Of mice and men

Very occasionally you read an article in the media that really and truly sets you back on your heels; sets you thinking. A kind of epiphany.

As readers of this blog will know I have had a longtime concern about two main issues, amongst others I deem of lesser importance. I refer to population growth (or over-population) and the origin (or origins) of aberrant or cancerous cell development.

Now, if you are of a sensitive nature I would in all sincerity advise you to stop reading this right here.

If not, then let me summarise what the article in question 'reported'. I use the parenthesis because I have no way of checking the veracity of newsprint articles. It seems that a researcher into animal (including human) behaviour filled a straight walled bathtub to a ten centimetres depth with wood shavings and sawdust. He then put in one male mouse and one female, with enough food and water to keep them happy. Entirely predictably the mice bred at an exponential rate. None of the progeny could escape their  confines. The researcher made sure that the increasing bathtub population continued to have a sufficiency of food and water.

Within a remarkably short time the population, now of hundreds or thousands had stabilised! How? Did they stop breeding? On the contrary, breeding continued unabated. The awful truth, as reported, was that the mice began to go increasingly mad. They went into a killing frenzy - including mothers eliminating and even eating  their own offspring. Not only that, a pandemic of cancers was taking its own heavy toll. The population had stabilised, yes, but at what cost and with what future? We will never know because the horrified researcher terminated his experiment as humanely as he could at that point.

The next time you see TV news pictures of great city hordes of starving, fighting, homicidal people in places like Syria and Ukraine, and the next time (hopefully never) that you are in a hospital oncology department, think on these things.

Could it be that overpopulation is the root of all evil? And if so will we be capable of dealing with it?

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