Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 21st, 2011

What’s of water? From “A short history of everything” by Bill Bryson. Part 4

Water is everywhere. A potato is 80% water, a cow 74%, a bacterium 75%, a tomato at 95%, and human 65%.

Most liquid when chilled contract 10% but water only 1%, and just before freezing it expands.

Solid water is 10% more voluminous, an utterly bizarre property which allow ice to float, otherwise ice would sink and oceans would freeze from the bottom.

Without surface ice to hold heat in, the water warmth would radiate away and thus creating more ice and soon oceans would freeze.

Water is defying the rules of chemistry and law of physics.

The hydrogen atoms cling fiercely to their oxygen host, but also make casual bonds with other water molecules, thus changing partners billions of times a second and thus, water molecules stick together and can be siphoned without breaking but not so tightly so that you may dive into a pool.

Surface water molecules are attracted more powerfully to the like molecule beneath and beside them than to the air molecule above ,so that it creates a sort of membrane that supports insects.

All but the smallest fraction of the water on Earth is poisonous to us because of the salts within it.

Uncannily, the proportions of the various salts in our body are similar to those in sea water; we cry sea water, and we sweat sea water but we cannot tolerate sea water as an input!

Salt in the body provoke a crisis because from every cell, water molecules rush off to dilute and carry off the sudden intake of salt.

The oceans have achieved their present volume of 1.3 billion cubic kilometer of water and it is a closed system.

The Pacific holds 52% of the 97% of all the water on Earth.  The remaining 3% of fresh water exist as ice sheet; Antarctica holds 90% of the planet’s ice, standing on over 2 miles of ice.

If Antarctica is to completely melt, the ocean would rise about 70 meters.

How living organisms were created?

From “A short history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson

When it was created, Earth had no oxygen in its environment.

Cyanobacteria or algae break down water by absorbing the hydrogen and release the oxygen waste,which is actually a very toxic element to every anaerobic organism.

Our white blood cells actually use oxygen to kill invading bacteria.  This process of releasing oxygen is called photosynthesis, undoubtedly the most important single metabolic innovation in the history of life on the planet.

It took two billion years for our environment to accumulate 20% of oxygen, since oxygen was absorbed to oxidize every conceivable mineral on Earth, rust the mineral, and sink it in the bottom of oceans.

Life started when special bacteria used oxygen to summon up enough energy to work and photosynthesize.

Mitochondria, tiny organism, manipulates oxygen in a way that liberates energy from foodstuffs . They are very hungry organisms that a billion of them are packed in a grain of sand.

Mitochondria maintain their own DNA, RNA, and ribosome and behave as if they think things might not work out between us.

They look like bacteria, divide like bacteria and sometimes respond to antibiotics in the same way bacteria do; they live in cells but do not speak the same genetic language.

The truly nucleated cells are called eukaryotes and we ended up with two kinds of them: those that expel oxygen, like plants, and those that take in oxygen, like us.

Single-celled eukaryote contains 400 million bits of genetic information in its DNA, enough to fill 80 books of 500 pages.  It took a billion years for eukaryotes to learn to assemble into complex multi-cellular beings.

Microbes or bacteria form an intrinsic unit with our body and our survival.  They are in the trillions, grazing on our fleshy plains and breaking down our foodstuff and our waste into useful elements for our survival.

They synthesize vitamins in our guts, convert food into sugar and polysaccharides and go to war on alien microbes; they pluck nitrogen from the air and convert it into useful nucleotides and amino acids for us, a process that is extremely difficult to manufacture industrially.

Microbes continue to regenerate the air that we breathe with oxygen.  Microbes are very prolific and can split and generate 280 billion offspring within a day.

In every million divisions, a microbe may produce a mutant with a slight characteristic that can resist antibodies.

The most troubling is that microbes are endowed with the ability to evolve rapidly and acquire the genes of the mutants and become a single invincible super-organism; any adaptive change that occurs in one area of the bacterial province can spread to any other.

Microbes are generally harmless unless, by accident, they move from a specialized location in the body to another location such as the blood stream, for example, or are attacked by viruses, or our white blood cells go on a rampage.

Microbes can live almost anywhere; some were found in nuclear power generators feeding on uranium, some in the deep seas, some in sulfuric environment, some in extreme climate, and some can survive in enclosed bottles for hundred of years, as long as there is anything to feed on.

Viruses or phages can infect bacteria. A virus are not alive, they are nucleic acid, inert and harmless in isolation and visible by the electron microscope. Viruses barely have ten genes; even the smallest bacteria require several thousand genes..  But introduce them into a suitable host and they burst into life.

Viruses prosper by hijacking the genetic material of a living cell and reproduce in a fanatical manner.  About 5,000 types of virus are known and they afflict us with the flu, smallpox, rabies, yellow fever, Ebola, polio and AIDS.

Viruses burst upon the world in some new and startling form and then vanish as quickly as they came after killing millions of individuals in a short period.

There are billions of species. Tropical rainforests that represent only 6% of the Earth surface harbor more than half of its animal life and two third of its flowering plants.

A quarter of all prescribed medicines are derived from just 40 plants and 16% coming from microbes.

The discovery of new flowery plants might provide humanity with chemical compounds that have passed the “ultimate screening program” over billions of years of evolution.

The tenth of the weight of a six year-old pillow is made up of mites, living or dead, and mite dung; washing at low temperature just get the lice cleaner!

The Lebanese also want to grow up and take on their responsibilities

This has gone eyond suffocation: Traditional “leaders” decided Lebanon to be a “Non-State”

In the last four months, the “Arabic” speaking people grew up quickly:  They decided it is about time to share in the political decisions of the political regimes; they decided to be responsible citizens, to be determined and steadfast in non-violent marches, and violent if need be, to stand tall in shedding blood and sacrifices to have their will come through.  The Lebanese people want to grow up too: They want to be citizens first and responsible for a recognized State.

Since independence in 1943, Lebanon functioned as a non-State.  Lebanon created a facade for governments just to let diplomatic games to be carried out as a recognized State by the UN.  But foreign States knew better:  They were playing the game and getting amused demanding impossible requirements..

Currently, and for a year now, Lebanon has dropped the facade.  The rationale of the traditional leaders is “if there is no government, foreign States would feel totally ridiculous imposing pressures and demands on Lebanon”.

The traditional leaders figured out that “if we have agreed among ourselves that no civil war is to be permitted, the army is strong enough to maintain law and order for the benefit of the upper classes and the mercantile oligarchies to prosper…”

That is how the traditional leaders, backed by the real power behind them, particularly the religious castes and the financial institutions loaning money to the State to function precariously, think this best option for Lebanon to survive as is!  The religious castes own 50% of the land and define our identity from birth to death; the banks loan the State at outrageous interest rates, and the common “citizen” watches the debt growing at three folds the GNP.

The people have a different comprehension of the consequences of this non-State option:  The people in Lebanon are getting smarter in matter of political existence and are realizing that things have to change.  The people is thinking loudly: “If even the facade of a non-State cannot be created, we will rebuild a State from the ground up and eliminate all these parasites that confiscated our responsibilities and treated us as kids, simply because we had refused to grow up”

The youth have been marching with slogans such as “We want to change the religious caste system”  This fundamental and straightforward demand is already outdated. The new slogan is: “We want to be responsible citizens and we want to change our archaic political and social structure as fitting dignified and intelligent people.  We demand the impossible because it is the only way to get what we want, and we can do it.”

Reforming the system, one block at a time, is out the window.  Why, do we have another hundred years to live as a people to wait in patience, indignity, and famine so satisfy our oligarchies?




May 2011

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