‘The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher’ by Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas presents his view on life on Earth in the book ‘The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher’. The author explores the fact that all life forms on Earth are interdependent and can be characterized by uniformity. Thomas states that life of Earth is usually symbiotic. The author provides theories for a variety of issues analyzed in the book, which lead to the cohesion and unity.
Each cell of a living organism is an ecosystem. After reading the book, I learned that understanding the activity of a cell is crucial in interpreting the way how world functions in general. The world is not as diverse as it looks from the first glance. The uniformity of the world is more significant than the diversity. The interconnectedness of life on Earth is based on the fact that all living organisms are created from a cell by the relationship of the cells (Thomas 3). Organisms on Earth are connected to each other in the same way as parts of a cell are connected within the cell. Thus, Earth should be perceived more as a cell than as a living organism created from a cell.
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The author claims that all living organisms that exist on Earth are interconnected. The life of a human is connected to the lives of animals and plants. Nature is balanced and exists through cooperation. For example, plants are green only because they have chloroplasts – separate organisms that communicate through their own kind of language and have their own genome separate from the genome of the plant. The author states that the body of a person does not belong to this person completely. It is so due to the fact that mitochondria, an organelle that exists in the eukaryotic cells of a human body, originated from other living organisms.
I learned that connection between organisms on Earth can protect the planet even from the organisms which came from outer space. For example, astronauts must go through the procedure of decontamination after they return from space in order to be not contagious during the contact with other people. However, according to Thomas, the bacteria from the space will not be able to cause harm to people because they do not belong to the connection that exists between all the organisms on Earth, so the bacteria from outer space do not possess the required qualities to cause harm people. In addition, Thomas claims that even on Earth, there is only a few bacteria that provoke diseases among people, and that these bacteria cause people to have diseases by mistake. He states that there is usually no gain for bacteria from causing a disease. Thus, the fault for people getting ill lies on the immune system of humans because the immune system reacts too seriously on the bacteria.
Thomas also provides the information on medicine in the book. He states that there are three types of medicine: nontechnology, halfway technology, and high technology. Nontechnology treats patients who have the disease which is not studied enough yet, so it cannot cure the basic causes of the disease. Halfway technology treats patients who have diseases which cannot be cured completely; however, this technology helps to postpone death. High technology helps people who have the disease which is studied enough already, and the mechanism of this disease is understood, so it can be completely cured now. Thomas states that it is highly important to understand the mechanism of the disease, in order to cure it, thus, the majority of funds should be given on the study of mechanisms of the diseases.
The author uses social science and biology in order to provide examples to support his point of view. For example, the behavior of humans is compared to the behavior of animals and insects described by the author of the book. For example, an ant belongs to social insects. It behaves differently when it is in the group of ants compared to when it is isolated. Humans are similar to ants in this aspect. The behavior of a person can be completely different when the person is socialized compared to when this person is isolated. I learned that in order to discover something new, all scientists base their opinion on the researches that were conducted by the scientists before them. The scientists communicate with each other and help each other like ants.
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In order to feel connected to the rest of the world, people try to find the extraterrestrial life. Thomas suggests that the best signal which people can send to the outer space is the music composes by Bach. This music is a masterpiece created by a human, and it would present the human race in a proper way. I also learned that people are not the only ones who produce music. Thomas claims that animals, such as gorillas, termites, etc. produce various kinds of rhythmic sounds, which can be referred to as music. Thus, all animals and people are biologically predisposed to make music.
People have the technologies that can destroy our planet. Thus, people must be very careful with these technologies because all organisms on the planet are interconnected. Therefore, by destroying the planets territory with nuclear weapons, people can destroy themselves.