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We all use electricity every day, in our homes, cars and offices. But, we also use electricity in our bodies. So, I had this image of human electricity as an alternator or dynamo hidden away inside our body somewhere.

After reading a great deal of information about the human body, it became clear that the nervous system uses electrical signals to communicate with and control all aspects of the body. And, if our bodies are using electrical impulses, the electricity must come from somewhere. So, from where does this human electricity come.

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Human Electricity

Before we get into human power and energy production, we should go back to our physics lessons. While I have fond memories of school, my poor memory shrouds it in mist.

Electricity has two main elements. Voltage and current. The voltage represents the potential or pressure that wants to push the electricity. Current is a measure of the rate of flow of the electricity.

It is easy to think of the flow of electricity as being like the flow of water in a pipe. But, the reality is not like this at all. The only thing moving along an electric cable is the electric charge. And, the charge is measured in coulombs (Q) and 1 Amp equates to 1 coulomb per second.

Human Electricity
Source: Physics Tutorial

The energy we use is a fascinating topic for discussion. Where does our energy come from? And, what happens if we run out of energy? This is actually a very complex subject. Because, in simple terms all energy on this planet, in fact, all energy in the Solar System comes from the Sun.

You may question this statement. And you will argue that we get energy from oil, gas or coal. You may even heat your house with a wood-burning stove.

However, all of these fuel sources came from the Sun. All fossil fuels come from ancient woodlands that have been buried and rotted for millions of years, Trees grow from the energy emitted by the Sun.

And even the rain that provides the water to run our Hydro-power was evaporated from the sea by the heat of the Sun.

Furthermore, every source of power comes from the Sun.

Conventional Power Generation

Electricity Generation
Source: Edison Tech Center

One of the fundanental Laws of Physics tells us that we cannot create energy and we cannot destroy energy. We can only convert energy from one type to another.

You can see, in the image above, that we onvert the potential energy in fuel to mechanical energy in the Gas Turbine. This mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy for distrubution on The Grid.

Furthermore, this process of converting energy types from one to another can be seen in all walks of life. Including the life processes of animals, including humans.

But, many of these enjergy transitions are not obvious to us, mere humans.

Human Power Generation

One may assume that our mitochondria, the batteries of life, are responsible for human power generation. And yes. we do produce our energy from the mitochondria in our cells.

But, this is not the way we produce electricity. The food we eat is made up from a number of basic elements. And, these elements, in turn, are comprised of specific molecules. Every molecule has a nucleus

The elements in our bodies come from the food we eat. Our bodies will contain sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Each of these elements has a specific electrical charge.

Furthermore. almost every cell can use these charged elements, called ions, to generate electricity. The cell is protected by a membrane made from lipids (fats). Only certain substances can cross the cell membrane.

However, the cell membrane is not simply a protective barrier. It also allows the cell to produce an electrical current. As already mooted, the individual elements of our body hold an electrical charge.

The cell membrane has proteins on the surface which form ion channels to allow the passage of charge into or out of the cell.

Sodium Potassium Charge Balance

At rest, your cells have more potassium ions inside than sodium ions, and there are more sodium ions outside the cell. Potassium ions are negative, so the inside of a cell has a slightly negative charge. Sodium ions are positive, so the area immediately outside the cell membrane is positive. There isn’t a strong enough charge difference to generate electricity, though, in this resting state.

When the body needs to send a message from one point to another, it opens the gate. When the membrane gate opens, sodium and potassium ions move freely into and out of the cell. Negatively charged potassium ions leave the cell, attracted to the positivity outside the membrane, and positively charged sodium ions enter it, moving toward the negative charge. The result is a switch in the concentrations of the two types of ions — and rapid switch in charge. It’s kind of like switching between a 1 and 0 — this flip between positive and negative generates an electrical impulse. This impulse triggers the gate on the next cell to open, creating another charge, and so on. In this way, an electrical impulse moves from a nerve in your stubbed toe to the part of your brain that senses pain.

One must understand that this is a very simplified view of our body workings.

What is ATP(Adenosine triphosphate)

We made reference to ATP earliet in this article. But, what us ATP? ATP is the transporter of chemical energy rather than human electricity

ATP Structure
Source: Britannica

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), is an energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of all living creatures. ATP captures chemical energy obtained from the breakdown of food molecules and releases it to fuel other cellular processes.

Cells need to have chemical energy to perform thrww general categories of work:

  1. to drive metabolic reactions that would not occur automatically
  2. transport needed substances across membranes
  3. do mechanical work, such as moving muscles

Now, ATP is not storage for chemical energy, that is a function of carbohydrates, such as glycogen, and fats.

When energy is needed by the cell, it is converted from the storage molecules into Adenosine triphosphate.

Finally, ATP then serves as transort for the energy moving it within the cell to where energy-consuming activities are taking place.

Human Electricity Roundup

When it comes to the human body, electricity is produced by chemical reaction. All of the elements we ingest, like oxygen, sodium or potassium have a specific electrical charge. Different chemicals are made of different nolecules. The way these molecules are bound togetherand how they interact is how we create human electricity.

However, when we eat food, the large food molecules are broken down, by our digestive system, into smaller olecules and elements. It is these smaller molecules that power our body cells. We give this process the name cellular respiration. Each element in the process has the potential to generate electrical impulses.

Finally, we hope you have found this little journey into the world of human biology to be interesting and informative/

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Reference

How the human body uses electricity University of Maryland
Generators & Dynamos Edison Tech Center
How does the body make electricity HowStuffWorks
Electric Current Physics Tutorial
How The Human Body Generates Electricity Business Insider
Mitochondria Cell Ciry’s Powerstation OpenLearnAdenosine triphosphate (ATP) Britannica

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Human Electricity in the body cells
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Charles Zhao
Charles Zhao
2 months ago

if, only if, we can figure out, for example, how cancer cells use elecctricity, then we can block its function and kill cancer. Is it not great?

Last edited 2 months ago by Charles Zhao