DECONSTRUCTING THE WORLD
DECONSTRUCTING THE SELF
The Human Mind
The Human Being
AROUND THE WORLDS
We inhabit twelve separate worlds simultaneously, but only two are noticeable to us. Our body is the first, and our body’s environment is the second. The other ones are not important for survival because they are either too big or too small to be noticed, so they are grouped in with the first two. The twelve worlds are the micro, mezzo and macro levels of the material world, quantum world, living world and the world of our species.
Your body is alive. It must breathe. It must sleep. It must eat. It must drink. It must have nurturance. It must learn how to survive. It is driven to reproduce. It feels pain. It grows old and will eventually die. Anyone who has been attacked, ill, in danger or had physical trauma will attest to the reality of the body.
Our own reflection will show us to be human, which means we walk up-right on two legs. Each leg bends at the knee, and has a foot on the end with five digits. Most of the body’s mass is in the middle, or torso. Our sexual organs and waste removal parts are located in our lower torso. Our vital organs are all centrally located inside the mid-torso and protected by the ribcage. From the top of the torso, we have two arms which bend at the elbow. At the end of the arms, we have hands which also have five digits each (four fingers and one opposable thumb). Our hands are capable of delicate maneuvers, and are not used for locomotion. Our head sits on top of the torso, and contains the organs for four of the five senses: sight (with two eyes), hearing (with two ears), smell (with the nose), and taste (with the mouth). The senses are connected to the brain, which is protected by the skull. The whole body is covered with skin.
Our bodies are covered with a hairy skin, which holds everything in, protects the body from the environment, helps regulate body temperature through hair manipulation and sweat, stores fat, lets females give milk and is completely wired with nerves for touch (the fifth sense). It also scars from our traumas. The skin is the largest organ of the body. There are many different varieties of human skin due to latitude, climate and lineage. It is also responsible for our unique comeliness.
Under the skin, we are muscle and bone. The bones give our body its shape, store calcium, produce blood, protect the organs, aid hearing, chew our food, dictate locomotion and give the muscles something to anchor to. The muscles are attached to the bones by tendons and ligaments. Chemical signals are transmitted from the brain through the spinal cord and then throughout the central nervous system to create motion. Muscles tense and release in order, as each is positioned in webs all over the body to give us fluid motion. It is like a suit of armor made of strips of living meat which not only gives us our human form, but also allows for our own unique size and contours.
Inside, there are a variety of organs which perform different tasks for the whole body. The mouth chews the food; then the throat swallows it, where it will be digested by the stomach; then run through the upper intestines, where it will be sucked of its nutrients; and finally the trash gathers in the lower intestines to be pushed out of the anus. The nutrients go into the everyday building and maintenance of the body. They are carried by blood (a liquid organ) through the arteries, and then waste is carried back through the veins. The blood is pumped by a hollowed-out muscle (the heart), which pushes the blood through the lungs to release CO2 and replenish the oxygen. The nutrients and oxygen are then carried throughout the body by highly complex plumbing. The liver and kidneys clean the blood, and expel the waste (as well as excess water) from the urethrae. Sexual organs seem to have a mind of their own. Glands regulate. Eyes see. Ears hear. Nose smells. The brain creates a mind.
All this flesh is alive, as our bodies are actually made up of around 50 trillion individual cells. Each cell has its own construction, purpose and lifespan. All work for the greater good of the whole. Some are skin cells, while some are bone cells, and others are muscle cells. Some make up the vital organs, while some are fat cells, and others are neurons. It may feel like you are just a singularity, but you are made from trillions of tiny living things. You are also a host to a multitude of parasites (such as skin mites, worms, fungi, protozoa, bacteria and viruses).
Each individual cell in your body is united by a set of common genes. They appear in the center (or nucleus) of every cell. They are what separate your body from not-your-body. Each cell contains your body’s unique genes, and will do whatever is required for the greater good of the whole. There are over 50,000,000,000,000 such cells in your body right now, each living, reproducing and dying while the whole lives on (while you live on).
The genes are deoxyribonucleic acid (or DNA). Different parts of the DNA direct different parts of the body, thus a very complex creature can be maintained. Certain areas of the DNA are read by enzymes which follow their specific instructions, and all of the various needs of the body are simply taken care of. Every multi-cellular creature on this planet uses the same form of genetics to maintain itself. DNA is also used to reproduce. Some creatures have more than one strand of DNA, so their genes contain several chromosomes. Humans have 46 chromosomes. Collectively, they are known as our genes.
Every cell in your body is built from mostly water (H2O) and held together by a highly complex organization of organic molecules (proteins) utilizing various other elements, such as oxygen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorous and iron (which turns our blood red). Each individual cell is made up of thousands of proteins (up to 5,000 proteins just to form one cell). Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are complex carbon molecules. In other words, every cell in our body is a self-contained entity formed of a hyper-complex combination of carbon atoms, water and minerals, with its construction and purpose dictated by the DNA molecule in the nucleus of the cell.
All totaled, your entire body is made up of around one octillion (1027) atoms connected in space. The universe is made of almost one sexvigintillion (1081) atoms. All these atoms mix and match in an almost infinite amount of combinations in the material world, which seems solid enough for us, but even the building blocks of the material world are themselves made of building blocks.
Atoms are made of electrons, protons and neutrons. As their names imply, the proton is positively charged, and the neutron is neutral. They are found together in the center of the atom, or nucleus. The protons and the neutrons make up most of the mass of the atom. The electron is negatively charged and forms into shells around the nucleus. Up to two electrons can fit into the first shell, up to four in the next, up to eight in the next, etc. The number of each dictates the behavior of the atom in the material world.
Hydrogen is the base element since it has one proton, one neutron and one electron. Carbon has six of each. Nitrogen has seven of each, oxygen has eight, silicon has 14, iron 26, gold 79, uranium has the most found naturally at 92, and scientists have produced short-lived atoms which have up to 118 of each. In between the nucleus and the electrons (and in between the electron shells) is an ocean of nothingness. If a hydrogen atom was blown up to size of a large sports stadium, then the nucleus would be the size of a golf ball in the very center, the electron would be the size of a grain of sand which has been stretched out over the entire sphere (and in between there is nothing).
Matter is energy, and energy is not solid. Energy tends to exist in void. The energy seems to be concentrations of little bits, which are concentrations of littler bits, and so on. The protons and the neutrons are made up of three quarks each. The proton has two positive quarks and one negative. The neutron is the reverse with two negative and one positive quark. Quarks are made of preons. The preons, the quarks and the whole nucleus are held together by the strong force energy. The weak force energy supports the electron shells. The electrons are leptons which are a different type of energy and are similar to neutrinos.
Your body is a connection of different kinds of energy fields in vast amounts of void, and they are being hit by many other different forms of energy. The most obvious is light, but there are others which go unperceived, as you are constantly being bombarded by the entire electro-magnetic spectrum (gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet light, visible light, infrared light, micro-waves and radio waves). There are also cosmic rays and neutrinos which pass right through you. The little neutrinos are produced by the Sun and thousands of them pass through your body daily. They are so small that they can pass through the whole planet without hitting anything.
All of the energy fields, and all of the atoms, and all of the cells, and all of us, and all of the planets and stars, and all of the galaxies exist in a vast vacuum. It extends from below the quantum level through to the entire universe. This vacuum is a void, or space, and without it nothing would be possible, especially since at the quantum level our bodies are mostly void. But the void is not nothing, it is energy (dark energy), and it makes up around 74% of the energy of the cosmos. The void is spread-out across the universe, and even repels gravity. The temperature of space is absolute zero (0oK or -273oC).
The visible universe is around 26 billion light years across. A light year is the distance it takes light (which travels at 300,000 km per second) to travel for one year. It would take you 26 billion years to get across the universe at the speed of light, but the universe is also expanding, so the longer you travel the farther away everything gets.
The universe is made-up of galaxies, which are gargantuan disk-shaped clouds containing hundreds of billions of stars. There are well over 130 billion galaxies spread evenly throughout the universe in groups and clusters. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is one of 30 or so galaxies in the Local Group of the Local Super Cluster. The Milky Way is traveling at about 1,000,000 km per hour within the Local Group. Our closest neighbor is Andromeda, which appears as a star in the sky but is in fact a galaxy. It is the farthest object you can see with your eyes at about 2.2 billion light years away.
Our Milky Way galaxy is an average-sized standard spiral-arm galaxy. It contains around 100 billion stars spread out in a disk shape about 100,000 light years across. There is a bulging sphere of condensed stars in the middle about 30,000 light years thick, and then it thins out into the spiral arms which are about 3,000 light years thick. The Milky Way has four major spiral arms and two minor (like a giant spinning octopus). Our solar system is in the Orion spiral arm, and we are around 26,000 light years from the center of the galaxy. We are spinning around the super-massive black hole at the center of our galaxy at 900,000 km per hour, and we go around every 225 million years. We see our galaxy from the inside, so the disk looks like a river of stars across the night sky, or a “Milky Way.”
Our solar system is a singular star system with roughly ten satellites. Our star, Sol (the Sun), is an average-sized orange giant. It is over 1.3 million times the mass of our planet with a diameter of almost 1,400,000 km, and is more than 99% of the mass of the whole solar system. The Sun is mostly composed of hydrogen (about 70%) which is being fused into helium (the other 30%) by its gravity. The fusion causes the intense heat which we can feel almost 150 million km away.
Our planet, Terra (Roman name), is the third satellite from the Sun. It is the largest of the four earth planets (Mercury, Venus, Terra and Mars) which rotate around closest to the Sun. An asteroid field comes next, and then Jupiter, which is the largest of the four gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune). Finally, there is an ice belt stretching out the whole 1.5 light years to the end of Sol’s gravity well; it is the home of the comets, as well as many dwarf planets like Pluto, Eris and Orcus.
Terra has one giant moon, Luna, which is a meteor bashed cold sphere of rock almost 3,500 km in diameter. It is currently at a distance of 384,000 km. It revolves around Terra once every 27.32 days (or one month). It rotates on its axis so we can only see one side of the Moon, but how it faces the Sun changes its appearance to us over the month, so we see a gradual waxing and waning effect. Terra and Luna can also eclipse one another. The Moon’s gravity causes the tides of the oceans, as well as causing our planet to wobble 23.5o (which creates the seasons).
We view the Moon, the Sun and the stars from the planet beneath our feet. Terra is 40,070 km around at the equator, with a diameter of 12,756 km. There is a 2,600 km diameter molten ball of solid iron and nickel at its core, then a 2250 km molten layer of liquid iron and nickel. Above the core is almost 3,000 km of molten rock (silicates). Floating on the surface of that magma ocean is the thin layer of solid rock crust which we live on (although it is not that solid as it has broken into very large tectonic plates which intertwine around the globe). The iron core turns the whole planet into a gigantic magnet, which protects the surface from the solar wind (as observed in the aurora borealis).
Terra is spinning around its axis at 1800 km per hour and makes one rotation every day (or 23 hours and 56 minutes), which gives each side of the planet equal time in the Sun. Half of the day is lit and half is dark (giving us day and night). Terra is also revolving around the Sun at almost 11,000 km per hour, and makes one revolution every year (or a little over 365 days). Our planet is spinning around its axis, revolving around our star, revolving around our galaxy, and traveling through space with our galaxy cluster, all at great speeds, but we are held in place by the force of gravity exerted by our planet’s mass which nullifies them all and makes us feel like we are still.
Anyone traveling by in space would easily see that this is an odd planet. First, there is the massive amount of liquid water. Over 70% of the surface of the planet is covered in oceans, and water is a liquid only between 273oK and 373oK (or 0oC to 100oC), which is very rare in the cold universe. Secondly, the atmosphere is made up of mostly nitrogen (78%), which is inert, and oxygen (21%), which is highly volatile and very rarely found naturally in this concentration.
Both the liquid water and the oxygen atmosphere are caused by life-forms using the chlorophyll molecule to turn sunlight into energy (or photosynthesis, which turns liquid water into hydrogen for fuel and gives off O2 as a by-product). Chlorophyll absorbs blue and red light (which it uses) and reflects green light (which creates the green world we live in). Sunlight is an almost inexhaustible energy source and gives its users great power. The life-forms which utilize chlorophyll control the planet’s environment.
There is life across the surface of the land, and deep into the seas, as well as deep into the rock and high into the atmosphere. The most essential life-forms are the single-celled bacteria. They are all the same kingdom as well as the same species. They are everywhere. They are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Our body is full of many different kinds; some are malevolent but most are benign. You can see them floating in your eyes when the light is just right. Some bacteria can eat rock, some can live in volcanoes. Anaerobic bacteria in our intestines help us digest our food, and cyanobacteria just float in the seas harnessing sunlight with chlorophyll and giving us oxygen to breathe. The protist kingdom, which includes most algae and seaweed, is like all the other kingdoms, but not. Plants are a kingdom of land-based multi-cellular photosynthesizers. Fungi are a multi-cellular land-based kingdom which is symbiotic to plants.
The animal kingdom has become symbiotic with all photosynthesizers in that they breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Animals consume the photosynthesizers, as well as each other. Animals also fart methane and ammonia. Their size can vary from the mites which crawl on our skin to the cats and dogs we keep as pets to the great whales of the oceans. Animals have become very successful and have spread all over the planet and into almost every environment.
The most successful animal species is Homo sapiens sapiens (us). We dominate the planet. We are found in every environment and on every continent. Our current population is around seven billion. We live in giant cities of millions, small farming towns, as well as small bands of hunter-gatherers. We farm huge tracts of land for our own consumption, we have domesticated animals for food and burden, and we have harnessed the power of engines and high-technology. Our cities can easily be seen from outer space (especially when viewing their lights on the dark side of the planet). We build islands, cut canals, dam rivers, split the atom and travel in space.
Micro Species (Back Again)
You are a unique individual of your species (in this case you are human). You are unique because of your genes, which are constructed from a combining of half a strand from each of your parents (as each of them was constructed from their parents, and so on).
You are what you are because your father implanted his sperm into your mother and one of them impregnated an egg inside her womb. The genes spliced, and one cell became two, then four, then eight, as the zygote grew into an embryo, and then into a fetus. You developed inside your mother until it was time to go. You were pushed out, woke up and then began to cry.
You are alive. You were born into a lethal world, which you will inevitably not survive. As you grow, you must learn about the world you inhabit in order to stay alive in it. All creatures share this plight.