Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Yes, But What Are They Saying About Us?

From Science Daily:

When it comes to cellular communication networks, a primitive single-celled microbe that answers to the name of Monosiga brevicollis has a leg up on animals composed of billions of cells. It commands a signaling network more elaborate and diverse than found in any multicellular organism higher up on the evolutionary tree, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered...

...With all this new information, one obvious question remains unanswered: what is a single-celled organism doing with all this communications gear? "We don't have a clue!" says Manning, "but this discovery is the first step in finding out."

'More elaborate and diverse than any multicellular organism' including us, I guess. Hmm, maybe Greg Bear's idea that prokaryotes are the secret rulers of Earth (in Vitals) isn't so far-out after all...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Thomas M. Disch, R.I.P.

‘. . . there are moments when a soul released from its cave of flesh will speed towards a mortal mind as it lies entranced in sleep, will curl across its surface, frothing, like waves across a beach, touching its tenderest parts and causing dreams to rise from its depths, like the bubbles of burrowing clams. And we awake, knowing we have been touched by something beautiful,whose beauty we shall never understand, knowing only that we have been witnesses to its inexpressible passing. We call her name, if we can remember it, and ask her to remain a moment longer, only a moment. But already she is gone.’

The Businessman, Thomas M. Disch 1940 - 2008

There are tributes from people who knew him here, here, and here. Go read his books, and his stories. Read The Genocides, Camp Concentration, 334, On Wings of Song. Read the stories collected in Getting Into Death and Fundamental Disch. He was a damn fine writer. He was one of the writers who meant a lot to me when I was a lonely teenage sci-fi geek in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

Update: Daily Kos has posted a fine memorial essay.
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