Body: An Introduction For the SMMMASH of January 2013 www.smmmash.com piero scaruffiStanford Multidisciplinary Multimedia Meeting of Arts, Science and Humanities... SMMMASH!
What is it?• Mummies• Anatomy – Galen (Roman Empire, 2nd century AD) – Sushruta Samhita (India, 4th c AD) – Ibn Sina Avicenna: The Canon of Medicine (Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb/ The Canon of Medicine" (1025)
What is it?• Anatomy – Vesalius: “De Humani Corporis Fabrica” (1543) • Dissection of human cadavers • Scientific foundation of anatomy • Refutation of traditional doctrines of Galen • First major book with engraved illustrations
What is it?• Anatomy – Europe, 18th century: Dramatic increase in demand for cadavers, esp Italy – Britain, 1832: The “Anatomy Act” to regulate dissections – Henry Gray: “Grays Anatomy” (1858) – … – MRI (Raymond Damadian, 1972) and CAT Scanning (Godfrey Hounsfield and Allan Cormack, 1972)
What is it?• Torture – To extort information – To punish (collectively) – For fun: gladiators, Inquisition, French Revolution, serial killers, etc but also… children
Where does it end?• Richard Dawkins: The extended phenotype – The organism alone does not have biological relevance – What makes sense is an open system made of the organism and its neighbors – The control of an organism is never complete inside and null outside – The very genome of a cell can be viewed as a representation of the environment in the cell
Where does it end?• James Jerome Gibson and Ecological Realism – Meaning is located in the interaction between living beings and the environment – The process of perceiving is a process of picking up information that is available in the environment – Information originates from the interaction between the organism and its environment – Information = continuous energy flow of the environment
Where does it end?• Humberto Maturana – Living systems are units of interaction – They cannot be understood independently of their environment – The relationship with the environment shapes “autopoiesis“, the process by which an organism continuously reorganizes its own structure
Where does it come from?• Proteins are the molecules that carry out all the work in your body• Proteins are made up of amino acids (250 on average), and fold up into a 3D shape that allows it to carry out a specific function• Proteins fold themselves quickly and properly into a 3D structure with no help from any hardware• We can’t predict from the amino acid sequence how the corresponding protein will fold
Where does it come from?• Embryo development – The ability of embryonic stem cells to differentiate into different types of cells with different functions is regulated and maintained by a complex series of chemical interactions
Meditation• If men cant breast feed, why do they have nipples?
A tool to communicate• Body in visual arts Botticelli Yayoi Kusama
A tool to communicate Da Fo,• Body in visual arts China Sanjusangendo, Kyoto, Japan Monywa, Myanmar
A tool to communicate• Body in performing arts
Nadia Comaneci Martina Navratilova Pele A tool to communicate Eddy Merckx Haile Gebrselassie Yang Wei• Sport
Maintenance• Medicine, pharmaceuticals, surgery, prosthetics…• The gym
Identity• There are ~100 trillion cells in your body (of which 100 billion neurons)• Cells reproduce by dividing - they produce clones of themselves (mitosis)• Cellular longevity cap: the "Hayflick limit“: human cells can only double ~50 times before they stop reproducing (Leonard Hayflick & Paul Moorhead, 1961)• Yes, the Hayflick limit keep us from living forever
Identity• Programmed cell death (apoptosis) is a clockwork process of replacement of cells for the good of the organism (John Kerr, Alastair Currie & Andrew Wyllie, 1972)• Apoptosis is the main deterrent against cancer (“immortality” of cells would increase the chances of cancer)
Identity• Your body is younger than you think: the average age of all the cells in an adults body is 7 to 10 years (Jonas Frisen, 2005)• Every year about 98% of the atoms in your body are replaced• The intelligence of the body: It builds itself from 1 cell into 100 trillion cells in 9 months, and it rebuilds 98% of itself in less than a year
Identity• But that you are physically someone else…• Good news: neurons in the cerebral cortex are not replaced - your neurons are the oldest a cells in your body• Bad news: many neurons die and are never replaced, hence you have fewer neurons than when you were a child.• Replace a neuron with a computer chip?
Identity• There are 10 times more bacterial cells in your body than human cells (bacteria are far smaller than human cells) - 500 species in the intestine alone (Human Microbiome Project, 2012)• Where they came from: your mothers uterus, your mother’s milk, natural water, food, air…• What they do: help your immune systems and your digestion (“commensal bacteria”)• “Human bodies are an assemblage of life-forms living together” (David Relman, Stanford Univ)
The future of Body• Prostheses• Brain Implants• Cyborg• Virtual Reality• Singularity• Personal Genomics
Biotech• 1990: William French Anderson performs the first procedure of gene therapy• 1997: Ian Wilmut clones the first mammal, the sheep Dolly• 2010: Craig Venter and Hamilton Smith reprogram a bacteriums DNA• 2012: Markus Covert simulates an entire living organism in software (Mycoplasma Genitalium)
Meditation• Is it “murder” if someone kills your clone? You are still alive, after all.
Robots• Valentino Breitenberg’s “vehicles” – Vehicle 1: a motor and a sensor – Vehicle 2: two motors and two sensors – Increase little by little the circuitry, and these vehicles seem to acquire not only new skills, but also a personality.
Robots• Rod Brooks/ Rethink Robotics (2012) – Vision to locate and grasp objects – Can be taught to perform new tasks by moving its arms in the desired sequence