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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adams

Reading Away

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

RECENTLY I COMPLETED READING A BOOK written by Bill Bryson that was all about the human body. It was aptly named, The Body – A Guide for Occupants. It was a most enjoyable read. His humor added the perfect touch to lighten the load on some complex anatomical and chemical processes that make up our bodies.

The depth of research that went into his book was impressive. We are indeed very complex creatures. Bryson gave a fair and balanced view of how we function or don’t. He claims that we have learned a lot over the centuries about the body but expresses throughout the book that there is still so much we don’t understand. My lasting impression - my takeaway - is we are something of a miracle and thankfully scientists and researchers will keep at it trying to understand what makes us tick.

My favorite discovery in my lifetime has been the mapping of the human genome completed nearly twenty years ago.

It helped answer how all Earth’s creatures are connected through sharing common microscopic traits we call genes and chromosomes. I have expressed before that I look at critters in a different light after this knowledge was presented and interpreted – it is a bit overwhelming even today.

Bryson adds a point of view that I find delightful to the mystery of life when he comments through his research that humans do not reproduce. This is left to creatures such as Geckos through what we call cloning. Humans recombine.

By mixing and matching genes, we get variety and that gives us safety and resilience. It makes it harder for diseases to sweep through whole populations. It also means we can evolve. We can hold on to beneficial genes and discard ones that impede our collective happiness. Cloning gives you the same thing repeatedly. Sex gives you Einstein and Rembrandt – and a lot of dorks, too, of course. [This sounds like a plot for a Seinfeld episode]

I’m not sure this knowledge would have helped me in high school in the romance department. "I'm here for your safety" - likely would not have worked.

I will contemplate this a bit further.

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