Bare Bones Biology 225 – First Frost

And as I said — last time was it? ( If we know how a thing works we can make much better decisions about how to work it.

And now the garden is over for this year ( and we are thinking about how to grow healthy food next year. We are thinking about how Life works to make food.

141007-BackYard-ASC_2272RLSss copyFood is made first by plants and consists of materials that cells are made of, and the energy to do the work. Energy cannot be recycled, but the materials recycle all the time through the Biosystem. Through us. Through the pine tree out my window. How do you think it stands up there? It’s made of very strong macromolecules, and these materials have recycled on the living earth through all the Life of earth.

The first miracle of the whole living earth is that it can use the same materials – rather the subunits, assemble them, take them apart, re-assemble them, over and over and over again, maintaining the balance of all the parts of Life, so that whenever and wherever they are needed, all the basic materials to make a living organism are available in the environment.


Our garden is now ended for this year. And now the “organic matter,” that is, the living things that have died, will recycle their substance to grow another crop of living things next year. Our job is to help this process without causing harm, and to figure out why some gardens grow food that is more healthy than other gardens (that we’ll talk about next week).


Anyone can make a garden. Plant a seed and the garden makes itself. But for us to design a healthy garden in an age of toxic advertising, we do need to understand the very most basic concepts of how Life stays alive. It doesn’t take science to tell us the first miracle of life. That Life recycles the materials of which it is made. So our first question is: “What is Life made of?”


141007-leaves-ASC_2297RLSss copy copyLife on earth is made of cells. Cells are alive, but they are composed of molecules that are not living things. Mostly the molecules that make up cells are five types. Water is one. Without water, nothing would happen in cells, and our gardens would not grow, so water quality is important. The other major parts that cells are made of are macromolecules. Macromolecules are huge (well, huge for molecules) and they are made of smaller molecules that I refer to as micro-molecules. Cells are mostly made of four classes or types of macromolecules: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids are macromolecules that the cells make by stringing together micro-molecules. The micro-molecules are made of atoms, mostly carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Molecules and atoms are not living things; they are chemicals. All materials are made of atoms, but the macromolecules are made inside of cells and they are made by the cells. These are called “organic” molecules because they are made by organisms.


Every living thing makes it’s own macromolecules that it needs to be alive. Whenever it dies, what is left is a body that is mostly made of water plus organic macromolecules (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids). These organic macromolecules are then taken apart by some other living thing until what remains is micro-molecules and water that can be put back together to make the macromolecules of another living thing.


When we eat a beet, for example, we digest the beet macromolecules into micro-molecules so that our bodies can put the micro-molecules back together again in the form of human macromolecules, to make more human cells.


The Life of Earth stays alive by using molecules and atoms and micro-molecules over and over and over again. That is why the first miracle of Life is Death, because without death our environment would run out of atoms and molecules that it needs to grow cells. There would be no gardens and no Life.


So, anyone can plant a seed and it will grow itself if it has enough water and micromolecules, but our question is how to understand recycling in a way that will make healthy life in our garden. Next week.


Bare Bones Biology is a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM in Bryan, Texas. The podcast can be dowloaded at: