Free Radicals are Chemically Reactive

Free Radicals are Chemically Reactive

One of the least understood design features of living things is the role of free radicals. The design of atoms and molecules calls for electrons to be paired for stability, but a free radical has unpaired electrons. With their unpaired valence electrons, free radicals are chemically reactive. Although some free radicals are essential to life, the accumulation of free radicals can cause cell damage.

Stress conditions such as radiation can cause harmful free radicals. Researchers have found that tiny animals called tardigrades (or water bears) exposed to stressful conditions curl up into a state of dormancy called a tun. That can explain their ability to survive in the vacuum of space, frigid temperatures, or radiation bombardment. The metabolism of the tardigrades shuts down in the tun state, but why is unclear. This intriguing discovery could potentially lead to practical applications such as medical treatments that slow the aging process, offering a glimmer of hope in the face of free radical damage.

Free radicals are not chemically reactive due to some process of evolution. Scientists are studying the design of atoms and molecules with magnetic properties related to electron spin. This phenomenon goes back to creation itself. When God produced matter/energy in the beginning, electron spin, magnetic pairing, and free radical production were built into the very design of atoms and molecules. This design structure allows life to exist. 

The future is bright as scientists learn more about the effect of free radicals on human health. Learning about the complexity of matter and life reminds us of “Wisdom’s” comment in Proverbs 8:22-23: “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His work, before His deeds of old. I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning before the world began.”

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: Scientific American for May 2024, pages 10-11.