I have lived much of my life among molecules. They are good company. I tell my students to try to know molecules, so well that when they have some question involving molecules, they can ask themselves, What would I do if I were that molecule? I tell them, Try to feel like a molecule; and if you work hard, who knows? Some day you may get to feel like a big molecule!
Suppose that you could mark the molecules in a glass of water; then pour the contents of the glass into the ocean and stir the latter throughly so as to distribute the marked molecules uniformly throughout the seven seas; if then you took a glass of water anywhere out of the ocean, you would find in it about a hundred of your marked molecules.
Why are atoms so small? ... Many examples have been devised to bring this fact home to an audience, none of them more impressive than the one used by Lord Kelvin: Suppose that you could mark the molecules in a glass of water, then pour the contents of the glass into the ocean and stir the latter thoroughly so as to distribute the marked molecules uniformly throughout the seven seas; if you then took a glass of water anywhere out of the ocean, you would find in it about a hundred of your marked molecules.
Life is an energy field, a bunch of molecules. And these particular molecules formed to make these four guys, who then formed into this band called the Beatles and did all that work. I have to think that was something metaphysical. Something alchemic. Something that must be thought of as magic.
Perhaps the most impressive illustration of all is to suppose that you could label the molecules in a tumbler of water... threw it anywhere you please on the earth, and went away from the earth for a few million years while all the water on the earth, the oceans, rivers, lakes and clouds had had time to mix up perfectly. Now supposing that perfect mixing had taken place, you come back to earth and draw a similar tumbler of water from the nearest tap, how many of those marked molecules would you expect to find in it? Well, the answer is 2000. There are 2000 times more molecules in a tumbler of water than there are tumblers of water in the whole earth.
Francis William Aston
Leonardo believed his research had the potential to convert millions to a more spiritual life. Last year he categorically proved the existence of an energy force that unites us all. He actually demonstrated that we are all physically connected... that the molecules in your body are intertwined with the molecules in mine... that there is a single force moving within all of us.
The human body is constantly undergoing a process of decay and of reconstruction. First builded into the astral form in the womb of the mother, it is built up continually by the insetting of fresh materials. With every moment tiny molecules are passing away from it; with every moment tiny molecules are streaming into it.
My aging body transmits an ageless life stream. Molecular and atomic replacement change life's composition. Molecules take part in structure and in training, countless trillions of them. After my death, the molecules of my being will return to the earth and sky. They came from the stars. I am of the stars.
But germs are the most common snowflake starters and lie at the heart of 85 percent of all flakes.2 So next time you gaze at a lovely snowstorm, inform your favorite germophobe or hypochondriac that living bacteria sit shivering in most of those untold billions of flakes. Then hand him or her a snow cone or organize a catch-a-snowflake-on-your-tongue party. Once the ice-forming process is started, more molecules join the party, and the crystal grows. It can ultimately become either a snowflake or a rough granule of ice called by the odd name graupel. A snowflake contains ten quintillion water molecules. That's ten million trillion. Ten snowflakes-which can fit on your thumb tip-have the same number of molecules as there are grains of sand on the earth. Or stars in the visible universe. How many flakes, how many molecules fashioned the snowy landscape I was observing as I drove east? It numbed the brain.
In order for life to have appeared spontaneously on Earth, there first had to be hundreds of millions of protein molecules of the Ninth Configuration. But, given the size of the planet Earth, do you know how long it would take for just one of these protein molecules to appear by chance? Roughly 10 to the 243rd power, billions of years; and I find that far, far more fantastic than simply believing in a god.
William Peter Blatty
forming the "hydrogen bond"... is dynamic, with the exchange occurring in a few billionths of a billionth of a second. Since water molecules can "lose" two hydrogen atoms and "win" two by way of their oxygen atom, they are on average regrouped in fours, and the network of water, whether in our glass or in our cells is tetrahedral. All the same, this arrangement is not perfect in liquid water (otherwise the water would be a solid crystal), and locally there are many defects in the network. Although the motif of four water molecules is the most common in "linear" hydrogen bonds, the water molecule sometimes has a "forked tongue" with bifurcated liaisons, which creates arrangements of three or five, or even two or six molecules. This variability prevents water from being structured over a great distance and enables it to remain in a liquid state at the ambient temperature.
Denis Le Bihan
Captain John Sheridan: I wish I had your faith in the universe. I just don't see it. Delenn: Then I will tell you a great secret, Captain. Perhaps the greatest of them all. The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up this station , and the nebula outside, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are starstuff. We are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out. And as we have both learned, sometimes the universe requires a change of perspective.
J. Michael Straczynski
A great deal of the universe does not need any explanation. Elephants, for instance. Once molecules have learnt to compete and to create other molecules in their own image, elephants, and things resembling elephants, will in due course be found roaming around the countryside ... Some of the things resembling elephants will be men.
Every heat engineer knows he can design his heat engine reliably and accurately on the foundation of the second law [of thermodynamics]. Run alongside one of the molecules, however, and ask it what it thinks of the second law. It will laugh at us. It never heard of the second law. It does what it wants. All the same, a collection of billions upon billions of such molecules obeys the second law with all the accuracy one could want
John Archibald Wheeler
There are thousands of proteins in the cells, some of them very large chains of molecules. And the cell doesn't function if one of those chains of molecules isn't there, and you start looking at the complexity of life and the mystery of life, and then start thinking about things like the twenty universal constants, that if any one of them from Plank's minimum to the mass of a proton, if one of them is the tiniest bit off, there would be no life or possibility of it in the universe.
What actually happens when you die is that your brain stops working and your body rots, like Rabbit did when he died and we buried him in the earth at the bottom of the garden. And all his molecules were broken down into other molecules and they went into the earth and were eaten by worms and went into the plants and if we go and dig in the same place in 10 years there will be nothing exept his skeleton left. And in 1,000 years even his skeleton will be gone. But that is all right because he is a part of the flowers and the apple tree and the hawthorn bush now.
Your body, which is bonding millions of molecules every second, depends on transformation. Breathing and digestion harness transformation. Food and air aren't just shuffled about but, rather, undergo the exact chemical bonding needed to keep you alive. The sugar extracted from an orange travels to the brain and fuels a thought. The emergent property in this case is the newness of the thought; no molecules in the history of the universe ever combined to produce that exact thought.
The words are strung together, with their own special grammar-the laws of quantum theory-to form sentences, which are molecules. Soon we have books, entire libraries, made out of molecular "sentences." The universe is like a library in which the words are atoms. Just look at what has been written with these hundred words! Our own bodies are books in that library, specified by the organization of molecules-but the universe and literature are organizations of identical, interchangeable objects; they are information systems.
Recall the metaphor I used in chapter 4 relating the random movements of molecules in a gas to the random movements of evolutionary change. Molecules in a gas move randomly with no apparent sense of direction. Despite this, virtually every molecule in a gas in a beaker, given sufficient time, will leave the beaker. I noted that this provides a perspective on an important question concerning the evolution of intelligence. Like molecules in a gas, evolutionary changes also move every which way with no apparent direction. Yet we nonetheless see a movement toward greater complexity and greater intelligence, indeed to evolution's supreme achievement of evolving a neocortex capable of hierarchical thinking. So we are able to gain an insight into how an apparently purposeless and directionless process can achieve an apparently purposeful result in one field (biological evolution) by looking at another field (thermodynamics).
The Universal mind is not only intelligence, but it is substance, and this substance is the attractive force which brings electrons together by the law of attraction so they form atoms; the atoms in turn are brought together by the same law and form molecules; molecules take objective forms and so we find that the law is the creative force behind every manifestation, not only of atoms, but of worlds, of the universe, of everything of which the imagination can form any conception.
Charles F. Haanel
Science regards man as an aggregation of atoms temporarily united by a mysterious force called the life-principle. To the materialist the only difference between a living and a dead body is, that in the one case that force is active, in the other latent. When it is extinct or entirely latent, the molecules obey a superior attraction, which draws them asunder and scatters them through space. This dispersion must be death, if it is possible to conceive such a thing as death where the very molecules of the dead body manifest an intense vital energy.
H. P. Blavatsky
What actually happens when you die is that your brain stops working and your body rots, like Rabbit did when he died and we buried him in the earth at the bottom of the garden. And all his molecules were broken down into other molecules and they went into the earth and were eaten by worms and went into the plants and if we go dig in the same place in 10 years there will be nothing except his skeleton left. And in 1,000 years even his skeleton will be gone. But that is all right because he is part of the flowers and the apple tree and the hawthorn bush now. When people die they are sometimes put into coffins which means that they don't mix with the earth for a very long time until the wood of the coffin rots. But Mother was cremated. This means that she was put into a coffin and burnt and ground up and turned into ash and smoke. I do not know what happens to the ash and I couldn't ask at the crematorium because I didn't go to the funeral. But the smoke goes out of the chimney and into the air and sometimes I look up into the sky and I think that there are molecules of Mother up there, or in clouds over Africa or the Antartic, or coming down as rain in rainforests in Brazil, or in snow somewhere.
A molecule of hydrogen... whether in Sirius or in Arcturus, executes its vibrations in precisely the same time. Each molecule therefore throughout the universe bears impressed upon it the stamp of a metric system as distinctly as does the metre of the Archives at Paris, or the double royal cubit of the temple of Karnac. No theory of evolution can be formed to account for the similarity of molecules, for evolution necessarily implies continuous change, and the molecule is incapable of growth or decay, of generation or destruction... We are therefore unable to ascribe either the existence of the molecules or the identity of their properties to any of the causes which we call natural.
James Clerk Maxwell
Molecules form and dissolve, returning to the primordial soup of atoms. But consciousness survives the death of the molecules on which it rides. What was once a bundle of energy in a sunbeam turns into a leaf, only to fall and change again into soil. The change of state crosses many boundaries. A sunbeam is invisible, whereas leaves and soil are visible.A leaf is alive and growing, whereas sunbeams aren't.the colors of light, leaf, and soil are different, and so on. But all these transformations exist as constructs of the mind.The actual energy present in the sunbeam experiences no change at all.
The neuro-biology of playing a musical instrument is completely scientific, but it's also an absolute miracle, that you're taking basically a calcium bucket filled with salt-water that's run by a weak electrical signal, and you're using it to move your flesh around in order to manipulate an instrument which disturbs air molecules between you and the listener, and then the listener's ears picks up those disturbed air molecules which generates a weak electrical signal to their calcium bucket full of salt water, and they feel a feeling. That's miraculous, and that's where I live.
The living cell is the most complex system of its size known to mankind. Its host of specialized molecules, many found nowhere else but within living material, are themselves already enormously complex. They execute a dance of exquisite fidelity, orchestrated with breathtaking precision. Vastly more elaborate than the most complicated ballet, the dance of life encompasses countless molecular performers in synergetic coordination. Yet this is a dance with no sign of a choreographer. No intelligent supervisor, no mystic force, no conscious controlling agency swings the molecules into place at the right time, chooses the appropriate players, closes the links, uncouples the partners, moves them on. The dance of life is spontaneous, self-sustaining, and self-creating.
If biologists have ignored self-organization, it is not because self-ordering is not pervasive and profound. It is because we biologists have yet to understand how to think about systems governed simultaneously by two sources of order, Yet who seeing the snowflake, who seeing simple lipid molecules cast adrift in water forming themselves into cell-like hollow lipid vesicles, who seeing the potential for the crystallization of life in swarms of reacting molecules, who seeing the stunning order for free in networks linking tens upon tens of thousands of variables, can fail to entertain a central thought: if ever we are to attain a final theory in biology, we will surely, surely have to understand the commingling of self-organization and selection. We will have to see that we are the natural expressions of a deeper order. Ultimately, we will discover in our creation myth that we are expected after all.
Stuart A. Kauffman