Biochemistry of a Make-Believe TNT Fiend

Want PBR.

Got ATP.

Good 2 GO!!

When I want beer and my hand successfully grasps the Pabst Blue Ribbon can from the bar in front of me, the accomplishment is propelled by chemical energy stored in a molecule of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

atp.GIFPut more precisely: The “PBR accomplishment” is propelled by the release of chemical energy when a phosphate bond (one of the 2 red lines between the 3 P’s in the above diagram) is strategically cleaved from ATP.

The result: Free Energy, available to do work. Or, that’s what they say in the textbooks. It may be more accurate to describe such Free Energy as available to do anything.

Want. Pill.


Another magnificent ATP-propelled accomplishment!!

ATP similarly propels every energy-requiring act by any organism on Earth – be they whale, plankton, salmon or human; from giraffes to the leaf on a tree. Albeit at some expense; an ATP minus one phosphate (adenosine diphosphate or ADP) is like a cooler filled with beer on a hot day – but no ice.!!

When a salmon swims the act is fueled by chemical energy stored in an ATP molecule. ATP makes it so salmons get to swim upstream & have babies. So they need to eat stuff on the way. To make more ATP. To swim up more streams & propagate their species.

But sometimes salmons get caught in a net & grilled on hibachis. The salmon had other plans. But it is dinner now. Flush with energy it no longer requires, on account of being dead.

ATP waiting to happen.

And what will the human do with his freshly-synthesized Free Energy available to do anything?

People use their ATP to run around like chickens with their heads chopped off mostly.

So they can buy more salmon. To get more ATP. So they can crawl imbecilic across the carpet & pick gruelingly for those fabled crumbs of leftover crack cocaine.

So goes the mass of humanity.

Other creatures keep a better handle their ATP habit. Like vultures; supremely patient hunters, who pick nutrient-rich flesh from the bones of the inadvertently deceased. Whitewinged vampire bats drink blood from the toes of sleeping birds. The birds not only survive the predation — they don’t feel a thing.

The described creatures — salmon, vulture, human — are known as chemotrophs (chemo = of or pertaining to chemicals + trophe = nutrition). Chemotrophs extract their energy from biochemicals (bio = Life); from the carbohydrate, protein & fat molecules in food.

In other words: chemotrophs eat for their ATP.

But there are other ways.

Like so:

Ever wonder: Since the Road Runner always somehow evades him — what does Wile E Coyote eat?



Actually he doesn’t eat TNT. But when it explodes inadvertantly in his face, squirts brain from his ears and blasts the top half of his skull through a hole in the sky – that TNT nourishes him. Sure as the rest of us are nourished by a bowl of home-made chicken soup.

TNT, coincidentally, is chemical energy.

Which means Wile E Coyote is a chemotroph. Just like me & you. Except, instead of eating salmon, the coyote synthesizes his ATP with energy derived from ACME brand TNT.

Never underestimate coyotes. Delighted, remarkably adaptable — the daredevil species.

His nemesis, the Road Runner, is just some dumb cartoon bird Wile E Coyote chases for giggles & cash. The chase is perpetually doomed. But what the hell? Doom is Money – at least in the Freelance Daredevil business. And a gig is a gig. Trick to it is get a wild kick out of doom.

Like a gambler who knows how to make a fast buck when he loses.

Eat the Road Runner? But…then there would be no Road Runner cartoon. And with no cartoon that coyote is just another doomed jerk on the street.

So he pulls out all the stops to let the road runner get away.

Play to lose. And when you mistakenly win keep a good excuse handy. Plus a dozen-odd hits of strong acid in case you need to hallucinate hugely:

I know what you’re thinking: But Mike E – does Wile E Coyote really synthesize his own ATP?

Great question!

I don’t know. But I can tell you that the TNT-fed cartoon coyote uses ATP to chase the Road Runner sure as a salmon uses ATP to swim upstream.

When something moves on Planet Earth it does so aided by the energy released when a phosphate bond is cleaved strategically from a molecule of ATP. Movement – deliberate movement by a living thing – requires ATP. Just does. Always.

I ask: can Wile E Coyote move across your TV screen without ATP?

Here is an unassailable illustration of the rhetorical nature of my question:

Can I borrow a few thousand bucks? I’ll pay you back when I get a job…



Nothing moves without ATP.

Not even the trickster.

Wile E Coyote is ATP-dependent. Suppose he lacks the cellular mechanism to produce his own. How will he move?

So easy a crackhead could do it.

to be continued…


12 Responses to “Biochemistry of a Make-Believe TNT Fiend”

  1. 1 pippi March 22, 2007 at 11:32 am

    IT is almost beginning to make some sense!

  2. 2 seeking3rdwind March 22, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    Master Science Wizard Mike Eeeee,

    You lost me on the acronyms. I might re-read for a glimpse of clarity. (Must admit, i probably won’t.) What a blessing that there are wizards like you in the world.

    i’m on the road again… so i’m goin’ mo-bile tomorrow… north out of the urban spring fever zone (where caution is not only encouraged… body armor is required!) you around?

    did you know i was the secret blogger? shhhhhhhh… it’s top of the acme secret, dig?

    gonna find that third wind and wake some folks the hell up. Peace.

  3. 3 D March 25, 2007 at 2:21 am

    Yo, Tobin, Good work. Glad to see that the weird gears in your head are adequately lubricated, and churning out such quality material. Keep it up.

  4. 4 Mike E March 27, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Hey Pippi, just wondering: If it is almost beginning to make some sense, to you — can you please explain it to me??

    I’m confused.

  5. 5 Sporz March 27, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    Ahh yes. Does one find one picking bits of salmon out of the carpet? I think not. That would be the wrong sequence. Maby if the rocks were cooked up like flinstones vitamins is salmon shapes, maby, but, the important issue is sequence. The running around like the chicken with no head is what the ATP burning usually ammounts to, but ahha!, here is the question, Is the ATP the facilitating root, or is simply a recgonizible facet of a larger process. I think it is simply a recognizable facet of a larger process. Like in a sequence where you might say “Feathers are what allows a bird to fly, when you could say it was the tastey worms he ate for breakfast” But OK, let me go deeper, kind of a weak metaphore there, but kind of to the point. So the ATP observation is a facet of the process of “chemotropic” existance that is observable under a microscope, yet everything that preceeds it, and postseeds it is of greater importance to the whole process. So to ammount all of it to an ATP process is discarding the context of the “happening” where as all of the chain of energies that even leads to the consumption is a deeper root of the process of existance and expending energy. What I’m trying to say is that the source of energy is not limited to that particular chain of events to generate energy. Maby so, even if the person was not eating, and managed to tap into other sources of energy, yes, there might be an observable ATP event, I don’t know. Excelent post man..

  6. 6 Sporz March 27, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Ooops, I meant to say “What I’m trying to say is that the source of energy MIGHT not be limited to that particular chain of events” It’s a rhetorical question. I had to throw that might in there caus I dont really know. But yes, even in an “unorthodox” sequence, the ATP event might be an observable occurance. 😉 ?

  7. 7 Mike E March 27, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    Even in an “unorthodox” sequence, the ATP event might be an observable occurance.

    Man, you nailed it. Precisely my point — or, my hypothesis at least — regarding the TNT-fed cartoon coyote.

    My larger hypothesis — which you seem to dig instinctively — is that it is all make believe.

    More on that soon.

    Thanks for the great comments.

  8. 8 AuntJackie March 28, 2007 at 12:26 am

    I’ll have to get my chemistry-major neice in here (2 years my junior), and have her sort it out, but I think I get it!! lol!! Maybe I fried my old noodle one too many times here and there… Very interesting though… 😉

  9. 9 absintheve April 1, 2007 at 12:10 am

    Hey you…ATP Boy..
    I’m done packin…….so you better give me all your ATP boy…
    cause i am tired as all hell and you do not want piss the wookie off…..cause I am packed…yep…. i got to take a nap…….
    I myself am having a hard time getting out the door without any ATP….like gonzo…. I need a canon….filled to the brim with you know the shit that drives membranes insane….
    even that would not cut into these ATP withdrawals……too much for me…..
    let us all chant ATP….ATP…..ATP…..its as easy as 123….my mama takes LSD…(this could explain a lot about the Jackson 5)
    Mike E. you are a lot like Wiley Coyote on PCP mixed salts…and you do sound a bit like C3PO…
    Hey….it is allright though…. Remember C3PO might have been a little annoying…. but somehow he got
    The Wookie to carry him around on his/or my back while Hans was being frozen….are you really saying all that was was that ATP?
    Is that why leah cried for her Hans…that was a little tooo much PDA..i mean sappy ATP….
    SO yeah I think it might be faster if you came down here….yep….I am tired…. not making any sense….
    But one thing is for sure certain Mike E…I think you make way more ATP……maybe thats it… it makes sense to me…..
    But what the fuck do i know i am just a Wookie…AAAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGP!!!!!
    So Hans got himself all airtight like and frozen stiff……
    so when he unfreezes himself and shares some of his BRAND NAME ATP’S…. with me the wookie…then we will get on the wookie ship….what do you think MR. mikeasy?
    oh you can tell C3PO to shut fuck up…AAAAAHHH…thanks dude… and C3PO hand over all the ATP dude….
    or he won’t get his legs back… fact want to trade C3PO’s legs for something? a toot of ATP straight up….good to go…
    How come you got some….baby…. and here i am just sitting here doing the lack of ATP wookie shuffle….
    sorry folks for all the dumb ATP jokes…..
    Should I just come anyway….i am so like the Wookie they were like you should just stay here and go to sleep….HUH?
    oh this is not your email….can you do something about that C3pO please….where are you….in case the ATP unfreezes Hans?

  10. 10 Smoky April 8, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    man I love your humor. And kudos for the PBR.



  11. 11 Mike E April 8, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    Smokey: Thanks for the compliment — now I have lunch!

    And welcome to my little pile of blog-doo: open container speedWay. The speedWay that never sleeps!

    Hey — anytime you’re genuinely hard up for something to do online, go on & stop by.

    One word of Caution: watch for Spun Cookies crossing!

    Get Rich Quick,
    Mike E

  12. 12 Thai April 8, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    This blog is hilarious! Thank you for the great humor. This has left me with a very large smile.

    Thank you again,


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