Wednesday, 26 January 2011

On the Unification of the Universe, and other Floating Pillars.

You might not consider yourself as a religious person but, if you are trying to make sense of it all, you will have to admit that the mechanics of the Universe and its Law of Coincidence are something to be contemplated upon.

If, on one hand, there are fanatics with the intolerance and, unfortunately, the power enough to make our lives a living hell, there are, on the other, people who consider themselves to be rational, who waive away everything considered spiritual, because of its immateriality.

Thought is immaterial, so are Laws and everything else deriving from Thought. And this does not mean that there is, somewhere in the Outer Space, a bearded patriarch sitting on a Nebula and making decisions for all of us. That would be inconsiderate, to say the least. Probably the Universe is more of a rhinoceros: a big body with a small brain, something whose dimensions are so extraordinarily incommensurable that, were it to be a pensive entity, it would trouble having consciousness of itself. Oh, a bit blind, too. But, then again, if the Universe were to have a brain, wouldn’t it be the sum of all the existing brains? And wouldn’t it make it a scattered brain, thus having communication problems?

What about stones, and rivers, and air? They too obey Laws, although they do not possess a brain as such.

For some time now, I have been fascinated by a disease called toxoplasmosis, which is caused by a bacterium. It is primarily transmitted through cat faeces. Only now have medical scientists started investigating the possibility that Schizophrenia is linked to the disease. At this point, though, it has been studied and proved that animals suffering from toxoplasmosis alter they behaviour, being more prone to taking risks. The premature and violent death of the host implies a more successful spread of the bacteria.

Isn’t it absolutely fantastic that something so small can influence something thousands of times as big to the point of annihilating their ultimate driving force, that is to say, the preservation instinct? And, although bacteria do not have a brain, they can override the brain of their host.

It is not new that diseases can alter one’s behaviour, but what I find absolutely fascinating is to consider healthy people, and try to imagine how much of their behaviour is, right this moment, being dictated by the bacteria living inside their bodies. And mind you again: bacteria do not have a brain, but they have, in the end and all things considered, the power to put your own brain to work for them.

I was feeling tempted to pass on the next coincidence but, although I do not consider it as too significant, I think it is too delicious to relegate it. Toxoplasmosis is mainly transmitted by cats. Have you noticed the fascination schizophrenics have for these little domestic animals? Have you seen some of the thousands of cats painted by them? Or their obsession with faeces when there are in a middle of a crisis?

If you ingest cyanide you are likely to die. If you choose to take a moderate dose of caffeine, you will become excited. That’s chemistry. Although you can argue that the bacteria too release substances that induce behavioural changes in people, and that these substances or the process itself has not yet been discovered (in Toxoplasmae it has, tyrosine hydroxylase and phenylalanine hydroxylase), you will have a hard time coming up with an explanation on how does a specific bacteria finds the exact substance that has the power to do so.

You can be a rationalist and say that it has been a trial and error process. You justify it through Evolution. But still, aren’t the odds of an organism finding that out so remote? What did it do until it found it? And what if it hadn’t?

Many Species have succumbed and many more will do so. Although I keep reading about new Species being discovered all the time, there is little information about their age. Nonetheless, the fact that they were discovered doesn’t mean that they recently created. So, when they talk about a new species, they are referring to newly catalogued ones, not to a new sprouting.

Imagine, then, a starting World with an almost infinite number of species. In the first nanosecond, most of them are already extinguished, because they haven’t, like the Toxoplasma Gondii, found that life saving mechanism. In the first hour, many species simply die of disease or poisoning, of the results of a bad interaction with other organisms, in the first day, many other are devoured by others and, in the first week, some others starve to death.

That is Creationism for you. And if you believe in it, will the World continue like the Hollywood movie Highlander, in which “In the end there can be only one”? After all, everything was already there in the beginning but, as species do actually get extinguished, that doesn’t mean they might actually disappear in totality. And the Armageddon usually refers to the disappearance of Humanity, there’s no mention of the many organisms that could and would survive all the catastrophes mentioned in the Annals of Christianity.

Don’t you worry, Evolutionists too believe the World started like a Hollywood movie: with a big explosion. Besides, they believe in the survival of the fittest, so although we have two completely different theories trying to explain cosmogenesis, we have, to all likelihood, the same end result.

Or is everything reaching equilibrium because of the symbiosis between cows, pigs, chicken, cats, mice and humans and bacteria? All other species seem to be vanishing, anyway. Yet, wouldn’t it megalomaniac to believe that we are here to stay? Probably as much as not wanting to see we are doing anything we can, even involuntarily, to wipe out all other species.

One thing my experience of working in the hospital has taught me is a phenomenon I like to call “The Death Party”. More often than we know, or would like to know, or need to know, people die in the hospitals due to human error, rather than by natural causes.

When it is so discovered and, believe me, in most cases, it isn’t, the blame goes to the highest member of the staff holding direct responsibility: the doctor. The hospital administrative board of the chief of service maybe responsible for the doctors, but they are not for the human lives. The doctor himself is. So are the nurses, although it is more difficult to prove their actions, as their mistakes are not necessarily put into writing. The families of the deceased usually prosecute the doctors. The doctors, through the hospital, prosecute the nurses.

If you are thinking that people die in the hospitals because they were prescribed the wrong medication, the most common cause for the legal pursuits, I would slightly disagree.

There is a mysterious driving force behind a person’s death in the hospital, I am tempted to say. It is not because of one person that the patient dies, but because of many. It is as if the entire team, involuntarily, of course, were being commanded into killing.

Not only the doctor prescribes inadequate medication, but the nurse gives twice the dose, the assistant nurse forgets to empty the urinary catheter bag, causing a mass infection, the people distributing the food give bread to the poor soul suffering from keliakia, the cleaning staff unplugs the oxygen tubes; then , when the patient is arriving in Intensive Care, the transporters drop the patient when transferring him to another bed, causing a skull fracture and, in the end, the patient himself collapses on a massive heart attack from so much dwelling.

No matter how much Amor Fati you have, you should consider whether or not we are all inevitably involved in a gigantic Death Party condemning most of our World. Who knows if that is, after all, our life saving mechanism. We wouldn’t want you to be eaten by a tiger, would we? And mind you, the Swedes are even planning on using bacteria to exterminate all the mosquitoes in the country, so that they can light some fire on Ikea refuse toothpicks and seriously enjoy their short summers by eating flattering pork sausages.

All of this leads us to a very important and pertinent philosophical question, if you so wish it to be: Is God a bacterium?

You might have been taught that there is no such thing as Immortality. Well, there is. Bacteria reproduce by dividing. I remember the classic Scotland Yard motto that states that “if there is no corpse, there is no crime”. In this case, it would be more appropriate to say that, without a corpse, there is no death. A Bacterium splits itself into two parts, none of them die in the process and, moreover, if it has food and a favourable environment with no predators, it will, has it has, go on living forever, although occasionally mutating in order to make itself more adequate to its habitat. Bacteria were the first inhabitants of the Planet and they are very likely to be the last to survive in it, no matter how vehemently we try to destroy it.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. “? Or rather, in the beginning was the Bacterium, and the Bacterium was with God, and the Bacterium was God? If you are Evolutionist, you know then that we Humans ultimately derive from bacteria, the so-called Ur-Organism, that we are ourselves a highly mutated bacterium. We were created by bacteria. We are kept alive by bacteria– we wouldn’t survive if our intestine were without it. They are indeed very powerful, in such an extent, you can even start your own conspiracy theory on how they are trying to control our lives and rule the World. Isn’t it what we are trying to establish here in the first place? No, firstly because, in fact, they already do, secondly, because there is also something else controlling the bacteria.

Although a protozoan, a single cell organism, and not a bacteria, the Paramecium is one of the oldest of all living beings. Like Bacteria, Paramecia are immortal. The only difference is that the protozoan needs sex to keep on going. Not necessarily to reproduce, but to exchange genetic material. They too don’t have a brain. All their functions, including putting food into the mouth, digesting it, expelling its remains through their anus, (yes, they even have one), move forward and backwards, contour obstacles, and learning, are regulated by the macronucleus, little more than a reservoir for DNA. Viruses too act according to the instructions on their DNA. And so do Bacteria. In fact, all living beings do.

Hence, the next logical question would be: Is God DNA?

It would be too narrow a concept if it were to be so. Simply because we have to consider non-living beings as well, objects. And by that I do not mean dead bodies, remains of life; I mean minerals, gases and all inorganic bodies. Could it be the Word, instead? The Logos of the Genesis? Perhaps, but there is another term, in my opinion, that would make the transposition more clear: and that is the Soul.

DNA is what makes all organisms move. The Latin word for Soul is Anima, as referring to the animating principle. Thus, logically, we can identify the ancestral concept of the Soul with the modern, scientific DNA or, in particular, with Plasmids. There era many ways of explaining the same reality. There are many different languages to express the same phenomena, and the beauty of Civilization resides precisely in the fact that every Human product of knowledge, from Mathematics to Astronomy and to Philosophy is a search for the same thing. And it is only natural that they might describe the same conclusions in a different manner. If you harass two foreigners at the entrance of the Louvre, and ask them how the weather is like on that particular day, they will not only answer in a language the other one is maybe incapable of understanding, but they will also make different interpretations of it. It could also happen that neither of them understood you question, not because they do not know how to answer it, but because you do not share a common idiom. So, sciences are just languages. And so are religions.

If the ancients used to preach that you should not sin, on the risk of losing your Soul for all Eternity, what would scientists nowadays say? Eating unhealthily (Gluttony) will not only put you Health at risk, but the propensity for cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes, etc., will be passed on through your genetic material to your offspring. It will increase the chances of your own DNA strain, your genetic clan to be extinguished. Isn’t it the same exact thing?

If you, as a corporeal being, do not harm your DNA, it combines with other DNA strains, pretty much like in the case of the Paramecia and, in fact, it lives forever. You are, in fact, immortal; on the condition you preserve this Soul of yours. Every single one of us Human Beings is said to have a common ancestor. We all have a common mother scientists have recently come to call the Mitochondrial Eve. And her DNA, her Soul, is living in all of us. Much more than this beautiful type of immortality we cannot expect. It is the transcendental part in us, the one that determines our character, that gives us aptitudes and weaknesses, that compulses into doing things we cannot explain, that lives on. Our own lives are just a small contribution, a tool to insure that it remains immortal. In the exact same way as bacteria and parasites can and do change our behaviour and, with it, the course of our lives, DNA is the ultimate entity, the essential parasite. We are here to serve it, and not the opposite.

My father once defined, in my late childhood years, Mathematics as being “the Science that studies the Infinitely Great and the Infinitely Small”. Not knowing how to ask myself why does it count everything in between, I went on to conduct, much like a young Doctor Faust, a personal quest in the realms of Magic.

In my dizzy path, after having devoured Agrippa, I came across the Tabula Smaragdina, the Emerald Table, a document attributed to the alchemist Hermes Trismegistus. There are several translations and versions of it, but it states, one way or the other, that: “That which is below is like that which is above that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing”, and also that: “The formation of the microcosm is in accordance with the formation of the macrocosm”. Delicious, isn’t it? Especially when we consider that the first book making reference to it, and attributing it to the Greeks, the Book of the Secret of Secrets, dates far before the year 900 AD.

Again, you can keep on wondering why the orbit of the electrons around a proton is elliptical, and why the orbit of the Earth and the other planets around the Sun is also elliptical. On why they all gravitate.

There are indeed similarities between what is above us and that which is below us. Or rather, on what we consider to be below us because of its size. Wouldn’t it be interesting to extend our present observations onto future probabilities?

We are used to description of the Atoms as being these nice spheres in movement. What if, pretty much like the planets, they are elliptical? And the subatomic particles? The quark model is purely a model, a suggestion. Cannot we not imagine that the so called quark flavours could be yet smaller masses made of sub-elements?

If so, maybe one day, the day we could really pry into the Infinitely Small, we would se each atom as a solar system, and the quarks of an electron would be, for example, the sea and the rock. Upon yet closer observation, we would see clouds and small lights. And maybe even someone typing mad probabilities on the computer, and still more mad people reading it...

Those would be the real parallel universes, the parallel reality. To realize that our galaxy is a molecule repeated somewhere right under our noses. If not repeated, it would be maybe even terrifying to sense that the future of our solar system would be dependent a single atom, that its own existence would be a mere proportion of its counterparts, both in size, time and energy.
Then we could be extremely poetical, and say that energy is what projects the nanocosmos into the macrocosmos, or vice-versa. Or else extremely metaphysical and say that it all functions the same way bacteria do inside yourself or, to be even more lunatic, vice-versa.

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