A Symposium on Light and Life

A Symposium on Light and Life

A Symposium on Light and Life

A Symposium on Light and Life

Excerpt

It is common knowledge that the ultimate source of all our energy and negative entropy is the radiation of the sun. When a photon interacts with a material particle on our globe it lifts one electron from an electron pair to a higher level. This excited state, as a rule, has but a very short lifetime and the electron drops back within 10-7 to 10-8 seconds to the ground state, giving off its excess energy in one way or another. Life his learned to catch the electron in the excited state, uncouple it from its partner and let it drop back to the ground state through its biological machinery, utilizing its excess energy for life processes.

There is little doubt in my mind that Life was driven, at the beginning, by this electronic energy and must have walked a long and tortuous road perfecting its biological machinery, step by step, by developing the substances fit to deal with the electron. But, however this machinery may have been perfected, it had to retain two major shortcomings: (1) the electron and its energy were linked to the energy-producing machinery and could not be taken out of it; (2) while Life is continuous, radiation is intermittent and the possibilities of storing high-energy electrons are very limited.

The story of the storage and transportation of electronic energy consists of a series of discoveries made by Nature. One of the most important of these was the discovery that it is possible to preserve the electronic free energy by linking two orthophosphate molecules together by an anhydride link, producing pyrophosphate, P-O-P. We meet the P-O-P today in a rather sophisticated form, as part of the ATP molecule. This discovery solved the problem of energy transport and alleviated the problem of energy storage. Energy stored in the form of P-O-P could be transported to different loci, allowing for the development of new organs or processes, and relegating the process of photosynthesis proper to special little factories, chromato-

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