A Wonderful Messenger:
What do air pollution, a Nobel Prize and a hormone
have in common? The answer is "nitric oxide." In chemistry
textbooks, nitric oxide is defined as a colorless, poisonous
gas that comes into being by the oxygenation of nitrogen.
It is a "simple" molecule shown by the chemical formula,
"NO" (it is a molecule made up of one nitrogen atom
and one oxygen atom). Both nitrogen and oxygen are familiar
elements. One of the first things we learn in high school
is that the air we breathe is composed of 78% nitrogen
and 21% oxygen.
Nitric oxide is a gas that causes air pollution
and acid rain; it also destroys the ozone layer
and the ecological balance.
When we say nitric oxide is "simple," we only refer
to the simplicity of its chemical composition. With
regard to its importance to human life, intense research
over the past twenty years has shown that this molecule
performs a basic function in communication among cells.
The result of scientific work in this field has revealed
that nitric oxide is a hormone produced naturally in
the human body. It is a chemical messenger that plays
a strategic role in the regulation of the vital functioning
of the nervous system, circulatory system, immune system,
respiratory system and reproductive system.
Poisonous nitric oxide is a gas that causes air pollution
and acid rain, destroys the ozone layer and the ecological
environment. This gas is produced by the burning of
nitrogen and is found in great quantities in car exhaust.
Until recently, only this aspect of NO was known. It
was believed that, apart from its threat to human health,
it had no function. Even the discovery by research that
the NO was a hormone was disregarded in scientific circles.
Generally, the first reaction to this discovery was
But, within a short time, the results
of research have awakened great interest in the scientific
community; as evidence of this, the December 1992 issue
of the well known scientific periodical Science called
nitric oxide the "molecule of the year."74
With increased work in this field of scientific research,
nitric oxide has gained great recognition; it has become
known as the "magic gas," the "wonderful molecule" and
the "secret messenger."
Ferid Murad, Louis J. Ignarro and Robert Furchgott
(above left to right) were awarded the Nobel Prize
for Medicine 1998 for their discovery related
to the role of nitric oxide in cellular communication.
Robert Furchgott, Louis Ignarro and
Ferid Murad, who demonstrated the role of nitric oxide
in the process of cellular communication, received the
1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine. In the Nobel Foundation
press release, it was noted that the prize was awarded
to these professors for discoveries made relative to
the NO messenger molecule, and it was pointed out that
this discovery had elicited an avalanche of research
activities in many different laboratories around the
world.75 Special research in the
field of cellular communication has brought several
other awards to the same researchers from the Nobel
In fact, in the last ten years, there
has been an explosion in the amount of research done
on NO; foundations have been established in the name
of Nitric Oxide; periodicals have been published; according
to the Nitric Oxide Society records, there are more
than 32,000 scientific papers dealing with this remarkable
Dr. Salvador Monsada,
known for his work on nitric oxide, said that NO has
changed the generally accepted thinking about cell-to-cell
interaction, and that it has turned upside down some
ideas about this matter.77 Dr.
John Cooke, of Stanford University, has characterized
this research as "a great discovery" that is going to
have "tremendous ramifications in American medicine-in
medicine throughout the world."78
Of course, the basic point is how these developments
have squeezed evolutionists into a corner. As in every
scientific advance, new discoveries concerning nitric
oxide have created a nightmare for evolutionists because
there is no way that the wonderful operations in the
human body caused by this molecule, 0.0000000001 meter
(one billionth of a meter) in size could be explained
in terms of chance. Nitric oxide is one of the numberless
signs of God's perfect creation.
Evolutionist circles are relentlessly determined to
deny God and blind to every marvelous proof of creation
from atoms to galaxies. The attitude of their print
media towards NO is that these articles, written with
a claim to being scientific, praise nitric oxide immensely
and present it like a hero or a superman. Because evolutionists
deny the Creator of nitric oxide, they almost divinize
this molecule and speak as if it performed all its marvelous
operations by its own will and intelligence.
Evolutionists fall into their own trap because, this
distorted point of view is no different from divinizing
a bee because it gives honey, a tree because it gives
fruit, or the sun because it gives light to the world.
The same way of thinking would lead one to praise a
beautiful painting without mentioning the painter or
giving him praise. Every person must choose one of the
two roads: either he will believe in God as it says
in the Qur'an "That is God, your Lord. There
is no god but Him, the Creator of everything…"
(Qur'an, 6: 102) or he will divinize atoms, molecules,
cells and a countless number of animate and inanimate
The nitric oxide messenger molecule is only one of
the countless blessings that the Almighty God of eternal
mercy has created and given to our service. In this
century in which we live, it is one of the many wonders
of creation that has come to light in the micro-universe.
Throughout the section, you will read about the expert
design of this molecule that performs its operations
on our behalf in a significant number of the 100 trillion
(100,000,000,000,000) cells in our bodies.
Design in Our Blood Vessels
The system of blood vessels in our bodies is more
complex than the highway network in a developed
country like Japan.
Let us begin our investigation of
nitric oxide where it was first discovered-the blood
vessels. The blood vessels, together with the heart
and the blood, form the circulatory system. Our blood
vessels are like an immense highway system that goes
to every part of our bodies. Its total length is more
than 100,000 kilometers. A simple calculation helps
us to better understand the importance of this number:
if all the arteries, veins, and capillaries in the human
body were placed end to end, they could stretch around
the earth nearly two and a half times.79
And the blood vessel system in our bodies is incomparably
more complex than the highway system in a developed
country such as America. Highways are built with a particular
width and, according to the density of traffic at different
times of day, the number of lanes does not increase
or decrease. However, the inner diameter of our blood
vessels is not fixed; they narrow and dilate according
to our activities and thus play an important role in
the adjustment of blood pressure. So, thanks to this
wonderful system, the changing needs in different areas
of our bodies are met automatically. It is because of
this flawless system that the blood vessels dilate to
respond to an increased need for blood, and constrict
after we receive a wound to reduce bleeding.
The fact that blood vessels determine that they
will need an increasing supply of blood during
exercise is the result of the flawless design
of the body.
How do the blood vessels know when to dilate and when
to constrict? The answer to this question is very important
for human life. It is clear that a slight error that
may happen at any point in the 100,000-kilometer long
network of blood vessels will ineluctably have negative
Until ten years ago, scientists suspected that some
very complex operations occurred in the blood vessels,
but they were unable to answer the questions posed above.
Research has revealed the existence of a chemical messenger-the
nitric oxide molecule. It is this molecule that gives
instructions for the blood vessels to dilate.
Now, let us examine more closely the wonderful installations
deep in our blood vessels that produce nitric oxide.
With an electron microscope, the blood vessels appear
to be huge in reverse proportion to their smallness.
For example, ten capillary vessels arranged side by
side are only the size of a human hair. The inner walls
of these tiny blood vessels are covered with a tissue
that is made up of the smooth muscle cells; the dilation
and contraction of the blood vessels happens as a result
of the movement of this tissue. The muscle cells do
not make direct contact with the blood because a membranous
layer exists between the blood and the muscle cells-the
By aligning themselves side by side like the links
of a chain, endothelium cells form the endothelial layer.
Until the 1980's, it was believed that these cells had
no function worthy of attention other than facilitating
blood flow in the vessels. We now understand that one
of the many responsibilities of the endothelium cells
is the production of the nitric oxide messenger.
The endothelium cells are factories
that produce nitric oxide molecules. These factories
in the blood vessels are just one millionth of a meter
in size. The chemical products of this microscopic factory,
nitric oxide messenger molecules, are also just one
millionth of a meter in size. To help us imagine this
measurement, the magnification required to see a NO
molecule as grape-sized with the naked eye would magnify
a tennis ball to the same size as the world.80
As you can see in this picture, blood vessels
can be stimulated to dilate and constrict.
74 D.E. Koshland,
"The Molecule of the Year," Science, no. 258,
18 December 1992, pp. 1861-1865
75 The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute, "Press
Release: The 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine,"
12 October 1998, http://www.nobel.se/medicine/laureates/1998/press.html
76 The Nitric Oxide Society, "The Nitric Oxide
Home Page," 2000, http://www.apnet.com/no/
77 R.H. Epstein, "Puff the Magic Gas," Physician's
Weekly, vol. XIII, no. 31, 19 August 1996
78 J. Cooke, "Magic Molecule," 12 October
1998, http:// www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/science/july-dec98/nobel_10-12.html
79 M. Encarta Encyclopedia 2000, "Circulatory System"
80 "What is Nanotechnology?," Nano Technology
Magazine, November 2001, www.firststagecapital.com/pdf/