Saturday, December 05, 2015

Rabbit Holes

Do wooly worms predict the severity of winter? In search of the truth, William and I watched videos online about the species. We've found several in our walk-out basement (which, to me, predict that it is currently cold outside). The video taught us that the "hairs" on the wooly worm allow it to freeze more slowly and with cryogenic properties, it can winter outside and not in my basement, become frozen, and be revived in the warmer spring days to become a moth.

Drawing more out the lesson, I asked if he knew the root word, "cryo" (cold) and the uses of cryogenics. Always interested in the bizarre, he became intrigued with the idea of someone with a disease being frozen and revived after a cure was found. But then, of course, 100 years from now the world would be different and most people you know now would be gone. 

We did a bit of internet research and found that in some cases, only the brain is frozen. Presumably, the owner of the brain is hoping that brain transplantation will become possible and they will be able to find a donor body in the future. This discussion segued into space travel and distances and eventually tapered off.

The ideas continued to swim around in my head. What were the ethics and implications of brain transplantation? I asked my elderly father, mostly wheel-chair bound, if it were possible for his brain to be transplanted into the body of a healthy twenty year old woman, would he do it? No way, he said. I pushed - so if you knew you were dying, you'd rather die than be a twenty year old woman with your own brain, but another full life ahead of you? No, he'd rather not. Women, he said, have to put up with too much from men and he had no desire to try to live as a woman. I've asked several people this question and the answers are very enlightening. Would you do it?

Sometimes, I have the experience of an new idea coming up several times in a short time span. I have never thought much about brain transplants but in the book I'm reading, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Mary Roach discusses this very subject just when I was contemplating it! (And yes, I read and think about weird things. Sue me.) In it, she discusses that medically, it probably can be done but it hasn't been pursued because of the many problems it raises. One is that a donor body can supply many donated organs and save several lives, where as a brain transplant saves only one and would be available to only the very wealthy. (My medical insurance harasses me over insulin pumps. Imagine if I asked for a whole new body!)

The wooly worms I've seen are mostly brown.

It is 29 degrees outside. William and I are collecting blankets for the homeless to be given out at Christmas. We've collectd 187 so far. I'm thinking Christmas cannot come soon enough for those that won't come in to the shelters.

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