Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write a Travelogue (11/06/14)
TITLE: Psalm 139
By Dave Walker
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Everyone over here! Mind the teeth. We're starting with a look at the mouth. Of course, this is not an extensive tour. It's the Human Body Express, so, of necessity, we'll merely skim through some organs, not stopping to peer into the finer intricacies -- as fascinating as they are.
You, sir, Arthur Atheist, run your hand over the surface of the tongue; feel those tiny projections? Look at the base of each one. See the little pits with a tiny hair in the middle? Those are taste buds. Chemicals from whatever goes in your mouth dissolve in saliva and touch those hairs. If it's sweet, the sweet buds tell the brain, "yummy". If it's lemon juice the sour buds send the message, "uurgh" and your mouth turns down. The 10,000 taste buds on a tongue recognise five tastes: Sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savoury. Pretty good for something that happened by chance, hey Arthur?
Well, let's get on. We're going past the tonsils, which are just a part of a ring of lymphoid tissue encircling the throat. Look carefully as we go past. See those bugs caught in the tonsil cells? They're being analysed and templates made of antibodies to neutralise them. If they cause trouble in the body, the antibodies can be manufactured in double quick time from the templates.
Okay, everyone, this is the fun part as we go sliding down the oesophagus.
We're not staying long in the stomach. It's uncomfortably acidic and there's a lot of churning happening, so I've arranged a short cut to the liver...
Right! Everyone stand close to the centre of the cells, away from the bile channels. We're in the most complex powerhouse in the whole body. The liver detoxifies poisons, produces digestive juices (bile), stores sugar as glycogen, ready for instant energy, manufactures all sorts of proteins for, among many other functions, clotting blood, and traps stray bugs and kills them. The saying is true, "The life of a person depends on the liver" Haha (D'you get it?) If all that happened here had to be done in the world out there, it would require a factory the size of New York City.
Now hold on tight folks, we're hitching a ride in the blood through this huge vein, the Vena Cava. We're drifting slowly up from the liver into the chest. Quickly, jump onto this platform by the heart or you will be sent racing through the body at high pressure through the arteries. Look, everyone, at the beautiful pulsing of this splendid organ which will have pumped blood over 100,000 times by the end of today; and will continue, in most, for over 70 years. Did you know that its muscle is continuous? No part of the muscle is discrete from another. See that bump? That determines how fast the heart will pump. Pulsing electricity starts there and tears through little conducting wires making the heart contract.
Like I said, this is an express tour, so we can't linger. We've time for one more visit. We'll catch a ride in the carotid artery into the brain, and from there, to the eye.
Let's gather in the cornea. You can see how thin it is -- only a half millimetre, yet it has 5 layers all nourished without any blood vessels and all designed to be transparent -- even a collagen layer, which gives it strength. The collagen fibres lie exactly parallel, making them translucent. The cornea does most refraction; the lens does the fine tuning.
Now, come to the back, to the retina. This layer, less than half a millimetre thick, contains 7 million rod cells and up to 150 million cone cells. Their structure is so complex and intricately designed to catch the image cast on them, that scientists are only now coming to understand the physical principles of why, for example, transparent nerves are placed in front of the rod and cone cells to work more efficiently.
Well, that's all we have time for today. We're going to emerge from the tear duct and there'll be a bus to take you home. Please take our brochure. It quotes Psalm 139, reminding us that you're not only fearfully and wonderfully made, but our Maker knows you intimately and dearly loves who He's made. Think about it, Arthur.
And spread the news, folks.
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