Sunday, 23 February 2014

Speeding up the evolution process

Recently I've extended the range of programmes on "JTV" (my own personal television channel) to incorporate some documentaries. It doesn't do any harm to broaden ones horizons in this way so I've been watching various travel, history and nature programmes.

Among these have been the classic Attenborough series "Life On Earth" and those Wonders programmes by that bloke out of D:Ream, both of which deal with the subject of evolution.

I've always found this a fascinating process. It's amazing how we've developed from the smallest amoeba to the complex organisms we are today, but the time-scales are amazing. Millions upon millions of generations. Some times it's quite hard to believe it's even true, but all the evidence is there - you're not going to get any anti-Darwinist religious rants from me on the subject, that's for sure.

However, it came to me this week as I was lying in agony in the dentist's chair that evolution needs a bit of a revamp. It was all very well making these tiny little changes over thousands of years when we were all running about outside caves, dragging women by their hair, eating woolly mammoths, with progress amounting to someone inventing a new type of spear every hundred years or so. Evolution could keep up. But now progress has exploded exponentially our bodies can't keep up. We need to evolve way more quickly.

Let's take teeth as an example. Humans have survived pretty well on two sets of teeth since ancient times. The first set falls out when we get to about six or seven and then the new lot has to last us for the rest of our life. It sounds like a long time back in ancient caveman times especially when you consider that you couldn't just nip down to your local branch of the Hiper-Dino for some Colgate whenever you felt like it. NB: The Hiper-Dino is a supermarket chain in the Canary Islands that uses a friendly dinosaur as it's logo which I thought might illustrate my point  better than saying Tesco due to the dinosaur/ caveman connection. (Cue pedant's voice "But dinosaurs didn't live at the same time as cavemen...).

My favourite Spanish Supermarket!

However, back in those savage times, life was short and brutal and most people wouldn't have lived long enough to have to worry about tooth decay. 30 was considered a ripe old age back then. Plus your average caveman wouldn't have been dissolving his teeth with endless fizzy drinks and bags of Swizzles Matlows chews from Poundland. Two sets of teeth would be quite enough!

But they aren't enough for the modern world. Now I admit I didn't look after my teeth too well as a teenager, I had other things on my mind at the time e.g. girls and cider so I had quite a few fillings back then. Since then I've made the effort but to no avail and this Friday I had to have one of my molars out. It had been giving me jip for a long time and various repairs had only delayed the inevitable. So now I have a gap. Fortunately it's at the back so won't spoil my "lovely" smile, but even so, the point is, two sets of teeth just aren't enough anymore. Now if evolution was keeping pace with the rest of the progress of humanity, it would pretty quickly identify this problem and ensure that from the next generation we would get a third set of teeth coming through about when we reach the age of 40. But sadly it doesn't work like that. Perhaps it will eventually figure out the problem and we'll get a third set, but I wouldn't hold your breath. Maybe by about the year 10,000. Who knows, maybe the appendix will disappear by then too. I expect that'll be the next bit of me to go wrong, almost everything else has over the past couple of years.

I need to download my brain into a brand new body I think. Cybernetic if necessary, I don't mind. As long as I can still eat, obviously. Personally I don't see what was so wrong with the Cybermen in Doctor Who, I think they got a lot of bad press. With a few nice emotions thrown in so they wouldn't go around "deleting" people they wouldn't be all bad. And I bet they'd never have to go to the dentist!

Jason's third book, an hilarious account of his adventures in the world of sausages, is now available. Click here for more details:


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