Converting Matter to Energy

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Converting Matter to Energy

Postby PhotonGuy on January 20th, 2015, 9:29 pm 

From what I know about when matter is converted to energy, it is converted to A LOT of energy. Just about 9.3 to 13.3 grains of Uranium, when converted into energy, can level a city such as Hiroshima as shown in WWII. Anyway, how about when a person exercises and burns fat? I believe fat is stored up energy, excessive calories that are used once a person's primary energy stores go below a certain level. Also, I believe fat gives of lots of energy when burned but I would think somebody would be off the wall with energy considering how much energy is produced when matter is converted to energy, just look at Hiroshima, or for that matter a matter/anti-matter reaction which will make the Hiroshima bomb look like a candle flicker.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby Eclogite on January 20th, 2015, 10:28 pm 

The "burning" of fat involves release of chemical energy from the bonds in organic molecules. It involves changes in the electron cloud surrounding the nucleus. Large scale conversion of matter to energy, as in an atomic bomb, involves changes in the nucleus.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby BioWizard on January 21st, 2015, 3:53 pm 

PhotonGuy

What Eclogite said is true. However, biochemically speaking, the answer is also a bit more nuanced than that (as you may have guessed by the quotation marks Eclogite put around the word "burning"). If you take a little bit of fat and actually burn it in the classical sense (combustion), the amount of chemical energy released would still be too much for biological tissue to handle. Burning, as in directly reacting a molecule with oxygen in what we refer to as combustion, is highly exothermic when done in a single step. However, when biology extracts chemical energy from high caloric matter, it's never done in a single step. Rather, the "burning" reaction is broken down into tens or even hundreds of little intermediate steps, where a small bit of energy is extracted at every step. So when you "burn" a molecule of glucose to yield H2O and CO2, it's not done in a single step. The glucose first goes through a breakdown process called glycolysis, which yields pyruvate. The pyruvate is then transferred to the mitochondria were it is further broken down through the Kreb's cycle. As it goes through each step, the molecule that was once pyruvate keeps getting smaller and smaller until at the end each carbon in that molecule is joined up with two oxygen atoms to produce CO2. So the NET outcome is the conversion of glucose to H2O and CO2, and the NET amount of energy is equivalent to "burning" a glucose. But the process is broken down tremendously such that the cells never have to instantaneously deal with the kinds of enormous energy release that you're asking about.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby PhotonGuy on January 21st, 2015, 10:10 pm 

OK so I can see how the energy released from burning fat is nowhere in the ballpark of the energy given off in a nuclear reaction, but the converted matter has to go somewhere. When gasoline is burned in a car a chemical reaction takes place, the gas burns and gives off energy just like when a person, a runner for instance, burns fat. Also, just like the runner burning fat when the gasoline burns the reaction takes place with the electrons and their bonds not the nucleus such as with an atom bomb. As the reaction is taking place it produces the energy necessary to send the car forward and the gasoline, having undergone a chemical change is expelled from the car in the form of smoke or exhaust. As it is, though, we don't expel exhaust from our bodies, I've never seen smoke coming forth from a runner's body. However, if you step on a scale after a good hard run, you will weigh less than before you had the run. This is negating any water weight you might've put on from drinking water during and after your run as its a good idea to stay hydrated while running. But that aside, the fat you burned, the mass that you lost during your run, it had to go somewhere. It certainly wasn't converted all to energy as in a nuclear reaction which involves splitting the nucleus, or a matter/antimatter reaction, either of those reactions would produce far too much energy for our bodies to handle. The burnt fat wasn't even expelled from the body as a byproduct such as the smoke that you get from burning gasoline or wood so where did it go?
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby BioWizard on January 21st, 2015, 11:22 pm 

Perhaps you didn't read my post above carefully enough. CO2 (and H2O) are our "exhaust". That's why breathing rate goes up with activity. It allows you to expell the "exhaust" faster to decrease build up.

The energy extracted in the process is stored in high-energy molecules like ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which the cells can easily break later to re-release the energy for doing "stuff".
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby PhotonGuy on January 22nd, 2015, 3:42 pm 

BioWizard » January 21st, 2015, 10:22 pm wrote:Perhaps you didn't read my post above carefully enough. CO2 (and H2O) are our "exhaust". That's why breathing rate goes up with activity. It allows you to expell the "exhaust" faster to decrease build up.

The energy extracted in the process is stored in high-energy molecules like ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which the cells can easily break later to re-release the energy for doing "stuff".


I see, so another words whenever you exhale you are expelling "exhaust" in the form of CO2. When you physically exert yourself such as when you run you breathe more and harder so you're expelling more exhaust as the fat is being burned. The fat is converted into CO2 and exits the body through the breath and in doing so energy is released, and that when you step on a scale and weigh less its because you lost mass while you were exhaling.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby Eclogite on January 22nd, 2015, 5:03 pm 

Although some of the mass loss is likely due to the evaporation of sweat. (And we are still simplifying.)
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby PhotonGuy on January 24th, 2015, 2:34 pm 

I see, so breathing harder, faster, and deeper will not work as a weight loss technique. As somebody said here, that when fat is burned for energy its a very complicated process, much more complicated than burning wood or gasoline. So fat burning drugs such as methamphetamine or even caffeine, I take it they work as catalysts to speed up the fat burning process.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby BioWizard on January 24th, 2015, 4:18 pm 

Stimulating a process and catalyzing it are very very different things. I'm not exactly sure what you're asking or trying to figure out.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby PhotonGuy on January 30th, 2015, 1:05 pm 

Im doing research on weight loss.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby BioWizard on March 19th, 2015, 9:42 am 

The most effective and safe way to induce weight loss is to stimulate the breakdown of energy storage molecules (fats/glycogen) and maintain a negative caloric balance so that the body doesn't replenish them. Exercise and a controlled balanced diet will do that.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby Darby on March 19th, 2015, 9:59 am 

Eclogite » January 22nd, 2015, 5:03 pm wrote:Although some of the mass loss is likely due to the evaporation of sweat. (And we are still simplifying.)


I'm more than a little rusty on organic chemistry, but if I recall, one gram of glycogen (which is how glucose is stored in our muscles for energy) binds four grams of water, so when your body subsequently breaks down the glycogen for enenery, it releases that water into your system, where it is subsequently processed and excreted through your renal system, sweat glands, and exhalations ... which is where the vast majority of weight loss during extended exercise occurs.

Thirty plus years ago, when I was regularly running 20+ miles per week, and occasionally participating in 10k and half marathons, I had to learn how to properly carb-load and hydrate for racing. It was not uncommon to lose 4-5 lbs of water in this fashion running a 10k on a hot day.

In any case, the energy released in biological metabolic processes like this one are utterly, completely, and (forgive me) laughably of many many MANY orders of magnitude below the sort of energy released in thermonuclear fission. I hope nobody takes this personally, but thanks to the OP for the belly laugh on that.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby PhotonGuy on March 27th, 2015, 8:33 pm 

In any case, the energy released in biological metabolic processes like this one are utterly, completely, and (forgive me) laughably of many many MANY orders of magnitude below the sort of energy released in thermonuclear fission. I hope nobody takes this personally, but thanks to the OP for the belly laugh on that.

No offense taken, I just wish I could burn off energy like a thermonuclear reaction.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby Eclogite on March 28th, 2015, 5:03 am 

PhotonGuy » Fri Mar 27, 2015 7:33 pm wrote:No offense taken, I just wish I could burn off energy like a thermonuclear reaction.
If you could, that would almost certainly spark renewed interest in spontaneous human combustion. Please don't flame me for this post, I know it's a hot topic.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby BioWizard on March 28th, 2015, 6:48 am 

Oh man. Trust me PG, you do not wish that.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby TheVat on March 28th, 2015, 10:02 am 

Hey, he would have a very sunny disposition.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby BioWizard on March 28th, 2015, 10:21 am 

Alright...

It would sure brighten up his day and warm (possibly melt) the hearts of everyone around him. He'd be an energetic source of inspiration to everyone struggling with weight loss, and show them how to really burn those pounds off in order to get that smoking hot body they always wanted.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby Darby on March 28th, 2015, 10:57 am 

Talking about spontaneous human combustion always gets my sense of humor fired up, so I've decided to punish the lot of you.

I propose we compute the potential energy release for spontaneous human combustion, and compare it to that of a nuclear bomb. I'll simplify things and do the groundwork arithmetic, and let someone else carry it the final 10 yards into the endzone. ;^)

PhotonGuy » January 20th, 2015, 9:29 pm wrote:... how about when a person exercises and burns fat? I believe fat is stored up energy, excessive calories that are used once a person's primary energy stores go below a certain level. Also, I believe fat gives of lots of energy when burned.


If I recall, the ratios for food (in grams to kcals) are as follows:

Carbohydrate : Protein : Fat = 4 : 4 : 9

Meaning 1 gram of protein contains 4 kcal (that's 4 "food calories"), whereas the same 1 gram of fat contains 9 kcal. Thus, fat contains 9/4 = 2.25 times the calories as protein or carbs, which is a {2.25-1}x100 = +125% increase.

Now, according to a quick glance at the energy values, and a little arithmetic, we get:

1 food calorie = 4.187x10^3 joules
1 gram fat = 9 food calories = 9 * 4.187x10^3 = 3.77x10^4 joules
1 gram Uranium 235 = 7.64x10^16 joules of fission energy

Therefore, the ratio of the fission energy of 1 gram of U235 to the food calorie value of 1 gram fat is ...

(7.64x10^16) / (3.77x10^4) = 2.03x10^12 = approx 2 trillion times the energy.

Ok, would someone like to take that interim result, and compare it to the food calorie value of a typical human male ? (hint: take average weight & body composition, convert to food calories, and proceed from there).

In yer face, fellow punsters.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby Darby on March 28th, 2015, 7:49 pm 

C'mon guys, the math is easy ... how much explosive force does the caloric value of a typical human body correspond to, and what's the equivalent amount of fissionable U235 ?

I already did most of the work in the prior post.
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby Darby on March 29th, 2015, 8:08 am 

Ok, I’m up early, and bored, so I’ll do the math.

Human combustion subject: Tim the Enchanter



Estimate: Height 6 ft (182.88 cm), Weight 170 lbs (77.11 kg)

Given that normal body composition for a lean human male is approx 45% muscle, 15% fat, and 15% bone, and that a normal human body is approx 60% water, then if we subtract bone and water, we should be able to get a rough ballpark estimate of caloric protein (read: dessicated muscle weight), and caloric fat (dessicated body fat). Since the caloric values of protein and carbs are the same, we can ignore the glycogen present in the muscle and treat it as protein. Thus ...

BW 77.11 kg -> Muscle (45%=34.6995kg), Fat (15%=11.5665kg), Bone (15%=11.5665kg)

Ignoring bone, and subracting 60% water, we get ...

Dessicated muscle (40%x34.6995=13.8798kg), Dessicated fat (40%x11.5665=4.6266 kg)
Food calorie value Tim the Enchanter = 13879.8 gr x 4 + 4,626.6 gr x 9 = 97,158.6 fdcal

Given that 1 food calorie = 4.187x10^3 joules, and assuming that combustion value = food calorie value, and given an energy value of 4600 j/gr for TNT, we get ...

Human combustion energy Tim the Enchanter = 4.0680305x10^8 joules
Fissionable U235 equivalent = 5.324647 nanograms
TNT equivalent = 88.435 gr (5.1 oz) <-- just under 1 stick dynamite


Thus, the explosion in the Holy Grail Movie looks surprising close.

Anyway, I hereby claim to be the first person in the world to actually compute that. ;^)
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Re: Converting Matter to Energy

Postby TheVat on March 29th, 2015, 10:11 am 

Both Penrose and Hawking, however, have calculated the energy content of the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog. The big pointy teeth can throw off your mass calculation, if you're not careful.
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