It seemed as though a lot happened yesterday. At the end of the day, I had that beleaguered feeling that comes from too many events and too many people wanting stuff at the same time.

I used to feel that way if I had, say, three appointments and a phone call in a single week. I’ve improved a lot.

But the main thing that I was doing yesterday was writing about cells. I’d like that to be the main thing I’m doing today, too. First I have class, and I’ve got a challenging press release to do, and my routine Wednesday blogging. I have stuff for my regulars, and a web page to rewrite. I have rehearsal this evening, too, so it doesn’t really look as though I’m going to have an uninterrupted day with cells, does it?

The thing about cells that I was working with yesterday claimed that, of all the essential functions of living organisms, reproduction is the most important.

It caused me to pause for a moment, that. Of course, from a biological standpoint, the viewpoint of the species as a whole, that is the point of life. The other stuff — growth, nutrition, respiration, etc. — are just there to make reproduction possible.

This makes us an incredibly wasteful life form.

Think of all the other stuff we do. Studying cells, for example. What’s the point of that? It doesn’t increase one’s chances of reproductive success one iota. And someone like me, who has already been reproductively successful, no longer has any biological purpose in life, unless it’s to assist my offspring in passing on their DNA by being a good grandmother.

In chapter 7 of Why E=mc2, we learn that the sun is an incredibly inefficient and wasteful energy producer. I was surprised by that. Humans, on the other hand, are quite efficient at producing energy. And then we turn around and spend that energy on things that are completely unrelated to our level of reproductive success, and hang around way past our sell-by dates, and generally waste the energy we produce.


My students are doing reflective essays right now. Those are essays in which you think out loud (in a well-organized and focused way, of course) and don’t really come to a conclusion. For many students, that not coming to the conclusion part is tough. They need topics like wastefulness of organisms and heavenly bodies. But one of my students ended her paper with “Hmm.” To show that she was still thinking.

Me, too.