Slanted Truths pp 127-143 | Cite as

The Atmosphere as Circulatory System of the Biosphere— The Gaia Hypothesis

  • Lynn Margulis
  • James E. Lovelock


We would like to discuss the Earth’s atmosphere from a new point of view—that it is an integral, regulated, and necessary part of the biosphere. In 1664 Sachs von Lewenheimb, a champion of William Harvey, used the analogy shown in Figure 10.1 to illustrate the concept of the circulation of blood. Apparently the idea that water lost to the heavens is eventually returned to Earth was so acceptable in von Lewenheimb’s time that Harvey’s theory was strengthened by the analogy (Pagel 1951).


Methyl Iodide Dimethyl Sulfide Geothermal Area Methyl Chloride Carbonyl Sulfide 
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  1. Pagel quotes Harvey himself as saying: “I began to think whether there might not be a motion as it were in a circle. Now this I afterwards found to be true; ... which motion we may be allowed to call circular, in the same way as Aristotle says that the air and the rain emulate the circular motion of the superior bodies; for the moist earth, warmed by the sun evaporates; the vapours drawn upwards are condensed, and descending in the form of rain moisten the earth again; and by this arrangement are generations of living things produced... And so in all likelihood, does it come to pass in the body, through the motion of the blood; the various parts are nourished, cherished, quickened by the warmer more perfect vaporous spiritous, and, as I may say, alimentive blood; which, on the contrary, in contact with these parts becomes cooled, coagulated, and, so to speak, effete; whence it returns to its sovereign, the heart, as if to its source, or to the inmost home of the body, there to recover its state of excellence of perfection.”Google Scholar
  2. From the original treatise in the Wellcome Library, courtesy of the trustees, with permission.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lynn Margulis
  • James E. Lovelock

There are no affiliations available

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