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Can organisms feed with vibrations or thermal infrared?

Debate and discussion of any biological questions not pertaining to a particular topic.

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Can organisms feed with vibrations or thermal infrared?

Postby Jarek » Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:29 pm

In microscopic scale chemical reactions are reversible - the dominant
direction depends of parameters (like ATPase H+).
Myosin can change energy stored in ATP into movement. It's functions are too directed, too complicated to be reversed in practice.
But imagine simpler protein which is physically connected to for
example intersections of filaments of the cytoskeleton and can catch ADP
and phosphate. Now vibrations would cause movement of the cytoskeleton
which are transferred to the protein, which binds molecules into ATP.
What for? To actively absorb vibration/sound, for example to reduce
turbulations while swimming/flying or ... feed with tectonic
vibrations ...
I'm not saying that it's so simple, but looks to be possible.
And if yes, mother nature is extremely inventiveness creature ... look
how sophisticated machinery was constructed to use energy from
light...

We have plenty of microbes in deep earth for billions of earth - there
were/are some sources of chemical energy, but generally they are
starving. Scientist has problem to explain their extremely low
metabolism:
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/sci;276/5313/703
Extremely low metabolism has also psychrophiles - but it's because of
cold - all reactions are slowed down. It's not because of lack of
energy - they usually have access to it.
We are talking about thermophiles , which should have consumed most of
available chemical energy sources for last billions of years and new
come extremely rarely.
Remember that energy is needed not only for metabolism,
reproduction ... it's necessary to sustain the structure of the
organism, fight with increasing entropy - especially in high
temperatures!
Their life would be much easier if they would be able to feed not only
with chemical energy, especially when there is plenty of it in tectonic vibrations and heat around...

Feeding with pure heat looks even less probable...
But remember that these objects emit thermal infrared - of a few micrometers wavelength.
We are thinking to use this energy in practice (like powering MP3 players) in much smaller temperatures:
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/320/5883/1585.pdf
Photosynthesis for these wavelength could be more difficult than for visible light, but if it's possible thermophiles should have found it... ?
Jarek
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Re: Can organisms feed with vibrations or thermal infrared?

Postby Jarek » Wed Sep 03, 2008 2:38 pm

I was thinking about 2nd law of thermodynamics and crystallization.
During this process we get higher ordering (lower entropy), but the cost is energy difference between free and bind molecule - this energy is usually just dispersed around, increasing general temperature.
But what if we wouldn't allow this energy to run away randomly ... for example storing it in chemical energy of some molecule, like ATP ...

That lead me to mechanisms that could allow organisms to feed directly with heat (not using thermal infrared):

Let say that we have two molecules(A,B) which has larger total energy separated(E1) than when they are bind (E2<E1).
Additionally there is energy barrier between these states.
Now when they are bind in solution, their thermal energy statistically sometimes exceed the barrier, and they split (reducing temperature!).
But to bind them back, they not only have to reach the barrier, but they have also to find each other in the solution - it's not very likely, so statistically concentration of AB is relatively small comparing to concentration of separated molecules.

Now we will need a catalyst which reduce the barrier, but then use the energy difference for example to bind ADP and phosphate.
For example it catches all required molecules and uses energy stored in own structure to take A and B closer, to make them reach the top of the barrier, then use energy they produce to bind ADP + P and restore own energy.

I know - this enzyme would work in both directions, but concentration of AB should be small, such that the wanted direction should dominate.
Is here any problem?
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