Thursday, April 24, 2008

Galaxies in our Biology Books & The Cosmic Food Chain

Galaxies are Living Things Too

One of the things I find most fascinating about the interstellar realm is how much its nature can mirror a single living organism on Earth. For one could maintain that galaxies qualify, even in a biologist terms, as living things.

Galaxies are born, and move and grow, and eat, and excrete, and reproduce, and attain a level of homeostasis, evolve, and inevitably die.

So why don't we see galaxies in our biology books? Just because they are not made of organic cells?

Some definitions of life include viruses and they are acellular. Plus, viruses don't metabolize either. Perhaps then, someday, we will see galaxies in 10th grade biology textbooks.

We are Not Alone

Nevertheless, doesn't this reclassification of taxonomy have the potential to drastically alter our self-perceptions as individuals as well as a species?

Don't we become the ants and the galaxies the humans when we examine the cosmos in this fashion?

And furthermore, don't we answer one of the most insatiable and fundamental questions to ever exist: Are we alone?

For if we consider galaxies to be living things, then not only are we sure we're not alone anymore, but we know that we actually live within, on, and amongst billions of other living things.

Cosmic Cannibals

Some evidence toward this theory is that galaxies eat.

Did you know that our cosmic crib, the Milky Way, is eating another galaxy as we speak, churning up its stars and dust and gases, making itself full with delicious space objects and accessing the energy within them, as say, me with pizza?

If you really think about it, this means we live amidst, or more accurately, inside the belly of a cannibal. In fact, the final frontier is really just a cannibal's firepit.

Top of the Food Chain?

That said, where on the cosmic food chain are we exactly?

According to, "it looks as if our Milky Way will be subsumed into its giant neighbour, the Andromeda galaxy, resulting in an elliptical galaxy, dubbed 'Milkomeda,' the new home for the Earth, the Sun and the rest of the Solar System in about two billion years time. The two galaxies are currently rushing towards each other at approximately 500,000 kilometres per hour."1

Therefore, interestingly, when viewing galaxies as living systems, not only are humans removed from the top of the biological food chain, but so is the galaxy in which we reside.

Note: I understand that this post is a stretch and may anger biologists as well as astrophysicists, but as a curious person I found this supposition way too interesting and metaphorically rich to not at least purpose in non-technical terms to whoever may stumble upon my blog.

The Best Way to Impede Climate Change: Eat Eco-Friendly

Changing one's diet to local, organic, vegetarian, and/or vegan are by far the most effective ways for an individual to lessen their eco-footprint, more so than driving hybrid cars, carrying reusable grocery bags, or purchasing energy-saver light bulbs (although everything helps of course).

This is particularly clear when one notes that, per year, a typical American puts 4.4 tones of CO2 in the air with their motor vehicle, while they put a whopping 60 tones of CO2 into the atmosphere with their food consumption.

However, a food's eco-friendliness appears ever-more complex. That is, it turns out based on a comprehensive study by the US Food & Drug Administration, it may be better for one to buy food from a little farther away if the production of that food is more carbon-neutral than your local offering. This is because 83% of the CO2 put out by food consumption is not how far it travels, which is about 11%, it is what it takes from start to finish to grow/raise it.

Let us play devil's advocate here. Say
you are trying to lead a green life and yet you know your local farmers use crude oil to run every instrument and aspect of their farming facility while they don't recycle at all, and the next closest farm which uses biofuels and recycles much of its waste is too far away to make it environmentally sensible. What do you do? suggests
a solution in its article, "Must I Throw Out the Whole Hog?"

To wit:

"A relatively small dietary shift can accomplish about the same greenhouse gas reduction as eating locally. Replacing red meat and dairy with chicken, fish, or eggs for one day per week reduces emissions equal to 760 miles per year of driving. And switching to vegetables one day per week cuts the equivalent of driving 1160 miles per year."

Deciding if and how to eat ecologically can be considerably confusing and frustrating, but this post and these few tips may make it somewhat easier to swallow changing your diet for our planet. Bonappetit!

More info on eco-eating:
"Food Footprint: Minimizing Greenhouse Gases"

Source:"Do Food Miles Matter"

"If left unchecked, global world food shortages could set the world back seven years in the fight against extreme poverty"

It's being called the "Silent Tsunami." In three years, prices for the basic staples that feed the world—wheat, rice and corn—have risen by a staggering 83%. For people in the developing world, affording enough food to eat is becoming a daily struggle for survival.

The New York Times is reporting that in
Haiti, people are eating cakes made of mud mixed with a little sugar and oil to try and beat the hunger pangs. Without action to stop the upward spiral of food prices, 100 million people around the world will face deeper poverty and hunger, and hundreds of thousands will confront famine and starvation.

In the face of this suffering, we cannot be silent

Last week, I asked you to send a message to President Bush and urge him to make solving this hunger crisis a priority on the G8's poverty-fighting agenda at its summit this July in
Japan. Your response matched the urgency of the moment, and we smashed through our initial goal of 30,000 petition signers.

Just yesterday, we learned that Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda has sent a letter to the other seven leaders of G8 nations adding the hunger crisis on the agenda for the G8 summit. It's a critical first step and shows that our concern is being heard. Now we need to hear from President Bush and work to keep the focus on this ongoing crisis

Help us reach our new goal of 100,000 ONE members urging President Bush to rally the G8 to take emergency action against hunger and to invest in agricultural productivity in the developing world.

Click the link below to send the following petition to President Bush: