September 19, 2015 Joanna

Breathe High, Wide & Handsome


by C. Leslie Thomson

To perform its marvellously varied functions, the human body requires energy: so far as we can determine, this energy comes from combustion. That is by no means a rigid fact, but for all practical purposes we are kept going by the oxidation of fuel within our tissues, plus a variable contribution of direct radiation from the sun. There appears to be no reason to consider human energy as a mystic or super-­‐natural phenomenon. This being so, we may adopt a fairly objective and materialistic attitude to the problems associated with our energy, or lack of it.

Just as oil or solid fuel burns in a furnace, so do the body’s particular forms of fuel burn within its cells, releasing energy in a variety of forms. In a muscle-­‐cell, for example, the greater part of the energy appears, through a series of complex steps, as a contraction that may help to move a limb. In a different way, although still using the same basic fuel and still requiring oxygen to ‘burn’ it, a nerve cell produces impulses that may be roughly described as electrical. These impulses may serve a wide variety of purposes; sending information to the brain in the form of sight, sound, feeling, pain, taste, smell etc., or instructing a muscle to contract or a stomach to secrete digestive juices.