Week4_HumanBody and Medicine/Architecture of life by Nikola Kondov

Ever since we humans have walked on the Earth have tried to alter our surroundings in order to make them “better”. And we have succeeded in doing so. Except that only we benefit from these changes, or used to. Because due to our actions and ignorance, the world is facing another mass extinction. Despite that, we continue to outwit natural selection and to make the world easier toward  ourselves. We have created ways to obtain food so easily, that no physical motion is needed in order to do so. We have created medicine, that combats disease and prolongs our lives. We have created societies that are completely isolated from the real world. Most of all, we have created machines that are supposed to be a “better creation”, something that is supposed to be a product of an organism that is “better” than nature. I am not going to argue against our inventions, against our lifestyle that is unprecedented in nature. Not because I am as ignorant as 99% of the human population. But because if I was facing planet earth like any other organism, if I was living in the wild, had to hunt in order to eat, had to defend myself against predators and diseases, I wouldn’t have managed to stay alive for 19 years. And neither would have 90 % of the human population. Think about how many times we were sick, especially as children, even though we isolate ourselves from most of the dangers that surround us. We have the opportunity to eliminate most of the microogranisms that threaten our lives and prevent most life-threatening conditions. We are able to create our own microclimate. Whenever it gets too cold, we turn the heater on, or put on a sweater. We are protected from cold wind, sun, animals that would gladly eat us for lunch. Yet again, a lot of people still die from serious illnesses, induced by bacteria, viruses or our lifestyle. We have antibiotics that can kill off bacteria, but evolution finds its way around - antibiotic-resistant bacteria evolve. Viruses are even harder to fight off. We consume food that is full of chemicals and preservatives that are actually harmful to our bodies.  The air we breathe is contaminated. We have made life so simple that we can no longer drink water as it comes from nature. We have to purify it first. Yet again, most of us manage to live at least to twice the age we are supposed to. And I am glad about the last part. I am glad that right now I am able to sit and write this, even though I am pretty sick and would have probably been dead long ago if i was living  in the wild.

People in today’s society continue to invent complicated machines that help us move around, prepare our food, entertain us and so on. Despite that, we still turn to nature. For example, who hasn’t admired a beautiful sunset during a trip in the wild?

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Or at beatuful view from a mountain peak?

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Or a night sky full of stars?

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But why do people feel strong feelings whenever they are at such places? The answer is simple: we are, after all, animals, a product of nature. And this feeling is probably encoded somewhere in our genes. And it is no surprise that one can find the beauty in every single creation of nature- the world’s greatest scientist, architect and artist. It has created the most complex systems in the world. From a whole ecosystem to a single cell, the complexity is enormous. And the efficiency of these systems are remarkable. We humans try to mimick these creations, but fail to do so in most cases. We try to build complex structures to live, but they aren’t that efficient and require a lot of energy and material to build. Whereas everything in nature is conforming to the laws of tensegrity. The molecules and organelles that make up our cells are arranged geodesically - they form a polyhedric structure, which is the most efficient structure known so far. And in science, it’s all about efficiency.

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Imagine: our whole body is made up of cells whose cytoskeletons form a similar structure, that allows them to change shape in response to outside stimuli, thus making our existence possible. This structure allows for our movement, for the formations of our organs, and, eventually, for our existence. And it is quite surprising that we people do not use that structure that often. But, most of our creations do not have an example in nature, like the wheel. In W.G. Wells’s novel War of the Worlds the aliens that invade planet Earth do not use the wheel. Instead, their robots have legs and resemble spiders. While  I was reading this novel, I thought that it was the more efficient way of moving around. And it is, because with legs, one can move almost everywhere. And in an age when robots are becoming a greater part of our society, they are still pretty inefficient -  they need some kind of fuel, some source of energy, like every other machine. And we humans are the perfect robots - we can move in a smooth and complicated way and we have the perfect engines that rarely “run out of fuel”. We are basically the perfect robots. And so is the rest of the flora and fauna of earth. That is why we should admire the greatest scientist, architect and artist ever- Nature.

by Nikola Kondov

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