January 13, 2008

Amazing Scientific Discovery Goes Unnoticed

Amid the brouhaha over Britney Spears and the hysteria over Hillary Clinton, a huge scientific breakthrough has been made, almost totally unnoticed.Scientists now think they know what our appendix is for.

For a long time, scientists have told us that the appendix, that dangling dongle in our lower right abdomen that no one thinks about for years until it bursts and almost kills us, had no purpose. How could we have been so gullible? The human body is a triumph of form following function. Everything on our bodies has a purpose (ok, maybe not nipples on a man, but everything else). As Elaine says on one "Seinfeld" episode, "A man's body is utilitarian. It's for gettin' around. It's like a Jeep."

Even our cocyx has a purpose. It's a vestigial tailbone from early in our fetal development, when all mammals, even humans, have tails. Or, for you non-evolution-believing religious nuts out there, the cocyx is known as Adam's Pogo Stick, on which Adam bounced his way out of the Garden of Eden with that serpent hot on his, uh, tail.

So last October, with little or no fanfare, scientists at Duke University Medical School came up with what they think is the answer to the question no one was asking: what the hell is our appendix for, other than to sometimes burst, causing great pain and huge medical bills?

These scientists now say that the appendix is a factory that produces "good" bacteria in our digestive systems.

That's right, along with "good" cholesterol, we need "good" bacteria, and, before the invention of Yoplait yogurt, our bodies produced this "good" bacteria in our appendix.

According to the Duke scientists, the reason why the appendix was thought to be useless is that it is needed primarily to produce good bacteria when diseases such as cholera and dysintery wipe out such bacteria from our bodies, and these diseases are mostly extinct in the developed nations where most scientific research takes place. Or, as Elaine would say, if the Jeep ain't broke, don't fix it.

It seems to me that we owe the appendix a huge apology. We have ignored it for hundreds of years, ranking it at the bottom of the list of Important Organs, well below the heart, lungs, kidneys and naughty bits.

I, for one, am glad that one more mystery of the human body has apparently been solved. Now, will someone please tell me what the hell my spleen and gall bladder are for?


At 3:08 PM, Blogger globalchameleon said...

And that dangly thing in the back of one's throat, too

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

I actually hope I never have a reason to feel the sensation of any of these auxiliary parts that usually don't interfere. It's probably like the situation with DNA, where there are lots of leftovers from times past, you know before we evolved (or are we not supposed to use the E word?)

Who knows? Maybe evolution will actually go in a direction that calls these things back into active duty. That would really be planning ahead, yes?

BTW, here's something for GC that I gleaned off the Internet (who can vouch for its authenticity?):

That "dangly thing at the back of your throat," sort of between your tonsils, is called the uvula. It's part of the soft palate, a structure that helps make up the vocal tract. Although the uvula is used to make certain sounds in other languages (though not in English), its exact function remains unknown. Even otolaryngologists, medical professionals who specialize in the ears, nose, and throat, still ponder this mysterious little appendage.

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Susan said...

Wow, thanks for that science lesson. Hey, I thought it was the epiglotis (sp?), which definitely serves a purpose to separate the trachea from esophagus, so your food doesn't go down your windpipe. Whew! That's a lot of anatomy for one day.

At 12:04 AM, Blogger media concepts said...

Who is Susan? Not me! This is wack! I, Media Concepts, posted the previous comment and this one too on my old desktop, while my laptop sits on the disabled list with a broken screen. Maybe it's still running Blogger v.1. But who the hell is Susan? George's dead fiance? Didn't she die from bad bacteria from those wedding invite envelopes?

At 7:18 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

This is hilarious! Blogger is taking on a life of its own attributing comments to random people we don't know. Maybe in your next life you will be missing all those unused parts and be named Susan...

At 9:48 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

I guess she'll be the one with a bad appendix, peeled skin, and, uh, hangnails. Not someone I'd like to date!


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