Saturday, April 28, 2012

Oxygen of life

We learned that although lithium with atomic number 3 is number three product in the creation of the universe it has surprisingly little importance for organic life. Somewhere there with tungsten or even less (tomorrow scientists may find out that this is not quite so, but as of today, this is the information we get.)

  • Oxygen with atomic number 8 is on the opposite end of importance for organic life and is abundant everywhere. Here are some facts about this among the most significant elements God has created and a perquisite for much of the life as we know it (there were and still are some anaerobic life forms).
  • By mass, oxygen is the third-most abundant element in the universe, after hydrogen and helium and the most abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust, making up almost half of the crust's mass.
  • Because it comprises most of the mass in water, oxygen comprises most of the mass of living organisms (for example, about two-thirds of the human body's mass). All major classes of structural molecules in living organisms, such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, contain oxygen, as do the major inorganic compounds that comprise animal shells, teeth, and bone.
  • About 0.9% of the Sun's mass is oxygen.[5] Oxygen constitutes 49.2% of the Earth's crust by mass[3] and is the major component of the world's oceans (88.8% by mass).[5] Oxygen gas is the second most common component of the Earth's atmosphere, taking up 20.8% of its volume and 23.1% of its mass (some 1015 tonnes).
  • Another form (allotrope) of oxygen, ozone (O3), helps protect the biosphere from ultraviolet radiation with the high-altitude ozone layer.

Planet Earth blessed with plenty of oxygen
The unusually high concentration of oxygen gas on Earth is the result of the oxygen cycle.

This biogeochemical cycle describes the movement of oxygen within and between its three main reservoirs on Earth: the atmosphere, the biosphere, and the lithosphere.

The main driving factor of the oxygen cycle is photosynthesis, which is responsible for modern Earth's atmosphere. Photosynthesis releases oxygen into the atmosphere, while respiration and decay remove it from the atmosphere. In the present equilibrium, production and consumption occur at the same rate of roughly 1/2000th of the entire atmospheric oxygen per year.

Free oxygen also occurs in solution in the world's water bodies. The increased solubility of O2 at lower temperatures has important implications for ocean life, as polar oceans support a much higher density of life due to their higher oxygen content

The creation of green grass in the Bible

Genesis 1 story of creation is written at time when people had geocentric view of the universe. So we learn that green grass was created on the Third Day before Sun was set on the firmament above Earth on the Fourth Day of Creation.

And God said, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so.

And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas; and God saw that it was good.

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth"; and it was so.

And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind; and God saw that it was good.

And the evening and the morning were the third day.
Genesis 1:9-13

So it is written and I understand this factually from the way the Biblical writers understood reality. They certainly had no idea at that time almost 3000 years ago about the connection between Sun and green grass or about photosynthesis.

But then I learned the amazing fact about the very first life form known from Earth - cyanobacteria. And these tiny things that appeard some 3 billion years ago have this one ability - they use photosynthesis to produce oxygen.

So now always when I read the creation story in the Bible and remember how it was bugging me this green grass I start to think the wonder of the purposeful appearance of the forebringers of life to our planet - they came to create the atmosphere that the life forms to come would absolutely need. To prepare the stage, so to say.

I take the Biblical story as it is and give glory to the Creator, God of Israel, for this amazing feat of creation - oxygen producing bacteria.

Free oxygen is too chemically reactive to appear on Earth without the photosynthetic action of living organisms, which use the energy of sunlight to produce elemental oxygen from water. Elemental O2 only began to accumulate in the atmosphere after the evolutionary appearance of these organisms, roughly 2.5 billion years ago. Diatomic oxygen gas constitutes 20.8% of the volume of air.

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