When bacteria have the last word, viruses are silent | The stone ax | Science | The USA Print

According to the FBI, the pandemic caused by the covid has its origin in an alleged accidental escape from the Wuhan laboratory. for now it’s just a hypothesis; an assumption that will have to be tested before becoming a certainty.

However, no matter how many relentless viruses accidentally escape from the laboratories that are arranged throughout our world, life would continue on the planet despite the fact that, with it, the human being was extinguished in its entirety.

On the contrary, if the bacteria disappeared, life on the planet would be extinguished in a short time. Maybe in a couple of years. Because thanks to bacteria, the world we inhabit makes our lives possible. Steven Johnson tells us in his book entitled the ghost map (Captain Swing, 2020), a work in which the American scientific popularizer recounts how the cholera epidemic of 1854 devastated the city of London.

When we recycle our everyday waste, we mimic the work that nature does at the microbial level; a cycle part of the natural recycling process that keeps us alive

It’s funny, but when we recycle our day-to-day waste, we are imitating the work that nature does at the microbial level; a metabolic cycle that we can well identify as part of the natural recycling process that keeps us alive. Without going any further, in the London where Steven Johnson places us, the human excrement that clogged the sewers formed bags of methane produced by the decomposition of organic matter by bacteria. In fact, methane bags could be deadly when sewer scavengers held their lamp flame close in search of a piece of value.

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These were hard times for a proletariat sunk to the bottom of the submerged economy. The characters in Dickens’s novels were as real as the life described by the author who has best known how to portray the margins of Victorian London; the sordid landscape where even dog droppings have value, since waste is not only part of the metabolic cycle of organic matter, but also of the metabolic cycle of an economic system whose dominant categories are productivity, exploitation and consumption.

Returning to the pandemic and microbiology, it is worth remembering the confinement diary written by Antonio Muñoz Molina with the title Back to where (Seix Barral, 2021). Among its pages we find a note that is peculiar because of what it has to be scientific and literary at the same time, since its protagonist is a microorganism, a parasite scientifically known as toxoplasma gondii that transforms the brain of mice making them reckless, eliminating their fear of cats and turning them into “tame prey” for cats. Once hunted and ingested, inside the intestines of cats, the parasites “will enjoy the necessary conditions for their reproduction.”

The ‘Toxoplasma gondii’ parasite transforms the brain of mice: it eliminates the fear of cats and turns them into “docile prey” for cats. Inside cats, parasites reproduce

Antonio Muñoz Molina is told by Dr. Bouza, a retired doctor who, among other occupations, dedicates his time to recycling old fountain pens, turning them into useful objects, ready to fulfill his destiny as one of those daggers that Borges refers to. in his story and that they dream of a “simple tiger dream” for which they are encouraged to kill.

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If we look at it like this, every self-respecting object fulfills its metabolic cycle of profit and evil in equal parts. It is not something new. It is imitating the microscopic life of nature.

the stone ax is a section where Montero GlezWith a desire for prose, he exerts his particular siege on scientific reality to show that science and art are complementary forms of knowledge.

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