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7 Final thoughts

We deliberately chose a wide range of different initiatives to explore, to reflect the broad range of initiatives underway. And yet, as you have seen, there are common threads that run though all our examples, such as the representativeness of ‘public’ opinion and how outcomes input into policy making. A key issue that Reading 5 highlighted was
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3.6 How valuable have consensus conferences proved to be?

From the two case studies just considered, certain factors seem critical for the success of lay input into decision making. First, both the choice of topic of the conference and its presentation is crucial. If the plant biotechnology conference had been billed as ‘genetic modification’ (as opposed to plant biotechnology), it might have had more resonance with the political and popular perceptions and hence had greater impact. Independence of the lay or citizens' panel is another key point
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4.1 Introduction

As bacteria secrete such powerful chelators into the environment, iron in other organisms must be kept under very close control. Any free iron within an organism is likely to be chelated by a siderophore, which may lead to bacterial infection within the organism In this Section we shall examine the biochemical systems that handle iron within the human body. The two areas we shall study are iron transport and iron storage.


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4.4 Hormonal control of sperm production

The most important hormone involved in controlling sperm production is a steroid called testosterone. This is produced in the testis itself, by the Leydig cells (see Figure 12a). The testosterone is released from the Leydig cells between the tubules, and taken up by the neighbouring Sertoli cells. The Leydig cells are stimulated to make testosterone by two other hormones, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which are both produced by the pituitary gland and
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1 What is development?

In this unit we begin to look at the human being in the context of an individual life cycle, examining some of the processes that contribute to the formation of a new person. This is the first time that many of you will have encountered this level of biological detail; we would ask that you take the time to understand it fully at this stage. We hope to show you that, far from being a dry academic subject, the study of biology allows us to glimpse a dimension of dynamic sophistication and eleg
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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • explain the principles that underlie the ability of wave power to deliver useable energy;

  • outline the technologies that are used to harness the power of waves;

  • discuss the positive and negative aspects of wave energy in relation to natural and human aspects of the environment.


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1 Wind energy

Wind energy was the fastest growing power source at the start of the 21st century, yet wind-driven mills and pumps, and nautical sails for transport were, along with waterwheels, the first mechanical devices to power industrial production. The advantages of harnessing wind energy are obvious; it is free, clean and widely available (but see later). Although a favoured source of ‘green’ energy, the increasing deployment of wind turbines where they are most efficient, on hilltops and coasts,
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6 Summary

Solar power is an immense source of directly useable energy and ultimately creates other energy resources: biomass, wind, hydropower and wave energy.

Most of the Earth's surface receives sufficient solar energy to permit low-grade heating of water and buildings, although there are large variations with latitude and season. At low latitudes, simple mirror devices can concentrate solar energy sufficiently for cooking and even for driving steam turbines.

The energy of light shifts el
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2 Solar thermal energy

Solar heating of trapped air, water and solids has been used for centuries, but modern architectural design can enhance all three effects for space heating, hot water supply and heat storage. Such passive solar heating relies on short-wave radiation being absorbed by materials so that they heat up and then slowly re-emit long-wave radiation. The most obvious example is inside a greenhouse, where solar radiation that passes through the glass heats the inside air to temperatures well abo
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1.7.1 Carboniferous mires

During the late Carboniferous, mires developed over vast areas of the UK. Much of today's land area was an extensive, low-lying plain bordering a sea to the south (a sea that was soon to be the site of a mountain-building episode). Any mountains that existed lay hundreds of kilometres to the north. Large river systems meandered southwards across these plains.

At that time, the UK lay in tropical latitudes, almost on the Equator (see Author(s): The Open University

Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • define and use each of the terms printed in bold in the text;

  • describe the different levels of protein structure and their interdependence;

  • explain how steric limitations determine secondary structure in polypeptides;

  • describe, using examples, the relationship between protein structure and function;

  • understand the significance of domains in protein function and how t
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1.3.1 Inheritance of colour in maize

We can trace the inheritance of characters in animals and plants by following the phenotype from generation to generation, in breeding experiments. We will describe work with maize (Zea mays), alternatively called corn (sweetcorn, or corn on the cob), which occurs throughout the world as an extremely important commercial crop plant, and which is used extensively in genetic research. We can also study the inheritance of characters at the level of the genotype. In this section we will ju
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1.2 Like begets like

It is possible to follow a character, such as eye colour or hair colour in humans, that is handed down from generation to generation. Such characters are said to be inherited characters (or heritable characters) and are determined by genes. A gene can be considered as a unit of inheritance, which determines a particular character and which is passed on from parent to offspring.

Genes maintain the differences between species, such as oak and human, but they also contribute
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Learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should know:

  • the number of chromosomes is characteristic of each species and can vary enormously between species

  • genetics is based on the concept of the gene as the unit of inheritance

  • that sexual reproduction always includes two distinctive processes: the production of gametes, which involves meiosis, and fertilisation. The two processes are accompanied by changes in the chromosome number, from diploid to haploid and fr
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3.7 Insulin

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It has many actions, but is particularly important in keeping the blood glucose level normal.

Question: How does
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3.6 Fat

You may have heard people make comments about their metabolism, for example ‘I am fat because I have a slow metabolism’. Your metabolism refers to all the things that are going on in your body to keep you alive. Different people have different metabolic rates. Some people have low metabolic rates and some have high metabolic rates. Metabolic rate may play a part in someone's weight but it is not usually the whole cause of being fat or thin. Glucose metabolism refers to the way in w
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8 Managing the BSE/vCJD episode up to May 1990

BSE was formally recognised as a new disease in November 1986. However, this information was kept under ‘embargo’ at first while an initial epidemiological study – involving the collection of data from 200 herds – was started. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) was officially informed about BSE by the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) in June 1987. By December 1987, those responsible for analysing the data from the initial epidemiological study had concluded that the
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1.7.1 Unit summary

1. A coordinate system provides a systematic means of specifying the position of a particle. A system in one dimension involves choosing an origin and a positive direction in which values of the position coordinate increase. Values of the position coordinate are positive or negative numbers multiplied by an appropriate unit of length, usually the SI unit of length, the metre (m).

2. The movement of a particle along a line can be described graphically by plotting values of the particle's
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1.6.3 The acceleration due to gravity

In the absence of air resistance, an object falling freely under the influence of the Earth's gravity, close to the surface of the Earth, experiences an acceleration of about 9.81 m s−2 in the downward direction. The precise value of the magnitude is indicated by the symbol g and varies slightly from place to place due to variations in surface altitude, the effect of the Earth's rotation and variations in the internal composition of the Earth. Some typical values f
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1.5.6 Velocity and acceleration as derivatives

Recalling that the instantaneous velocity of a particle at time t is given by the gradient of its position–time graph at that time, we can now use the terminology of functions and derivatives to say that the velocity of the particle is given by the derivative of its position function. In terms of symbols:

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