Let me start by narrating the conversation that eruptd this discussion. The conversation happened between a physiologist and a biochemist and started by the signaling question from the biochemist, the question that became the title of this write-up; between electrical signal and water, which is most needed for survival?
As an experienced student of physiology, the answer was water without any hesitation. The first point to justify his statement is the verse of the Qur’an; ‘’verily we have created man from Nutfah drops of mixed semen….’’ The second point was based on the body physiology –homeostasis. Water is essential to maintain a constant body internal environment and a disturbance to the water balance may lead to serious problems which may result to death. This point sounds so encapsulating and for some seconds I was found wanting.
Our God is so marvelous in His work. He created man and has provided him with everything he needs to survival. The creation is from ‘a drop of water’ and the creature is also made of about 60% water. Inside this water the machinery needed for existence is submerged. The arch-aphorism is that water is life- this saying has rendered water to be viewed and perceived as a sine qua non and has garnered megalomania to this entity- water. One cannot refute that; it is the Lord’s doing.
Nevertheless, life is an intricate mesh work of chemical processes that require water as their medium. Life also seems impossible without them. One of such processes is electrical signaling. We perceive odour, we can read this piece, we listen to our lecturers and when your friend touches you, you feel their presence. Believe me biochemistry has made us to understand that these processes are mediated by chemical signaling which create an electrical signal that is being sent to your brain. When you hear the cataclysmic sound of earthquake, your muscles contract and take a flight- this is one the functions electrical signaling does in our body.
May be you have been to a mortuary and experienced the stiffness of cadaver; it is a result of stoppage in the sensory mechanisms that brings about its contraction.
I have come to realize the importance of elementary physics when we were taught that a simple mechanical rotation of a turbine is what powers the whole of Nigeria. This is the mechanism by which you can hear your lecturer in class. The ear is the auditory organ of man, it comprises of three portions, the outer, middle and inner ear. The auricle focuses the sound wave (Ade) to the middle part where vibration is generated and transmitted to the inner ear. The inner has in it the auditory tissue cochlea which is made of hair cells bearing hairy organelles called stereocillia. The vibration from the middle hear causes these stereocillia to move causing the generation of gradient across the membrane of these cells and the signal is passed by nerve cells to the auditory receptors in the brain. Now you can distinguish the sound –Ade from that of Fatimah. This is so intriguing! Imagine what happens if this mechanism fails.
This is just a tip of an ice berg amidst the plethora of processes mediated by electrical signaling in our body. Of course water is indispensable to life, but it is not only water that does it. It is a collaboration of the environment- water and the intricate meshwork of reactions. Why the overbearingness?