Cell biology Intelligent Design

The amazing energy efficiency of cells

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structure of an animal cell/royroydeb (CC BY-SA 4.0)

A strong case can be made that the cell, the most basic unit of life, is the most energy efficient thing on Earth. They store energy as ATP (adenosine triphosphate):

He compares the cell to human inventions and finds that it is indeed amazingly energy-efficient.

How much energy can ATP store? Biochemists calculate that for every 686 Calories provided by glucose, ATP can capture about 262 Calories, for an energy efficiency of 38%. According to the popular textbook Human Anatomy & Physiology by Marieb and Hoehn, cells are “far more efficient than any man-made machines, which capture only 10-30% of the energy available to them.”Alex Berezow, “The Cell: Most Energy Efficient Thing On Earth?” at American Council on Science and health

Before you go: In addition to DNA, our cells have an instruction language written in sugar Of course it all just tumbled into existence and “natural selection” somehow organized everything. As if.

Cells find optimal solutions. Not just good ones.

Researchers build “public library” to help understand photosynthesis

Wait. “The part of the plant responsible for photosynthesis is like a complex machine made up of many parts, … ” And machines just happen all by themselves, right? There is no information load to account for; it just evolved by natural selection acting on random mutation the way your Android did! Follow UD News at Twitter!

In Nature: Cells have “secret conversations” We say this a lot: That’s a lot of information to have simply come into being by natural selection acting on random mutation (Darwinism). It’s getting not only ridiculous but obviously ridiculous.

Follow UD News at Twitter!

Researchers: Helpful gut microbes send messages to their hosts If the strategy is clearly identified, they should look for non-helpful microbes that have found a way to copy it (horizontal gene transfer?)

Cells and proteins use sugars to talk to one another Cells are like Neanderthal man. They get smarter every time we run into them. And just think, it all just tumbled into existence by natural selection acting on random mutations (Darwinism) too…

Researchers: First animal cell was not simple; it could “transdifferentiate” From the paper: “… these analyses offer no support for the homology of sponge choanocytes and choanoflagellates, nor for the view that the first multicellular animals were simple balls of cells with limited capacity to differentiate.”

“Interspecies communication” strategy between gut bacteria and mammalian hosts’ genes described

Researchers: Cells Have A Repair Crew That Fixes Local Leaks

Researchers: How The Immune System “Thinks”Follow UD News at Twitter!

Researcher: Mathematics Sheds Light On “Unfathomably Complex” Cellular Thinking

How do cells in the body know where they are supposed to be?

Researchers A Kill Cancer Code Is Embedded in Every Cell

6 Replies to “The amazing energy efficiency of cells

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    He is misinformed in calculating the energy efficiency found in cells generally and ATP specifically. He stated,,,

    Biochemists calculate that for every 686 Calories provided by glucose, ATP can capture about 262 Calories, for an energy efficiency of 38%.,,,
    One final point: Every energy conversion results in inefficiencies that are physically impossible to overcome. It seems that roughly 40% energy efficiency is about as good as anyone (man or nature) can achieve. That’s why a belief that solar power could ever be 100% efficient is based on fantasy.

    So according to him, it is impossible for anything to approach 100% energy efficiency, Yet ATP production itself, contrary to his back of the envelope calculations, is found to be 100% efficient.

    The Puzzle of Perfection, Thirty Years On – July 31, 2015
    Excerpt: The authors of the first paper, published in PNAS, seem hesitant to use the word “perfect” in their description of ATP synthase, the machine that generates energy currency for most cellular processes in all living things (see our animation of this amazing machine here). They use “near-perfect” in the title and throughout the paper:
    “ATP synthase produces most of the ATP in respiratory and photosynthetic cells. It is a rotary motor enzyme and its catalytic portion F1-ATPase hydrolyzes ATP to drive rotation of the central ? subunit. Efficiency of chemomechanical energy conversion by this motor is always near-perfect under different ATP hydrolysis energy (?GATP) conditions.”
    Any deviation from perfection, however, could be due to experimental error. In their graph, the error bars transverse the slope for 100 percent efficiency (that is, for conversion of chemical energy to mechanical work). It may well be as close to perfect as is physically possible. What’s even more striking is that this “near-perfect” level of efficiency is maintained throughout a “broad range” of operation conditions.

    Your Motor/Generators Are 100% Efficient – October 2011
    Excerpt: ATP synthase astounds again. The molecular machine that generates almost all the ATP (molecular “energy pellets”) for all life was examined by Japanese scientists for its thermodynamic efficiency. By applying and measuring load on the top part that synthesizes ATP, they were able to determine that one cannot do better at getting work out of a motor,,, The article was edited by noted Harvard expert on the bacterial flagellum, Howard Berg.

    Thermodynamic efficiency and mechanochemical coupling of F1-ATPase – 2011
    Excerpt: F1-ATPase is a nanosized biological energy transducer working as part of FoF1-ATP synthase. Its rotary machinery transduces energy between chemical free energy and mechanical work and plays a central role in the cellular energy transduction by synthesizing most ATP in virtually all organisms.,,
    Our results suggested a 100% free-energy transduction efficiency and a tight mechanochemical coupling of F1-ATPase.
    See also:
    Davies et al., “Macromolecular organization of ATP synthase and complex I in whole mitochondria,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    Tamás Beke-Somfai, Per Lincoln, and Bengt Nordén, “Double-lock ratchet mechanism revealing the role of [alpha]SER-344 in F0F1 ATP synthase,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    His back of the envelope calorie calculation for ATP energy efficiency probably forgot to take into consideration the fact that the calories from glucose are split among several enzymes in the production of ATP:

    The 10 Step Glycolysis Pathway In ATP Production: An Overview – video

    At the 14:00 minute mark of the following video, Chris Ashcraft, who has a PhD in molecular biology, gives us an overview of the Citric Acid Cycle, which is, after the 10 step Glycolysis Pathway, also involved in ATP production:

    Evolution vs ATP Synthase – Chris Ashcraft – video – citric acid cycle at 14:00 minute mark

    He is simply wrong with his back of the envelope calculation that “40% energy efficiency is about as good as anyone (man or nature) can achieve”.

    For instance, the bacterial flagellum itself, the mascot molecular machine for Intelligent Design, has a energy conversion efficiency of 100%

    Bacterial Flagellum – A Sheer Wonder Of Intelligent Design – video

    Moreover, the efficiency of photosynthesis itself is found to be 100%. The following study found that ‘Certain biological systems living in low light environments have unique protein structures for photosynthesis that use quantum dynamics to convert 100% of absorbed light into electrical charge,,,’

    Unlocking nature’s quantum engineering for efficient solar energy – January 7, 2013
    Excerpt: Certain biological systems living in low light environments have unique protein structures for photosynthesis that use quantum dynamics to convert 100% of absorbed light into electrical charge,,,
    These biological systems can direct a quantum process, in this case energy transport, in astoundingly subtle and controlled ways – showing remarkable resistance to the aggressive, random background noise of biology and extreme environments.

    These are not just isolated examples of perfect or nearly perfect energy efficiency. Surprisingly perfect ‘optimization’ is widespread. As the following article states, “In each instance, biophysicists have calculated, the system couldn’t get faster, more sensitive or more efficient without first relocating to an alternate universe with alternate physical constants.”

    William Bialek: More Perfect Than We Imagined – March 23, 2013
    Excerpt: photoreceptor cells that carpet the retinal tissue of the eye and respond to light, are not just good or great or phabulous at their job. They are not merely exceptionally impressive by the standards of biology, with whatever slop and wiggle room the animate category implies. Photoreceptors operate at the outermost boundary allowed by the laws of physics, which means they are as good as they can be, period. Each one is designed to detect and respond to single photons of light — the smallest possible packages in which light comes wrapped.
    “Light is quantized, and you can’t count half a photon,” said William Bialek, a professor of physics and integrative genomics at Princeton University. “This is as far as it goes.” …
    Scientists have identified and mathematically anatomized an array of cases where optimization has left its fastidious mark, among them;,, the precision response in a fruit fly embryo to contouring molecules that help distinguish tail from head;,,, In each instance, biophysicists have calculated, the system couldn’t get faster, more sensitive or more efficient without first relocating to an alternate universe with alternate physical constants.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Supplemental notes:

    Cell-inspired electronics – February 25, 2010
    Excerpt: “A single cell in the human body is approximately 10,000 times more energy-efficient than any nanoscale digital transistor, the fundamental building block of electronic chips. In one second, a cell performs about 10 million energy-consuming chemical reactions, which altogether require about one picowatt (one millionth millionth of a watt) of power.”

    Optimal Design of Metabolism – Dr. Fazale Rana – July 2012
    Excerpt: A new study further highlights the optimality of the cell’s metabolic systems. Using the multi-dimension optimization theory, researchers evaluated the performance of the metabolic systems of several different bacteria. The data generated by monitoring the flux (movement) of compounds through metabolic pathways (like the movement of cars along the roadways) allowed researchers to assess the behavior of cellular metabolism. They determined that metabolism functions optimally for a system that seeks to accomplish multiple objectives. It looks as if the cell’s metabolism is optimized to operate under a single set of conditions. At the same time, it can perform optimally with relatively small adjustments to the metabolic operations when the cell experiences a change in condition.

    Moreover, the integrated coding between the DNA, RNA and Proteins of the cell apparently seem to be ingeniously designed along the very stringent guidelines laid out in Landauer’s principle, (by Charles Bennett from IBM of Quantum Teleportation fame), for ‘reversible computation’ in order for the cell to achieve such amazing energy/metabolic efficiency as it does.

    Notes on Landauer’s principle, reversible computation, and Maxwell’s Demon – Charles H. Bennett – September 2003
    Excerpt: Of course, in practice, almost all data processing is done on macroscopic apparatus, dissipating macroscopic amounts of energy far in excess of what would be required by Landauer’s principle. Nevertheless, some stages of biomolecular information processing, such as transcription of DNA to RNA, appear to be accomplished by chemical reactions that are reversible not only in principle but in practice.,,,,

    Logically and Physically Reversible Natural Computing: A Tutorial – 2013
    Excerpt: This year marks the 40th anniversary of Charles Bennett’s seminal paper on reversible computing. Bennett’s contribution is remembered as one of the first to demonstrate how any deterministic computation can be simulated by a logically reversible Turing machine. Perhaps less remembered is that the same paper suggests the use of nucleic acids to realise physical reversibility. In context, Bennett’s foresight predates Leonard Adleman’s famous experiments to solve instances of the Hamiltonian path problem using strands of DNA — a landmark date for the field of natural computing — by more than twenty years.

    The astonishing efficiency of life – November 17, 2017 by Jenna Marshall
    Excerpt: All life on earth performs computations – and all computations require energy. From single-celled amoeba to multicellular organisms like humans, one of the most basic biological computations common across life is translation: processing information from a genome and writing that into proteins.
    Translation, it turns out, is highly efficient.
    In a new paper published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, SFI researchers explore the thermodynamic efficiency of translation.,,,
    To discover just how efficient translation is, the researchers started with Landauer’s Bound. This is a principle of thermodynamics establishing the minimum amount of energy that any physical process needs to perform a computation.
    “What we found is that biological translation is roughly 20 times less efficient than the absolute lower physical bound,” says lead author Christopher Kempes, an SFI Omidyar Fellow. “And that’s about 100,000 times more efficient than a computer.”

    The amazing energy efficiency possible with ‘reversible computation’ has been known about since Charles Bennett laid out the principles for such reversible programming in 1973, but as far as I know, due to the extreme level of complexity involved in actually designing such ingenious ‘reversible coding’ in our own computers, has yet to be accomplished in any meaningful way in our computer programs:

    Reversible computing
    Excerpt: Reversible computing is a model of computing where the computational process to some extent is reversible, i.e., time-invertible.,,, Although achieving this goal presents a significant challenge for the design, manufacturing, and characterization of ultra-precise new physical mechanisms for computing, there is at present no fundamental reason to think that this goal cannot eventually be accomplished, allowing us to someday build computers that generate much less than 1 bit’s worth of physical entropy (and dissipate much less than kT ln 2 energy to heat) for each useful logical operation that they carry out internally.

    Of related note:

    Fine tuning of Light, to Atmosphere, Water, Photosynthesis, and Human Vision (etc.) – video

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  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    PK, like the author in the OP, they are just plain wrong in how they are calculating energy efficiency. They are not measuring actually energy to work conversion efficiency of photosynthesis but are, of all things, calculating efficiency via biomass produced.

    “The modified tobacco grew around 40 percent more biomass than unaltered plants.”

    Geez, I guess when you can define whatever parameters you want to measure efficiency then I guess you can get whatever answer you want. I certainly don’t think mechanical engineers would be very impressed with their ‘new math’ to derive energy efficiency of photosynthesis;

  5. 5
    Heartlander says:

    VIDEO –

    James Tour: The Mystery of the Origin of Life

    BTW – The 2019 Dallas Conference on Science & Faith videos are now online

  6. 6
    OLV says:

    Could some biological systems we see today just devolved (ie broken) versions of their original ones?

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