Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Life Part II: The Superfluous of Energy

Energy. It is a word that has troubled me for years. All the answers that teachers gave me at high school never satisfy me. Maybe it was because of this word that I was kicked out from the school. Not Understanding that word, just drive me nuts, and created in me a great feeling of anguish. Throughout biochemistry (my professional career, that I studied in the University), they still talked about this crazy concept, ENERGY, and I gradually started to intuit its meaning. And I think the catalyst was the structure of glucose.

Glucose is a carbohydrate (hydrated carbon (carbon + water), carbon (green in photo) and water (red and white)), is the most common source of energy for living things. Interestingly this is the most common carbohydrate in the earth, is the one which is in more quantity than others. ¿Why? Is it just a coincidence that the glucose is the most common carbohydrate in the planet and also is the most used source of energy of the living organisms?

NO. Life has the ability to adapt to it's environment the best way it can . So beings who feed on glucose will have more opportunity than others to eat and therefore to survive and endure in the history and time.

Glucose is the carbohydrate most common because it is the most stable, has a light structure, the atoms do not disturb themselves as much as the atoms of other carbohydrates. Think it this way, you have 6 lawyers in a small room. Everybody knows that lawyers are insufferable, no one stand them, neither themselves. If we have 6 of them in a small room, they will move until everyone is the less bother by the others. This distribution will form an hexagon. This implies that the most stable distribution, thus the one with less energy is this one. If we put them all in a corner, they will start to fight about nonsense thing (like always). It is therefore a composition which will not last much time, hence less stable thus more energy. Carbons behave like lawyers, that's why they take the hexagon conformation, when we have 6 of them.

Anything that is more frequent (that exist more times than another thing) means that it is more stable. Because more stable thing last more in time, and from all the possible configurations that it can have, the more stable will exist more times just because it's components do not bother them self as much as the other possible forms. So stability is a probability of existence. If it exist more, more is the chance to find it.

Therefore to know that something is more common, involves that it has a reference point. Therefore is something is more common just because something else is less frequent. So energy is a description of a particular state in time and space. Since we can compare the same object in different places (like the last example of the apple (Life part I)), or the same object at the same place at different times (and if the object is the same but the context is different the state of the object will change).

So when we talk about heat energy, or chemical energy, energy or whatever, in the background is the description of a state in some context with respect to something else. And all units (eg, kilo calories) on one of the unit (1 kcal) is a particular object under certain circumstances (1 Kilo calorie is defined ( hey!! it was defined) as the heat needed to raise 1 degree Celsius the temperature of one kilo of water at one atmospheric pressure) thus if something has 2 kilo calories means, that it takes twice as much heat for one kilogram of water to be raised in one degree Celsius that a kilo of something x. But it also means they are more likely to find a kilo of water with a temperature over a kilo of something x.

So energy is a definition of what is the probability that a phenomenon occurs.

This does not mean that events with low probability of occurrence does not exist, but it implies that there are fewer times within a certain context. And this probability will depend on their properties and their properties depend on the interaction of its components. So when we talk about stability, (thus how much it endures over time) we also talk about how much energy it possesses and hence which are the properties of its components and thus also talked about the interaction between its components. (like as marriages, as less trouble they have they last more).

For this reason it costs a lot to make, design and create an atomic bomb. Because to make something that is rarely frequent to occur involves a lot of effort, a lot of energy. And when the rare events occur they tend to cause that rare occurrence phenomena occurs (really, is rare that a soldier dies from radiation without seeing an atomic explosion).

I believe it was little complicated the explanation.

Any questions? (Again, sorry about my lack of english)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Life Part I: Life and its energy.

What is a cell? Somethings you maybe know about it. The first definition that is necessary to know is that a cell is a unit capable of living independently. Thus, it must have everything needed to be alive. Ideally, from one cell we can get another equal cell or similar (reproduction).

This concept is very cool, any living thing should be kept different from the medium it is into. It has different quantities and kind of molecules or atoms than it's environment. For example, a dog has more concentration of salts in their body than the air (sounds obvious right?), the fish have different amounts of salt than the sea (not so obvious ah?) Or yeast have different concentrations of salts than beer (for those who like not filtered beer).

Just this characteristic implies that it HAS A DIFFERENT STATE OF ENERGY. A simple example, Cuba libre (Rum with Coke), these two are going to mix by their own. Why? Because the cuba libre has a energy state that is lower than energy of both rum and coke separate. So, if you want to separate the rum from the coke from cubalibe you MUST apply energy (with a process called distillation). And if you want o maintain them separately you have to put them in different glasses.

To understand this I will give you a DOGMA. Everything goes from a higher energy state to a minor. Things that are unstable are unstable because they have to much energy, and they prefer to be calm in a lower energy state . For example, if you hold an apple one meter above the ground, and you drop it, would the apple not fall?. Yes, it does, this is because the energy state of the apple is lower on the floor than a meter above it, and the only way that the apple can be one meter above the ground is by applying energy. We are the ones that apply that energy by having the apple above the ground. And if you don't believe me try to hold an apple one meter from the floor for over an hour. You will get tired, right?.

So, for a cell to maintain a differentiate from it's environment, it has to use and produce energy, that why we eat. To maintain alive and be alive means that we have to differentiate us from the environment.

To confirm it, imagine what happens to the things that die, it becomes one with the environment, same amount of salts and ions, and everything.

Then, assuming that all the concepts were understood, and my lack of english didn't perturbed you. Living organisms have an MAYOR energy state than its environment.

So, Why living organism (life) exist? Why is there then? If by dogma, things tends to reach a lower energy state, they reach an equilibrium. Life break this rule.

What is the justification of life?