Monday, February 15, 2010

Does Paracrine Signaling Explain Traffic in Cairo?

Jalopnik has a nice post that attempts to explain how traffic operates in cities like Cairo without a clear set of rules. They argue:
To understand the libertarian beauty of Third World traffic, you have to let go of system-level traffic structures and focus on near-vehicle interactions.

A fascinating and poorly understood layer of communication between cells in the human body is paracrine signaling: unlike endocrine hormones, which affect faraway organs, paracrine factors enable cells to communicate with their immediate neighbors, free of the grand designs of the body itself.

Using para, the Greek prefix for “near”, one might call Third World traffic paravehicular in nature: compensating for the mostly complete disregard for the structures of conventional traffic regulation is a set of ad hoc rules which only apply to a vehicle’s immediate surroundings.

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