Saturday 26 March 2011

My part ownership

Watching Brian Cox's inspiring Wonders of the Universe episode "Stardust" I was once again struck by the thought that though this arrangement of parts that I call me is, in the grand scheme of things, ephemeral, the parts themselves — the atoms that make up the molecules that make up the chemicals of which I am temporarily composed — are as near immortal as anything is likely to get. Forged in the nuclear furnaces of dying stars, my fundamental particles have been around a lot longer than I have, and before I was here they were probably doing sterling service elsewhere. And after I'm gone, these particles will be recycled for other purposes — I will, in a sense, live again as reincarnated diaspora.

There is a hierarchy in this compositional framework that I call me: though at bottom I am the quarks, I am also the complex functioning organs that comprise my body — which are themselves composed of simpler parts right down to those atoms and the quarks that comprise them. Such a view gives me pause, to consider my ownership of the parts of which I currently comprise.

This clip from Lawrence Krauss's superb lecture at the 2009 AAI Convention makes a related point:

(Ironically this clip was linked by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis!)