Preamble to a Hypothesis (part 2)

This is the second part of a three part article. Return to part one: A Preamble to a Hypothesis by Fouad M. Khan.

From Page 113 of Katrina Nights

For two years, I was the ghost that stalked the corridors of Engineering Building D at night.

(I got to know the custodian Horatio who cleaned the building at night, and I  filled some of the empty time in the night with the prayer routines I had learned from my father as a child.)

My lab was a hall on the ground floor occupied by countertops for experiments in one corner, a couple of incubators, mixing machines of the latest variety—you put your little sample bottles in it and it shook the hell out of them. I wondered what a roller coaster ride it must be for the bacteria. In the left corner, just next to the safety shower, was my big tub of soil. That’s what it looked like, like a big glass soil container, some three feet deep, filled completely with a piece of earth drawn from the garden near MD Anderson library and placed in the glass container causing minimum disturbance in the process. I’d chosen the ‘sample’ after some testing on the soils around the campus. This particular area had an especially high concentration of the Benzenophage I wanted to grow initially. The glass container was three feet deep, five feet long and two feet wide, it was essentially a huge aquarium. We’d had it made for us by a local aquarium maker.

I’d also had developed special push soil samplers about one inch in diameter and small screw bores just as thick. When I needed to collect a soil sample for testing, I drilled manually with the screw bore up until the required depth and then lowered the soil sampler into it. The soil I then tested for presence of various microorganisms of interest. This was my setup.

I started out by pouring small quantities of benzene on top of my soil sample. The soil I then treated and seeded with added bacteria and poked holes in through which I circulated additional oxygen. This caused the benzene eating bacteria’s population to start rising exponentially within five days, but after two weeks I stopped my input of Benzene and started pouring in MtBE. The Benzenophage population initially died off completely as the MtBE eaters took hold. So in my second attempt I did not completely eliminate benzene input into the culture, only started adding a mix of Benzene and MtBE, varying their concentrations in the mix; gradually increasing or decreasing the benzene content.

It would take me another year to get the mix and variance ratios just right. I had to stay at night mostly to complete the sampling cycle which spanned eighteen hours.

Sometimes when I didn’t have anything to do between consecutive samples three hours apart, I just sat there and stared at my glass tank. I marveled at the entire civilization growing inside my culture. My ‘culture’! What a perfect word to describe a bacteria colony! Did the bacteria have a culture? Do we have a culture as a species? Would someone looking at earth as a vat filled with water and soil, be able to observe the presence of human beings? Was somebody observing our exponential growth just as intently as I monitored my little pets? Was god a graduate student trying to improve the efficiency of creating plastic in the experiment of earth by just that precious five percent?

One evening when I came back to lab after catching up on sleep for a day, I found a sticker stuck to the side of my soil tub; a small American flag, the red white and blue in twelve inches square. How appropriate. I left it as it was.

“Watchya looking for in that thing man?” Horatio finally asked me one day.

“Ah… long story. Nothing actually. I can’t really see anything. I am just … going nuts I guess.” I said with a chuckle. “But you know, I have bacteria growing inside it, you can call them my little microscopic pets.”

“Aren’t you gonna pray tonight?” He asked.

“I will. I still have time.” I said looking at my watch.

“You know… the only time I see you like… really, really calm” he said hesitantly, not sure if he was stepping onto personal territory, is when you are praying. You have so much calm on your face, it’s almost like you are a different person, but as soon as you get up from that rug, it’s like, gone. I mean, I am not saying you are not cool otherwise … just you know, it’s different.”

I pondered what he said for a moment. “Yes Horatio, it is different. I feel different when praying.”

“Yeah… you know… I used to date this girl. She was a fine woman man. I was an ass I couldn’t hold on to her. And when I was with her, she made me feel so… so… satisfied… calm. I just wondered why I couldn’t have that feeling in the rest of my life. Why this edginess came into everything I did when I wasn’t with her. Now I think, that’s how I must have been like when I was with her, when I see you pray. A different person.”

“Yeah.” I said, “Wouldn’t it be perfect if we could spread this satisfaction all over our lives.”

“Yeah. But life’s fucked up man. Life’s all about … dissatisfaction. That’s what it’s about in this bitch. You have to keep wanting things … this or that. You gotta have something new just as soon as you’ve got yourself something that you’ve been wanting for a while. It gets old the second it’s in your hands.”

He was right about that. Here was a society built on the idea of perpetual growth, on the acknowledgment and main-streaming of the irrefutable ugliness that was human greed—the superficial, mostly socially influenced desire to get more, more and more.

That was probably what happened within an exponential growth curve. That was what the individual bacteria must have felt. It must have felt like getting its next bite of delicious benzene before it had even consumed the one in its hand.

I kid. Bacteria don’t have hands.

But we do. Hands and a complex brain to make those hands work. How could our interactions at the highest level then result in population-level-behavior that was hardly dissimilar from that of bacteria? Maybe, this population behavior was a characteristic of life itself; of all life.

But weren’t we supposed to be special, unique in the animal kingdom, the chosen amongst the living beings, bestowed with a higher brain? Wasn’t there a difference between life as it was given to us and life as it was experienced by a bacteria? Or what about life as it was experienced by lions or rabbits or hippopotamus? Lamas? Did they all follow a similar growth pattern? What about the ones that had gone extinct? Had they hit the death phase just as the bacteria in my Petri dishes did?

And was the world a Petri dish? A closed system of finite resources, bigger, but in essence just as limited in scope?

It was then that it became clear to me what I had been trying to study all this time. I was trying to study ‘Adaptability’. It was a function both of the living mechanism and the system within which the living mechanism had to grow. Adaptability determined the living thing’s population’s response to the system, whether it would go stable, hit a growth curve or enter the death phase. And adaptability was a global property of life; it could be studied across all living populations existing in all domains. It could be defined as a single, albeit somewhat philosophical variable, maybe a ratio, but applicable to life itself; to all life.

But if bacteria had enough adaptability to cope with the environs of my Petri dish, why did they die if I introduced, for instance a drop of hydrochloric acid in the dish, or heated the dish to two hundred degree centigrade? What property of the system changed to render it unlivable, outside the realm of the habiting population’s adaptability? Why was it that human beings, more than any other animal were capable of adjusting to this change? Or maybe, it was not just the ability to adapt, but the time it took for us to adapt. We just did it quicker than anyone else.

Something hit me then, the true significance of one of Chadrasekhar’s smaller experiments that I had ignored for a while. One of his graduate students had made nearly a quarter of a population of methanogen bacteria survive a very high percentage, normally toxic of hydrochloric acid in the culture by feeding it to the population in very minute quantities over a period of two years. Did this mean that given enough time, living things had the ability to adapt to every change in the system? Wasn’t evolution the perfect mode of survival if only it could be sped up at will? Adaptability didn’t just have to do with change in a system, it had to do with the speed at which that change occurred, the rate of change of change.

Exactly, that’s what it was, the property. It was change itself. It was entropy. Whenever you added a toxic chemical in a system or heated it in a beaker, what you essentially did was increase the entropy of the system rapidly through an extra-systemic intrusion. The energy to bring about that rapid change in entropy came not from within the Petri dish but from outside. The bacteria had adapted themselves to the limitations of the Petri dish, but they weren’t ready for the hand of god. Human beings had been so successful at adaptation because we are able to handle rapid changes of entropy, maybe because our higher brains can grasp extra-system intrusions more quickly and incorporate them into our bigger picture of the system. We move towards higher, more expansive systems rapidly. The adaptability of a species is its ability to handle the rate of change of entropy of a system. Fuck that was it.

Adaptability was a characteristic of all life. The ‘Adaptability’ of a species was its ability to handle the rate of change of entropy of a system.

I sat there pondering my Darwinian conclusion. I had a new thesis.

Page 118

The qualifier went by uneventfully. I had taken the precaution of altering my thesis proposal in the minimum way possible but still including the gist of my new ideas into it. Now I wanted to study the growth population pattern of bacteria with respect to their size, their actual physical size. That was something that could be done easily. I’d also decided to find all the population depletion studies up to date for all species populations that had gone extinct or vanished locally. I had a neat classification of the species on the basis of their median mass. This way, using my own data from my bacteria experiments I could look at the population growth and depletion curves for species of increasing sizes, find patterns and then try to impose those patterns on the data already available in literature about extinction in larger species. The idea was to describe the parameter ‘adaptability’ across all species domains as an inherent characteristic of biological life. Why do it? I just said in my proposal that it would allow me to approach the problem of growing simultaneous bacteria populations from a different angle. If we could look at adaptability as a singular parameter and then break it down into more quantifiable parameters, we could calculate the population reactions to changes in the entropy of the system in advance. We could develop a model to construct any kind of growth dynamics we wanted.

Page 119

(Ramna was friend of Ishmael from Palestine. She was on a one year Presidential scholarship to the University of Houston to study nursing. I had got to know her a little, and she had encouraged me to restart my daily prayers. She had also been on duty when I was admitted to the hospital for my stress breakdown, and we had become good friends.)

Ramna came to my thesis qualifier. When I was done she came over and hugged me. …

We went out that night. I took her to the Sky Bar where we stood in the balcony listening to the bootylicious black twins playing popular numbers—in lieu of the smooth Jazz this place was supposed to offer. Nobody seemed to mind. The twins were a regular fixture at Sky Bar.

“Why do all sad things look enchanting from a distance?” She asked as she started at the glittering Houston skyline. …

“What’s so sad about Houston?” I said.

“It’s a sad city. You know the people of this town more than me. There’s no real satisfaction, elation. Everyone reduces everything to a thing, to something material and quantifiable. Love, relationships, sweetness, everything is for sale, and because it’s all just merchandise you can never get enough of it. Never. I don’t know. It just seems like a city bound in shackles, everybody has to obey too many laws. From getting up at six in the morning, commuting for a couple of hours, laboring in dim lit, soul crushingly depressing offices or toiling on car engines in a mechanic shop, or in bars pushing alcohol, selling hamburgers at fast food joints; you get up, you get in line, become just another cog in the machinery of modem metropolis, and then night comes and you go out and party, become another tool in another enterprise, become a consumer, perpetually manipulated and used.” She said.

“I know what you mean; you can feel the slacker despair in the air when you walk around this town. But I can’t place it either, you know, like really place it. Identify the source of so much misery in the presence of so much wealth. There’s something about the man-machine balance that this society has got completely wrong.”

“The man-machine balance?” She asked looking at me inquisitively.

“Yeah. Isn’t that what the history of civilization is all about, the two opposing human tendencies to both be free and to have his needs satisfied in a dependable systematic machine? There’s a conundrum here. The moment you start relying on a machine to meet any of your needs or wants, you essentially give up part of your freedom. If you know that a tree gives juicy fruit in a particular season and you want the fruit, you have to make sure to be under that tree at a particular time of the year to get the fruit. You give up some freedom, you get some comfort. Now the problem is, if you take freedom away from human beings they’d want it, but if you don’t give them comforts they’d want to have that too. So you have to strike a balance between systems and freedom, between man and machine. The whole of the history of human sociology, all the religions, all the constitutions and declarations and laws have been an attempt at striking that perfect balance.”

“Isn’t it funny, the thing called ‘balance’; cause you can just feel it. Whenever balance is out, there’s some thing within us, some dynamo that shifts. We can sense imbalance. You can feel it in this city.” She said, now listening to me intently.

“Oh yeah sure.” I said. “There’s something about the man-machine balance that America has got fundamentally wrong. First of all, there’s a little too much of the machine, so much system, so much method that it’s become obviously ridiculous. And then people like John Stewart become icons for a whole generation because they point out that ridiculousness in the system. Irony is man’s passive-aggressive resistance against the machine. It’s man recognizing some inherent conflict in the workings of the machine and then merely pointing it out with a whimsical smile … like a Jew pussy.” She laughed; nothing more pleasing to an Arab then ridiculing Jews.

“Anyway, so you have a bunch of Jew pussies offering the most, if any resistance to the system.

But the system has obviously gone bongos, because of a general relaxation of standards.” I paused staring at the glittering Houston skyline. “This fuck up started happening some thirty years ago. America misinterpreted the hippie ideals of love and peace for all. The hippies weren’t against rigor. Love doesn’t mean acceptance of failure. They didn’t say you can’t fail a child in class because that would hurt his self-esteem. But that’s what America got out of it. Self-esteem and feelings are more important than the real thing, the simulation of achievement is more important than achievement itself. And then the fuck up began. You started to get simulations of systems instead of truly advanced systems. You got cartoons of freedom—hardcore porn, gambling and gay pride parades—instead of avenues for truly transcendent expressions of the human spirit and intellectual reach. You run a society on that mentality for three decades and you end up with too much system and too much freedom, and yet not enough of either.”

Page 121

(A few days later, Ramna and I joined Ishmael to attend a lecture by a well known Moslem scholar. One of Ishmael’s favorite activities was to challenge the certainty of authority.)

“Dr. Israr, given that we all dress alike around the world, you know a pair of levi’s and a t-shirt, we eat a lot and we reproduce like ants, aren’t the muslims of today the actual Yajooj Majooj?” Ishmael asked. We were attending a lecture by Dr. Israr Ahmed organized by the Muslim Student Association. There were about half a thousand people in the audience who all gasped as Ishmael finished his question.

“The Yajooj Majooj are a race of people that will be unleashed upon the world when qayamat is close. They will rise to consume all the resources of the earth, drink entire rivers and leave entire fields barren in their wake. Their population will rise so rapidly, they will outnumber all the other races in the world put together. The rise of yajooj majooj is a sign of the qayamat, the qayamat is near. The Europeans were Yajooj and their colonization of the world was their rise, the Chinese are Majooj and with their conquest of the world, all of the prophecies of the end of days will be fulfilled. Then wait for Imam Mehdi to come and the day of the judgment to dawn. Qayamat is near and no, the muslims are not Yajooj, Majooj.” Dr. Israr answered.

Page 122

California called, and a school break was coming up.

One morning we (Ishmael, Ramna and I) packed our bags and left Houston. The plan was to fly to San Francisco, stay there for a couple of days, and then visit Yosemite, and finish up in Las Vegas before returning to Houston.

On our last day in San Francisco, we stood on the far end of the Golden Gate Bridge, right next to the large foundation holding the cables in, and transferring all their tension to the earth. Staring towards the city of San Francisco, the red cables and the structure seemed to extend deep into the channel and up in the sky, at points disappearing in the San Francisco Bay fog like a bridge to the heavens. The wind was strong. The waters calm some thirty feet below us. We were not the only tourists who’d stopped by on their way out of San Francisco to say goodbye to the Bridge and to capture photographic memorabilia at the stunning location.

“I didn’t think it would be THIS big.” Ramna said staring at the bridge. …

“The scale of the bridge was indeed a surprise. It made the bridge seem like something immediately extra-human, a religious construct.

“I can’t believe they built this in 1937.” Ishmael said, “What an ode to a society that could achieve things.”

“As opposed to now you mean Ishmael?” I asked.

“Yes. As opposed to now. A nation of builders transformed into a nation of consumers.” He said.

Page 131

Ishmael and I were sitting at the bar in the Tabu lounge of the MGM Grand savoring over-priced drinks one precious sip at a time. Ramna had been too tired, and gone to her room to rest. This was our first night in Vegas.

“Vegas is a whore who’s proud of how loose her vagina is.”

“Well … If Vegas is a whore’s vagina, we’re right in the center of the ovaries now aren’t we?” I said.

“No no no, that’d be the big gambling floor downstairs. That’s where they justify the illusion that you can get something for nothing, that it’s possible. That’s where they justify the pornographic filth that the American dream has been reduced to. How did this happen?”

He asked me a question he was going to answer himself. “How did a society that took pride in honesty and hard work as virtues, end up idealizing pimps and thugs? When did it become OK to flaunt wealth that was unearned? When did it become uncool to earn wealth through honest hard work and ability? What a royal fuck up this society’s become. And the trouble is, it’s not just this one country. It’s the whole fucking world, it’s the American civilization that everyone from anywhere can be a part of, all you need are some jeans that hang below your crotch and some fucking bling.

Maybe this is what it is, maybe Vegas is the bling America needs to justify to itself its own gangsta character. Hoohoo … look at me, I got jewelry, I am too fucking cool for school therefore I deserve the two cars per household and a widescreen TV in every bedroom.”

Page 136

(I am back in Texas, I have traveled with my American friend Sophie to the Gulf Coast. She is a big fan of the perennial Presidential candidate, Lyndon LaRouche, and spends much of her time on campus as a political activist.)

“Stars don’t shine in Houston,” Sophie said as we lay on the beach sand, the sky above so full of stars it seemed like it was going to fall on us. The music of the ocean in our ears, we lay next to the telescope, staring at the random sprinkle of sparkle in the heavens, trying subconsciously, instinctively to find design in it, waiting for some great universal truth to reveal itself, waiting to be enlightened.

“Maybe it’s the price we have to pay for modem development, no more stars, none of the ever present puzzle in the heavens.” I said. We’d traveled to the beach near Angleton, Texas to do our brand of amateur astronomy, basically to gaze at the stars.

That night it was just the three of us; me, Sophie and the green prophet—khizr-e-rah—the pipe shifting between our hands, and the stars above us.

“You know that’s it. That’s why… the sky is like that. Because it has to be a puzzle, something that aspires us instinctively to try to find that higher meaning, to try to find design.” She said in her affected, measured tone.

There was a moment of silence. I grabbed her hand and held it.

“The night sky is a constant reminder to human beings that we must aspire to greater knowledge, to a higher truth, to more meaning. In modern cities we turned that reminder off.” She said. She was right. You couldn’t catch a proper night sky in most cities of the world. I’d first seen the Milky Way only in Hunza, the little idyllic village in the foothills of Himalayas, when I was eighteen years old. Before that I’d only heard and read about it. I looked at the litany of stars in the sky. I thought I saw the curve of a woman’s waistline, a supple breast, the word Allah carved in Arabic, I thought I saw light bend as it traveled towards me around a giant star. Modern metropolitan human had to turn the sky off to get on with the meaninglessness of his life.

“Sophie… why do I feel like kissing you?” I said. I was high. She moved, got up, got on top of me, put her hand on my face and we kissed, slowly savoring the taste of each other’s lips. A grain of sand got lodged in my mouth and was turned around between our tongues, polished and massaged.

It must have thought it was in a seashell now destined to become a pearl. Fool.

We broke up. She laid down back on the sand, back in her earlier position, only closer. Her body now touching mine, our hands together.

“Are there as many stars above us as there are grains of sand beneath us?” She asked.

“No honey… you’re not THAT fat.” I said mimicking a jaded husband. She laughed.

“Do you think there’s someone on some planet up there, lying on a beach, staring at us right now, right in our direction?” She asked after a moment of silence.

“It’s not that probable.” I said.

“Why?” she seemed suddenly perturbed. “Why not?”

“Because we are such a lousy little blip on the great macrocosmic radar of time and space, and whoever that is up there would be just such a blip, and it’s just highly unlikely for the two blips to coexist.” I said.

There was silence. I went on. “The tragedy of the human experience is that we are all gonna die … soon. Sooner than we think. I have scientific evidence to support that argument now.” I laughed. My research had recently been leading to a pointed conclusion; a shocking thesis awaited Juan and the rest of the committee. “Give us enough time and we’d have become gods but it wasn’t meant to be.” I concluded.

“But … why?” She seemed lost now and dispirited, confused; a perfect synecdoche of the human species at the moment.

“I don’t REALLY know why.” I said. “I just know it happens. Once you hit that unsustainable exponential growth curve, you eventually get into the death phase. The process is irreversible. For all living things existing in all systems. It’s a property of life itself.”

“But… Fouad… you are forgetting something.”

“That we are better than all living things. We are humans. Just the fact that you know this, now, sitting here makes you better than all the bacteria that calls your body its home.”

“What evidence of that? We are all the same organic heap of crap.”

“Look. There. There’s your evidence.” She pointed towards the starry sky.

“What do you see?” She asked.
“ … Stars?”

“No. No you can’t. You. See. Patterns. You see design. You see story, you see scripture, you see theory. And what do you do with it then?”

“You change the physical world with it. You change your system. You navigate the oceans. You discover new worlds; find new systems, new resources, new ways to go on. To not die.”

“But you don’t know if the bacteria aren’t doing that in their own little microscopic way too. You don’t know the mind of other living things. Who can say that we are more self-aware than the dolphins? So long and thanks for all the fish.”

“I can say it. I just know it. I am better than other living things. Different.” She said.

“That’s your believe. You are entitled to your faith. I don’t really have that much faith in humanity anymore.” I continued after a pause. “Everything we seem to do lately seems to fuck things up. Seems our golden days are firmly behind us. Our civilization has the impression of an inexperienced Evil-Kneivel wannabe riding the slide fast on his bike, faster every second, unaware that he wouldn’t be able to jump the three hundred cars lined up edge to edge in front of him. Hot set for a neck breaking crash.”

She remained quiet, closed her eyes. “Well …” spoke up after a pause. “You are just speaking like one of those Nazi believers of entropy now.” She’d reverted back to her LaRouche-isms. LaRouche did not believe in the second law of thermodynamics. He said the concept of entropy was a Nazi philosophical device to justify mass eliminations of human population.

“It’s such a bullshit ideological construct passed off as a universal scientific law.” She was talking about the second law of thermodynamics. “Just another way of saying humanity is a small insignificant part of the great mass of universe hurtling towards a demise inherent in its very nature. Pseudoscience. It’s the first dogma that you need in order to convert an entire society into a group of consumers; to assure them that no matter what they do they would still be mass consumers of energy not producers, net creators of disorder not order.”

I turned my head towards her and looked her in the eyes. “I think it’s impractical to assume that human beings are naturally productive creatures. Nothing we’ve done in our history suggests that. Every single day that we go out, get out of our beds and hit the streets, we seem to be able to covert more and more order into disorder and get material out of it for our own present good. It’s not sustainable. The system can’t sustain it. We are not only consumers; we keep getting better at it. We are better consumers every single second, consuming more, at a faster rate, and in more varied ways, individually and as a species. This is the history of human advancement, not necessarily increased knowledge but increased ability to consume natural resources. At a faster pace.”

Just then, as I was talking to Sophie, something struck me. Faster pace was the key wasn’t it?

“Let’s go.” I suddenly got up.

“Heyyy! What happened? I don’t wanna go yet?” She said.

I laughed. Then kissed her. “Sweetheart … I need to get some work done. I just had a eureka moment.”

I explained my idea to her on the way back. She listened intently, asking questions, giving me the opportunity to verbalize and therefore clarify my thoughts even further. When we got back home, it was already quarter past two and her high hadn’t worn off. She said she’d crash at my place. I told her it was alright, but there shouldn’t be any disturbance because I needed to do some work.

I sat down on my workstation and started putting the idea down on paper.

The key was the rate of change of entropy. This is why the death phase was imminent and irreversible; this is why once a species hit the exponential growth curve its days were numbered. Not only because it was adding to the entropy of the system but to the rate of change of that entropy now.

If a species’ ability to survive and grow in a system was its ‘Adaptability’ and this ‘adaptability’ in turn was nothing but the ability of the species to cope with the inherent rate of change of entropy of the system, then what happened if the species itself started affecting that rate of change of entropy? Increase in entropy, by definition is irreversible, so if a species’ population had a certain entropic footprint, a footprint so large it was adding to the inherent entropy of its host system in scales of magnitude, affecting the rate of change of entropy itself, then the species was essentially choking on its own enlarged tongue. It was suicide by overeating; it was death by chocolate.

And because there could be no negative entropic processes, the more the species would actively try to retract its entropic footprint WITHIN the system, the more it would end up adding to the entropy of the system. Hence the irreversibility of the process. Hence the death phase.

So let’s say after the exponential growth, the population hit a point where the entropic footprint of the population was so high, it added to the rate of change of entropy of the system. The population had now started rendering the system inadaptable for itself. The growth hit the peak, a plateau occurred, then the death phase started. As the population would dwindle off, the decrease in population wouldn’t actually cause a decrease in the rate of change of entropy because it’s simply just more change, more disorder. Maybe the remaining of the population would start consuming more to maintain the entropic footprint. Maybe they’d all end up buying Humvees. Irreversible. Irreversible. The key to survival was to NOT hit the point where you were affecting not just the inherent entropy of the system but the entire rate of change of entropy, where you were controlling a key characteristic of the system and affecting it, where you became larger than the system itself in a way and therefore external to it. Once you did that, you were as good as dead.

Unless you could somehow…

Page 2 (Flash Forward)

My first draft of my PhD thesis was finished. I had unabashedly ambitiously titled it, “On the Extinction of Species: Finding sustainability in the Patterns of Life and Death.” When I’d finally shown the completed version to Juan; he’d asked me for a week to review it fully. Then, had called me to his office just the next day. Seating me in the chair in front of him he’d said, holding the thesis up in his hand, “You realize the implications of this, don’t you? … I sat reading through it last night… when I was done… my outlook on life had been altered.” He was French and somewhat given to hyperbole in moments of passion. “This is seminal. I’ll make every effort to make sure it gets published… somehow… but I can’t guarantee you’ll get a PhD for this. Not from this school, no.”

I’d understood what he meant. I didn’t have any reason to argue with him or try to convince him otherwise. It would have been useless. I needed to make a case in front of the committee when the time came.

Read Part 3 The Hypothesis: On the Extinction of Species

Return to Part 1 of a Preamble to a Hypothesis

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