Bare Bones Biology 302 – Systems

            “Is our economic system really a natural system? Other interdependent non-linear systems here on Earth are very much life-supportive. But our economic system, based on agriculture and private property, is ultimately anti-life. Therefore, I begin to wonder about its metaphysical status.”

 

Definition: A “naturally evolved system” can be defined as a group of nodes, connected by links, that function together to maintain the integrity of the whole system. A naturally evolved system is capable of sustaining itself – by means of its emergent properties — within the environment within which it evolved. Generally speaking the nodes are things, objects, that function to connect the links, which are processes or behaviors based in energy and/or information. I’m sure we can improve this definition, but the general idea is that a Naturally Evolved System initiates, evolves and maintains itself within the milieu of other NE systems that compose our Biosystem.

 

Answer to question, first sentence – Yes, our economic system qualifies as “naturally evolved,” for three reasons. One is by definition another is that I have been watching it grow with that question in my mind, and have become convinced our corposystem is the product of systemic evolution, and not a direct result of human intent. In fact, the corposystem was not the intent, for example, of our constitution, nor, I’m sure of most Americans. The third reason is that our corposystem is using its emergent characteristics to try to sustain itself at a time when its emergent characteristics are not sustainable. The primary function of a NE system is to sustain itself. If our corposystem were directly controlled by human will, it would not use the same methods to sustain itself that are now (in changed circumstances) causing its demise.

 

A useful metaphor in our effort to “think like a system” is to describe the emergent properties by which that system primarily communicates with other systems in its effort to sustain itself. Systems interact with each other using primarily energy and information. Growth by domination for profit is an emergent characterization of the corposystem, in my opinion, not limited to agriculture and private property to generate growth for profit; it will use any means of domination.
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The emergent characteristic of the Biosystem Life on Earth or Life of Earth.

 

I might argue that the corposystem is based not on agriculture and private property, but on that paragraph in the charter of corporations that requires them to make a profit regardless of consequences. And the same requirement of “nonprofits.”   That little paragraph could very well be the Achilles heel of the corposystem, if we were to take arms against it. However, first questions first, we are talking about systemic failure, so we need first to understand what has failed.

 

Implication: If we want to find root causes of systemic problems, we must try to understand — not the nodes; not the links; not the designed elements or tools — but the emergent properties and the natural laws of energy and information that affect, create and evolve systems.

 

Question re sentences 2 and 3: Should we expect nonlinear systems to be life-supportive?

 

Answer: Certainly not, natural evolution within Life is primarily a process of rejecting systems that are non-life-affirming. We, the corposystem, are being rejected because we are part of a nonviable, naturally evolved system. The vast majority of all naturally evolved systems are rejected outright or become extinct as they threaten the welfare of their own environment (a bigger system) or niche

 

Implication: Our systemic problems are caused by the fact that we, as a naturally evolved system. are being rejected (becoming extinct). If we want to do something to alleviate this problem, we should be studying how naturally evolved systems evolve.

 

Question re sentence 4: I think human metaphysics may be irrelevant to nonhuman systems.?? Every system (because of the laws of evolution) must be unique. I think the study of humans and their metaphysic is not the solution to a problem caused by an entity that is not human.

 

If we save ourselves – then is the time to analyze our behaviors – toward sustainable relationships with our neighboring naturally evolved systems.

 

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FActFictionFancy.Wordpress.com.

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_302B_-_Systems.mp3

 

 

Reference

 

John Scales Avery. 2012. Information Theory and Evolution, 2nd Edition. World Scientific.

 

 

The podcast of this blog can be found at:

Bare Bones Biology 133B – World Community

Last week I described, in a very general way, how I imagine the human brain processes information. The primary take-away message is that our brains are not universal. We are one species out of billions that are required to operate the functions of the living earth — just as any one cell of our brain is only one out of billions that are required to operate our amazing human brain. Secondly, there are levels of function of the human brain that we do not control – they control us. They control the basic functions of our bodies, and the basic nature of our emotions.

However, we also have higher levels of function in our brains that can adapt to our environment in a conscious way. One of these qualities is how we are learning all the time. Another is our intellect, that we can use to evaluate ourselves and our surroundings. If we try, we can figure out the difference between our perceptions — that is what our reality feels like according to our world view – and what the world really is according to facts that we study in physics, chemistry and biology. For example, we can measure the speed of light using tools designed by our intellect, but according to our perceptions, we would not know about the speed of light. We wouldn’t know that light is energy. We wouldn’t understand energy and would not have learned how to control fire, for example, during the millennia of our origins.

In all those millenia, the problems we faced had to do with how to interact with an overwhelming environment. For example, I was very touched by the last story in the most recent National Geographic. It is the story of an interaction between today and a primitive tribal culture. I won’t tell you the end of the story, but for me it was a heart-wrenching illustration of the choices we must make if we are to survive within the requirements of our environment. (National Geographic, February, 2012, Cave People of Papua, New Guinea.)

Today, we no long live sheltered in the broad green arms of our ecological home. I think that’s one reason why we experience the levels of discomfort, dis-ease and discontent that we do in our culture, but that’s not something we can deal with now. We have already destroyed that long-distant Garden of Eden. We can’t go back and change the mistakes of yesterday. You younger folk don’t realize that yet probably, but it can be demonstrated using, that intellect of ours, that the earth has modified herself to our needs about as much as she can. Our choice now is whether to push the environment even more. If we do, it’s likely to change so much that it can no longer support our needs for air, water, shelter, earth and human companionship.

We can do this, I know our brain is capable of understanding the problems that we face, and we can join together communally to deal with them. However, we cannot face these challenges using only our inborn instincts. If we are to succeed, it will require our intellect in two ways. First, we must educate ourselves about the ecosystem, how it functions and what it needs from us in order to sustain itself; second we must use our intellect to grow a new culture, based in what we know about basic instincts, and on what previous cultures have taught us, and incorporating our scientific knowledge and changing our attitude toward technology.

We now must decide together whether we, as a culture of the world, want to continue using technology to dominate and to make money – or if we will choose to, find a better way, based on a better goal-set than winner/loser. We do know there are better and more satisfying ways for humans to live, and the first thing we need to understand — we are not God. We do not understand the infinite meaning of life, nor can we control it. Our need to control, our ego, our desire to grow life in our image, whether the image be evil or even if it is a good image – that is the source and cause of our man-made disasters.

Lynn Lamoreux
Photo by Lynn, Lucky B Bison

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that will play next week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. Bare Bones Biology is a completely nonprofit project. The podcast can be downloaded at http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_133_-_World_Community.mp3

Recommended Action/Question for Discussion: Identify the source, and the path from source to table, of each item of food that is part of your Thanksgiving meal. In countries without a day of Thanksgiving (or with one), give thanks for your food at every meal and remember that it comes from the living earth. What, I wonder, is the difference between our living earth, and your God? Or mine?

Recommended References
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/

Bare Bones Biology Ecology Handbook, free, no strings – https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/
On the right side of the page click on the link under “Chapters” to download the PDF.

National Geographic, February, 2012, Cave People of Papua, New Guinea, by Mark Jenkins, Photos by Amy Toensing.

Bare Bones Biology 128 ¬ Community

Life, the living earth, has been created within the universe.

We humans are only one species out of a multitude that are parts of the sustainable phenomenon of Life; we are the “temporary living,” but we are not Life itself. To emphasize the difference between temporary organisms and sustainable Life, I capitalize Life. This distinction is more fully discussed in Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook, which is freely downloadable from the right side of my blog under the heading of “Chapters.”

The primary function of Life is to nourish and support the ongoing process of Life.

That’s why every part of life, whether or not it is aware, supports every other part. The output of one part of life is the input of others. Around and around, the process of Life functions sustainably, for its cycles never run down. They can be modified, according to the conditions of the internal or external environments, but Life itself never runs down because the cycles of which it is composed are all balanced. Each material is available when needed to maintain the balance, and every bit that is not needed at that time and place is mopped up and carried away to where it is needed.

Oxygen, for example, and carbon, and hydrogen are cycled and recycled, together and separately. The organisms, in their variety, serve as catalysts for all the processes that nurture Life. They capture the necessary energy and carry the information to operate the cycles of Life.

Life is a unique, integrated, interconnected process that humans, in spite of all our technologies, cannot emulate. Or maybe we could emulate it if we were trying, but we don’t try to support the processes that are necessary for Life. What we do try is to conquer, to win, to defeat, to subdue life using the power of our will and our magnificent brain.

We are an amazing species with a nervous system that ties us to each other and to all of Life through our emotions, our social interactions, our capacity for reason and manipulation and compassion, that have been created by the God-imposed process of evolution as a part of the living earth. The process of Life, moving through time carries us along as an integral, living, supportive part of Itself, but only so long as we accept what we are and enhance our position as a component of Life.

Our job on earth is to support Life.

Life and living organisms uniquely carry the code for their own replication. One might say that God bestowed upon matter and energy the code of Life, which gives Life the ability to sustain Itself by responding to the changing environment within which It exists. Life exists at the confluence of evolution, time, energy and the natural law of cause and effect. We humans are living organisms, subunits of the process of Life. That is, we are not Life itself; we are only temporary manifestations of the process of life, and we therefore cannot exist in the absence of the orderly and balanced processes that operate together to maintain Life itself. Life itself, so far as we know, is uniquely the living planet earth. We are not It.

But we are a powerfully endowed species that could easily destroy Life as it is now manifested (Life as we know it) if we continue to believe that we must fight for dominance over life in order to survive. Perhaps that was true in some distant past time, but in our present evolution our own lives and perhaps Life itself on earth depend on our ability to understand how to live in accord with the laws of the universe as they are manifested in the unitary Life, rather than trying to change the laws of nature and bring them to heel like a conquered enemy.

To do this, to understand how to live in accord with the laws of the universe, we need to grow an intimate understanding of our power as communities.

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that is playing this week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. The podcast can be downloaded at
http://www.BareBonesBiology.com
(Thanks to Joe Smith for editing and feedback)

Recommended References

Bare Bones Biology Energy Handbook – freely downloadable, no strings
https://factfictionfancy.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/pages_std-portrait-barebonesecology100627-finalfinalprinter.pdf

Bare Bones Biology 071 – God, Energy, Me

OK, Let’s say there is a God and the Kingdom of God is THIS BIG! As big as this whole piece of paper. Or the room, or whatever. You can make it smaller if you want, but my God is a very big God who generated the whole universe that we know about – and much more that we don’t know about. He’s a busy God, so he set up rules for the universe, so it can run more or less by itself. I mean he does not sit there waiting for a stone to loosen from the wall of the mountain so he can push it on down to the valley. He’s probably busy over on the other side of the universe. So he invented gravity for that sort of thing. And the same with energy. All kinds of energy, the kinds we do understand and those we don’t.

So everything that God understands is this whole piece of paper. Everything that science (I mean real inquiry, not technology) everything that science understands is inside the green line I’ve drawn here. These spaces of course are not proportional, or it would be enormously smaller. Everything that science understands would include some things about some of the kinds of energy. So let’s make a pink line to represent all the kinds of energy that there are, and it overlaps science a little, where science does understand some things about energy. Now let’s add up every person on earth and everything that everyone together understands about everything, and make an orange line. The orange line will overlap all of science and a little bit of the energy space.

And then there is me. I would be a black dot too small to see, but I’ll have to make myself a black line to represent that I know something about all of those things. How wonderful it is that humans have been given the ability to share information. We can know more than any other species on earth. So I overlap the human knowledge space, I know many things about science, I have experiences with energy and with the unknown, so my line overlaps all the other spaces, just a tiny bit.

If I would put a line for my horse, you would see that I know much more than she does. She understands things inside her fence, where to find food and water and what to look out for. And she understands her responsibilities. I once saw her teaching her new foal to stay away from the fence. Things like that. I know more than she does. I know where my food energy actually comes from through photosynthesis, and I know some things about formalized human cultures, and so on.

Now we are halfway through this spot and I haven’t told you anything you didn’t already know. But the reason for all of this is to compare myself, in a way, with the horse. I’m wondering, what is my personal responsibility within the giant system that covers this whole page? The system runs by itself; obviously it’s not my job to run it. There is not much I could do to make it function properly; no more than the horses do. What other responsibility could I have? It must be that my personal responsibility is to not mess it up. I should not interfere with its ability to do what God made it to do.

Is that possible you say? From my little smaller-than-dot in the middle of the page? Could I actually mess up the system? With this enormously powerful God out there, and all those spiritual powers that can come and put it back to rights any time they want to?

The answer is, yes it is possible, at least for us all together, to damage the ecosystem so badly that we can no longer find a home here.

And so now the question is – why would any other entity – any God or entity — want to save us when we won’t even use what we already know to save ourselves? And why would we want to wait and see if they do save us, when it would be so much more pleasant to get together with other people and figure out how we can save ourselves.

Bare Bones Biology 071 – God, Energy, Me
KEOS radio 89.1 FM, Bryan, Texas
Transcript at FactFictionFancy.wordpress.com
Audio later this week at http://www.BareBonesBiology.com

Summing Up

Evolution happens. Not only it happens, but it is one of the most powerful and fundamental forces in all of living nature, along with the laws of thermodynamics, gravity, cause and effect.

In chapter one, we said the entire ecosystem requires energy to do the work of staying alive. We said the laws of thermodynamics describe how energy can or can not flow through the ecosystem. Survival of any living thing is a constant push against entropy, and entropy is a natural law of the whole universe, living and not living, that describes the natural tendency of anything to become un-complex — to fall apart, like a rusty old car in your back yard, compared with the shiny old Model T that you have kept in good repair.

We have also said that life is one of the most complex things that we know about in the universe. It requires energy to keep it that way and nobody is pottering around keeping it in good repair. Life stays alive because of the way the ecosystem works as a whole to keep itself going in spite of the natural laws of the universe. It does this, as we have said a large number of times, fundamentally by three uber-processes that we have discussed in our three chapters.

Chapter One – The flow of energy through the ecosystem, utilizing every bit of organic energy between the time it is created by the plants using sunlight as energy source, until it is lost forever in the form of heat. Every corner of the ecosystem, if it is to continuing doing its function of helping to keep us all alive, must have energy. It is one of the defining characteristics of life that it can keep itself in good repair. This is accomplished by the flow of organic energy from its creation in the plants through all the levels of living organization, the herbivores, carnivores and the organisms that live on dead and decaying matter that still contains organic molecules.

Chapter Two – The recycling of materials is the process that is easiest for us to understand, and yet the apparent simplicity is deceptive, because this recycling, again, relies upon all the interconnected levels of organization of the ecosystem so that, for example, carbon is made available to all of the levels of life from the time the plants use it to make organic molecules until the breakdown of the organic molecules returns it to the atmosphere.

The biggest difference between the materials and the energy is that materials are atoms or molecules of matter that have mass and occupy space. So the maerials just get pushed around on earth from one place to another.  Whatever energy is — it does not stick around to be used again. With respect to the ecosystem it is used primarily as organic energy that is created by plants using light energy from the sun. As every living thing (almost) uses the organic energy, the organic energy changes to heat energy and can never again be used to maintain the processes of life. Heat energy is also useful, but it does not run our generators, so to speak. So materials and energy flow through the ecosystem along the pathways of the levels of organization. The difference is that materials can be recycled but energy can not.

Chapter Three – The flow of information causes all the above things to happen as they do — that is genetics, from the DNA to the gene to the chromosome to the genome of an individual organism to the gene pool of the speces to the evolution of that species to the ability of the whole ecosystem to respond to conditions inside and outside of itself.

Life can be defined as the ability to respond to the environment, from the ability of a cell to find a safe place to live to the ability of your gut to digest organic molecules to the ability of a bird to build a nest to global warming. And beyond that to integration of the entire living earth that we will discuss in the next few posts.

Life is the innate, internal ability to respond to the environment rather than just sit there and be destroyed by it. The flow of information sustains life because it senses the environment and cues the living response. The hand on the hot stove is a reasonable example of this process, but very limiting as a concept because we need the whole of the ecosystem information system to stay alive — in addition to our own nervous system.

Why do cells and organisms require oxygen to stay alive? Because oxygen is necessary for the flow of energy. It is required for our cells to capture the energy from organic molecules, through the process of cellular respiration. Oxygen is provided to us by the ecosystem.

Why does the ecosystem require the recycling of materials to stay alive? So that the plants can use the materials, along with energy from the sun, to make more organic molecules, through the process of photosynthesis.

Why does the ecosystem require the deaths of individual organisms, so that it can give life to more individuals? Because the deaths of individual organisms are necessary for the flow of information through the ecosystem to continue, and the flow of information IS the innate, internal ability of the ecosystem to respond to the environment. That is, the flow of information is the most basic essence of life itself.

Those three most basic of all life concepts – the movement of energy, materials and information over time — will also be the basis for our summing up in the next few posts.

Evolution

The third requirement for a living ecosystem is communication. The cells of which you are made all communicate among themselves so that you can stay alive. Your nervous system responds to short-term activities, for example by telling you to get your hand off that hot stove, ASAP. Your hormonal system balances your body and all its processes over the long term. That balance is essential to your survival and also to the long-term survival of the species. The sperm must somehow “know” how to fertilize an egg; the egg then must know how to divide; all the little cells need to know whether to live or die depending where they are in the blastula or the gastrula; then a few billion cells later the nervous system begins to form and by the time of birth the mother and baby must both “know” how to see each other and respond together.

Other organisms do more or less the same balancing act, though the methods differ. Plants don’t have a brain with nervous system, but they do have hormones. The individual cell, the most basic organism, communicates more directly with its environment. Most of this activity, the behaviors of all the billions of cells, is directed by the code of life, the DNA in the nucleus of each cell.

The whole ecosystem, of course includes all the behaviors of all the cells, plus all the behaviors of the multicellular organisms. That is the various behaviors of the organisms interacting with other organisms of the same or different kinds. Mating, eating, parasitism, commensalisms, singing, laying eggs.

To imagine this sort of interaction you can think of a small stock tank (pond) in your pasture. The fish and the insects and the plants and turtles, and the water and temperature. All of those things interact in various ways to maintain the balance of all of life in the pond. This is the living ecosystem maintaining a balance within itself; that is the same kind of balancing of energy resources, materials and information that your body maintains by its physiology and an individual cell maintains by the processes of its biochemistry. These interactions represent the flow of energy through the ecosystem, as we discussed in chapter one, and the cycling of materials through the ecosystem (chapter two), but they also represent the flow of genetic information that ties together the whole ecosystem, through time, as one living thing.

I do not know a name for the process of information flow through the entire ecosystem from cell biochemistry; to the physiology of individual animals, plants and other organisms; to the communal behaviors of organisms. However, it is not difficult to show that the result of all these interactions is the coordinate evolution of the ecosystem that is mediated by the code of life in the chromosomes of every cell.

Biological evolution is the process of change in the code of life over time.

No we are not going to argue about evolution because there is no reason to argue and many, many reasons not to argue. The most important reasons to not argue about evolution are:

1. Evolution is not Darwinism. Darwin was a person with some ideas and opinions based in 100-year-old science. Evolution is a natural process — like the sun rises and sun sets is also a natural process — natural processes do not have opinions and they don’t do science. But we can. We can use measurable facts and the scientific method to unequivocally demonstrate that evolution does exist and it is functioning now. And we are part of it. So that takes care of half the question; the other half is not science.

2. Evolution has nothing to do with religion, because science is the study of measurable facts using the scientific method. Religion is not the study of measurable facts and it also does not use the scientific method. There is no reason why it should; it is not science, and the scientific method is a dreadful way to do religion.  Religion has its own best methods.

3. In whatever way life was created, the creation obviously also involved the natural processes that are necessary for life to exist. These include the flow of energy (chapter one), the recycling of materials (chapter two), and the flow of information that is what we are talking about. Without these, there could be no life on earth. How did we come to be in a place that provides the conditions that are necessary for our survival? I don’t know, but that is not what we are talking about, so it doesn’t matter to this story.

4. We all need the same things for our survival and one of these is the survival of the ecosystem.  So I can not think of one good reason to waste time arguing over something that happen not less than 10,000 years ago and probably a lot more than 10,000 years ago, when we could be working together to save what we need right now.  We can’t do that by guess and by gosh, as we have so far been attempting; the more we know about how the ecosystem functions — the better citizens we can be.

Oh, I think I went off on a rant.  What was the question again? How does the code of life have anything to do with cellular biochemistry, physiology and the higher-level behaviors of organisms?

The answer is, it is mostly about proteins.

DNA Replication (part one)

DNA = the molecule that carries the code of life from one generation of cells to another.

DNA Replication = the process inside every cell (almost) of making an exact copy of the DNA that will be passed on to the next cell to maintain the genetic code of life. Replication is copying exactly.

DNA replication is the bottom line of genetics and heredity. We inherit genes from our parents. Those genes carry the instructions for every process that is regulated within our bodies. That includes the “uphill” processes that can’t happen without adding energy, and many of the “downhill” processes that must be controlled. The genes are the key to how we are alive. Besides genetics, we also require energy and materials to maintain life.

Energy is required to be alive because energy is the ability to do work and work is any action that is “uphill” relative to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Energy is discussed in chapter one of Bare Bones Ecology that is available as a PDF from the right side of this blog. We could not live without energy that is provided by plants.

Also we could not live without the materials (nutrients) of which we are composed, that is mostly carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, a selection of other kinds of atoms, and of course water. Recycling of nutrients is discussed in previous blogs that will become chapter two.

Life is not so different with regard to energy and materials. Energy and atoms are available everywhere in the universe, but life is different in the kind of information it uses to run all the living processes — breathing, cellular respiration, photosynthesis, thinking, seeing. Everything. This is the most remarkable thing about life. It maintains the conditions that are necessary for itself to be alive, and life does this using the genetic code. The genetic code is made of organic molecules (called nucleotides) that the living cell puts together in just the right way, based on the code they receive from previous living cell(s). Today and in the Thursday post, we describe in a general way how this code is passed from one cell to the next.

The code has been passed forward from one generation to the next from whenever life began. We may not have the details about how life began, but we definitely know how the ecosystem, the organisms, and the individual cells are set up to transmit the genetic code from one generation to the next.

The best evidence of our understanding of anything is the ability to do it, and as you know, scientists and corporations are now “genetically engineering” organisms to have special characteristics that are not natural to them. This is done by adding new genes to the genetic code, and it is changing the cells and the organisms and the ecosystem, because this is the code that runs all of life on earth.

So it is good for us to know how the code works at all the levels of the ecosystem and ties the whole ecosystem together as one whole living process.

The genetic code is carried in chromosomes. Each chromosome is one giant molecule made of four different little nucleotide molecules that are fastened together end to end in a code. We will explain the specific code in a later post. The names of the nucleotides are commonly abbreviated A, T, C, G, as we explained last post. The DNA molecule is enormous, but it consists of the sequence of nucleotides. I will use an imaginary example code:

A-T-T-C-G-C-C-G-T-A-G-A-A-T-T

Because of the shapes of the nucleotides, there is a front end and a back end to the DNA molecule. For this example we will make-believe A is the front end of the molecule. The nucleotides are fastened end to end with very strong “covalent” energy bonds, that were originally created with the help of enzymes. Although mistakes can happen in the code, very rarely, normally the strong covalent bonds can not be created or broken without the help of enzymes. This maintains the code in a specific sequence so it can not spread all around like dominos scattered on a table.

This huge molecule is all folded up and kept safely in the nucleus of the cell. Remember the code of life also directs the functions of the cell. It does this by turning genes on and off at the right times in the right places. Turning on genes does not change the strong covalent bonds that fasten the ends of the nucleotides together. Turning on genes does not use the ends of the nucleotides; instead it uses their front sides. To prevent this happening at the wrong time and place, the cell has a way to block the front sides of the nucleotides with other nucleotides all the time, unless a particular gene is being used (how it is used – we will get to that later. This process also is regulated by enzymes, so it is important that the whole DNA molecule kept quiet and safe when not needed. Therefore the molecule must be maintained inert (inactive) most of the time. This is done by the DNA molecule being double-stranded.

The diagram above shows only one strand. We have already said that each nucleotide can bond very firmly to the next with strong covalent bonds, so the code is maintained in sequence for generation after generation. The nucleotides also have another relationship with each other. It turns out that the cytosine molecules are attracted to guanine molecules by a set of weaker energy bonds on the front side of both molecules. And the thymine molecules are attracted to adenine molecules, also by a set of weaker bonds. So a complete DNA molecule is double stranded. The sequence of nucleotides is the complete genetic code for the organism it is in. The inverse copy stays parallel to the code copy, attached to it by a zillion weak bonds, and it blocks the functions of the code copy of the DNA

A-T-T-C-G-C-C-G-T-A-G-A-A-T-T
T-A-A-G-C-G-G-C-A-T-C-T-T-A-A (and so on for millions of nucleotides)

The cell keeps this whole thing folded up inside its nucleus and saves it, so there is a complete copy of your own unique genetic code stored inside the nucleus of every cell in your body (except a few specialized cells like red blood cells).

And likewise every other living thing in the ecosystem, but of course their code is somewhat different from yours. All the codes contain the information that is necessary to maintain life, such as the ability to do cellular respiration. All the codes also contain information that is different from one individual to another, such as the color of your skin.

The code is very safe in there, and it can’t do any processes until the time and place when those processes are needed to sustain your life. And then it is the enzymes that control what happens. But before we talk about using the code to maintain life, we need to finish describing how it is passed from generation to generation over all of the history of life. That will be Thursday post.