Screaming Planet

Where old bloggers come to die.

Taking the Gentle Approach

Posted on | February 1, 2010 | No Comments


One intriguing perspective shift I was reminded of yesterday was that everything is an event. This does not mean that my having coffee this morning amounts to high drama ranking up there with The Ring Cycle (pick one) worthy of a rapt audience following every minute detail thereof, as many twitterinos seem to believe. It is more an attempted altering of focus by some professional smart-ass or another (Alfred North Whitehead, bless the Google, coauthor of Principia Mathematica, bless the Wikipedia) implying that there are no “things”, but only processes that shift from one form to another, akin to the principle of conversation of energy. Notably, he spoke of the pyramids as being events in time, with a “before” moment, when they were but heaps of rock and potential chemical energy stored in the bodies of the workers that will erect them, and a hitherto undefined “end” when they will crumble to dust or be blown to smithereens to build the brand spanking shiny new Sahara hovercar bypass.

Many would say this is natural and, like so many simple ideas, obvious. However, many would also say that life is natural, however, life itself is an attempt at staving off this “natural” procession of things, at the voracious expense of external energy sources (the Sun, geothermal vents, gajillions of chemical reactions, you name it, life eats it in one way or another). Occasionally, in attempting to beat entropy, elements of multicellular life take a wrong path and turn into unkillable parasitic cells that ultimately destroy their own host, therefore kind of kicking themselves in the arse. I’m talking about cancer here, of course, and continuing the line of thought from the previous post, the fact that most cancer treatment techniques thus far focus on forcibly killing that which cannot be killed, making these treatments sort of like a zombie hunt. You may be Shiva incarnate with the shotgun, but the more widespread the initial infestation, the lower your chances are of getting ’em all before one of them gets you.

A team of researchers seems to have taken an alternate approach, and they are making serious headway. Instead of taking a bullet to each of the cancer cells, they are trying to learn the language of these buggers, so as to be able to tell them: it’s okay, you can rest now… and thereby making them stop struggling and quietly give up the ghost like any good cell should. To me, this appears to be the right way to shoot for immortality – not trying to preserve everything untouched and unharmed, like fiddling with telomeres and oxygen absorption and whatnot, but simply getting the old and broken bits to die quietly, while making new, healthy and fresh bits grow to replace them.

Now, admittedly, the article I linked to is a horrendous hodgepodge of biochemical jargonatry worthy of a special prize for being impenetrable, one that anyone spending their days absorbed in translation, writing, ukulele strums and  general farting about can’t even begin to fathom, but why this is not making the headlines in a more digestible form while Steve Jobs’ burp of a tablet has everyone in hypnotic thrall is beyond me.

I guess that’s humans for you.

“Hey, we will cure cancer!”


“Hey look! Shiny beads!”


  • About

    Written in minutes and fact-checked in seconds via Google. May contain unsafe levels of self-righteousness. Past cleverness is no guarantee of future results.
  • Tags

  • Goodreads

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
    The Ophiuchi Hotline
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
    Green Eyes
    Crackpot Palace: Stories
    The Fractal Prince
    The Fecund's Melancholy Daughter

    Sebastian's favorite books »