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Organism (8/13)



  1. I think you are making too much of the brainwave data collected from eeg machines. They do not measure anything near specific enough that you could identify somebody from them. The eegs only collect very general information about brain activity. It is an interesting thought though. Maybe sound waves can be made that have alpha patterns in them to see if it will induce coma patients to wake up.
  2. I didn't mean it in the sense that some cells were preordained to die while others weren’t. I meant that some cells will experience problems, such as viruses, environmental damage, or problems in replication, that will cause them to commit suicide for the greater good of the colony. Or, as Zyncod pointed out, some neurons must die so that the brain can be wired for efficiency and specificity to the organism’s environment. However, some kinds of cells do experience cell death more than others. Some cells don't suicide themselves unless they experience a certain trigger event (certain cells of the immune system) or environmental damage (neurons). Some cells go through mitosis frequently and die after a certain number of reproductions (epithelia cells). Some cells kill themselves early during development. Whether or not cells experience programmed cell death ultimately is determined from what kinds of cells they have become. Skin cells have a different life expectancy than liver cells. How they became liver cells or skin cells was determined by differentiation events. So whether a cell is likely to commit programmed cell death any time soon is determined first by what kind of cell it is, second by what stage of development the organism is in, and third by random environmental events (such as a virus infection).
  3. It can be interpreted either way. I'm hoping, for all our sakes, that he meant it in your interpretation.
  4. Programmed cell death is a reaction to environmental damage and the natural degradation of macro-molecules. Programmed cell death and a limited life span are the ways that life deals with environmental damage, degradation, and mutation. Without these things our existence would not be possible. Without them our earth would still host millions of immortal simple macro-molecules (assuming that abiogenises on earth is correct). Degradation of macromolecules is a natural occurrence that is related to entropy. Mutation is a necessary evil. An imperfect means of information storage and replication is the method that life deals with its hostile and changing environment and evolves into a more efficient and capable form, but with it comes the price of disease. Programmed cell death is a sacrifice of the few to ensure the survival and reproduction of the many. Without programmed cell death our bodies would be constantly plagued by disease, such as cancer, and unable to survive until we reproduce. Check out these wikis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programmed_cell_death http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apoptosis
  5. It's called regulation. Our bodies make chemicals, such as vitamins, when we need more of them and stop producing them when we don't. If I am not mistaken, the genes in other mammals that produce vitamin c work this way. If those starving people were already getting enough vitamin c, then their bodies wouldn't waste energy producing it. I don't believe that loosing the ability to produce vitamin c was beneficial in the long run. I just think there was a period in time when our ancestor’s population was small and there were plentiful amounts of vitamin c in their diet. I believe they lived in the jungle at the time and had their fill of vitamin c rich foods. I don't believe that vitamin c was so plentiful after they moved out into the savanna, or when they starting living off of wild meat and following herds. There is not very much vitamin c in meat and some groups of people have lived almost exclusively off of meat. Answer this question: Do you believe that Homo sapiens would have been better off or worse off with a gene that produces vitamin c when it is absent and stops making it or makes small quantities when it is present in the diet? Think of all the different situations he has been in and diets that man has had over the thousands of years of his existence.
  6. I believe that you can have a much better immune system than another person without having an auto-immune disease.
  7. There are many places in the world where people are not as rich and well-fed as the western world. For most of the history of mankind man was not as well-fed as he is today. Additionally, mankind has not lived in the jungle where food with vitamin c was much more plentiful then in the forests, plains, and savannas. Our ancestors that lost the ability to produce vitamin c may have had a plentiful supply, but we know of at least some examples of their descendants that would have benefited from the ability to produce it. Most nutritionists recommend taking a multi-vitamin a day, which, I'm assuming, is based on research.
  8. I use to work in proteomics. I believe that designer proteins and biomimicry proteins will replace many current materials and will pave the way for a myriad of technological advances. But making the databases and making sense of the data is a daunting task.
  9. Lol, perhaps that is why he focused on science. On pages 7-9 of these notes there are several images of Copernicus: http://home.fnal.gov/~rocky/NS102/lecture3.pdf
  10. One of the main problems with explaining emotions scientifically is that it requires knowledge that we don't have. In order to fully understand how emotions work, we would have to understand how the brain works. However, there is still a great deal that we do know, so here are some links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affective_neuroscience http://www.news.wisc.edu/packages/emotion/ http://www.hss.bond.edu.au/psyc12-214/lectures/week10notes.htm
  11. I personally believe that a gene that produces vitamin c would be useful to humans. I don't know much about the mutation that resulted in our inability to produce vitamin c so I don't know how difficult it would be to reacquire the ability to produce vitamin c through mutation.
  12. I think there is a great deal of truth in what he says, but I don't like the way he says it. It has a sort of "I'm a better Christian then Bush" ring to it."
  13. Smoking can cause various problems. It's possible that is might cause ED, but it is more likely that it won't. As you probably know, smoking can cause a lot of serious problems other than ED. If you are worried about getting ED or other problems from smoking but you can't give it up, then you should concentrate on other healthy habits. You should exercise regularly, eat right, and reduce stress as much as possible. Somebody that does those things but still smokes a few cigarettes a day would be doing ok.
  14. The terminology gets a little confusing when we use the words rate of mutation. DNA mutation rate in the same environment is constant, but the variables in the environment are numerous (including the method of replication). The anti-HIV drugs actually reduce the amount of overall mutations in the population because there are fewer viruses to mutate. If we are determining the rate of mutation of a virus by how many different forms or clades that we observe in a population over a period of time, then we would conclude that the rate of mutation of HIV has decreased after the introduction of the drugs. But if we were to study the rate of mutation by factoring in the total amount of virus, then the mutational rate would be the same. Drugs don't increase the mutational rate; they only provide a selection process that leads to a form of virus that is more resistant to drugs. At the same time, with the cocktail there is very little chance that a virus will be able to mutate into a viable form because it will have to triple mutate.
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