Nature's batteries

27 May 2010

At there is an interesting article on research done by Leeds University and published in Chemical Communications. How did life on earth emerge from inanimate matter billions of years ago? What prompted abiogenesis?

Replication and metabolism are two factors - the other is energy. All living things require a continual supply of energy in order to function - including the human body. This energy is contained within molecules - such as alenosine trophosphate (ATP) which converts heat from the Sun into a usable form for both plants and animals. At any one moment in time the human body contains 250g of ATP which provides roughly the same amount of energy as a single AA battery. It is constantly in use and constantly regenerated in cells via a process known as respiration - which is driven by natural catalysts called enzymes. In effect you need ATP to make enzymes - and enzymes to make ATP. The problem is - where did energy come from before either of these two things existed?