Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Earth Goddess According to Jenny Jinya

Jenny Jinya is a phenomenal German artist who knows something about empathy, the fundamental element that keeps together the multiform creatures we call "holobionts."

For a taste of her awesome work, you may start from this one. (be careful, this is powerful stuff -- it may make you cry like a child).

In the most recent comic strip by Jenny Jinya, we even see appearing the Goddess of life herself, mistress of all the holobionts of Earth. You can find it here. Enjoy the good ending!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

A happy holobiont is a holobiont that takes care of its microbiome

An obviously unhappy holobiont engaged in exterminating its own microbiome. Bad idea.

The epidemic of biophobia is still raging worldwide, with people still washing their hands with poisonous substances, convinced to do something good, or forced by law to do so.

Not a good idea. You skin microbiome is precious to you, among other things it is the first true barrier against infections. Some people are recognizing the problem, as it is described in a recent article on "The Guardian"

Just an excerpt:
Hand-washing aside, James Hamblin has not used soap for five years. He warns that our obsession with being clean is harming the microbiome that keeps us healthy
Take care of your microbiome, and be a happy holobiont!

(h/t Miguel Martinez)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Sex and Death among Holobionts and Organisms

My mother in law, Liliana, turns 100 today. Happy Birthday, Liliana!

Both holobionts and organisms have to fight entropic decay. Holobionts do that by continuously changing their hologenome in a horizontal exchange of information. Organisms do the same by the vertical mixing of their genome in the process called sexual reproduction. Both methods are driven by natural selection.
The second strategy, sexual reproduction, brings the need of eliminating the old genomes by the process of aging. True holobionts never die (think of a forest), but organisms do. Too bad for organisms, but it is a choice (and a lot of fun, too!). 
Liliana turned out to be a successful and resilient organism. So far, she has three daughters, a son, three grandsons, one grand-daughter and, recently, two great-grand daughters. Not bad!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The March of the Holobots

I am just back from a scientific meeting held in a small city in the mountains, you know, like things were.... when? Was it the Pleistocene, when people met in person to discuss things? Or was it before the PETM, during the Paleocene? Anyway, you learn things while having discussions at dinner with the other attendees. And I had a very interesting dinner with a group of roboticists. Many, many ideas. One I came up with is that of the "Holobot" -- the solid state equivalent of the holobiont! 

Bots are not based on cells, and they have no genetic code, either. So they are born holobionts.We are witnessing the birth of a new ecosystem that we might describe with the words of a recent article on Quanta Magazine (h/t Chuck Pezeshky): 

"Within this theory, individuals can be cells, tissues, organisms, colonies, companies, political institutions, online groups, artificial intelligence or cities — even ideas or theories, according to Krakauer. “What we’re trying to do is discover a whole zoo of life forms that extend far beyond what we have conventionally called living,”
So, the bots we are building can be seen as individuals and they do fulfill this extended definition of "life" -- a dynamic phenomenon that extends in time, not being just limited in space. It is just that they are not the same kind of life as ours. And so, onward, fellow holobots!

This subject is also being discussed on the Facebook group "The Proud Holobionts"

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Why human society is not a good holobiont.

Colin Campbell, the founder of the association for the study of peak oil and gas (ASPO) explaining the essence of oil depletion.
The problem is that human society is not a good holobiont. It either overreacts or does not react to external perturbations. The result is a destabilization that may lead to a catastrophe. Read the whole story on "Cassandra's Legacy"


A Fellow Feathered Holobiont

A fellow holobiont. This owl was photographed by Anastassia Makarieva in the region of the White Sea, in Northern Russia. It appeared to be friendly.

Owls have been fascinating as symbols of wisdom to humans since the time when they were sacred to the Goddess Athena. Anastassia sent to me this specific picture after a discussion we had on the meaning of the owl mentioned in an old short story by Vladimir Dudintsev, "A New Year's Tale" (1960) that resonates of meanings still valid today. I discuss this story in a post of mine on "Cassandra's Legacy"

Amont other things, it is curious how the symbology of owls was revisited by Hayao Miyazaki in recent times in his movie "Princess Mononoke"(1997) in the form of the little white creatures called "kodama," Japanese tree spirits. In the movie, kodamas share with owls the capability of turning their heads around, apparently without any bounds. You can see one of Miyazaki's kodamas as the front cover of this blog

Monday, July 13, 2020

Eco-Anxiety and Biophobia: When Nature is Seen as Evil

By Zhiwa Woodbury, M.A., J.D., Linda Buzzell, M.A., LMFT, and Craig Chalquist, Ph.D

Above, a link to a recent post by Zhiwa Woodbury, titled "Nature as a Threat." It is interesting for several reason, one is how he sets the virus threat as "Eco-Anxiety," part of our general perception of Nature as an enemy, a threat, the concept that Edward Wilson called "Biophobia." 
Never in history we saw this unbelievable frenzy of self-harming by disinfecting, washing, staying apart from other creatures, hiding one's face, taking harmful concoctions, thrusting phone apps controlling one's life and, wanting more of all that. In general, it means retreating inside a personal micro-fortress and seeing ourselves as besieged by armies of monstrous creatures stemming out of the evil goo that Nature is.


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)