On a Beach Walk: #71 (Homeostasis)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Recently thinking about balance caused me to wonder toward a related word – a very important biological concept. A word that is often mentioned and defined in biology textbook’s Chapter 1 or 2 as an important term – then seldom resurfacing. Teachers knowing its importance will regularly reinforce the concept throughout the course. Textbooks stressing this important concept are rare, therefore outside the mainstream.

The word – homeostasis – isn’t one that pops into everyday conversation. We don’t hear it on the news broadcasts or read it in news articles. Homeostasis has probably appeared as a Jeopardy answer in the form of a question, but doubtfully as a full category.

Homeostasis is that word that many do not know, but one that people know examples while not associating the examples to the word. Homeostasis has to do with balance, but not in the same sense as the actions when trying to walk a railroad track or balance beam.

Although our body is constantly producing heat, homeostasis is that mechanism keeping our body temperature relatively the same by releasing heat. If the body temperature lowers, a homeostasis mechanism adjusts to keep heat in and possibly produce more heat. After all, have you ever shivered?

Because reptiles don’t have an automatic mechanism to regulate body temperature, they adjust by responding with behaviors –  sunning on a rock to increase body temperature, or seeking  cool shade or a hole in the ground to keep the body from overheating.

In order to maintain a body temperature, the organism must have senses to detect external and internal temperature, plus ways to transmit those information/signals to bring about a response to maintain the balance – that’s homeostasis.

We take in water – most commonly through food and beverages. Our cells also constantly produce water. Our blood, over 50% water, continuously passes through our kidneys, which constantly removes water from the blood so it is released from the body as the key ingredient in urine. That’s homeostasis.

Water moving in and out of our body – yet, a mechanism is in place to keep the water level within us relatively constant. Making us thirsty when necessary – retaining water when needed – eliminating the excess if necessary. That’s homeostasis.

Many cells have water continuously entering, yet they don’t explode from over-swelling because of a mechanism for removing water is in place. That’s homeostasis.

Plants take in water through their roots, but also release water through their leaves – so plants must have a mechanism for regulating the two. Who would have imagined a similarity our kidneys have with plants – That’s homeostasis.

All living things require constant energy to survive, and regardless if caught, prepared, or made themselves, that energy comes from food – That’s homeostasis.

Our cells are constantly using food from the blood to make the energy required to sustain life. After we eat, our digestive system prepares the food so cells can use it. The final products of digestion move into the blood from transport to the cells for their use or to storage cells for later use. Insulin plays an important role in maintaining the sugar level in the blood – that’s homeostasis.

Living things have many examples of homeostasis, and maintaining body temperature and water and food levels are a few examples – but there are many others.

Yes – homeostasis is an important concept in biology and in life because it is important to all living things – birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, single cells, insects, worms, sponges, jellyfish, clams, crabs, plants, and more – all living things.

My teacher side came out for this walk – but maybe my thoughts have given you something to think about. After all, I like walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Special Local Kid

As I have noted on the last two mural posts, Resa (@ Graffiti Lux and Murals) is sponsoring her own Kid’s month. Although she has mainly featured murals, the idea just came to me that Cincinnati is home to a very special kid and has turned into a local celebrity during her short life.

She was born prematurely on January 24th and has required special care ever since. As a matter of fact, her care team is attempting to do something that has never been done.

Meet Fiona, the baby hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo. She was born 6 weeks early at 25 pounds (11.4 kg) and 29 pounds (13.1 kg) underweight.

Photo by Cincinnati Zoo

Her special care has involved being on oxygen, receiving a special milk, and more. Besides, baby hippos nurse underwater. Keep in mind that the zoo is flying blind on this because raising a premature hippo hasn’t been done before.

Here are her first steps.

Not only is Fiona’s progress news here, she has a global following. Below is the latest article about her and a link to the Cincinnati Zoo blog to follow her progress.

Like any kid, Fiona loves to play in water.

On Nature’s Top Gun

Design is the method of putting form and content together. Design, just as art, has multiple definitions; there is no single definition. Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated. (Paul Rand, designer)

Concision in style, precision in thought, decision in life. (Victor Hugo, author)

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return. (Leonardo da Vinci, artist)

The most amazing lesson in aerodynamics I ever had was the day I climbed a thermal in a glider at the same time as an eagle. I witnessed, close up, effortlessness and lightness combined with strength, precision and determination. (Norman Foster, architect)

A falcon is the perfect hunter. (Jean Craighead George, writer)

The View

The Story

On Dolittle Monday

How was your weekend? Come on now, tell us something.

This weekend wasn’t our normal fare as we had family visiting; therefore no dance floor time for us. Saturday’s rain continues to keep us over the average for July and for the year. That’s OK because at least the weather wasn’t stifling! Plus, Sunday’s weather was one of those days I could take everyday.

If all goes as planned, Time: The Musical continues on the next post featuring song titles with Day, Days, or a weekday (Monday through Friday). Get your song titles and videos ready, and have a backup because no duplicates.

This week is has numerous celebratory opportunities. Monday is Lasagna Day and Tuesday is Chicken Wing Day and Paperback Book Day. Wednesday is Uncommon (Musical) Instruments Awareness Day, plus, White Lady in the Hood will welcome anyone willing to cheer the start of Fancy Rat and Mouse Week – so make a note to visit her on Wednesday for a celebratory greeting!

August starts on Thursday, which provides starts month-long culinary celebrations for celery, fennel, cactus, goat cheese, catfish, panini, orange, and papaya.

To jump-start your week, here are some funny talking animals – kind of the opposite of Dr. Dolittle. Have a good week!

On Animals and Wine

I’ve mentioned before that our church as a wine-tasting group. As I like to say, fun and fellowship are the group’s purposes with wine as our vehicle. To commemorate our last event, I did a post that provided a list of wines labels around numbers (our last theme). I just so happens that I keep adding to that list as I discover others, which has been fun.

Another wine group event is approaching, and we are doing another quirky theme: Animals. I know this is not a complete list, but it’s a good start. Enjoy. Do you know any others?

Feathered Aviaries

  • Cardinals: Cardinal Zin, Cardinal Point
  • Cranes: Crane Family, Crane Lake
  • Ducks: Duck Pond, Duckhorn, Cold Duck
  • Eagles: Eagle Rock, Screaming Eagle, Eagle & Rose Estate, Eagle Vale
  • Geese: Spruce Goose, Goosecross
  • Hawks: Hawkstone, Hawk Crest, Redhawk
  • Extras: D’Arenberg Laughing Magpie, Phoenix, Ravenswood, Smoking Loon, Black Swan, Thunderbird
  • Rex Goliath 47-lb. Rooster, Little Penguin

Ungulates: Hoofed Mammals

  • Bulls: Dancing Bull, Turnbull Old Bull, Bully Hill, Concha Y Toro
  • Deer: Antler Hill, Reindeer Ranch, Stag’s Leap
  • Elk: Elkhorn, Elk Cove, Elk Creek
  • Goats: Goats Do Roam, Goats Do Roam in Villages, Bully Hill Love My Goat
  • Horses: Wild Horse, Flying Horse, Iron Horse, Silver Horse, Tall Horse, Horse Heaven Hills (H3), Horse Play, Horseshoe Bend, Colt’s Foot
  • Moose: 3 Blind Moose
  • Sheep: Bighorn, Ram’s Gate

Canine Mammals

  • Coyotes: Wild Coyote
  • Dogs: Bad Dog Ranch, Dog Point, The Dog and Oyster, Dog House, Fog Dog
  • Foxes: D’Arenberg Feral Fox, Flying Fox, Fox Meadow, Three Foxes, Foxhorn, Foxglove
  • Wolves: Wolf Blass, Grey Wolf, Wolf Gap, Howling Wolves

Feline Mammals

  • Cats: Cat Pee on a Gooseberry Bush, Fat Cat, Gato Negro, D’Arenberg Cenosiliacaphobic Cat, Killibinbin Scaredy Cat
  • Panthers: Panther Creek

Miscellaneous Mammals

  • Bats: D’Arenberg Fruit Bat Shiraz
  • Bears: Grizzly Republic
  • Llama; Funky Llama
  • Monkeys: Monkey Bay, Monkey Business
  • Otters: Otter Creek
  • Rabbits: Rabbit Ridge, Dancing Hares, French Rabbit, Las Liebres

Amphibians, Reptiles, and Fish

  • Frogs: Frog’s Leap, Frolicking Frog, La Petite Frog, Frogtown Cellars
  • Lizards: Lucky Lizard, D’Arenberg Leaping Lizard, Dragonette
  • Snakes: Blacksnake Meadery
  • Toads: Toad Hollow
  • Turtles:  Chocalatier Chocolate Turtle Wine, Tortoise Creek
  • Fish: Blue Fish, Fish Eye, Blue Fin, D’Arenburg The Broken Fishplate, Clown Fish, Madfish

Invertebrates

  • Crabs: D’Arenberg Hermit Crab
  • Spiders: D’Arenberg Money Spider
  • Oysters: The Dog and Oyster, Oyster Bay

On a Bird for Monday

Instead of providing a zany event of human nature to jump start your week, thought I’d use a different member of the natural world – the lyrebird. This Australian feathery aviary has the ability to mimic both natural and unnatural sounds from the environment. An unnatural sound (you ask)? Watch, listen, learn, and enjoy.