Gaia and the Hospital for Inanimate Celestial Bodies

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Quotes of the Day

The Destiny of Gaia
is to take root and flower amongst the stars --
to give birth to a family of living worlds.
-- SolSeedCreed
And your cells don't know you, see or love you,
but even so they really are you,
And they are your body,
just as you are a cell in Gaia's body too.
-- Gaia our Mother Earth
It's important that we attempt
to extend life beyond Earth now.
It is the first time
in the four billion-year history of Earth
that it's been possible,
and that window could be open for a long time
- hopefully it is -
or it could be open for a short time.
We should err on the side of caution
and do something now.
--Elon Musk

Contemplation for the Day

Let us imagine

You are riding your Elephant through a huge hospital. It is very quiet and cold. There seems to be no one in the corridors except you. You glance into a ward and see that in each bed there is an irregular broken piece of dirty ice. Each looks like they have been hammered repeatedly. You wonder if this is a hospital for injured ice sculptures. You look into another ward; more broken pieces of dirty ice. Nothing is moving. There are no machines beeping or pumping. No one is doing anything for these pieces of ice. They are just resting each on its own bed in the freezing cold, still hospital.

You continue down the corridor. In each ward, more pieces of ice, all broken, hammered and dirty. It contrasts so much with the clean perfection of the hospital itself. You find a stairwell; you descend one floor and continue exploring. This floor is warmer. Now each bed in each ward contains a broken hammered piece of rock. Ward after ward, corridor after corridor, there is no one in sight. Just clean perfect hospital corridors and beds containing rocks.

You find another stairwell and descend two floors to the bottom of the stairwell and continue to explore. Another clean perfect hospital corridor. But it is unbearably hot and the lights are too bright. Shielding your eyes you glance into a ward. Each bed contains an array of strange force field emitters. The array in each bed has created a container made entirely of force field. Within each a boiling swirling cloud of lava and hot gases is churning. It is the first movement you have seen in all of your explorations. But you find you are about to pass out. The heat and light are too much. You notice an elevator. The door is open. You stumble in and press the up button and then collapse onto the floor of the elevator. Exhausted from your exposure to the heat.

You feel the elevator accelerate upward with far more force than you expect. A display shows the floors counting by. It started at negative one and passed through zero and now is counting up through positive numbers. Strangely the display is not labelled floor but instead it is raised between the number 10 and the letters AU. It is now getting very cold in the elevator so you press the button labelled "Stop at next floor", the doors open and you step out onto floor 8.

It is very cold here and the lights are very dim. But as your eyes adjust you see that you are in another clean perfect hospital corridor. The wards are also dim and cold. It takes a while for your eyes to adjust but eventually you can see that each bed contains a large glass box. Each box contains a cloud of dust and most are glowing dimly, red or blue. Your eyes pick out familiar shapes in the clouds as they would when lying on your back in a park watching clouds in the sky. A bird, a fish, a dog, a map of North America. As you watch each cloud it slowly changes and the shape you saw at first dissolves replaced by another.

Yet still. There is no one around. The rooms are quiet and the cold is beginning to bother you. You return to the elevator. Thinking back you realize that you started on floor Two and it was cold, you explored floor one and it was warmer but not warm enough, explored the basement and found it too hot, went to the eighth floor and found it way too cold. It seems that this building gets colder as you go up. So the best chance to find a comfortable floor is to go to floor zero, between the hot basement and the cold but tolerable floor One.

You tap the down button and watch the floors count down feeling the elevator warm up. After you pass floor One you tap the "Stop at next floor" button and get off on floor Zero. As you hoped, the temperature is perfect here. But there is still no one around. You wander the corridors looking into the wards. More beds with hammered broken rocks in them.

You find the radiology department. You pause, hesitating. Is it safe to go into the radiology department of an abandoned hospital?

Then you see Terra, wearing Gaia, walk by in a cross corridor inside the radiology department. You run to follow her glad to see someone in the stark empty place. You turn into the cross corridor just in time to see here enter a lab. You run to the lab and see that it is labelled "Ultra sound". Without thinking you follow her into the lab.

She is already lying on a bed. A nurse is readying to apply the ultrasound wand to her large pregnant belly. There is a second bed containing a large red ball of hammered rock.

The nurse sees you and looks stern but Gaia smiles and beckons you to come closer and look at the ultrasound monitor. On the screen, you see blocky cells with smaller cells zipping between them (blood cells and arteries? you wonder). The nurse adjusts the ultrasound to reduce magnification and you see that the blocky cells form a colony and that it is connected to other colonies and that the flow of smaller cells is running back and forth between the colonies on large arteries (They are like cars and trucks racing between cities? you think). The nurse adjusts the ultrasound again, and you see that the small fast moving cells come in different sizes. Some of the larger ones seem to be constructing new large arteries between colonies. Two such new arteries cross and quickly the large blocky cells start to form around the intersection of the arteries. (bacterial colonies giving birth to new colonies? you puzzle)

Gaia moans. The nurse looks at her watch. Gaia moans again a few minutes later and the nurse notes the time between moans on her chart and then returns to the ultrasound. Now you can see that the larger fast moving cells are actually building the larger blocky cells. On the screen they are busily building a set of particularly large blocky cells and particularly wide short arteries around them. Gaia moans again and the nurse notes the time. From one of the new particularly large blocky cells, a large rounded oblong cell emerges. It is so oblong that it seems almost rod like. (A fruiting body? you consider the implications) It travels slowly along one of the wide short arteries and then there is a flash of light on the ultrasound monitor and the oblong cell is now floating in a dark featureless background.

Gaia moans again. The moans are coming closer together. On the ultrasound screen the oblong cell is joined by others and together they build a small colony floating in the darkness. The colony seems to be made of little ball-like cells joined together at odd angles. The oblong cells add wings to the colony and organize the little ball-cells, adding more as they go until the little colony looks like a strange rotating insect. (You consider how much like an insect the Freedom Space Station looks.) Gaia moans very loudly and there is another flash of light on the ultrasound monitor.

But after the flash nothing seems to have changed. The insect-like cell colony is as before. Gaia seems content as she watches the nurse. Then you realize that the nurse is holding the ultrasound wand over her head, no longer pointing it at Gaia's belly. The nurse slowly walks across the room to the other bed and the large round hammered red rock. It seems the little insect-like colony of cells has made its way across the room for you can still see it on the ultrasound monitor.

As you watch, the nurse slowly brings the ultrasound wand to the surface of the red rock. On the monitor you see the insect-like colony land on the rock. The nurse steps back and turns off the ultrasound. The red rock turns blue and green and reshapes itself into a little girl. The little girl looks a lot like Gaia and Gaia seems delighted to see her. The little girl sits up in bed and looks at her mother and you can almost feel the love passing between them.

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