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About AndrewBrinton1

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  1. Dear readers, If you decided to read this– be warned- this is not a (published) scientific article, nor is it a synopsis of some award-winning research. We'd all love that. This is meant to be a way for me to express my feelings about science towards those involved in science. To those who are professionals, maybe you'll get a kick out of this. To those who are mere students, maybe even high-schoolers like myself, hopefully you are inspired. My last major post on here was about something I wrote in ninth grade. Now I am in eleventh grade, nearly midway through my third year of high school at John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, New York. Before we get started, some context: As a child, I was fascinated by the world around me. Science had always played a major role in my life, and nearly every day between the ages of 3 and 11, I would wait outside my elementary school for my sister, gazing at waterfowl and the isolated chunk of trees, shrubbery, and meshes of vines that occupied the central island of Camman's Pond, a body of moderate saltwater that is behind the elementary school. The point is- science was ingrained into my brain as a child as something interesting. Something worthwhile. Something worth believing in. And while I am hopelessly scrambling to find someone to assist me in my future endeavors as a scientist and mentee, I felt it was necessary to put my thoughts into writing about these beliefs, beliefs I hold true to myself today. The only difference between me and my eleven-year-old self is that I have the ability to write somewhat more proficiently. Putting ideas out there and simply sharing thoughts with others as a young scientist is a challenge in itself, so if you are a scared little ninth grader or a world-renown scientist, I hope to leave you with this, if nothing else. Believe in science. It is both literally and figuratively the glue that holds our speck of life in an infinite universe together; so why not make it worth something? Finding a path as a young scientist is probably the most challenging thing you will do. Taking the first step towards you dreams is difficult, but with a little encouragement and inspiration, you can do something great. For me, I decided that using science as a force of good was what I set my mind to. Sure, the content and sheer exploration of scientific inquiry is an inexplicable pleasure in itself, but using it to benefit others is... different. It's a different feeling of accomplishment. As my father always put it, "the more you put in, the more you get out." Essentially, the harder one works, the larger the payoff in the end. When I decided to help others, I do not know. But what I do know is that as long as there is oxygen in my alveoli, salt gradients in my neurons, and most importantly, caffeine in my blood, I will use science for good. I just chuckled to myself. I find it comical that while others around me are drowning in ethanol, inhaling abnormal amounts of heavy metals, or even studying for exams (which I should probably be doing), I am legitimizing my scientific beliefs on a somewhat anonymous forum for quite possibly nobody to see, much less read. I digress. Even reading so now- I may sound arrogant, experienced, and, dare I say, comfortable with my scientific thoughts. I am not in the slightest a professional scientist, nor am I an experienced editor, educator, researcher, or mentor. In fact, I am quite honestly the opposite of every one of those qualities. I am at the same time clueless, unknowing, a student, a learner, and most of all- an amateur. I grow plants on shelves in my room to study the effects of in home recycling and composting on bean plants. I do not, in any shape or form, have professional experience. But what I am experienced in is being unexperienced, if that made any sense. I have gone through a multitude of new experiences only 60 students my age across the nation have felt, and even so, I am further isolated, as my summer research was performed amongst not other high school students– but a slew of wonderful undergrads, grads, post-docs, Ph.D. students, and PI's– and thus I believe I have somewhat of a responsibility to talk about it. So maybe if there's even a single person who dreams of doing something big, helping someone, or simply exploring, treat this as the kick out of the door. Dream big. Do not let anyone stop you, no matter what. As a tenth grader in the Advanced Science Research program at my school, it is required to send out e-mails to possible contacts and mentors in attempt to grasp a research project for the following summer. Thus, students in my class sent out e-mails in a generic format advertising their blank slate of a persona to tens, even hundreds of acclaimed scientists and professionals in New York. I sent my e-mail to Alistair Rogers, one of the Principal Investigators at Brookhaven National Laboratory. I was outright ridiculed by some, and given many glaring looks by my peers. How could a student with virtually no experience ever seem like a valuable use of time, let alone a mentee, of such a popular and experienced scientist (popular being relative). They were absolutely right– but there was one flaw. None of them even considered to do the same as me. Plenty of kids from the same districts, mainly in Suffolk County of Long Island, were from the same schools, and even applied together. I ended up being 1 of 3 kids from Nassau County who got into the program, and among the 59 other kids from New York and across the country I was the only one who was, for the most part, alone. That was mostly due to the fact that others around me were discouraged, even intimidated, by the idea of working at such a prestigious facility. The purpose of this is not to elevate myself above others, nor to put others down, but to point out that just because there seems to be an impossible challenge ahead, you can't give up. Trying is the most important part. It's similar to how young birds first learn to fly. They get kicked out of the nest by the mother bird and gradually learn to take in the cold, tough, and dangerous world ahead. But without that kick, they wouldn't learn to fly. And without learning to fly, they would miss out on the great big world around them. In this metaphor, I am probably akin to the baby bird, calling from the ground to the others still cowering in the nest. Yes, my call is to the other younglings in the nest, but it also is a call to the mothers. Get a move on! Give those around you that kick to move into science. I notice as a student that teachers and adults sometimes neglect to view the world as a child/teenager, and in doing so, fail to give their students or children that extra kick to get out of the nest, so to speak. The moral is: dream big. I was stuck in the nest for nearly 15 years, but finding my passion through science and getting that kick from a few truly amazing teachers gave the the confidence and inspiration to get to where I am today– presenting, learning, and most importantly- generating discussion- about climate change, and the roles humans and plants alike play in it. Hopefully you found this fruitful, and if not, at least I did. Science can seem scary from all of the huge words, big numbers, scientific titles, and researchers who are seemingly omnipresent on the pedestal of fame. I know it can be rough sometimes, and maybe your'e struggling to find motivation. I would gladly love to talk to whomever is willing to listen about the importance of science in young minds, and hopefully some of you educators out there, upon seeing this, would feel slightly moved to kick your birds out of the nest. Give them guidance on the ground, and slowly teach them to fly. Nurture them, and feed their young minds with the earthly fruits of existence, wonder, and curiosity. I mentioned before that I performed some research this past summer at Brookhaven National Laboratory. This post is getting long, so I won't bore you with a mass of words and pictures relating to drought stress. That will be for another post. If you enjoyed or have questions, feel free to e-mail me at andrewbrinton1@gmail.com , and don't be afraid to ask! Curiosity knows no limits once it is set free, and if you need some help unlocking the door, I would love to help in any way possible. Sincerely, Andrew Brinton John F. Kennedy High School Bellmore, NY 11710 Advanced Science Research
  2. To improve is the first step to "life." However, "life" is not created to be followed by steps- life, as humans know it, is being aware of the world around us. Improvement is what humans strive to do in order to thrive. Not survive, thrive. The meaning of thrive is to after all, improve. Life as a whole however, includes much more than us humans- and looking from a philosophical standpoint, the majority of what we humans believe is only based off of other humans. The only people who really never knew anything based off of other humans were those hunter-gatherers who first lived in Ethiopia, where they relied on and believed in the world around them, the environment. So I guess, to find the meaning of life, you would need to ask them. If you as me, life does not have a set "meaning". We live for each other- the only way we can "improve" is by comparing ourselves to other ones like ourselves- If an ape first "improved" by using stone tools, it is only an improvement compared to all other ape-kind. Take away the other apes, and it has neither improved nor degraded itself in any way because there are no others to have an advantage over in society. If we apply this to humans, the meaning of life, if I were to answer, would be to better ourselves as a planet, for humans alone do not make up even 1% of all life on earth, and therefore an improvement as a species alone would not benefit the biotic or abiotic community as a whole. What I am getting at is that the meaning of life is not only to improve, but improve as a planet. Probably sound like a maniac, but I'm not. Congrats if you read my paper by the way, its long. I like the idea you have here, and its well worth expanding.
  3. Hello, My name is Andrew Brinton, and I am entering my school's Advanced Science Research team this coming school year as a sophomore in high school. During my past two years learning Earth Science and Biology, I have discovered a love for the sciences, which is why I joined my school's AP Bio class and ASR team. This past year as a ninth grader, I was assigned to write a bioethics paper. The class was given a multitude of topics to choose from, and I chose the topic of cloning. The idea of the paper was to share my views on the question; should biotech companies or the government regulate human cloning? I thought I might share my paper here, and gain opinions from the scientific community. Any feedback on the paper would be much appreciated! I'm looking to better this paper and expand on the idea in the future. Thanks viewers, Andrew Brinton On the Topic of Cloning Andrew Brinton Introduction (1) Cloning has been thought about throughout the the past as a topic of science fiction. Movies and futuristic novels that include clones have captivated audiences for years. This has created a somewhat extreme perspective of cloning as an uncontrollable power, used to build armies and create fictional empires. However, this is an inaccurate representation. Cloning is not science fiction, and in fact, the cloning of animals has been performed hundreds of times. In 1996, Dolly the sheep became the first clone to grow, mature, and reproduce successfully. Since then, companies like Lazaron Biotechnologies and Advanced Cell Technologies (ACT) have been cloning livestock for a few reasons, including mass production of animals for medicinal harvest and the preservation of wildlife and endangered species. Advanced Cell Technologies have been one of the first and only companies in America to pursue a human-cloning system. Human and animal cloning can be beneficial for many reasons, including disease treatment, the preservation of wildlife and endangered species, human organ repair, and embryonic stem cell research. Cloning does have its drawbacks, especially under the category of human cloning, a topic that has been highly debated and is still controversial to this day. Negative results of widespread cloning could mean almost ending variety in a species, ethical, social, and religious violations, and legal violations. The question is then raised about cloning: Should the government control cloning, or should the companies that run these cloning services do so? Since the world is home to 7.5 billion people, many people would have various opinions about human and animal cloning, ranging from scientists, government workers, small town workers, high-end factory owners, religious leaders, insurance companies, and public safety workers. In addition, these varying professions would influence certain people’s beliefs opinions towards cloning, and it is not very often does one person remain objective to the subject. What is Cloning? (2) Cloning is essentially making an artificial being- creating life almost. This idea has been around for almost two hundred years, ever since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published, which was the first to propose the creation of artificial life. Today, many people see this as a fairy tale, something that seems so absurd, to combine different forms of organic material to create something in a lab, which then grows into a living, sentient being. The idea is not so far-fetched anymore. In 1984, Steen Willadsen removed the nucleus of an embryonic cell from a lamb, and using an electric shock, fused the nucleus with an egg cell that had its nucleus removed, and implanted it in another lamb that acted as a surrogate mother, one that would hold the developing lamb. The lamb eventually was birthed, proving that a mammal could fully develop from an embryo created by nuclear transfer, the process described above. In 1996, Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell used cultured sheep cells- cells kept alive in a laboratory- to serve as a nucleus donor to an enucleated sheep egg cell. These cells eventually grew and were birthed into the lambs known as Megan and Morag. Later that year, they repeated the same process, but with one difference; Wilmut and Campbell used somatic cells, or body cells, from a fully matured sheep as a nucleus donor for nuclear transfer into an enucleated sheep egg cell. The cells divided and grew into a fully mature sheep, now known as Dolly, who is now considered the first somatic-cell based clone to grow up and mature to reproduce. Dolly’s growth and maturity as a sheep proved that by using a specialized somatic cell as a nucleus donor for nuclear transfer, the DNA found inside of it could still be used as a means for embryo development- the idea which lies at the heart of the concept of cloning. (www.learn.genetics.utah.edu, History of Cloning) Since then, many animals have been cloned in the same fashion including rats, cats, cows, other sheep, etc. Laws and Regulations (3) Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institute of Human Embryo Research Panel have legal jurisdiction over human clone research and animal cloning. The Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2003 was passed on February 27, 2003, which “banned” human cloning on paper, but was never officially addressed nor was it acted upon by the United States of America Senate. The Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2007 was introduced on June 5, 2007, but it technically didn’t ban cloning- only the implantation of a cloned embryonic cell into a woman.(www.staff.lib.msu.edu, Federal and State Cloning Laws in the United States) For this reason, the bill never passed, and to the present time have no attempts been made to ban cloning in a similar fashion; however, many politicians and government agencies have opinions that disagree with human cloning. Since the matter is a sub-controversy on the federal level, states have taken the matter into their own hands. Five states (Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, North Dakota and Virginia) have banned all human/embryonic cloning from taking place, for any purpose. Three other states (Louisiana, Rhode Island, and California) have banned cloning as a means for initiating a pregnancy; however, California exclusively encourages the use of cloned cells for embryonic research, while Rhode Island and Louisiana have banned cloning for embryonic cell research, as it is inhumane to destroy human embryonic cells for research. Five states (South Dakota, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania) have no specific laws about cloning, but have interpreted regulations in such a way that bans any human embryo destruction, and since there have been no successful human clones created yet, this effectively bans cloning in these states. (www.cloninginformation.org, Current State Laws on Human Cloning) Results and Effects of Cloning (4) Cloning is such a controversial topic, and the controversy is fueled by many different effects that could arise from human cloning, and occurrences that have already resulted from animal cloning. Cloning has effects on both ends of the spectrum including positive and negative results that influence many people across the world. Positive Effects of Cloning (4.1) Since the time when Dolly proved that animals could fully grow and reproduce as clones, hundreds of animal clones have been made. The company Lazaron BioTechnologies, now situated in South Africa, is particularly interested in cloning as a means to preserve wildlife. By cloning endangered species, population size increases, and the more animals are able to reproduce, and eventually we might be able to take their names off of the endangered species list. The company Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) was the first company to clone an endangered species of wild ox known as the Guar. They combined the nucleus of skin cells of the most recently deceased Guar from 1993 with normal enucleated cow cells to birth “Noah”. Unfortunately, Noah contracted a bacterial disease after two days of life, and died, but he proved that endangered species could be cloned, all which had been debate until January of 2001. (www.biology.iupui.edu, Cloning Endangered Species) From the point of view of environmental scientist, cloning endangered species would be a good idea, since it preserves wildlife, allowing for future studies that may end up being beneficial to humans through stem cell research, alternative medicine found in exclusive proteins produced by certain animals, and further advances the environmental community since it would bring back a lost piece of the food chain, restoring part of the natural balance that has been lost to humans. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States of America, but by cloning animals injected with human heart stem cells, mass production of these cells can be made. Heart disease/heart attack is caused by patches of heart cells that lose blood flow, and die, which eventually results in the heart stopping. Scientists can locate these dead cell patches- but there is almost no way to repair them. By cloning animals that contain human heart stem cells, scientists and medical professionals can then use the heart stem cells in people with heart disease, repair the dead cell patches, and effectively prevent a heart attack or other life-threatening heart diseases. (www.humancloning.com, Benefits of Cloning) From the point of view of a person with a history of heart disease, this could pose a possible solution that could potentially be life saving if the need ever arises. If these cells are created through clones, medical professionals could use this to their advantage since the mass production of human heart cells would eventually lead to a decrease in the price of the procedures involving these cells, which would be beneficial to the patient as well as the medical personnel. Negative Effects of Cloning (4.2) Cloning has negative effects in addition to the positive ones. One negative, and at the moment inhumane, effect of cloning is that the offspring created would have increased aging speed and have a greater risk of disease. The reason that many argue this is inhumane is because the creation of an organism should not be allowed if the organism will live a short, painful life. The reason that the lives would be shorter and an increased risk of disease is because of the telomeres of an organism. The telomere is a small cap-like structure at the end of an organism’s chromosomes. The telomere’s function is stop chromosomes from losing base pairs, otherwise the chromosomes could become dysfunctional as a result of missing or altered base pairs in the DNA sequence. The reason why a clone would age faster is because the original nucleus of the clone, in the very first cell used, coming from a fully grown somatic cell of an adult organism, would have shorter telomeres. The reason the clones chromosomes would have shorter telomeres is because when a cell divides, about 150 base pairs are lost from the sequence of DNA of the telomere. Eventually, as time passes, an organism’s telomeres become shorter and shorter because of how many cell divisions take place. Once the chromosomes reach a certain point when the telomere is too short, or “critical length”, cells can no longer keep dividing. This is known as aging, and is the reason why older organisms are more likely to get hurt and sick, since the cells that are needed to prevent/heal from these inflictions can no longer be created by the cells.(www.utsouthwestern.edu, How Telomeres Work) If a clone is born with telomeres closer to a critical length than a newly born organism birthed in the traditional manner, the aging process will be faster with the clone, since the telomeres would already be shorter, effectively shortening the lifespan of the organism from birth. As a result, the clone would live a shorter life, and be more vulnerable to both physical and immune injuries, as the cells and proteins needed for it to survive would not be able to be produced by the body. From the perspective of an animal advocate, this would not be an optimal choice since it would be creating animals that live to die essentially, and the only function they would serve is to serve humans. Human cloning poses different problems, for different reasons. The telomere effect can also be applied to humans- if a human was cloned, it would also have a shorter lifespan, and be more vulnerable to disorders. Human cloning would pose two major problems. One negative result of human cloning would be that the clones may be used for commercial use. This is because since the clone is created by a company, it is technically a company entity, similar to how a farmer has cows as his/her company entities. The major problem, and possibly the most controversial part of human cloning is how the clones would be treated. Humans should not be treated like farm animals, nor as company property- the clone would need to have rights, but since there are not any human clones, the chance for such rights to be created has not come about ever. If the human clones did have rights, then it technically would be separating them on a legal level from “traditionally” made humans- segregating them from other humans because they were created in a lab, and not by a man and a woman. This brings up the ethical argument that clones, humans, being treated either as private property, or being segregated on a legal level is inhumane, and if this were the case, it would go against the United States, United Nations, and many countries around the worlds’ view of humanity- a human, but not like every other human. This is the core of anti-cloning organizations like the Counsel for Responsible Genetics and Americans to Ban Cloning Coalition. From the point of view of most people on earth, the idea of treating clones as property and denying them rights is inhumane, and would make us question ourselves as a humanity- what is humanity? Is it defined by how one is created? One final negative effect of cloning is that cloning, or artificial birth, goes against biblical beliefs that all humans are to be created from a man and a woman- it would essentially challenge traditional religious beliefs for all of the major religions around the world. From the point of view of a devout religious leader, human cloning would be a bad idea, and they would not support it as it would violate God’s “rules” for human life. Personal Views (5) In my opinion, life is the greatest thing that has happened in the entire universe. Though this may sound far-fetched, the ability to think, move at will, and do basic tasks is taken for granted by most people. Life is (as far as we know now) exclusive to our planet- nowhere else is there anything like us. Nowhere at all. Life is the most precious thing that anything could ever experience- although we do not know how it “feels” to not have life- we know how it feels when someone else loses theirs. Death has a profound effect on people’s lives. Every living thing is, after all, alive. To create life- to give life- is something that has been thought of as a godly power of a being somewhere far up in the sky. Humans do not “create” life- we combine our cells together to produce another being. Cloning does the same- it combines certain cells and their components to produce a human being. The main idea being proven here is that cloning is not inhumane unless humans make it inhuman. I believe if human clones were to exist, they would not be just property, and they should have the same rights as any other human being on planet earth. The right to life- the right to think, have feelings, feel pain, feel happiness- is something that is an inalienable right, and the United States of America fights for this right across the world every day. The right to life cannot be taken or given at will. If something is alive- it is alive- and any living thing, including humans, have the same rights as every other living being. They should have them at least; and we live in the United States of America, land of the free- so who is any government to control a human’s right to humanity? Who is any company to do so as well? Well, there isn’t any company or government that can do so- our law systems are in place to preserve human life, there are no laws that take away human life. Humans act to control one another- even take away life from others to do so- but in the end, we all have the same rights as humans. If an alien race came to earth out of nowhere, we would be united as a humanity, not individual companies or sects of the world, therefore, if another human joined the group, they would also be united under all of planet earth’s humanity. Governments are in place to regulate certain parts of the world- what we know as countries- but the government does have the final authority, and it is best if the government were to sit down and think through the bioethical issues that find their way into our lives. Companies controlling cloning would essentially be the ones giving rights to their company entities. That is not a company’s job- that is the government’s; to work in the best way to ensure that humanity can survive and thrive. As for religious views on cloning- if God is accepting of all, then he would not have a problem with any clones- the clones may end up being believers in God themselves. If the government were to control cloning, then religion, as a means to stay out of governmental values and decisions, should also remain out of influence as to the cloning controversy. Conclusion (6) Ever since the first clone, Dolly, was created, cloning has been a topic of controversy across the world. It has many beneficial results for humans including medical purposes to prevent diseases as well as environmental preservation of endangered species. It also has ethical and humane factors that many people believe pose a negative connotation to the topic of cloning including the effect of telomeres on human aging and vulnerability, and clone rights and humane rights towards clones. Ultimately, it would be best if the government were to control human cloning regulations, and not the companies themselves, since even though it is the companies doing the research, the clones’ that hypothetically would be produced are made by the companies, it is not the company’s responsibility to protect the rights of the clones- who would still have the same rights as any human being on earth, since we are all one under the same race: humanity. Bibliography (7) “Benefits of Cloning.” Good For, www.biology.iupui.edu/biocourses/N100/goodfor8.html. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017. “Cloning Companies.” Companies doing cloning, staff.lib.msu.edu/skendall/cloning/companies.htm. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017. “Cloning Dolly the sheep.” Cloning dolly the sheep, Animal Research, www.animalresearch.info/en/medical-advances/timeline/cloning-dolly-the-sheep/. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017. “Cloning Laws on State and Federal Levels.” Cloning Laws and Public Policy, staff.lib.msu.edu/skendall/cloning/laws.htm. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017. “Cloning Regulations in the States.” CloningInformation.org, www.cloninginformation.org/current-state-laws-on-human-cloning/. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017. “Cloning Throughout Modern History.” The History of Cloning, learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/cloning/clonezone/. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017. “Shay/Wright Lab.” UT Southwestern Medical Center, www.utsouthwestern.edu/labs/shay-wright/research/facts-about-telomeres-telomerase.html. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017 Tingnu. “The Benefits of Human Cloning.” The Benefits of Human Cloning, www.humancloning.org/benefits.php. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017
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