(I wrote this essay last week when I was really very drunk. I’d just got back from seeing a friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years, I checked facebook quickly and found there a video on Slime Molds. Well I just had to write down my grand theory of everything then! It is surprisingly boring. Starts off going on about slime molds and bacteria, lots of random quotes from scientists, then drifts off and somehow ends up mumbling about Rude Mechanicals and hallucinations – anyone curious to know what that’s all about its all in the past blogs, deary me, what a palava!)
Slime molds are fantastic and are our future!
And yes I’m a geek who reads the new scientist and doesn’t fully understand it, but we’ll pass over that.
Slime molds are single cellular organisms that, when they need to, come together to form “slugs”, with head part, body and tale, that go wondering off to find somewhere better. Then they turn into fruiting bodies, with some of them being sacrificed in order to do this.
“Their life cycle intrigues researchers for the questions it raises about altruism. As the individual cells of Dictyostelium divide in two, their population doubles in a few hours. Once they have consumed all of their favorite food — all the bacteria in the vicinity — they will begin to gather at a central collection point. So many come together that the clumped cells become visible to the naked eye.” http://www.princeton.edu
Writing in a paper to appear in the May 21 issue of Science, the researchers were able to measure concentrations of a chemical and mark its effects for the first time as it arose in single living cells and clusters of cells in Dictyostelium, a slime mold. When the amount of the chemical surrounding an individual cell reaches a certain critical level, the scientists found, the cell starts to pulse rhythmically, firing off more chemicals into the surrounding area that prompt other cells to pulse, an effect that cascades through the population. Ultimately, the cells grow in sync with each other and eventually move together as a massive group.
Recently scientists have found that bacteria when in oxygen starved conditions can grow electricity conducting hairs to join with other bacteria and pass oxygen between them. “When the bacteria were deprived of oxygen and iron they should have died. Instead they grew hairs…a communal lung”.
Yes I’m sitting here drunk with my December copy of the new scientist and that’s incredibly sad but…
” I believe that there are electrically coupled processes going on in these microbial communities that are completely analogous to any brain chemistry that we know. That does not mean that an individual bacterium can think, any more than a single neuron can think. But add a few hundred trillion of them in an electrically integrated circuit, and the limits are those of our imagination” Scientist Yuri Gorby.
The scientist I collaborated with at Cancer Research talked about cell memory in blood cells. It wasn’t memory as we know it but it was the ability to store information about what the body had and hadn’t come across before.Many scientists have suggested that it is this type of collective behavior in single cellss that was the starting point for multi-cellular organisms. For humans.
Perhaps in our enthusiasm for a singular worded conciousness and development of the frontal lobes we lost a collective consciousness, the type of “group intelligence” . Ever been in a group clapping to a rhythm and thought “am I in time?” and then become completely incapable of keeping time at that very moment? Ever stopped to think “how should I throw this ball/ draw this picture/ move in this dance” to find that that very thought seems to have hindered your ability to do it? I once did a horrific clowning course which involved complete humiliation in front of all the other students, people constantly running out of the room in tears. But by the end we didn’t care anymore, didn’t think any more, and our timing was perfect, could move in sync without looking at each other, knew when to create chaos and knew when to do nothing.
And thats what I was after with the Rude Mechanicals, but I muck it up with my own need to control things. Its me that needs to change, relax and stop thinking about how to make music, but that is almost impossible now.
Relinquish the self! But thats the thing with the seizures, in them I don’t exsist, there just the Big Thing, but it is horrific and I always scramble back again. Can’t do it you see. Been hallucinating people and animals this week, and bits of people, limbs growing out of funny places.
The idea of the individual was a useful survival tool but now its sawing up most of the workshop perhaps we should stop and think about some glue? Though all this talk about the collective, I can’t bear crowds unless I’m on stage and theyre there to see me.