Respiration is much more than just breathing; in fact, the term refers to two separate processes, only one of which is the intake and outflow of breath. At least cellular respiration, the process by which organisms convert food into chemical energy, requires oxygen; on the other hand, some forms of respiration are anaerobic, meaning that they require no oxygen. Such is the case, for instance, with some bacteria, such as those that convert ethyl alcohol to vinegar. Likewise, an anaerobic process can take place in human muscle tissue, producing lactic acid—something so painful that it feels as though vinegar itself were being poured on an open sore.

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