Sunday, January 30, 2005

A foot in the river...

A candle burns, releasing carbon atoms. Some of the atoms link in pairs to make soot. Others combine with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, and drift away in the air. A flowering plant steals carbon dioxide from the air, and, with sunlight, makes sugar. The flower's sweet nectar attracts a bee. The bee makes honey and wax. From the wax, a candle is made. The candle burns.

"All things flow," said Heraclitus. We cannot step in the same river twice, he said. What flows are atoms, in a constant shuffle, in and out of stars, nebulas, planets, animals, plants. Of all atoms, it is carbon that provides the frame upon which life weaves its woof and warp of variation -- the subject of this week's Musing.