February 3, 2018 | David F. Coppedge

What Your Body Needs

Most of us know some basic things our bodies need, but it’s unlikely many people have heard of some of these requirements.

You Need a Golden Gate

Iron is a critical nutrient, but must be handled with care inside cells. Science Daily describes one of the mechanisms as “The human body’s golden gate to iron traffic.” It’s the protein ferritin, which beforehand was considered a simple transporter. It just got promoted in esteem. The findings of this at Technion “move ferritin to the center stage of systemic iron metabolism, as a protein that not only stores, but also transports iron in a controlled manner, giving it all attributes of an iron regulator.”

You Need a Flexible Mesh

Red blood cells are unmatched in flexibility with the simultaneous ability to store hemoglobin, that important iron-carrying protein. An old Moody Science Film, Red River of Life, showed early computer models that proved that the best trade-off for flexibility and capacity was a biconcave disk. Curiously but somewhat expected from a design perspective, the biconcave disk matches the shape of RBCs perfectly. But how can RBCs pop back into their biconcave shape when twisted and distorted by the narrow passages in capillaries? Science Daily brings new knowledge to bear on that question from work at UC Berkeley, which found the microstructural secret:

Red blood cells must be flexible to squeeze through tiny capillaries to deliver oxygen. Chemists have now discovered the secret of this flexibility: a 2-D triangular mesh, like a geodesic dome, underlies the membrane, each strut made of the protein spectrin, which is like a spring allowing the mesh and membrane to bend and flex.

You Need Coordinated Senses

Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh found a surprise; the eardrums move when the eyes move. Why is that? Writing in PNAS, they say they’re not exactly sure, but the multisensory interactions are “systematic and substantial.” They have an idea for an answer, demonstrating that it’s a good bet to expect a purpose for things that are not yet understood.

The peripheral hearing system contains several motor mechanisms that allow the brain to modify the auditory transduction process. Movements or tensioning of either the middle ear muscles or the outer hair cells modifies eardrum motion, producing sounds that can be detected by a microphone placed in the ear canal (e.g., as otoacoustic emissions). Here, we report a form of eardrum motion produced by the brain via these systems: oscillations synchronized with and covarying with the direction and amplitude of saccades. These observations suggest that a vision-related process modulates the first stage of hearing. In particular, these eye movement-related eardrum oscillations may help the brain connect sights and sounds despite changes in the spatial relationship between the eyes and the ears.

You Need an Automatic Tunnel Repair Crew

Every tunnel and pipeline faces damage, and eventually needs repairs. Can you imagine the painful consequences of unrepaired pipelines in the body? Certain pathogens, like rotaviruses, can wreak havoc on intestinal channels. Science Daily reports on “New insight into how the intestine repairs itself.” Scientists from three major universities had to correct some prior knowledge as they investigated a marvelous repair system in the body’s tunnels:

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the University of California, San Francisco have gained new insights into how the small intestine, one of the fastest renewing tissues in the human body, repairs itself after injury caused by intestinal rotavirus infection. Their findings have led them to propose that, contrary to the current thinking, how the intestine repairs itself seems to depend on the type of damage, and they found that triggers that were previously thought to be unimportant are actually essential for repairing virus-caused injury. The study appears in Cell Reports.

You Need a Clutch

Also in PNAS, a paper from Harvard shows that cells can respond to surface viscosity by means of a “molecular clutch” that engages mechanosensitive proteins:

Tissues are viscoelastic in nature and their physical properties play a fundamental role in development, tumorigenesis, and wound healing. Cell response to matrix elasticity is well understood through a “molecular clutch” which engages when stiffness is sufficiently high to expose binding sites in mechanosensitive proteins. Here we show that cell response to pure viscous surfaces (i.e., with no elastic component) can be explained through the same molecular clutch. Mechanisms used by cells to sense rigidity are more universal and can be used to unveil cell interaction with complex viscoelastic environments. The research presents a tool to understand cells within tissues and in turn opens new avenues to incorporate viscosity into the design of synthetic cellular microenvironments.

You Need the Great Outdoors

“The brain acts much differently when we’re outdoors compared to when we’re inside the lab,” a new study reported on Science Daily has found. In ordinary activities, like riding a bike outside or an exercise bike inside, the brain must compensate for the different environment. In experiments at the University of Alberta, neuroscientists studied these brain reactions, and believe it means that “the brain is compensating for environmental distractions.” It probably also means that the brain is more engaged and aware.

One of the researchers pointed out a shortcoming in our knowledge, in that “almost everything we know about the human brain is learned from studies in very tightly controlled environments.” Now, with portable monitoring devices, possibilities open up for research in real-world activities. Undoubtedly science will continue to find benefits of outdoor activity (21 Jan 2018), since even evolutionists believe humans evolved primarily outside, and creationists believe mankind’s first home was a garden.

Did you know that you need all these things? There are myriads of other small wonders like them that we rely on. All of them constantly work to keep us functioning. Such knowledge can help us appreciate the value of every human life and strive to advance belief in human exceptionalism. Such wonders do not just happen. Each marvel is a testament to the craftsmanship of our Creator.

Outdoor education

Adventure, Worship and Education (AWE) outdoors

The Creator knew that we need much more than a functioning body. We need purpose, meaning, and righteousness. We need love and beauty. We need healthy relationships. The hostile world we live in, so divided politically and filled with lies and violence, indicate that something terrible happened to the human race. That ugly reality is sin: we all think we can live in defiance of our Creator. And so the Creator provided what we need most: salvation (Gospel of John, chapters 1-3). The cost of that need was much higher than all the engineering prowess of the divine wisdom. It cost the life of God’s Son, who redeemed us by His own blood. That death could not keep him, and three days later he arose, does not minimize the pain and agony Jesus went through for us. How can we not thank the one who meets our every need with such wisdom, power, and love?

 

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