental management policy outside parks and preserves. They provide wildlife corridors and improve the aesthetic values of suburban and rural landscapes. (See EDGE EFFECTS, HABITAT FRAGMENTATION, MULTIPLE USE ZONES, WILDLIFE CORRIDORS) (MP)
BUG: 1. An error in computer programming, for example incorrect coding of an instruction (syntax error) or instructions unable to provide the required solution to a particular problem (logic error). (See COMPUTER VIRUS, DEBUG, PROGRAM). 2. A tag or sensor such as a microphone or locator, usually covertly placed for the purposes of spying and strategic surveillance. Sensor networks and ‘smart dust’ are in the process of revolutionizing the distribution of cheap bugging technology, causing grave privacy concerns. (See SENSOR NETWORK, SMART DUST). 3. Generalized derogatory term for crawling or flying invertebrates, especially beetles (Coleoptera) and cockroaches (Blattodea). (See COLEOPTERA) (MP &IP)
BULIMIA NERVOSA: (Greek: bous 'ox' + limos 'hunger') An eating disorder - also called binge eating - characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating and a feeling of lack of control of eating behavior during eating binges which are interspersed by self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics, dieting and rigorous exercise all to prevent further weight gain. Bulimia may cause hormonal disorders followed by depression, disturbed menstrual cycles and fertility problems (Greek bous ox + limos hunger) (see ANORXIA NERVOSA, OBESITY). (IP)
BULLY:1. a person who browbeats smaller or weaker people 2. Archaic: a man hired to do violence. (IP)
BURIAL: Placing of the body in the ground after death. This method of showing respect for the human body has been practiced since ancient times in many cultures around the world. It is the preferred method of dealing with the human body after death in Jewish, Muslim and many other traditions. Burial sites have been found around the world from prehistoric times onward. In many traditions, a place where humans are buried is a sacred site, or a site which is to be avoided. In Jewish tradition, the kohen (priest) is forbidden to approach a burial site, except in the case of the closest relatives and a person who has no relatives, and therefore has no one to look after burial procedures. (AG)
BUSH: in Australia and Africa represents the wild uncultivated indigenous forests and scrublands - countryside left in its native state; hence, 'go bush' or escaping one's usual surroundings for the natural landscape; that is, running wild. (See BUSH MEDICINE). (IP)
BUSH MEDICINE: The total sum of Australian Aboriginal knowledge accumulated over thousands of years in the use of indigenous plants and herbs with curative properties. On the whole, plant remedies represent a universal and continuous form of medicine with its chief therapeutic products becoming any nation’s specific "folk medicine". Australian bush medicine is based on word-of-mouth; that is, the traditional knowledge stretching in an unbroken line back to the time of the Dreamtime or Dreaming. Each indigenous plant used in bush medicine has specific meaning and effects, either in isolation or in mixtures. Mixtures of bush plants are generally designed to minimize variable dose effects by combining plant remedies that compensate for one another’s undesirable properties. For example, a laxative mixture may combine a small amount of a strong cathartic with a larger amount of mild laxative to produce a moderate effect adding perhaps an aromatic eucalypt ingredient to improve the taste. Similarly a stimulant can be added to a depressant mixture either to counteract its depressant side effect or to speed assimilation of the remedy by stimulating metabolic activity. The basic assumption behind natural healing is that the human body is part of a continuum of being thus the living physical and mental condition is linked to the properties and influences of natural organic substances essential for life; that is, the body is maintained in or returned to its optimum state of health. Typically the ingredients in bush mixtures are specified in terms of proportions rather than measured amounts providing a relative simple holistic treatment in harmony with life and Nature - something that modern medicine lacks.
Since the accepted wisdom behind bush medicine is that the body is capable of healing itself once the proper conditions are provided, treatment remedies are designed to neutralize and eliminate from the body the harmful substances that impair its power to heal itself. Of course this kind of wisdom, which has been largely lost and replaced by modern - European mostly - beliefs and by synthetic pharmaceuticals, is common to many traditional remedies. However, in a new spirit of inquiry into Aboriginal heritage, the therapeutic property of Australian plants has become an important topic of study, documentation and retrieval of lost knowledge. In future the best of traditional Australian medicine may comfortably co-exist with the best of western-style medicine - there is space for both. (See AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL, BUSH, DREAMTIME OR DREAMING, HERB, HERBAL MEDICINE, HERBALISM, NATUROPATHY, NUTRITION, RECONCILIATION). (IP)
BY-CATCH: The accompanying organisms contained in a fishing catch which are incidental to the targeted effort. By-catch comprises a large proportion of the catch from commercial fish and prawn trawlers, impacting for example juvenile fish, invertebrates, turtles, coral and benthos. The portion of the by-catch returned to the sea, mostly dead or dying, is termed the discard catch. Technology and regulation help reduce ecological impacts, for example closure of trawling in estuaries to allow stock replenishment, catch-excluding devices for turtles and other animals, selective fishing gear, and a culture of catch-and-release. (See DRIFTNETS, FISHING QUOTA, SUSTAINABLE FISHING) (MP)
BYTE: A subdivision of a word in computing; that is, the number of bits representing a single character such as a letter or number. (See CHARACTER). (IP)
CADAVER: A dead body.
CADAVER TRANSPLANTS: Transplants of tissue derived froma cadaver. (See also ORGAN DONATION, ORGAN TRANSPLANTATION). (DM)
CADAVERIC: Adj., tissue derived from a dead body/tissue/foetus. (JA)
CAESARIAN: (Latin Caesar lex 'Caesar's law'). The surgical removal of a fetus through an incision in the pregnant woman's abdominal tissue and uterine wall. In the first labor, the most common reason for caesarean delivery is when the fetus is too large or the pelvis too small for a safe vaginal delivery (a condition known as cephalopelvic disproportion). The second most common reason is fetal distress and abnormal presentation, such as breech and transverse lie. Although the risk of caesarean delivery increases slightly with each procedure, it is considered that there is no limit to the number a woman can undergo. (DM+IP).
CAFFEINE: (Arabic qahwah "coffee") a bitter crystalline alkaloid drug, C8H10N4O2.H2O, obtained from coffee, tea, some cola beverages, chocolate and certain stimulant pharmaceuticals. Caffeine - the most consumed drug in the world - is a central nervous stimulant and can be prescribed to counteract migraine, drowsiness and mental fatigue. It should be used with caution in individuals with heart disease and peptic ulcer and avoided or reduced to no more than the equivalent of 1-2 cups of brewed coffee per day when trying to conceive and during pregnancy. Concerns about adverse effects on health have increased the popularity of decaffeinated coffee or DECAF. (IP)
CALCULUS: The branch of mathematics that deals with the differentiation and integration of functions; for example, calculus can be used to find the rate at which the velocity of a body is changing with time at a particular instant, or in reverse process finding the end result of known continuous change. (IP)
CALORIE: (Latin calor 'warmth'). A unit of energy approximately equal to 4.2 joules. The small calorie (cal) is defined as the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius at atmospheric pressure. A kilocalorie (Cal) - also called large or great calorie - is defined as the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius at atmospheric pressure and is the unit used to denote the heat expenditure of an organism, and the energy value of food. It should be noted, however, that since the specific thermal capacity of water changes with temperature, these definitions are not strictly accurate. (IP)
CANCER: (Latin kan'ser 'crab') is not a single disease, but many different diseases with a common characteristic - abnormal growth, division and proliferation of cells which, given time, metastasize (spread) from their site of origin to distant parts of the body. The transformation of normal cells to cancerous cells is believed to reside in alterations in DNA but many potential causes are recognized with the mechanism of action not clearly understood. A mass of cells growing independently of their previous function is called a tumor or neoplasm. Not all neoplasms are malignant (cancerous) as some tumors are benign but not necessarily risk-free. There are many causes of cancer apart from the general wear and tear of cells due to aging. Prominent are chemical carcinogens such as tobacco smoke, industrial carcinogens such as asbestos, ionizing radiation which can induce leukemia and thyroid cancer, and viruses such as the hepatitis B virus which is associated with liver cancer and the human papilloma virus associated with cancer of the cervix. Typically, cancer is a disease of the elderly, however, lung and breast cancer among younger women is on the increase. Cancer is not inevitably fatal if identified and treated early. (See METASTASIS, TUMOUR NECROSIS FACTOR). (IP)
CANE TOAD: The large South American toad Bufo marinus. A failed example of biological control, the cane toad was introduced into north-eastern Australia as a predator of sugarcane pests, but became a more significant pest in its own right. The range of the toad is now from the mid-NSW coast to the Kakadu World Heritage Area, competing for habitat with native frogs and causing predators to be poisoned. (See BIOLOGICAL CONTROL) (MP)
CANNABIS: (Greek: kannabis "hemp"). The hemp plants Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica, or their flowering buds and leaves. Hemp fibers are a multi-purpose material useful for the production of a broad range of products. The exuded resin, dried flowers and leaves are used to produce the drugs hashish (purified extract) and marijuana - popular for their euphoric effects. (See DOPE, HASHISH, HEMP, MARIJUANA, THC). (IP)
CANOPY: The uppermost layers of foliage and branches of the trees in a forest community, especially in the tropical rainforest where they join to form a continuous habitat with a large specialized biodiversity (See TROPICAL RAINFOREST) (MP)
CAPACITY BUILDING: A term widely used in humanitarian international development and reconstruction, ‘capacity building’ refers to the gradual empowerment of indigenous, refugee and local communities to independently manage their own development. It refers to the development of individual, institutional and collective capacity for self-sustained health, learning, research, improvement and maintenance of supporting technology and infrastructure. This may range from education programs, environmental management, economic support, to security and good governance. (See DEVELOPMENT, EMPOWERMENT, FOURTH WORLD, MINORITY GROUPS, PEACE BUILDING) (MP)
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: The killing (e.g. by hanging, electrocution, lethal injection or shooting) of a convicted criminal. A significant number of countries have by now outlawed capital punishment and those which still practise it use it for fewer crimes, often only murder, than was once the case. Often cited intrinsic arguments against capital punishment include the assertion that only God has the right to take human life. However, in some societies a significant proportion of people don't believe in God, and, anyway, many religions permit people to be killed in certain circumstances, e.g. in war. One intrinsic argument in favour of capital punishment is that the right punishment for certain crimes - e.g. murder, treason or piracy - is to forfeit one's life. There are also consequentialist arguments both for and against capital punishment. Indeed, much of the information that would be needed to reach a rigorous consequentialist conclusion is uncertain. For example, does capital punishment act as a significant deterrent to crime and how often is the wrong person killed under capital punishment? (MR)
CAPITALISM: Capitalism is any economic system in which people make money out of other people's labour. It is generally the goal of capitalists to make as much money as possible by paying the labourer just a little less than one needs to support a family. But labour movements have forced employers, under threat of strikes, sometimes violent, to be more generous in their salaries. It used to be thought that socialism was the opposite of capitalism. But deeper analyses (such as by movements like the Industrial Workers of the World) pointed out that the leaders of socialist communities or societies are also living off the work of others, but calling themselves "leaders" or "managers" or "statesmen" rather than "capitalists". (FL)
CARBON: Sixth ELEMENT (q.v.) in the Periodic Table. Along with hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and a few other elements, carbon is an essential constituent of all known life. Chemicals with more than just one or two carbon atoms are said to be 'organic'. All other chemicals are inorganic. (MR)