# Is all body chemistry basically simple?

Discussion in 'Chemistry' started by Captain Kremmen, Dec 23, 2010.

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Through the employment of enzymes - as directed by it's DNA.

Nope, I'm not wrong in the least. I never said anywhere that it all wasn't peat to begin with. But the TYPE of peat and the type of coal it eventually makes depends entirely upon what the majority of the plant material was that went into the formation of the peat,

And it's rather interesting that you posted this because I AM in Georgia! And also very close to North Carolina (South Carolina, too, for that matter). <grin>

3. ### Captain KremmenAll aboard, me Hearties!Valued Senior Member

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You are all in it together!

Fantastic. At some points it is using enzymes working together.

http://www-leeper.ch.cam.ac.uk/TetrapyrroleBiosynth/B12.html

I wonder how it gets rid of the enzymes it has used when it no longer wants them around.

5. ### leopoldValued Senior Member

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understatement of the year award goes to . . .

7. ### Fraggle RockerStaff Member

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Yes, I understand that, and I most humbly apologize if I didn't make that clear, and/or if I effectively misquoted you. What I'm wondering now is whether the other source of coal, peat, could produce coal in sufficient abundance to power our engines and heaters. Is there any way to discern what percentage of the coal we're currently consuming so profligately was derived from peat?

If we're waiting for peat bogs to alter the chemistry of plant tissue to make it a more efficient source of fuel, is this vaguely analogous to our own biofuel industry altering the chemistry of plant tissue to turn it into alcohol?

8. ### Captain KremmenAll aboard, me Hearties!Valued Senior Member

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I think the main subject is finished, but the coal discussion is interesting as well.
Here is a fine graph I have found which shows the effect of the laying down of coal deposits on the atmosphere.

from http://icb.oxfordjournals.org/content/47/4/510.full

At its lowest, in the Devonian, the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere was about 12%, while at the same time the amount of Carbon Dioxide was 0.4%
By the late Mississippian, Oxygen is at 25%, and Carbon dioxide at close to zero.
Someone familiar with Atomic calculations could work out fairly accurately the weight of coal deposited.
Time period 40 Million years or so.

Back of an envelope calculation. Say it was only 1/1000 of the weight of the atmosphere, which is currently 5.3 E18kg.
That's 5,300,000,000,000 Tonnes of carbon deposited.

That sounds a lot doesn't it?
But, say only a 1/10 of it is recoverable.
And let's say we divide the rest between a select 5.3 Billion of the world's population.
That would be 100 Tonnes each.

I may have been a little cautious with my estimates, but we are only looking at 100s of Tonnes per head.
40 million years of laying down of coal produces enough for a few centuries of use.
The human capacity to use resources is frightening.

Last edited: Jan 24, 2011
9. ### wellwisherBannedBanned

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If you do a mass balance, using the above data, there was not enough CO2 in the atmosphere to account for the O2 rise. If you look at the equation below;

6CO2 + 6H2O + Energy ® C6H12O6 + 6O2 ,

the 0.4% percent of CO2 should only make the same number of moles of O2. The O2 rise should have been closer to 1% and not 18%.

Does that means that most of the CO2, that was fixed by the plants, giving off O2, was not in the atmosphere, but based on dissolved sources of CO2?

Or was the CO2 slowly being emitted by the land/oceans, so the atmospheric CO2 levels, although low, would be remain modestly high, so the plants could make all that O2? This scenario would suggest the atmospheric CO2 was replenished many-fold by the surface. It would have been sort of like man-made global warming but done by nature.

10. ### Captain KremmenAll aboard, me Hearties!Valued Senior Member

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I was looking at the older estimate.
It rose to 25% rather than 30%, so the rise in percentage was 13% not 18%.

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Apology graciously and gratefully accepted.

You've restored my faith in your good, personal integrity. A quality, I might add, that's in short supply among the people here. Even though we ALL make mistakes and misspeak at times, more than 80% of our members lack that very important quality and refuse to admit their mistakes.

Getting back to the topic of discussion for a moment, I can't see even the remotest way those natural means of storing carbon could ever produce more than a tiny, insignificant fraction of our needs for energy.

There's certainly no point in waiting for that. And I suppose one could say, yes, that's vaguely analogous. But besides the obvious large differences in time frames, biofuels require a LOT of additional energy input that isn't free as the sunlight is. So I cannot see biofuels ever becoming an energy Savior for us. Their true value will lie in being replacements for the petrochemical feedstocks needed for other industries - like plastics and pharmaceuticals.

12. ### dbnp48Q.E.D.Registered Senior Member

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I second the compliment. Your ability to acknowledge a mistake and apologize is a major personal strength.

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Very wisely said. It's a shame that not enough emphasis is placed on developing that strength.

I can also easily remember when a man's word was his bond and you could count on it. Though words were always cheap, most words today are totally without value. And I'm very thankful that we do have a few folks here like you and Fraggle who I can always count on for being well above the crowd.

14. ### Captain KremmenAll aboard, me Hearties!Valued Senior Member

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Enough male bonding.

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Chill, Cap't.

On occasion when it's deserved, both male/female should have certain things acknowledged.

What more would you like to know about coal?

16. ### Captain KremmenAll aboard, me Hearties!Valued Senior Member

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Only kidding.
Let me confirm that I am 95.6% hetero ,
There was that early teenage Boy Scout holiday in Austria,where I wore leather Lederhosen, but forget that.
A bit of male bonding is part of being a man.
A homo-erotic part of it, but whatever.

It is interesting how little time we take to burn up 40 million years worth of immense forests though.
Sustainable. No. No-one is disputing that.

Last edited: Jan 25, 2011

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Joke taken.

And allow ME to confirm that I'm 100% hetero. Though I've male-bonded a few times in my 67 years, it's always been through a sense of camaraderie or some other form of common interest - and never even remotely sexually. In fact, I've always found that to be a bit repulsive. Besides, I've always deeply appreciated women.

Yes, our ability/capability for consumption is downright outrageous.

18. ### Captain KremmenAll aboard, me Hearties!Valued Senior Member

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When men are bonding, there is a rise in testosterone.

100% Hetero.
That's a bit too much hetero I think.
Mmmm................

19. ### jdy07Registered Member

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Actually, formation of biological metal ligand complexes is an active area of research called bioinorganic chemistry. An excellent book on the subject is, Biological Inorganic Chemistry: Structure and reactivity by Bertini, et. al. If you have access to journals you can find a lot of information on several systems such as, cytochrome P450, cobalamins, O2-binding proteins, ribonucleotide reductase, methane monooxygenase, nitrogenases, the list goes on and on. What is fascinating is that the protein environments confer subtle changes to the chemistry of the metal centers in such a way that simply synthesizing small molecule mimics of these enayme active sites is not usually enough to recreate the reactivity of these enzymes in the lab.

However, back to your original question if chemistry is all [biological] chemistry simple? You can almost think of all biological chemistry originating from sunlight and simple molecules such as CO[sub]2[/sub], O[sub]2[/sub], N[sub]2[/sub] and other simple inorganics. However, the chemistry that uses these simple molecules to form more complex molecules is fascinating the more you learn about it.

20. ### chimpkinC'mon, get happy!Registered Senior Member

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For the record, I am not a heterosexual.

I don't find biological chemistry simple... my ability to do math is pretty much that of a pimply-tenth grader due to learning-disability...yes, diagnosed-trust me, everyone thought I was lazy until that point...We'll see if I ever graduate and head for grad school...(Hmm, gotta get on enrollment)

I'm looking forward to my shiny happy math neuroprocessor implant. Come on, Science, I haven't got all millenium!

My college biology class included an overview of cellular aerobic metabolism, and while I had to take two-and-a-half spirals full of notes, I learned it...it really is quite nifty, isn't it?
And the useful upshot is now I know why I just shouldn't bother to plant tomatoes around here. They too easily switch over to oxy metabolism and wilt. Our summers here have risen about 5-10 degrees fahrenheit since I was a kid, and they're very delicate in this kind of heat. Oh, that and the leaf-footed bugs-they're little tomato vampires.

As far as it all being carbon, oxygen, some trace minerals, and various sugars...that much is true.

It's like DNA-amazing that coding for such a breadth of complexity comes out of four little molecules.

Hmm, like quipa.

21. ### Captain KremmenAll aboard, me Hearties!Valued Senior Member

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I used to have that disability too.
Lazyitis

22. ### Captain KremmenAll aboard, me Hearties!Valued Senior Member

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Plants make all sorts of chemicals to protect themselves from leaf eaters.
Many of them are similar to chemicals which control animal and insect biology.
That is why we get so many useful medicines from plants.
Their intent is to make us sick, but we use them to make us well.

23. ### chimpkinC'mon, get happy!Registered Senior Member

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Lazyitis doesn't explain why it takes real intellectual effort for me to figure out which way to turn a bolt on the underside of my car, or why it still takes me roughly ten to twenty seconds to read a clock dial-learned how around eighth grade...

It explains rather neatly why I get turned around in strange places...but having gone somewhere once I remember...because I've learned to compensate for my innate lack of direction by literally building up a sort of mental google earth snapshot of my environs.

This is why I go berserk when people rearrange furniture on me.

Or why I can spend fourteen hours a week studying for the last math class that I still dropped due to flunking...Which is why I'm really inclined to resent being called lazy.
I worked my a off and had a big fat 58 to show for it.
I need a better job so I can pay for a private tutor to work through this stuff with me, slowly, before I attempt again...because I just find failure too demoralizing. I need to know the material very well before I actually take the class, because learning it at the pace of everyone else is a completely lost cause.

The lazy is a different issue, and I'm under better control of that these days. Even growing easy plants, gardening isn't for the lazy...and we have to build raised beds due to bad drainage issues.

Last edited: Feb 10, 2011