THE FANTASTIC PRODUCTION OF ATP BY A CELL'S MITOCHONDRIA
All cells need energy to carry out the work that they do. The source of ALL this energy (for muscles,l nerves etc.) is provided by ATP (Adenosine TriPhosphate) generated by small revolving "mills" on the surface of every mitochondria within each cell. There can be 10^16 rotors in the human body, working at 100 revs per second.
The ATP is formed by squeezing Adenosine DiPhosphate (ADP) and Phosphoric acid together to make ATP. This squeezing action is achieved as follows. A small mill (see Figure) is turned by hydrogen ions passing from the interior of the mitochondria into the cell. Connected to this is an bent axle that rotates at 100 revs/sec = 6,000 revs/min. Around this bent axle are six "cells" (actually hollow protein subunits), alpha and beta. The beta "cells" take in ADP and phosphoric acid that fit into a special part of the "cell", they are squeezed together as the bent axle passes by, and the ATP passes out as more ADP and phosph. acid replace them. The ATP gives up its energy where it is needed and breaks down into ADP and Phos. acid - which is then recycled!
The amazing thing about this phenomenally complicated minute rotating mill is that IT IS PRESENT IN EVEN THE MOST SIMPLEST OF MULTICELLED ORGANISMS such as the trilobite found in the Cambrian strata. So it could not have taken millions of years to evolve. Indeed, how could such a complicated mechanism have evolved in stages? It had to be right first time!
When the energy demand is high, the mill rotates faster, and in 24 hours, as much as 1 ton of ATP can be recycled.
Let us give some idea just how small these mills are. Imagine that we scale up one to be about 1ft diameter and about 2ft tall, and then place it on the edge of a pinhead to the same scale. The other side of the pinhead would be 38 miles away - about the diameter of Greater London! Yet these incredible mechanisms are present in even the "earliest" and most "primitive" organisms. How could they have possibly evolved?
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