Saturday, September 6, 2014

Brand-New You (and Me)

One of my all-time favorites, Maggie Koerth-Baker, is doing a Nieman Fellowship in Boston this year, which means she gets to take any classes she likes at Harvard or MIT. As part of her free enewsletter, the Fellowship of Three Things, this week she shared tidbits from classes she sampled but decided not to take.

I thought this bit was particularly notable:

You are not the same as you were last year.

Every year, 98% of the atoms that make up your body are replaced, swapped out for fresh atoms. I learned this in What is Life?, a class team-taught by Logan McCarty and Andrew Berry. Where do the replacement atoms come from? According to Berry, we pick them up from the food we eat and, to a lesser extent, the air we breathe. Berry didn't discover this bit of molecular weirdness, but I do like the way he framed it. If you were to replace 98% of all the parts that made up a Ford Taurus, would it still be the same car? And, if not, what does that make you?
If you want to subscribe to Maggie's list, you can do it here.

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