Skip to main content


Remember that song from the Pointer Sisters, Neutron Dance? I think it was in the movie Beverly Hills Cop.

Anyway, back when I was a kid, our science teacher asked me and my fellow classmates this question: "If you could be any molecule in the universe, what would you choose?"

It didn't take me long to find my answer. I always chose the enzyme. Enzymes are protein molecules made up of amino acids whose purpose is to catalyze reactions between other molecules called substrates. Chemical reactions are occurring thousands of time per millisecond within your body, and if not for these protein catalysts, something so rudimentary as digesting that simple snack would take eons to achieve. In fact, you'd starve to death before the food made it into your gut. Literally. Enzymes make some reactions occur 10,000 times faster than they would without help.

But if you ever play this game, and wonder what the perfect particle would be, I have a little suggestion that will turn heads and make others go wow. In a word, be a neutrino.

Discovered in the 1950s (an achievement which earned the scientists a Nobel Prize) neutrinos are nearly massless, subatomic particles. The universe is awash in them, but just because they are prevalent doesn't mean that they are at all common. Neutrinos were created in tremendous numbers right after the Big Bang and are constantly being churned out in stars. These so-called ghosts of the universe (because they are so small) sail right through galaxies, including our own. They carry no electrical charge, and so are attracted neither to protons nor electrons, so they are not bound by electromagnetic fields.

More aloof than supermodels, neutrinos hardly interact even with each other. But it is precisely this standoffishness that earns them a crucial role both in the workings of the universe and in revealing some of its greatest secrets. In short, they help trigger the kind of supernovae (stellar explosions that briefly outshine the entire galaxy) that distribute essential elements like oxygen and nitrogen. So though it contains nearly no mass, and can be said to be hardly anywhere, the humble neutrino is everywhere and the Earth and trees and animals and anything that uses or is made up of oxygen or nitrogen could not exist without this elusive entity. Talk about being behind the scenes and yet everywhere, all at once.

So even if you find yourself aloof or don't care to play traditional roles in society, even if you sometimes feel hardly even here (I myself fit that description sometimes), know that your purpose on the Earth, in the galaxy, and in the universe and to the 8th dimension and beyond, is essential to the survival of it all. Just by being here, your presence is felt and a benefit achieved. (A friend once used the term "consciousness holder," which I think is pretty apropos.)

Now doesn't that describe you to a T?


Popular posts from this blog


I was watching the TV show Naked and Afraid last night as I sometimes do. The show teams together two strangers, a man and a woman, who attempt to survive on their own for a period of 21 days in some remote and isolated region. Some of the locales featured include the Australian Outback, the Amazonian rainforest and the African Savanna. The man may have a military background, or be an adventurist or deep sea fisherman. Sometimes he's an ordinary dude who lives with mom. The woman is a park ranger or extreme fitness enthusiast or "just a mom" herself. Sometimes the couple quarrel, sometimes one or both "tap out" (quit) in a fit of anger or illness. It is satisfying to see them actually make it through the challenge and reach their extraction point. The victors are usually exhausted, emaciated, begrimed and bare ass naked. 

Even more satisfying, at least for me, is the occasional ass shot, snuck in at strategic intervals to boost viewership, of course. It's co…


I hereby proclaim that June is meditation month. And July and August and some of September too. For me at least. During the hundred days that comprise summer, give or take, I have taken it upon myself to "assume the position" for approximately one hour each day, usually divided into two 30-minute sessions. During this time I sit in front of a candle flame, let my breathing subside, and with it my mental activity, and literally count the seconds.

The reductive tendency that is emblematic of science has penetrated schools of meditation, and there are many, each of which advertises its particular breed as, if not being the best, at least boasting novel or specific benefits not found in other forms of meditation. 

For example, there is mindfulness, which is the monitoring of thoughts. There is concentration or focus, as on an object or the breath. There is transcendental meditation, which uses the inward repetition of a phrase, or mantra, to "allow your active mind to easily …


To be spontaneous or systematic, that's the question. Or SOS, as the Police sing. Within me these two opposing characteristics are ever at war. I suppose we're all born more of the former. What child is not up for a trip to the candy store on a whim? But our educational system drums in the systematic approach to problem solving. You must progress from number 1 to 10 on your test. Each class is 50 minutes long. Etc. And indeed having a schedule and being methodical can lead to greater material success. If you only do what you feel like you may never study math, or organize your closet. But enslaving yourself to a ritual can suck all the fun out of life. To reconcile the two approaches we've evolved the weekend, which is basically a short vacation from the rigid workday, a time to play in an unstructured way. The athlete has his rest days, a time away from play. The family has the trip to the Bahamas. There are semester breaks in school, though having an entire summer off is…