Pleeblandia

Thoughts from the front lines


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Personification: Not just a literary device.

Pigs with human brain tissue and multiple human organs to be grown and eventually harvested. These are what the pigoons are meant to be. The concept of it may seem far-fetched to some, but here we are in 2017, an era where we take a few more steps into the MadAddam universe. Organs and tissue donors are hard to find and there is a long list of people who need them. Scientists have found oddly familiar answers.

 

Chimeras are no longer mere fantasy and are being studied closely in order to help humanity. In fact, the Maryland University of Medicine are studying and experimenting with ways to make pig organs usable for humans. They have already managed to filter human blood through pig lungs. Now, they are injecting pig embryos with human cells and put the embryos into grown female pigs to carry for a few weeks before being removed and studied some more.

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From animals to plants, no living being is spared from human testing. Now, spinach is found to be able to build or be used as human heart tissue. This is done by growing human cells on the leaves. The leaf’s veins can replicate human veins. Studies are ongoing and the scientists feel that other types of leaves can be turned into tissue for other parts of the human body. The test they conducted transformed the spinach leaf into a miniature human heart. They plan on improving their techniques.

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Human leaves and pigoons may not be so for off into the future. Of course, there is much controversy in what is being done in these experiments, but the tests have already been done. Our science is becoming eerily similar to that of Atwood’s MadAddam universe. Well, what do you think? Is science going in the right direction? Or are we tampering with things beyond our understanding? If we continue down this path, where exactly will we stop?

 

Works Cited:

Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2010. Print.

Blakemore, Erin. “Human-Pig Hybrid Created In The Lab—Here Are The Facts”. News.nationalgeographic.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/01/human-pig-hybrid-embryo-chimera-organs-health-science/

Chambers, Delaney. “Spinach Leaf Transformed Into Beating Human Heart Tissue”. News.nationalgeographic.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/human-heart-spinach-leaf-medicine-science/


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Life After Humans

Reading The MaddAddam Trilogy, fictional but based on our cruel reality, I keep wondering if Crake’s reason is right, whether it would be better off for the planet if humans disappeared.

Humans have been around for thousands and thousands of years, still some million years to go to beat the dinosaurs. We have made more progress (assumingly) than those reptiles: we have built structures, we have developed technology, etc.; but what if one day, all of us vanished, what would happen to all of those?

  • 1 day: lights are out. Most power plants without people to generate would shut down (except for hydro: they have limitless fuel to work by themselves). Plus, no worries for any radiation meltdown from nuclear power plants… yet. Subway/metro tunnels would be flooded after 36 hours.subway-flooded-635x357
  • 10 days: hard time for house pets: no one feeding them. Small dogs would be more likely to die first. They are princes and princesses waiting around to be fed. So consider getting a big one as in case you disappeared, they could get out and follow their natural instincts (my advice: huskies).
  • 1 year: plants start taking roots in our structures, and “once the tree roots…take hold, no human-built structure stands a chance” (Atwood 32). Remember those hydropower plants I mentioned? Now they would completely shut down as mussels would block the generators’ cooling pipes.
  • 20 years: wildlife would be thriving already: vegetation => herbivores => carnivores. Look at the Chernobyl disaster 20 years later.chernobyl2
  • 75 years: cars would completely corrode (it would take 20-25 years if they were at coastal cities like Miami). I wonder why there are piles of corroded cars if it has been only 1-2 years after the apocalypse in the books.
  • 100 years: no one (no aliens) would know our modern-time history as books, films would go back to dirt. It is not like they were carved in clay or stone walls like in ancient time.
  • 500 years: all buildings and infrastructure would go down.
  • 1,000 years: cities would become jungles.
  • 10,000 years: Great Wall of China, Great Pyramid of Giza, and Mount Rushmore might be the only evidence of human structures left behind.

Our time on Earth is short: only haft a minute of the planet’s life on a 24-hour scale, but look at the damages we have done.  Do you think Crake is right, about our problems coming from our greed? Everything has a golden age, do you think there would be such things as our replacements?

 

Find out more

 

de Vries, David; Hense, Jim; Cohen, Douglas; Kosa, Frank; Dolan, Sam; and Georgalis, Savas. Life After People. Top Documentary Films, topdocumentaryfilms.com/life-after-people.

AsapSCIENCE. “What If Humans Disappeared?” www.youtube.com/watch?v=guh7i7tHeZk&t=1s

“Nature Is Speaking.” Conservation International, www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmVLcj-XKnM&t=4s

Gammon, Katharine. “A Brief History of Dinosaurs.” Live Science, www.livescience.com/3945-history-dinosaurs.html.


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Healing from Nature

east-vs-westIn Margaret Atwood’s novel The Year of the Flood, Toby’s character begins practicing holistic healing once she arrives among the Gardeners. Holistic healing (sometimes called functional medicine) is defined as “a form of healing that considers the whole person—body, mind, spirit, and emotions—in the quest for optimal health and wellness” (WebMD). For Toby, this meant starting off making herbal lotions and creams, but Pilar soon took Toby under her wing and began teaching her the ways of natural healing. Toby immersed herself in Pilar’s ways, learning about mushrooms, plants and flowers that could be used to heal someone. There is mention of maggot therapy, which the Gardener’s use to heal wounds. The maggots would “eat the decaying flesh, they killed necrotic bacteria, and were thus a great help in preventing gangrene” (Atwood 107-8). This method of healing is very different than those of modern day medicine. It’s very natural and doesn’t harm the body. So who wouldn’t want that?

Our society chooses conventional medicine over the natural approach based off of science. This means using surgery and drugs to try and cure the ailments of patients. However, because of this, we have become “vertically ill” which means that people walk around with mental and physical illnesses that they don’t understand or that aren’t recognizable to them or anyone else (Henry). Doctors prescribe pills constantly for every little thing, which only hides the symptoms and doesn’t get to the root of the issue. Holistic medicine tries to address the issue and fix the cause of the problem. Let’s say a patient suffers from depression. Instead of immediately prescribing antidepressants, a holistic practitioner might use a variety of treatments or informative tactics such as psychotherapy, educating the patient on diet and lifestyle changes, naturopathy and/or spiritual counselling (WebMD). These practitioners believe that since the mind, body and spirit are all connected, that less severe illnesses are caused by imbalances with the body as a whole, which can have a negative effect on one’s health.

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Mark Hyman, a functional practitioner, talks about why this alternate form of healing is so important. I encourage you to watch the video, it’s quite interesting!

That’s not to say conventional medicine isn’t helpful though! It definitely is, in the sense that it should be reserved for life threatening diseases and illnesses. But just seeing how effective and natural the holistic approach in the novel was, makes me hope it takes off in the future and makes conventional medicine the less approached form of healing. Do you think holistic medicine is more beneficial than conventional medicine? Do believe the natural way of healing actually works?

Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2010. Print.

Doherty, Rhiannon. “My Newfound Passion – Functional Medicine”. Beyond the Brain. 17
Oct. 2014. www.beyondthebrain.net/blog/my-new-found-passion-functional-medicine.

“Eastern (Holistic) Medicine vs Western Medicine”. HumanCure.com. 13 Sept. 2015.
humancure.com/eastern-holistic-medicine-vs-western-medicine/.

Henry, Derek. “The Difference between Holistic Medicine and Conventional
Medicine”. Healing the Body. 16 June 2014. healingthebody.ca/the-difference-between
holisticmedicine-andconventional-medicine/#gs.wv6oPqs.

TEDMED. “Mark Hyman at TEDMED 2010”. YouTube. 7 Dec.
2010. www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhkLcpJTV9M

“What Is Holistic Medicine?”. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/what-is-holistic-medicine#1.