It’s time to add a slice into the Ponder Series. As we journey through life, we often take for granted the complexities and wonders that make us who we are. But have you ever stopped to consider the incredible amount of information that exists within our own bodies? Each and every one of us is made up of an astounding 100 trillion cells, each containing a DNA molecule that holds within it a wealth of information.
Just one of these DNA molecules holds the equivalent of 3 billion different subjects, enough to fill 1,000 volumes of books with 1 million pages each. Imagine lining up all of those pages, end to end. They would stretch from the North Pole to the Equator. And even if we were to read them nonstop, 24 hours a day, it would take us 100 years to finish.
But here’s the truly mind-boggling part: this vast library of information exists within something as small and seemingly insignificant as a single hair or fingernail. How is it possible that such a vast amount of knowledge could be contained within something so minuscule?
It is a reminder that the universe is full of mysteries and wonders, and that we are constantly discovering new things about ourselves and the world around us. And it’s not just science, but also the spiritual side of things that makes us so much more than we think we are. So, next time you look at your hair, remember that within it, there is a universe of information, waiting to be discovered.
When I say that we’ve a lot of blessings that we don’t notice, it might appear poetic & looks like another philosophy post blooming. I would like you to think with me on breathing. Have you thought deeply and consciously about what a great blessing it is. I had been hospitalized with situations where it was difficult for me to catch my breath. I had put a note on that day in my diary to write about it many months later when I’d be fine and this is the day & boy I’ve thought a lot about it in depths through which I want to take you now : )
I’m not an expert to expound professional biology here, but the intention here is to unravel the magic happening inside you on a layman terms.
Try holding your breath for about 40 seconds. The beauty of breathing is that if you or me are put in a situation that we can’t breathe for more than about 40 seconds, we would give up everything we have just to breathe again. After a minute or so of not being able to breathe, we would be losing consciousness. Brain death would follow in about 3 minutes after that.
You’d have taken approximately about 7 breaths by the time you have reached reading till this line of my post with you not needing to do anything to facilitate it. Have you thought about the marvelous system within you enabling you to breathe. The air entering your lungs has been cleaned and a humidity regulation happens within your windpipe. Blood circulation from the lungs enables it to be conveyed to cells and are used for their nourishment and vital functions. Carbon Dioxide is received as a waste material and when we expel the breath, it is pushed out. We know the science, but have we thought about it and how fortunate we are to take a breath through this state of the art system inside. Breathing is a key to many important things happening within our body such as cell division, beating of our hearts, movement of muscles, thought etc. This process that we often relegate as a simple one represent the source of life of about 100 trillion cells in our body.
The gateway to the entire system is the nose. We often think of nose as the organ for detecting odour or smell. But they serve important functions such as making the air we breathe suitable for lungs. The nose has a perfect aerodynamic design and is a marvellous air conditioning system within itself. Nose has special filters inside in the form of hairs. Even its curvature has its design intent. The nasal mucus warms and moistens the air we intake. After the first level of filtration, the second filter it passes through is the mucus. Dust, bacteria and pollen are trapped. There are mobile propellants carrying mucus and they get swallowed in reflex and gets destroyed by stomach acids. Alternatively, they could be expelled by coughs. A pretty decent vigorous cough has a speed of 960 Km per hour. Have you thought about this safety precaution within you ? Hairlike structures called cilia line the mucous membrane and move the particles trapped in the mucus out of the nose. The tiny hair like structures called cilia on deeper examination is an engineering marvel. It forms a cylindrical rotor with nine different protein chains. It’s internal components resemble an engine. The next component is the windpipe.
The walls of the windpipe are supported by C-shaped rings of cartilage.If the windpipe had been made from flesh alone, the ensuing softness could result in regular blockages. That could make it not possible for us to breathe. If it had been made from some thing as hard as bone, then our actions could be to a huge volume restricted. Yet the cartilaginous shape which makes up the windpipe is ideally fitted to all varieties of movement, and it continually stays open because of its flexibility. There is a small flap of elastic cartilage referred to as the epiglottisproper at the doorway to the windpipe. This flap routinely closes the doorway to the windpipe at some stage in swallowing. During all of the hundreds of food you’ve got got eaten, from babyhood right as much as the present, you have swallowed tens of hundreds of times. And each single time this little flap has closed the doorway for your windpipe at precisely the proper moment. Although we are ignorant of its presence and may exert no control over it, this little flap has saved your life via way of means of closing the doorway for your windpipe at simply the right moment.
Body tissues produce carbon dioxide due to their daily functions. This carbon dioxide is carried away from the tissues through the blood. This blood, loaded with carbon dioxide, is dirty blood. In order for the blood to be wiped clean it needs to make touch with the air. The oxygen in the air and the carbon dioxide withinside the blood will as a result be exchanged. There are round five litres of blood inside the human body. In order to be aired, this five litres of blood needs to unfold over a place of around 100 square metres. That is equal to the area of a tennis court. Everyone reading this blog post now has a place the scale of a tennis court squeezed into his lungs. Think about it!
The lungs consist of bronchia divided into hundreds of various tubes. At the end of every any such bronchia are the alveoli, or air sacs, the size of a pinhead. There are about three hundred million of those air sacs in a healthy lung. Their general floor region is equal to that of a tennis court. The air passing via the bronchia fills the alveoli. The alveoli are blanketed with a dense community of capillaries, the smallest of the blood vessels. The alveoli and capillaries are separated from every different with a skinny membrane. This membrane allows an alternate of gasses among the blood and the air. The carbon dioxide inside the dirty blood and the oxygen in the air are exchanged here. And the dirty blood is cleansed in the alveoli. The device which permits your blood to be cleansed with each breath you’re taking is constructed on an air sac no large than a pinhead. Alveoli has a thin water layer inside and this creates surface tension. This could cause the alveoli to collapse on exhalation, but it does not happen when we breathe due to surfactants produced by Type II cells. These surfactants reduce the surface tension of water inside the alveoli.
Now, the oxygen which enters the alveoli interacts with cells that’s in charge of transportation, the “red blood cells”. Haemoglobin, a special protein is present inside the red blood cells. There are about 250 million haemoglobin molecules in every single red blood cell. They contain iron items and they bind to oxygen like a magnet. When it reaches the relevant places, some internal mechanisms within the body reduce this binding power of haemoglobin and thereby aiding release of oxygen. The by product carbon dioxide is also transported similarly. There’s a very delicate and balanced plan in place here.
The role of brain in this process is also worth pondering. The muscles around the ribcage are sent commands from the nerves in the medulla to fill the lungs with air. This signal is cut for 3 seconds which aids to the muscles to relax enabling exhalation of air. This is not in our control and we don’t think consciously about it.
To summarize it, we have the marvellous air conditioning process in the nose, the safety measures in the respiratory tracts, the functioning of cilia and mucus, the special design of the windpipe, the flap openings, the tennis court area squeezed in our lungs, the alveoli of size no more than a pinhead, interacting cells, haemoglobin, the special nervous system directing a sophisticated transportation network. And the magic happens without you expending any effort or thinking about it.
It took me a hospitalization to ponder deeply about it and feeling grateful for this. Don’t we need to be filled with gratitude & awe to Almighty when we take a single breath. Think about it. For something as effortless as breathing, there’s an entire world working inside us aiding it and it’s too sophisticated to be an accident or co-incidence. It’s tailor designed on purpose for you. They’re working in the background to be known & discovered by you. To be aware of it is key to many enlightening delights. It’s another moment where we discover extraordinary systems within what seems ordinary. God bless!
You’d have taken roughly around 36 breaths by the time you’ve finished reading this article : )
Some of the other chapters from the Ponder Series that you can read on :
When we think about the world around us and also when we look within, it might seem usual and ordinary. But ponder series, as you might have already guessed, is all about thinking deeply and delving into the details by going beyond the ordinary perceptions. It’s a very humble endeavor towards unlocking extraordinary in the ordinary by opening our eyes of wisdom and insight. Hope you enjoy reading them. God bless friends : )
Our brain has about 100 billion neurons in them. When you read this blog now, or when you smell the fragrance you wear, when you hear sounds, in short, when you do everything, electrical signals race between these neurons along billions of tiny neuron highways. The messages sent by neurons in your brain is more than the messages sent by all phones in this world. All neurons together in the brain can generate enough electricity to power a low-wattage bulb. Knowing our senses, knowing ourselves, and pondering on the wonders is the key that unlocks many mysteries of this world.
Did you know that memories that we have are often like piece-together-pictures than accurate photographic information? In the same token, recalling a skill requires you to return to the state of mind or environment in which it was originally acquired.
Memory is more like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle than a photograph. To recollect a past event, we piece together various remembered elements and typically forget parts of what happened (the color of the wall, the picture in the background, the exact words that were said). Passing over details helps us to form general concepts. We are good at remembering the gist of what happened and less good at remembering (photographically) all the elements of a past scene. This is advantageous because what is important for memory is the meaning of what was presented, not the exact details present at any given time.
” Is photographic memory real? If so, how does it work? ” by Professor Larry Squire
I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers. I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer — and what trees and seasons smelled like — how people looked and walked and smelled even. The memory of odors is very rich.
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
There’s something called involuntary memory in us. When we get exposed to a stimulus, that’d trigger a strong memory from your past. For me, it could be the rich aroma of south Indian dosa with thick sambar that takes me to my childhood days and brings the memory of my home. There’re perfumes that bring in memories of Netta. For some people, the baking smell would take them from their rooms through memory travel to a cafe they’ve been in before. Brain regions processing smell, our vivid memories, and emotions are wired similarly.
A scent is a chemical particle that floats in through the nose and into the brain’s olfactory bulbs, where the sensation is first processed into a form that’s readable by the brain. Brain cells then carry that information to a tiny area of the brain called the amygdala, where emotions are processed, and then to the adjoining hippocampus, where learning and memory formation take place.
Scents are the only sensations that travel such a direct path to the emotional and memory centers of the brain. All other senses first travel to a brain region called the thalamus, which acts like a “switchboard,” relaying information about the things we see, hear or feel to the rest of the brain, said John McGann, an associate professor in the psychology department of Rutgers University in New Jersey. But scents bypass the thalamus and reach the amygdala and the hippocampus in a “synapse or two,” he said.
That results in an intimate connection between emotions, memories, and scents.
There’s a plan, order, and purpose in the way your brain is wired. How did this sophisticated system come around to you? Are with thinking about it? There’s master craftsmanship in our bodies and how everything is perceived. If we delve deep into the ordinary, it helps to discover the extraordinary miracles in them. Time for reflection
The title of the post might make you puzzled. But I would like to take you through a small journey of thoughts and discover the secret embodied in the title! It’ll be good if you can be distraction-free for two minutes as you read this, as this is a very important reality that can blow your mind! I value your time. Let’s think together : )
Today, we are adding a slice into our Ponder Series. I read something along these lines about a decade ago through several books that profoundly changed my perspectives on how we perceive the world. If you haven’t read about this theme before, this could possibly be a key that could unlock many secrets of thoughts and perceptions about people and things around you and everything happening to you. Right now, you’d be reading these words on your phone/tablet or PC. If it’s the phone, for example, you’d be now scrolling with your fingers on the phone screen or touching your mouse/touchpad if you’re reading on a computer. Reality for most people is what they can see with their eyes & touch with their hands. You touch your phone now while reading this and believe that it’s real. This is the normal conception of reality that has conquered generations and their views. But there’s a deeper side to it if we ponder deeply. Everything we confront and experience – everything – the chair that you sit on, the bed you sleep on, the window of your room, the buildings near you, roads, cars, people you see, spaces, cafes, your loved ones, the experiences we go through in life, in short everything is perceived through our five senses. We know this well, but have you wondered how this magic really happens! Let’s ponder on how the information of the exterior world reaches you through your senses.
You and me have five sensory faculties – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. If we think about it from a scientific point of view, all these senses work in the same way. For each sensory faculties, stimuli from objects in the external world and taken through these senses and nerves carry them to the sensory centers in the brain. These stimuli that induce these signals include lights (for vision), sounds (for hearing), smells, tastes, textures (for touch). These stimuli reach the brain only as electric signals.
Let’s take our vision as an example. Light rays (photons) emanating from different objects around you reach the retina at the back of your eye system and passing through several stages, they get converted into electrical signals. These signals then reach the brain’s vision centre through the nerves. This colorful and bright three-dimensional imagery that you see is formed at this vision centre, which is only a few cubic centimeters. So, when you hold your phone in your hand, you’re perceiving the “image” of the phone at the back of your brain in a minuscule space. This system of electrical impulses broadly applies to our other senses as well.
When you taste a glass of fresh orange juice, cells on your tongue surface transfer the stimuli into electrical signals that we perceive as taste. The aroma of the fresh orange juice near you is transformed into electrical signals by the cells in the epithelium of the nose. When you touch the glass cup, there are special sensors that are lodged beneath the skin surfaces that transform touch impulses and sensations of hardness/softness to electric signals. Similarly, your ear also have a similar mechanism that converts sounds into electricals signals. That’s how you hear the sound of the glass when you place it on the table. You perceive that you are drinking an orange juice when all these senses cohesively and harmoniously work together with these electrical signals for different senses.
Now is the important concept that needs to be thought about. Whether the orange juice exists or not cannot be known by us. The “orange juice” that youknow is a blend or collection of its taste sensed by the tongue, its odour sensed by your nose, the color, and shape captured by your eyes, and only its attributes perceived through these senses is what is accessible to you. You don’t have access to the “original” version outside. It shows the limitation of ours to reach the physical world. Everything around us we are in touch with and our experiences are a compiled effect of different perceptions such as sight, hearing, and touch. All we can do is process the data of electrical impulses in our brain’s sensory centers of our brains. So, instead of the “original” of the matter, we are confronting its “copies” inside our brain. At THIS point, we tend to believe that the copies that we experience are the real matter outside, which is not the case as we just examined 🙂
Orange juice that you drank is only a simulation. Which orange juice is real? The one that is formed by your senses or the real one on the table? It’s no doubt that we are experiencing an aggregate of our perceptions throughout our lives. From every object you touch to anything you experience are perceptions. So whatever you touch, hear, smell and define as “matter”, or what you think as “the world we live in” is nothing else but an interpretation of electrical signals in our brain. The “original” cannot be reached, but only its copy is experienced in your brain! So that means if your olfactory nerve from the nose receptors are disconnected, you cannot feel the sense of smell.
Similar concept shall be extended to the sense of space and distance as well. When you read these words on this page, the distance between you and this page is emptiness perceived in your brain. When you think of stars or moon, you think they appear distant in the sky, but what you’re actuallyseeing is within you, in your vision center. So, as you sit and read this blog post now, you are technically not inside the room you think you are in, but the room is inside you! The body deceives you in thinking that we’re inside it. Like the orange juice we just discussed, your physical body is also a set of images or perceptions formed in your brain!
You may be able to comprehend this better when you think of how you dream. When you dream, you may experience that you’re riding a horse for example, but in reality, you’d realize that you were on the bed when you wake up from your slumber.
That brings us to the conclusion that ouraccess to the external world is very limited. Now you would understand why saints say that the universe is within you! The way we look at our world changes when we understand and comprehend that our soul is experiencing and watching everything on a screen. Everything is inside you. Think about it. Ponder about this magic happening every single moment. Thank you for reading Ponder Series with me 🙂
Some of the chapters from the Ponder Series that you can read on :
Before I start, let’s see this beautiful video “Nature by Numbers” by Cristóbal Vila. I first saw this almost 9 years back and it helped discover a lot of amazing knowledge treasures which I didn’t know before. This number is used by architects and designers extensively, but what we are discussing here is something else. It’s about realizing and pondering on how the entire universe is crafted specifically in a specific metric. Have a look at the video and I shall elaborate further with detailed illustrations. I was pretty pumped up when I first came to know about this and would like to take this write up as an opportunity to share this information with you. Probably this would be the first write up for which I spent the longest time preparing content and illustrations for the only reason that I’m super excited to share this all of you. Now, let’s read.
This piece would be an addition to the Ponder Series that we have been writing extensively over the past several months. When we think about the world around us and also when we look within, it might seem usual and ordinary. But ponder series, as you might know, is all about thinking deeply and delving into the details by going beyond the ordinary perceptions. “Golden Ratio” is such a concept that’ll blow our minds off. I first read about this interesting ratio pervading the universe when I was in college. I shall elucidate it here, preferably with some visual illustrations. If you have not heard about this before, I’m sure this will definitely throw you into some wonder. Read it very carefully. It’s exciting information!
Many of us would be familiar with the Fibonacci series of numbers which were discovered by the Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci in 1202 B.C.
It’s a series as below:
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597, 2584, …
In this series, if you add two numbers in the series, you’ll get the next number in the series. For example, 0+1=1, the third number in the series. And 1+1=2, the fourth number in the series, 1+2=3, the fifth number in the series and so on.
We might have seen this series in our maths classes and wondered what is special about them. They have an amazing property. If we divide any number in this sequence by the number before it, we would get numbers very close to each other. After the 13th number in this series, the ratio is constant and we get 1.618. This is called “Golden Ratio”
Now, this golden ratio number of 1.618 is pervading everywhere. If you didn’t know this before, get prepared to be blown away.
Did we ever think that our body measurements were just random? Boy! we are wrong! The proportions and geometrical ratios are carefully crafted in this specific ratio. For a better visual perspective, I’m sharing a few illustrations below so that you can take a look! These values are universally true for every human body. Isn’t that a jaw-dropping realization if you didn’t know this before?
Now, that’s far from over. Let’s go a little deeper. The same ratio is true for the below: – Length of face/width of the face, – Distance between the lips and where the eyebrows meet / length of the nose, – Length of face/distance between the tip of the jaw and where the eyebrows meet, – Length of mouth/width of the nose, – Width of nose/distance between nostrils, – Distance between pupils/distance between eyebrows.
Even the placement of teeth, as well as the ratio of individual teeth sizes, are on this same ratio.
In a research study carried out in 1987, it was discovered that this magic ratio is also in the structure of the lungs as well. The bronchi network in the lung is asymmetric. The windpipe gets divided into the left and the right bronchi networks. The one on the right is short and the one on the left is long. The geometrical proportion of the shorter one to the longer one of this bronchi is 1.618. Isn’t that amazing? Recent studies have shown that the internal structures of the ears are also proportioned in the same ratio. The more we explore and delve in, the more breathtaking it turns out to be.
This number has garnered significant interest in great minds like Pythagaurus, Leonardo Da Vinci and the famous astronomer Kepler. Leonardo Da Vinci has used it in the painting Monalisa.
Golden Ratio in DNA Helix DNA has two grooves in its spiral. Major to minor groove proportion measures as the golden ratio 1.618.
In geometry, a golden spiral is a logarithmic spiral whose growth factor is φ, the golden ratio. That is, a golden spiral gets wider (or further from its origin) by a factor of φ for every quarter turn it makes. See the below link for a reference.
The golden spiral can be found in pinecones, sunflowers, pineapples, and a lot of other plants. Another amazing detail is that the petals of plants commonly grow in Fibonacci numbers.
In sunflower, we can notice two families of spiral patterns: one winding clockwise and the other counterclockwise. The quantity of spirals in each family are always two consecutive Fibonacci numbers. This effect is the result of closely packing points separated by 137.5 degrees in tight spirals. This implies that the a golden-ratio based phyllotaxis allows not only for optimal sun exposure but also for maximal packing in horizontal space. (Reference)
For field daisies, the count of petals is usually either thirteen, twenty-one, or thirty-four petals, all consecutive Fibonacci numbers. Bet you didn’t know about this before! 🙂
And it’s not over yet. We have more!
The golden ratio is even found in the shape of galaxies, hurricanes, and waves.
What I have shown here is only a small portion or subset of how this golden ratio pervades in almost every other stuff we are surrounded with. Leonardi Davinci has used this ratio in some of his greatest paintings. Architects use this ratio in designing structural solutions with better aesthetics. In architecture, they bring balance and height to structures and allow the usage of specific geometries and varying shapes and eventually help build aesthetic structures. They are also extensively used in arts and music as well. The ratio is made use of in the design of several musical instruments and in timing musical compositions (Climax reaching at 61.8% of the song sequence to make it more appealing, for instance). Beethoven’s fifth symphony uses this ratio. The ratio is also used in other fields like facial plastic surgery and cosmetic dentistry. This is really thought-provoking. If we ponder deeply on these realities, we come to the realization that everything around us is formed and ordered in a measure which we even don’t notice. We require the eye of wisdom and insight to contemplate these realities. Don’t let these astonishing marvels around you hide from your thoughts and cogitations when we get engulfed ourselves in the blurred rush of routine life. Uncovering this hidden mathematical miracle around us has a profound impact. Think about it, friends! Let’s widen our horizons and augment our perspectives. Personally, I believe this ratio is sort of like a divine signature. God bless friends!
Today’s disposition is to write something into our ponder series. For new readers who aren’t aware of these series, below is the thematic intention of this initiative that I mentioned in my first post on this topic.
” Often in the rush of our routines, we fail to appreciate certain hidden subtleties and nuances of living in this universe, which we can only admire if we consciously make an effort to think deeply with profundity.We have to pause for a moment and ponder, and hence the name of the series. “
Let’s ponder on vision today. We are aware of the technical description of vision and how it’s accomplished in our bodily systems. The intention here is to delve in little deeper and explore the miraculous aspects of this process which we deem as pretty novel and relegate as trivial.
..Illustrated by The Border of a Mind Studios…
The illustration above shows a person gazing at a candle. Light bundles from this candle fall on the retina upside down. The image of the candle gets converted into electrical impulses and is transmitted to the centre of vision situated at the back of the brain. As you would know, the brain is pitch dark inside and it’s totally insulated from light. It’s technically impossible for light to reach this centre of vision. But we see the candle image transmitted there. In other words, the world of lights and depth is formed in this tiny spot which does not receive any sort of light from outside. The candle outside is hot. This applies to all senses. If we think about it, when we see the light of the candle and even when we feel its heat, the inside of our brain is completely dark, pitch dark and there’s not temperature change there. Isn’t that truly miraculous? Spare some thought into it. Ever wondered on how this happens? Those are the first steps that open up our thought process on several important things that we tend to wade off in our routines. Those who have been reading me for a long time might recollect the post “perceptions” which also conceptually shares the same context.
“We are so familiar with seeing, that it takes a leap of imagination to realize that there are problems to be solved. But consider it. We are given tiny distorted upside-down images in the eyes, and we see separate solid objects in surrounding space. From the patterns of stimulation on the retina we perceive the world of objects and this is nothing short of a miracle.” (Eye and Brain, 1966)
The title seems to bemuse on the outset, but that’s exactly what came to my mind when I happened to read about Google’s new AI algorithm that would predict heart diseases and complications by looking (scanning) at your eyes. It’s amazing to see how machine learning implementations open up new possibilities and seemingly much capable things which we often rendered improbable in the past. In the coming years, I believe they’d partner with healthcare firms to work on even larger data sets and come up with specific pattern identifications and customized algorithms and deep learning applications that would further open up non-invasive diagnosis methods. Definitely, this is the future.
“Although the idea of looking at your eyes to judge the health of your heart sounds unusual, it draws from a body of established research. The rear interior wall of the eye (the fundus) is chock-full of blood vessels that reflect the body’s overall health. By studying their appearance with camera and microscope, doctors can infer things like an individual’s blood pressure, age, and whether or not they smoke, which are all important predictors of cardiovascular health.”
“Whether you’re getting your eyes scanned by a trained ophthalmologist or Google AI, the biggest clues to your overall health may lie in your blood vessels.
Blood vessels can provide a valuable snapshot of your heart health, revealing clots, constrictions and other abnormalities associated with various cardiovascular diseases and conditions. But because most blood vessels in your body are hidden beneath your skin and other tissues, it can be hard for doctors to access them without potentially expensive or invasive procedures.
The large vessels on the back of your retina — the light-sensitive layer of tissues at the back of your eyes — are an exception. Retinal veins and arteries are directly visible through your pupils, meaning a simple, noninvasive eye scan can reveal whether your retinal blood vessels are constricting from hypertension, clotted with cholesterol or afflicted with various other heart-health risk factors. Doctors look at retinal scans primarily to diagnose glaucoma and diabetes-related eye disease. Increasingly, however, researchers have been using eye scans to screen for high blood pressure and all of the cardiovascular ailments that go along with it.“
Absolutely exhilarating!. I am very eccentrically inquisitive of how far they can explore the wide sea of engineering, preferably in finite element analysis or structural engineering. I already came across several firms that have software products with AI built in automating a lot of calculations for structural components used in building design and infrastructure projects based on international codes of design practice.