Vol. 3, No. 8
"Don't make waves," is a common saying to have someone not disturb the status quo of a particular situation. In the human body, there are places where you want waves to be made. Let's look at waves with are necessary for life.
The human body contains many amazingly different types of cells that carry on many unique functions. These cells are being studied to reveal the roles that they have in the body. Among some of the most interesting of these cells are those that control the rhythm of the movements needed within the body. The best examples of this are the heart cells and the cells of the digestive system. Let's take a quick look at the rhythm makers of our bodies.
In order for the heart to work efficiently, the muscle cells must operate in a coordinated fashion from the top to the bottom. To make this happen, the heart contains special cells that serve as the pacemaker for the rest of the muscles. These specialized rhythm keepers are located in the right atrium and are called the Sinoatrial Node or S-A Node. These cells initiate an electrical impulse that causes a contraction of the muscle cells surrounding them. This triggers an impulse that travels down other conductive cells into an area between the chambers of the heart called the Artir-Ventricular Node or A-V Node. The muscle contraction then occurs in a very fluid manner in the heart, allowing the heart to push the blood through it into the body very effectively. This has to continue throughout our entire lives if we are to stay alive. The waves made in our heart are unique and effective at solving the problem of moving fluids through the body.
Doctors have tried for years to match the pumping ability of the heart without much success. Getting the blood to flow around the body is not a real problem, but getting it around the body with the right pressure is. In addition, the artificial pumps have been seen to damage the cells in the blood that the heart is to pump. So, for now, the heart that God created is still the best thing going.
Another group of cells that is very important for "making waves" is a newly discovered group of cells in the human digestive system. These waves in the digestive system are very important for moving food through the tube-like structure that is our digestive system. When our stomach "growls" and "moves," we can feel the waves that result from these rhythm-producing cells.
Scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, have pinpointed this unique group of star-shaped cells in the human gut that produces the normally gentle waves of muscle contractions called "persistalsis." Persistalsis is the rhythmic contractions of gut muscles that move food along inside the digestive system, from our esophagus to the large intestine. When we have no food in our digestive tract, then we hear air moving around, which is the growl heard. These cells have been named the "interstitial cells of Cajal."
This tiny group of cells determines how our digestive system knows at what pace to contract in order to move our food at the proper rate. If our food moves too fast, then we do not digest and absorb the nutrients out of it. If it moves too slowly, we remove too many products and water from the food, and it decreases the efficiency of digestion and absorption. In the stomach, the contractions occur at the rate of three per minute. The small intestine has 12 contractions per minute to move our food through at the proper rate.
Sometimes in our lives, it is a very good thing to "make waves." From this information, we can see that when God designs something, it works with amazing complexity and ingenuity.
"…dividing asunder of soul and spirit
and of the joints and marrow…" (Hebrews 4:12)
When the writer of the book of Hebrews penned these words under divine inspiration, he pointed out the very basic nature of the skeletal system that forms the foundation for our bodies. It was clear that it would take something very powerful to separate the soul from the spirit and the joints of the skeletal system from the marrow that is contained within the bones. We know that as these verses say, God's Word is just such a powerful tool. Let's spend just a few minutes looking at the marvelous creation that contains the joints and marrow, our skeletal system.
The structural framework that supports our bodies is the skeletal system. It is composed of many different parts, but the main component is the bones. There are 206 bones, more or less, in the adult human body. In the newborn baby, they will have not yet grown together on to each other. This can be seen in what is called the "soft spot" or fontanels of the baby's head. Each one of us might have extra bones or be missing a few, and there are people with more ribs than others, but males contrasted with females. We can have 12 or 13 pairs of ribs, but the only man to have one less rib was Adam because God removed it during surgery. So, today, men do not have one less rib than women.
The bones are amazing structures that are stronger than steel, pound for pound. They are hollow, containing the material called bone marrow, of which there are two types, red and yellow. The ends of each bone are covered with an amazing material that allows them to move past one another without causing pain when working properly. This particular cartilage, when working properly, keeps each movement from causing tremendous pain, as we know it does in arthritis.
Bones function to support the body, protect soft internal organs, allow movement by acting as points of attachment for muscles, store mineral salts until needed, produce all of our blood cells -- red, white and platelets -- and store energy in the yellow marrow in the hollow part of the bone. If any one of the functions does not work properly, then we will not be in this world for very long. Each of the functions must have been working perfectly in the first human that came into existence. It is not possible for evolution to have "perfected" these functions over millions of years because we need them on an hourly basis.
These bones are self-repairing and heal themselves even stronger than they were before they were broken. The bone has living cells within it called osteocytes. These are arranged in concentric layers called the Haversian Canal System. With blood vessels running through this "compact bone" tissue, our bones are supplied with food, oxygen and all other necessary materials to stay alive. The ends of the bones contain the other type of bone tissue found with them, and that is the spongy tissue. This is where the cells that make the blood cells are found. Here the process of making our red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets goes on at an incredible rate of millions per minute.
The skeletal system also uses other organs and tissues such as cartilage, tendons and ligaments. These hold bone to bone and muscle to bone. They cushion and act as strings that allow muscles to be placed away from the area they actually move. Your hand would be so full of muscles, were it not for these structures, that you would not be able to move your hand at all.
The bones can withstand some tremendous forces as we walk, run and jump while we live. During a normal walking pace, our feet can take up to 5,000 lbs. per square inch. When we increase to a run, it goes up to 10,000 lbs. and at a jump, it might be as much as 20,000 lbs. per square inch. This is amazing, given the lightweight nature of the bones.
The smallest bones in the body are the three bones in the middle ear. These are the malleus, incus and stapes that attach to the eardrum to the cochlear in the inner ear and are about the size of a small ant, about 8-9 millimeters long.
These structures work together to complete God's desired effect of allowing his creation the ability to carry out many amazing functions and fulfill the command to "Go into all the world…" Indeed, we can praise the Lord for we are "fearfully and wonderfully made!"