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Discussion of Diffusion, Osmosis and Cell Membrane Potential

Begin by distinguishing between osmosis and diffusion; how are they similar? In what ways are they different?

What properties of the cell membrane do they utilize to transport substances across the cell membrane?

Let's end with definitions and explanations of membrane potentials.

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Diffusion is the movement of any substance other than water from an area of high concentration to an an area of low concentration. Osmosis is very similar, except that osmosis refers to the movement of water ONLY as it moves through a semi-permeable membrane.

Consider these two examples:

1. A tree requires water (has a low concentration of water). The root system of the tree is able to absorb water from the ground (which has a high concentration of water). This would be an example of osmosis.

2. You put a drop of food coloring into a glass of water. Initially the food coloring is localized in one spot, the rest of the water clear. After allowing several minutes to pass, you will notice that all of the food coloring has spread out evenly within the water. This is diffusion as it is the food ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides real world examples to help illustrate the scientific principles of diffusion and osmosis. Additionally, the cell membrane and membrane potential are also discussed. Useful links are included.