29 March 2009

Earth Hour ~ Awareness 101

The world listens to the taunts of Environmental Health with the successful application of Earth Hour. I ask and I wonder what the energy savings actually accumulate to be for such a darkening. But, it is not the reduction in the Earths carbon footprint during that hour that is the purpose, it is the awareness of energy use and its implications on the world we live on.

This week, due to the wonderful generosity of a professor at Harvard, I've come to possess of physiology textbook. Somewhat ironically starting my quest learning about cells as that happens to be the third chapter. As cells has come into my awareness via interests not exactly scholastic, but more by intrigue with individuals, I am finding the learning particularly stimulating.

One thing that compounds that interest is the capacity of cells to manage, produce and utilize energy to go about their own function and activities that ultimately ensure my survival as a biological being. The entire body is alive, via energy, without which, we would not exist.

Energy is the reason we live, the reason anything can perceive. Energy is the reason we are. It's the use of non renewable energy of our earths sources that is not so natural. We do not have renewable sources of fuel on earth and must embark on external renewable sources if we are to keep this planet fertile and life supporting.

What will happen in the years to come. What will change. Will Russia and the US partake in the desecration of Antarctica's newly accessible sources of fuel. Will wars continue over the scarcity of these fuels. And, how much more human population will there be due to the compounding reproduction of our locust like species. What life will succeed through this transition, what life will not.

These are all questions about our near future. Humanities success as well as implications are the primary attributer to an outcome.. a result. We can hope, blind our eye, or oppress our awareness. But, that will not negate the reality of what will come, unless we do something drastic to change it.

This mission is not one a country can bring, nor a movement or common awareness. It is something that will have to be ingrained as a organic beings obligation to perform and decide based on the desire to survive.

Australia goes dark

China goes dark

22 March 2009

The Human Genome

Wednesday night, in Boston, the weather was just beautiful. Fortunately, I had a useful reason to enjoy it as I was attending a seminar in the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School.

~ Panelists ~
Professor of Genetics and of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
and Massachusetts General Hospital;
Co-founder, the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT

George Church, Ph.D.
Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School;
Member of the Affiliated Faculty, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences
and Technology

Jeffrey M. Drazen, M.D.
Parker B. Francis Distinguished Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Editor-in-Chief, New England Journal of Medicine

Chao-Ting Wu, M.D.
Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School;
Director, Personal Genetics Education Project

With Moderator;
Raju Kucherlapati, Ph.D.
Paul C. Cabot Professor of Genetics,
Harvard Medical School
Professor of Medicine,
Brigham and Women's Hospital;

Member, Partners Center for Personalized Genetic Medicine

The goal of the Human Genome Project was to map the entire human genome and began in 1990 on the work that consisted of having to map six million pairs of DNA. George Church was the founder of the Genome Project and was one of the first to develop the technologies that allow for sequencing. He is currently the founder of the Personal Genome Project as well; a quest to publicly display the mapped genome's of 100,000 individuals for the purpose of making data available for the analysis of the entire human community. This ambitious project is worth following. Mapping of your own genome could cost as little as $5K as early as this coming year..

Throughout your own body, some DNA varies. there may be chromosomes or parts missing. The double helix; or, structure of DNA comes from the conjunction of the mothers and the fathers DNA. Very unjustly described as two strands of pearls, tightly twisted around each other. Well, usually these genes work together and whatever the combination agrees on becomes your own custom program. Well, apparently as has resulted in testing on mice, the genes sometimes 'battle' as headstrong bullies that convince the other gene to go completely silent. This was said by Dr. Wu along with the fact that this hasn't been shown in human genes as of yet. And, most amazingly, I learned about Repeat Induced Point Mutation which is essentially the random rewriting of a gene in order to change itself to something less compatible to the gene it is matched up with; assisting in the assurance of a unique genetic program. An innate activity inducing change, variation- selection. So interesting.

Also discussed were the implications of mapped DNA and it's effect on privacy or obligation. A law recently passed, GINA Act, making prejudice by insurance companies based on looking at an individuals genome, illegal. But, it's still very legal to lift an individuals DNA for analysis from any public (or private with a warrant) location as you freely discard cells all day long...

But, the drama comes into play with the fact that knowledge is not necessarily power in cases in which no treatment or dire diagnosis exist. Furthermore, some centers that are offering sequencing for things like breast cancer by looking at the genes BRCA1 & BRCA2; but are disturbingly able to 'brand' the testing for one of these two respectable breast cancer predictors... So, other places offer 'breast cancer' screening while not being able to actually scan for both BRCA1 & BRCA 2 and largely at the ignorance of their customers. Lastly, the implications of knowing you have a genetically inherited disease and that it's likely you parents and siblings could also get the disease - do you tell everyone? What if your family is very religious and disagree with genetic testing on religious grounds? Would you have children, would you test those children prior to deciding whether to bring them to term? These questions arise and with them critics.

For reflection; all DNA is written with the same language - all life is alike.

Further Reading
Harvard Medical School Genetics Page
National Human Genome Research Institute
The Experimental Man Project
The Genetic Alliance


13 March 2009

Friday the 13th ~ not like another day, not unlike all others

While reading about atoms... hydrogen atoms and Bohr & Heisenberg, mixed along with time and space and wonderment and confusion. I find, that the world is not all it seems. Our perception blinding our ideals and our ideals blinding our reason. It is in knowledge I am comforted; it's words that ground me.

This week- from the Cytoskeleton aspect of cell composition, to cancer cells & mercury and it's illusive elemental potential; bisphenol A and the dangers of plastics we use every day and their proposed detrimental effects on human health and connection to the obesity epidemic; molecular structure and intrigue; and just this evening -Sylvia Plath- I've been a busy girl.

Great news on the stem cell front ~ finally. How absurd to discuss the 'ethical' applications of any cell in the body. Ethics have nothing to do with biology. What a waste to restrict the progression, even temporarily, for such a ridiculous (human generated, non fact based and essentially made up) reason. How far can one go to argue destined life- and why in the world are human stem cells more worthy of life than other cells? Why is it immoral to alter a stem cell to become other cells (as it's most easily modified) that will lead to the resolution of countless human afflictions? Are more humans REALLY needed on Earth?

Life. News on Mars recently as well. Methane gas is spilling out of cracks on the surface and though this can happen through chemical reaction it also is a byproduct of organisms that could be deep within the surface.

Also newsworthy is the new stimulus package funding for Science ~ yay Obama. As I work within this field and am unsure as to what is public vs institution knowledge, I won't delve to deep. But, funding is focused on research (and all supporting components) that will employ people and will be utilized in the near future. For those whose budgets are strapped due to the waining economy, this additional artery is particularly valuable.

Lastly, I cannot resist but to say (as I thought of it today) I celebrated my 21st birthday on a French compound in Kabul, Afghanistan (the French don't have general rule 1a, and stock full bars at war) upon such a reflection, I am reminded of all the other young minds taken by such expenditures as war. It saddens me.

Life is so short, so valuable and so fickle.

I could use a nice bout of chess right now- to settle my philosophical affliction and ground me in reason, where it's all much easier to assess...


I've Thought...

03.09 ~ I am but human, in my thoughts and desires- in my inconsistencies. It makes my opposing decisions no less real, no less quantitative... confusion is but the eye of truth, beckoning reason. ~ 03.12 ~ Time. It's existence is action progression, regression, reflection and projection. What in time is solidified and carried to another time is my choice. In one choice you lose all others; as an atom appreciates when the observer decides. It's a blue ocean of intrigue and a wave of contentment- that I am lost in, whilst, carried by. ~ 03.23 ~ That we are all part of one pulsing energy of life.. ~ 3.28 ~ There is no greater power, than the power of words. In speech we pass each other in halls, ride in elevators and embark in the great adventure that are words - with all of their beauty and intrigue. There are no wrong words spoken, only wrong interpretations and implications. Honest words are organic, true and expressions of what we are; existing autonomously and innocently, regardless of what others may think of them. 3.30 ~ That, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. It certainly doesn't help being in the company of those who have succeeded in accumulating far more knowledge than I. Is the differentiation between intelligence and knowledge simply the accumulation verses the ability to learn/understand? Or, are the two interchangeable. I feel as though time is passing faster than my ability to accumulate... do other people share this conundrum, I wonder... 4.02 ~ That, "It is what it is" isn't exactly accurate. "It is what I make it" is more so... 4.08 ~ That, "it's not time that matters... it's that mattering is what makes time." 4.12 ~ I watch and wonder... think and ponder... about it. Should I find that I have analyzed to much, to little; or that the quandary was all for not, I'll not know till the applicable time has passed.I hereby instill time as my guide, innocently and fully without disposition and without angst. (4.17) ~ Though random, we should not ignore paths crossed. Just as, we should not entirely exclude emotion from our conclusions. (4.26) ~ That I dispise my lack of control over my own intentions and wonder why I am so weak in this regard. (4.27) ~ That I have opened doors, I wished to open, while simultaniously putting other doors at risk of closing. It's not with resistance I contemplate, it's with anxiety. (4.28) That, I should take a break. Time to simply be, for a bit. (5.01) Its hunger drives decent of rational, a battle of wit and need. Like rain pouring down, wisped by winds, settled by gravity, I’m drawn to it ~ KAS