It is no surprise then, when we consider all of the incredible complexities of life that everything comes down to how the molecules are formed and put together and how they interact inside the living cells and tissues. The basic fundamental secrets of life, we might suppose, are found in how the molecules themselves are formed, how they interact with other molecules in their environment and how they shift and change over the course of their existence. It seems a bit strange, at first, to fathom how all life can be composed of molecules, a bunch of whirling particles following a set of physical laws and fields, and how this can lead to sentient, conscious beings that are self-aware, can act for themselves and have learned enough to discover and ponder the very principles that allow themselves to exist. This might be an open question, yet there is no denying that on the most fundamental level we are composed of molecules and yet we hold within ourselves the breath of life.
On the most fundamental level, all life brings into itself the elements that it needs to sustain life processes and releases the waste products that are generated. For humans these basic elements of life are water, nutrition, oxygen, fuel and waste. Deprive us of any of these elements and we cannot exist. This is universally true, right down to the cellular level. After all, it is within the aqueous interior of our cells that oxygen is combined with fuel to create energy, where nutrients are used to build tissues, organs and systems and where waste is created. Our lungs supply oxygen to our cells, our digestive system provides nutrients and fuels to our cells, our skin, mouths, stomachs and blood vessels absorb the water our cells need. In short, all of the activities we do to sustain our life involves the necessary processes that bring the elements of life to our cells. And then it is within the chambers of our cells that these molecular elements are processed into the molecules that are needed and where the energy is released that is needed to sustain the whole process and where waste products are generated and eliminated. The processes of life are largely performed by self-sustaining, self-actuating molecular engines inside our cells, and the mystery of how this all works and sustains itself resides inside living cells, where the molecular mechanisms of life reside.
The molecular orchestrations of life in our body are performed in perfect rhythm and harmony, every day, all working together to give us this incredible gift of life. In an orchestra there are various types of players each trained to play their instruments with precision and mastery. These players and their instruments can be compared to the masterful, beautifully crafted tiny molecular machines inside our cells. The players in an orchestra gather together with their instruments, poised to perform their parts; the molecular machines in our cells are gathered together, organized and positioned precisely, ready to perform their part. The musical score is then copied and passed out to the various players in the orchestra, similar to the way that the instructions within the DNA of our genes are copied into RNA and passed around to the players in our cells. In the cell, the written music in the score represents the genetic instructions distributed to be performed by the molecular players. Before the conductor steps onto the platform, the players warm up and practice their individual parts, the result is a dissonant jumble of individual musical lines, each conveying some part of a message, disjoint, confusing; there is no unity, order or sense to it.
The conductor then steps up and taps his stand. All the players with their instruments stand at attention and silent anticipation ensues. All attention is on the conductor as he starts the beat and the instruments begin to play their individual parts at the programmed time. Something interesting happens at that point. All of the individual parts come together and start to convey a unified message; instead of individual parts, a harmonious orchestration ensues, each individual instrument now works together with the others to create a much richer and powerful message than would ever be possible with one instrument alone. The individual parts then “make sense” as they are heard along with the other parts. All of the instruments interplay in wonderful synchronization toward a singular purpose.
If an orchestration is successful, a feeling described as “electricity” propagates as instruments, players, orchestra and audience link in to the same beat, the same message, the same emotional response. There is an almost transcendent feeling unifying hundreds of people that are sharing a single message all conveyed by the vibrating air that surrounds them. Most all of us have had this experience at one time or another, regardless of the type of music. This feeling may have more to it than it seems. It appears to be programmed by life itself, it resonates with the harmonious orchestration of life that takes place inside your cells, tissues, organs and systems, trillions of tiny molecular orchestras performing together in remarkable harmony and rhythm, programmed by the “musical score” that is written inside the DNA. The music is passed around inside the cells by messengers, generating and organizing the players and instruments. The music is performed by these molecular orchestras performing the program of life inside the cells. And just like in the orchestra, the real magic happens when a “beat” signal is established and all of these molecular instruments, cells, tissues and systems start listening to each other and acting in harmony, responding to the parts that are being played by the other instruments, each playing their part at the proper time. Isn’t it interesting that this idea of harmonious orchestration even works on the molecular level, in fact on every level, inside your cells, tissues, organs and systems. These harmonious molecular orchestrations inside us allow us to live.