PE-2 and CEN.PK meeting 6: the lost art of writing

PE-2 writes a letter to CEN.PK as CEN.PK could not bear the heat of Brazil. It decided to hibernate in the labs of Peter Kotter or undergo another evolution experiment at Nielsen’s lab in Chalmers. Though the bond between Seine and Petruska is purely of platonic nature, PE-2 misses Seine. It decides to write by jotting down the thoughts in its DNA as the Swiss scientists recently shown that information stored in DNA can survive for eons.


The poetic feelings of PE-2 pent up in its vacuoule !

Vijay just had a South Indian pancake, called adai in Tamil, made of rice and two kinds of lentils. He came and sat down on his office chair, and looked out, at the setting sun. The background noise from the traffic on the road below, and, the Tamil songs on a Bose bluetooth speaker, seem to break the eerie silence that would otherwise have prevailed on a Sunday afternoon, on the fifth floor of an apartment building, in Campinas, despite the presence of two busy bars, one just facing his building and the other, a few yards down the road. A number of insects – hornets, damselflies, millipede, midgets, butterflies – , birds and of course, our own man-made drones, helicopters, aeroplanes and others minuscule lives, whose names he knows not, were whizzing in the air, reminding Vijay of the Star Wars movie. Vijay has even found a friend in a hornet.

Vijay came back from Campinas on Friday night after speaking with extremely eager students at a language school, at around 11 pm. The rain was pouring down just like I mentioned in our last conversation (remember, the text from Somerset Maugham ?). All the students were saying that Brazil is corrupt and there is nothing they could do to bring about a change. Vijay’s heart wept. They were 15,16 years old and they felt helpless. Vijay, in order to break this pessimism, and definitely not to summon hope – which is a subtle form of belief, asked if it is possible to find the goodness in some one. Perhaps, a smile, an action which shows that we care, and not just wile away our time in front of tiny little machines, which have become the toys of grown-up children and adults. Lives aren’t immortal and the current 15-16 years would one day assume the responsibility to govern the country. Is it possible that they hone their skills so that they address the issues they have raised, by providing solutions and not just grumble about it ?


The sun was radiantly coloured, bejeweled with multi-coloured mascara,  like an Indian bride on her wedding day. The clouds were hanging above, like a gondola shaped chandelier. A lonely bird was returning home, on the horizon. It must have been around 6:15 pm. The red tiles on the shop for car menutencao (sorry Vijay has not learnt to type Portuguese alphabets on his English keyboard) rendered colour to the desolate grey clouds. Color, yes that is how the Americans spell it and if you do so in England, you will receive a death knell from the linguists of Oxford. A chimney of some sort was gaping at the sky above, its mouth open eschewing contents from its belly. The belly which has duly served the mankind with many hours of burning, not from secreted hydro chloric acid, but from the gases that are released when you deconstruct the biomass to produce energy. The reason why I call it deconstruction instead of burning is that burning is a brute force way to release the energy. Vijay’s postdoc involves biomass deconstruction too, but you and I do the job, with assistance from chaps like Somerville, Ladisch, Nielsen, Taherzadeh, and oops, I forgot Vijay’s advisor – Gombert, in a controlled manner, so that the energy is not released at once, but gradually.


You see, I went off again. What was I saying. Yes. The sun and the clouds. I wonder if the chimney yearns for freedom, not to be sedentary any more or to receive some respite from the busyness. Just like their masters have weekends, why can’t we ask for weekends too ? We need to do maintenance as well. All the char which is blocking the membranes when grown on biomass deconstructed solution, deformed mRNA that is stuck on the nuclear pores, the metabolites that are in excess, the proteins which have aged,  all of these had to be removed too. We must collect a few of us and go and protest at Avenue Paulista, seeking our rights. Microbes want their rights too. We should talk with the nerve cells of squids, our giant brethren. Recently scientists reported that the nerve cells of squid hyper edit their mRNA and it is quite unique.


There were so many trees, but, they seem to lack life, for the wind, who used to regularly play on their branches, was slumbering away, to pay respect to his elder bro, the all and mighty sun. When I think about the clouds, I begin to wonder, how the water molecule goes all the way up. Does the water come from the animals, the insects, the pancakes that Vijay made, from Vijay and perhaps from us too ? After all, we all respire and release water. I must look up if there is PNAS or a Science or a Nature paper. If not, we should ask Ron Milo from Weismann to do some simple calculation on the number of water molecules that could be released from earth to the sky. If published the title of the paper could be:

Differentiated diffusion of water molecules among races, caste, creed, flora and fauna, visualised using sky maps.

Have a good rest Seine. Writing replenishes my energy. I see you soon as Vijay is planning to do experiments with both of us and he wants to compare our metabolism. But we needn’t worry. We shall not compete with each other. I have learned the new mantra. We shall co-exist with others, like the microbes in the soil and in the guts.

Au revoir and bonne vacances,

Affectionately, Petruska.


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