Cookie dough, organiods and 3D printers - oh my!

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It is so easy to forget how precious it is to be alive.

So many in our lives did not make it here. To this new year. A new imaginary line in ‘time’ drawn to chart our being, our presence on this planet. A hidden dimension to move around and get wrinkles in. 

We hope this new ‘year’ will be better than the last imaginary chunk of time we lopped off. Like time can be rolled out in a log of dough to slice and bake into a chocolate chip cookie to eat and digest, become part of our being. This year let’s resolve to slice off and eat cucumbers instead. Much better for us to incorporate into our life. We’ll have a gluten free, non GMO, low carb, Planet Fitness frequented start to our newly-begun chunk of year-time. You know what they say – ‘today is the first day of the rest of your…’

To be or not to be. Just what is it, anyway? Let’s look it up. Something so monumental, so principal as the word ‘LIFE’ must give us a clue as to what was breathed into a lump of clay and keeps us animated: 

adjective 

(of a person, animal, or plant) living, not dead

• (of a feeling or quality) continuing in existence

• continuing to be supported or in use

(of a person or animal) alert and active; animated

Hmm. How dreadfully banal is that? I was looking for something more. Like Frankenstein was looking for that spark, that thing that animates. Can’t our dictionaries be updated to include more what our Frankenstein technologies have rendered to the meaning of the word ‘life’? 

For instance my new issue of Discover magazine has an article on neuroscience. This blows my mind. I can’t wrap my brain around it. Apparently, “at least two labs are growing Neanderthal ‘mini-brains’ – rudimentary, 3D brain organoids roughly the size of a pea and grown in petri dishes from stem cells.” Organoid? They are extracting DNA from Neanderthal fossils, popping it into stem cells that spawn a brain? Albeit a simplistic one that can be studied to watch the development of neural structures and the origins of disorders such as autism and Alzheimer’s. 

Wait a minute, is this organoid alive? I wonder if my computer is alive because it is aware of my existence by telling me ‘organoid’ is not a word and keeps changing it to organic. I keep changing it back. I have a feeling it just might be capable of cutting the connection to the keyboard just to win this battle and be left alone. Hey, it could be communicating with yours right now, with all of them, to take over the world. Who knows? Could happen in a few more slices – say the 5th slice of the June slice in the chunk called 2043rd CE (or Anno Domini if if you like).

Where was I? Oh yes, alive in the sense that if they found a grain of yeast on Mars the headlines would scream LIFE ON MARS! What if it’s conscious? Like an oyster is conscious. How would they know? And if they did know, could we be reading an article in slice 2020 about MIT 3D printing a Neanderthal, placing the organoid in its skull, and having it run for president? Would you vote for the Neanderoid? If you liked her platform? I didn’t say they printed a male.

OK, I’ll stop now. Let’s just put the paper down, close our eyes and take a deep breath…in…out. Again…in…out. Feel the universe entering your body. A precious few of the molecules that animated Plato, Da Vinci, Abe Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe mingling with your blood cells, feeding your brain. 

It’s good to be alive.

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