"Cosmovision." From Gebhart-Sayer (1987, p. 26).
I went on to look for the connection between the cosmic serpent — the master of transformation of serpentine form that lives in water and can be both extremely long and small, single and double — and DNA.
Your personal DNA is
long enough to wrap
around the earth
5 million times.
I found that DNA corresponds exactly to this description.
- If one stretches out the DNA contained in the nucleus of a human cell, one obtains a two-yard-long thread that is only ten atoms wide.
- This thread is a billion times longer than its own width.
- Relatively speaking, it is as if your little finger stretched from Paris to Los Angeles.
A thread of DNA is much smaller than the visible light humans perceive.
- Even the most powerful optical microscopes cannot reveal it, because DNA is approximately 120 times narrower than the smallest wavelength of visible light.
The nucleus of a cell is equivalent in volume to 2-millionths of a pinhead.
- The two-yard thread of DNA packs into this minute volume by coiling up endlessly on itself, thereby reconciling extreme length and infinitesimal smallness, like mythical serpents.
"Aspects of Ronín." From Gebhart-Sayer (1987, p. 34).
The average human being is made up of 100 thousand billion cells, according to some estimates.
- This means that there are approximately 125 billion miles of DNA in a human body — corresponding to 70 round-trips between Saturn and the Sun.
- You could travel your entire life in a Boeing 747 flying at top speed and you would not even cover one hundredth of this distance.
- Your personal DNA is long enough to wrap around the earth 5 million times.
 Each human cell contains approximately 6 billion base pairs (= 6 × 109, meaning 6 followed by 9 zeros).
- Each base pair is 3.3 angstroms long [1 angstrom = 10-10 meters (m)].
- Multiplying these two figures, one obtains 1.98 m in length, which is generally rounded to 2 m.
- Moreover, the double helix is 20 angstroms wide (20 × 10-10 m).
- By dividing the length by the width, one obtains a billion — see Calladine and Drew (1992, pp. 3, 16-17).
- The average little finger is more or less 1 centimeter wide; Paris and Los Angeles are separated by a distance of approximately 9,100 kilometers. This comparison is supposed to give a notion easy to visualize rather than an exact equation;
- In fact, the DNA contained in a human cell is 10 percent longer, relatively speaking, than a centimeter-wide finger stretching from Paris to Los Angeles.
- Moreover, in the wide spectrum of electromagnetic waves, human eyes perceive only a very narrow band, from 7 × 10-7 m (red light) to 4 × 10-7 m (violet light).
De Duve (1984) writes:
- “Even with a perfect instrument, no detail smaller than about half the wavelength of the light used can be perceived, which puts the absolute limit of resolution of a microscope utilizing visible light to approximately 0", 25 μm” (p. 9); that is, 2,500 angstroms.
 Wills (1989) writes that the nucleus of a cell “is about two millionths of the volume of a pinhead” (p. 22).
- Frank-Kamenetskii (1993) writes:
- “If we assume that the whole of DNA in a human cell is one molecule, its length L will be about 2 in. This is a million times more than the nucleus diameter” (p. 42).
- Moreover, according to some estimates, there are 100 thousand billion, or 1014, cells in a human body see, for example, ■ Sagan and the Editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1993, p. 965), ■ Pollack (1994, p. 19), ■ Schiefelbein (1986, p. 40).
However, there is no consensus on this figure.
- Dawkins (1976, p. 22) uses 1015 ("a thousand million million")
- Margulis and Sagan (1986, p. 67) use 1012
- But in the French translation of their book they write: “The human body is made up of 1016 (10 million billion) animal cells and 1017 (100 million billion) bacterial cells” (1989, p. 65).
- The difference between 1012 and 1016 is of the order of 10,000!
To calculate the total length of the DNA in a human body, I chose the figure that seems to be the most widely used, and that is halfway between the extremes.
- When I write that our body contains 125 billion miles of DNA, or 200 billion kilometers, it is merely a rough estimate;
- The true number could be 100 times greater, or smaller.
Finally, a Boeing 747 traveling for 75 years at 1,000 km/h would travel 657 million kilometers,
- Which is 0.32 percent of 200 billion kilometers;
- The average distance between Saturn and the Sun is 1,427,000,000 kilometers.
 Most cells contain between 70 and 80 percent water.
- According to Margulis and Sagan (1986):
“The concentrations of salts in both sea-water and blood are, for all practical purposes, identical. The proportions of sodium, potassium, and chloride in our tissues are intriguingly similar to those of the worldwide ocean. … we sweat and cry what is basically seawater” (p. 183-184).
- Without water, a cell cannot function; as De Duve (1984) writes:
“Even the hardiest bacteria need some moisture around them. They may survive complete dryness, but only in a dormant state, with all their processes arrested until they are reawakened by water” (p. 21).
- On the relationship between water and the shape of the DNA double helix, see Calladine and Drew (1992), who write:
“We see right away how DNA forms a spiral or helix on account of the low solubility in water of the bases” (p. 21).
All the cells in the world contain DNA — be they animal, vegetal, or bacterial — and they are all filled with salt water, in which the concentration of salt is similar to that of the worldwide ocean.
DNA is the informational
molecule of life
- We cry and sweat what is essentially seawater.
- DNA bathes in water, which in turn plays a crucial role in establishing the double helix's shape.
- As DNA's four bases (adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine) are insoluble in water, they tuck themselves into the center of the molecule where they associate in pairs to form the rungs of the ladder; then they twist up into a spiraled stack to avoid contact with the surrounding water molecules.
- DNA's twisted ladder shape is a direct consequence of the cell's watery environment.
- DNA goes together with water, just like mythical serpents do.
From Watson (1968, p. 165).
The DNA molecule is a single long chain made up of two interwoven ribbons that are connected by the four bases.
- These bases can only match up in specific pairs — A with T, G with C.
- Any other pairing of the bases is impossible, because of the arrangement of their individual atoms: A can bond only with T, G only with C.
This means that one of the two ribbons is the back-to-front duplicate of the other and that the genetic text is double:
- It contains a main text on one of the ribbons, which is read in a precise direction by the transcription enzymes.
- And a backup text, which is inverted and most often not read.
The second ribbon plays two essential roles.
- It allows the repair enzymes to reconstruct the main text in case of damage.
- And, above all, it provides the mechanism for the duplication of the genetic message.
- It suffices to open the double helix as one might unzip a zipper, in order to obtain two separate and complementary ribbons that can then be rebuilt into double ribbons by the duplication enzymes.
- As the latter can place only an A opposite a T and vice versa, and a G opposite a C, and vice versa, this leads to the formation of two twin double helixes, which are identical in every respect to the original.
- Twins are therefore central to life, just as ancient myths indicate, and they are associated with a serpentine form.
Without this copying mechanism,
a cell would never be able
to duplicate itself,
and life would not exist.
The biological transition between
bacteria and nucleated cells …
is so sudden it cannot effectively
be explained by gradual changes
Without this copying mechanism, a cell would never be able to duplicate itself, and life would not exist.
DNA is the informational molecule of life, and its very essence consists in being both single and double, like the mythical serpents.
DNA and its duplication mechanisms are the same for all living creatures. The only thing that changes from one species to another is the order of the letters.
- This constancy goes back to the very origins of life on earth.
- According to biologist Robert Pollack:
- “The planet's surface has changed many times over, but DNA and the cellular machinery for its replication have remained constant. Schrödinger's 'aperiodic crystal' understated DNA's stability: no stone, no mountain, no ocean, not even the sky above us, have been stable and constant for this long; nothing inanimate, no matter how complicated, has survived unchanged for a fraction of the time that DNA and its machinery of replication have coexisted.” 
 Pollack (1994, pp. 29-30).
At the beginning of its existence, some 4.5 billion years ago, planet earth was an inhospitable place for life.
- As a molten lava fireball, its surface was radioactive.
- Its water was so hot it existed only in the form of incondensable vapor.
- And its atmosphere, devoid of any breathable oxygen, contained poisonous gases such as cyanide and formaldehyde.
Approximately 3.9 billion years ago, the earth's surface cooled sufficiently to form a thin crust on top of the molten magma.
- Strangely, life, and thus DNA, appeared relatively quickly thereafter.
- Scientists have found traces of biological activity in sedimentary rocks that are 3.85 billion years old, and fossil hunters have found actual bacterial fossils that are 3.5 billion years old.
During the first 2 billion years of life on earth, the planet was inhabited only by anaerobic bacteria, for which oxygen is a poison.
- These bacteria lived in water, and some of them learned to use the hydrogen contained in the H2O molecule while expelling the oxygen.
- This opened up new and more efficient metabolic pathways.
- The gradual enrichment of the atmosphere with oxygen allowed the appearance of a new kind of cell, capable of using oxygen and equipped with a nucleus for packing together its DNA.
- These nucleated cells are at least thirty times more voluminous than bacterial cells.
- According to biologists Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan:
- “The biological transition between bacteria and nucleated cells … is so sudden it cannot effectively be explained by gradual changes over time.”
From that moment onward, life as we know it took shape. Nucleated cells joined together to form the first multicellular beings, such as algae.
- The latter also produce oxygen by photosynthesis.
- Atmospheric oxygen increased to about 21 percent and then stabilized at this level approximately 500 million years ago — thankfully, because if oxygen were a few percent higher, living beings would combust spontaneously.
- According to Margulis and Sagan, this state of affairs “gives the impression of a conscious decision to maintain balance between danger and opportunity, between risk and benefit.” 
 Both quotes are from Margulis and Sagan (1986, pp. 115-116, 111).
- On the terrestrial atmosphere before the apparition of life, see Margulis and Sagan (1986, pp. 41-43). They also write:
- “Barghoorn's Swaziland discovery of actual 3,400-million-year-old microbes raises a startling point: the transition from inanimate matter to bacteria took less time than the transition from bacteria to large, familiar organisms. Life has been a companion of the Earth from shortly after the planets inception” (p. 72).
- The recently discovered traces of biological activity dating back 3.85 billion years consist of a reduced ratio of carbon-13 to carbon-12 in sedimentary rocks in Greenland. — see ■ Mojzsis et al. (1996) ■ Hayes (1996);
- Hayes writes:
- “The new finding seems to extend that record to the very bottom of our planet's sedimentary pile, crucially altering earlier views of these oldest sediments and leaving almost no time between the end of the 'late heavy bombardment' of bodies within the inner Solar System by giant meteorites and the first appearance of life” (p. 21).
- Judson (1992) writes regarding nucleated cells ("eukaryotes"):
- “Eukariyotic cells are far larger than bacteria — proportionately as a horse to a bumblebee. They have hundreds of times more genes, and 500-fold more DNA” (p. 61).
 Lewontin (1992) writes:
- “Fully 99.999 percent of all species that have ever existed are already extinct” (p. 119).
For estimates regarding the current number of species, see:
- Wilson (1990, p. 4, “most biologists agree that the actual number is at least 3 million and could easily be 30 million or more”).
- Pollack (1994, p. 170, “five million to fifty million”).
- Wilson (1992, p. 346) also writes:
“Even though some 14 million species of organisms have been discovered (in the minimal sense of having specimens collected and formal scientific names attached), the total number alive on earth is somewhere between 10 and 100 million.”
Around 550 million years ago, life exploded into a grand variety of multicellular species, algae and more complex plants and animals, living not only in water, but on land and in the air.
- Of all the species living at that time, not one has survived to this day.
- According to certain estimates, almost all of the species that have ever lived on earth have already disappeared, and there are between 3 million and 50 million species living currently.
DNA is a master of transformation, just like mythical serpents.
- The cell-based life DNA informs made the air we breathe, the landscape we see, and the mind-boggling diversity of living beings of which we are a part.
- In 4 billion years, it has multiplied itself into an incalculable number of species, while remaining exactly the same.
Inside the nucleus, DNA coils and uncoils, writhes and wriggles.
- Scientists often compare the form and movements of this long molecule to those of a snake.
- Molecular biologist Christopher Wills writes: “The two chains of DNA resemble two snakes coiled around each other in some elaborate courtship ritual.” 
 Wills (1991, p. 36).
■ Regarding the direct observation of DNA's propensity to wriggle (“like small snakes slithering through mud”), see Lipkin (1994, p. 293).
■ Dubochet (1993) writes:
“It is not the enzyme that rotates along the DNA helix during transcription, but the DNA that rotates on itself, while moving like a supercoiled conveyor belt” (p. 2).
To sum up, DNA is
- a snake-shaped master of transformation
- that lives in water and
- is both extremely long and small, single and double.
Just like the cosmic serpent.