Polly Greathouse

Libertyville, United States

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Artist's Description

Previously on exhibit as a part of the juried exhibition, The Energy Show, in collaboration with the FermiLab Art Gallery and WaterStreetStudios(.com) in Batavia, IL USA.

This piece is about potential energy. It presents a snowball fight as a metaphor for the elegant torque of life’s bioenergetic proton pump, adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Snow flakes (and crowd sourced flash mobs) fuel the fight while an apple fuels the fighter.

The “snowflakes” in this image show the hydrothermal pumping that occurs when a protein molecule changes shape due to a ph shift, affecting an ionization of the amino acids. This pumping mechanism releases more energy than other mechanisms would, creating about half our weight in ATP every day and recycling the entire amount of ATP in a snowball fighter’s body once per minute.

Second in importance only to DNA, all living things depend upon ATP to metabolize nutrients. ATP is the subject of an ongoing debate between Science and Intelligent Design, inspired by the extraordinary elegance of this nucleotide nano machine.

Thanks to Blacksheep Photography of Omaha for the use of Snow Warrier.

• 1929: ATP was discovered by German chemist Karl Lohmann
• 1948: the Scottish Nobel laureate of 1957 Alexander Todd synthesised ATP chemically.
• 1953: Nobel laureate in Medicine Fritz Lipmann showed that ATP is the universal carrier of chemical energy in the cell and coined the expression “energy-rich phosphate bonds”.
• 1997: Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Paul D. Boyer, John E. Walker, Jens C. Skou awarded for pioneering work on enzymes that participate in the conversion of the “high-energy” compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
• Most cells maintain only a few seconds supply of ATP.
• ATP is produced and used continuously.

Artwork Comments

  • WoolleyWorld
  • Polly Greathouse
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