Weekly Head Voices #106: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

The view from the top of Paarl Rock.
From me to you: The view from the top of Paarl Rock as seen through my telephone and google’s megamind going through all my photos and trying to stitch them together.

Well hello everyone! I missed you, but due to reasons (read on…), this is the first time I’ve been able to get around to a weekly head voices.

I woke up one day and decided that the super-inventive internet handle I had chosen when registering my first personal domain in 1999 somewhere, namely cpbotha, was not cutting it anymore. I think this specific seed of discontent was planted when I joined someone’s livecoding.tv stream, only to have them mangle the in hindsight unpronounceable pronunciation of cpbotha (ku-pu-byooothuh).

CURSES.

Nobody told me about this additional requirement in ’99! I will ask for my money back.

In any case, after some fancy twitter footwork, I now have an additional handle: cvoxel. I realise this is only interesting to me and maybe one or two other nerds, but here we are. There might be some personality fragmentation behind all of this. I’ll have a chat with me later.

Friends in more advanced countries, when I show them the sun and the beer and the beaches and the mountains and the WILD BEASTS over here, usually simply point at my miserably slow internet connection, thereby restoring their faith in the balance that exists in our world. Due to another recent change, I can now offer this as a retort:

speedtest

This kind of bandwidth is pretty respectable for the balmy southern tip of the African continent. (plus that those internet packets are flying about 1km through the air, which is pretty cool!)

This year I did not go to AfrikaBurn, because reasons (read on…). Fortunately the photos only started showing up after the week (no internets for the burners of course!), but they did cause some really acute feels of nostalgia. It’s strange how last year’s experience, our first (Pompen en Pimpen forever!), has managed to become so deeply ingrained. I really hope to see you there next year.

My oldest sibling has started an adventure in Kiwi-land. His family will soon follow. I am happy for the adventurers, but I’m also sad to have them so far away.

A caffeine-infused mitochondrial interlude

You probably remember that adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is the most important form of energy that is produced for the largest part by the mitochondria in the nuclei of all of your cells. ATP is broken down when energy is required. ATP powers things like muscle contraction, cellular metabolism, signaling, and so on. Without it, you would be useless. Dead actually.

I just learnt from the wikipedia article that your body turns over its own weight (!!!) in ATP every day, which is pretty awesome.

The first factoid I wanted to mention, is the curious link caffeine has with ATP. So as you’re going through the day expending all that energy, ATP gets broken down into its constituents, one of which is of course adenosine. This adenosine binds to the adenosine receptors in your brain. When a certain threshold of adenosine receptors are bound, your body decides that it’s time to rest, so you get sleepy. During sleep, the adenosine is cleared as your body builds up new energy stores.

Caffeine is, besides being magical, a sort of adenosine impostor. When you drink coffee for example, the caffeine in your tasty drink will go and bind with your adenosine receptors, hence making it impossible for real adenosine to bind, but it will do so without actually activating those receptors. The end result is that your brain does not realise that it should be feeling sleepy, and so you don’t feel so tired.

I find it interesting that caffeine in fact interferes so fundamentally with this important physiological process.

What I found slightly more mind-blowing than that however, is the fact that the mitochondria, the little organelles where most of this ATP production takes place, and which are embedded right in all of your cell nucei, actually contain foreign DNA.

TUN-TUN-DUUUUUUUUUN!!!

Yes children, you have your own precious DNA in your cell nucleus, but the mitochondrion, the cell’s powerhouse, has its own separate genome. Long ago, we seem to have started a symbiotic relationship with a bacterial organism. Actually, we flat-out went and merged with them at an extremely intimate level.

Let us all take a few minutes to say hi to the beautiful little alien endo-symbionts embedded in our cell nuclei, without whom everything falls apart. We are all chaotic but somehow walking cellular mega-cities, and it’s just lovely.

My universe expanded

About those reasons…

Well, GOU#3 was born a few weeks ago.

She’s a beautiful pink little not-yet-walking but rapidly expanding cellular mega-city. I and the other more developed cellular mega-cities in this neck of the woods and all of our billions of cells are truly happy to have her with us.

May your neurotransmitters rejoice.

 

5 thoughts on “Weekly Head Voices #106: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.”

  1. Congratulations Charl. Along the vein of your blog, you might find this interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIkxVci-R4k
    Those cellular megacities are being driven by the final outputs of mega pattern recognition systems.
    Also, I was recently aware of the effects of caffeine, but I have not yet discussed with anyone that the implication is that it can only delay sleep or further sleepiness, not wake you up. Not unless there is a different mechanism going on as a stimulant. Did you also find this out in a TED? I suspect we may have similar viewing habits…

    1. Yo Karl!!

      I tend to avoid TEDs as I have difficulty filtering out the melodrama. See this example: https://youtu.be/tom6_ceTu9s ;) — I know that many people really enjoy them, personally I prefer reading. (in addition, you can easily interrupt and later continue, all while holding a baby!)

      Agree with you on the caffeine only delaying the inevitable. However, it does still feel like a boost (if you haven’t built up too much tolerance)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *