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Germs and the Self

From today’s New York Times:

    Each person shelters about 100 trillion microbes. (For comparison, the human body is made up of only around 10 trillion cells.)

So we are about ten times more “germs” than we are “us.” Or to put it another way, we are a seething mass of germs held together by a thin tissue of human genetic material.

Jesus was 90% microbes. So were Einstein, Gandhi, and Marilyn Monroe. And no doubt, most of Gandhi’s 100 trillion microbes would have been just as happy living in the intestines, glands and pores of my neighbor Betty Sue.

It seems pretty incredible that we’ve been able to create the works of Shakespeare, or discover distant galaxies in this condition.


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