Monday, January 07, 2008

Denise, Development, Life

The astounding complexity of human development is understated to say the least. To summarize, skipping most of the details, two solitary cells find one another among billions of others, and manage to join together. Together, they're barely visible to the human eye, but they start dividing and growing. After a few days, the tiny clump of cells is called a morula (because it looks like a mulberry) and this is what all the embryonic stem cell fuss is about. Each of these cells has the potential to change into any cell type in the body. By studying these cells, scientists could solve some of the major mysteries of medicine, and develop cures to some of our worst diseases.

After a month, you would be hard pressed to distinguish the human embryo from that of a gecko. It's only 5 millimeters long, which is a bit smaller than a tic-tac. One short month later, and you can clearly see a 3 centimeter long version of a little person. It has all of the muscles and bones of an adult by this point. The heart beats, and the eyes, nose, and ears are formed. Each step along the way makes perfect sense, one tissue inducing another to fold, or differentiate, or break free of some attachment, and it all coalesces into that two-month-old floating fetus we all saw in 8th grade health class (unless you went to Catholic school and learned how amazing Jesus was instead.) And it's really interesting to learn why and how this all happens.

Now this little fetus is what the other big fuss is about, and I don't really want to get into that here because that's not the kind of point I'm trying to make. What I really wanted to say is: for those of you with kids, or thinking about having kids, you should spend a little time and read about this process. It's tough--really complicated and confusing, but I think you'll learn a lot about life by studying how it actually keeps itself going. Everyone always calls it a "miracle." Personally, I don't think something that's happened to every single person, everywhere, ever, should be called a "miracle," but I understand the sentiment. Also, make sure you take in enough folic acid during the 4th week.

I guess that's it... Not much of a point here. Just wanted to remind everyone that they're part of something that's truly amazing, and sometimes we miss it all when we don't stop to look at the details. And, amidst all the relationship troubles, financial worries, and general misery that is most of human life, there is a pervasive and elegant beauty, entwined. And I know it sounds stupid, or sappy, or effeminate, or something, to type what I just typed, but I think there's a lot of value in stopping your life for a while to really appreciate these things. The basics. I'll get off my soapbox now. Thanks.


Blogger Jess said...

It truly is amazing. This thing, a squirmy-wormy thing come out of you screaming its head off and you instantly fall in love with it and will do anything in your power to see him smile and laugh. I do make a fool of myself in public places because I love that sound so much. You are doing awesome it sound like. You will be a brilliant doctor.

Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 9:18:00 PM CST  

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