Faculty of Science

Interesting facts in human biology

1. What would happen if long bones were solid?

Long bones are hollow, and their cross sectional shape is a circle. Engineers will confirm that this structure is difficult to bend or twist. Under load – walking, running and lifting – our bones do flex a little, but their basic shape helps to prevent them from grossly deforming or collapsing.

If the central cavity of long bones were solid, bones would be considerably heavier, requiring much larger muscles to create movement. The added weight of extra muscle would compound the problem.

If we could remodel long bones by using the same amount of bone to create a solid but thinner structure, the bone would have the same weight-bearing capacity, but its ability to resist twisting or bending would be reduced. Instead of flexing under load, thin bones would tend to fracture more easily. Another consequence would be that the fat store that currently exists in the central hollow area of long bones would need to be relocated.

Blood production, however, would continue as now, since blood is produced in tiny cavities within the bony tissue itself at the ends of long bones, rather than in the central hollow marrow.

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2. Why does an egg cell accept only one sperm?

As the first sperm traverses the structures surrounding the egg and fuses with the egg surface, it sets off a domino effect, with a chain of chemical reactions in the surrounding molecules.

The molecules change their shape and create an impenetrable meshwork, which quickly spreads to change the entire surface of the egg from its easily penetrated state. No more sperm can attach to, or penetrate this new surface structure.

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3. Which part of the eye is responsible for most refraction of light?

What is the eye's lens made of, and when does it stop growing?

  • The corneal-air interface is responsible; the lens is used for fine tuning.
  • The lens is made of layers and layers of transparent cells laid over one another like the skins of an onion.
  • These are added throughout life, so it never stops growing.

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4. What is the volume of tears on the surface of our eyes when resting?

Seven microlitres (seven one-thousandths of a millilitre).

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5. What is the most common solid tissue transplanted in the world?

The cornea.

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