It might be the light bulb, television, computer, fan and similar things that would come first to our mind when we hear the word electricity. A form of energy, electricity is defined as the flow of electrons. It was one of the revolutionary discoveries in the world history that changed the course of the world. But long before Michael Faraday built the dynamo, there had been electricity – in our own bodies.
Though it may seem hard to believe, a better part of our body functions are carried out using electricity. Our brains can’t work without electricity. The brain sends messages to various parts of our body in the form of electric signals.
As I said earlier, electricity is the flow of electrons. It is the same principle that works behind the electricity in our body as well, although in our body, the charge is jumping from one point to another. The electricity in our body is generated from chemical sources. The human body is made up of billions of atoms. The elements we consume all have such atoms which consist of positively charged protons, negatively charged electrons and the uncharged neutrons.
The cells in our body are negatively charged in general. It is due to the imbalance between potassium and sodium ions inside and outside the cell. The electricity is produced by a mechanism called sodium-potassium gate. In their rest state, the cells have a greater number of potassium ions than sodium ions inside, and there are more sodium ions outside. The inside of the cell stays negatively charged because the potassium ions are negative. Since sodium ions are positive, the area immediately outside the cell membrane would be positive. This charge difference is too small to produce electricity and the cells continue in a rest.
However, when body needs to send a message from one point to another, the sodium-potassium gate opens. Thus, the sodium and potassium ions are able to move freely into and out of the cell and they do. The negative potassium ions leave the cell, attracted to the positive charge outside the cell membrane, and the sodium ions enter the cell towards negative charge. This movement results in a switch in the concentrations of the two ions and it generates an electrical impulse. This impulse triggers the gate on the next cell to open, like a chain reaction. This is the way the electrical impulse travels from one part of the body to another.
The electricity generated through this way is what controls the working of our heart, nervous system and so on.
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