Lewis Thomas Essays

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Maybe if you could get in there quickly enough and administer naloxone, a specific morphine antagonist, you could turn off the endorphins and observe the restoration of pain, but this is not something I would care to do or see.

I think I will leave it there, as a good guess about the dying of a cat-chewed mouse, perhaps about dying in general.

The information in a poem is, by definition, not reproducible. He becomes an equivalent of scientist, in the act of examining and sorting the things popping in [to his head], finding the marks of remote similarity, points of distant relationship, tiny irregularities that indicate that this one is really the same as that one over there only more important.

Gauging the fit, he can meticulously place pieces of the universe together, in geometric configurations that are as beautiful and balanced as crystals.

The circuits are so intimately interwoven that the anthill meets all the essential criteria of an organism.

Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment. As evolutionary time is measured, we have only just turned up and have hardly had time to catch breath, still marveling at our thumbs, still learning to use the brand-new gift of language.

Any ambiguity, any tendency to wander from the matter at hand, will introduce grave hazards for the cells, and even more for the host in which they live.

There is a theory that the process of aging may be due to the cumulative effect of imprecision, a gradual degrading of information. Good applied science in medicine, as in physics, requires a high degree of certainty about the basic facts at hand, and especially about their meaning, and we have not yet reached this point for most of medicine.

An elm in our backyard caught the blight this summer and dropped stone dead, leafless, almost overnight.

One weekend it was a normal-looking elm, maybe a little bare in spots but nothing alarming, and the next weekend it was gone, passed over, departed, taken.

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