I Want to Learn How to Think Beyond Academic Disciplines

Vol.5 2015.03.19 TOYOTA Taro

The World of the Mirror Regarding Substances and Life


 When we check the lees which are precipitated in wine and the peripheral wall of the wine barrel, we sometime find small crystals. These crystals are the salt which acid tartarique in grapes crystallize. Compared with the crystals of the salt, acid recemique, which is obtained as a byproduct in the manufacturing process of wine, the crystalized salt of acid recemique has two shapes. They are the symmetrical shapes which are reflected in the mirror. This fact was discovered in the early twenty century. The discovery of the crystals, which are enantiotopic, is the achievement of Louis Pasteur who was regarded as the founder of the modern bacteriology. This discovery has not been overthrown by the detailed double checks in later years and it is understood as one of the essences regarding substances. This is linked to the understanding in which the atom of carbon has the structure of the three-dimensional regular tetrahedron in its molecule. This fact gives us important and wide viewpoints (such as: the difference between artificiality and nature, the boundary between life and non-life, the discovery and exploitation of substances which can be medicines and the riddle of the birth of life on the earth) in understanding nature. In this lecture, I am going to explain this world of the mirror by mentioning many examples. Pasteur is also famous for denying ‘the view in which life comes into being naturally’ of those days through detailed experiments. Natural science has been facing this difficult question again in the 21st century and the study in which cells are created artificially around the world. I am going to talk about such up-to-date research topics.                                            


Associate Professor at the Department of Life Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo He graduated from the Department of Life Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo in 2005 (Doctor of Philosophy). After working for the Graduate School of Engineering, Chiba University, as a research associate and for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo, as a lecturer, he has been in the present post from 2011. His specialities are synthetic chemistry which centres on colloid chemistry, surface chemistry, and analytical chemistry. His literary works include: ‘Seimei no kigen o saguru (An investigation on the origin of life)’ (co-author, Tokyo daigaku shuppankai), ‘Sanseidō shin kagaku shō jiten (Sanseidō new dictionary of chemistry)’ (co-author, Sanseidō) and ‘Bunsekikagaku (Analytical chemistry)’ (co-author, Mimizuku sha and Igaku hyōron sha).

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