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The Miracle of Photosynthesis, the Life Energy in a Leaf

Let us ponder for a moment one of the signs of God’s power, the Creator, namely photosynthesis. A term that is familiar to us, even though we may often not realize how important this process is for the survival of life on earth.

Of course, there have been many articles that discuss the details of photosynthesis. Still, here I will try to describe it in simple language and focus on the miracle and wonder of how balanced and how vital this process is as the foundation of life.

Photosynthesis derived from the word photon which means light, and synthesis which means arrangement. In a simple definition, photosynthesis is the process of making food by plants with the help of sunlight.


Harvesting Solar Energy to Feed and Breath Life

Plants through biochemical processes in chlorophyll, make their own food from carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H20), then produce food in the form of glucose (C6H12O6) and oxygen (O2).

Let’s remember for a moment our high school lessons. The simple formula of photosynthesis is as follows:

6 H2O + 6 CO2 + Sunlight —> C6H12O6 (Glucose) + 6 O2

At first glance, it seems simple, but in fact, the series of processes is so long and complex that even modern science does not yet fully understand the details.

Photosynthesis Process
Photosynthesis Process
Image Source :

Photosynthesis harvests solar energy and processes it into food and oxygen, which is vital for the survival of living things on earth. In other words, photosynthesis is a process created by God to feed and breathe life. Without photosynthesis, there would be no life like we know on this earth.

Amazingly, this photosynthesis process is exactly the opposite of human and animal respiration. If photosynthesis requires carbon dioxide (CO2) as a base material and then produces oxygen (O2), our breath is just the opposite, requires oxygen (O2), and produces carbon dioxide (CO2). A wonderfully balanced exchange.

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Glucose food (C6H12O6), which is produced by plants through the process of photosynthesis, is the basis of the pyramid in the food chain of living things on earth. In other words, all living things on earth depend entirely directly or indirectly on this process.

Food and Energy Piramyd
Food and Energy Piramyd
Image Source:

We live by using solar energy, which is processed into chemical energy by plants. Everything we eat, whether it comes from plants or animals, comes from this process. Even predatory animals at the top of the food chain, if we traceback to the food-chain,  indirectly obtain energy from this photosynthesis process. They eat other carnivorous animals or other herbivorous animals that will eventually arrive at the bottom of the food pyramid, which is the plant that produces their own food with the photosynthesis process.


Photosynthesis and Light

The wonders of photosynthesis do not stop here, if we also examine the compatibility between sunlight and chlorophyll, we will be amazed again.

For that, we need to talk a little about sunlight. Sunlight is part of electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic radiation is a combination of magnetic fields and electric fields that are affiliated and propagate in space in varying wavelengths.

The range of wavelength variations of electromagnetic radiation is very very wide, ranging from radio waves that have wavelengths up to several kilometers, to gamma rays with wavelengths of 0,0001-0.1 nm.

Sequentially starting from the highest wavelength, the following types of electromagnetic radiation: Radio Waves (0.3 m-10,000 km), Micro Waves (1 mm – 0.3 m), Infra-Red (0.001-1 mm), Visible Light (400-720 nm), Ultra Violet (10-400 nm), X-rays (0.01-10 nm), and Gamma Rays (0.0001-0.1 nm) (Source: Wikipedia).

It is interesting to note how wide the range of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum is. The longest wavelength is 1025 (1 with 25 zeros behind it) times, compared to the shortest wavelength.


To make this comparison clearer, I write this 1025 in numbers, so that it will be like this:

We also need to remember that this electromagnetic radiation contains energy, which is inversely proportional to its wavelength. The longer the wavelength means, the lower the energy level, and conversely, the shorter the wave, the higher the energy level.

And the energy in this electromagnetic radiation, at a certain amount when interacting with matter, can trigger reactions.

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Several chemical reactions can occur, only if enough energy is added to trigger the start of the chemical reaction.

The narrow band of the sun’s light waves when compared to the spectrum range of electromagnetic radiation.

Returning to sunlight, 70% of sunlight has wavelengths between 0.3 and 1.5 microns, and in the narrow band, there are three types of light: visible light, near-infrared light, and ultraviolet light.

In photosynthesis, the wavelength of light that can be captured by chlorophyll to start the photosynthesis reaction is only in the range of 0.4 microns (blue) -0.7 microns (red). This range is part of the wavelength range of sunlight.

When we compare, the range of wavelengths of sunlight is very narrow when compared to the range of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum as a whole.

Electromagnetic Radiation Spectrum
Electromagnetic Radiation Spectrum
Image Source: – redrawn

Why is sunlight in such a narrow range?

If the light emitted by the sun falls into other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, life cannot exist on earth.

Judging from the possibility of the possible wavelength of sunlight precisely in a specific narrow range suitable for photosynthesis compared to the very long-range of the electromagnetic wave as a whole, which is

1: 1025 as we discussed above, it is not possible to explain this match only by mere coincidence. This accuracy is undoubtedly is an intelligent design by the Supreme-Creator.

Harun Yahya, in his book “The Creation Of Universe.” quotes the opinion of American astronomer George Greenstein in The Symbiotic Universe:

“Chlorophyll is the molecule that accomplishes photosynthesis. The mechanism of photosynthesis is initiated by the absorption of sunlight by a chlorophyll molecule. But in order for this to occur, the light must be of the right color. Light of the wrong color won’t do the trick.

A good analogy is that of a television set. For the set to receive a given channel, it must be tuned to that channel; tune it differently, and the reception will not occur. It is the same with photosynthesis, the sun functioning as the transmitter in the analogy, and the chlorophyll molecule as the receiving TV set. If the molecule and the sun are not tuned to each other (tuned in the sense of color), photosynthesis will not occur. As it turns out, the sun’s color is just right.”


Tough and Sustainable

The process of photosynthesis that is vital for life has been going on for millions of years, almost as old as the earth, and it is still ongoing. Chlorophyll pigment in leaves encoded in plant DNA and passed down from generation to generation to foster life.

Plants are living creatures that most formidable in surviving and spreading their seeds. Grass, for example, even if it burns or goes through extreme winter, at the right time, it will grow again, without the need for our intervention.

Even the sun, still awake in its orbit, continues to burn hydrogen and provides the energy needed by plants to carry out its task of feeding and breathing life.

If we understand this, maybe we will look at the sun in a different way, how dependent we are on that far away energy sources.

And we will also look at plants in greater amazement, realizing that on a leaf there is life energy.

I often think, why must plants be as tough like that? Why after millions of years there has been no damage to the DNA of plants that inherit the important codes for the formation of chlorophyll?

Or how fragile this life is, why does the sun have to stay in its orbit? What if suddenly the sun moves away, or approaches earth?

Of course, there is a divine power that creates and maintains the continuity of photosynthesis and other processes in nature, for the benefit of living things on earth, up to the time determined by Him.

Subhanallah, Almighty Allah. Creator of heaven and earth and all its contents.

Let us contemplate the signs of God’s power through His creation, so that we increasingly understand the majesty and power of Him, as stated in the Qur’an, Surah Ali Imran, Verses 190-191:

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Indeed. in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth. [saying] “Our Lord. You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire. (Qur’an Surah Ali Imran [3] : 190-191)

This post is also available in: Indonesian

Lahir di Palembang pada bulan November 1981, saya menyelesaikan S1 di Jurusan Teknik Kimia Universitas Sriwijaya, dan S2 Master of Business Administration (MBA) di Sekolah Bisnis Management Institut Teknologi Bandung (SBM-ITB). Bekerja di salah satu BUMN dan tinggal di daerah Jakarta Selatan.


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