Day 346. Tree

In July 2013 on July 23, 2013 at 10:07 am


Educator and science communicator George Aranda (on twitter as @PopSciGuyAus) prompted me to use the word TREE to write approximately 100 words from my own science perspective.

Here goes:

As I stand at the base of the tree and look up, I see branching.

The solid trunk splits to become several arms, and then branches of smaller and smaller diameter spread towards the sky. Finally, small twigs – the most numerous of the woody tree elements – form the perimeter of the tree. The aim of the branching is to give every single leaf on that tree the best opportunity to become exposed to light, hence fuelling the growth of the tree overall. The leaves also absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and release oxygen as a waste product of photosynthesis.

Picture an image of a perfectly formed tree, and now flip it 180 degrees. This is what your lungs look like. The trachea leads from your voice box down into the chest, then branches twice and then further to form passageways of smaller and smaller dimensions. Bronchi give way to become bronchioles, and then finally alveoli. The alveoli are the leaves. But instead of access to light, these teeny tiny pockets are all about access to blood. Across microscopic cell membranes, oxygen crosses from the air in the alveoli to your blood, and carbon dioxide from your blood crosses back to be breathed out.

Trees have been called the lungs of the world due to their production of oxygen. But the two structures also have a design element in common.

{word count – 230} 

[image thanks to bptakoma on flickr]

  1. I feel like a special guest. I will try to get my own version done soon. I like your article, nice combination of images.

    I like the idea of TREE as it can be used in so many ways in science.

    – dendritic tree
    – classification tree
    – petrified trees
    – trees as a home
    – trees and their use in wood
    – branching in a river, in the blood stream, in the lungs
    – forest
    – ecosystem
    – smallest/biggest tree

    …so many options 🙂

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