The human body is a miracle in itself. A unique example of being everything from a process plant to a machine, it not only produces, but is also the end-user of the produce. The raw materials and the end products vary with the needs of the user. This product of nature can transfer and transmute every form of energy to every other form. It is a process plant, heat and mass transfer equipment, and a limitless machine with limitless functions. It can multitask or transmute all the energies to concentrate on one task. If we understand even a few of the miraculous functions of the body and mind, the knowledge can help in solving critical problems in every field.
An engineer’s logic applied to the human body and a doctor’s knowledge to a machine, could lead to new insights to both, engineering and medicine. The brain is a control room, the stomach – a continuous churning reactor, the heart – a pump, blood is the fluid circulating and balancing the heat and mass in the body, as in a plant. For both, the human body and a process plant, air and water are essential fluids. Then come primary fluids such as blood and reactants, respectively.
Playing the role of a reactor, the stomach digests food. Digestion is the breakdown of large insoluble food molecules into small water-soluble food molecules so that they can be absorbed into the watery blood plasma and carried through the bloodstream.
There are seven main classes of nutrients the body needs. These are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water. Digestion is a form of catabolism, the breaking-down aspect of metabolism. Catabolism is divided into two processes, based on how food is broken down: mechanical and chemical digestion. Mechanical digestion refers to the physical breakdown of large pieces of food into smaller pieces, which can subsequently be accessed by digestive enzymes. In chemical digestion, enzymes break down food into the small molecules the body can use (enzymes are the catalysts we know in chemical engineering). These are the instant energy molecule known as Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that captures chemical energy, circulated to fuel other cellular process.
The circulatory system, called cardiovascular system, transport nutrients (such as amino acids and electrolytes), oxygen, carbon dioxide, hormones and blood cells to and from the cells in the body to provide nourishment and help in fighting diseases, stabilise temperature and pH, and maintain homeostasis.
Every fluid in your body needs to circulate for the soundness of your mind and body. It is imperative that all pipelines be in free flow at all times; be it in a process plant or in your body.
The tiniest part of the body has numerous cells controlled by one part of the brain, which we generally keep unnecessarily occupied with our anxiety. Similar to running a country where most of the energy is taken up by the conflicts of religion, media and financial institutions. The brain also runs an army of white blood cells forming the immune system to combat both infectious disease and foreign invaders.
The body has a trillion cells, and each cell is an instant energy producer. Haemoglobin, the protein inside red blood cells, carries oxygen – the energy of life – to individual cells. This causes each cell to act instantly like an instant combustible engine. The speed of our reflexes is a result of this process.
The combustion in the body due to oxygen raises the temperature of the blood inside the veins for the bones to be energetic and the body to remain at normal body temperature. The human body is also a most effective heat exchanger, how else does the body temperature remain normal throughout the world from the poles to the equator. Moreover Like a process plant, the body needs heat and mass balancing to function.
Just as the blood pressure in the human body depends on the lipid profile (cholesterol HDL, LDL, etc.), the pressure drops in Shell & Tube Exchangers increase due to the fouling/deposits/sediments, thereby decreasing the overall efficiency in the system.
Air, water and food are the raw material inputs. Sweat, urine and faeces are the waste. The outputs are the physical and mental energies, like the products of various processes in a plant. This energy is generated from combustion of the nutrients and carried in the blood with the help of oxygen, much like fluids in a process plant. This heat energy gets converted to mechanical energy, which enables movement of different body parts.
The human body is perfectly designed, it need not be dismantled for servicing. All its joints are seamless, flexible and rigid. In engineering, we still have to advance to this stage because, instead of learning from nature, we try to defy it. We struggle to produce a joint that is both rigid and flexible, and have to make do with joints that are fused and need to be opened to service, or ones with nuts and bolts.
In any process plant several parameters (e.g. pressure, temperature and flow rates) are monitored and controlled by a system consisting of instrumentation, actuators and control valves. If any parameter move out of the set limits, a signal is automatically received at the control unit, which then sends a signal to take appropriate control action. For example, if the pressure at some point in the system rises and reaches the set limit, a signal goes to the control unit, which in turn sends a signal to open the appropriate valve to bring down the pressure to within the set limit. Such signals are electrical or electronic in nature, transmitted through cabling, wiring or pneumatic tubing.
The human body has a similar control system in the form of the nervous system. For example, if you are running, a signal goes to brain that certain parts of body (in this case, leg muscles) require more oxygen. The signal from the brain, initiates actions such as the lungs inhaling more air through faster breathing, and the heart starts pumping more blood, leading to an increased pulse rate. On the other hand, if you are lying down calmly, the intake of air and pulse rate drops drastically to the desired level.
A reflex action is also triggered by the nervous system. If a sudden external stimulus is received (e.g. a finger touches a hot object), the nervous system sends a signal to the brain, which immediately sends a signal to the hand muscles to withdraw from the hot object. The signal in the body are mainly electrical, through the nerves/neurons. Likewise, in a process plant, an external stimulus (e.g. tripping of the main power supply) activates an automatic signal to switch to an alternative power source.
In similar fashion, other organs in the body can be compared to parts of a process plant. The lungs function as air compressors or blowers, the intestines as plug flow bio-reactors, the gall bladder/pancreas as small enzyme-producing reactors with storage tanks/dosing pumps, and kidneys as filters.
Emotional energy is however beyond the scope of what we can do presently with a chemical plant or anything worldly. Artificial Intelligence will govern the plant like the mind governs all the faculties of the body, without any abuse. Any component not working optimally will be detected and replaced.
The spiritual energy, purity and the positive energy is from the right side of the brain that cannot be replicated. However, the left side of the brain is worldly logic, which can be replaced with Artificial Intelligence. The left side of the brain will be used to leverage Artificial Intelligence, which will cater to the whims and fancies of the right side of the brain.
Why do we seek miracles when our body is one? The more we understand it, the more we are fascinated by it.
Copyright © 2020 Haresh Sippy
(This article is subject to copyright.)