Fitness Landscapes of the earth (II) LO27425

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 10/17/01

Replying to LO27411 --

Dear Organlearners,

Leo Minnigh <> writes:

>Thank you for the compliments. I have lived in
>some doubt the last month, not knowing if the
>connections between my long message and LO's
>were enough visible.

Greetings dear Leo,

This doubt has been felt many times by anyone who cares for the person(s)
to whom he/she speaks/writes. The speaker/writer is concerned about the
thoughts which the listener/reader forms out of the words used, knowing
that the thoughts of the sender and the thoughts of the receiver may
differ much, although both used the same words.

The best way I know of to deal with this doubt is to participate in a
spontaneous learning dialogue. The key features of this dialogue is for
all participants to offer their own opinions where they differ and to ask
questions where they need clarifications.

>My own PhD research touched both scales from
>microscopic structures to mountain tectonics.

In my opinion this "matter" of scale in any study is most important. For
example, should a person study the nutrition of living organisms, that
study has to range from microscopic unicellular species up to large
species like elephants and Baobab trees. Another example, should a person
study strategic decision-making in organisations, the scale should be form
a two-person organisation up to a global corporation.

Working through such a scaling makes the person aware of intensive
(scaling independent) and extensive (scaling dependent) properties. This
awareness is vital to a creative interaction with the system under study.

>> any of the animations like
>> < >
>> It is really fantastic to see this global tectonics happening.

>The 'film' of plate tectonics at the Berkeley-site
>is a very fast one - 0ver 700 my in less than 10
>seconds! Difficult to see some details. If you are
>curious for more detail and a slower movie, you
>may also look at:
> < >

What a world we live in! On my old 486 PC the animation takes over a
minute to happen. I tried to download the animation from the Netherlands
to South Africa, but it takes about 15 minutes to download 30% after which
the connection is lost. It happened several times and now I have to give

>But the absolute surprise was:
>Creatures that could live without light. What
>an amasing thing: if there is a source of energy,
>there is life. The energy comes from the earth
>itself: warmth and minerals.

Leo, just one tiny correction, if it will please you. Put "free" before
"energy". It is impossible for any creature to live without at least one
source of "free energy" (two words, one concept). The source can be
nuclear like in the sun or chemical like the hydrogen sulfide in the
"black smokers". I will not go deeper into this "matter" because we have
done so in the past and may do so many times again in future.

I rather want to stress something else by example and connecting to your
topic "Fitness Landscapes of the earth". 70% of the surface of South
Africa is arid and even desert. Rivers in this dry parts become easily
polluted with salts derived from industrialisation. These salts cannnot
become diluted because there is too litle rain. Thus life is fast
disappearing from these rivers.

As Leo knows from private emails, I breed Brine Shrimp (BS) as live food
for my fresh water fishes. By the end of last summer the BS did not want
to grow anymore and many began to die off. I did several chemical tests
and eventually found the problem -- the nitrate NO3- content was too high
(70ppm). I had some 4000 liters of salt water which became useless. What
should I do? I did not want to dump it in the sewage because it will end
up polluting even further the severely polluted Limpopo River.

I decided to solve the problem biologically in an ecological friendly way.
I let some of the water evaporated so that all the salt water could fit in
a 1000 liter plastic tank. Then I acidified the salt water slightly with
hydrochloric acid. I displace all the air from the tank by filling it up
to the brim. I put a tight lid over the brim with a small hole in it.
Through this hole went the shaft of a stirrer with a small motor fitted on
the outside. Every 6 hours the salt water would be stirred for 30 minutes.
Last Saturday, after two months, I tested the nitrate content. It was too
low to be registered. Problem solved. What happened?

There is a certain species of bacteria which, in the abscence of elemental
oxygen O2, will take oxygen bonded to the nitrate ion NO3-. By doing so,
the bacteria receive the "free energy" needed to live. The salt water had
to be stirred because the bacteria attach themselves to solid surfaces.
The stirring ensured that all the salt water came into contact with the
tank's surface.

The bacteria take bonded oxygen as the ion O-- and add it to the H+ ion
coming from HCl. Thus in overall the NO3- becomes replaced by chloride ion
Cl- and pure water H2O. The Cl- is the predominant anion in sea water. It
is not at all poisonous to salt water life as is the nitrate ion NO3-.

Why is the nitrate ion NO3- poisonous, but the chloride ion Cl- not? In
the catabolism of animal life there are always certain degradation
products. The nitrate ion NO3- is one of them, but the chloride ion Cl-
not. Each of these degradation products is poisonous to animal life. But
they are not poisonous to plant life because the degradation product(s) of
plant catabolism is different. It is oxygyn! Thus plants and animals
complement each other. The one without the other will eventually pollute
the environment so much that it will destroy itself.

The sea is wise. It has no nitrates NO3-, except for severe pollution
along the coasts as a result of industrialisation. Why not? Below a depth
of 100 meters there is virtually no elemental oxygen. It is from this
depth into the deep where certain bacteria find their source of "free
energy" by breaking up these nitrates. They clean the ocean from what came
from animal catabolism. They had been able to do it for eons. But are they
able to cope with the extra pollution coming from the industrialised
"animal"? Please fellow learners, do a research into the unnatural deaths
of crustaceans, fish and mammals (like dolphins and whales) of the ocean.
Make up your own mind!

Is human culture wise? Are there things such as national cultures like a
German culture and an Indian culture? Are there processes like anabolism
and catabolism in national cultures? Are there cultural products which may
be poisonous to another national culture? How will such a national culture
react to pollution by these products?

In my opinion any country indifferent to thermal, chemical and biological
pollution will also be indifferent to cultural pollution. Hence that
country will reap what it has sown. How can it avoid that sowing?
Contemplate the next words quoted from Leo's reply.

>Think also of the question: how did this life
>in these remote places has developed and
>how it came there.

Think of "life" as Afghanians, Ethiopians, Iraqians, Phillipinians, etc.
Find the answers to the question above.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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