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Without any recourse to theology, the fact that we have been born at all to share these moments on Earth is itself little short of a miracle, simply from a statistical point of view. The writings below illustrate how much there is still to learn about the vast and complex environment in which we live, that encompasses not only the Earth but the limitless cosmos beyond it into which, we are gradually comprehending, our lives are inextricably woven:


"Science no longer holds any absolute truths. Even the discipline of physics, whose laws once went unchallenged, has had to submit to the indignity of an Uncertainty Principle. In this climate of disbelief, we have begun to doubt even fundamental propositions, and the old distinction between natural and supernatural has become meaningless.....


.....Chaos is coming. It is written in the laws of thermodynamics. Left to itself, everything tends to become more and more disorderly until the final and natural state of things is a completely random distribution of matter. Any kind of order, even that as simple as the arrangement of atoms in a molecule, is unnatural and happens only by chance encounters that reverse the general trend. These events are statistically unlikely, and the further combination of molecules into anything as highly organized as a living organism is wildly improbable. Life is a rare an unreasonable thing.


There are ninety-two chemical elements that occur in nature, but the same small selection of sixteen form the basis of all living matter. One of the sixteen, carbon, plays a central role because of its ability to form complex chains and rings that can be built into an immense number of compounds. And yet, acids are singled out as the units of construction for all proteins. Most significant of all, these proteins are produced in the right place at the right time by an ordered sequence of events governed by a code carried in just four molecules, called nucleotide bases. This is true whether the protein is destined to become a bacterium or a Bactrian camel. The instructions for all life are written in the same simple language.....


.....biochemical systems exchange matter with their surroundings all the time, they are open, thermodynamic processes, as opposed to the closed, thermostatic structures or ordinary chemical reactions.


This is the secret of life. It means that there is a continuous communication not only between living things and their environment, but all things living in that environment. An intricate web of interaction connects all life into one vast, self-maintaining system. Each part is related to every other part and we are all part of the whole, of Supernature.....


.....Light and dark alternate in a regular pattern that provides life with basic information..... circadian rhythms produced by the Earth's movement can be seen in action in life at every level of complexity.


At the lowest level are a group of organisms to which both botanists and zoologists lay claim. These are tiny pieces of undivided protoplasm that have chlorophyll and use it like plants to make food from the sun, but also have a long, whip-shaped flagellum, which undulates underwater and moves them like animals in pursuit of the sun. If kept in the dark, they abandon botanical methods of food production and pick up particles of ready-made food, in the best zoological tradition. Typical of the group is a little green teardrop called Euglena gracilis, which lives in shallow freshwater pools. At one end of its thin elastic body, near the whip-shaped propeller, is a minute eyespot of dark pigment that is not itself responsive to light, but masks the real photosensitive granule lying at the base of the whip. When the eyespot covers the 'eye' nothing happens, but when light falls on the granule, it starts the whip waving at about twelve beats each second and sends the organism spiraling out into the light.


Euglena comes to rest in the sunlight by positioning itself so that the granule is covered by the rakish eye patch. As the sun moves, so does Euglena, but gradually it begins to lose its sensitivity, and toward the end of the day it is a lot less active. If it remained mobile all day, chasing after every stray sunbeam, the organism would use energy as fast as it could produce it and have none left over for other processes or for sustaining itself during the night. So Euglena has not only developed a vital response to change in the environment but has also acted on the information provided by the regularity of these environmental changes. It has produced a mechanism for regulating its movement so that it operates at an optimal level, working quickly when movement is most necessary and phasing out as it becomes less important. The fact that this regulation is 'built in' has been shown by its persistence in a population of Euglena that were kept in continuous darkness. Despite the total lack of light, all individuals became active and sensitive to light at the same time each day, a time when the sun they could not see was coming up, and they became insensitive when the light outside the laboratory began to fade. Unable to make food from the sun, they took to feeding on particles in their environment, but they did this only during normal daylight hours, despite the fact that this food was available all the time. Even Euglena, with its solitary cell, follows an acute circadian rhythm.....


.....In the course of evolution, cells destined to serve more specialized functions in complex organisms were modified a great deal, but most retained something of their early independence. Even man has single cells that can still leave his body altogether and live and move entirely on their own - on their way to fertilize an egg.....


Circadian rhythms exist in simple unicellular organisms without hormones or specialized nervous systems. In more complex, multicellular forms that do have these advantages, they occur in more intricate patterns and respond to more subtle environmental stimuli.....


.....The water on Earth's surface behaves like a loose garment that can be pulled out from the body to fall back as Earth turns away again. The moon circles the Earth once every 27.3 days, rotating brazenly as she does so, to keep the same face turned always to us, but Earth shows all its sides to the satellite once every 24.8 hours. This means that the waters of Earth flow out toward the moon, and therefore bring high tide to any land that lies in that direction, forty-eight minutes later each day.


Every drop of water in the ocean responds to this force, and every living marine animal and plant is made aware of the rhythm......


.....Frank Brown started working with oysters in 1954. He found that they had a marked tidal rhythm, opening their shells to feed at high tide and closing them to prevent damage and drying out during the ebb. In laboratory tanks they kept this strict rhythm going, so Brown decided to take some specimens home with him to Illinois to examine more closely. Evanston is a suburb of Chicago on the shore of Lake Michigan, but even here the oysters continued to remember the tidal rhythm of their home, on Long Island Sound, in Connecticut. Everything went well for two weeks, but on the fifteenth day Brown noticed that a slippage had occurred. The oysters were no longer opening and closing in harmony with the tide that washed their distant home and it seemed as though the experiment had gone wrong, but the fascinating thing was that the behaviour of all the molluscs had altered in the same way and they were still keeping time with each other. Brown calculated the difference between the old rhythm and the new one and discovered that the oysters now opened up at the time the tide would have flooded Evanston - had the town been on the shore an not perched on the bank of a Great Lake 580 feet above sea level. Somehow the oysters realised they had been moved one thousand miles to the west and were able to calculate, and apply a correction to, their tidal timetable. Brown at first suspected that the later times of sunrise and sunset might have given them the clues they needed, but he found that keeping oysters in dark containers from the moment they were collected in the sea made no difference at all.....


.....A small silver fish, the grunion..... has made such a precise adjustment to the moon that its very survival depends on the precision of this response. I cannot improve on Rachel Carson's description: 'Shortly after the full moon of the months from March to August, the grunion appear in the surf on the beaches of California. The tide reaches the flood stage, slackens, hesitates, and begins to ebb. Now on these waves of the ebbing tide the fish begin to come in. Their bodies shimmer in the light of the moon as they are borne up the beach on the crest of a wave, they lie glittering on the wet sand for a perceptible moment of time, then fling themselves into the wash of the next wave and are carried back into the sea.'


During that brief moment in the air, the grunion leave their eggs buried on the wet sand, where they will be undisturbed for two weeks because the waves will not come that high again until the next spring tide. When the sea does return, the development of the larvae is complete, and they wait only for the cool touch of the water to break out of the eggs and swim away through the surf."


 [Extracted from ‘Supernature’ by Lyall Watson, 1973].

Supernatural: Rooted In Reality

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