In lieu of a proper review of The Lives of a Cell, I hereby include a few beautiful quotes from this book, which you should most definitely read — October 1, 2014

In lieu of a proper review of The Lives of a Cell, I hereby include a few beautiful quotes from this book, which you should most definitely read

Sort of conceptual drawing: what looks like the outlines of a cell, with everything floating in it -- everything from whales to amoebae.

(I transcribed everything below with Siri, by the way. Siri is amazing. She occasionally makes mistakes, so blame her for them, then blame me for not doing a better editing job.)

Fascinating:

> From time to time, certain termites make a convulsive movement of their mandibles to produce a loud, high-pitched clicking sound, audible ten meters off. So much effort goes into this one note that it must have urgent meaning, at least to the sender. He cannot make it without such a wrench that he is flung one or two centimeters into the air by the recoil.

Beautiful:

> There are, of course, other ways to account for the songs of whales. They might be simple, down-to-earth statements about navigation, or sources of krill, or limits of territory. But the proof is not in, and until it is shown that these long, convoluted, insistent melodies, repeated by different singers with ornamentations of their own, are the means of sending through several hundred miles of undersea such ordinary information as “whale here,” I shall believe otherwise. Now and again, in the intervals between songs, the whales have been seen to breach, leaping clear out of the sea and landing on their backs, awash in the turbulence of their beating flippers. Perhaps they are pleased by the way the piece went, or perhaps it is celebration at hearing one’s own song returning after circumnavigation; whatever, it has the look of jubilation.

Funny:

> My mitochondria comprise a very large proportion of me. I cannot do the calculation, but I suppose there is almost as much of them in sheer dry bulk as there is the rest of me. Looked at in this way, I could be taken for a very large, motile colony of respiring bacteria, operating a complex system of nuclei, microtubules, and neurons for the pleasure and sustenance of their families, and running, at the moment, a typewriter.

Arguably confusing software and hardware:

> According to the linguistic school currently on top, human beings are all born with a genetic endowment for recognizing and formulating language. This must mean that we possess genes for all kinds of information, with strands of special, peculiarly human DNA for the discernment of meaning in syntax.

Fascinating:

> Lymphocytes, like wasps, are genetically programmed for exploration, but each of them seems to be permitted a different, solitary idea. They roam through the tissues, sensing and monitoring. Since there are so many of them, they can make collective guesses at almost anything antigenic on the surface of the earth, but they must do their work one notion at a time. They carry specific information in their surface receptors, presented in the form of a question: is there, anywhere out there, my particular molecular configuration? It seems to be in the nature of biologic information that it not only stores itself up as energy but also instigates a search for more. It is an insatiable mechanism.
>
> Lymphocytes are apparently informed about everything foreign around them, and some of them come equipped for a fitting with polymers that do not exist until organic chemist synthesize them in their laboratories. The cells can do more than predict reality; they are evidently programmed with wild guesses as well.

In an essay that asks, basically, where all the dead bodies are if everything is dying all the time:

> If an elephant missteps and dies in an open place, the herd will not leave him there; the others will pick him up and carry the body from place to place, finally putting it down in some inexplicably suitable location. When elephants encounter the skeleton of an elephant out in the open, they methodically take up each of the bones and distribute them, in a ponderous ceremony, over neighboring acres.

*Really?* That is amazing.