More to Thank God for in Your Body
Here’s news about wonders in the human body you may not know about.
Body fireworks: Given that tonight fireworks will light up the skies around America for Independence Day, Live Science posted a timely and interesting infographic called “Fireworks and You.” It shows how the same elements that add color and sparkle to explosive light shows—potassium, calcium, lithium, copper and iron—perform numerous vital functions in our bodies. Most of the body is composed of just 4 elements: in decreasing abundance, they are oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. The others make up just 4%, but “without them, life would be impossible.” Maybe we should serenade these vital minerals with a passionate rendition of “You light up my life.”
Polarized society: Here’s an amazing trick humans share with cuttlefish: the ability to detect polarized light. Science Daily shares this little-known secret:
Animals, like bees and ants, use polarization patterns in the sky as a navigation aid. But few, even in the scientific community, are aware that humans can perceive the polarization of light with the naked eye too. We do so using ‘Haidinger’s brushes’, a subtle visual effect, which appears like a yellow bow tie at right angles to the polarization angle.
The article explains how you can test this with your own eyes on the computer screen or outdoors: stare at a white screen or the sky and tilt your head back and forth. Look for the bow-tie-shaped “brushes” in your field of view that vanish rather quickly. That effect is due to polarization of the light source. (Some people are better at sensing this than others are.)
Bladder protection: The lining of your bladder avoids infections by capturing germs in tiny balloons called vesicles, and sending them out with the urine. Read about how this works in Science Magazine. “This response is analogous to having indigestion and vomiting to rid the stomach of harmful substances,” Science Daily says. It sounds gross, but it’s less gross than a bladder infection; be glad it usually works.
Immune discovery: A textbook-changing find was announced by Medical Xpress:
In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist. That such vessels could have escaped detection when the lymphatic system has been so thoroughly mapped throughout the body is surprising on its own, but the true significance of the discovery lies in the effects it could have on the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis.
Nature’s lubricant: Your joints are well-greased by a substance called lubricin. How well does it work in normal joints? Medical Xpress lavishes on how it makes your body a “well-oiled machine” (and the word “machine” is used on purpose, since “in many ways it is not far from the truth”)—
Chances are, you have not given much thought to your body’s lubrication. And in many ways, this is testament to just how effective it is at protecting against damage and wear. One reason that the sliding surfaces of the body are so resilient is because of a little known protein called lubricin which is nature’s most effective “grease”.
This protein is not like artificial grease. It has feet!
These adhesive feet attach themselves to virtually any surface, forming a loop in the central non-adhesive string. As more and more lubricin attaches to a surface, it self-assembles to form a dense, carpet-like layer of lubricating loops. This layer is known as a “polymer brush“, and it cushions surfaces where they contact, reducing friction as they slide.
Noseprint: You may have a “smell fingerprint” unique to your nose, Science Daily reports. It’s hard to prove that any two individuals experience the same sensation with particular odors, but scientists can map the distribution of odorant receptors. What’s most interesting is the design of the olfactory system as stated in the first sentence: “Each of us has, in our nose, about six million smell receptors of around four hundred different types.” Viewers of Illustra Media’s new film Living Waters can see a dramatic animation of how olfactory receptors work in the nose of a fish—the Pacific salmon. The system is so sensitive and accurate, it allows the fish to find its native birth stream after years at sea, thousands of miles away. Human noses work on much the same principle.
Instant energy boost: Ever face a “fight or flight” response? A grizzly bear chasing you, perhaps? The heart pounds faster, and you find yourself with superpowers you didn’t know about. Science Daily describes how this works. The mitochondria (power plants) in heart muscle increase the uptake of calcium ions. We’ve heard about adrenaline; here’s how it interacts with calcium and molecular machines:
In the fight-or-flight response, the release of adrenaline activates numerous systems in the body to prepare for the perceived stress. A key aspect of this response is an increase in cardiac contractility. Adrenaline increases calcium cycling in the heart to drive contraction. That same calcium enters mitochondria through a channel known as the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU).
DNA damage alarm: Science Daily also tells about a “novel DNA damage alarm” that was discovered by researchers at Erasmus MC. DNA breaks or loops that prevent transcription set off alarms, including a protein called ATM, that bring the repair crews to the damage site.
Anybody need Darwin here? Anyone? He can’t be found; he’s off yonder tending to his persistent headaches and stomach aches.
We just keep piling on the evidence of design. Some day, it may sink in with design deniers. Hey! That’s it. Since it’s so popular to call people denialists, let’s apply the label to those who deny intelligent design: Design Denialists! Actually, Paul had the idea first (Romans 1:18-22).