17 February, 2007

Multicellularity and Cytoskeleton

It was a curious city, to be sure. No one knew quite why, but for some arcane reason the entire city had been built upon wheels and stilts. To be sure, this city-wide mobility had its advantages, as it could always migrate with the weather and in search of food. The only problem with this design was that the designers hadn't had any clue as to how to keep a city from wobbling and shaking and to keep all the parts staying in place in the same place all the time. And as a result, a good many of the townsfolk of this city spent most of their time running around from one part of the city to another, building ladders and struts and wheels where needed and disassembling them where they were no longer needed. On top of this, a good 2/3 of the city was constantly occupied with throwing things over the city walls and hauling other stuff in. As such, the entire city was in a continual state of rushing movement, although it was also peaceful.

So the city rolled along across the landscape with its attendant army of scaffold engineers. Often the watchguards would see something on the horizon and yell back to the entire town that food was near. And the cry of food would travel on down the chain of communication until even the scaffolders heard. And they'd turn the entire city around, and shamble off in the direction of food.

This arrangement of a moving city was all good and well until one day the moving city ran into another city on wheels. Suddenly there was competition, as more and more of the ground-dwellers up and built themselves rolling cities. Soon the field grew so crowded that some of the cities began to band together and pool their cities, although they kept their individual walls intact. The newer, bigger cities were more efficient, although subject to frequent subterfuge by single cities. Nonetheless, they prospered and grew larger and larger as more multi-cities fused together and began to stretch farther than any of the inhabitants had dared to dream. However, the sprawl had a limit as to the benefits it offered every city. Soon, a trade-off between size and efficiency had to be made, and so each city began to specialize.

Eventually this led to the emergence of nations, and since then the world has never been the same.

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