On Containers


Why is the astronaut in a space suit?

I always enjoyed asking that question to biology students. Knowing the knew the answer is one thing, but the question and the crafted discussion was a setup of what was to come. After all, I wanted to expand their view of the situation and use the discussion throughout the entire unit (3 chapters).

The space suit serves as a barrier between two environments – one suitable for the human body, and the other quite harsh – therefore, the space suit is a container similar to a can of vegetables on the grocery self.

The body within the space suit is also a container with a barrier separating different environments on each side of the barrier. Within the human body are several cavities – open spaces that are sealed spaces for organs. For instance, the chest cavity is sealed with a protective barrier to play an important role in inhaling and exhaling. Yes, another container within a container that is inside the protective space suit.

Tissues and organs (composed of tissues) are not only within the cavities, but throughout the body. Tissues are composed of two or more different types of cells working together in a common function. Surprise, surprise, surprise – cells are also containers because each cell has a protective barrier (cell membrane) separating two environments. It is through these membranes that essential materials pass through to reach their site of need for processing. Through these same membranes, the waste removal process occurs.

Cells contain individual parts with specialized functions. Are you surprised to know that many of these parts are covered with protective barriers separating two distinct environments?

Substances continually pass in and out of the cell through the membrane. Some of these movements occur naturally without the cell expending energy. On the other hand, some movements require energy to occur.

Cells are the reason we take in oxygen from the atmosphere and return carbon dioxide. Cells are the reason we eat. Cells are the reason the heart pumps blood throughout the body to transport nutrients and carry away wastes. Cells are the reason we go to the bathroom. Cells are the reason all vital activities exist.

Cells have to survive in order to reproduce. Cells require food and eliminate wastes. Cells must interact with their surrounding environment. Cells require amino acids to produce proteins. Cells contain DNA to serve as the code of life not only for itself, but for the organism as a whole. As Bruce Lipton (scientist) states, “In reality, a cell is a biological mini-me compared to the human body. A cell has every biological system that you have.” …. now, that is quite the container.

On Exploring a Journey Within

The human body is the best picture of the human soul. (Ludwig Wittgenstein)

I acknowledge the privilege of being alive in a human body at this moment, endowed with senses, memories, emotions, thoughts, and the space of mind in its wisdom aspect. (Alex Grey)

The bottom line is that the human body is complex and subtle, and oversimplifying – as common sense sometimes impels us to do – can be hazardous to your health. (Andrew Weil)

A human body is a conversation going on, both within the cells and between the cells, and they’re telling each other to grow and to die; when you’re sick, something’s gone wrong with that conversation. (W. Daniel Hillis)

A friend of ours was the engineering type – especially with mechanicals. He lost his job, then decided to become a surgical nurse. Because he initially struggled with biology, I helped him. Once he looked beyond the memorization biology requires, he started making engineering connections regarding the human body, which he eventually called the greatest engineering feat … thus tutoring was no longer necessary. Enjoy this animation of the human body.

On a Close Look

Another weekend is in the books. How was yours?

Cincinnati weather has been July-mode muggy, but also soggy. My yard is so wet and the grass is so high, by the time it dries out I will need a combine to cut and bail!

Nonetheless, we had a good weekend. Besides our normal Friday night ballroom, it was Flying Pig Marathon weekend, which means a lot of activity downtown. No – we aren’t runners, but we walked 4-5 miles along the riverfront parks Saturday, enjoyed a late lunch at a unique restaurant, and played pool Saturday night. We haven’t played in a while – yep –  my wife won the first two games. My form was coming back in game 3 until I scratched on the 8-ball. Ouch! Since I won game 4, my wife decided to retire as champion for the night.

Alright – for your Monday Morning Entertainment, here’s a short look at the incredible small world. Enjoy – but more importantly, have a good week.

On a Small World

Yesterday journey started at the subatomic level, displayed on Earth in the beautiful city of Venus, and only to drop us off somewhere in deep space. Simply wow – the scale of it all.

I appreciate deep space. After all, most of my headers (including this one) have been images from the Hubble Telescope. (See my Past Headers page).

Although the universe is vast, telescopes as Hubble have brought something very far away seem so person and close. On the other hand, let us not forget the beauty of the microscopic world. Who would have ever thought that cells, bacteria, and viruses within the human body had such intricate beauty.

PS: I have one more tomorrow.