The chemical compound nitric oxide is a gas with the formula NO. It is an important signaling molecule in the body of mammals, including humans—one of the few gaseous signaling molecules known. It is also a toxic air pollutant produced by automobile engines and power plants. The nitric oxide molecule is a free radical and therefore highly reactive. It reacts with the oxygen in air to form nitrogen dioxide, signaled by the appearance of a reddish-brown color.
Although NO has relatively few direct uses, it is produced on a massive scale as an intermediate in the Ostwald process for the synthesis of nitric acid from ammonia. It is also used for various processes in the semiconductor industry, and for detecting surface radicals on polymers.
From a Unification perspective, several points can be made:
- Nitric oxide interacts physically and chemically with other substances. Unification thought calls such interactions "give and take action" (or giving and receiving action). These types of interactions are part of the larger picture in which the world is a collective whole, built on relationships between its individual parts. Unification thought endeavors to expand our consciousness of the things of this world, moving from small, individual entities (such as atoms and molecules) to the relationships they have with one another, thereby building larger and larger entities, until we can view the world as a collective, dynamic whole.
- Scientific studies of nitric oxide have enabled us to see its value within our own bodies and in other living things. These studies have also shown that the same substance can be a pollutant when produced at elevated levels in the atmosphere. These efforts and the resulting insights are manifestations of our intelligence and creativity—attributes that are linked to our spiritual dimension. These attributes are also reflective of God's intelligence and creativity.
- The scientific study of nitric oxide and development of several useful applications indicate our desire to understand and harmonize with God's creation. Moreover, by taking responsibility and exerting our efforts, we become channels for God's love to flow through us to the creation. In this manner, we can exert a stewardship of true love over the creation. The Unification principle refers to these types of efforts as contributing toward the fulfillment of God's "Third Great Blessing" to humanity.
- Nitric oxide is directly involved in serving humanity and other parts of the natural world. In other words, it serves a larger purpose, which may be called the "purpose of the whole." By serving our body's needs, nitric oxide helps us maintain our physical lives on Earth. As Unification thought points out, our physical lives on Earth give us the opportunity for internal, spiritual growth.
- Even as nitric oxide serves humanity, it provides us with an internal guiding principle: to live for the sake of others. By so doing, we transcend the level of mere survival and travel the path toward inheriting God's nature. Eventually, we can vibrate with God's spirit and become channels for God's love to flow through us to others and to the rest of creation. In this manner, we can fulfill what the Unification principle calls the "Three Great Blessings" and establish a world of peace and harmony.