The Common Vein
Ashley Davidoff MD
The Common Vein (TCV) is a project dedicated to promote the understanding of human biology from a global perspective. There is a recurring theme in all of biology that reflects the observation that the whole is bigger than the parts.
This simple equation states that when two biological units combine, the result is bigger and more powerful than the individual parts.
The Common Vein is about defining the simplicity in biology and medicine and building to its complexity.
It is about;
defining the parts that make up the whole.
identifying the bridges that connect the parts.
learning through perspectives which provide a framework from which the learning process can proceed.
understanding biology and medicine in the context of the whole.
If we start with the atom and apply the first equation, the graphic result is shown below.
The collage takes us from the proton (top left) through to element and molecule and finally to strands of DNA in the first row. The second row starts with a group of cells, advances to the tissues, to the organ which in this case is the liver.
The third row represents units2unity from the organ (liver with its connections (arteries and veins to body systems and the body.
The fourth row advances from the body to the person, couple family home community.
The last row is the village advancing to the city, state country earth and solar system.
Note the similarity between the proton and the earth, and between the atom and solar system.
13440c11.8 Davidoff art copyright 2008
Beyond the earth to the solar systems, the planets orbit around the sun with an organizational resemblance of the electrons spinning around the proton of the atom. The ongoing building of the universe from planetary bodies, provides cause to ponder about an integrated and unified system. Biology lies within this continuum.
Where does biology fit in between the atom and the solar system and universe?
The atom, the building block of all structure, is seen at the bottom while the solar system, its analog in structure , has been positioned at the top of the image. Between the two stands my daughter, Danielle, on the beaches of Newport, Rhode Island, pondering at the age of nine years where she and the rest of biology fit into the grand scheme of things.
Another artistic piece below illustrates the suggested continuum of a unified pattern
Explanation of the title – The Common Vein
The Common Vein explores the common principles that provide infrastructure to biology.
Why “vein“? In order to build, the parts have to be linked or bonded by a variety of available forces. Without the connectors of the body such as the veins, arteries, nerves and lymphatics for example, all the parts of the body would not be able to function for the common cause of providing life. In the equation 1 + 1 = 1, the “+” is the bond that brings the two parts together to create a new unit – the bigger “1”. In the context of the title – the “vein” is one of the structures in the body that bonds the parts.
Biology is the “study of life”. TCV pursues the understanding of life within the body as well as life as we see and experience it in the world around us. Subjects that are seemingly unrelated such as art, literature, poetry, dance, rugby, the big bang, gardens, religion, war, politics, urban planning, cancer, architecture, family dynamics, and romance, have a common pattern that is based in the principles of biology. Once the principles that govern life are identified and explored, the pattern becomes obvious.
The aim of the project is to provide a perspective– a place from which to look at the world and life. Providing a context for biology facilitates appreciation, understanding, and insight into the life within us and around us.
Understanding is enhanced by using similes. We comprehend when we can draw parallels in our experience. For example one can get a sense of the relationship of the cell to the body by drawing a parallel with the relationship of the brick to the building.
The Cell to the Body
Cells combine to form tissues, which combine to form organs which combine to form the body.
The Brick to the Building
Bricks combine to form a wall, which combine to form rooms which combine to form the building.
The essence of The Common Vein therefore, is to explore human biology – the units, the forces, and the bonds that drive them to become more whole. We start with a unit which is driven by a force to bond with another unit to form a larger unit which is more powerful than its component parts and seemingly more whole. Units also have to organize as they grow larger to conserve energy. Along the way impediments such as disease happens. Disease causes disorder which stalls the process of wholeness. The field of medicine attempts to reorder the system. TCV applies these perspectives specifically to biology and medicine in order to bring understanding of life – our life – your life!
Units Bonds and Forces.
There is a recurring pattern of organization in our world-
There are three major components;
units or parts that make up the whole
bonds, links, or connections that bring the parts together to wholeness with the aid of
forces or energies (often invisible) that drive the units to become more whole with a yearning of wholeness
Units, bond, and forces exist in time and space.
Matter exists in a state of order or disorder; – stability or instability
Framework for TCV
The Common Vein pursues understanding of human biology and disease. The framework of these disciplines are conceptualized into 5 tenets:
structure, function, disease, diagnosis, and treatment.
Structure deals with morphology of the biological units.
Function relates to the forces used and produced as structures work together in order to sustain life. Physiology attempts to understand how and why biology works.
Disease occurs as a result of disordered structure and function due a variety of causes.
Diagnosis is the discipline applied to finding out the structural and functional consequences of disease
Treatment is the method employed to prevent disease or try to restore structure and function to order.
Images and Imagery
For some words speak louder than the pictures., and for others a picture speaks a thousand words.
TCV is rich in imagery, and in so doing brings an artistic and creative element to transmit factual information as well as ideas
Simplicity Underlying Complexity
Within the equation E= mc2 there is complexity beyond most mortals. Within the word “heart” there is an encyclopedia of information. For the student who wants to master the knowledge base of the heart, a step-wise progressive approach from simplicity to complexity is employed. In order to understand the complexity, TCV starts with the single and simple, and progressively builds to complexity. The model is conceptually likened to an inverted cone or pyramid, where the pointed bottom end represents the single and the simple and upside down pyramid progresses to complexity both in depth and breadth.
The heart for example is defined by its structure, function, diseases and the diagnostic and therapeutic methods utilized to understand its disorders.
The definition therefore, takes the word “heart” to a sentence of information including the essence of its structure (eg muscle), function (eg pump), diseases (eg congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease) diagnosis (EKG, echocardiogram) and treatment (preventive measures, pharmaceuticals and surgery).
As the information chain advances each of these elements are expanded .
Understanding is also enhanced by using similes. We comprehend when we can draw parallels in our experience. For example one can get a sense of the relationship of the cell to the tissue by drawing a parallel of the relationship between the brick and a wall.
The essence of The Common Vein is to understand the units, the bonds and the forces that drive them to become whole.
This site is a crystallized version and updated version of thecommonvein.com .