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The Life in the Life Sciences

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Close your eyes.
Feel your environment. Expand your consciousness to sense every detail.
We’ll start with the wall behind you. It's made of brick. Imagine your vision microscoping to the various kinds of molecules within it. What holds them together? Bonds. Giant covalent bonds, locking each molecule into a rigid matrix. Look a little closer. Clouds of electrons shared between atoms, zipping invisibly fast, around each molecule— these are what hold atoms together as molecules. Press your back against the brick. That unyielding hardness owes its entirety to electrons encasing molecules.
Now turn your ears outward. Seem somewhat quiet? Pay more attention. Listen to the rich rustling sounds around you. The wary brush of a beetle’s leg against a leaf, the gentle ripples of water pushed along by the breeze, perhaps the flapping of a wing in the distant sky. Listen to the plants, as they ceaselessly work to fix carbon into sugars with the energy of the sun. Imagine you can simultaneously sense the inner workings of each blade of grass, as nutrients constantly shuttle back and forth in tiny transport tubes.
Listen to your own body. Hear your breathing—your lungs don’t actually ‘suck in’ air. Your intercostal muscles increase the space in your lungs, so lowering the internal pressure. The pressure difference causes air to move into your lungs.
Listen to your heart, as it rhythmically pumps, sending blood in a figure-8 circuit throughout you. Imagine you can hear the sound as the synchronized system of valves in your heart and blood vessels block blood from flowing back the other way.
The very same reaction—photosynthesis—that occurs in plants occurs in reverse in you, as in all animals. You take in oxygen, and the carbon fixed in plants enters you as food and leaves you as carbon dioxide. The food you eat, which ultimately comes from plants, is broken down to yield—among other things like proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals—sugars, which are then processed in the opposite direction to photosynthesis. This process, respiration, is taking place in you right now. Visualize it. A single molecule of glucose, from that pizza you ate for lunch, enters the cell, and over two steps is eventually converted to 38 molecules of ATP—adenine triphosphate, the little energy-carrying messengers of organisms. Let’s pay more attention to the final step of respiration. Imagine the little crackling noises as billions of tiny molecular motors in each cell of your body each crank out their charge of a single ATP molecule.
Now zoom out, without getting overwhelmed by the sheer noise of what is around you.
What you’re hearing is Life itself, in heartbeats, breaths, rustlings, constant cycles of ebb and flow. The life sciences allow you to understand this vast macrocosm around you, and to make sense of yourself within it, to better lead a more-fulfilled, more realized life. Realize that you are part of this bustling world, that this is where you belong. Harmonize yourself with it.
Open your eyes. How do you feel?




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