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Natural or Not: The Story of a Mineral Oil Molecule
By: Johann W. Wiechers, PhD, JW Solutions
Posted: May 3, 2011
This is not a regular column, it is a true story. After reading it, many will try to prove that everything stated is wrong. However, it cannot be proven wrong; nor can it be proven right. By now, you are wondering what this author is up to, so let us delve into the subject at hand.
This story is about the life of a molecule—a simple but frustrated mineral oil molecule. A molecule that felt it was perfectly natural but was accused of not being natural. Wrongly accused, it would say, but that is what everyone says who is being accused. It had to find a way to prove its naturalness but how does one prove this? Then all of a sudden it knew, and it looked forward to the big moment but could not predict the outcome. “To be or not to be natural,” that was the big question for this mineral oil molecule.
For cosmetic readers, this story reverts to the beginning of life for this remarkable molecule. In the beginning, it is written that "the earth was formless and empty. The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness." But the earth was not empty, otherwise there would be no ocean. The mineral oil molecule was already swimming around as a small amino acid in the primeval sea, although "swimming" is not the right word as it was moving around due to Brownian motion (although it would be ages before Robert Brown would be born).
Life was unexciting until all of a sudden, the molecule was swallowed by a Dunkleosteus terrelli, a large predatory fish that made ocean swimming dangerous about 400 million years ago. After ending up in the stomach of the biggest and strongest sea monster that ever lived, this molecule was built up into a large mass of protein and gradually felt strong and powerful like a D. terrelli; however, even it did not have eternal lives, and "Dunky," as he was named by his three friends, died. He closed his protein eyes, sank to the bottom of the sea, water washed over him, sand settled on top of him, and his flesh decayed.
After many millions of years, the story continued as the molecule experienced extreme pressure due to sedimentation. The fish meat it once belonged to no longer existed and everything was dark and gooey but due to the extreme pressure, its internal structure reorganized and the molecule could not even freely move its electrons. This limitation was just beginning to annoy it when all of a sudden, it experienced a strange but strong, loud shaking. The noise was deafening but even before it could develop a headache, it felt as though it were rising. Definitely, something important and unexpected was happening.