Abstracted from “A Scientists View of Almost Everything” by Mark M Green
Let’s see how the food we eat is converted to the energy we need to keep us walking, talking, thinking, sleeping and yes even eating and all else it means to be alive. Everything we eat and drink contains hydrogen atoms. All atoms, including hydrogen atoms, contain a positive part (+), the nucleus, and a negative part (-), the electrons. It’s just like a battery with its positive and negative ends. The positive and negative are linked, strongly attracted to each other. The negative electrons and positive nuclei stay close. You’re going to cause a lot of tension by pulling those oppositely charged entities apart, by pulling the electrons away from the nuclei. But this is exactly what is going on in the cells in your body.
Your body contains approximately 10 trillion cells, most of them about 1/10th the diameter of a human hair. Inside each of those trillions of cells, (+) is being pulled apart from (-), positive hydrogen nuclei are being pulled apart from negative electrons. The biochemical machinery of your body carries this out in a way that doesn’t make a great ruckus over it, but the job gets done. This is happening to most of the hydrogen atoms in what we eat and drink. It all happens in a part of the cell called the mitochondria. The electrons are taken away and sent to a place where oxygen is waiting, the same oxygen we take in with every breath.
The positive hydrogen nuclei, called protons, are forced elsewhere in the mitochondria and crowded together into a small space. The only way nature lets them out is for each proton to slide down a narrow channel, and as each one takes this ride it passes a miniscule machine made of proteins just like what your skin and hair are made of. Imagine how tiny the machine is—only a very small part of the already unimaginably small cell in your body. As each proton passes by this tiny machine, the machine turns. It’s an amazing dance, an incredible process that has been going on in life forms long before human beings appeared on earth. Each turn takes the machine 1/3 of the way around. When this tiny machine makes three of these turns, a full turn around, what could be called a dose, or a packet of energy is released into the cell, the very energy that keeps us alive and kicking, the very energy that we use for whatever is our purpose on this earth.
What happens to those protons after they finish turning the machine and arrive at the bottom of the channel? Waiting at the bottom is the oxygen that originally took those electrons away from the hydrogen in the food we consume. Each oxygen atom got two electrons and became doubly negative, 2x(-). Because each proton has only one positive charge 1x(+), two protons are necessary for each oxygen so that the charges are balanced and this makes a molecule with the formula H2O.
When you see your breath on that cold winter day, many of the hydrogen atoms in that water vapor originally came from that bowl of oatmeal, or whatever food and drink you favor. And that water you eject from your body with every breath may eventually end up in a cloud and maybe even be part of a rain storm that ends up in a river, maybe a river that flows over a water fall, maybe over Niagara Falls, where a torrential flow of raging water is rushing from a higher to a lower place. Engineers force the flow through channels causing machines to turn and make electricity.
A friend of mine summed it up when she heard the story, “we are all Niagara Falls.” Yes, I love that image, a trillion minute Niagara Falls in each of us. All those trillions of cells are each on their own like miniature versions of Niagara Falls, well sort of. Biochemists call it oxidative phosphorylation.
Artist Carlos Abisaab’s cartoon of the Research Foundation to Cure AIDS logo and #FreeFromAIDS Torch. To participate in the WestView News coloring contest, post your entry to Instagram tagging @RFTcureaids, @westviewnews and @ colorificandtotallytacky and make a donation of any amount to both RFTCA at https://rftca.org/GetInvolved/ and WestView News at http://westviewnews.org/. Illustration by the artist.