Nature Notes: All things here and at once


That greatest of all natural forces, balance, lies directly in our line of sight. We see whirlpools and eddies in the largest of tidal flows and in the simplest bathtub drain. We see photographs taken from space satellites of huge spiraling hurricanes, with cloud formations hundreds of miles across, and the same spiral shape can be seen in many of the largest stellar galaxies.

The innumerable tiny branches of a tree's root system is very much the same configuration as the photos of many branched ancient water channels on the surface of Mars. The channels on Mars look just like aerial photos of the Amazon river system which looks all the world like the network of capillaries in our own blood system. The blood capillary and nervous system tissue within us measures several miles long, and in that way similar to the root system (mycelium) of mushrooms (fungi).

The air sent spinning into a tiny whirling vortex from the single wing beat of a butterfly may grow in intensity and as the heat from solar energy and wind and gravity all work together, the largest of storms may result. The spinning air molecules from the beating of a bee's wing resembles, in shape, the same vortex coming from the swish of the tail of the largest animal on earth, the blue whale.

From the simplest eddy currents moving around an old piling sticking out of the water in the river, to the stellar storms off the shoulder of Orion, the conclusions are often the same.

We are but a mere flyspeck in the locker room of life, and the same hugely powerful forces pull and wrench and tug at levels far below us and far, far above. In the relative scale of things, the paths of skittering atoms and electrons (some would claim as a controversial theory) is as close to us and our daily life as the stars are distant.

There is no break in the action here. We have only to look in the mirror to see our direct descendants from Oldevai gorge. The mushroom is related to the river which is our cousin, which leads us to the oceans, where on its margin we find our perfect shell and gaze up at whatever brilliant star that captures our eye and speaks the loudest to us.

The roar of the distant surf is the same sound as the background noise from space as the echoes of the Big Bang fade away across stellar time and in the end, as the sun is towed slowly towards the darkening slumbering sea by red clouds and golden skies, it is all somehow very comforting to feel like we belong.

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• Craig Sparks is director of NAWA, a filmmaker, freelance writer and wildlife rehabilitator.

• Found injured wildlife? Questions? Call the Wildlife Center at 665-3595 or send an e-mail to:

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