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The Synchronization & Syntonization of Molecular (Biological) Clock Ensembles
The NASA/JPL Deep Space Network (DSN) operates four facilities on three continents 24 hours/day, everyday. The DSN Operations Control Center (NOCC), in Pasadena, California, continually monitors and reports the status and performance of all DSN spacecraft project operations. The author, as a DSN Operations Frequency & Timing Systems performance analyst-engineer, reviewing these Daily Status Reports, noted that equipment failure is not the only cause of discrepant performance. Operator errors are a major contributor. Discrepancies tend to occur more frequently on weekends and at local solar time off-hours (nights). Presented here are the result of the author's research into correlations between synchronization/desynchronization of human biological clocks and operator performance. All biological organisms contain clocks. These clocks control the health, behavior and life cycle of the organism. To perform this function, they must be synchronized. For earthbound bio-clocks the synchronizing agents are solar radiation (the cyclic day/night pattern) and tidal modulation of the local gravitational field. The bio-clock is synchronized by lunar/solar tidal forces to form a lunar clock-calendar system. The time-of-day clock controls behavior patterns (depression levels), sleep/wake pattern, body temperature, etc. The clock-calendar regulates life phases (e.g. infancy, childhood, adolescence, adult, menopause,, aging). Desynchronization can cause behavioral affects as minor as loss of concentration, or a serious as fits of deep depression. Desynchronization can be caused by: (1) A genetic defect; (2) The ingestion of mood modifying foods and chemicals; (3) Rapid travel across time zones; (4) Sensory deprivization (extended periods of darkness or extended periods without sleep). Desynchronization is an occupational hazard for DSN Spacecraft Tracking Net Operators, air traffic controllers, international flight crews, etc.
Disruption of the Circadian Rhythms of Gene Expression and the Development of Breast Cancer
This project investigated the effects of rhythm disruption in mice on the expression of a wide range of genes in mammary tissue, the growth of MCF-7 xenografts and the growth, metastasis and gene expression in spontaneous mouse mammary tumors. Subjecting mice to a simulated shiftwork schedule altered the pattern and level of expression of clock gene transcription factors and genes that are involved in the cell cycle. We have also found that the formation of secondary lung tumors is enhanced by a simulated shiftwork protocol.
Circadian rhythm disorders are disruptions in a person's circadian rhythm -- a name given to the "internal body clock" that regulates the (approximately) 24-hour cycle of biological processes in animals and plants. The term circadian comes from Latin words that literally mean around the day. There are patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration, and other biological activities linked to this 24-hour cycle.
The circadian "clock" in humans is located mainly in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which is a group of cells located in the hypothalamus (a portion of the brain). Circadian rhythms are important in determining human sleeping patterns.
What Causes Circadian Rhythm Disorders?
Time zone changes
Changes in routine
During World War I, in an effort to conserve fuel, Germany began observing DST on May 1, 1916. As the war progressed, the rest of Europe adopted DST. The plan was not formally adopted in the United States until the Standard Time Act of March 19, 1918. It established both standard time zones and set summer DST to begin on March 31, 1918. The idea was unpopular, however, and Congress abolished DST after the war, overriding President Woodrow Wilson's veto. DST became a local option and was observed in some states until World War II, when President Franklin Roosevelt instituted year-round DST, called "War Time", on February 9, 1942. It lasted until the last Sunday in September 1945. The next year, many states and localities adopted summer DST.
Its use began in 1945, following studies of children in a region where higher levels of fluoride occur naturally in the water
President Franklin Roosevelt instituted year-round DST, called "War Time", on February 9, 1942
Moral Emotions for Robots
As robotics moves toward ubiquity in our society, there has been only passing concern for the consequences of this proliferation (Sharkey, 2008). Robotic systems are close to being pervasive, with applications involving human-robot relationships already in place or soon to occur, involving warfare, childcare, eldercare, and personal and potentially intimate relationships. Without sounding alarmist, it is important to understand the nature and consequences of this new technology on human-robot relationships. To ensure societal expectations are met, this requires an interdisciplinary scientific endeavor to model and incorporate ethical behavior into these intelligent artifacts from the onset, not as a post hoc activity. We must not lose sight of the fundamental rights human beings possess as we create a society that is more and more automated. One of the components of such moral behavior, we firmly believe, involves the use of moral emotions. Haidt (2003) enumerates a set of moral emotions, divided into four major classes: Other-condemning (Contempt, Anger, Disgust); Self-conscious (Shame, Embarrassment, Guilt); Other-Suffering (Compassion); Other-Praising (Gratitude, Elevation). Allen et al (2006) assert that in order for an autonomous agent to be truly ethical, emotions may be required at some level: ?While the Stoic view of ethics sees emotions as irrelevant and dangerous to making ethically correct decisions, the more recent literature on emotional intelligence suggests that emotional input is essential to rational behavior?. These emotions guide our intuitions in determining ethical judgments, although this is not universally agreed upon (Hauser, 2006). From a neuroscientific perspective, Gazzaniga (2005) states: "Abstract moral reasoning, brain imaging is showing us, uses many brain systems", where he identifies the locus of moral emotions as being located in the brainstem and limbic system.
David S. Brooks graduate from Eastern Texas Baptist College (B.A. Biology) and received an M.S. in Plant Pathology from Texas A&M.....'The Sympathetic nervous system and the pineal gland: important components of the rat circadian systems '