So named in the 17th century after cellula or the tiny rooms used by monks, cells are what all life on Earth is made of. All plants and animals are made of cells, and they are the living foundations of the specialized tissues and organs that they rely on for survival. There are over a hundred different cells in the human body, and they all consist of an outer plasma membrane, nucleus and cytoplasm populated by fibres, membranes and organelles (only blood cells do not contain nuclei and certain organelles such as mitochondria).
A “fluid mosaic model” of the membrane developed in the 1970s offers an understanding of its sophisticated and complex mechanics.
The cell membrane consists of phospholipids and cholesterol as well as carbohydrates and proteins. This intelligent and protective lipid bilayer regulates the movement of molecules including nutrients, water, oxygen, carbon dioxide and much more, into and out of the cell. This movement is accomplished in part by transmembrane proteins such as channels and receptors. Receptors, for example, bind with hormones or immune mediators that in turn signal molecules in side the cell.
The microtubules that make up the cytoskeleton of the cell have a crystalline structure. So do the collagen fibers that surround every cell in the connective tissue that holds them all together. The transmission of information along these networks allows every cell in the body to send and receive information, allowing constant communication with the mind-body network as a whole.
Biologist Bruce Lipton likens human cells – of which there are about 40 trillion in the body – to computers: the hard disk (nucleus) contains programs (genes) that are controlled, turned on and off by information from the processing chip (the membrane). In his book, The Wisdom of Your Cells (2012) Lipton continues the analogy: “… our identity is actually an environmental signal that is playing through the keyboard on the surface of our cells and engaging our genetic programs; you are not inside your cell, you are playing through your cell using the keyboard as an interface. You are an identity derived from the environment.”
Common Human Cell Structures
Human Genetic Material