A Dictionary of Biology (Oxford Paperback Reference)
Fully revised and updated, this new fifth edition is the perfect guide for those studying biology, either at school or university. Containing many new entries, and with biographical entries on key scientists, it provides comprehensive coverage of biology, biophysics, and biochemistry. – Over 4,700 clear and concise entries – Over 50 pages of new material for this fifth edition, with all existing entries fully revised and updated – Feature articles on important topics such as genetically modified organisms – Chronologies chart the discoveries in the main fields of the subject
About the Author(s)
Elizabeth Martin (MA) is Managing Editor of Market House Books Ltd. Market House are the authors of over 120 reference books on a wide range of subjects. They have an in-house editorial team who are backed by an extensive group of professional and academic writers and by a team of specialist consultants.
Maintain that resting potential, now!, December 1, 2006
The question was: what (or whatever) maintains the resting membrane potential nowadays! I always thought that it was the sodium pump (or Na K ATPase etc.). Recently, I heard: No, it is not the sodium pump that maintains the resting potential. So I checked both the Oxford and the Penguin Dictionaries of Biology. Oxford says that the resting potential is maintained by the sodium pump; however, the Penguin says it is the leaky potassium channels, and sodium pump plays a slight role. Well, it is one of those academic debates, it would seem–which really mean nothing–because nothing is at stake! The debate is from confusing maintenance, recovery, and repair–perhaps. Is it the resting potential (a thing being maintained) or is it the repolarization after a depolarization (a thing in recovery) that we are talking about? Is maintenance still maintenance if you spend energy in extruding the smaller atoms out–well: a running car can be maintained only by spending money? Perhaps, after all, it is only the usual confusion of the frogs in a well: they can only see the stars in their own horizons. The whole biological process has several components, and to know which is the one–well, just take one out and see if the process holds and functions. Which brick is the most important in a wall? Clearly, the truth is never simple, and possibly there is no such thing as the truth. Things evolve using all of the components–and are what they are. So, I guess it is always the context and it is always relative: point of view etc. There is no simple correct answer because the question is incorrectly formulated–without the necessary context. What is more important in the running of a car: the engine or the gas? So get both the Oxford and Penguin–they complement, and both are useful when viewed and understood in the right context: neither can replace the textbook; and no textbook replaces all the source materials–but you need to start somewhere. For a rich fantasy life read Ayul Zamir’s Intern Beth. Now, whatever maintains that resting membrane potential!