Dust

My manifesto:

Find something to wonder about.

Find others to wonder with me.

I am fascinated by dust. 

Not the sort I scrub off the table every day, but the kind that was once sand and lived in the Sahara Desert.

This dust is responsible for much of our Oxygen.

Sound preposterous?

It does until you get the story. If you have seen this information, please forgive me, I find it so amazing, I have to share it.

I saw this information a while ago on the TV documentary One Strange Rock, narrated by Will Smith.

 One Strange Rock tells the story of how life survives and thrives on planet Earth, as told by eight astronauts from their unique perspective of being away from Earth (for about 1000 days).

A few days ago, I saw the dust story again on and the TV documentary, Connections.

Here’s the story: Once upon a time, the Sahara was an ocean. This ocean was so large the United States would fit into it. 

The ocean dried up, leaving behind sand partially made up of an alga called diatoms. Diatoms are microscopic critters that live in glass houses—that is, their shells are made up of silica. You’ve heard of Diatomaceous Earth? It’s an extremely fine, highly nutritious form of sand. (Diatomaceous earth can help rid your dogs of fleas. Liberally dust their fur—the glass gums up the fleas chewing apparatus. I do not guarantee that you will have a flea-free dog, but you’ll have unhappy fleas. Fleas keep hatching, so you must treat the areas where they hatch as well.)

Back to the dust: The winds sweep across the Sahara, picking up this fine highly nutritious dust. The wind carries the dust over to the rain forest. There the rains wash it from the sky and onto the jungle floor.  

One fantastic thing is that the amount of dust that drops daily is almost the same amount of nutrients that the rain forest loses daily when the rain leaches it from the soil. 

The rain forest supplies a large amount of Oxygen, and viola’ there you have it, dust to O2.

There is also an advantage of the dust falling into the ocean. There it feeds the plankton that also supplies us with Oxygen. 

 Microscopic images of diatoms.

Light microscopes allow images 

from outside the diatom.

Electron microscopes image the inside.

Sometimes a dust cloud thwarts hurricanes prone to begin on the shores of Africa and travel across the ocean hitting the Caribbean islands and Florida. The tiny particles work like bullets in the hurricanes, breaking them up. Unfortunately, not all hurricanes are neutralized. However, many are.

(Deadly Red tides are another matter. They are caused by toxic algae and are created by adverse ocean conditions. I’m not talking about those.)

I am totally in awe of how the Earth tends to balance itself. 

I’m asking myself, does this information contribute to my blog, and to people’s lives?

I guess it goes back to my manifesto: Find something to wonder about. Find others to wonder with you.

I’m wondering, however, if there is a message here with the diatoms and dust, and the Earth–how it takes care of itself. And I want to emphasize that we don’t want to foul up this gentle ecosystem. Diatomaceous algae are found in most waterways. Throw chemicals into the water, and goodbye algae and most living creatures. 

Diatoms have found their way into medical research as possible cancer killers. You know that traditional Chemotherapy wreaks havoc with cancer cells. The trouble is, Chemotherapy also harms healthy cells. Scientists believe that, somehow, the little glasshouses can be used in Chemotherapy treatment targeting only unhealthy cells. (Don’t ask me how.)

There is also use for silica in Solar panels. 

If the dust from the Sahara can fertilize the rain forests, consider how Earth’s cycle can include us in its flow. 

That’s my lesson from the dust. There is a flow of goodness spreading throughout the Earth. If, somehow, we jumped on board and were a part of it all, think how much better everything would work.

I’m thinking of one of my favorite stories from Richard Bach’s book Illusions. I’ve repeated it often, but here it is again: One day a little river creature who had spent his life clinging to the rocks looks up and says. “The current knows where it is going. If I turn loose, I fill float with the current, for surely it knows where it is going.” Quotes mine, I’m paraphrasing.

The others clinging beside him say, “No, hold on, that current you so worship will dash you on the rocks.”

But the little creature believed, and did turn loose, and was at first dashed on the rocks, but pretty soon, he was lifted up and carried on the current.

And the ones downstream seeing him float past, said, “See, he flies. It’s a miracle.”

We can be miracles. Carry on,

I love you,

Jo

A little fun from my niece Amy’s Instagram: 

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