1

God’s Nanomachines

When that first soft cloud of pale green appears on the trees in Spring, I always try hard to comprehend the unimaginably high number of leaves there are budding into the world’s most sophisticated little nano-scale energy machines.  It is truly a miracle of nature, and one that is so common all around us, it’s easy to overlook.  Did you ever really consider the complexity in a single leaf cell? Each photosynthetic cell takes light and turns it into electrical energy, which is used to convert carbon dioxide and water into food.  The cellular factories are not only complex, they operate at a higher efficiency than man has ever been able to achieve.

More amazing still, the waste product is something quite necessary for other life – oxygen.  I know this sounds like a review of a high school science lesson, but take some time to stare at the trees and be awed.  Each cell in each leaf is God’s handiwork, multiple steps in multiple cycles, perfectly timed, perfectly aligned, perfectly productive, all ordered for a purpose.  A leaf can have tens of millions of cells and a tree can grow hundreds of thousands of leaves.  How many trees can you see just looking out the window?

Consider this: It is estimated that the global rate of energy capture by photosynthesis exceeds human civilization’s power consumption multiple times over in a given year, and there’s no pollution.  Photosynthesis is part of larger cycles on the earth and in the universe, a perpetual ongoing cycle of life all willed by God.  The matter that makes up the physical world today has been here since the beginning of time, recycling over and over.

Next time you are impressed with a new car or a fancy house, think about the leaves, think about where the materials came from to make those things we enjoy, think about how and why we even figured out how to invent technology.  Your new computer or latest new mobile device is impressive technology for sure, but those things only came to be constructed because God made man an intelligent being who desires to study his world and improve his life.  We only learned how to harness nature because it is ordered in the first place.  And just when you think you can’t smile any wider pondering the leaves, get ready.  Here come the flowers.  Man has never been able to approximate that beauty, but it’s proof that God wants us to be happy.


Stacy Trasancos is a mother of seven, joyful convert to Catholicism with a Ph.D. in Chemistry and a M.A. in Dogmatic Theology. She is Editor-in-Chief of Catholic Stand and author of Science Was Born of Christianity: The Teaching of Fr. Stanley L. Jaki. She writes from her tiny office in a 100-year-old restored Adirondack mountain lodge that overlooks a small spring-fed lake. More about her here. Find her on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter. Contact her by email


Filed under: »
  • noelfitz

    Hello Stacy,

    thank you for a beautiful reflection. Reading it I am reminded of Psalm 19:1 (NRSV):

    “The heavens are telling the glory of God;
    and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.”

    The phrase that leaves “are budding into the world’s most sophisticated little nano-scale energy machines” is wonderful.

    I read here “Each photosynthetic cell takes light and turns it into electrical energy”. I wonder would I agree with that. In photosynthesis is the sun’s energy used to change CO2 and H2O into sugar and chemical energy, which in turn in a biocell may be turned into electrical energy (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100218092846.htm)?

    Of course it does not really matter, as the wonder of God is seen no matter what the details are.