Lexicon

Abrahamic

A class of religion(s), including (in order of age) Judaism, Christianity and Islam, share a common ancestor in the story of Abraham. These religions are similar in that they hypothesise an all-powerful god (in heaven) and an antagonistic devil (in hell). They also speak of heaven, a place of eternal bliss, where the souls of the chosen or believers will live on after death; the opposite to heaven is hell, a place of eternal suffering. These religions tend to have a book (e.g. tanakh, the bible, koran) which is considered to have been directly delivered or inspired by God. In reality, there may be a series of later edits or modifications e.g. the apocrypha is a set of books said to have […]

ALA

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA): (also called lipoic acid or ALA) is also important for promoting mitochondrial biogenesis. ALA also helps with blood sugar and weight control because it stimulates glucose uptake and increases the burning of fatty acids. I recommend 600–1,200 mg of ALA daily.

Amino acids

An important molecule in biochemistry: proteins are linear chains of amino acids, with various sequences of amino acids forming a variety of proteins. The 22 amino acids naturally incorporated into polypetides are called “standard” or proteinogenic, whilst 9 are labelled “essential” as they cannot be produced by the human body. When in the human body, the 22 standard amino acids are either used to synthesize biomolecules such as proteins, or are oxidised to urea and carbon dioxide as an energy source. When oxidised, amino acids can be converted into glucose and ketone bodies — when ingested sugars and carbohydrate levels are low, these are used as a source of energy.

Anthrax

Watching a fun programme from the BBC, in which a few people have died and others have been infected by anthrax. But what does it actually DO? Anthrax is a generally-lethal disease caused by bacillus anthracis. There are effective vaccines against the disease, but until the 20th century anthrax killed hundreds of thousands of humans and animals every year; Louis Pasteur developed the first effective vaccine in 1881. Bacilus anthraces exists (in “endospore” form) in soil, can survive for decades and are found on all continents on Earth — including Antarctica. They can be eaten or inhaled by cattle, and later contact can pass the disease to humans. Infected humans are not usually contagious, but if they die they can be a […]

Apocrypha

The apocrypha are books deleted from the Abrahamic old testament: Tobias Judith Jubillees – mentions the nephilim Enoch – mentions the nephilim Esther Baruch Sirach Maccabees

Arabic

The Arabic alphabet (Arabic: الأَبْجَدِيَّة العَرَبِيَّة‎‎ al-abjadīyah al-ʻarabīyah, or الحُرُوف العَرَبِيَّة al-ḥurūf al-ʻarabīyah) or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left in a cursivestyle and includes 28 letters. غ ظ ض ذ خ ث ت ش ر ق ص ف ع س ن م ل ك ي ط ح ز و ه د ج ب ا gh ẓ ḍ dh kh th t sh r q ṣ f ‘ s n m l k y ṭ ḥ z w h d j b ā

Archetypes

We all need heroes (from Greek ἥρως, “warrior, defender, protector”), right? Or maybe it’s just me. I know I certainly appreciate having fellow sentient creatures — real or imaginary, alive or dead — to look up to, learn from and attempt to emulate. Of course, real people are complex and complicated, and any mental representation of them we have is necessarily an abstraction. I call these abstractions “archetypes”, and I have selected a handful of whom have several admirable qualities I’d like to develop: Tony Stark R. Buckminster Fuller Bruce Lee Sherlock Holmes Jason Bourne By using this term, I’m forced to recognise that my abstractions are not perfect representations of the real people underneath. This helps to avoid any […]

Artificial intelligence

We humans put a lot of stock in our intelligence and self-awareness: it’s taken as a measure of our superiority over other species, that we (alone?) are able to reason about our current circumstances, build tools to change our environment as we see fit, and think about thinking itself. We are self-aware, “conscious”, we say — ignoring the fuzziness of the concept — and it is this particular cerebral quirk that separates us from (or elevates us above) the animals. Imagine, then, a “created intelligence”: self-aware software that demonstrates at least some of the characteristics that we associate with human(-level) consciousness and intelligence. Wait But Why has an awesome series on the Artificial Intelligence Revolution, which you should definitely read if you haven’t. […]

ATP

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a molecule used to transfer chemical energy inside cells: a series of chemical reactions called the citric acid cycle (or Krebs cycle) allows the mitochondria in our cells to convert carbohydrates (i.e. glucose), fats and proteins into carbon dioxide (waste) and ATP, which is used for cell function. There is some evidence that a ketogenic diet is beneficial to the production of ATP by mitochondria within the brain.