Bare Bones Biology 224F – Healthy Living – What Goes Around

The question is not: “What should I do?” And it is not: “Whom should I believe?” Those are victim questions. The question is: “How does it work?” Because if I know how it works, I don’t need to be someone else’s victim. I can take care of myself. I can recognize the frauds and wheeler dealers. And I can figure out for myself what to do and whom to believe and why. So our question now is how does life stay healthy, that is, “sound, vital and functioning properly.” ( .

And the answer is, all of Life works pretty much the same, from the entire Earth Biosystem to all the different organisms including us, to all the cells that also are alive, except a few cells in hot springs and deep in the ocean or earth, that use a different system for getting energy. All of these different parts of Life recycle the materials of which they are made, using the energy from food to do the work of being alive, and using an “operating system” that is encoded in the genes and selected by the processes of evolution to maintain a healthy balance.

.The Biosystem survives by balancing these three essential sub-systems that are at work in all of us and interact with each other to maintain life:

(1) Recycling Materials – The materials that our bodies are made of come from our food and water. The materials are mostly atoms (such as carbon, oxygen and hydrogen and nitrogen) and molecules (such as lipids, carbohydrates, proteins and nucleic acids). The materials are recycled all around the world and used over and over again in every body on earth including the body of the Biosystem. The molecules are “digested” (taken apart) and then reassembled every time a new body grows. For example, if you eat a bean, the bean proteins are taken apart and the parts are reassembled to make person proteins, which are slightly different from be140927-canyon-asc_2013RLSss copyan proteins. When we die or excrete materials, they are broken down further into atoms (mostly carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen) or smaller molecules such as water and carbon dioxide. These atoms and molecules enrich the soil and clean the water by feeding organisms that live in healthy soil and clean water – and they maintain the balance of the healthy air. Then the same atoms and molecules are used to make molecules and cells in plants that grow in the soil. So, the atoms and molecules of all of earth are put together and taken apart – forever — as they are used and discarded by living creatures. That is Biosystem recycling. It’s not human recycling.

And the same thing happens to all materials that we put into the biosystem. Including non-biological toxic compounds such as plastics, modern perfumes. Nothing “goes away.” Everything is recycled except energy, and we get it in our food.

(2) Capturing and Using Energy – The energy that our bodies use to do all this work of taking apart and putting together – energy for life — also comes from our food. Energy is the ability to do work, and there are different kinds of energy that do different kinds of work. The energy used by our living bodies is food energy. Plants are able to capture energy from the sun and change it into food energy and use that energy to make plant cells.  But energy does not recycle, so the food energy is put into the food by plants and then we eat the plants and use some of the energy to make human molecules (proeins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids) and human cells, and to grow healthy bodies.

140930-canyon-asc_2130RLSs copyWhen the food energy has been used to do that work of growing and maintaining health, it is released as heat. Heat energy and energy from oil wells or fracking or solar are all different forms of energy that cannot be used by our bodies. Food energy is the only kind of energy that can be used to keep our bodies alive and healthy. But energy does not recycle, and our technologies cannot make food energy. So our food is critical to our health, both to provide healthy materials and to get energy that plants can make but we cannot make. The supermarket or McDonalds do not and cannot make food. Only the Biosystem makes food, using earth, air, water and plants.   (Free download, Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook under chapter 2 on the right side of the blog

The Operating System. The Law of Life. All of this recycling of materials and capturing of energy requires an operating system. The operating system for Life maintains the balance among all the millions of processes that are required to do the recycling and to flow food energy to all parts of the system, and to maintain a healthy balance of the Earth Biosystem. I call this the Law of Life. It is a natural law that is more important to Life even than gravity. The Law of Life is encoded as genetics acted upon by evolution responding to the environment. It is the Law of Life that maintains or changes the climate to keep the whole system in Balance.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS, 89.1 FM, in Bryan, Texas.

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:

Free download, Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook under chapter 2 on the right side of the blog

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