Sarah: Remember Roger Ramjet, the patriotic but not overly bright cartoon superhero? To recall his theme song, sing the following words to the tune of Yankee Doodle:
‘Roger Ramjet, he’s our man,
Hero of the nation.
For his adventures just be sure
And stay tuned to this station.
When Roger takes his proton pill
The crooks begin to worry
They can’t escape their awful fate
From proton’s mighty fury’.
When in trouble, Roger popped a proton pill to give him the power of 20 atom bombs for a period of 20 seconds. Sounds crazy, yeah? New research from the University of Utah however suggests that the idea of protons being used as a functioning molecule in living systems might not be so far-fetched. E. Jorgensen and his team report for the first time that protons – hydrogen atoms stripped of their electrons – can act as nerve cell messenger molecules (ie neurotransmitters). The conclusion was reached by studying the gastrointestinal tract of the worm C. elegans, but the authors believe that mice and maybe even humans also use protons as messenger molecules in vivo. I’m not so sure about conferring ‘the power of 20 atom bombs’, but protons might be involved in our gut or brain function. Just don’t tell Noodles Romanoff.