God Is In The Details
Oxygen’s Role: The Symphony of Oxygen in Human Biology
The further you dig down, the more it will be revealed to you how finely tuned countless systems in the physical and biological world operate. Each system, no matter how small or large, has integral parts working together to accomplish a significant and common purpose. These operational systems are essential for complex life on Earth and can be easily overlooked and taken for granted.
To understand these systems and appreciate how they function, a concentrated effort must be made to enjoy a magnificent masterpiece. This passion comes from the spirit our Creator endowed us with because we are the only creatures in the Cosmos created in His image. Our world had to be assembled piece by piece with a high degree of precision that can only be tweaked with a skill that can only come from God. He allows us to witness these details, which brings us great pleasure and excitement to see these living systems working efficiently, exemplified by energy utilization.
Physical and biological laws come together regarding how living organisms must retrieve and manage their energy sources, as beautifully demonstrated in the imperative process of respiration. Complicated living systems, from the microscopic to the largest animals that live on Earth, use this common method of two essential components reacting together in respiration: Oxygen and glucose, which produce Carbon Dioxide plus water.
“This passion comes from the spirit our Creator endowed us with because we are the only creatures in the Cosmos created in His image”
In the last CSI’s article, I wrote about the fantastic properties of Oxygen and how God has blessed the planet Earth with plentiful amounts of this active element that is colorless and odorless and occupies 21% of our atmosphere with 78% as a nonreactive gas to keep the air we breathe stable. It needs to be emphasized that Oxygen is essential for complex life forms to exist on Earth. Humans can die of asphyxiation in minutes. As stated in the last article, 90% of energy supply comes from breathing in Oxygen and only 10% from food and water.
A superior engineering system is needed to utilize Oxygen’s energy from the air inhaled while breathing. Oxygen must be extracted from the air and then distributed throughout the organism. In humans, it must go to every tissue composed of 30 trillion cells. To accomplish this task, two major systems must be entwined to make this happen: the respiratory and circulatory systems.
The respiratory system has many parts integrally designed to collect air and direct it to the lungs. The pair of lungs we have are made of 300 million alveoli, tiny grape-like sacs. The shape and number of alveoli increase the surface area of the lungs exponentially to an impressive 875 square feet. Increasing the surface area increases the amount of Oxygen exchange, which is essential for energy production.
The alveolus (singular) is constructed with a flexible and highly elastic ultra-thin membrane in the outside layer, so when it expands upon inhalation, it pushes Oxygen in its gaseous state out into very tiny capillaries surrounding it. The red blood cells in these thin capillaries are forced to be single file so that each cell captures an Oxygen molecule, carrying it away in a liquid state in the form of blood to each cell in the human body. In turn, for every molecule of Oxygen exchanged, a molecule of Carbon Dioxide is released into the alveolus.
The Carbon dioxide is released when the alveoli are compressed in the process of exhaling. This process is amazingly efficient because the blood leaves the lungs 100% oxygenated. It is a system marvelously constructed with precise materials to function perfectly, far surpassing any design that man has produced.
Another remarkable phenomenon is the design of the red blood cell, also called an erythrocyte. Erythrocytes originate in the bone marrow and begin their existence with a nucleus and other functional bodies like many cells, but once they become mature, they become denucleated to maximize the number of Oxygen molecules. The cell has now taken the shape of a biconcave disk, like a doughnut without a hole, allowing for the maximum surface area to collect Oxygen with a life span of 100 to 180 days. The shape provides strength and flexibility because it must travel through the blood vessels, where some are very tiny and will temporarily distort it around the thin center of the erythrocyte so that it can be bent and twisted and quickly return to its original shape.
A superior engineering system is needed to utilize Oxygen’s energy from the air inhaled while breathing.
Believe it or not, a human adult needs at least 20 trillion erythrocytes, about 70% of all the cells in the human body. This is all part of the engineering plan to transport energy efficiently to every cell to power the human body, including keeping it at a core temperature of 97° to 99°F. This is the temperature of the biomolecules that make essential enzymes operate efficiently. The system fails when the temperature goes above 107°F and below 91°F because these biomolecules cease functioning.
There is an enormous challenge to capture Oxygen in its gaseous state and attach it to the erythrocyte because it is not very water-soluble and blood plasma, the liquid part of the blood, is composed of 90% water. When Oxygen is activated, it becomes very reactive and can kill living organisms. The answer is in the specifically designed complex protein molecule called hemoglobin. The erythrocyte cell has a large amount of surface area to make and store hemoglobin; it is estimated that 200 to 300 million hemoglobin molecules can fit in the cell. Hemoglobin protein elegantly possesses four twisted molecular branches, each carrying an iron atom, giving four iron atoms. This formation has the ability not only to capture the Oxygen but also to bond to it until it is released at its destination within each cell for its energy use. It is a special bond because it keeps Oxygen’s reactivity restrained. When Iron from the hemoglobin bonds with Oxygen, it gives the deep red color often associated with blood. At this point of the process, when Oxygen is delivered to each cell it begins a new detailed biochemical process where internal respiration takes place.
Needless to say, this is a spectacular system for all to witness.
As you dig deeper, you can’t help but see the wonder and awesomeness of our Creator. It comes down to the minuscule details where we get a tiny glimpse of the mind of God. When all the particulars come together, we witness His powerful testimony as a loving Creator, the author of all life, and, by His grace, our Savior who gave us eternal hope. God is in the details.