Percent concentrations are easy to prepare, but that unit of measurement is inadequate for many purposes. The physiological effect of a chemical depends on how many molecules of it are present in a given volume, not the weight of the chemical. Five percent glucose, for example, contains almost twice as many glucose molecules as the same volume of 5% sucrose (fig. 2.11a). Each solution contains 50 g of sugar per liter, but glucose has a molecular weight (MW) of 180 and sucrose has a MW of 342. Since each molecule of glucose is lighter, 50 g of glucose contains more molecules than 50 g of sucrose.

To produce solutions with a known number of molecules per volume, we must factor in the molecular weight. If we know the MW and weigh out that many grams of the substance, we have a quantity known as its gram molecular weight, or 1 mole. One mole of glucose is 180 g and 1 mole of sucrose is 342 g. Each quantity contains the same number of molecules of the respective sugar—a number known as Avogadro's9 number, 6.023 X 1023. Such a large number is hard to imagine. If each molecule were the size of a pea, 6.023 X 1023 molecules would cover 60 earth-sized planets 3 m (10 ft) deep!

Molarity (M) is the number of moles of solute per liter of solution. A one-molar (1.0 M) solution of glucose contains 180 g/L, and 1.0 M solution of sucrose contains 342 g/L. Both have the same number of solute molecules in a given volume (fig. 2.11fc). Body fluids and laboratory solutions usually are less concentrated than 1 M, so biologists and clinicians more often work with millimolar (mM) and micromolar (^M) concentrations—10~3 and 10~6 M, respectively.

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Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.

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