Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Liver: A Miracle of Engineering

Each of us has embedded in our bodies a God given chemical factory, so complex that it cannot be reproduced by human engineers. This factory is working unnoticed every moment, eliminating poisons and creating vital nutrients.

An adult human liver normally weighs between 1.4-1.6 kg (3.1-3.5 lb), and is a soft, pinkish-brown, triangular organ. Averaging about the size of an American football in adults, it is the largest internal organ in the human body. The liver lies on the right side of the abdominal cavity beneath the diaphragm. The lower part of the rib cage covers the liver, protecting it from injury.

The liver is necessary for survival; there is currently no way to compensate for the absence of liver function. There is no artificial organ or device capable of emulating all the functions of the liver. If a person's liver does fail, a device the size of a small cabinet can keep him alive for a few days. That is the most human engineers can currently do to replicate the liver.

One and a half liters of blood pass through the liver every minute and the liver holds 13% of the body's blood at any given time. (This explains why Jews must broil chicken or beef liver. Jews may not eat blood. Due to liver's high blood content, salting is not sufficient to draw out the blood. Liver can be koshered only by a special broiling process.)

The liver contributes to more than 500 vital functions in the body.

The liver's four most important tasks are:

1. Purification: changing harmful chemicals and toxins to harmless substances and eliminates them.

2. Synthesis: takes the simple building blocks of food to syntheize complex substances.

3. Storage: sugars, fats and vitamins are stored until needed by the body.

4. Transformation: the essential building blocks are changed to be use in other ways by the body.

This miracle of divine engineering is silently working away every moment of our lives. We could not survive more than a few hours without it. Let's spend a little time contemplating this immense gift from God and grow in our love for Him.


Alex said...

Sometimes a person can get cancer of the liver or cirrhosis, and thus there's nothing to thank God about.

(just being facetious)

Great post, JP!

Abe said...

Not only do I thank god for my liver, I also deliver daily praise to him for my diseased, cleft palate, colitis, cataracts, gallbladder,astigmatism, bell's palsy, dyslexia, leukemia, nephrosis, phlebitis, scoliosis,testicular cancer, fungal infections, altitude sickness and too many more too numerous to mention.
I was smitten with all the aforementioned after I began drinking unfilterted NYC tap water and non-cholov yisroel milk. So I decided to return the favor and became an atheist.
I don't know if I'll be afflicted with OCD, since that is usualy reserved for Orthodox fundies, but I'm ready for anything the holy one on high has ready for me.

jewish philosopher said...

Abe, that's nothing. Suffering here is just tough love.

Your real payback will be eternal damnation.

Let's hope you get there as fast as possible.

Alex said...

Umm, JP, perhaps you momentarily forgot the story of Beruriah and Meir in Brachos 10a?

jewish philosopher said...

That's story says "highwaymen" not "heretics".

bankman said...

this reminds me of the banana guy. Look how awesome god is, that he created this perfect banan for me


Alex said...

"That's story says "highwaymen" not "heretics"."

How do we know it means ONLY highwaymen? (By the v'lamalshinim prayer?)

Besides, maybe Abe is just a tinok shenishba who got carried away. Just sayin'.

Still, the liver is a fantastic piece of engineering. Abe, complain to God for all your medical faults, but at least thank Him for the parts that work.

jewish philosopher said...

"How do we know it means ONLY highwaymen?"

That's exactly why she responds the way she does.

According to Maimonides (Laws of Murderer and Protection of Soul, 4:14-15):

Heretics, that is, Jews who do not believe in the Torah or in prophecy -- it is a commandment to kill them. If one can kill them with a sword in public he should, and if not -- he should act against them with cunning until he causes them to be killed. How? If he sees one of them fallen into a well and there is a ladder in the well, first he should remove the ladder and say, 'I must take my son down off the roof, I'll bring it back' or something like that.

jewish philosopher said...

"this reminds me of the banana guy. Look how awesome god is, that he created this perfect banan for me"

Right, your mindless god evolution made the liver and everything else in the universe. ROFLOL!!

bankman said...

you do realize that the banan guy was a laughingstock, right?

you are too

in the liver case, evolution actually makes sense....

jewish philosopher said...

Sure. All the world's top scientists working together are not smart enough to make an artificial liver. If your liver fails and you can't get a transplant you're dead, period.

But chemicals just became a liver all by themselves. "Evolution did it" and evolution has no mind and therefore can't ask you to do anything and you owe it nothing.

That's not a joke. That's insanity.


Anonymous said...

please. what do you mean by engineering?

jewish philosopher said...

Engineering is the profession of applying technical, scientific and mathematical knowledge to design and implement materials, structures, machines, devices, systems, and processes that realize a desired objective.

Divine engineering is clearly evident in the liver.

Anonymous said...

There is a growing field called biomimickry. Engineers are studying organisms to get ideas for good designs. The bumps onthe leading edge of a right whale's flippers make for ideal water flow. Now scientists are building wind turbines with bumps on the leading edge. Engineers copied a box fish to desing a prefectly streamlined car. A desalinization plant was built by copying a beetle's carapice. Now, I understand that the surface of the lily is a perfect self cleaning surface, but the engineers are having trouble copying it. And the same with the adhesive pads on the gecko's feet. So evolution is smarter than scientists. Come to think of it, that isn't too ridiculous.

jewish philosopher said...

If evolution is smart, then it's intelligent design. In other words, God.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the last anonymous was me, Nathan.

Alex said...

Either God engineered it, or nature did.
(What the heck does "nature engineered" something even mean?! Somehow it doesn't bother LiveScience:

Nature Engineers Perfect Balance

"While most of our body parts continue their evolutionary quest for improvement, the portion of our inner ear responsible for balance may already have achieved perfection."

Oh, now nature is on a quest. Cool!

Abe said...

...Besides, maybe Abe is just a tinok shenishba who got carried away. Just sayin'...

That's correct, and so is every yeshiva bochur and girl who's been indoctrinated into the absurd
fundie sacraments. I and a few of my enlightned compatriots consider ourselves fortunate that we were saavy enough to see through the fundie nonsense.
But there is hope for the tinokim shenisbaim whose minds still remain shackled to ortho-fundie dogma. No longer need they be held hostage by controling fundie propoganda -- the internet is a liberating tool that offers opportunities to liberate their sanity form their existential misery.
For those of us that have been fortunate to be emancipated from straight-jacketed orthodoxy, we say that, but for the grace of god's non-existence, there go I.

jewish philosopher said...

"to liberate their sanity form their existential misery"

We're happier than you.

"but for the grace of god's non-existence"

You believe in a god too. You just call it evolution.

Anonymous said...

Scientists are looking into DNA computing. It seems that DNA is a better information processing system than silicon. Pretty good for something mindless.

Alex said...

Anonymous, given a few sextillion years and infinite universes, I can see all that happening by mindless causes.

Wow, it was hard to type that with a straight face.

Anonymous said...

"We're happier than you."

Certainly you are familiar with the famed quip of George Bernard Shaw.

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact than a drunken man is happier than a sober one."

He was officially a non-sectarian agnostic, himself, not an "atheist" as personally professed.

jewish philosopher said...

We're more sober too.

Anonymous said...

Is a drunk really happier? Or does he just not realize how unhappy he is?

Anon1 said...

"Yeshiva student murdered over halachic ruling",7340,L-3774558,00.html

But I guess they must have actually been closet atheists.

jewish philosopher said...

You have to know what the whole story is. For example, I've never heard of "Rabbi Amos Gueta", unless that's a misspelling.

bankman said...

JP - i see steve jobs at Apple got a new liver in a transplant....I wonder if there will be a day when we can actually make a synthetic the heart - who knows.

Also, Jobs is alive because of an organ donor. Do you have an opinion on donating organs? Apparently the 20 yr old donor, died in a car accident. Pikuach nefesh! I hope the donor is jewish, what a kiddush hashem!

jewish philosopher said...

We still don't have a usable mechanical heart.

I think donating kidneys is allowed because it doesn't shorten the life of the donor.

Anonymous said...

I heard that Rabbi Gueta's Yeshiva doubles as a homeless shelter. So the murderers might have just wandered of the street. The article does say that the three people involved were known to the police.

And the Halachic problem with organ donations is that the donor is still alive. He might be brain dead, but that is not the same as dead.

jewish philosopher said...

"But I guess they must have actually been closet atheists."

Well, actually the murder victim and the two suspects all attended the Kolel Yeshiva in the city, which takes in newly religious young people with a history of crime, as part of an effort to rehabilitate violent offenders.

The Prison Rehabilitation Authority helped pioneer a program under which well behaved offenders are released two-thirds into their prison sentences to centers around the country, such as religious learning centers.

"The background is a dispute over living space in their dorms," a police source told The Jerusalem Post. "This dispute has been going on for two days. It turns out a previous fight broke out two days ago, but that was not reported to police," the source added.

The source dismissed a Ynet report which claimed the fight was linked to a "Halachic disagreement."

One suspect is known to police due to previous violent offences, the source said. "The murder victim was accused of behaving badly towards his attackers," he added.

Alex said...

Y'mean the Torah doesn't quickly reform a convict into a tzaddik? Sheesh!

Anon1 said...

The bottom line: criminals are criminals, believers are believers, and one doesn't have to do with the other.

jewish philosopher said...

"The bottom line: criminals are criminals, believers are believers, and one doesn't have to do with the other."

I'd rather be a believer than a criminal, personally.