“The human features and countenance, although composed of some ten parts or a little more, are so fashioned that among so many thousands of men there are no two in existence who cannot be distinguished from one another.
Book 7, Sect 8.” Pliny the Elder, AD 23-79.
Variability is the law of life,” Sir William Osler.
Individuality of Biological Units
In the previous section, Units to Unity, the importance of each biological unit – be it cell, tissue, or organ – was described as a function of its joining with other units to form a larger whole. Given this description and the discussion of the ‘pride’ of the atom or cell it would seem that the individuality of each biological unit should be considered subordinate to its role in the group dynamic. However, it is important to understand that the unique characteristics of the individual unit are, in fact, critical to the proper functioning of the whole that they construct and must not be devalued. For instance, it is the great diversity of cellular structures and morphology in the body that allows for a vast array of tissues and organs, each with a distinct and critical physiologic function. Without the uniqueness of the individual cell such functional diversity would not be possible.
86093pb02.800 brick wall outside Newton North High School Newton Mass respect individuality respect diversity respect the group units to unity Courtesy Ashley Davidoff MD Davidoff photography
|A old woman with a red scarf on her head in Drakensberg South Africa Courtesy Ashley DAvidoff MD 02729p code woman old age red Davidoff photography|
Like many other concepts introduced thus far, such as links and connections and units to unity, uniqueness applies not only to biology, but also to human populations and society at large. It is common knowledge, for example, that each person is the result of his/her unique genetic make-up and social experiences. In this way, every human being, like the woman pictured above, is unique and able to offer something different to his/her culture and society. It is here that we encounter the paradoxical relationship between the individual and the group that was discussed above with respect to biology: uniqueness and individuality actually have the capacity to strengthen the group dynamic rather than compromise it. Among humans this is largely reflected by the calls of civil rights activists to respect diversity, if not to fulfill the individual’s right to respect then to foster and maintain cohesive communities. Indeed, the words “united we stand, divided we fall” have often been used to inspire and motivate Americans to unite in spite of and in celebration of their differences. Thus, whether one is discussing cells, tissues, or people their uniqueness as units comprising a larger whole must be continually recognized and respected. The images below are arranged to convey just that.
The cell is the building block of all biological structure. In this image a few polygonal cells of the liver are attached together. Each cell has a central dark nucleus which is embedded in a pinkish cytoplasm. The nucleus takes up approximately 1/5 to 1/6 of the volume of the cell. (Image courtesy of Barbara Banner M.D.) 13440
Small Cell Carcinoma of the lung Pleural fluid cytology preparation showing group of dark blue cells with scant cytoplasm consistent with small cell carcinoma. Courtesy Armando Fraire MD. 32825 code lung pulmonary pleura neoplasm malignant malignancy primary lung small cell carcinoma cytopathology
The cells of the liver are organized in cords and plates and are organized like spokes of a wheel around the central vein. The plates and cords are lined by the sinusoids which are the channels which carry blood to the liver. Just below the sinusoids, between the wall of the sinusoid and the capsule of the liver there is a space called the space of Disse which carries the lymphatic fluid of the liver. (Image courtesy
The sinusoids and hepatic cords combine to form a liver lobule which is a functional and structural unit of the liver. At the center of the lobule is the central vein from which emanate many cords of liver tissue. At the periphery of the lobule there are 4-5 groups of portal triads consisting of distal branches of the portal vein (dark blue), hepatic artery (red) and biliary radicle (green). They create the border of the lobule.
(Image courtesy of Ashley Davidoff M.D.) 13009 W
The lobules of the liver combine to form lobes. The liver has two lobes. In this anatomical specimen the right lobe is seen on the left side of the image lateral to the stone containing gallbladder, while the left lobe is seen with the branching portal triad surrounded by the whitened connective tissue. on the right side of the image. (Image courtesy of Ashley Davidoff M.D.) 13456
|45920.800 Courtesy Ashley Davidoff MD|
|49609c02 abdomen health disease normal obese morbid obesity order disorder Davidoff MD|
|82835p.800b01 couple nude man woman TCV oneness Davidoff art|
|A collage of some of the people of South Africa. In this image there is a slight male predominance. Davidoff photography. 57728c|
|06303p.800 Peru community people farmland voting polls town meeting Davidoff photography Davidoff MD|
|61855 Boston Zakim bridge government centre nucleus Davidoff photography 57695.800 gold mine shaft outskirts of Johannesburg city historical special function Davidoff photography|
|Map of Europe showing with Sweden in red. There is a high incidence of sarcoidosis in the Swedish population. 54454 Image from infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/atlas/ 54454|
|54954 Courtesy of NASA – National Space Science Data Center|