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A chain of trivia

Chemical makeup of the human body - Elements by mass 65% O, 18% C, 10% H, 3% N, 4% others. You're three times as oxygen-rich as the air you breathe. 98.7% of the molecules in your cells are water molecules (but only 65% of mass, water molecules are light). There are around 174 teramolecules of water per cell. Your DNA chromosomes are huge giant molecules about 5 billion times more massive than water molecules.

R-generated graphs of the first fifteen elements in the human body by mass and count. Hey, power law distributions!

Elements in Animals and Humans - what are the other elements used for? Deficiency in Magnesium causes tetany, muscle spasms.

Clostridium tetani - the Tetanus is an anaerobic soil bacteria that seems to produce one of the most deadly neurotoxins for no good reason whatsoever. The Tetanus toxin binds to muscle nerve synapses and blocks the release of relaxation signals, causing death by bone-shattering spasms.

C. tetani is closely related to Clostridium botulinum, another lethal anaerobic soil bacteria. The Botulinum toxin (a.k.a. Botox) binds to muscle nerve synapses and blocks the release of activation signals, causing death by flaccid paralysis.

The two above bacteria are Gram-positive, as opposed to Gram-negative, the difference between the two types being that Gram-positive bacteria retain a violet crystal stain whereas the Gram-negative ones can be re-stained with a different color. The cause of this is apparently that Gram-negative bacteria have an outer layer around their cell walls that doesn't absorb the violet crystal stain as readily.

Animal cells and protozoans don't have cell walls. Plant cell walls are made out of cellulose, bacteria cell walls consist of peptidoglycan. The antibiotic enzymes, Lysozymes, react with peptidoglycan, breaking a molecular bond in it to tear apart the bacterial cell wall (by contorting a sugar in it to an uncomfortable position that breaks easily). Fungi cell walls are chitin, as are the exoskeletons of insects. Diatoms, those strange silicon phytoplankton of the seas, have cell walls made out of silicic acid. Diatom shells along with Radiolarian shells form the siliceous ooze at the bottom of the sea.

Pelagic sediments are the result of the constant rain of sediment over the abyssal plains. The rain consists of dead plankton shells, remains of marine animals, micrometeorites and dust carried by rivers and winds. If you ever wondered where marble comes from, the chain starts here. Calcareous plankton shells fall to the ocean floor, forming calcareous ooze, the precursor of limestone, a type of sedimentary rock that consists of calcite (CaCO3). The limestone then gets hammered in the forge of crustal plate collisions and recrystallizes to marble, some of which was dug up in Attica at around 440 BCE and used to build the Parthenon, the CaCO3 of which is now being dissolved to aqueous Ca2+, SO42-, H2O and CO2 in a reaction with sulfuric acid (H2SO4) from acid rain.

The clouds covering Venus are composed of sulfuric acid and it rains sulfuric acid in the upper atmosphere, but the rain evaporates around 25 km above the surface where the temperature hits 300 °C. The surface temperature of Venus is around 470 °C, which is close to Draper point (525 °C) where solid materials emit clearly visible blackbody radiation. Maybe dark places on Venus could glow a faint dull red.

The deep-sea hydrothermal vents glow as well, but with a spectrum too blue to explain with just blackbody radiation from the hot 350 °C water. The higher frequencies might be from perturbation caused by the dynamic environment, namely sonoluminescence from tiny bubbles bursting and crystallo- and triboluminescence from crystals forming and breaking.
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