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Can't find a site to write your Term Paper?

It is very likely that you can't, not after Google was ordered to remove over 500 web sites from their index, because of plagiarism claims, an action based on the DMCA. You can find a copy of the court order on Chilling Effects.

Just about all of the web sites are owned by a small group of individuals, which propagated the same information, using a spamming type of SEO stratagey, so I can't say that I feel sorry for the groups in question. Apparently, a large body of the term papers where written by students, who did not realize that their work was going to be sold on the Internet by these groups.

New Brain, New Day, New You

New cells are born every day in the brain's hippocampus. This is the long term memory area, the hard drive for those of us who think better with metaphors. Neuroscientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered that the birth of new cells, which depends on brain activity, also depends on a protein that is involved in changing epigenetic marks in the cell's genetic material.

Epigenetic changes are fairly cool to think about as a Fiction writer, for example;

Epigenetic changes have also been observed to occur in response to environmental exposure—for example, mice given some dietary supplements have epigenetic changes affecting expression of the agouti gene, which affects their fur color, weight, and propensity to develop cancer
The idea of changes in fur color and weight (physical manifestations) because of a epigenetic change, which has been induced by the researcher, and the change being predictable has long reaching possibilities, and certainly helps with the story of Winter's Harvest.

It also appears (without being scientific, but as a fiction writer), these changes in the hippocampus's affect on these epigenetic changes, can be induced by the neuropeptides.

Neuropeptides are small protein-like molecules used by neurons to communicate with each other. They are neuronal signaling molecules, influence the activity of the brain in specific ways and are thus involved in particular brain functions, like analgesia, reward, food intake, learning and memory.

Neuropeptides are expressed and released by neurons, and mediate or modulate neuronal communication by acting on cell surface receptors. The human genome contains about 90 genes that encode precursors of neuropeptides. At present about 100 different peptides are known to be released by different populations of neurons in the mammalian brain. Neurons use many different chemical signals to communicate information, including neurotransmitters, peptides, cannabinoids, and even some gases, like nitric oxide.

Of course, altering the physical description of the human body, for even short amounts of time (or perhaps, especially for short amounts of time), would be in the purely fictional areas of reality.

Rita Rebollo, Beatrice Horard, Benjamin Hubert, Cristina Vieira, Jumping genes and epigenetics: Towards new species, Gene, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 25 January 2010, ISSN 0378-1119, DOI: 10.1016/j.gene.2010.01.003.
Transposable elements (TEs) are responsible for rapid genome remodelling by the creation of new regulatory gene networks and chromosome restructuring. TEs are often regulated by the host through epigenetic systems, but environmental changes can lead to physiological and, therefore, epigenetic stress, which disrupt the tight control of TEs. The resulting TE mobilization drives genome restructuring that may sometimes provide the host with an innovative genetic escape route. We suggest that macroevolution and speciation might therefore originate when the host relaxes its epigenetic control of TEs. To understand the impact of TEs and their importance in host genome evolution, it is essential to study TE epigenetic variation in natural populations. We propose to focus on recent data that demonstrate the correlation between changes in the epigenetic control of TEs in species/populations and genome evolution.
Keywords: Transposable elements; Evolution; Rapid speciation; Natural populations; Epigenetic control

Covington III, Herbert E., Vincent Vialou, and Eric J. Nestler. “From synapse to nucleus: Novel targets for treating depression.” Neuropharmacology 58, no. 4-5 (3, 2010): 683-693.

Crews, D. “Epigenetics and its implications for behavioral neuroendocrinology.” Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology 29, no. 3 (6, 2008): 344-357.

Feder, Adriana, Eric J. Nestler, and Dennis S. Charney. “Psychobiology and molecular genetics of resilience.” Nature Reviews Neuroscience 10, no. 6 (6, 2009): 446-457.

McCarthy, M. M., A. P. Auger, T. L. Bale, G. J. De Vries, G. A. Dunn, N. G. Forger, E. K. Murray, B. M. Nugent, J. M. Schwarz, and M. E. Wilson. “The Epigenetics of Sex Differences in the Brain.” Journal of Neuroscience 29, no. 41 (10, 2009): 12815-12823.

Rebollo, Rita, Beatrice Horard, Benjamin Hubert, and Cristiana Vieira. “Jumping genes and epigenetics: Towards new species.”

Shepard, Kathryn N., Vasiliki Michopoulos, Donna J. Toufexis, and Mark E. Wilson. “Genetic, epigenetic and environmental impact on sex differences in social behavior.” Physiology & Behavior 97, no. 2 (5, 2009): 157-170.

Thakker-Varia, S., J. J. Krol, J. Nettleton, P. M. Bilimoria, D. A. Bangasser, T. J. Shors, I. B. Black, and J. Alder. “The Neuropeptide VGF Produces Antidepressant-Like Behavioral Effects and Enhances Proliferation in the Hippocampus.” Journal of Neuroscience 27, no. 45 (11, 2007): 12156-12167.

Cloning and the copying of beings..

In most fiction (since that is where human clones exist at present), there is always the assumption that a clone is an exact copy. In fact the angst of the young Picard in the movie Nemisis, is that he is a clone a copy of Captian Picard, and therefore not his own person.

Going through some of the research on DNA, cells, nueropeptides and epigenetics, I have come across several papers in the search listings which suggest quite positivly that there is no such thing as an exact copy of a clone. That in fact, each clone would be a separate person, and that even the DNA markers used for Criminal Fingerprinting would be different enough to tell which clone murdered the original evil genius responsible for their creation.

For me this changes some of the underlying assumptions of what clones would be if they were created, and who they would be as well. Even minor changes to the structure of the brain would alter the chemistry and personality of the brain as a whole, so that the perception of events would be interpreted differently. With these changes in perception, would come changes in personality, and experience, even knowledge.

In a very short time, the physical resemblance of the clones would be enough that they would be only as close as twins, and very possibly not even this close by the time ten to fifteen years had passed.

Critical Mass in San Diego

Regarding the post I made last night about the bicyclist in Downtown, the group is called Critical Mass, which I'm sure I knew, but flaked out on. When I was in San Fransisco I saw them hit the downtown area with a much larger group. It was, brilliant, to put it mildly.

Critical Mass is all over the world now. Of course, not everyone thinks they are as cool as I do.

Critical Mass is an idea that started in San Francisco in 1992 and was originally called Commut Clot. The idea was to show that they are no longer going to take the effects that automobile transportation has on the environment and the world. In order to emphasize this point the riders would take to the streets clogging up lanes, making commuters frustrated and protesting live on the streets in a disorganized but brilliant fashion.

Soon after its conception in the U.S., Critical Mass begun to catch like wild fire and eventually spread to over 325 cities world wide. Even Budapest has Critical Mass twice a year where they have reached numbers of 80,000 participants. Wherever and whenever it started, Critical Mass is definitely catching on in a growing environmentally conscious culture.

Even with all of the angst, and some very good points coming in from the other side, I still believe it is better to be alive, than a fungus.

The things that change our DNA

The possible factors that can change the human DNA are being discovered all the time. These changes mostly affect the Germline DNA.

Germline cells are immortal, in the sense that they can reproduce indefinitely. This is largely due to the activity of the enzyme known as telomerase. This enzyme extends the telomeres of the chromosome, preventing chromosome fusions and other negative effects of shortened telomeres. Somatic cells, by comparison, can only divide around 30-50 times due to the Hayflick limit.
That little tid-bit I found rather interesting for several other reasons...

Changes in the DNA due to Diabetes

That article is an example of a change occuring through 'natural causes', however, by using retro-viral vectors that infect a wide range of cells in a wide range of tissue types, changes are theoretically possible as well. Problem is, most such vectors target fairly specific cell types.

Retrovirus vectors are the agent most commonly used to insert, or change, genes in multi-cellular organisms. They are the agent used for the retroviral based flu vaccine. Also, there have been some other gene therapies developed on retroviral vectors. The problem with them, as disease treatment agents, is that they are finite; that is, the immune system eventually clears them, and any cells with altered DNA are eventually lost due to normal tissue turn over. So, the "cure" is not permanent.

And, of course, mutagens can impact and alter DNA on a cell by cell basis. And, several environmental toxicants are now known to exert an "epigenetic" effect on DNA. Exposure to these after birth leads, especially during early development, to a change in DNA structure in many or all cells. The change is not a mutation. Rather, it is a change in DNA methylation or histone phosphorylation, that alters gene expression. This epigenetic mechanism is now recognized as one of the primary ways that environmental substances may cause disease later in life.

The field of molecular biology and genetic engineering began in the 1970's with the discovery of restriction enzymes. The structure of DNA was understood. From the 1970's, our ability to manipulate DNA has exploded as we have developed an ever increasing repertoire of tools with which to manipulate DNA, and as we have elucidated the sequence of the human genome.

Seldom a week goes by without the discovery of a gene for yet another disease. Genetic explanations are touted for everything from cancer and heart disease to more diffuse conditions like alcoholism, homosexuality, and crime. It's been suggested that there may even be a gene for shyness! Biologists believe that new gene technology will revolutionize our understanding of disease and will have a greater impact on us than nuclear power or the computer.

What will make an even greater impact, however is the discovery of being able to alter these markers and genes which create traits such as shyness. What will we be when we can alter our base personality? What happens when the effect wears off?

Alterations in the ID of a DNA Fingerprint

Of course the panacea of DNA Fingerprinting for criminals, is to be able to alter the existing DNA finger print, either for the duration of the crime, or for the investigation afterward.

Just the idea of mucking about with your core DNA areas, sounds like an invitation for primate mutation (and an ape appetite for vegetation), the thought of actually doing it is, well ... fairly creepy. But then, some criminals are fairly creepy...

A study titled: Changes in DNA induced by toxic agents
(Forensic Sci Int. 1996 Apr 23;78(3):169-78, Sawaguchi T, Wang X, Sawaguchi A. Department of Legal Medicine, Tokyo Women's Medical College, Japan.)

Seems to suggest that it is possible, although from this publication, most of the methods would be fatal.

This is a preliminary report on significant alterations in the DNA profile caused by toxic substances which potentially has profound implications for the use of DNA techniques in identification. Acute DNA changes in the globus pallidus of the brain in man caused by carbon monoxide poisoning were detected by DNA profiling with probe 33.15. Chronic DNA changes in rabbits caused by methamphetamine were detected by DNA profiling with probe 33.15, AmpFLP on D1S80, TH01, CSF1PO and TPOX loci. Pre-intoxication bands appeared, disappeared or were discoloured after intoxication. With PCR-dot blot hybridization testing for HLADQ alpha, pre-intoxication positive spots became negative after intoxication and pre-intoxication negative spots became positive after intoxication. Intravenous injection of 10 mg/kg of methamphetamine every 2 days for 2 weeks was a large enough dose for inducement of genetic changes. In this investigation, clear changes in DNA due to intoxication were confirmed.

The results of the study, do suggest the possibility of a market for criminal re-sequencing for the purpose of acquittal. The repercussions of such an action, I can't imagine, are going to be better than going to prison, since all we are able to confirm through this study is that the DNA changes. There is no mention of a Predictable change... just A Change... so place your bets... monkey time!

GTP and ME and Chess

You: Give me an annotation of the following game, noting and highlighting tactics, positioning, shifts in momentum and their causes, as we...