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Questions about cells, atoms, respiratory system

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Questions about cells, atoms, respiratory system

Postby Twila » Tue Apr 28, 2009 2:13 pm

just some questions I was thinking on (it has nothing to do with homework we just got off on a complete off topic discussion last night in our "study/tutor group" so cha...


If an atom is as small as you can get(correct right?) is a cell made up of an atom? Are they two totally separate things?

The two basic types of a cell is plant and animal. But do red/white blood cells differ at all in what they have within the cell membrane? OR are they just a division of cells off of an animal cell and are different? hmm...
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if you were to cleanly cut a lung open are the aveoli visible to the naked eye? because I understand they are tiny flattened cells but they must be solid enough to hold air but could you actually feel them? or would it feel like air (if you were to just put your hand in the lung with out touching the wall of the lung) and not be visible?



just wondering.... I wonder and think a lot... lol
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Postby alextemplet » Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:43 pm

Atoms are not as small as it gets; they are themselves made up of subatomic particles (protons, neutrons, electrons) that are themselves made up of even smaller particles (quarks). Atoms are put together into molecules, which are put together into organelles, which are put together into cells.

Plant and animal is an oversimplification, and also inaccurate. The two basic cell types are prokaryotic (bacteria and archaea) and eukaryotic (protists, fungi, plants, animals). Multicellular organisms, such as plants and animals, have all sorts of different cell types that are each responsible for doing a different job. This is why we have different types of blood cells that are different from muscle cells, bone cells, skin cells, etc. They may all be human cells and they all have the same DNA but they are not identical to each other.

As for your alveoli question, not sure about that one; someone else might be able to answer it, though.
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Re: Questions about cells, atoms, respiratory system

Postby NateCat » Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:05 pm

Oops... looks like it got answered before I finished but hey... I may as well post it now :)


The first question is quite simple and I am surprised you asked that.

1. An atom is far smaller than a cell... a single cell is made up of several billions of atoms. (EDIT: The quark is the smallest known item as what Alex says... I obviously didn't go that deep with my studies.)

2. (EDIT: Alex answered this one better than me) It is slightly unclear what you are asking in this question about cells. To say that there are just two types of cell is somewhat inaccurate. There are many different types of cells and, yes, they are all different. If they have a different name then you can be pretty sure they are different.

3. The last question sounds quite bizarre to be honest. The best thing for you to do would be to study a diagram of a lung. It is not just a bag of air by any stretch of the imagination. Lungs are fairly solid organs that contain networks of tubes. The tubes get progressively smaller and are terminated with the minute air sacks, alveoli. You can not see alveoli with the naked eye because they are microscopic.

You may find this link useful

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lung
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Postby Darby » Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:17 pm

It is very common for students to confuse atoms, molecules, and cells (and species and individuals, among others). It can be critical to understand the differences or lots of subsequent topics don't really make sense.
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Postby alextemplet » Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:22 pm

Ah yes, someone did answer the lung question! Thanks, Nate!

I would like to point out, in the interests of being exact, that the link you provided links to this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alveoli

Where it is stated that an adult alveolus is 0.2-0.3mm in diameter. Probably right on the boundary between microscopic and macroscopic for someone with exceptionally good vision, and definitely microscopic for the rest of us.
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Re: Questions about cells, atoms, respiratory system

Postby NateCat » Tue Apr 28, 2009 8:14 pm

Wikipedia says that there is a citation needed for the 0.2 mm diameter but there are other sources that say the same. I am pretty certain that the measurement is correct.

I reckon I could possibly just see that actually. In fact, all it would take is an eyeglass or something similar for most people to see them.
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Re: Questions about cells, atoms, respiratory system

Postby Twila » Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:03 pm

oh wow, ok yeah because Iv never heard this in school. I just hear animal/plant cells....


Im thinking about taking chem as my last science credit.... I only need one more core credit and 3 quarters/terms worth of pure electives to graduate... Im pretty messed up from moving schools so many times... Im dreading college because even though Ive got all the math credits I need, Iv never gone past Pre-Algebra. Sorry I guess Im just really behind as in what Ive learned but ahead as in credit amount... does that make since? lol iowa's messed up Im not the only one this has happened to from what Ive heard...
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Postby alextemplet » Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:20 pm

Wow, there might be a state with an education system even worse than Louisiana?

On a serious not, you might want to at least take algebra before going to college, and preferably geometry and algebra II if you can.
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