Sunday, 31 May 2009

Climate change and dwindling arm-pit forests

There was an article on the international year of astronomy. It had beautifully illustrated pictures of different shapes of galaxies that have been photographed with potent telescopes. The pictures show specks of lights joining together to make shapes like rings, caps, spirals, etc.

It is difficult for us to imagine the distances to stars in our own Milky Way galaxy. The idea of travelling with the speed of light for a thousand years to reach a star in our own galaxy is difficult enough to grasp. Try to think of millions of other such galaxies, each expanding out forever or getting sucked back in to black holes and the distances that separate them from us, then you can understand the limits of our own imagination and understanding.

Can there be beings that are thousand light years larger to us humans in size, who inhabit this universe and walk around, taking giant strides, and for them the galaxies are like flats in an apartment building, that they pass while going to the office? At the end, it is just a question of proportions!

Because our earth is so tiny in comparison, smaller than a small pinhead compared to this universe of galaxies, and on that tiny little pinhead of earth, to those giant beings we humans would be like sub-atomic particles. Who knows if they can see us in their microscopes? or may be they have not discovered us yet?

That started me thinking about the bacteria and viruses, those tiny sub-microscopic living things that we can’t see but we can sneeze them out to pass on swine and avian flu to our fellow humans or eat in millions mixed in our yogurt. Like for us the distances to all those galaxies are unimaginable, perhaps to the bacteria that live on our bodies, we human beings are like planets or galaxies?

Like a bacteria living on our foot thinks that the little toe where s/he lives is his/her country, our body the earth, the other persons in our house the solar system and doesn’t know if there is life at those far away stars that are the apartments we can see from our window. Who knows if they have passport checks for going to other toes? And the catastrophs like we taking shower or an oil massage or getting licked by dogs or our lovemaking, that occasionally destroys all the living bacterial dinosaurs and makes for "breaking news" of the bacterial news channels. "Another cyclone is going to hit toeland, residents are request to evacuate!"

For them the distance between my house and my office must be like thousands of light years away.

Actually our bodies are like complex ecological systems as mentioned in an article on The Week recently.
"What I found most surprising was the great diversity of bacteria living on the skin," said Julia Segre of the US National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, who led the research. According to the first big census of microbes, parts of the body such as the moist armpits were akin to tropical rainforests in terms of the type of ecosystem the bacteria inhabit, whilst other areas of skin were like dry deserts.

"The second most surprising finding was that the skin was like a desert with moist areas like streams such as the armpits, and isolated oases of life where there are rich reservoirs of deep diversity, such as the navel," said genetics specialist Segre, whose study is published in the journal Science.

The human bodies are ecosystems, believed home to trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes that naturally coexist in the skin, the digestive tract and other spots.

And for millions of those living beings, climate change means your new deodorant or the antibiotic pill you pop in. Try imagining yourself submerged and surrounded by a living complex ecological system and you will understand that all those antiseptics and disinfectant sprays, cloth washers, dishwashers that marketing guys want you to buy from all the TV screens and ads, are actually all ecological disasters, killing millions of yet undiscovered bacterial and virus species and probably promoting scourges like antibiotic resistance, killer viruses, new kinds of allergies, etc.

Perhaps we human beings are also one of those killer viruses that sprang out and colonized the whole earth because one unthinking giant being killed all the dinosaurs because a dust particle hit him?

So please, don’t shave your armpits. And don’t put deodorants or other lotions. I don’t mind the smell. I prefer a living world on my body-planet. Down with artifical "civilization" and back to nature.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Dr Binayak Sen gets bail!

It has been a tough and despairing struggle. To know that Dr Binayak Sen was being left in jail in spite of his long work for oppressed and marginalised, in spite of there not being any kind of reasonable proof against his being a Maoist spy, had been a sad comment on the state of Indian democratic system and the state of its institutions that are supposed to protect the citizens.

In the last one year of the trial, the State authorities had not been able to present any conclusive proof, nothing to justify why it was using a draconian anti-terror law to silence and punish a person like him. If State could do something like this to an internationally known person like Dr Sen, you can only imagine the kind of things that can happen to those are poor and powerless.

Finally today the news that Supreme Court has accepted these arguments and ordered his bail. I feel a sense of anger and frustration, that it had to drag for so long and against all ideas of common sense and decency! Still at least it has happened.
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