Wednesday, September 23, 2009
[a photo of the inside of the aveoli]
The last verse in Psalms states “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.” The Midrash Breishis Rabbah 14:9 interprets this to mean “A person must praise his Creator for every breath he takes.”
When we contemplate the miraculous engineering of the human lungs, we should be speechless with gratitude and filled with love for our Creator.
At rest, we breathe about once every three seconds. The air first passes through the windpipe and into the larger air passageways of the lung. At this stage, the air is warmed to body temperature and humidified. It is also cleaned of dust by tiny hairs called cilia located on the walls of all the passageways. After that, the air enters several hundred million tiny pockets called aveoli which are each about 1/10 of an inch wide. There oxygen is absorbed into the blood stream and carbon dioxide is expelled. The total surface area of all the aveoli in one set of lungs is about 750 square feet, or a room about 27 feet on each side. If all of the capillaries that surround the alveoli were unwound and laid end to end, they would extend for about 620 miles. This is about the distance by road between New York City and Detroit, Michigan.
We cannot live more than about five minutes without breathing.
At this time, human engineers are not able to replace lung function artificially. Certain types of heart-lung machines may be able to keep a patient alive in intensive care for several weeks. Due to the high technical demands, cost, and risk of complications this is usually only considered as a last resort while the patient is awaiting surgery or transplant.
Let’s pause once in a while, when we are otherwise bored and idle, and think about breathing. Breathe consciously. Enjoy the beautiful life giving air and the amazing machinery God has placed in our chests. Praise God for the miracle of each breath.
[As an aside: Don’t smoke. You’re ruining a beautiful part of creation – your lungs.]
Posted by jewish philosopher at 9:44 AM