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Humans are insignificant

April 9, 2009

The New Scientist is wonderful because they did an exercise in decentralizing the human ego:

Back in this universe, I am nothing but a speck of dust. “You are cosmically insignificant,” Krauss says. “We can get rid of you and all the aliens and all the stars and galaxies and the universe would be pretty much the same” – a sea of dark energy populated by islands of dark matter . “People should know that the world is not what it appears to be,” Frank Wilczek says.

Zoom in: What am I? Richard Dawkins, Bert Hölldobler, Joan Strassman and David Queller discuss superorganisms – groups of creatures, like leaf-cutter ants, whose social organisation is so finely tuned that the colony functions as a single organism upon which Darwinian evolution and natural selection may act.

Then comes the kicker: humans are superorganisms. I am nothing but a vast colony of my single-celled ancestors operating in near harmony: “The most dramatic example of cooperation in biology is multicellularity,” says Paul Davies. What else is going on in this colony that I call myself? Ten million microbial genes live on top of my 23,000 genes, Venter says. The “microbiome” in my gut is a biosphere unto itself.

Please do read the rest

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From → Science News

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