Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Intra-cellular Dynamics Illustrated

Originally posted on September 6, 2011

Here is a video my son found this on the internet and passed along. He wrote, "I understood 1% of the text, but the visualization of what’s going on inside our cells is astonishing. Check it out: A must see! … And I agreed. To this I would add the following comments:

Yes! And what’s more awesome—literally—is that this is only a small part of it. In the video, key structures are shown in action, but they seem to be flowing in empty space; in fact, what’s really going on is that all those oceans of fluid are actually chock full of hundreds of other complex and simple molecules doing stuff—but they’re not shown because it would make the video impossibly confusing. The reality of our intra-cellular biochemistry is that it’s more like a department store sale in which key people who recognize each other are able to make meaningful interactions, but other systems of people and stuff are meanwhile doing other things. The animation is good, and it illustrates all sorts of dynamics that we didn’t know about fifty years ago.

And as a living action symbol, what if we are all cells—or even just components of a cell, as is shown—within the tissues and organs and organism of some multi-dimensional cosmic embryo-god developing within an inconceivable meta-cosmic God?  This animation extends that, amplifying the ways our horizons are expanding into the macro-world of galaxies and beyond, and the micro-world of cells and their innards.

Yes, what if each of us is a different kind of protein, or some other large chemical complex, and we’re all involved each in its own way, its own "dharma," (as they call it in Sanskrit), to make the cell work, be alive. What if we are helping God the organism be born by in a more subtle way just helping the earth be a happier place. What if there are millions of sub-cellular units such as those noted in the video working together—often not even knowing directly what many of the other parts are doing—yet trying to help the cell be healthy, and more, to help the cell to play its own particular role in the great multi-faceted organism?

I’ve become a bit more aware of the pervasive lack of a clear sense of purpose in many people’s lives. I fear I’ve been lucky in falling into a vocation (a sense of being called, from the Latin, vocare) and from there branching from medicine to preventive medicine to preventive psychiatry to cultural criticism, to thinking about what we all need so we won’t be so confused.

The video also hinted at some other points. All those critters in the cell don’t know their names! I mean, they do their thing without running the info through their left language-forming brain structures. They just do it. They don’t have fancy names for themselves or their functions or the larger structures to which they relate or serve. Nor have they worked out any better than we have a clear map of who goes where and when. But it all works out. Is that a micro-miracle or what?

Finally, this whole blog post is a mythic construction. Enjoy and may it fertilize your imagination.

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