Thursday, October 8, 2009

Teach Me How To Learn To Fly

Gently let go of my hand
Show me how to understand
Give me room to learn to fly
Underneath your watchful eye
See me fly, limp, run and crawl
Let me scale forbidden wall
Do not scowl and do not curse
Unreasoned rules, there's nothing worse
Let me leap and let me fall
Let me hear quiet wisdom call
Words clear and thoughtful, never terse
Only craved advice disperse
Show me blue, then teach me sky
Help me think, and wonder why
Take me past the common grounds
Show me there are no bounds
Keep me seeking with your questions
Feed my mind in it's digestions
Strengthen me with it's fire
Rarely let my wings retire
Show me how to reach my goal
Teach me how to lift my soul
Let me choose my desire
Let my mind learn not to tire
Teach me want to search high
Show me want to learn to fly.

Early 90's

Climate Change

If you are interested in helping to do something about climate change, in a fun way, as well as getting involved with the more progressive in your community, there is a global network called which is organising some enlightening educational activities for communities around the world to help with awareness. I happen to support Greenpeace ( and the Wilderness Society (, as well as Global Child ( and Oxfam (, as well as other ecological and social justice causes. I am not wealthy nor a saint, sometimes I'm a help and sometimes I'm a hindrance, but I am better off for it. I also try and minimise excesses, but that is not the easiest thing unless awareness comes into play.

Mother Mitochondria

In complex cells with organelles (little parts in the cell that have unique tasks in the cells activities, just like organs in your body), often there is an organelle called a mitochondria. Mitochondria is a fascinating part of the relatively modern cell.
Mitochondria is the part of a complex cell (whether it is a single cell or part of a complex organism) that processes glucose and turns it into energy for the cell. It can be compared to a powerhouse in the electrical grid, creating energy for all the other things to use so the whole system can operate. It does this by cleaving APPT into APP (look it up if you need). There are a few rare kinds of cells that have no mitochondria (using a different method to gain energy) which are often extremophilic. Generally though, the more energy a cell needs, the more mitochondria it has. For example, a muscle cell often has quite a few mitochondrian for the power it uses, whereas a skin cell which needs very little energy has only one which dies long before the cell is removed from the body.
There are a few interesting facts about mitochondria. Firstly, it is actually an archaebacteria that is living in symbiosis with the rest of the cell. That means it is actually an ancient bacteria that has been reabsorbed by the complex cell with other organelles for the mutual benefit of both the mitochondria and the cell. It has it's own DNA, separate from the rest of the cell's DNA. However, giving the rest of the cell energy in exchange for a more protected environment with more abilities in the cell is a good pay off for loss of autonomy. The arrangement has been in place for so long it would be doubtful if either the mitochondria or the complex cell could survive for long without the other.
Another interesting fact is that mitochondria is always passed down genetically on the mother's side. This is true also in single sex species as single sex species always function as female. You got your genetic print for your mitochondria from your mother and your mother's mother and so on to the first mitochondria that ever existed. So the way you break down (carbon based or organic) carbohydrates into energy is something you inherited from your genetic mother. Scientists have been using this DNA information to try and trace the "scientific Eve", or the first human female DNA strand. Although mitochondria is very useful in this as it is passed from women only, it is difficult because mitochondria DNA is highly changeable with rapid mutations occurring frequently. I think this happens because the DNA has experienced many extremes for a long time, so environmental factors such as eating/fasting, safe/unsafe, hot/cold, could set off the DNA switches to the best mode for survival. Also, since mitochondria DNA does not divide and share like a two sex system, I wonder why it is so changeable. I also wonder if, when the cell divides, if the mitochondria uses the simple cell mechanism of budding, or if the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) unzips the DNA as with the rest of the cell's DNA information.
Another mystery I wonder about is did the first complex (more the one organelle) cell have mitochondria in it's make up, or did the mitochondria be adopted or adopt later? Mitochondria definitely existed before complex cells, but when exactly did complex cells and mitochondria first team up? I would suspect that the agreement must have been between the nucleus and the mitochondria as they are both DNA carriers, although the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) does the DNA zipping and unzipping. As mitochondria are quite large, so I have difficulty picturing it invading a modern complex cell's wall (phospholibid bi-layer), so did it attach before the current cell wall took shape as it stands today? Are there free mitochondria today, floating about independently? Did mitochondria once sit on the outside of, let's say, plant cells that produced glucose, pushing them along to better spots (through evolution's survival of the most fitting) like a farmer with their livestock or crop?
Why did two entities with different DNA decide that the other was OK and and they would reside in the same cell as brain (nucleus) and brawn (mitochondria) without attacking the other as a foreign species? Could it be that the cells that were more co-operative did better and therefore proliferated? A cell that had the two DNA strands pitted against each other would have inevitably died (eg. put out a hormone signal that it was infected by a bacteria in a complex organism, and a killer T-cell {immune} would have destroyed and consumed it), or more rarely, removed the other's DNA (hence the cells with no mitochondria, often extremophilic, sometimes anaerobic, always less common).
Anyway, in conclusion, mitochondria is the part of the cell that uses carbohydrates in the form of glucose to create energy. So it is why we move and eat sugars, fats, carbohydrates and proteins (partly for proteins, because we use them for building our bodies, cells, and DNA a well). The mitochondria is about consuming energy so we can do action. It is also inherited on the mother's side and always has been. It is also a very old kind of bacterial cell from a long, long time ago. So they are responsible for the consuming of organic compounds for energy to actively move, which began with a complex cell working in conjunction with the mitochondria. As a microscopic mirror, is it like a mother feeding a child or a stomach supplying the brain, organs and limbs with energy? It is the reason why moving living things eat as much as they do. This tempts me to think about old mythology such as the role of humanity in the Southern African bushmen folklore or other Beginning or Where-We-Came-From stories around the world.