Friday, March 07, 2008

"Plants Rule!"

Plants have used Quantum Mechanics millions of years before we even knew about it.

I just heard on NPR, a broadcast of The 90 second Naturalist. Thane Maynard the host of the show went on to explain how scientists have found the complex molecular process of converting sunlight into electrons which provide the plant with energy to live. I looked on the NPR site but couldn't find the program. The one listed for today, March 07, 2008 is not the one on photosynthesis. Maybe it was scheduled for tomorrow but the local station played it today?

I dug up more information on this subject from Research/News Berkeley Lab

Here's the BBC News' take on the subject:

"Before we found a way to crystallise the cytochrome, we had a general picture of the photosynthetic process, but possessed only a fraction of a percent of the information we now have."

"Now that we can examine these proteins closely with X-ray crystallography, it could lead to knowledge about how all cells exchange energy with their environment."

The molecular layout of the cytochrome gives some indication of the complex motion of electrons and protons across the bacterium's cell membrane, the boundary between the cell and its environment.

"Plant cell membranes are like the two ends of a battery," says Professor Janet Smith of Purdue University. "They are positive on the inside and negative on the outside, and they are charged up when solar energy excites electrons from hydrogen within the cell."

"The electrons travel up into the cell membrane via proteins that conduct them just like wires releasing the energy a plant needs to stay alive.

"While this general picture has been common knowledge to scientists for decades, the complex motions of electrons and protons in the membrane have not."

Read the full article for more information on the complex subject.

And, from Chemical & Engineering News.

So this confirms what we gardeners already knew.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anthony said...

I love reading articles that appeal to the gardener and the geek in me. Nice find!

7:38 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Anthony,
I wrote a reply to your comment earlier but it vanished.

The material on photosynthesis was a little too dense for me but like you it appealed to the geekness in me. The radio is on all night 'cause my wife finds it soothing to listen to interesting news. It sure makes for some vivid dreams sometimes but I seem to pick up esoterica in my half sleep. Thanks for stopping by.

6:57 PM  

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