in Nerve Cells
Imagine that you are walking bare-foot in your kitchen
and you walk on a piece of glass. The amount of time
from when you walk on the glass until you feel the pain
in your brain is only a few thousandths of a second.
This time is so short that you cannot notice it, but
during this time, a message was transmitted from your
toe to your brain. This rapid and perfect communication
was managed by nerve cells or, as they are called in
Because of the nerve cells that surround the body
like a net, messages from the brain reach the
most remote areas of the body with great speed.
This speed is due to the flawless design of the
Just look around: everything we see is designed according
to a special purpose. For example, a telephone with
its plastic and electronic parts, buttons, line and
other components, has been designed to establish communication
with other people. In the same way, the reason for the
creation of neurons is evident on first inspection.
(Of course, this requires an inspection done under an
advanced microscope.) The first thing you notice, along
with the other organelles in the cells, is the special
extensions on the neurons which resemble arms projecting
from a body; these are called axons and dendrites. It
is possible to compare a neuron with a high technology
telephone central. The size of this cellular telephone
central is only between 0.004 and 0.1 of a millimeter,
but its communication mechanism is unparalleled in the
world today. The axon and dendrites mentioned above
provide the communications lines that enable communication
with other sites.
The diameter of a neuron is on ten microns on average.
(A micron is equal to one thousandth of a millimeter)
If we could arrange the 100 billion neurons in the human
brain side by side in a line, the line (ten microns
in diameter and too small to be seen by the naked eye)
would stretch a thousand kilometers. The existence of
such an extensive communication network in a brain weighing
only 1400 grams is astonishing.
Consider these figures a little more
closely. Neurons are so small that fifty average sized
ones could fit on the period at the end of this sentence.62
It is for this reason that a great amount of what we
know about neurons has been obtained indirectly.
When we examine the communication extensions on nerve
cells, we see that on every neuron there are many dendrites
that transmit communication from other neurons to the
body of the cell. Most frequently, the function of the
single axon is to transmit the message received from
the body of the cell through the terminals and extensions.
At this point, we must point out the
special design of axons. A special covering layer called
"myelin sheath" encloses an axon. Nerve impulses are
propagated at specific points along the myelin sheath;
these points are called "the nodes of Ranvier." Research
has shown that signals jumping from node to node travel
hundreds of times faster than signals traveling along
the surface of the axon.63 The
sheath and "nodes" on the axon make it possible for
the signal to be transmitted in the most suitable and
Neurons establish communication in our bodies by a
unique method that comprises extraordinarily complex
electrical and chemical operations, ensuring flawless
coordination both in the brain and between the brain
and other organs. When you complete a simple action,
such as exploring this site, visiting its pages or running your eye through its sentences, there
is a very dense communication traffic in the nerve cells
deep within your body. Examining closely the neurons
that establish this extraordinary communication network
will help us to understand better what an important
wonder of creation they are.
Design in the Synapses
Hundreds of millions of telephone calls can be
made every moment throughout the world. Despite
this, in the brain of one individual one quadrillion
(1,000,000,000,000,000) communications can occur
between two neurons happens between connective points
called "synapses" located on the ends of the axon terminals.
Just as a telephone central allows many people to communicate
with one another at the same time, in a similar way,
a neuron can communicate with several neurons currently
through the synapses. Hundreds of millions of telephone
conversations can be made in the world at the same time.
Compared with this, it is estimated that there are one
quadrillion synapses in the human brain, all which add
up to 1,000,000,000,000,000 communications.64
This extraordinary communication is an important factor
that has led scientists to refer to the brain as "the
most complex structure in the known universe."65
We can also say this in another way:
a typical nerve cell in the human brain, for example,
harbors tens of thousands of synapses.66
This means that one neuron can establish a connection
at the same time with tens of thousands of different
nerve cells. Imagine the difficulty you would have talking
on two telephones at the same time; this feat by one
nerve cell of tens of thousands of simultaneous connections
is an example of a marvelous creation.
Until recently, the communication
junctions among neurons were thought to be stable, but
once again scientists have been surprised by the fact
that the shape of synapses change according to the structure
of the chemical messenger. Professor Eric Kandel received
the Nobel Prize in 2000 for this discovery. This expert
design can be summarized as follows: there exists a
mechanism in the synapse that alters the form of the
synapse according to the strength of the stimulus. When
it receives a powerful stimulus, the synapse makes it
possible for this stimulus to be transmitted to other
cells, undiminished, and in the most productive way.
Another important point to be emphasized is that this
system was understood after experiments on sea slugs.
Professor Kandel himself confessed that the nervous
system in human beings and mammals is too complex for
research to understand completely.67
Chemical Communication in Neurons
Professor Eric Kandel
Most people think that the connection between neurons
is established only by electric signals. This is not
true, since chemical communication is an important part
of this process. When we investigate the communication
between two neurons, we understand better the wonderful
elements in chemical communication.
chemical communication involves of messenger molecules
called "neurotransmitters." These are produced in the
body of the nerve cell, carried along the axon, and
stored in tiny vesicles on the axon terminals. In each
vesicle there are about five thousand units of transmitter.68
Recent research has shown that neurons can contain and
release more than one kind of chemical messengers.69
In other words, every neuron is like a chemical plant
that produces the messengers that will be used in communication.
The neuron that sends the signal is the "transmitter"
and the one to which it is sent the "receiver." The
transmitter and receiver neurons meet at the synapse,
a space about 0.00003 of a millimeter.70
A particular electric signal activates the messengers
on the axon terminal of the transmitting nerve cell.
The synaptic endings filled with chemical messengers
combine with the cell membrane and release the molecules
inside them into the synapse cavity. The message carried
by the messengers is sent to the receptors on the membrane
of the receiving neuron. Different receptors establish
a connection with different messenger molecules. The
message carried by the chemical messenger molecules
is thus perceived by the receiver neuron.
The picture shows communication between two neurons.
The most important elements in this communication
are messenger molecules known as "neurotransmitters."
We have described this system only
in rough outline, and every stage of it is filled with
operations that have not been completely resolved by
scientists. In fact, scientists have had only a murky
picture of some of the events relative to this communication.71
Consider the fusion of the synaptic ending with the
cell membrane. The operation described by the word "fusion"
is a very special union similar to the connection of
a modular unit to a highly advanced computer. The connection
of a part to a computer depends on complicated engineering
calculations. Otherwise, the part will not fit the computer,
and the computer may even be ruined. A cell is much
more complex than a computer, and a harmonious union
of a neurotransmitter with a cell membrane is not a
random occurrence. All these complex operations that
happen at every moment are under the control of God
Who created them.
Adding another part to a computer requires complex
engineering calculations if the whole computer
is not to be ruined. Certainly, a fusion system
that will be compatible with a cell membrane,
which is much more complex than a computer, cannot
be a chance occurrence. God creates this fusion.
If we receive an injury in a part of our body,
the brain is notified of this pain through a message..
In response to this message, a special neuron
located in the brain and the spinal column reduces
the pain by secreting endorphins.
62 Eric H.
Chudler, "The Hows, Whats and Whos of Neuroscience,"
2001, http://faculty.washington.edu/ chudler/what.html
63 M.J. Farabee, "Online Biology Book: The Nervous
System," 2000, http://www.emc.maricopa.edu/faculty/farabee/BIOBK/BioBookNERV.html
64 J.P. Changeux, P. Ricoeur, "What Makes Us Think?,"
Princeton University Press, 2000, p. 78
65 G. Fischbach, "Dialogues on the Brain: Overview,"
The Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute Letter, 1993,
66 M. Chicurel, C.D. Franco, "The Inner Life of
Neurons," The Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute
Letter, 1995, vol. 4, no. 2
67 The Nobel Foundation, "Press Release,"
9 October 2000, http://www.nobel.se/medicine/laureates/2000/illpres/kandel.html
68 E. Kandel, J.H. Schwartz, T.M. Jessell, Principles
of Neural Science, McGraw Hill Publishing, 2000, p.
69 Eric H. Chudler, "Making Connections-The Synapse,"
70 Principles of Neural Science, p. 176
71 Axel Brunger, "Neurotransmission Machinery Visualized
for the First Time," 1998, http://www.hhmi.org/news/