Monthly Archives: March 2009

Scale

Jellyfish in Little Lagoon

Originally uploaded by nola-shiva.

Sitting in the garden in the sun on a clear February day with a chilly air temperature. The radiant heat from the sun, some 290 million miles away, is palpable. You can feel it pressing on the bare skin. And you think about how hot the sun must be, how large it must be and about the distance and you realize that we and the sun exist and have being on incomparably different scales.

Life on earth appears to exist within a very narrow temperature range, from about -30 C to about 120 C. The known temperature range in the universe is from -269 C to about 40 million C (interior of a star). Our little biological range here on earth represents only 0.0004% of the known range. And it is at the very cold end of the known range.

On the universal temperature scale with units of say 500,000 C the earth’s bio-range is completely invisible.

What’s amazing is the sheer complexity of material life within out infinitesimal temperature range, such as the behavior of water. Water is liquid at such a micro range that it is incredible that life seems to depend almost entirely upon that property of the molecule.

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