The most amazing machine on earth

We rave about our hot new smart phone or the out-of-this-world graphics on a new game. However, the most amazing machine on earth is you! It’s your body. Your temple, your house of flesh, blood, bones and organs. It does amazing things, day after day. However, we barely give it any thought and rarely the credit it deserves. We feed it, abuse it, and get annoyed if it malfunctions. Yet, the body continues its miraculous activities of creating, cleaning, and growing.

The Essence of Life: Heart and Lungs

Your heart beats between 60 to 100 times per minute. With 1440 minutes in a day, that makes it a whopping 86,400-144,000 daily cycle. Furthermore, you pump around 5.5 litres of blood around, three times per minute, sending it on a journey of an average of 19.000 km per day. That’s almost half the world’s circumference!

Your lungs keep up with that heart beat by circulating air at an average rate of 12-20 times per minute. This can vary; exercise, stress, illness and age all play a role. Taking that into account, a healthy human processes around 40-60 litres of oxygen per minute. And often, we don’t even breathe to proper capacity (as we’re too busy to notice). Even at a slack pace, that’s an impressive 57,600-86,400 litres or the equivalent of 2-4 shipping containers per person per day. No other machine guzzles that much gas volume apart perhaps from an Airbus on a long-haul flight!

Movement: Bones, Muscles and Messages

While we dart through our day, we use 206 separate bones (260 when we are kids, but as we age, some fuse). Not only that, to move those bones we have around 650 muscles of various sorts. How many of those do you use each day? Hence the complaint after a work-out, “phew, I have pain in places I didn’t even know I had muscles”. Now you know why! So many muscles, so many in hidden places and so many unused… All this action is orchestrated by the brain through nerves which transmit messages about your movements.

The eyes can pick up a visual change in 13 milliseconds and the brain processes that image immediately. The eye shifts an average of 3 times per second or a baffling 180 times per minute. Even when we sleep, our eyes move during the so-called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) periods which occur around five times in an average sleep cycle. If you are awake for 16 hours and sleep for eight, your eyes will have moved approximately 250,000 times and your brain has made decisions non-stop; it constantly evaluates whether information is important enough to keep or discard.

Wrap-up: The Skin

This whole package of bones, fluid and cells is held together by the most miraculous of organs: the skin. Yes, it is an organ, and for that matter, it’s our biggest one; with an astonishing 1.5-2 square metres of the stuff, at a thickness of around three millimetres. Not only that, but it’s our funkiest organ too; it comes in different colours, it tans in the sun, it sweats, it can get dirty, you can tattoo it or pierce it (try do that to your kidneys or liver!), you can cut, burn, and bruise it and it will usually self-repair. In a way, our skin represents part of who we are.  

Impressed with this natural gadget/super machine? Treat it well. Rest, replenish, rejuvenate and you’ll enjoy it for much longer than the latest high-tech gadget!

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