Neurons: Cells that Produce Electrical Current

By A. O.

Neurons: Cells that Produce Electrical Current

The task of most neurons is to receive signals from neighboring neurons and then to transmit these on to another adjacent neuron or to the ultimate target cell

The task of most neurons is to receive signals from neighboring neurons and then to transmit these on to another adjacent neuron or to the ultimate target cell

Nerves interpenetrating our bodies consist of hundreds, and sometimes, thousands of nerve cells called “neurons.” An average neuron is 10 microns wide. (One micron is equal to 1/1000 millimeter, which equals 0.000039 of an inch.)

Were we able to line up the 100 billion neurons in a human brain, their line would extend for a full 100 kilometers (62 miles).

But this line would be only 10 microns wide, invisible to the naked eye. You can envisage the minute size of neurons with the following comparison: 50 neurons would fit into a period at the end of this sentence and 30,000 on the head of a pin.

Neurons have been created to carry the electrical impulses throughout the body. The task of most neurons is to receive signals from neighboring neurons and then to transmit these on to another adjacent neuron or to the ultimate target cell. Neurons communicate with one another, carrying out thousands of these processes every second.

We can compare a neuron to an electrical switch that goes on or off, depending on circumstances. On its own, a neuron constitutes only a very small part of the interconnected circuits of the nervous system. But in the absence of these tiny electrical circuits, life is impossible. Professor Werner Gitt of the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology describes this giant complex squeezed into this small area:

If it were possible to describe [the nervous system] as a circuit diagram, [with each neuron] represented by a single pinhead, such a circuit diagram would require an area of several kilometers. . . . [It would be] several hundred times more complex than the entire global telephone network.

As he emphasizes, the nervous system in our bodies functions like a very complex data network, which depends on all the neurons performing their duties to perfection. With the rhythmic, coordinated motion of the impulses from one neuron to the next, each organ, muscle, joint, system and cell performs its functions without any conscious command or supervision from you.

Moreover, although millions of cells die in your body every day, these are expelled from your body in a way that causes no disruption to its balances and functions. Again by means of an impeccable system, new cells replace the ones that have died. In this, there is not the slightest error in terms of timing or measurement. We have no control over these activities, and continue to enjoy healthy lives so long as none of them suffer any disruption.

If you tread on a piece of broken glass while walking barefoot, only a few thousandths of a second elapse between the glass entering your foot and your brain perceiving the pain. During that interval—so brief that it is impossible for you to be aware of it—a message is sent from your foot to your brain, a rapid and flawless communication carried out by neurons. In this way, you lift your foot off the ground before it can be injured any further.

It is completely beyond the bounds of possibility for such a system to have developed spontaneously. However, certain circles who blindly support the theory of evolution seek to account for this perfect order in the human body in terms of random coincidences. We can show just how meaningless these claims are with the following example:

Look at the electrical devices around you, each of which has been specially designed with plastic and electronic equipment, buttons, cables and other components for a specific objective that will make your life easier. Dozens of engineers have worked behind the scenes for a single hairdryer, along with the use of various plants, several branches of science and the designs of experts in the field. The result was a device that’s functional and easy to use. No rational person could logically suggest that such a device came into being as the result of chance.

Your body, however, possesses an electrical system far more complex than that in any electrical device. The odds against such a system coming into being by chance are therefore still more infinitesimally remote.

Neurons Specially Created to Carry Signals

All neurons contain a nucleus, short fibers known as dendrites that carry electrical signals, and a long fiber known as axon that carries signals for long distances. The nerve cell, which can be as fine as silk thread, can be as long as roughly 1 meter (3,2 feet). Signals sometimes must travel even greater distances along the nerves.

It’s fair to liken the body of the neuron to a telephone switchboard equipped with advanced technology. However, with its cellular dimensions varying between 0.004 and 0.1 millimeters (0.0001575 and 0.003937 of an inch) and wide-ranging communication mechanisms, this miniaturized telephone exchange has no equivalent in the modern world. In contrast to other cells, neurons contain both dendrites and axons, which give rise to lines of communication that permit the cell to pass its signals along to others. Dendrites receive messages, and axons send them.

A neuron can send an impulse in as little as 1/1,000 of a second. This means that a single neuron can transmit 1,000 nerve signals a second. In general, however, transmission may range between 10 and 500 impulses per second. The largest and thickest nerve fibers transmit electricity at a speed of 152 meters (500 feet) per second, and the thinnest of them at about 1 meter (3 feet) a second.  Information is transmitted without impairment inside the neuron and forwarded to the correct destination in a most astonishing way. However, the speed at which these phenomena take place is no less astonishing.

Imagine that all the complex systems in your body exist, but that the data transmission in your nerve cells is slower than it actually is: Only hours after the event could you appreciate the beauty of a view, the taste of the food you ate, or that something you touched was hot enough to burn your fingers. You would need dozens of minutes to reply to a question put to you. Crossing from one side of the street to another, or driving, lifting a fork to your mouth, commenting on an article of clothing you like, and countless other forms of behavior could lengthen into situations seriously incompatible with your lifestyle, or which even endangered your life. Lapses in timing between an event you perceive and being able to speak might make life untenable.

Furthermore, this example only considers actions that we undertake voluntarily. The body also performs activities outside our conscious control, such as the beating of the heart. Any slowing in the signals regarding these functions would have fatal consequences. However, through the blessing of our Lord, the Compassionate and Merciful, everything in the human body is just as it needs to be.

In one verse of the Qur’an it is revealed that Allah has created all things in their proper measure:

“Allah knows what every female bears and every shrinking of the womb and every swelling. Everything has its measure with Him.” (Ar-Ra`d 13:8)


Source: The Miracle of Electricity in the Body by Harun Yahya.

A. O. is a Turkish writer and author.



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