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Second key to life
Previously on Secrets of Life:
In the first blog lecture we introduced the following equation:
Life = Matter + Energy + “????”
It is miraculous to encounter “????” and we asked ourselves why this ???? exists and what it is? We see that the concept of “life” is strongly related to materials as construction blocks of life forms. The question we can ask ourselves is whether this “????” exists around us and joins matter in a miraculous way under certain conditions? Or is “????” something that is already related to matter in one way or another and always there to come alive in certain situations?
Let us first explore what matter is and how it behaves in its most elementary molecular state. It may give us further clues.
Blog lecture 2: Matter moves
We have reached a scientific understanding now of the behavior of matter that may help us come to an understanding of what life is and this big “why” question. We first need to become aware that matter is never static. Material moves all the time even though we cannot perceive it with our naked eye. Matter consists of a specific combination of molecules which in turn consist of atomic kernels and electrons that twist and twirl around each other in specific movements. These movements show a diversity of patterns and frequencies, even within the same type of molecules. So, for intance, a molecule of water does not always behave exactly the same! The more complex a molecule gets the more complex the different molecules behave together.
To show this I can best link you with a very short illustration on YouTube:
There is no need to remember all the details of the animation or explanation. You just need to recall that every combination of molecules that shape our material surroundings and our own selves has a set of different moves with different frequencies. Blog lecture 3 will take this a step further.
First key to life
The miracle of life
The fact that we are alive is considered a miracle and this certainly is felt that way. We have not been able to produce life in a laboratory despite all the knowledge we have to manipulate it. We consider life to be divine yet find the strange paradox to behave and organize ourselves in a life destructive way. Climate changes, air pollution, irresponsible usage of natural resources, destruction of our habitat and the disappearance of species, show us an era that is being labeled as the anthropocene. This refers to the era in which the human species leaves such a scar on the face of our planet and among nature that it will be visible for as long as this planet exists. I have written already about this era . I also wrote about a less visible, but even more worrying era, the genetic anthropocene. This is the time period in which we affected our DNA in such a way (with cancers, illnesses, physical and behavioral distortions) that it will also have negative effects on the development of our species for many, many, many generations to come.
The question we face is whether this is normal in evolutionary sense or abnormal? Is there a logic to be found? And what will this do to us? Are we a natural threat to our own evolutionary selves? Or is all this destructive behavior part of “the bigger plan”? Will there eventually be an evolutionary wake up call that will make us understand our own selves and get us to restructure our societies and systems? Or will we become an historic educational point of reference for any future self aware species that shows “how NOT to do it?”. Even if we are aware of our dangers, what will inhibit or facilitate us to implement our awareness to avoid disaster?
If this will happen what will be the trigger? When will this happen, if it happens at all? Can we predict our own future?
Are we unique?
Are we talking about one human species or are we several? Can we talk about differentiation through awareness like we do biological qualities or differences? Can awareness be culturally affected as an evolutionary trigger or blockage? Is awareness coded genetically or in some other way? And if so how would it affect the relationships between human beings and its surroundings, our evolution and our systems of education and societal cohesion? How powerful or necessary is understanding life?
To come to answers to these questions we need an understanding to what life and awareness is in reality. Let us start with the very big initial question:
what is the missing link?
The missing link
When referring to the “missing link” you may automatically think about the missing evolutionary shackle between monkey life and human beings. I am not referring to this because now we know that we are the competitive remains of various parallel human like life forms that evolved and coexisted over time in the last 2 to 4 million years. We represent a very complex highly competitive form of life that is at the same time very delicate as well as powerful.
The missing link that I refer to is what makes “matter + energy” come alive? If I throw a pile of dirt in a jar and put sunlight on it there is little chance that it will come alive. There has to be a special “something”, a trigger that puts A + B together into a living something. So life is:
Matter + Energy + ????
Why would a bird that flies through wind and rain stick together with all its different molecules and not fall apart? Because it has “????”! We (humans) have “????” too and so does an amoeba, an insect, a bacteria, a fish, a plant, etc. When “????” disappears the molecules fall apart again to re-integrate with our environment until a new wave of the gluing “????” comes around, unites some of these molecules again together with others and creates a new life form. Until that dies too, keeping the cycle of usage of materials going around for ever, allowing maybe some progressive evolution through this getting together (life) and breaking up (death) events.
When we think of it we ourselves consist probably of matter that has been used over and over again in all kinds of life forms over time and history. Some of our molecules may well have been of a dinosaur at one time and most certainly of that chicken and salad that we ate last week. We may have molecules that were at one time part of the bodies of Michael Angelo, Jesus Christ, Jane D’Arc or Jack the Ripper. We are in fact each a little bit of everything that has occurred on Earth and ……even before Earth.
So from a pure material point of view we are just the same as our environment, assembled together in a particular unique life form for some reason, just like all the other species that surround us. Just because we have this miraculous “????”.
It is of course fun to realize that we are able to reflect about it and can ask ourselves the question:
why? and what is this “????”
In the next blog lecture we will look into matter first because it has very important characteristics that we need to become aware of in order to take the next steps in our quest for the “Secrets of Life”.
Jean-Paul Close (May 2013)