Everything is Energy – an essay by Alissa Mayer, May 2015
“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.”
– Albert Einstein
This is also biology! The flow of matter and energy, from one part of a living system to another, is not only one of the core concepts of biology, but an underlying theme of all science, all knowledge, including the pursuit of excellence with horses. Even a thought is at least partially measurable as electromagnetic energy, according to William L. Smith, writer for the Journal of Theoretics (vol 4-2).
Photosynthesis is a beautiful example of the flow of energy and matter, converting light energy into sugar. In the light reaction, sunlight is absorbed by the pigments in chlorophyll, which excites an electron used to power an Electron Transport Chain.
Water molecules are split to provide hydrogen, and the resulting hydrogen gradient across the thylakoid membrane powers the production of ATP and NADPH. This ATP then powers the Calvin Cycle, which uses the carbon and oxygen in carbon dioxide (diffused via stomata into the plants tissues from the atmosphere) to make sugar. Excess waste oxygen is released into the atmosphere where its excitable electrons will be used by cellular respiration in animals. Like magic, the energy from sunlight is converted into ATP, the “fuel of all life,” which is stored as the energy contained in the chemical bonds of each sugar molecule produced by the plant. Those sugar molecules are either stored in the plant’s root for future energy use, or are circulating through the plants phloem tissues in the leaves and stems.
Over millions of years, animals have evolved to acquire their energy from different sources, resulting in three broad categories of animal: Herbivores, Carnivores, and Omnivores. Each species of animal has specific adaptations that facilitate the ingestion of organic sources of energy, stored in the chemical bonds in the various macromolecules of polysaccharides (sugar), polypeptides (protein), or lipids (fat). Herbivores and omnivores, by ingesting plants directly, have historically been the next step in the flow of energy from sunlight to human consciousness.
I have always been fascinated by the adaptations of large grazing animals to harvest the energy stored in plants – specifically the portion of the digestive system designed to ferment cellulose, which is otherwise indigestible by mammals. In the digestive system of the horse, for example, between the small and large intestine is a blind “vat” called the cecum. The cecum is populated by microorganisms and protozoa that are able to break down the cellulose into digestible sugars, furthering the energetic value of the ingested plant material. This adaptation enhances the horse’s ability to harvest more energy from plants when competing with other grazers, directly affecting the horses’ rate of survival and reproduction.
Regardless of the food source, animals must eat to acquire hydrogen, an essential ingredient for cellular respiration, the conversion of chemical bonds back into useable energy in the form of ATP! In animals, oxygen and water pass thru the plasma membrane (phospholipid bilayer) between cells in tissues where an exchange is necessary, usually to facilitate some part of the process of converting or transporting energy. In the gas exchange occurring between capillaries and muscle tissues for example, the oxygen molecules slip between the phospholipids in the plasma membrane to enter the muscle cells, where they clean up extra electrons and hydrogen ions, the waste products of cellular respiration. This clean-up consists of the oxygen bonding with available hydrogen ions, creating water molecules that diffuse by osmosis back across the plasma membranes and into the bloodstream.
This is one reason why animals need to breathe – to harvest oxygen from the atmosphere via inhalation.
After inhalation via the nose or mouth, oxygen rich air flows into the lungs via the bronchioles, into the bronchi, and finally the oxygen molecules move into the alveoli of the lungs. The high surface area to volume ratio in the alveoli, as well as in the capillary bed of the lungs, allows for high rates of diffusion as oxygen moves down the concentration gradient into the oxygen poor blood coming from the right ventricle of the heart. At the same time, carbon dioxide diffuses down the concentration gradient from the blood into the air spaces in the alveoli of the lungs. Each exhalation dumps the waste carbon dioxide out of the body and into the atmosphere, preventing the animal’s system from accumulating toxic levels of carbon dioxide and simultaneously making more atmospheric carbon dioxide available to plants.
The gas exchange is a literal flow of energy-containing matter into and out of the body via the lungs, and into and out of the tissues across the phospholipid bilayers of the animal’s cells.
All animals share the same universal genetic code. In fact, all organisms on earth can read one another’s DNA because it is written in the same language of deoxyribonucleic acids! Important genetic information is passed from generation to generation in animals via sexual reproduction and the process of meiosis – the duplication, division and distribution of genetic material into gametes. During sexual reproduction, gametes randomly meet one another and through fertilization merge into a zygote, completing the set of necessary chromosomes to create new life. In Meiosis I: the chromosomes are duplicated, and then reduced from 46 in one cell to 23 each in two identical daughter cells. In meiosis II, the sister chromatids in the two cells are further separated into four gametes, each it’s own cell – in this way, the information contained in the DNA (the matter) flows from one generation to the next, often enhancing the offspring’s ability to harvest and utilize energy.
Energy that originated from the sun is harvested, stored, and passed up the food chain with exponentially decreasing efficiency. However, according to the laws of thermodynamics, energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only changed from one form to another. In the flow of energy through the trophic levels of any ecosystem, some energy is stored (in the form of chemical bonds), some energy is used to sustain the organisms (via cellular respiration), and some energy is “lost” (as heat). Lost to the participants of the food chain in a particular ecosystem, but not truly lost, just transformed.
Light energy is captured and used by producers – photosynthesizing organisms like plants and algae. Herbivores, the primary consumers, feed on the producers, but are only able to harvest 5-10% of the light energy captured by the producers. The secondary consumers, carnivores, are able to consume only up to 10% of the energy used in creating the bodies of the herbivores they eat. The tertiary consumers, the top carnivores that feed on other carnivores, are the animals at the top of the food chain, like humans. Despite their ecological dominance, tertiary consumers are yet again able to access at most 10% of the chemical energy required to build the edible mass of their prey. 100% pure light energy, reduced to 1% or less chemical energy after passing through the trophic levels of an ecosystem…
This pyramid of energy is consistent in all natural ecosystems, and can never be inverted, as each level of the trophic system must necessarily contain less biomass, and therefore less energy, than the level below it. This is why I eat a mostly vegan diet – it is the only way I can get around the inefficiency of the traditional food chain, and get more of that magical sunshine into my body!
Until man understands these basic concepts of how energy is moved around the greater organism that is Planet Earth, the increasing ecological impacts of modern human existence will continue to wreak havoc on Earth’s ability to sustain life.
And without an understanding of energy, flow, and how connected all living beings truly are, to our microscopic cores, we will fail to achieve the highest levels of connection, refinement, and excellence with our horses.
God is the universe, is energy, is in every little thing
I am the universe
The universe is we.
– Alissa Mayer