The body

The body

These are elements that make up the human body:

Oxygen (65%), Carbon (18%), Hydrogen (10%), Nitrogen (3%), Calcium (1.5%), Phosphorus (1.0%), Potassium (0.35%), Sulfur (0.25%), Sodium (0.15%), Magnesium (0.05%) Copper, Zinc, Selenium, Molybdenum, Fluorine, Chlorine, Iodine, Manganese, Cobalt, Iron (0.70%), Lithium, Strontium, Aluminum, Silicon, Lead, Vanadium, Arsenic, Bromine (trace amounts)

But of course the interesting thing is not what it's made up of, but how it's put together.

Life is what replicates. We're a highly complex, very large fringe species.

Most life is bacteria and other tiny things.

Of the fringe, strange types, one is called Animals. There are only really two animal groups: invertebrates and vertebrates. There's a bunch of subsections within each one- we generally care more about the vertebrates, hence our familiarity with fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals. But really these are a rarity: most species are invertebrates, especially insects.

A body is the emergent phenomena when huge colonies of cells cooperate and act as a single unit. There are four major classifications - animals, plants, fungi, and protists.

Animal bodies, like all bodies, consist of a variety of systems that supports the health and nutrition of the interior cells - like the digestive, respiratory, and immune systems, as well as the structural support and movement, i.e. the muscular-skeletal, the reproductive, senses including eyes, ears, taste, smell, and touch, for interior communication i.e. the nervous system, and finally a brain to regulate the internal environment and allow the muscular-skeletal system to respond to the outside one.

The array of variations produced from these basic systems is dizzying. This arrangement, which was largely finished by the time of the Anomalocaris after the Cambrian explosion, is still the basis of all animal life to this day, is likely to be far into the future.

These two animals are made from the same blueprint.


Plants follow a different pattern. Instead of a digestive system with intestines to break down complex foods and arteries and veins to distribute it, they have root systems that extend far into their environment to absorb their much simpler nutrition and their water directly from the ground, and phloem, the plant equivalent of arteries, to distribute it. The nutrients are used to construct elaborate fans that act as nets for sunlight and carbon dioxide, and to grow new structures to reach for ever more material. With the basics covered, plants create an endless number of creative ways of fertilising themselves with the genes of other successful individuals, and of distributing the next generation of seeds to ever more distant locations.

In areas where nutrition, water, and sunlight are abundant, great jungles grow, densely packed with all varieties of vegetation in fierce competition with each other, vying to tower over, smother, poison, or outgrow each other. In areas where one or more necessities are lacking, plant grown is sparser and hardier, often with built in structural defences like spines to protect its hard-won material. See biomes.

Fungi [I need to learn more about fungi]

Once life became multicellular, an entirely new era of rapid speed and size has begun, like an arms race that has never stopped ever since.

"You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop."

  • Rumi
  • Alternative: "You are not a drop in the universe. You are the whole universe in a drop."

Capillary action.

  • Image. Used to X. Also used outside the body to....


  • Image. Used to X. Also used outside the body to...

The Body

The Body


Say hey to Owlbert Einstein

Curator of the Big Ideas Network

Email Newsletter

Learn about the entire universe with the Discover Earth email.



Extras Thanks for reading this big idea. Join our email list ✉️ to get the latest ones in your inbox. We also offer a Patreon Membership 🏅 where you can get tons of other Discover Earth benefits.