Redox Signaling Country

We are finally descending into the heart of redox signaling country, we come to a place where there are many different pathways branching off in many different directions.  And it looks like we are going to get wet.  All of these redox signaling pathways are going directly into a huge ocean of salt water.  We put on our scuba gear and tread in.  There is no other way.  All molecular activities in all forms of life on earth take place in salt water, it is the vital fluid of all life.  All our cells and tissues are submersed in this ocean of fluids.

Under the salt water we find great currents of vital elements moving past in living rivers coursing throughout the extensive communities of living cells.  Each cell is like a submerged house in this vast ocean, all of the cells are stacked in neighborhoods closely surrounded by these flowing rivers of currents; like houses along streets.  These communities of cells are connected and fed by the currents that flow past them. Every living cell is alongside these moving rivers of life; each cell is connected by it.

Now imagine, if you can, this underwater community extends to fill all the oceans on earth, some 70 trillion houses; equivalent to every man, woman and child on earth today, each building 10,000 houses along these river currents.  This represents the vast extent of the community of cells that exists inside just one living human being.

Of course, the rivers of life are mostly the networks of blood vessels–literally miles of them–feeding all the cells in our body.  Our heart pumps this river of life though this vast network of blood vessels that connects and supplies our cells with all of the elements of life that they need.  This river travels in only one direction, nothing much travels upstream.  Along with oxygen, all of the fuel, building materials, chemical signals–everything needed to sustain life–travel along these rivers.  The things that cannot be transported directly through the plasma fluid in the veins (for whatever reason) have little specialized “submarines” built for them to transport them down this river of life.

The cells have access to these currents of life through the receptor windows, chimneys, vents and doors.  We can imagine the little molecular inhabitants of these cell houses floating in these fluids, swimming around inside their houses and between their houses under the water.  The fluid that exists inside and around our cells in our body is somewhat similar to the seawater that is in our oceans.  Blood plasma contains 0.9% salt, with a mixture of minerals; the ocean contains 1.9% salt, with similar types of minerals.  We are now getting a better idea of what it really must be like to live in a community of cells.

With this picture in mind, it is easy to see that the fluid pathways that exist in, around and between our cells (individually and collectively) allow the molecules that are needed to sustain life (fuel, material, supplies or signals) to be available to all of our cells.  It is also important to know that each living cell controls access to the “doors” and “windows”, and will not allow entry to just any molecule that happens to be floating by.  In our cell communities, the doors and windows are called receptors and co-receptors and they selectively allow in only the fuels, materials supplies, and signals that are needed and used by the cells at any particular moment. Very few things can “seep through the cracks”.  In this way, the cells have control over what is allowed to come in and what is allowed to go out.  This selective behavior of the cells makes sense as we consider the complex logistics necessary for sharing resources among the trillions of cells in this thriving underwater community.  Collectively, all of the fluid pathways constitute a vital one-way river of life that connects, surrounds, and passes through all of the cells, tissues, organs and systems of our body.

Another experience in this underwater world becomes very real to us.  We cannot communicate with each other except by finding a way to send messages through the salt water that surrounds us.  Since we have eyes, it may be easier for us to lights or hand signals; but the molecular inhabitants of this world must have different, more interesting ways of communicating among themselves.  In order to send a signal through water, the inhabitants have a limited number of options. If they have excess electrons or protons, they can use “email” and send electrical signals along the cables that connect the cells (neuronal material).  If not, molecules can physically move with the currents between houses and travel like mail carriers to deliver the messages personally to the intended recipients (like hormones).  Or, more interestingly, they can modify the molecules in the surrounding water (by reducing or oxidizing them) to and send ripple-like messaging to other nearby molecules through the surrounding salt-water medium.

Let us try to understand how this last form of communication works.  How can life’s molecules modify the salt water molecules that surrounds them?  We discover that as with all molecules, salt-water molecules can be reduced and oxidized (redox’d) through exchanges of electrons.  Some biological molecules, like NADPH complexes, physically modify salt-water molecules (Na+, Cl, H2O) and reorganize them into other molecules such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), super oxides (O2*-,HO2), hyperchlorites (OCl-, HOCl, NaOCl), captured gasses (O2, H2), ions (H+,OH), and a variety of other molecules, ions and free radicals.  These molecules are part of the class of redox signaling molecules that can send messages through the salt water.  If you are curious to find a complete list, you can google Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and find all in this class of molecules.  ROS are part of the fundamental class of redox signaling molecules found in all living organisms.  There are other types of redox signaling molecules.  If you add nitrogen (N2), which comprises 80% of the air we breathe, then nitric oxide (NO) can be formed, this is part of a class called Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS).  Then adding sulfur, very abundant in sea water, we also get Reactive Sulfur Species (RSS).  ROS, RNS, and RSS comprise the class of redox signaling molecules that we are exploring.  Each one of these redox signaling molecules can carry clear messages through the salt-water medium inside us.  We simply could not live without them.

We have now become formally introduced to some of the ways that molecules can communicate among each other.  Redox signaling may be by far the most interesting way of them all.

Welcome to redox signaling country!



Preface The Journey

This week as I have been traveling, I will include the preface to my new book (to be published soon) before we get further into the concepts and science of redox signaling:

Preface – The Journey

I have always enjoyed exploring nature.  I grew up near the Rocky Mountains.  In my young years, whenever we had a chance, my brother and I would take off in any direction into the mountain trails and off-trails to explore the unknown.  These excursions into the unknown carry some of the most memorable experiences of my life.  There was the constant intense exertion of a tough climb followed by the thrill of a new discovery.  There are certain things that we soon learned along the way.  Following unexplored paths is difficult and often ends in the disappointment.  More times than not, we ran into insurmountable barriers, thick brush, loose sliding shale, sheer cliff faces, steep ravines, and so forth that forced us to back up and find another way around.  However, from time to time during our journey, the path opened up into a breathtaking panoramic view. We paused (and sometimes hooted and hollered) to enjoy the majesty of it all.  From these vantage points, we could see where we were, how far we had come, and where we were going, along with all of the incredible expansive terrain that we had yet to explore.  Along with this drive for discovery also came the realization that the true joy in exploration comes in discovering truths that already exist in nature but have not been seen before.  I remember being on a remote winding trail in virgin wilderness and finding a candy bar wrapper and felt let down that someone had been there before us.

In my career as a scientist, I have experienced the same pain and joy of exploration that I felt in those early days on mountain trails.  To the subject at hand, when I first started to explore the possibilities of redox signaling, my expectations were very small that it would lead to anywhere interesting.  After all, salt water is abundant and has been explored extensively already.  I went up this off-trail just wondering where it might lead.  As more and more opened to view, I became cautiously optimistic.  The data from credible studies was showing me that, despite having some of the most reactive molecules in nature, this composition was perfectly safe for many types of cells and tissues.  More data showed that this composition is very similar to the “bullets” used by the immune system to kill all types of microbes.  Further studies have shown that it is potently antimicrobial itself, killing many different types of resistant microbes on contact.  Perfectly safe and antimicrobial…could this be true?  If so, there could be many applications, including that of a nearly perfect disinfectant.  The first glimmers of possibility were starting to open to my view.

In our modern world, it has come to a point where our very survival depends on the ability to utilize these newly discovered technologies for our benefit. We rely on them more and more in order to continue to thrive.  We rely on the transportation technologies that carry supplies, as in the plastics and new materials used to build our cars, containers and houses, the semi-conductor technologies that run our computers, cars, phones, TV’s etc.  We also rely on the energy, electricity, oil, nuclear, solar, etc. that is needed to carry on all the activities of life every day.  Along with the incredible benefits these technologies bring, there are also some liabilities. With solemn realization, we are finding that misuse of these same technologies can also serve toward our destruction.  In our pursuit of dominance, we have developed nuclear bombs that can destroy even our most modern and advanced cities in the blink of an eye.

In every sense, our journey of discovery is a human journey, embodying the principles of the human equation that we are learning along the way: human struggle and striving, the indomitable human spirit, mixed in with greed, strife and suffering.  As our knowledge increases, seemingly without bound, in true exponential fashion, in conjunction with the power it provides us to change our environment, there is a real concomitant need to master the human equation, for with great power comes great responsibility and the stakes are getting much too high to ignore.  With the knowledge that we presently have in agricultural sciences, for example, it is within the realm of possibility, given what we have on hand today, to adequately grow and distribute sufficient food to feed all of the people in the world.  If it is not lack of technology that prevents us from doing so, then what is it?  As knowledge increases past the point where we are able to understand the very nature of life itself, then the really difficult questions  begin to surface.  I yearn, with all that is human within me, to believe that we will be ready and willing to face our own humanity as we travel along the journey of life into a promising future.

We truly live in exciting times where the mysteries of the ages are finally being peeled back and revealed.  At present, the acquisition of knowledge is dizzying, quickly outdistancing our ability to assimilate it and apply it to real-world problems.  From 1650 through 1750, there was only one scientific journal published.  Ever since about 1785, about 10 generations ago, the number of scientific journals started doubling every 22.5 years consistently [ref: 21].  In the early 1900’s, there were only 250 journals with about 7,000 articles published per year, including articles by Albert Einstein and Max Plank that have changed the very world in which we live.  In 2009, there were over 12,000 journals and over 1 million articles.  Every month, over 100,000 scientific articles are being published, each representing months of laboratory work, amounting to millions of months of scientific work that is published and available to us each and every month.

In the upcoming century, one of the most worthy pursuits, almost to the point of being revered as sacred, is to unravel the mystery of what makes us live.  Can we really understand the physical principles upon which life is based well enough to grasp the very nature of life?  We are already on the pathway and, barring global calamity, we will amass enough knowledge in the next 50 years to get a good picture of the nature of our own being on a physical level.  What advantage is this knowledge going to give us?  When we have half of the picture, to what end will we use this knowledge?  Will it be utilized, even unknowingly, to promote destructive efforts?

I take some comfort in that the fact that the evolution of knowledge is based on principles that require constructive efforts, and that misery and destruction are based on ignorance.  Scientists must spend years acquiring the knowledge, which requires development of the strikingly human characteristics; the hunger to know the truth and more importantly, the dedication to study and research in unveiling the truth.  These same human elements that enable scientific development are those that will help us overcome differences and move toward a bright future.  The possession of such a desire leads to knowledge and self-actualization, whereas the lack of such proves self-destructive and must ultimately diminish.  These are the very principles and laws that allow for our existence, that allow us to adapt and live, the physical laws that govern how our body works and how we thrive.  As we discover these principles, let us not think that we are greater than them; let us not think that we can govern them; rather, let us reverence them and search for greater understanding; let us discover and conform to true principles and enjoy the life that has been given us and that which exists in such great harmony and abundance around us.


The Time is Now

Picture1     I have looked forward with much anticipation to the time when we could travel a bit farther down the road of discovery together.  Finally, the time is now.  Let me quickly lay out some of the scenery for your view.  Our destination is not very far away, it is the vast and beautiful landscape of Redox Signaling; a technology that has the potential of providing us, when fully explored, with some of the greatest advances into the science of life that we can experience, accompanied by the power for good that comes from such knowledge.  Over the last several posts (made a few years ago) we have covered some of the terrain that leads to this redox signaling landscape.  Let me remind you of some of the scenery we passed along the way:

·        The Atomic Scenery:  to really appreciate what life is, we considered what is happening on the smallest scale, the details of the fine fabric that holds us together in the worlds much smaller than we can see.  The atoms that make molecules that make machines in cells that make cells that make tissues that make systems that make our body.  The same physical laws that make us also make up everything that surrounds us.

·        The Signaling Networks of Life:  The incredibly complex and beautiful orchestration of life that exists inside us requires that all of the billions of billions of billions of molecules inside us are connected together in a vast signaling network.  Molecules in our brain signal molecules in our muscles signal molecules in our heart signal molecules in our gut and so forth.  Signals from our exterior world, light, heat, sound, touch also interconnect with those inside us.  Redox Signaling is perhaps the most fundamental of all our internal signaling networks.

·        Control Semaphores:  Exploring the semaphores that control the signaling networks within us might be one of the more boring aspects, but without it the traffic signals inside us would become hopelessly jammed and life would not be so great.  Redox signals control these semaphores.  Recall that diabetes was seen as a problem that happens when the signaling networks get fouled up.

·        Homeostatic Balance:  We then took a close up view of the universal law of nature that governs how all of this works.  What brings us back into balance when things get out of balance?  We explored one or two of the consequences of this law and how life must compensate for a lack (or an excess) of needed supplies: nutritional supplies, oxygen, water, and energy.  We also looked at the vast extent of this law that like gravity governs all things from the smallest scale to the biggest scale everywhere.

·        Uncountable Consequences: Crude attempts and much vigorous waving was done to emphasize the power that is found in understanding these most fundamental principles of life.  When the bright light of truth illuminates our path, nothing is impossible, all obstacles are visible and tractable.  We must let the light so shine to reap the benefits.  A great diet, a great government, great management of resources, great relationships and great health is all possible as more truth is revealed to us, it is a worthy goal to pursue such truths and build the torch for those that follow.

At this point in the journey it might be a bit confusing why we had to go through all of this scenery to get us into redox signaling territory, but let me assure you that the view will be more appreciated after you have gone through the effort to get there.

First off, you passed through the atomic scenery because REDOX (REDuction/OXidation) happens on the atomic level.  You need to think at the scale of an atom to understand what it really means.  REDOX is a process that happens when atoms pass electrons back and forth between themselves.  Oxidation happens when an electron is “stolen” from an atom or molecule.  Reduction happens when an electron is received by an atom.  Obviously when an electron is stolen from one atom, it can be received by another and so the process of passing an electron between atoms is called a REDOX process.  The oxygen atom really likes to steal electrons that are hanging around and so the oxidation (electron stealing) process has been named after it.  When electrons are stolen, the properties of the atoms change.  Iron atoms make a hard and shiny metal surface, when electrons are stolen from them by oxygen they turn into orange crumbling rust (Iron oxide).  Wood releases lots of energy when it is oxidized (it burns), but transforms into a crumbling pile of carbon.

By the way, this does not make oxygen “bad”, we certainly have a need for oxygen inside our bodies.  As we will see a bit down the road, there are many types of oxidants inside us (along with oxygen) that are not “bad” and serve very important purposes.  The landscape of redox signaling molecules that we will be exploring are mostly oxidants, in one form or another.  We could not live a minute without them.  The real issue is where there are too many oxidants or even too many antioxidants concentrated somewhere in our body.  A local REDOX imbalance can make things very “bad” and can cause massive damage in cells and tissues.  Here is where this law of homeostatic balance becomes so very important and where the terrain of redox signaling begins.  The accumulation of oxidants and free radicals inside cells is like the accumulation of smoke inside a house.  It causes everything inside the cell, including the genes, to take notice.  This accumulation must stimulate processes that will bring things back into balance.  It turns out that most of the most intricate and beautiful signaling networks in our body, the incredible orchestration of signaling activity between the countless molecules inside our trillions of cells, are made in attempts to restore homeostatic balance to the cells after it has been disturbed.  This is the true test of a living organism.  Living organisms can regain balance after they have been pushed out of balance.  When an organism cannot do this, it is an indication that it is dead or will not be alive for very long.

We are just crossing into the redox signaling territory, but can you make out some of the beautiful landmarks already?  The mysteries of detecting damaged tissues, the keys to regaining chemical balance, the benefits of clearing up confusing signaling, the emergence of natural cell regeneration.  The mysteries of preserving healthy tissue.  See you all soon as we continue onward.


Homeostatic Balance — The Perfect Diet

why-we-need-antioxidans-360x240     For us humans, comprehension of homeostatic balance can bear much fruit and be of great value.  Look at our own bodies; enormously complex living organisms. Our body requires supplies in order to maintain optimal existence. To maintain homeostatic balance, it is very beneficial to understand what kind of supplies are needed by the body and how much of each.  What is the perfect diet?  In the past eons of time, our digestive system evolved to break down and assimilate the supplies that were found in our natural environment; vegetables found growing around us, and meats from the animals we could catch or raise.  Our life mechanisms are specifically designed to process the types of supplies in the living vegetables and meats we find around us.

At present we have evolved to a state where we have a choice about the things we put into our body, yet we cannot cheat physical laws.  For our 70 trillion living cells, there is nothing more important than the supplies we choose to give them.  We can see this even in very simple systems, like a car motor.  If we put sugar in the gas tank of a car, we will soon find that the motor is not designed to handle sugar and soon the sticky residues that build up will cause the motor to stop working.  Even though the sugar has ample energy, it cannot be utilized by the engine.  The same principle is true when dealing with the cells in our bodies.  If we were to drink gasoline, for example, then our cells would eventually stop working and our body would die.  Our cells are not built to utilize the energy in gasoline.  If we supply the body with things it cannot use, it must get rid of them somehow or store them. If we do not supply the cells in our body with the needed supplies or too many of these supplies, life processes slow down, healthy homeostatic balance is disturbed and eventually life ceases.  In other words, if we do not eat well, we will literally get sick and die.

One poignant feature of the Standard American Diet (SAD) is the excess of easily digestible calories and abundance of ingredients the body cannot use.  When scientists examined hundreds of factors that could correlate to a long life in the U.S., they found that there was only one aspect of our diet that correlates to a longer life; only a diet with caloric restriction (less calories) correlates to a longer life.  There is nothing else; they found no magic food or vitamin, no drug, no mineral, no antioxidant or exotic plant that helped prolong life. This means for us that if we wish to live longer, we simply need to eat less calories.

Over time, life will evolve and adapt to new types and quantities of foods, but it takes tens of thousands of years for any organism to adapt to a new environment it is not equipped to handle.  So one of the first things we learn about ourselves from the principle of homeostatic balance is that proper diet is the most important factor in recovering, maintaining and sustaining health. If we do not give the body the perfect balance of the supplies it requires, some of the processes of life will not be sustained and we will sufferThere is no way to get around it.

After years of studies, using the best information we have available about micronutrient theories and in understanding the supplies made available to and needed by our cells, I have finally found the perfect combination and proportion of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, probiotics to exactly supply us with an optimal supply of nutrients. The perfect solution I found is … broccoli … also squash, carrots, kale, leafy greens, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, herbs…all the raw living foods that are found in the produce section of our markets. I have found that in living plants we find perfectly packaged bundles of the exact combination of nutrient supplies and probiotics that our body uses to sustain abundant life, ideal packages of nutrients found nowhere else.

Whole grains satisfy our demand for energy and meats and proteins for the building materials. The perfect diet is: Lots of veggies and some fruits every meal, a little meat once in a while; a bit of carbs in the mornings to get things going and a bit of protein at night to help repair muscle…nothing else.  Your body will tell you when you get it right. Pass up the chips and sodas, the convenience foods, processed sugar, bleached grains, processed foods, or fads.

Extending this to a larger view.  Our society must be set up to provide us with the supplies we require individually. Farmers get up every morning to grow the crops needed to supply nutrients needed for our bodies. Here is again a perfect example of the principle of homeostatic balance. A farmer takes the right amount of seeds and supplies, derived from nature: water, natural fertilizers, and relies on the energy from the sun to grow the seeds into the nutrients we use in our bodies.

With this, another factor comes into play, the farmer’s labor is an essential asset. In fact, if you think about it, our whole economic system is set up to motivate us to supply the required materials we all want and need. Every farm and business operates on the principle of homeostatic balance. We use acquired resources and work to provide supplies and/or resources for other people and organizations. By doing so living societies sustain themselves, all of their members have the required resources to sustain life. Ideally, governments and social norms are set up to detect and correct the imbalances that appear from time to time.  It is all about homeostatic balance.


Universal Truths of Life Will Prevail

Why do scientists and researchers go rambling on about universal principles, such as gravitation and homeostatic balance discussed in the last post?  A universal principal creates the framework for understanding truths that can generate immense advances in technology.  As a medical researcher, these truths can translate into technologies that not only save lives, but give us dominance over our health and quality of life.  As a counterexample, modern pharmaceuticals largely have only one “active molecule” that have to be present in large amounts in order to force themselves past the liver and other filters in our body that are designed to keep the homeostatic balance of these molecules.  Forcing an invasion of one molecule on the body may solve one problem, but often will place other body systems out of balance.  Such “side effects” can then be treated with other pharmaceuticals designed to solve such problems.  Costly cocktails of medications are sometimes needed to keep everything in balance.  The irony is that often inexpensive natural foods have the same active ingredients found in these medications, but in relatively perfect balance already.  The pharmaceutical industry, however, largely ignores foods as medication, somewhat because they can patent and sell a single molecule for a large profit, but the same profit is not possible for a food.  Natural foods do offer balanced solutions to our body systems.  Ignoring the principle of homeostatic balance will ultimately have serious negative consequences.

Have you ever heard the children’s story where an industrious hen goes to bake a loaf of bread. Along the way she seeks help from a lazy cat. She asks the cat, “Will you help me thrash the grain?” The cat replies that he has better things to do. The hen replies, “Then I will do it by myself”. She asks a cow “Will you help me grind the grain?” The cow also refuses to help. Along the way she asks other barnyard friends to help her mix, knead, roll and bake the dough. They all refused. At the end, the hen has a steaming hot tray of fresh homemade bread sliced and covered with melting butter. “Will any of you help me eat the bread?”, she asks her friends who have gathered around the house, attracted by the irresistible aroma. They all answer, “I will”. In the story the hen refuses, saying that she will eat it by herself.  You cannot help but notice that this story represents a system in severe homeostatic imbalance and supposing that the bread were the sole source of nutrition, could not be sustained very long. Maybe the hungry animals would riot and steal the bread or perhaps her kindly uncle Sam would insist that she share her “plentiful” bread with her friends. In a perfect world, she would give all of them a taste and then if they wanted more, she would teach them all how they could make her delicious bread for themselves, or perhaps ask for “mouse service” or “milk service” or some other compensation in exchange for bread. In some instances, I have heard that governments have taken almost everything from the laborers, giving everything it to the “urban starving masses” (or entitled) leaving the laborers only scraps from the fruits of their own labors. Obvious, to most of us, this represents a severe homeostatic imbalance and will inevitably end in the destruction of society, history is full of the details.

In order to have a stable, sustainable, living system, a homeostatic balance must exist. Every cell in our body, every body in our society, indeed every form of life on earth relies on regulated systems to bring them the supplies they need to sustain life. In our bodies, these systems are already built and in place. Our blood in the circulatory system distributes the molecular supplies needed by each of our trillions of cells. Insulin, and a host of other messengers, regulate the amount of sugars and other necessary supplies in our blood. Our cells form tissues, supplied by blood vessels, coexist in vast connected and interrelated communities that provide structure and produce the hundreds of supplies that the other tissues and organs use. It is easy to see that if any of these systems failed at their task, the whole organism would eventually die. All of this regulated and governed by the universal principle of homeostatic balance. I hope we can fully understand the extensive implications of this principle in time.

The most fundamental systems in our body are designed to maintain homeostatic balance.  Providing all the cells in the body with a balance of nutrients is our job.  We can discuss the perfect diet in this light in future posts.  The repair and replacement of dysfunctional cells is the job of the reduction/oxidation (redox) signaling system.  We can discuss how to keep the redox signaling system in balance.  I just could not resist to talk about the beautiful concept of homeostatic balance first.  I hope we can continue this journey of discovery together.


The Universal Truth of Life – Homeostatic Balance

What is the greatest scientific discovery of all time? If we were to ask ourselves this question, some of the greatest accomplishments of science during the last centuries might come to mind: rockets launching into space, microscopic images of cells, electrical power, lasers firing, the discovery of a seemingly infinite variety of complex living organisms. As a physicist, my vantage point for all these impressive accomplishments is a little different than for most people. After years of study, it is clear that all of these accomplishments are based on the understanding of just a handful of basic universal truths that have been discovered along the path. When I see the fiery tail of a rocket disappearing into the clouds, I think of our understanding of the laws of universal gravitation, enabling us to plot the trajectory into space. Our comprehension of universal principles enables us to accomplish extraordinary things. Our understanding of the nature of light enables us to build lasers, our understanding of the quantum nature of the atom enables us to make new materials, build molecules and electronics and extract vast amounts of energy from atoms. So I measure the greatest discoveries of mankind as those that give us universal truths. What universal truth allows us to understand life in all its complexity and beauty?

The greatest discovery about life and living organisms may be based on just one simple universal truth, one underlying governing principle applicable to all life. Our comprehension of this principle gives us perhaps the better insight into life than any other. It has to do with what keeps us alive and how we work as living organisms in society. If we fully understand this one fundamental principle, we have immense power to build and affect all life. The name given this principle is: homeostatic balance. Actually, it has many names; in economics it is known as supply and demand, in chemistry it is known as dynamic equilibrium, the common general term is simply “balance”. Life is literally is a dynamic process, a system that keeps everything in homeostatic balance. Without such a balance, life cannot sustain itself. In order to survive, life must have the necessary mechanisms required to bring things back into balance just when they start getting out of balance.

This concept is so rich that we could spend years exploring all the implications. This principle applies to all aspects of life, from the molecular interactions inside and outside cells and tissues to the rules that govern our societies and govern our relationships to all life in the universe. To get quickly to the core of this principle, consider the fact that all types of life (cells, tissues, organs, organisms, societies, nations, global communities) must be supplied with basic materials (like oxygen, food, water, etc.) All life processes require basic supplies in order to produce the biological molecules and structures needed for life. In order for the processes of life to be sustained, a homeostatic balance must be maintained between the supplies coming in and the products of life. This means that the needed supplies must come in just fast enough to match the demand for the required products. If there is an imbalance, then life cannot be sustained. For example, in our bodies, if the oxygen supply is cut off, then the processes of life do not have the necessary supply of oxygen to sustain production, life will come to a point where homeostatic balance cannot be maintained and life processes will cease.

This same principle also applies to any manufacturing industry in our society, the lack or excess of any supply throws off the balance. The cost of storing excess inventory or dealing with supply shortages over time becomes a prohibitive obstacle and things slow down. If there are not enough or too many supplies coming in to match the demand, or if production speed does not match demand, then over time inventories will become excessive or depleted, the cost to manage the imbalanced system will be prohibitive, competition will dominate, the business will fail and all activity will cease. With industrial as well as economic systems, homeostatic balance is essentially health and life.

At first it might seem a bit strange that this principle of homeostatic balance is truly a discovery, when it comes to living organisms and organizations, it seems like a fairly obvious principle. Yet if you spend just a minute or two in contemplation, you will see that all life, all society, all economic systems, all our motivations, wishes and desires are governed by this very principle. We, as organisms, are built to desire the objects that give us an ample supply of the things that we need to sustain life. Food provides security. Cars supply us with mobility and wider influence. Houses shelter us and make us secure. We work hard to secure such objects.   In order for such a secure, abundant life to be sustained, homeostatic balance must be maintained. It is worth every effort to secure systems that will maintain homeostatic balance. Isn’t it ironic that all the greatest discoveries in history are obvious, only after they have been discovered?


Welcome the new year!

I can’t help but be a little excited about the prospects of the coming year.  I felt a little buried in the last year but finally have had some time to catch my balance again.  I have had time to write down some thoughts for those who read my blog from time to time.  Early this year I aim to publish a book on Redox pathways and keep up with the posts.  In the past months, I have missed the experience of sharing ideas.  The truths that surround us fill our senses and minds.  Blogs are a wonderful way to share our vantage points on these items and come to an every greater multifaceted understanding of what is really out there.  For the first few posts, let’s start the year by looking at some of the most interesting aspects of life.

May we all take full advantage of life in the time we are given!

-Gary L. Samuelson Ph.D.