6

Sunrise, Sunset–Circadian Rhythms and a Nobel Prize

“(Men)
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze

(Women)
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears”
“Sunrise, Sunset”, Fiddler on the Roof.

A well-deserved Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology was awarded today (October 3rd, 2017) to Jeffrey Hall, Michael Roshbash and Michael Young for their research on how our biological clock works—how we know to go to sleep and to rise with a new day.

Their research was conducted on fruit flies—easily accessible, but with enough common to all animal life that generalizations could be made. (I recall my undergraduate days at Caltech in the genetics lab, retrieving etherized fruit-flies to determine their dominant and recessive characteristics.) They found that there was a gene present that encoded a protein, a protein that accumulates during sleep and degrades during the day, thus acting as a clock to establish the “circadian rhythm” for all animal life on this planet.

Rather than giving a detailed account of their research (see the press release announcing the award) I would like to use this as a springboard to comment on God’s Providence and evolution. One of the anthropic coincidences, the unlikely events that enable carbon based life to exist, is the rotation of the earth, the alternation of night and day that enables climate, a life supporting temperature to be present. And to accommodate to that, there is a cycle for life.

Could life exist and not follow that cycle? There’s a wonderful science fiction trilogy by Nancy Kress, Beggars in Spain, about genetically modified humans who don’t need to sleep and become supermen. But is that possible? Isn’t sleep, “that knits up the raveled sleave of care”, a gift from God? I’ve wondered, do angels sleep, will we sleep in heaven, or will the fact of time be swept away by eternity, so that sleep and circadian rhythms become irrelevant?

Well, I hope I will  find the answer to that question in heaven.

4

Nap Time

 

From LarryD at Acts of the Apostasy:

 

SLEEPY HOLLOW – Three-year-old Remy Nodderson took full advantage of the gospel at Sunday’s Mass, as the priest read the long form rather than omitting the bracketed sections, allowing him to get what he called “the best nap I’ve had in weeks”.

“I was all prepared to throw a Category 6 tantrum,” Remy told AoftheA News. “It welled up inside me during the Responsorial Psalm, and I felt it cresting during the second reading. But when Father went long form for the Gospel? It was lights out, baby.”

Remy’s nap on the cushioned, soft-as-a-cloud pew bench, his head supported by his dad’s comfortably weathered leather jacket, lasted until the Sign of Peace, when his older sister Corma stepped on his face as she reached out to hug her mother.

“Yeah, if she hadn’t shoved her Florsheim up my nose, I would’ve slumbered like a baby through Holy Communion, nestled safely against daddy’s shoulder. I thought about screaming like a stuck pig for maybe half a second, but damn, that nap was soooo good. I really couldn’t care less.”

Remy yawned, stretched his little limbs, and cracked his knuckles. “Sure, my parents are grateful now. Wait til it’s 2 in the morning, and they’re still trying to make me go to bed.” Continue Reading