The scene from the balcony of my apartment in the third floor of the building is breathtaking. It harks me back to my childhood. The place where all these apartments have come up were fields then. There were rills with gurgling water running through the path which led us from our home into our land.
Now this patch which is remaining reminds me of those times. There are fields in which the cattle graze when the land is fallow. In the rainy season, the cattle roll in the mud and after that go to bath in the pond of water.
This pond looks like a shard of mirror. It is a narrow strip of water. I was surprised why the pond does not get dried. Still there is water. This time I found the answer. There is a river not far from our place. It is called Ghaghar. It is not a big river like the other mighty rivers of Punjab. In the past, as I have mentioned, there were small streams which ran through the area and distributed the water for irrigation to the landowners on the rota basis. I have presumed that all those stream must have become extinct but I was surprised to see one in which pristine water was flowing and leading towards the pond and beyond.
There is a narrow path made from the constant walking of the people. It is narrow strip of bald land. People who are walking on the path look tiny specks from our home. During the high sun, the water simmers and it becomes difficult to look at it directly.
From the height of our home, the pond seems to like a broken piece of mirror-placid. But a closer look indicates lots of activity taking place there inside it. Buffaloes wallow in it. Besides you can see the cormorants and ducks smoothly swimming over the water surface. Water continuously exits the pond from other side.
There is algae over a part of it. The same algae called cyano-bacteria or green algae which is on the surface of the earth since times immemorial when no other form of life existed. This is the same algae which is the precursor of life that is present on the earth.
On the other side is a preserved patch of woods where eucalyptus and poplar trees grow along with undergrowth. There are trodden paths running and getting lost inside these woods. These remind me of the poem “the road less taken” by Robert Frost.
I don’t know how long this patch of remaining land will last. I fear the day is not far when the demon of concrete will overtake it. In the last I present a picture of laborers carrying dried wood stick bundles on their heads for firing their hearths and sitting around the fire for keeping the winter at bay.
Scientists speculate that all the fundamental particles were created from the energy immediately after the Big Bang event in which Universe was formed. Then these atoms combined in different permutations and combinations and molecules were born. Context of immediately in the cosmic events is not similar to the usual terms with which define our world. It may be millions of years.
Earth was formed but its climate was not like the present day. There was no life except one algae namely “Blue Algae” known in the scientific language as “Cyanobacteria” where “Cyano” stands for blue color. It thrived in the water which occupied 70% surface of the Earth. All around in the atmosphere was carbondioxide and metals existed in the solution form because there was no oxygen to react with them and precipitate them as ores. Iron was the most abundant of them. So this was the scene about 3.5 billions of years ago.
How did these small living beings sustain themselves? Where from did they get the energy? .
They developed the photosynthesis and harvested the energy of Sun. They also did much of the chemistry which resulted in critically changing the composition of gases in the atmosphere. They learned to break the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. They then used the hydrogen along with carbon dioxide to make carbohydrates which are the store house of energy. The oxygen gas which was generated was very reactive and reacted with the metal ions especially iron species and got fixed up and ores were formed. This went on for millions of years. Iron acted as a perfect sink for oxygen which was poison for these bacteria themselves because they thrived in the anaerobic conditions.
But a stage reached when no more free iron ions were available. So the concentration of oxygen began building up in the atmosphere and setting a stage in which the new species of life which use oxygen for breathing to evolve. The life started in the real earnest. The oxygen content stabilized at about 20% by volume in the air. Carbon dioxide has very small percentage. So these humble microbes were responsible for the life as we see today on this Earth.
The algae learned to live with the existing conditions.
How big is the cyanobacteria? It has been estimated that its diameter is about 2 microns if we consider it as a sphere which it is not. But for the sake of simplicity and bring home the point as is done in all the scientific inquiry let us assume that. Such a small size !! But is it really small in comparison to the smaller things nature can go to. Let us compare it to the size of carbon atom. If we calculate the volume of bacteria and volume of carbon atom, and calculate how many atoms of carbon can fit into the bacteria, you shall be surprised that a mind boggling 1000000000000 atoms is the answer. You are in for more surprise if you go down to fundamental particles like electrons and leptons.
So this is the scale at which the machinery of the Nature works. On one side are the atomic sized particles and on the other are gigantic stars. But one thing is sure that at the base of everything are the fundamental particles. It is also a fact that things behave very differently on the different scale levels. Electrons can behave as particles under one set of conditions and as a wave in the diffraction experiments. Or they may be behaving as they are but with our existing knowledge we try to explain the things the way which give reasonable answers.
So let us salute to the “Cyanobacteria” to create favorable conditions for the existing worlds to forms and initiation of the diverse kinds of species on this Earth.