So I’m contemplating another midlife crisis, but I’m torn. Do I run off and join Cirque du Soleil, or start a career in epigenetics?
If I go with the circus, I get to follow the sun, travel to interesting places, and wear tights. If I go with science, I spend a lot of time in dark laboratories peering through microscopes studying the mechanisms how cells control physiology and behavior.
Remember the Star Trek episodes when Captain Picard meets up with the Borg, a pseudo-race of cybernetic organisms. The Borg voluntarily submit to cybernetic enhancement as a means of achieving what they believe to be perfection, and travel the universe, looking for other species to grab parts from. Their mantra: “Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated.”
They were interconnected in “the collective” and shared thoughts and emotions. The Borg were some of the most chilling villains ever presented in Sci-Fi and many of the plot lines came from real science.
We all feel like individuals, but we each are a collection of 50 trillion single celled units. Almost all those cells are amoeba-like individual organisms that have evolved a cooperative strategy for mutual survival. They’ve all been assimilated into the collective.
For decades science has had the central dogma that that genes control life. But genes are not self-emergent. Something in the environment has to trigger gene activity. So here’s the question that is prompting my midlife crisis and one that is worthy of some critical thinking on your part…
What if cells not only teach us about the mechanisms of life, but actually can serve as a road map for how to live a prosperous life?
If we are all simply the sum of our collective amoebic consciousness, then we need not be victims of our genes, but can be co-creators of our fate.
So what do you think about that!