Friday, December 4, 2009

Life On Man

Well, day two of applying ear drops for a dewaxing, and I am officially Stone Deaf. 

I kind of wanted to write about Wilder Penfield, the cortical homunculus, and whole leg orgasms today, but my mind is still stuck on ear wax. Why do we even have the stuff? 

Well, the answer is obvious. Same reason we have dandruff, and grease, and snot, and other gross exudations. Our external integument (skin, hair, tongue, cheeks, guts, etc.) oozes stuff, and also slags off to keep creepy little parasites from establishing a beachhead. Finding an anchorage from which to push into our lush bodily continents, like little Conquistadors intent on finding gold and slaves.

If you view the human body as a planet, then it has all sorts of biomes upon and within it, small ecological zones populated by microbes both good and bad. The gut, obviously, is the rich and opulent rain forest zone, teeming with life. The ear canal, on the other hand, is a veritable Sahara, devoid of life. And rightly so, for such an inviting place, dark and moist, a seeming fertile ground for molds and mildews, really needs some type of protective film. 

And so, to the surprise and occasional disgust of some, we are indeed vast worlds filled with creatures. For every one human cell, there are perhaps ten or more microbial inhabitants. The majority are, if not beneficial, at least neutral, and generally keep more nasty germs at bay by merely being on and upon us. In fact, were we completely sterilized,  we would probably perish, or at least, not thrive.

Soon after the Human Genome Project was complete, the Human Microbiome Project cranked into high gear. Results are pouring in as we speak, and it is worth doing a cursory google search, just to see what's going in - considering how intimate the whole relationship is.

Human cells outnumbered ten to one? Oh dear! But don't worry. I once read that the average bacterial cell is about fifteen times smaller by volume than a human cell. I once figured out that, if a human cell were the size of a trailer park trailer, then the average bacterium would be the size of a person.

Perhaps that explains why, once, during a fever dream, I was heard to exclaim: "Get out of my trailer!"

1 comment:

  1. We think we are one. Ha! We are many.

    I love my little microbes. They make me strong. No anti-bacterial crap for me.