Friday, December 23, 2016

Breathing

I am re-posting something I wrote at Christmas five years ago, because it still takes my breath away. Here it is, from December 2011:

It is Christmas. You are expecting a red and green theme, some holly and berries, evergreen trees and bright red ornaments, right?  And you know it is the season of miracles.  So here is my red and green post, and it tells of a miracle, one that happens all around us.




As a young student, Donald Culross Peattie was amazed to discover that plants breathe light: 
"Using spectrum analysis, Peattie learned that the constituents of a chlorophyll molecule were eerily familiar. 'To me, a botanist's apprentice, a future naturalist,' he writes, 'there was just one fact to quicken the pulse. That fact is the close similarity between chlorophyll and hemoglobin, the essence of our blood.'  
This is no fanciful comparison, but a literal, scientific analogy: 'The one significant difference in the two structural formulas is this: that the hub of every hemoglobin molecule is one atom of iron, while in chlorophyll it is one atom of magnesium.'  
Just as chlorophyll is green because magnesium absorbs all but the green light spectrum, blood is red because iron absorbs all but the red. 
Chlorophyll is green blood. It is designed to capture light; blood is designed to capture oxygen".  *

Merry Christmas to all the creatures breathing oxygen and all the creatures breathing light in our world.


* Quoted from Tree, A Life Story by David Suzuki and Wayne Grady (it follows the 500 year life of one douglas fir).  Also, read Donald Culross Peattie's book: Flowering Earth
This is the chemical diagram, if it helps. 

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