Freefall 3011 - 3020 (D)
Freefall 3011

The wolf at the door

If I remember right, they left the dwarfism intact when they first used Laron syndrome for cosmonauts. Chemical rockets. Smaller cosmonauts, smaller crew support systems.
That must have been tough for the parents. Knowing that even after the modifications, only one out of five hundred would actually be going
into space.
A lot of the people who volunteered were poor. Even if their children didn't make the final cut, they still got the training. They became doctors and engineers and support crew. For many families, it was their ticket out of poverty.
Yes, but there are still good arguments over how much control a parent should have over their kid's life, especially when that control goes down to the genetic level.

Color by George Peterson

Freefall 3012

The wolf at the door

How do you feel about your modifications?
Fine. They don't bother me and the screening means I don't have any nasty genetic surprises in my system.
My parents, they aren't as happy. The process is expensive and you can't return gene modifications if things don't turn out as planned.
My dad refers to it as buying his son a ferrari and the kid only uses it to drive on dirt roads.
That's not very nice. Unlike cars, new humans appreciate from the moment you get them off the lot.

Color by George Peterson

Freefall 3013

The wolf at the door

What got you interested in parasites?
The California killifish. More specifically, its parasitic flatworm, Euhaplorchis californiensis.
The parasite needs three hosts. It goes from birds to snails to fish and then back to birds. It sterilizes one of its hosts and mind controls another. It's a ridiculously complex life cycle.
In engineering, we try to keep things simple.
When it comes to parasites, Mother nature tore the simple page out of her book, shredded it, burned it, and tossed the ashes into a cyclone.

Color by George Peterson


Freefall 3014

The wolf at the door

When the flatworm gets to the brain, the behavior of the fish changes. The fish is more likely to swim near the surface and shimmy on its side, making it easier for a bird to see and catch.
The bird uses some energy carrying the parasite. The parasite makes it easier for the bird to get food. One could say the flatworm is a parasite to the snails and fish and a symbiont with the birds.
So a bird is a transport vehicle full of tiny creatures that reprogram fish for its benefit?
Humans like to think we're good with biology, but we're relative newcomers when it comes to the biohacking game.

Color by George Peterson

Freefall 3015

The wolf at the door

Then there's the “old neighbors” theory. Parasites and hosts have lived together so long, they're used to each other.
You see this with intestinal worms. In developed areas where people have gotten rid of their worms, you have more inflammatory bowel disease. Some people are healthier with worms than without them.
Unless absolutely necessary, I wouldn't want to be infected with worms.
Most people feel that way. It takes a strong gut reaction to overcome the initial gut reaction.

Color by George Peterson

Freefall 3016

Flashback to a puppy in training

I need to give you a chance to talk. What got you interested in engineering?
A broken wheelchair. This was back when I was still a pup.
My owners felt I could be more than a pet. There was a boy down the street with cerebral palsy. They thought I would make a good companion and assistant.
I didn't know it at the time, but my parents were very clever. They couldn't get me into school as a student. However, they had no problem getting me in as a helper dog.

Color by George Peterson

Freefall 3017

Flashback to a puppy in training

Chris and I became best friends. He was as close as family and it wasn't until the last year of college that our paths diverged.
His parents trusted me to take care of him and we could go places that I wasn't allowed to go on my own.
As a kid, you think whatever situation you grow up in is normal. It's only when you're older and look back that you realize how odd things really were.

Color by George Peterson

Freefall 3018

Flashback to a puppy in training

Chris's chair was a very nice model. Autonomous navigation. It could move him to a standing position. Built in communications. It even had a cover for when it rained.
About rain. There are times when you have a nice gentle rain.
And then there are times when you feel the universe is trying to drown you on the spot.

Color by George Peterson

Freefall 3019

Flashback to a puppy in training

The rain was coming down hard and then Chris's chair stopped and lost all power.
Everything was out except for one blinking message that said “LFW VFD FAULT 00001”.
That's when we learned it's not just adults who speak in code so kids don't understand them. Machines do it too!

Color by George Peterson

Freefall 3020

Flashback to a puppy in training

Chris was getting soaked and nothing was working, so he sent me to find an adult.
I ran to the nearest store and the clerk called Chris's dad. I was about to head back when the clerk said I needed to stay and lead Chris's dad to him.
The wait was horrible. There I was, stuck being safe and warm when I wanted to be cold and wet with Chris.

Color by George Peterson

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