From grass to Greeks

Recently I wrote about research into growing muscle cells in the lab to provide animal-free meat. At £50,000 per kilogramme and lacking blood, fat or the texture that whets carnivorous appetites, test-tube meat isn't economically viable. We still have a long way to go to compete with nature.
I was reminded of this on a recent jaunt up Ben Lomond.

My hiker's lunch comprised an excellent roast-beef sandwich. I ate it while watching a herd of cows benignly chewing away at the grass. Cows break grass down to its chemical constituents. They then reconfigure these into new molecular structures that assemble into "cow". In digesting my sandwich, I then convert cow to "man". Life forms operate through enzymes, which perform these astonishing acts of transmogrification. This is biochemistry: the constant inter-conversion of chemical forms by living entities. Grass is made of water, carbon dioxide (from air) and nitrogen, with trace amounts of other elements absorbed from the soil. Sunlight provides the energy that drives the chemical combinations of small chemicals into larger ones that yield the grass that convert to cow, then to man.

The ancient Greek notion that we all derive from earth, air, wind and fire was close to the truth. Harnessing these "classical elements" remains the greatest challenge to human sustainability.

This article first appeared in the 26 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The fifty people who matter

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Goldsmiths diversity officer Bahar Mustafa receives court summons in wake of “#KillAllWhiteMen” outcry

Mustafa will answer charges of "threatening" and "offensive/ indecent/ obscene/ menacing" communications.

In May this year, Bahar Mustafa, then diversity officer at Goldsmiths, University of London, posted a Facebook message requesting that men and white people not attend a BME Women and non-binary event. There was an immediate backlash from those also enraged by the fact that Mustafa allegedly used the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen on social media. 

Today, Mustafa received a court summons from the Metropolitan Police to answer two charges, both of which come under the Communications Act 2003. The first is for sending a "letter/communication/article conveying a threatening message"; the second for "sending by public communication network an offensive/ indecent/ obsecene/ menacing message/ matter".

It isn't clear what communciation either charge relates to - one seems to refer to something sent in private, while the use of "public communication network" in the second implies that it took place on social media. The Met's press release states that both communciations took place between 10 November 2014 and 31 May 2015, a very broad timescale considering the uproar around Mustafa's social media posts took place in May. 

We approached the Met to ask which communications the summons refers to, but a spokesperson said that no more information could be released at this time. Mustafa will appear at Bromley Magistrates' Court on 5 November. 

Barbara Speed is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman and a staff writer at CityMetric.