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dark ocean

As much as we may try to deny it, Earth’s cycle of day and night rules our lives.

When the sun sets, the encroaching darkness sets off a chain of molecular events spreading from our eyes to our pineal gland, which oozes a hormone called melatonin into the brain. When the melatonin latches onto neurons, it alters their electrical rhythm, nudging the brain into the realm of sleep.

At dawn, sunlight snuffs out the melatonin, forcing the brain back to its wakeful pattern again.

We fight these cycles each time we stay up late reading our smartphones, suppressing our nightly dose of melatonin and waking up grumpy the next day. We fly across continents as if we could instantly reset our inner clocks. But our melatonin-driven sleep cycle lags behind, leaving us drowsy in the middle of the day.

Scientists have long wondered how this powerful cycle got its start. A new study on melatonin hints that it evolved some 700 million years ago. The authors of the study propose that our nightly slumbers evolved from the rise and fall of our tiny oceangoing ancestors, as they swam up to the surface of the sea at twilight and then sank in a sleepy fall through the night. (1)

The bright dark sea.
The source of our existence.
From the dark ocean we came.
And its dark secrets define our life.

A small creature going down into the deep.
A small creature rising up to the Sun.
A small creature deciding how we will behave millionf of years ago.

In the silent ocean, under the silent Moon.
Something carves the fate of the world.
The source of our existence.
The bright dark sea.

Listen to the dark waves…
Listen to them echoing through the aeons…

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