Movement

For as long as the human body lives, it maintains movement within. Our breath moves our lungs, blood absorbs the oxygen by moving in bursts through its vessels, electrical pulses move along nerves, interstitial fluid flows along its channels, connective tissue is moved by breath and blood. This happens all the time, and you haven’t even moved a single muscle consciously.

You affect processes like breathing and heart rate to a certain degree by conscious means, but without necessary knowing to which effect. Usually, the way in which the autonomous systems work, reflects emotional states and/or the physical activity you engage in.

Unless you learn a new way of moving, like dance, martial arts moves or other physical skills, voluntary movement happens by executing habitual patterns. It took you a while to master the art of walking and talking, of reading and writing, yet now this activities requiring a complex set of muscular coordination happen by pure intention.

If you ever engaged in ‘ghosting’ (copying the way another person walks), you get an idea that the simple act of taking a step forward has quite a lot of individual variations of doing it. Hundreds of muscles acting on the 206 bones in a human body allow for many ways of doing something simple like walking.

The habits of voluntary movement affect the quality of the involuntary movements essential to keep you alive. A simple experiment can give you an immediate experience of this relation. Let your head slowly move towards the ground, curling your spine. When you can’t curl anymore without effort, try taking what you think of as deep breath.

You might have noticed that this bodily configuration restricts the movement of your ribs, and interfered quite a lot with getting much air into your lungs. Less air means less fuel for the metabolic processes happening inside your body, which in turn can limit what you intent to achieve.

Of course, it’s unlikely that this forward curl looks anywhere near how you usually move through your life. This experiment just illustrates that your voluntary movements interact with the involuntary movements, quite often in not beneficial ways. Luckily, no matter how you deliberately distort your body, it’s usually not immediately life threatening.

Transforming interfering habits into supporting habits pays off. Despite the majority of people using their body not really aligned with its design, the life expectancy averages at 69 years.  The way how you move through life will affect how long you live, and how happy you feel on your journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instruction manual for human bodies – networks

All subdivisions of the system called human body are arbitrary to a certain extend, most ‘components’ prove essential to the survival and well being of the organism. Beneath your skin lies a complex, interactive system requiring smooth interactions of every cell involved. This manual uses other systems that have been engineered as comparison to illustrate functions of the human body.

The cells of a human body differ slightly from a single cell organism, as they specialise to become part of other subsystems (eg flesh, bones, blood, organs, etc). The environment of a human body cell determines which function it will fulfil, yet it still has the same life cycle as the whole organism.

Unless you’re very young, none of your body cells from your birth is still around. It takes about seven years to replace all of your currently existing cells with new ones. Most of the cells you move through the world aren’t even yours, as you carry more micro-organisms on your skin and in your guts than those with your own DNA.

Your digestive system needs a microbiome to function – without bacteria living in your stomach and intestines you couldn’t process food.  The human body compares well to a symbiotically living large community of autonomous entities, not so well to an army of obedient cells following the order of general brain.

Just after conception, unspecialised identical cells divide until there are enough to build a hollow sphere, the blastula. In the next stage of development, three different layers diversify the cells of an embryo into endo-, meso- and ectoderm.

The innermost layer, the endoderm will develop into most internal organs, the middle layer (mesoderm) gives rises to muscles, bones, connective tissue, heart, kidneys, gonads and the ectoderm ends up as skin, tooth enamel and the entire nervous system.

These three layers mix up thoroughly in the torso, while limbs and head only contain cells descending from the meso- and ectoderm. Several fractal interconnected networks within the whole body emerge: the nervous system, the fascia system and the circulatory system (blood vessels and lymphatic system).

The concept of morphogenetic fields offers the most plausible explanation to the magic of cells with identical DNA in the same environment suddenly diversifying and specialising. Don’t worry too much if you couldn’t follow the quite technical description so far. I will point out the essential parts for the how-to section of the manual.

Here’s what you need to know from this section. Several interconnected systems work within the human body: An electrical system, a plumbing system and a structural support system.

 

Instruction manual for human bodies

Welcome to the most useful manual you will read. Self-programming, self-regenerating carbon units come without a manual, which often leads to more malfunctioning than necessary.

Thanks to the resilient base design of the human body, functioning in survival mode doesn’t require knowledge of this manual. Human cultures integrated some of the essentials as well, which allowed the development of society as we know it today.

Your curiosity for this manual is living proof of the need for its existence. Maybe a malfunctioning body and failed attempts to “fix it” brought you here. Or the idea “I have a body, I know how it works, let me show you where you’re wrong”. Maybe a bunch of serendipities made it unavoidable to have a closer look.

Even without this manual, you have already managed to make your self home in a human body, and acquired the skills required to access this manual. And many more. Congratulations.

This manual uses a system perspective to explain the human body and some of its subsystems. As mentioned, you already made some important steps in operating a complex entity with amazing features.

Building blocks

Your body consists of trillions of very similar structured units, cells. Each cell has a life of its owns, and goes through the same cycles the whole organism does. We define a unit or entity by having a boundary. A membrane encloses a cell to distinguish between interior and exterior, just like the skin creates the physical border of the human body.

The boundary of carbon based units acts as interface between in- and outside, allowing nutrients to enter the organism and metabolic waste to leave it. This process of exchange and elimination happens nearly automatically while being dependent of the environment.

Once something nutritious has passed through the interface, it needs processing to fuel life. Molecules get broken up and reassembled, assimilating the useful bits and discarding the rest. A bunch of generic molecules transform into very specific ones capable of fulfilling the internal needs of the cell.

The assimilated food can then be converted to power the engine, or integrated to repair faulty components or build new ones. As energy source it provides vitality, as spare part it maintains the purity of the system.

A self-regulating system requires a bit of regulation to facilitate protection. If the membrane can’t react to toxins in its environment, or can’t circulate its essentially needed molecules to the right part of the cell, it can’t survive.

Not everything a cell needs is permanently available, nutrients converted to physical energy will be stored, and can be distributed to achieve the next goal. In an abundant environment, using energy for reproduction makes more sense than moving around. In a toxic environment, getting out of there serve survival best.

Just like any building block of your human body, you need food entering the system, digest it, extract nutrients, integrate and convert them into needed bits, use those bits for vitality and integrity, circulate them around, protect the system, store some energy and choose how to use it.

The subsystems achieving this functionality in a human body appear very complex. Describing any system from an unsuitable perspective makes it look complex, and like fish in water, humans many made some clumsy attempts of understanding their own existence, and how bodies work.

While many people talk about the cycle of life, they often simplify it to “get born, survive, propagate, die”. Life has many rhythms, and understanding the life cycle of a cell has much more relevance to our day to day existence than the life time perspective.

As any decent instruction manual, it starts with a description of the system, important components, features and specifications. This ends the first lesson.

A brief history of humanity

While most human societies have their mystical creation stories, which mostly reflect the evolutionary processes which govern the universe, contemporary societies have a limited grasp of evolution. It’s not an easy concept to understand, as the time frame involved exceeds usually the average life span of humans.

Technology has changed the visibility of evolutionary processes, and allows for a better understanding. The ludicrous idea that humanity is somehow above nature, however, prevents to use technological development, which happens much faster than biological evolution in human observable dimensions, as a useful metaphor.

Among those people not suffering from religious delusions, the existence of homo sapiens sapiens for at least 300,000 years sounds like a well established fact. There’s also some agreement that it took about 15,000 years from the agricultural revolution to the high-tech civilisations of today.

Evolution doesn’t follow any linear path, it branches and twists, it creeps and leaps. Some people still live in the believe that at least the last few thousand years the planet experienced some sort of steady rise towards the ‘perfect society of today’. This faulty assumption prevents improvements of the basis of the entire human race.

There is reason to believe that humanity ran happily naked through the wilderness for 285,000 years, discovered agriculture and domestication of animals to finally excel in creating weapon which could destroy the entire planet.

Some cultures hint at the cyclical nature of history, and use the precession of the equinox to measure historical ages. Due to the wobble of planet Earth around its axis, the night sky appears to move along the horizon, in patterns which repeat itself approximately every 25,920 years.

The rise of agriculture to high-tech took roughly half of this cycle, and about 12 of these fit into the history of humanity as it’s widely assumed. While contemporary society excels in things fast and destructive, creating long lasting artefacts still seems to require the slow deterioration of materials like stone.

Most, if not all traces of a global high-tech society like todays would be gone if a similar development would have happened 26,000 years ago. Or 52,000 years ago. Or 104,000 years ago. I guess you’ll get the point now.

The life on this planet regenerates even areas badly affected by civilisation relatively fast, at least in relation to the entire lifespan of the planet itself. Something devastating like a global nuclear war ten thousands of years ago just created a new playing field for evolutionary diversity.

The ingenuity and creativity of humanity makes it possible that small pocket of post-selfdestructive-hightech civilisations survived and restarted the game known as civilisation. There’s still some tribes on this planet unknown and not contacted, living for centuries in sustainable ways in their environment.

In the known history, there were some known calamities like ice-ages or volcano eruptions which challenged the survival of entire societies, and of the whole human race. It might excuse the clumsiness of modern society to claim to have reached this form of techno-society the first time ever, but that’s not really what happened.

It’s about the twelfth time that this planet encounters humanity ready and capable to move forward in its evolution. It’s usually a wild, amazing and challenging time, which converts planet Earth into an amusement park for old souls from all directions of this universe.