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What is an ion?

Hi there.

I decided to start a BIZARRE section on ION CHANNEL LIBRARY to share some “strange” articles and ideas related to ion channels. Some people will find it interesting, while others would think of it as useless trash. And it’s OK. We’re all different and have different perspectives. But these bizarre articles might help someone to look at ion channels from a different angle and come up with some new ideas.

So, let’s start. Can you give me a definition of an ion channel? Of course, you can. Ion channel is …, well, you can see here what it is. Now, what if I ask you what an “ion” is? Most probably, you’ll reply with something like this: an ion is an atom or a group of atoms that has an electrical charge due to the loss or gain of one or more electrons. Chances are that such a definition of an “ion” is the first to come to your mind if you’re a scientist.

And now, what would be your answer if I ask you what a “channel” is? Actually, I’m not sure, because you might know several different meanings of the word “channel”. But, let’s talk about “channels” later.

What I am trying to say is that we are used to the words “ion” and “channel” in our daily work and so we’ve built a clear picture of what these words indicate for us. But in fact, outside of science, many people have a completely different idea of what these words could actually mean.

Let’s take a look at the word “ion”.

Did you know that there is a small hamlet near Lower Gravenhurst, Bedfordshire, England, and a neighborhood in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, or an unincorporated community in Iowa, and all three carry the name “Ion”? So what do you think would be the first thought of inhabitants of these places if you ask them what an “Ion” is? Of course, they will tell you that it’s their home place.

And go to Romania or Moldova and ask people: “What is an Ion?”. They’ll tell you without hesitation that it’s a male first name (ed. equivalent to the English name John). For example, you might have heard about Ion Iliescu – twice President of Romania.

Plato’s fans will tell you that “Ion” is Plato’s famous dialogue, while those studying mythology will insist that Ion was the illegitimate child of an Athenian princess Creüsa and a Greek god Apollo, and that the ancient Greek tragedian Euripides had immortalized this story in his famous play “Ion”.

The owners of the Peugeot iOn, as well as those who drive Saturn Ion cars, will unanimously tell you that Ion is their car model name and silently point to the trunk emblem, whereas inhabitants of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, will tell you that Ion is their local transportation network and will show you the ION Bus.

You can also find yourself tasting ION chocolate from Greece while watching American Ion Television owned by the Ion Media broadcasting company.

In case you’re a musician, you’ve probably used Alesis Ion synthesizer to compose your masterpieces and then listened to them using the Bluetooth speakers from ION Audio company.

And just think for a moment about all those people working in the Institute of Navigation, USA; Instituto Oncológico Nacional, Panama; Institute for Optimum Nutrition, UK; Institute of Neurology, UK; Institute of Nanotechnology, UK; etc. What does an ION mean for them? And I haven’t even mentioned yet numerous networks, projects and organizations having ION as an abbreviation of their full names. What do you think the members of the International Order of Ninjas, a non-profit organization dedicated to the betterment of ninjas worldwide, will answer when you ask them what an ION is?

And also, you should be careful when searching for “ion channels” on Twitter using your Samsung Galaxy Book Ion – sometimes people use “ion” as a slang word that stands for “I don’t”. Don’t ask me why, ion know.

So many people in the world, if asked what an “ion” is, will give you an answer very different from “an atom or a group of atoms that has an electrical charge…”. I don’t want to say that they have no idea about an ion as a chemical entity. No. I’m talking about their first thoughts and perspectives. And these could be very different from those that we have.

Coming soon some “bizarre” facts about channels.

Stay safe & healthy!