by Theodore R. Frimet
Why earth lets us live
You know, sometimes it really is the simple things in life that I enjoy the most. Microscopy is among one of them. Imagine my glee upon rediscovering the less obvious connection between neuronal axons and loose connective tissues filaments. Not there yet? No prob, Bob.
Both loose connective tissues and neural cells have their own associated glutamate receptors. In the case of neural tissue, the presence of excess glutamate (processed from MSG) can be deleterious to the cell. MSG is a known excitotoxin. It will excite the neurons to death. Ca+ ions will stream into the cell. The neuron will pump water across the membrane in attempt to mitigate the influx of Ca+. There will be a downstream, to the death, excitation of other neurons. Entire populations of neural nets can be lost in this fashion.
Ok – such a stretch, I know – yet the affects are so well known that scientists use MSG to burn out optic nerves for biological testing protocols. Too much? Where is the link to loose connective tissue? And where is the tie in to Astronomy, Astrophysics, or even, dare I say, Cosmology? Patience, my dear Astronomer, as I attempt to weave a short story for you, combining the Good Earth, Evolution and our Cosmos.
Ah, yes. How then ‘the link’ to loose connective tissue? As I had the little beastie prepared for me, under a phase contrast microscope at 400X, a hypotheses blinked into existence. Could it be possible that loose connective tissue, as being sensitized at glutamate receptors, also carry a pseudo axonal message, alongside her fibre? And further exchange this lost message, interstitially, and chaotically? All the while being interpreted as pain? Hmmm.
A Google search later, and a paper of a few years old found me relishing in the work of where drugs were sought after, and used. The sample study effectively blocked glutamate receptors, and subsequent pain from being transmitted thru the loose connective tissue network. Ok, so no longer a hypothesis. It was an older groundbreaking theory, of science long proven. A decade ago.
Which further got my old noggin thinking that drugs weren’t key. What was needed was an active way to induce endocytotic activity to engulf, absorb, and destroy the very receptors for these agonists. And when the local chronic pain had subsided, to cease said therapy. I pressed the hypothesis further to allow loose connective tissue to rebound and re-establish its network of glutamate receptors.
I bare my hypothetical hope at the ground before you. The natural reintroduction of these necessary receptors would no longer induce the agony of pain, in the form of Fibromyalgia. A short email to the papers author, and his subsequent reply, suggested that I as an amateur I should continue to pursue this study. It was a pretty good idea.
I realized that I needed to up my ante, and read a good book. However, texts are very expensive. I do not have the finances to further any microbiological study for a few hundred dollars. Ah, yes! Astronomy will have its way with my fancy – yet my other passions will continue to “take a number, please”. I shall be forever patient for social security to kick in, as an income supplement. However, there will still persist prima facie financial priori.
Of course there is the premise of used books. There is amongst us a treasure trove of decently discounted tomes. A few minutes searching comes up with a 4th edition version of the 8th edition available for Molecular Cellular Biology. Lodish, circa 2000, it seems, comes highly recommended. Having wrent the first chapter as an easy read – it blazes before me the old human thought – that we are so very complex.
I hold an integrated view of the last 65 million years or so. We have graduated by ways of evolution from my favorite cousin, the Lesser Tree Shew, to human beings (sans the narrative of genetic suppression and an expanded brain case and associated psychopathy). Shall we mention the great dying of the Permian about 250 million years ago (no shrews, I guess)? Let us toss back to about 4.7 billion years of alternating wet and dry periods, producing ribonucleic acid (RNA)? Yes, this is post the time when we had a catastrophic encounter with a massive wanderer that not only birthed our moon, it yielded a rather equal distribution of iron throughout old Gaia. Yes, “rust never sleeps” – Neil Young.
What the heck!? My toy train left the station on the wrong track. Just for a moment. Ah, yes. Evolution. We should not be here, and yet here we are.
I am a fool for the old girl and her coddling. We hold a common genetic heritage that remains a constant reminder of not what we kept intact. Evolution has suppressed or thrown out much of the grist mill of my genome and made us unique. Nature has conspiratorial forces at work. You just didn’t know you were the 2nd stringer. No more bench warming for the human race. Coach says, “it is almost time to get skin in the game”.
There you have it. Life evolves on the basis of a driving force that we have all learned to respect. And yet, we are still here. Perhaps not for very much longer. And I got to thinking, that maybe, after all, we will be here for quite a spell? So sit down, and pull up a chair, if you will. Ok, stand if you must. This one is going to be a real knee slapper!!
Earth will permit us the grace of continued existence and to evolve a bit further. It will be her effort to drive off the inevitable destruction of all life. Gaia is a good mother, and would never permit it, again. She might give us all a good spanking, as she did during the Permian, though.
Evolution has learned a few new tricks, and the human experience is one of them. Gaia is banking on the cosmological currency that a magnetar will star quake. At the speed of light, we will be hit with disastrous amounts of highly energetic particles. It will leave us us naked, and dead.
Fortunately, cosmological distances are huge. The extreme vastness of space blankets us with an extensive time delay. However, believe you me, if the source of a magnetar on steroids happens, there will be some serious accounting in the works. So Gaia has established that you will evolve, and give her earthlings the help that they will need to survive. No sentient mother wants another great Permian die off. Vulcanism aside, neither are the great asteroid impacts on anyones shopping list.
What? Move the planet? Relocate species? I dunno. A lady doesn’t tell all, does she? However, for as certain as I am that salmon swim upstream, spawn and die, so shall we all meet our greatest definition of “why are we here”.
Answer? In the event of a cosmological catastrophic event, please remain calm, as you will reach your own genetic potential, and save the Earth. However, after consulting the 1995 film, Braveheart, “The Almighty tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he’s pretty sure you’re ****ed.”