The Strange Case of C.elegans

I am not much of a science buff. Sometime around the birth of the graphic internet, I stopped being impressed by science and began getting depressed by it. The relationship between the anxiety of knowledge and the personal computer is not trivial. But I do manage to hang out with a lot of scientists. Writers and literary types are of limited value. Science types were always willing to pick up the bugs for me to look at. And it was bound to happen that I would write a story about some topic of science or other. Oddly enough, it came not in the form of science fiction, but rather science meditation.

Take the case of the model organism C. elegans.

Sydney Brenner made this species famous through his Nobel winning research on programmed cell death. Andrew Fire did the same except with RNA interference. These little creatures were the only survivors of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. They get addicted to nicotine.

This is the most understood species in the world and yet the wealth of information that has come from this creature is astounding. Why 'yet'? Is it not a strange paradox to look at what is already known and find a deep well of knowledge? A blank wall for a Buddhist works the same way. The universe likewise is a depository for the history of thinking. Like an intellectual mirror, objects like C. elegans reflect only our infinite curiousity.