New Things to Learn About Your Body
These news items about the human body are likely to surprise and delight you with how well you are made.
How many senses do humans really have? (Medical Xpress). If you answered five (like most people), you may be wrong. Neuroscientist Don Katz argues that the senses are all so interdependent, they could be merged into just one: the chemosensory sense. He explains his “grand hypothesis—all our senses belong to a single system.” It may just be a matter of semantics, but here’s his position:
Katz likens the brain to a computer fed an immense amount of data so it can generate a single, simplified finding. For the program to run, information must be gathered through all the senses. But we don’t realize this. We are only aware of program’s final result, which is the illusion that only one sense is responsible for what we experience.
What powers the pumping heart? (Science Daily): Researchers at the Ted Rogers Centre for Cardiac Research identified “more than 500 membrane proteins on the surfaces of cardiac contractile cells, which are likely to have a critical role in normal heart function.” How can so many components work for over 100 years in some cases? The study also found that these proteins have been “conserved” (unevolved) “through evolution.” Does this make sense?
“We need to figure out what all of these molecules are doing. My team and I hope our research sets the stage for other people to begin to pick up some of this work,” says Gramolini. “These are molecules that haven’t been studied, but must play some role in heart function. If a protein is conserved in evolution, generally it must have a critical function. We are very excited to look at the role of a number of these new proteins.”
Bio-molecules in human breast milk stop inflammation (Medical Xpress): Here’s more reason for women to breast-feed their babies. Human breast milk has “many important, protective properties,” say scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. They say, “this is the first time that such a wide variety of bioactive molecules have been uncovered, including molecules that help clear infections, reduce inflammation, combat pain and heal wounds.” The molecules also help the infant boot up its immune system. “Finding a reservoir of these inflammation-resolving molecules at bioactive levels was a big surprise for us,” they said.
Self-sacrificing immune cells spew out DNA nets to trap invaders (New Scientist): This article reveals a defense mechanism that was only recently discovered. Neutrophils, part of the body’s immune system, are able to spread “nets” out of their DNA to trap invaders. “Normally, immune cells called neutrophils kill microbes by gobbling them up or releasing toxic chemicals,” Clare Wilson writes. “But when all else fails, they disgorge complex nets of their DNA, studded with antimicrobial compounds.” Talk about throwing the book at the burglar. “As well as carrying genetic instructions, it turns out DNA makes a handy weapon too.”
A bounce in your step (PNAS): This Harvard paper, “Unconstrained muscle-tendon workloops indicate resonance tuning as a mechanism for elastic limb behavior during terrestrial locomotion,” describes how a feedback biomotor system puts a built-in bounce to your walk. Their study using a bio-robotic system demonstrated that “muscle-tendon interactions resulting in spring-like behavior occur naturally and do not require closed-loop neural control,” meaning that there’s automatic storage of energy in the tendons and muscles. So “despite the complex nonlinear nature of musculotendon systems, cyclic muscle contractions at the passive natural frequency of the underlying biomechanical system yielded maximal forces and fractions of mechanical work recovered from previously stored elastic energy in series-compliant tissues.”
Learning how muscle cells feel the pull of gravity (PhysOrg): Weightlessness in space has yielded many insights into human physiology. How the body senses gravity was studied at the University of Nagoya, Japan. Experiments with rats in the International Space Station are suggesting to the researchers that gravity sensing is located in the mitochondria—the power plants of cells. It’s pretty amazing that a body designed for Earth gravity can survive in weightlessness for over a year, as astronaut Scott Kelly is finding out (385 days and counting)—Space.com. Of course, returning back to Earth gravity takes some readjustment, but it can be done.
Active body, active mind: The secret to a younger brain may lie in exercising your body (Science Daily): Here’s a new twist on the mind-body connection: working out the body makes the mind younger. Japanese researchers “show, for the first time, the direct relationship between brain activity, brain function and physical fitness in a group of older Japanese men” and probably for all human beings. “They found that the fitter men performed better mentally than the less fit men, by using parts of their brains in the same way as in their youth.”
New study explains why you bulk up with resistance training, not endurance training (Science Daily): The American Physiological Society puts the “why” into something most active people know: to build muscle, you’ve got to lift weights. There’s a gene called PCG-1-alpha that switches on other genes, but it comes in two isoforms (3-D conformations) that depend on the kind of exercise. As measured from thigh muscle blood after different kinds of exercise, more isoforms of PCG-1 were produced after resistance training than after endurance training, and this had the effect of switching on other genes for muscle growth. “Endurance exercise activated genes that stimulated growth of new blood vessels and increased endurance,” the article explains. “Resistance exercise also activated a gene that promoted blood vessel growth, along with a gene that encouraged muscle growth.”
New insights into REM sleep crack an enduring mystery (Medical Xpress): Why do humans and many animals have periods of rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, and other periods of non-REM sleep? Scientists at RIKEN are trying to find out the solution to this long-standing mystery. All they learned so far is that “REM sleep controls the physiology of the other major sleep phase, called non-REM (NREM) sleep.” Expect a function, and you will usually find.
And now, the just-so story for the day. Live Science posted a lopsided argument about a human ear muscle, claiming it as evidence against intelligent design. Ann Gauger gave a preliminary response at Evolution News & Views about why this is not an argument for evolution nor an argument against ID. But if Stephanie Pappas had done her homework, she would have known that Jerry Bergman answered this way back in 1990 in his book “Vestigial Organs” Are Fully Functional. The mistake is in assuming that the muscle is only for moving the ears, like dogs do. “Muscle is more than simply a contractile organ,” he quotes Howitt saying in 1947. “It serves as a storehouse for glycogen and is actively concerned in metabolism. Without some musculature in its structure the nutrition of the outer ear might be seriously impaired.” The muscles are also useful in “providing facilities for increased blood supply to the organ, thereby diminishing the danger of freezing.” If you’ve had cold ears skiing, be glad some warmth is provided by those “vestigial” muscles.
Taken in toto, there is so much overpowering evidence for design in your own body, there’s no excuse for the evolutionist claiming the human body is the product of a long train of mistakes and chance. Arm yourself with enough specific evidences to overpower the just-so storytelling of Darwin Party hacks. The armory is full.
There are still mysteries to solve, like the function of REM sleep. Instead of the Darwinian approach, trying to figure out which things are selected or conserved (unevolved), the design approach (“What is this part’s function?”) is consistently more productive and satisfying. The end result should be worship for our Creator, who weaves all these parts together for us in the womb (Psalm 139). Now go work out those muscles He gave you.