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  Rotation in the Sphere of Life

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By: Wolfgang Held
Rotation report.doc

(Original title: "Rotation im Lebendigen." DOS Goetheanum 1996; 75:336. English by A. R. Meuss, FIL, MTA.)

Life presents an infinite variety of form and modes of behavior here on earth. Yet in spite of all those innumerable differences many things are held in common at the functional level. All green plants, from a moss to an oak tree, use essentially the same method of converting sunlight into usable energy. Cell division is fundamentally the same for fungi, plants and humans. Many basic physiologic functions are the same for almost all organisms.

In almost all organisms, from a primitive bacterium to the human being, energies supplies to individual cells are mediated by adenosine-triphosphate (ATP). Food intake followed by digestion and metabolism yields ATP that is taken to every cell. It is a universal vehicle for vital energies. To lift something weighing 1 gram, 20 billion ATP molecules deposited in the cells are split within seconds in a human being to release the necessary energy.

Almost all life forms use the enzyme ATP synthase to produce ATP from its precursor adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and phosphate. It has been known for some time that the enzyme has three active ATP synthesis centers and it has been noted under the microscope that these are at an angle of 120° to one another. It was assumed that specific movements in the enzyme let to ATP synthesis (in so far as one may speak of "movement" at molecular level).

Biophysicists at Osnabrueck University have sought to show that the center of the enzyme is in rotation during ATP synthesis. This dissolved part of the enzyme which is responsible for converting ATP back into ADP in water and applied a pigment to the enzyme molecules. The experiment was designed in such a way that a change in spatial orientation of the molecules would result in a change in color. When ATP was added to the solution, the enzymes split it up and a color change was noted. The color would remain unchanged when no more ATP was present. The conclusion drawn was that rotation occurs within the enzyme molecule whilst it is active. Until now only movements through small angles were known for enzymes.

Rotation around one's own axis and linear locomotion are the fundamental forms of movement in space. A combination of the two produces circular, vortical and spiral movements. This can be seen in plant growth. Spiral phyllotaxis indicates that upward growth combines with a rotary components. This can be easily seen in roses, for instance. A spiral line can be drawn around the stem as one moves upwards from one leaf tip to the next. Vortices are created in all air and water currents unless they are confined to beds or pipes. Meteorological high pressure vortices and natural currents in rivers provide evidence for our eyes.

Rotation presents in its purest form in the cosmos. All heavenly bodies - earth, planets, sun and even comets - rotate around their axes as they move through the planetary system. There have even been indications that fixed stars rotate. It is evident, therefore, that there is nothing in the cosmos that does not rotate.

What is the essential nature of rotary movement? It gives stability to bodies with an axis of rotation that provides definite orientation in space. Thus the earth's axis of rotation maintains its orientation on the Pole star as its moves through the zodiac. At the physical level this creates individual identity, independent of the environment. (The principle is utilized in technology. The barrels of guns or cannon often have a spirally grooved bore which makes the missiles rotate, stabilizing their trajectory).

In the macrocosm the rotation of many heavenly bodies is not visible to the eye and can only be established by exact radar measurement. Rotation of the ATP enzyme also is not accessible to direct observation in the microcosm of the organism. It seems remarkable, however, that every movement in and of the body involves not only complex flow changes in body fluids but also multiple rotatory movements at molecular level, i.e. not accessible to sensory perception.

To have a body means to close oneself off and create a new world within the world at large. This independence from the world only comes to full expression in humans, because their body axis is in the vertical. Only in human beings, therefore, does emancipation, delimiting oneself from the environment, also cover the sphere of soul and spirit. Every organism at the level of life does, however, have a world of its own. This is reinforced at a level below sensory perception because the ATP enzymes rotate at every movement in and of the body.

Wolfgang Held

Spectrum der Wissenschaft 1996/9.

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