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The method of creating life comes down to 2 fundamental concepts matter

and energy. The universal components to make life include the need to
occupy space (matter) and the need to be able to do work to create change
The cell membrane is the flexible barrier between the inner cell and the
conditions of the outside world. The lipid molecules of the cell normally
assemble in a double layer, their tails repel water as their heads attract it.
Add cholesterol and carbohydrates and you have the basic structure of the
membrane. Within these lipid molecules you find various proteins which
performs specific actions for the cell. They receive signals from the outside
or transport waste. The molecules of proteins, carbohydrates and cholesterol
are constantly moving and changing structure. All life relies on this material
for function and survivial.
Despite being only 6 to 10 nanometers thick and visible only through an
electron microscope, the cell membrane keeps the cell’s cytoplasm in place
and lets only select materials enter and depart the cell as needed. This
semipermeability, or selective permeability, is a result of a double layer
(bilayer) of phospholipid molecules interspersed with protein molecules. The
outer surface of each layer is made up of tightly packed hydrophilic (or
water-loving) polar heads. Inside, between the two layers, you find
hydrophobic (or water-fearing) nonpolar tails consisting of fatty acid chains.
Cholesterol molecules between the phosphate layers give the membrane
stability and make it less permeable to water-soluble substances. Both
cytoplasm and the matrix, the material in which cells lie, are primarily in
water. The polar heads electrostatically draw polarized water molecules while
the nonpolar tails rest between the layers, shielded from water and creating
a dry middle layer. The membrane’s interior is composed of oily fatty acid
molecules that are electrostatically symmetric, or nonpolarized. Lipid-soluble
molecules can slip through this layer, but water-soluble molecules such as
amino acids, sugars, and proteins cannot. Due to the fact that phospholipids
have both polar and nonpolar regions, they’re also called amphipathic
As a distinct functional unit of protoplasm, the cell membrane is designed to
hold the cell together and to isolate itself . Although it can spontaneously
repair minor tears, severe damage to the membrane will cause the cell to
disintegrate. The membrane is selective about which molecules it lets in or
out. It allows movement across its barrier by diffusion, osmosis, or active
transport as follows:
D if f u s i o n : This is a constant spreading, or migration, of molecules or
other particles from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower
concentration until equilibrium occurs. When equilibrium is attained, diffusion
continues, but the flow is equal in both directions. Diffusion is a natural
phenomenon and is based on the fact that all molecules possess kinetic
energy. They move randomly at high speeds, colliding with one another,
changing directions, and moving away from areas of greatest concentration
to areas of lower concentration. The rate of movement depends on the size
and temperature of the molecule; the bigger and colder the molecule is, the
slower it moves. Diffusion is one form of passive transport that doesn’t
require the expenditure of cellular energy. A molecule can diffuse passively
through the cell membrane if it’s lipid-soluble, uncharged, and very small, or
if it can be assisted by a carrier molecule. The unassisted diffusion of very
small or lipid-soluble particles is called simple diffusion, while the helped
process is known as facilitated diffusion. The cell membrane allows nonpolar
molecules (those that don’t readily bond with water) to flow from an area
where they’re highly concentrated to an area where they’re less
concentrated. Embedded with the hydrophilic heads in the outer layer are
protein molecules called channel proteins that create diffusion-friendly
pathways for the molecules to diffuse through.
O s m o s i s : This is a form of passive transport that involves a solvent
moving through a selectively permeable or semipermeable membrane from
an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration. Solutions
are composed of two parts: a solvent and a solute. The solvent is the liquid
in which a substance is dissolved; water is called the universal solvent
because more materials dissolve in it than in any other liquid. A solute is the
substance dissolved in the solvent. Typically, a cell contains a roughly 1%
saline solution — in other words, 1% salt (solute) and 99% water (solvent).
Osmosis is of great importanc ein the water balance of all cells.
Water is a polar molecule that will not be allowed through the lipid bilayer;
however, it is small enough to move through the pores of most cell
membranes. Osmosis occurs when there’s a difference in molecular
concentration of water on the two sides of the membrane. The membrane
allows the solvent (water) to move through but keeps out the solute's
Transport by osmosis is affected by the concentration of solute (the number
of particles) in the water. One molecule or one ion of solute displaces one
molecule of water. Osmolarity is the term used to describe the concentration
of solute particles per liter. As water diffuses into a cell, hydrostatic pressure
builds within the cell. Eventually, the pressure within the cell becomes equal
to, and is balanced by, the osmotic pressure outside.
• An isotonic solution has the same concentration of solute and solvent as
found inside a cell, so a cell placed in isotonic solution — typically 1 percent
saline solution for humans — experiences equal flow of water into and out of
the cell, maintaining equilibrium.
• A hypotonic solution has less solute and higher water potential than inside
the cell. An example is 100 percent distilled water, which has less solute
than what’s inside the cell. Therefore, if a human cell is placed in a hypotonic
solution, molecules diffuse down the concentration gradient until the cell’s
membrane bursts.
• A hypertonic solution has more solute and lower water potential than inside
the cell. So the membrane of a human cell placed in 10 percent saline
solution (10 percent salt and 90 percent water) would let water flow out of
the cell (from higher concentration inside to lower concentration outside),
therefore shrinking it.
Active transport: The cell uses transport proteins known as ATP to
provide movement across a semipermeable membrane against the normal
concentration gradient, moving from the area of lower concentration to the
area of higher concentration, and requiring an expenditure of energy
released from an ATP molecule. Embedded with the hydrophilic heads in the
outer layer of the membrane are protein molecules able to detect and move
compounds through the membrane. The proteins therefore change shape
and these carrier or transport proteins interact with the passenger molecules
and use the ATP-supplied energy to move them against the gradient. The
carrier molecules mix with the transport molecules, most importantly amino
acids and ions, to boost them against their concentration gradients.
Active transport allows cells to obtain nutrients that can’t slip through the
membrane otherwise. In addition, there are secondary active transport
processes that are similar to diffusion but instead use imbalances in
electrostatic forces to move molecules across the membrane.