Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Heliotropism. Your standard scientific term for a process that borders on pure and simple magic. Translated, the word means "sun-tracking."

Scientifically speaking, floral heliotropism is a nastic response to the Sun, often seen in sunflowers and other flowering plant species. Movement is observed during the day, as the flower tracks the course of the Sun across the sky. During the night, the flowers may assume a random orientation, while at dawn they turn again towards the east where the Sun rises.

In layman terms, facing east at sunrise, the sunflower’s head follows the sun across the sky to face west at sunset. This heliotropic movement, called nutation, results from a bending of the stem toward the sunlight. On a cloudy overcast day, the sunflower remains facing eastward, awaiting the next clear sunrise. The leaves of the sunflower are also heliotropic. If they are removed, the sunflower head would be unable to follow the sun. The sunflower usually reaches maturity three to four months after the emergence of the seedling. As the seeds develop, the heads begin to droop with the added weight and at maturity face nearly downward.

The reason why sunflowers face the sun is not completely understood, but it is possible that the sunflower is more visible to the pollinating insects when it is brightly lit by the sun. The temperature of the flower will be a few degrees higher which will cause the developing embryo to mature more quickly. Most plants will lean towards the light; this exposes more of the chlorophyll to the sun. Bottom line, there remains several hypotheses, but none solely conclusive.

Love, organically broken down, can be defined as a complex combination of physiological responses, chemical phermones and animal instincts toward self-preservation. But the bottom line remains the same: there are several hypotheses, but none solely conclusive. It is at this moment when the magic takes over...

Life, chemically broken down at its origin, is defined as 23 pairs of chromosomes in a never-ending DNA-laden organic waltz. The potential combinations for different human beings at this point? Literally millions of possible combinations. And the bottom line remains: there are several hypotheses as to the very moment when a single Life begins, but none solely conclusive. It is at this moment when the magic takes over...

It is known that the very dust in the atmosphere is what will ultimately determine the quality of a typical sunset, but even realizing this scientific fact doesn't diminish the beauty of that sunset. Knowing the chemical make-up of a newborn doesn't disqualify any amount of parental love. It is at these moments - and so many others - when the magic takes over...

It seems the more we examine the physical realm in all of its aspects, we find that magic seeping through. And you know what? That is just fine. It's wonderful that we continually pry and prod down to Nature's very quarks, but there always remains room in our hearts and minds and lives for a little more of the magic. It is this magic is what I often refer to as the Grand Chef's "secret sauce."

So amidst all the scientific postulates and hypotheses, the Sun will rise tomorrow and the sunflowers will follow its path across the sky, babies will be born and people will fall in love. And all of it occurring, despite our best scientific understanding. It is at this moment when the magic takes over and it's okay to say, "God is and all is well."

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