What is the “energy” my cells use?


In school I learned how, when cells need energy, ATP releases it. Supposedly, there is now a chunk of energy floating around in the cell? What is this “energy”? What is it made of? How does it get from the mitochondria way over to the part of the cell that needed it? How does it get put to use? I feel like school is leaving out a huge amount of important information.

So far, the answers boil down to:

1) When cells need energy, ATP releases it.

2) Our cells figure out how to get the energy where it needs to go, somehow.

3) You’re not allowed to know the answer until you go to college, sorry.

Um… thanks?

In: 4

>Supposedly, there is now a chunk of energy floating around in the cell?

No, energy doesn’t exist as its own thing. Energy is a property of other things, how fast they move, or how much “force” is stored in their chemical bounds.

In your body all energy is stored in chemical form (for example ATP) until it’s needed to do a job. That job is usually a chemical reaction that is enabled by powering it with that energy. For example a reaction that makes your muscle cells contract to move your arm. ATP is how that energy is transported, basically a fuel that is burned in reactions within the cell.

The details involve a lot of convoluted chemistry, wich is why school leaves it out until you decide to major in this field.

Oh it would take a huge amount of time to explain this correctly, especially since you would have to talk a lot about physics in biology class, so the teachers would have to work together if they want to know where to begin. Actually, everything that matters to us is energy. Matter is energy, movement is energy. You could say that matter is movement, but I’m not expert enough to write that confidently. When you pull the string of a bow, you are putting energy (from your body) into the bow. You can release this energy (from the bow) to launch an arrow. This is similar to what our bodies do with ADP: by adding another phosphate group “against its will”, they “pull the string of the bow” and it becomes ATP. The string then wants to be released again, which would put the energy somewhere else. But ATP is more like a crossbow, which secures the string and allows the energy to be released somewhere else. ADP+P would be a more stable configuration for the molecules, so as soon as they “find” a place that takes the extra energy, they will react and split. Our cells do the science of influencing at which location this reaction happens.


Simply put, calories.

A more complex explanation is, your body has these batteries called ATP. When the body need energy they break these batteries and energy comes out from the chemical reaction.

These batteries can be reused by “fixing” them.

ATP is a molecule difficult to assemble and very easy to disassemble. In other words, it costs energy to create the molecule and when disassembling it, it gives out energy.

This energy is basically an unbalance in electrical charge of each individual atom of the molecule. It is energy costly to remove or add an electron to an atom or molecule in equilibrium. If a molecule is positively charged, it will attract negative charges or negatively charged molecules at no energy cost. Nature just wants to be in equilibrium because it’s easy to attract opposites and difficult to create charged molecules, but the body of the live beings have some clever ways (molecules and ezimes) that circumvent this equilibrium craze and enables you to create molecules that contain energy. Those can be used when needed since muscles or cells that generate energy have special molecules that use the energy of the breaking of the ATP into either attraction of nearby molecules (muscles) or into a chemical reaction that gives out heat