I read a few days ago about contagious cancer cells are spreading between different animals. This is horrific and is bound to have tremendous ramifications, even if it doesn’t spread to humans. It is even more worrying when you imagine the trend line from the cancer we all know, to the Tasmanian devil’s cancer that spread amongst a specific animal to this cancer that spread between animals
Cancer isn’t a new thing, but there is an apparent rise in the last few decades – partly thanks to bette detection but also due to our bad diet, health maintenance and environmental degradation. But I think it’s worth explore some deeper meaning of this development:
1. “Same- same, but different”
If you have holding the end of long stick and wave it around then its other hand will move pretty fast – your small wiggling will be translated to big movement on the other end. So if my stick reached all the way to the moon – will its end move faster then the speed of light? Technically yes, but the amount of energy required to wiggle the stick from my end is infinite because the stick would be too heavy, so that’s not very practical. So maybe we can use a weightless laser-beam, right? Well, no, because the photon hitting one point on the moon isn’t the same photon hitting the moon a second after. And this is exactly how cancer worked up until now – if you have cancer and your neighbour have cancer – it’s very likely to come from the same source, but the sickness is still contained. Destroy the source and we’ll have peace on earth once more.
2. A cellular-level revolution
It’s important to know that cancer are body cell growing out of control, in both size and number. They might perform their original function better but very likely they won’t. Essentially the cells are revolting and deciding not participate in their designated role in the kingdom that is our body. There are several ways to handle and subdue this revolt – burn it alive with chemotherapy, starve it with special diets or even exile it with amputation.
3. The meme revolution and life itself
If we combine these two notions together, we’ll find that this cellular-level revolution is spreading. It’s gaining life of its own. Cancer isn’t an physical object. it’s a behaviour, or an idea, a meme. And now it’s copying itself from one individual to another. it’s incredible. Isn’t this how life came to be originally? From sporadic cases of amino-acid joining up together to create growing autonomous units into units that can actually reproduce and spread? Are we witnessing the birth of a new life-form? Something way different than anything we’ve ever imagined?
4. “Thank god diseases kill their hosts”
One of the key factors in epidemic’s viral level and how many subjects might be infected from a single instance – is how fast the subject dies. The faster it dies – the less likely it is like to infect others. Fortunately, cancer having a relatively slow dying rate – it has zero contagious level. Millions people are sick with cancer (some don’t even know) but it’s perfectly safe to walk amongst them because you couldn’t get infected. Up until now, that is.
But what if cancer would continue its evolution, as it is actually doing now, to stop killing its hosts, as killing its host isn’t really beneficial for it. What if this different-dimension life being would simply use its living hosts to spread out, using not only people but any type of organism to spread it control. Can we live in peace with such a life-form? we’d be willing to host it and in return it will not cause us suffering – or better yet – improve our capabilities and lives.
I find this fascinating, but also incredibly difficult to imagine that such an entity would agree to negotiate with its hosts, just like we never thought of negotiating with the revolting cells in our bodies, which is kinda the same thing