Archive for the 'gonzOmakeBelieve' Category

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.

POP

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.

Must..be...remedied!!

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?

TNT.

wile-e.jpg

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…

Preposterous!

Dig?

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…

Advertisements

The Salmon Of Disco

Dig: The graph below demonstrates the difference in energy required to get a sober vs. a drunk person to dance at the disco party.

catalyst_effect.png

Notice that less energy is needed to activate a [red] catalyzed reaction — while a greater energy input is required to activate & drive its uncatalyzed [blue] counterpart to completion in the same amount of time.

Look the graph over once more while you chew on the above paragraph please; it’s entirely brain wraparound-able.

Like [blue] is the dude who just showed up cold sober to the party. While [red, catalyzed] is a properly liquored up party goer.

The reactions are complete when each hits the dance floor.

The red line denotes the amount of energy required before a lady-friend’s entreaties successfully convince a drunk person to disco dance. Blue for the amount of convincing Joe Sober dude needs.

The drunk person goes by the name Drunk Yo.

Joe Sober requires more energy to convince him to dance to We Are Family. You can count on it like a law of physics.

Drunk Yo’s activation energy is far lower than Joe Sober’s since Drunk Yo is halfway to the dance floor already.

Singing I got all my sisters & ME!!

By strategically lowering the activation energy required to move a drunk ass to the dance floor, liquor makes Drunk Yo a million times easier to convince. In this way liquor at the disco party behaves remarkably like chemical reaction catalysis.

Joe Sober will get funky eventually. It’s human nature. But without the benefit of catalysis…not funky enough. Not fast enough. Joe Sober is of no use to the party.

Not without liquid booze fuel.

Consider: a salmon steak breaks down far more readily, to its’ molecular components, in the presence of enzymes — digestive catalysts — in the stomach, than when left to rot in the sun. Each result — the molecular LEGO set from which salmon steak is originally assembled — looks quite the same.

But catalysis accelerates the situation in magnificently handy ways.

Yeah — whoa! — like Far Out.

Bitchin!!

If you learned one thing here today remember this: The crucial difference is speed.

Any questions?