Celldom appreciated: A journey through the wonders of the realms of the cellB Desai
Semiretired Neurologist, United States
Correspondence Address: Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Publisher Name: Bhalani Publishing House
Location: Mumbai, India
Price: Rs. 300
Year of Publication: 2015
Editors Name: Manu Kothari, Lopa Mehta
This book evokes that noble feeling called "a sense of wonder," to which it is dedicated. "The living cell is the most complex system… host to specialized molecules many found nowhere else but within living material," as Paul Davies states in the preface. It prepares us for the fascinating read that follows. As Kothari and Mehta describe, analyze, question, and illuminate Celldom, they enthrall the reader with many concepts, bringing in philosophical angles that intrigue, such as BOON: Beatitude Out of Nothing, and an apt one defining a cell as a Cosmic Ensemble Labelled Life (CELL). They invoke "Anor aaniyam, Mahato mahiyan" ("smaller than the smallest and larger than the largest") to convey the near-miracle of cellular architecture as well as eternity, which we can barely comprehend. Irreverent, witty, scholarly, and full of classical allusions, they present thought-provoking concepts and divide cells into three types: (1) Perennial cell population (PCP) of sensory receptors, neurons, and muscle cells that after ontogeny only increase in size but do not divide, (2) Expanding cell population (ECP), such as the liver and the kidneys, where new cells are formed only on demand, and (3) Renewing cell population (RCP), such as the skin, the intestinal mucosa, and the blood cells. It is in the stem cells of ECP and RCP that cancerous change occurs at "a predetermined appropriate time." Unsurprisingly, over 80% of all cancers arise in RCP. The book abounds with Kothari-isms such as "mayamatics," "mightochondria," "chloroqueen," and "nitroking;" EASE - Explain Away everything Sans Explaining anything; and CHAOS - Cosmic Harmony Apparently Orderlessly Styled. It asks Who ordered the Big Bang and why? It points out that hydrogen accounts for 75% and helium for 24% of all the atoms in the Universe. Only 1% is made up of 100-plus elements, of which carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen paved the way for the Bio-Bang. Only 0.1% of solar power reaches the Earth and a fraction thereof (0.06%) goes into running the entire biological show ab initio to ab eternum.11.5
Did you know
*All mammalian embryos when fully formed are no more than 25 mm long, whether in a 100 ton whale or in a 70-kg human, and yet each is unfailingly unique. *The protocyte circa 4.3 billion years ago and any cell today had and has identical metabolic machinery, arrays of enzymes, and respiratory and excretory mechanisms. *Over 75% of photosynthesis and oxygen thereof are marine in origin, and deep sea archaea proliferate at 115° C. *DNA: The cell's master choreographer operates with over 1,00,000 genes in a mass no greater than 0.00000000001 g, occupying a space no larger than an ice cube but which, if joined end to end, would stretch 70 times to and from the sun. Some passages of the book are lyrical, such as the description of the miracle residing in the generative cells, staying softer than water or a rose petal, and spawning some of the hardest material that makes the teeth of a piranha or the ivory tusks of an elephant are made of. In no way could the cell accommodate anything of enamel/dentin form in its tender cytoplasm, yet it manages this epicranial miracle at its surface.
Then the vintage Kothari and Mehta assertions
*A cancer cell is neither a fruit of some unforeseen mutation, nor an evil deposited by Nature, but merely one of the many means available to the body for effecting its own termination. Your cancer is a cosmic event, fashioned by forces beyond the constraints of space-time… it is beyond any cause. If it is to occur, it will. If not, nothing can cause it. *The cytoplasm dictates; the nucleus deputizes. *The one cell in a male that is totally unlike him is the sperm, and ditto for the ovum in a female. A final truism: modern science, with regard to the medical field, has been awfully long on promises and lamentably short on performance.
Enjoy the book!