Chemistry of Life » Cellular Energy

Another thing which shows the universality of life is in the question of energy. Although proteins can supply the energy needed for organisms to carry on their life processes, this job is usually carried out by energy giving substances such as sugars and fats. Not quite but almost all processes which involve energy systems in all living organisms rely on one particular chemical system.

When an organism captures energy it is used to drive a chemical reaction in which a substance called adenosine diphosphate is converted to adenosine triphosphate:

Phosphate group


A Water Molecule

Energy can be captured in many ways – examples are photosynthesis as in plants and in chemosynthesis as in thermal vent archae and bacteria. The ATP produced can then pass its energy on to drive chemical reactions needed by the cell for its living processes and ATP is then reconverted back to ADP. Thus ATP is often referred to as the universal energy currency of the cell. ATP is money. ADP and ATP clearly bear a close relationship to RNA - the adenine-ribose unit is called adenosine.

Ray Goodwin

Somewhere there are mountains
Glistening in the snow
Somewhere there are mountains
That we shall never know

Somewhere there are rivers
Flowing fast and free
Somewhere there are rivers
That we can never see

Somewhere there are oceans
And sun drenched island sands
Forests full of creatures
In vastly distant lands

Somewhere there’s a planet
Beneath an alien star
The people watch our tiny sun
And wonder where we are

One day perhaps we’ll find them
Across the void of space
Perhaps through ways as yet unknown
We’ll meet them face to face

The author of this web site Ray Goodwin holds B.Sc. Degrees from London University in Chemistry, Geology and Physiology and an M.Sc. in Biochemistry. He has spent most of his professional life teaching in Colleges of Technology. On his retirement he has entered the fields of astronomy, astrochemistry, astrobiology and space sciences. He has spent a great deal of his retirement in visiting amateur astronomy societies and in attending European Space Agency Symposia in ESTEC in the Netherlands and other scientific conferences in England and Sweden. He regularly attends the yearly European Astrofest in South Kensington London and other meetings in the UK. He has written scientific articles and given a number of lectures on diverse scientific subjects.

Readers of this web site are invited to e-mail the author ( and discuss their opinions of the topics dealt with and suggest any changes which they think may be helpful.

Life in the Cosmos Website
Version 01.00 - April 20, 2015.