Home
Mobile version
spiked plus
About spiked
What is spiked?
Support spiked
spiked shop
Contact us
Advertising
Summer school
Top issues
Abortion
Arab uprisings
British politics
Child abuse panic
Economy
Environment
For Europe, Against the EU
Free speech
Jimmy Savile scandal
Nudge
Obesity
Parents and kids
Population
USA
View all issues...
special feature
The Counter-Leveson Inquiry
other sections
 Letters
 Review of Books
 Monthly archive
selected authors
Duleep Allirajah
Daniel Ben-Ami
Tim Black
Jennie Bristow
Sean Collins
Dr Michael Fitzpatrick
Frank Furedi
Helene Guldberg
Patrick Hayes
Mick Hume
Rob Lyons
Brendan O’Neill
Nathalie Rothschild
James Woudhuysen
more authors...
RSS feed
survey

abc def ghi jkl mno pqrs tuv wxyz index
Survey home
Introduction
Survey responses
RSS feed
Anjana Ahuja
Julian Baggini
Philip Ball
Marlene Oscar Berman
Gustav VR Born
K Eric Drexler
Marcus Du Sautoy
Edmond H Fischer
John Hall
Tim Hunt
Wolfgang Ketterle
Leon Lederman
Matt Ridley
Raymond Tallis
Frank Wilczek
Lewis Wolpert
Stanley Feldman
emeritus professor of anaesthesia Imperial College London


Many scientific disciplines experience an Einstein like revelation when a new concept pulls many ideas together under a single, all embracing umbrella. In medicine it came with the realisation that the ultimate purpose of life was keeping the contents of the tiny drops of water within the millions of cells of our body within strict limits. All bodily functions - breathing, the circulation of blood, the detoxifying and excretory work of the liver and kidneys and the controlling action of the brain - are directed to this end. If these parameters are disturbed the cell ceases to function properly and disease results. The watery soup inside the cells has the same concentration of sodium, potassium and chloride as that believed to have been present in the oceans when life began, some 600 million years ago. The tiny content of oxygen in these cells reflects the low concentration of the gas in the atmosphere at that time.

This unifying concept was originally proposed by the French physiologist, Claude Bernard in 1853 and developed in 1929 by the Harvard professor, Walter B Cannon, in his theory of ‘homeostasis’. Today we realise that life is impossible unless we control what Bernard described as the ‘milieur interieur’. It is the real secret of life.