Published on-line in Leonardo on March 16 2020.
Pamela Winfrey, Caspian Robertson, Carlo Maley and Athena Aktipis.
Endless Forms Most Beautiful is a crested cactus garden that embodies both an aesthetic and medically transformative approach to cancer. The cacti in this garden have mutations in their meristem cells causing uncontrolled growths—which are, by some definitions, cancer. The garden was installed near the new Biodesign Institute C building on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. Crested cacti, and other fasciated plants, are examples of organisms that live with cancer, but do not die from it. These plants help to widen the framework for thinking about what cancer is, how to live with it, and ultimately inspired a new center, the Arizona Cancer Evolution (ACE) Center, which investigates cancer across life.