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Harnsowl Ko

Student - B.E - Chemical Engineering, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art


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Where does our identity as being "human" come from?

This week in my Bioelectricity class we discussed electrical stimulation. Research on electrical stimulation often focuses on the manipulation the electrical fields and currents. An example of this manipulation can be seen in Bill Doyle's TED talk, which deals with orienting cancer cells along an electric field in order to disrupt their replication. Electrical stimulation can also be used in devices such as pacemakers or neuroprosthetics for injury recovery. As technology begins to expand, the concept of prosthetics replacing major body parts is not far off. Thus, the question becomes does a person lose their given identity because they are not 100% “human”? But before you answer, keep in mind that the bacteria in your gut outnumber the number of cells in your entire body by a factor of 10!


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    Mar 4 2012: A very interesting and a complex question - one that cannot be answered with simplicity perhaps. But scientifically, it could be our sense of cognition, biological similarities and potential of evolving behaviour. Anthropologically, it could be the desire to satisfy not just our physiological needs but to develop our emotional and intellectual self too using culture as a tool. However, the irony in this is that, we yet need to segregate ourselves not just other species, but our own using culture, religion or nation. In doing so over time, we automatically forget that it is not nature that creates this distinction but us (i.e. it does not didactically tell us we are different from apes, we do that). Since it is us, the lines never seem to be very clear as they are done within a context of place and time.

    Would like to leave with something I had written a while back -


    WHO AM I?

    Am I just a fusion of different chemicals,
    formed miraculously by some divine intervention?

    Am I just a biological species,
    happening to be composed of cells and tissues?

    Am I just an individual,
    who loves socializing, traveling and sketching?

    Am I just a Mumbai-ite,
    with a happy family and great friends around the place?

    Am I just an Indian,
    living in a metropolitan city?

    Am I just a teenager,
    vainly trying to figure out life and relationships?

    Am I just a human being,
    doing my time on this planet seeing if I make a difference?

    Am I just a carbon speck,
    in this infinite universe soup somewhere in the span of my existence?

    Or Am I just...Anupriy?

    We may be everything, but is it right for us to think within a context to a degree that we forget the rest.

    Perhaps that is why there is never a clear answer about the origin of our identity.

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