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My Brain sideways

An Artist Adventures into Scienceland

It is time to take stock. I’ve been in this new job for six months. The first two months I just sat in my new office (with windows!) and read research papers. If you had been a fly on the wall, all you would have heard was, “My God!” and “You’re kidding!” This is because I was reading the papers that were coming out of the Carlo Maley and Athena Aktipis’ Labs. They are mind boggling—a word that came out relatively recently in the mid-fifties (as though the world needed more words to describe how mind boggling the world was getting!).

For example, to describe the body as a multicellular organism is one thing, but to look at regular cells as cooperative and altruistic because they die for the greater good and cancer cells as the cheaters set my brain on edge; sideways perhaps.

And to think about Amy Boddy’s work looking at fetal michrochimerism was just plain strange. I now understand that the placenta is a two-way street- not only do the mother’s cells zip through to the baby, it also goes the other way around. Cells from the baby’s body have been found in the mom years afterwards—as many as 45 years! And wrap your head around the implications—when I look at my nineteen-year old son I realize that there is a good possibility that he has a few of his older sister’s cells in him. It puts the idea of ancestors into a whole new light.

And then there’s the famous microbiome stuff that everyone is talking about. It’s possible that when you have a yen for chocolate at 3 am in the morning, it might not be you that is having the craving, but your microbiome! Yay!

I could go on and on. And I will, but in digestible chunks. (Maybe the microbiome will like that as well!)