When A Cut Finger Leads to Scientific Amazement

23 07 2010

It is a wonderful experience to be amazed by the natural world and at the same time understand it scientifically. I cut my finger at a rest stop yesterday. Because we had a long drive following the stop, I had the opportunity to watch the wound healing process in action.

First, the amazement. It is spectacular that my body can repair itself from a myriad of injuries and attacks. Really – wow.

Second, the science. As soon as I cut myself, my blood vessels constricted to restrict blood flow to my finger. Platelets flooded the area, clumping together and plugging the torn vessel. Next, clotting proteins formed a net to keep the platelet plug in place, and bleeding stopped. But my body wasn’t done yet. To stave off infection, my constricted blood vessels dilated, bringing a flood of white blood cells to the scene to kill off any germs that may have gotten in.

But wait, I still have a weird scab! Over the next week or two my body will focus on making new skin, with new capillaries forming under the scab and skin migrating under the scab to form scar tissue. All that from a small cut.

Cool, right? (Yes!) But to me, the coolest thing is that this all happens without me trying or even thinking about it. And we’re back to the amazement – the body’s healing mechanisms are… amazing!

posted by jayhorowitz




One response

25 07 2010

cool. i think this is one of my favorite of your posts…it’s nice that you stopped to appreciate the workings of the body.
see you in an hour! 🙂

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