Understanding Our Human Crisis

The following excerpts are taken from a small book called Katrina Nights by Fouad M. Khan, which was published in late 2009. This brief but complex work can be viewed as a coming of age story, a stranger in a strange land tale, a terrorist thriller, or simply a ribald sexual romp, and it is all of these. But woven into the fabric of the larger story is an important scientific hypothesis.

Why is the brightest species on the planet in crisis? Why do our present actions threaten our very future?

As a scientist, I have selected excerpts from the volume that I believe best present that hypothesis. Those excerpts have been edited slightly to make them more understandable since they have been lifted out of the context of the novel itself. Although the book is described as a work of total fiction, many of the details reported in the story ring amazingly true. I suspect the story is a mixture of both truth and fiction.

All of the following is true. Fouad Khan was born and bred in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He was a graduate student at the University of Houston in 2005-2007. Fouad was in America on a Fulbright scholarship to pursue a PhD degree in Environmental Engineering. For his thesis and research, he did study the population dynamics of hydrocarbon-eating bacteria.

The story presented in the novel, describes the activities, thoughts, conversations, and research of a fictional graduate student who by coincidence also attends the University of Houston and is named Fouad Khan. In the process of this experience, Fouad discovers what he believes is an important truth about living populations. If he is correct, and I believe that he is, then he has discovered the scientific basis for our present human crisis.

Crisis is always the harbinger of an overwhelming problem. Fortunately, crisis has two components—Danger and Opportunity. When faced with crisis, there is almost always a window of opportunity, when intelligent action can avert most or at least some of the danger of the crisis. But, that opportunity is fleeting. The only rational response is Carpe diem—Seize the Day. We must recognize the opportunity in time and then act quickly and intelligently.

Seriously,
http://futurepositive.synearth.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/timsbluesignature.gif

Timothy Wilken, MD


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Preamble to a Hypothesis

Fouad M. Khan, MS


From Page 67 of Katrina Nights

Juan (my faculty adviser) called them ‘bugs.’ I didn’t like the idea, they weren’t really bugs, so much smaller and such a much more collective entity compared to bugs. They thought and behaved as one composite being, the whole population a single, simple all inclusive mind, making the necessary decisions for all, to eat or not to eat, to procreate or not to procreate, to die or to live. I wondered, in that mass of organic heap that was the bacteria culture, what were the individual thoughts of a Pseudomonas Putida? Did it enjoy sex? Did it think about eventually settling down with a nice blonde wife and thousands of kids in the suburban corners of my Petri dish?

I grew microorganism populations in the lab and studied their behavior. We could afford to study their behavior at population levels. That was all that mattered to us. We built up massive armies of them and monitored their consumption patterns, how they ate, what they ate and when they decided to go on a massive eating and spawning spree. This was important. Once the microorganism populations took on an exponential growth curve, the pollutants we were trying to get rid of quickly became history.

But wait, I think I need to start from the beginning.

You see all that oil, we consume as an industrialized species, is stored in containers of various types at various stages of its supply cycle. Most of these containers are underground like the steel tanks at your local gas station. Oil and oil products have been stored in underground tanks for more than a century now; at first it was even stored in large pits that weren’t even lined. It would be safe to say, that given enough time, there isn’t an oil tank in the world that won’t leak. That leaking is usually so miniscule that it used to not even show up in the inventory of the gas stations; they just covered it up in the books, hundred in, hundred out, no wastage. Now we know for sure that that can’t be true for any given oil products storage and distribution site.

Aside from the usual minor leaks and spills, there are also accidents. Storage tank failures that result in thousands of liters of leakage within minutes, oil tankers run over, sea bound ones run into icebergs and color pristine beaches black, this shit happens. Oil spill and leakage is a fact of life. If there’s a gas station in your neighborhood, there’s a good chance it’s leaking at least some oil underground.

This oil is a resource when contained anywhere within its supply and consumption chain, but once it gets out of that loop, it becomes a serious pollutant. It’s a complex industrial product made up of compounds with names such as Benzene, Toluene, Ethyl Benzene, Xylene; compounds, some of which are confirmed carcinogens; enough exposure will give you cancer.

A large part of the oil that leaks, naturally ends up seeping underground, where lie pristine aquifers capable of delivering refreshing water for human consumption. If the leaked oil gets to the aquifer, it can contaminate a precious drinking water resource. The contaminated water, if consumed regularly for a long time, can increase cancer risks significantly. Who the fuck am I kidding; it can kill, in more than one ways.

While working for one of the big three oil companies in an earlier life, I once came upon this case study. This gas station located in a densely populated locality where groundwater usage for drinking was common, had a rusty tank. It kept leaking for some fifteen years and nobody had a clue. The aquifer was hardly ten feet deep and it got contaminated with Methyl Ter Butyl Ether, Lead and even some Benzene; serious shit by any measure. Benzene is a confirmed carcinogen.

Now, nobody ever found out how many children consumed that contaminated water for how many years and how many of them got cancer, nobody had the resources or intent to. What shook the company into action was this one ‘incident’. The water being used in one of the larger apartment complexes near the gas station was drawn from the aquifer and stored in a huge underground tank. The tank was emptied for usual cleaning one year and sat like that for two days, empty. When one of the cleaning guys finally climbed in, he made the fatal mistake of lighting a match. The gas had seeped in and accumulated within the tank from the contaminated aquifer water and soils all around it through miniscule cracks in the lining. The place nearly blew up. The gas station was hardly hundred feet away from the water tank. There were investigations, local politicians got involved and the oil company was brought into the fray.

Now, granted, all of this happened in Pakistan, the laws are lax there; but I am talking about a major global player in the energy world. They present themselves as the industry leader in green practices; they used to have entire campaigns based around that fact. Travesty. I was brought in as a consultant to carry out investigations to show that the oil leakage could not possibly have had a connection with the explosion. That is if there was any leakage at all.

Owing to the confidentiality contract I signed I will not go any further into the details of my investigation and the results. They are available in the report I submitted, which you can read for yourself, if you can get your hands on it.

I got to work at tens of such sites and the only reasonable conclusion I could come to was that this was inevitable. It was the necessary price we had to pay for enjoying the comforts of modern living. A percent, maybe half of a percent, maybe lot more of all the oil transported and used always leaked, it became a pollutant and some of it eventually killed people. This is the unacknowledged ‘nuclear waste’ of the fossil fuel energy industry.

In America, ‘superfunds’ were founded to treat this menace, with billions of dollars going into research and development alone. Juan and his engineering expertise were a product of that drive.

He’d spent decades contributing to the field, and now he sat in front of me, in his office, trying to figure out why I wasn’t making progress. He could not have guessed that there was more to this mystery than his mathematically trained mind could decode. He couldn’t draw a thoughts-balance diagram for my mind, couldn’t write a differential equation, couldn’t solve it. Not even numerical modeling would have given any clue to the mystery of the malaise that was (the result of my crazy new girlfriend) Katrina. I couldn’t produce because I couldn’t concentrate, I couldn’t concentrate because I was sick, because I had a disease occupying my faculties.

But there was a little more to it than that. If it was routine number crunching or experimental work—stuff that made up most of academic research—I would’ve wrapped it up working like a zombie. My problem was that I needed to solve a problem.

“Ok… let’s go back to the basics.” Juan said in his French accented English.

“Populations can switch from consuming Benzene to MtBE if you give them enough incentive and at least three weeks. Is that right?” He asked. Naturally occurring microorganism populations had all sorts of ‘bugs’ in them, some liked to eat one compound, one part of the oil pollution, others preferred some other compound. If I spilled excess Benzene on a naturally occurring microorganism population, the benzene eaters suddenly had a field day. Their population started to increase exponentially until the benzene stocks were consumed and finally started falling short. But usually by that time, the benzene eaters dominated total microorganism populations by a huge ratio; out of every hundreds of thousands only one or two ate anything else. This was troublesome because once the benzene was gone, there were parts of the oil compound still left to be eaten, pollutants that needed to go away. Only, the environment that the Benzene eaters had defined for themselves no longer remained conducive for the exponential growth of any other bacteria such as Toluene eaters. The overall microorganism population was now useless for a while until all the Benzene eaters died off and some other types of dominant bacteria rose in their place.

This switch was what I needed to figure out. How could I make microorganism populations go from one type of food to another without significant lag times and investment.

The lab was a tardy place to work on this problem because you just didn’t grow composite populations in lab; you grew focused, one-type-of-bacteria populations in your Petri dishes and trays. And if you didn’t have composite populations you were missing an important ingredient for your testing. I sat in the lab all day growing and killing entire microbial metropolises, but had been unable to find real focus. Months of work and I still didn’t have a direction.

“Yes, but we have to remember that I can’t make bacteria do the switch from Benzene to MtBE in lab, three weeks or three years. Just doesn’t happen. I need to find real life data to deduce some conclusions and move forward.” I tell Juan.

“Ok. Then do that. Study the literature. Find data, deduce results. Come up with a plan for further investigations. What are you waiting for?” Juan said.

I let my chin drop. “I don’t have a plan. I don’t know what to do.”

“I don’t think you’ve done your research right. Look, Fouad I don’t know what your interests are and where you are spending your time but you never seem to be around. You are never there in the lab working. This is not how you get a PhD. Where were you on Tuesday, why didn’t you show up for our meeting?”

“I told you I wasn’t feeling well. I had to take some antibiotics and nearly collapsed into a coma, thought I’d call and inform you but couldn’t. I’m sorry.” I bullshitted.

“Look Fouad, it’s your degree. You are the one who wanted to do it in the first place. I have letters from you going back three years. Don’t be sorry to me. Make a decision for yourself and try not to be sorry to yourself.” His usage of the language was still a little unconventional, but always effective. He went on, “This can’t just go on like this. We are way behind. You still haven’t finalized a plan.”

“Yeah.” I could only say quietly. “You know I still want to do it. Just give me another week. I’d come back with another plan.” I said.

“No. It just can’t work like that. I have to set a firm deadline for your qualification exam now. And it’s the end of this semester. I’m setting it. Present a coherent plan there and justify it. From now on we meet every day to discuss.”

He went on. “Look, here’s the deal. They are just bugs, don’t get too … complicated on them, or too technical. You just have to find a way to make them like the food that we offer them. Turn their discerning taste buds off. I want them to eat no matter what comes in front of them.” It was easier said than done. “I want them to eat like pigs.” Juan said.

Or like human beings I thought. Sitting in my lab, looking at graphs of microorganism populations shooting up in exponential growth curves, the very first thought that occurred to me was the eerie similarity of such a growth pattern with the human population growth pattern. About two hundred or so years ago, we human beings had also stumbled upon some such elixir of potent exponential growth and risen in population from about a billion to more than six billion. From the dawn of humanity some sixty thousand years ago till the eighteen hundreds, human beings, population: About a billion or less, year two thousand, human beings, population: Six point five billion. Our society and even our psychological makeup seemed to be changing so fast the social theories of no more than a thousand years ago today seemed like children’s fairytales.

Interestingly, the thing that triggered our growth spree and sustained it was almost the same thing that shot microorganisms into consumption overdrive; fossil fuel, in one form or another. Industrialization, the birth of modern city, the invention of industrial agriculture, advances in modem medicine and public health had lead to the growth in human populations apparently, but what it was essentially, was the human discovery of the true potential of the resource called oil. We found out that there was energy in it to be harvested for everything from food growth to making antibiotics to keeping our cities glowing at night. We’d started consuming oil like we were cookie monster and had stumbled upon a jar full of delicious chocolate chip delights. In the greater scheme of things it seemed, human beings were no better or smarter than cookie monster, or ‘bugs.’

Page 81

I sat on my desk with my head in my hands for about a couple of hours and then the question first occurred to me. Why exponential growth? What if we could stabilize the bacteria population instead of making it grow exponentially? What if instead of promoting the growth of bacteria consuming one type of pollutant, we could promote the growth of parallel populations maintaining some of the diversity of the original population. That would definitely hamper the growth rate and slow down consumption.

Fuck with it. What was the hurry? If the pollutants could wait for being cleaned up, in the case of some sites, ten years, they could sit there without being additional risk for another ten. There was something fundamentally wrong with the exponential growth curve anyway. I knew there was, I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

I’d have to figure out a way to demonstrate the enhanced growth of mixed populations. I’d need to set up a larger lab experiment, maybe an indoors soil chamber, should be at least three feet by three feet by three feet. But if I could grow such populations in lab, keeping a tab on the various bacteria populations, creating an alternating balance between them, and then report the nutrient ratios needed, this was a decent quality PhD.

I suddenly felt like I had direction. I needed to add to my literature study and could potentially produce a relatively sound thesis proposal if I worked my butt off for the next week.

Page 84

Once back at the library my research sucked me right in; the travails of D, M, Dickens, the British Engineer who’d seen both Benzene and MtBE deplete from his contaminated site simultaneously over a period of five years. He’d intervened little but had collected detailed monitoring data and published a really nice tale of two naturally competing microorganism populations growing simultaneously. I’d contacted him to obtain his detailed data and had been playing with it for the last couple of days. There were patterns in it that could be explored and systematized.

Page 91

My day at the library was dull except for the discovery of the works of A. Chandrasekhar at U Penn. He wasn’t an engineer; a professor of organic chemistry, but some ten years ago he’d written a series of papers about the nutrient balance required to control the microbial population growth in a culture. He’d worked on getting other types of curves besides the exponential growth curve right and his experimental setup very similar to what I had in mind, but his work had focused on growing one bacterial population at a time instead of simultaneous growths. His data was nonetheless very significant.

Page 93

(My friend Ishmael, a graduate student from Yemen,) … took me to Layal an Arabic café where they had belly dancers on Wednesday and Saturday.

“I like this place because it has tried to recreate some of the original ambience of a street corner café in Yemen.” Ishmael said as we were seated.

“Yeah I know what you mean. Hardly anything in this country has the original flavor retained. The food, the music, everything gets Americanized before it is finally served to the customer.”

“There’s a reason for it.”

“The desire to get more customers?”

“True.” Ishmael said, “But it runs deeper. The reason is the desire for growth. Nobody starts out thinking I want to be a corner place that gets twenty customers on the weekends but serves the perfect baklava Everybody wants to have fucking franchises within a year. The idea is to bring everything down to the lowest common denominator. Your shit must not be too strong for anyone. Nobody is working to do what they can do best, nobody wants the niche market. Growth must always be pursued.”

“What’s wrong with that Ishmael?” I said looking around, just provoking more conversation.

“Nothing wrong with it. It just sucks the flavor right out of life. It’s a philosophy resting on the significance of material, material never satisfies human beings. The more you get it, the more you crave it. And it’s not sustainable.”

Page 96

(Distracted by my beautiful but crazy girlfriend Katrina, I hurriedly worked to finish the final proposal for my thesis. … All too soon, the day of the qualifier arrived.)

“There’s something fundamentally wrong with the exponential growth curve.” I stood in front of the thesis committee, talking like a philosopher. Something? What in the world is ‘something’? Something is not a word you use in engineering. Be specific boy, their faces seemed to say. I’d just put the latest version of my proposal in front of them which was different from the one I’d submitted a couple of days ago. This was unacceptable in itself. Also, I’d come to my exam ten minutes late. This was unheard of. The committee members and Juan, who sat there visibly pissed, had already given me too much slack before I’d even started speaking.

“Something about the curve which makes us think it is the answer to all our questions when we stumble upon it.” I went on unembarrassed. “Something about the idea of growth happening so fast, it must be good. It appeals to our evolutionary nature, to our inherent tendencies to think that big and more is always better.” Big and more, like Katrina I thought. “We’d have to give up this fascination with the exponential growth curve before we can move on.”

I then went on to explain how if we gave up on trying to grow bacteria populations so rapidly, we could have populations which were much more diverse and adaptable. I showed them Dickens’ data and all the other graphs and figures I’d assembled from literature, not a word about Chandrasekhar.

He was the elephant in the room whose presence I needed not to acknowledge on my own. If somebody else brings him up, well, we’ll see about that. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it as an American would say. In the meanwhile, I explained to them my proposed experimental setup. Precedents from the literature, no Chandrasekhar though. As I talked I saw Juan’s expressions change. There was a contentment starting to make a shy appearance on his face. This was definitely more than he’d expected me to have come up with. He probably didn’t know about Chandrasekhar.

My proposal was not airtight, parts of it were vague and the theory somewhat still hanging in the realm of metaphysics, undefined. I festooned my arguments with a generous sprinkling of ‘big talk’. The accomplished professors sitting in front of me, the white haired Cliff who talked about Arsenic removal at different pH ranges like telling nursery rhymes, the young and lithe Hoover, who could design you a dam in three minutes, the feisty Dr. Robinson whom they called when bacteria started misbehaving inexplicably at any water treatment plant in Texas, they were all no-bullshit people, career engineers who’d spent a lifetime building things, big behemoth machines and structures that worked and needed hundreds of people to run them. They were professors not because they liked theorizing but because they were now in a position where their one minute theorizing could solve complex problems that other people would have spent years deciphering.

They didn’t seem overtly, immediately hostile as I spoke. Perhaps they still had a soft corner in their hearts for some good old fashion philosophizing. Perhaps they were giving concessions because they saw some real thought had been put into the proposal, if not necessarily work. There was time for work once I qualified. Perhaps none of them had heard of Chandrasekhar.

The question, answers session moved steadily forward. Most of the questions that came from the committee I’d expected. Within thirty minutes of that, the exam followed into the lulled period where the questions became suggestions. It started to appear that for all practical purposes I had cleared my qualifier now and the professors were telling me how to move forward from here on. Juan seemed obviously pleased; my colleagues were giving me congratulatory looks. Impossible! It seemed like I was actually going to pass this. …

“Just one more question Fouad”, Cliff said, “I am sure you must have looked at it, though you haven’t mentioned it yet in the presentation, Dr. Chandrasekhar did some excellent work a while ago on the growth dynamics of bacteria in other patterns besides the exponential curve. He came to the conclusion that you could, theoretically stabilize a bacteria population to a level where they started to derive newer and newer resources from their surrounding, never actually entering the death phase, but for that you needed to input, in one form or another, an amount of energy that was roughly equivalent to the Chandrasekhar factor for each hundred thousand bacteria. How do you…”

Yes, I’d briefly read through the Chandrasekhar factor paper, but didn’t know anymore about it. So Cliff did know Chandrasekhar’s work after all. Of course he did, what was I thinking? That I could get away with this bullshit so easily. Time to flunk now my boy Fouad. Cliff went on but the room was darkening in front of my eyes.

“…propose we could trip that theoretical energy gap…” his voice seemed to be coming from a deep well now, “ … if you think it doesn’t exist…” My heart was now doing jazz soliloquies. “…what’s your reason for thinking so?”

At that point I felt a deep pressure rising on my chest. Suddenly it seemed like the next breath was too far away to catch. The room darkened in front of my eyes, and as I was told later on, I had collapsed grabbing on to my chest.

Page 104

(I woke up in the hospital. They said I had suffered a stress breakdown.  The Fulbright people intervened on my behalf. My exam with the thesis committee was pushed back a couple of months. On my third and last day in the hospital, I had a visit from my friend Ishmael.)

“You know what’s wrong with America?” Ishmael suddenly asked me.

“I don’t know. Donald Trump?”

“The trivialization of America, the stupidization of the great American ideology, the biggest fuck up in the history of mankind. It starts with the building of the American city. First, you want to systemize everything, good idea, that’s how industrialization works, but you fuck it up and everybody you see on the road is wearing the same black suit. You give birth to the modern industrial metropolis in America, and turns out it’s a horror. So you dream up the suburbs, a country house for every family to raise their children in innocence, away from the chaos of the city, but you fuck it up and you get suburban sprawl, you get the tragicomedy of suburbia, the fat beer drinking stupid American male who’s only partially an adult and doesn’t know shit about the world, the cheating housewife behind the white picket fence, who isn’t satisfied. Can’t be satisfied. You get Bart Simpson for a son; where else would the teenage energy look for an expression of its free spirit, except in nasty tricks on the weak. And in the middle of this fuckaplooza, you get the bastardization of new age ideals. It becomes criminal to offend someone’s feelings so everything gets sacrificed at the altar of feelings; everything, rigor, standards, standards of work, standards of living, standards of social conduct. It becomes OK to enjoy unearned riches; it becomes glorious to be a pimp. The Las Vegas virus creeps into every facet of American life.

Now we have a country of the richest fat Asses in the world; their sole output the sordid details of Paris Hilton and Tara Reid’s sexual lives. E True Hollywood Story; America! You have the Wall Street Big Boyz fooling the world into the supposed legitimacy of American wealth to keep the dollar afloat and the hummers running. When this enterprise comes down the Big Boyz will be blamed but it’s not their fault. When there was no real productivity left in a society to get capital out of, they invented fake capital. And sure they got the lion’s share of it for themselves. They’ve earned it, they’ve fucking cooked it all up out of thin air.” He paused to catch his breath; looked outside the window bitterly. “And all of this fed by a parallel collapse of town planning and architecture, the American environment growing to reflect the purposelessness of American society. The typical suburban home becoming a cartoon of country living, the school starting to resemble the jailhouse, the most frequented public space, the parking lot, the curb cut between Wal-Mart and KFC. That’s where the fuck we’re at right now. Where this fucked up living arrangement now has become an end in itself. Everything is being done to keep this film rolling, like a bad sitcom that jumped the shark three seasons ago but won’t go away.”

Only part of what he’d just said had made sense to me. Was he actually criticizing the American city as a monumental failure? What was he talking about? Most of the world, the world that I lived in, would have given their hind sides for a chance to live in America. I knew bright, beautiful, smart young Fulbrighters from lively cities with high standards of living like Dublin, Moscow, Madrid, even Berlin who didn’t want to leave America. Everyone was always looking to find a way around the two-year rule, the rule that said you had to go back and serve your country for two years before you could apply to move to America if you’d just been on a Fulbright. This was still the land of opportunities.

“Dude… would you rather live in Sanaa or Houston?” I asked him. (Sannaa is the capital of Yemen.)

“Sanaa.” He said without blinking. “But you’re missing the point. You cannot compare Sanaa and Houston, not like that. Look, nobody is contesting the fact that America is a great nation and what they’ve built here is a great country. A paradigm shift is needed, was needed yesterday, should have come thirty years ago but didn’t. And what you got was the greatest misallocation of resources ever. Ever, in the history of mankind. America started out with the basic idea of satisfying every human’s animal needs, the need for food, shelter, security and healthcare, essentially the needs of our body. That was achieved in the western world for most of the population by the seventies. The need then was to shift the focus towards growing not as animals but as human beings. To cater to the needs of our higher brains. Instead, America elected Ronald fucking Reagan as president. What better way to satisfy the essential human need for drama and story than to be led by an actor, a fucking simulation of a leader. Simply because the real leaders just didn’t look the part. Today, every measure of development looks at how we are catering to our animal sides, how we can increase our average lifespan. We should instead be looking to nourish our human side.” He tried to summarize his thoughts in a coherent conclusion but his ideas still seemed foggy to me. He settled down. The room suddenly felt too quiet.

Page 107

I started running stats on Chandrasekhar’s data. I could see where he’d have come upon his philosophical conclusion, it seemed apparent now as I started to look at the data in more detail. If you leave the microorganisms on their own, their population settled down into a stable curve in harmony with the ecology of their surroundings. They became a part of the environment they were in, they became soil. That was the great thing about bacteria, they were everywhere, even right now, on and inside our body by the millions but they exist quietly, the effects of their presence felt as part of the nature of the thing, such as the sourness of yogurt.

When you gave them a little taste of some nutrient external to the environment such as Benzene, the Benzene eating amongst the bacteria suddenly went wild, suddenly unawares of the ecological balance around them. They ate and they reproduced and they grew in numbers, exponentially.

We utilized this exponential growth, which was by definition unsustainable, to get rid of the contaminant bugging us. In some cases we encouraged it and fed it, we definitely monitored it.

When the nutrient concentration ran out, the bacteria died off. Their population usually entered a brief stationary phase and then a long death phase from which it never recovered.

Chandrasekhar discovered that if you would have left the bacteria population alone, not having introduced the contaminant in its jiving environment, the populations would have lasted for longer than they eventually did. The mere act of the introduction of the contaminant and the triggering of the exponential growth curve rendered the population unsustainable. The rule was, if you hit upon an exponential growth curve, it was eminent that you’d eventually hit upon the death phase and die off until hardly a single one of your species remained.

From there Chandrasekhar concluded that at least in theory it was possible to introduce the bacteria to a new ecology where their population could exist in harmony with the gradual introduction of a bevy of different contaminants in moderate quantities. As such you could harvest bacteria populations naturally capable of eliminating incoming contaminants without going on an eat-and-grow-spree; in theory.

But part of his theory seemed antithetical to the very nature of microorganisms. Were microorganisms capable of restrain? No, it was more like growing a bonsai tree, you had to give and take, three steps forward, two back and so on and so forth, until the natural rhythm that Chandrasekhar visualized could be achieved. That was the dynamics I needed to figure out. This was going to be purely experimental work and I started to study his tank design deriving notes for the design of my own bacteria-harvesting soil tank.

Read Part II of a Preamble to a Hypothesis


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