Our Inner Space Stations

Did you know that inside each and every one of us are super-cool structures that, in my mind, behave like a futuristic space station? Because there are.

Of course, I’m talking about the humble cell. Wait, what do you mean that wasn’t obvious? Maybe I should explain.

Picture a multi-structured station floating in space. Surrounding it is a protective forcefield. Now, this forcefield isn’t actually solid like a wall is solid, but instead is made up of a constantly shifting, interlocking series of tiny bits whose design will allow authorized ships to pass through it. That’s your plasma membrane, a selectively permeable membrane that resembles a “fluid mosaic” according to my text books. It only lets a few structures through easily.

But, hey, sometimes you need people that aren’t part of the space station to get in. So the station will send out a shuttle to pick up those passengers, so that they can travel through the forcefield in a safe environment and then get taken to their destination. And if it is discovered that they’re actually enemies of the station, there is an automated defense system that will blast them to bits. Those shuttles are called vessicles, and they do precisely what I just described.

There’s also a third way in for some very important people that the station has already vetted. They are known entities, already proven not to be dangerous, and they get a special wormhole that opens inside the station, tunnels out past the forcefield and lets those folks pass right on through before pinching shut again.

Now. Every station needs one central command center. That’s where decisions get made and in my mind, it’s also probably where specialized programmers who keep the whole station’s computer system going would work. That’s the nucleus.

What about a power station that keeps the lights and holodecks going? That’s the mitochondria. Okay, there’s actually no cellular holodeck, but these little darlings are what produce the energy the cell needs.

Your space station would also need some kind of superstructure that gives the thing its shape and holds it all together. In the cell, we call those microfillaments. Some of them are bigger and form tubes, which would be microtubules.

Heck, there’s even a system for altering things from one state to another. It’s the future, so it can do all sorts of neat stuff. You put raw materials in one end and they travel through a series of rooms and come out the other end altered, then sometimes get loaded into a shuttle and shipped out to other parts of the station. That’s your Golgi Complex.

I could go on. This whole metaphor is one I came up with back when studying to become a massage therapist to help myself learn the structure of the human cell. Or relearn it, I suppose, as high school biology class clearly made no lasting impression. I was reminded of it the other week while taking a review course. I thought it might be a bit of a peek into the honestly strange way my brain works. And, hey, if there’s anyone out there studying high school bio (or any first term massage therapy students), maybe it will help.

Be kind to yourself and others. And me. Though you can laugh at me a little for this one, I fully accept the absurdity of this post.

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