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The Biomedical Engineering blog is the place for conversation and discussion about topics related to engineering principles of the medical field. Here, you'll find everything from discussions about emerging medical technologies to advances in medical research. The blog's owner, Chelsey H, is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) with a degree in Biomedical Engineering.

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Five Design Flaws in Humans

Posted April 12, 2016 2:54 PM by Chelsey H

While the human brain is the most advanced of any mammal, our bodies are less than properly designed for the daily wear-and-tear they experience.

1. An unsound spine

When our ancestors walked on all fours, their spines arched, like a bow and like a dog's. The single bow curve allows the spine to withstand the weight of suspended organs and reduces pressure on the lower vertebrae. But then we had to stand up and walk on two legs (AKA bipedalism). The spine was forced to become a column with a curve at the lower back and, to stay balanced, a curve in the upper spine in the opposite direction. This puts tremendous pressure on the lower back causing lower back pain. Image Credit

2. An inflexible knee

The knee is a very complex joint between two huge levers - the femur and the tibia. While this is really all we need to walk, it does lead to some serious injuries, which is why every major sport makes it illegal to hit an opponent's knee from the side.

3. Crowded teeth

While teeth in general are pretty critical to humans, we don't need as many molars as we grow. Humans typically have three molars on each side of the upper and lower jaw. When our brains expanded in size, the jaw grew wider and shorter, crowding out the back molars. These wisdom teeth, so named because they appear later in adulthood when you're "wise", may have been useful before we learned to cook, now they are mostly just a nuisance that need to be removed.

4. A backward retina

The design of the retina forces light to travel the length of each cell, as well as through blood and tissue, to reach the equivalent of a receiver on the cell's backside. Because of this, the retina can detach from its supporting tissue causing blindness. It also created a blind spot where cell fibers converge at the optic nerve - making the brain refill the hole. Fun fact - the octopus has a flipped retina.

5. Meandering arteries

We've all hit the ironically named funny bone. The awful tingling sensation is the result of a human design flaw. The blood flow into each of our arms and legs from one main artery, which enters the limb on the front sides of the body by the biceps or hip flexors. The supply blood tissue at the limb's back side the artery branches out, bundling itself with nerves. At the elbow, an artery branch meets up with the ulnar nerve, which animates your little finger and is very close to the skin. That's why when it's it your arm goes numb or "funny."

The list was adapted from a list of 10 human design flaws!

Do you have any experience with the design flaws listed? Any ideas for redesign?

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#1

Re: Five Design Flaws in Humans

04/12/2016 4:08 PM

A flaw we share with other land animals is breathing through the same orifice through which food is ingested. Dolphins and whales don't share this "flaw".

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Re: Five Design Flaws in Humans

04/12/2016 7:35 PM

That 'Design Flaw' maybe the only thing keeping some people from eating until they literally explode.

At some point they have to stop and breath or pass out. Either way it does stop food intake for a long enough period of time that a distraction can occur thus pulling them away from stuffing more food in their face hole until they explode.

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#3

Re: Five Design Flaws in Humans

04/12/2016 8:28 PM

Storing too much fat seems to be a flaw, you would think at some point the brain would say OK that's enough for probably any situation, and stop...

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Re: Five Design Flaws in Humans

04/12/2016 10:30 PM

I think that's related to self-worth/self-respect glitch being if anyone has any of either there should be a point where a person looks at themselves in mirror and finds themselves less than acceptable to their own eyes.

I have no problem with carrying a few extra pound as natures way of making sure I have enough reserves to deal with what life may bring but at some point when you need a mobility scooter/ forklift to move because your own body is crushing its own limbs and organs a person would think that just maybe they need to do something about it.

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Re: Five Design Flaws in Humans

04/12/2016 11:26 PM

I think that would be categorized as a software problem....just lacking an update or two...

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Re: Five Design Flaws in Humans

04/13/2016 10:38 AM

Is that a beer gauge in that pic? Looks like about a case and a half!

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Re: Five Design Flaws in Humans

04/12/2016 11:29 PM

I believe that the tongue was a flaw. It allowed speech.

We all know where that has lead.

Politics!

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Re: Five Design Flaws in Humans

04/13/2016 7:27 AM

There is truth in the old joke about putting waste disposal pipelines in the middle of a recreational area.

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Re: Five Design Flaws in Humans

04/13/2016 9:50 AM

I've gotten some good laughs out of people using that old joke. I personally think it's one of the better jokes I've stolen added to my repertoire.

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Re: Five Design Flaws in Humans

04/13/2016 12:59 PM

The way I see it, the error is thinking that people were designed.

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Re: Five Design Flaws in Humans

04/14/2016 3:34 AM

Errrrr.... you mean "Flaws" or "Evolutionary flaws"
That's the whole point, once evolution produces something that does the job, it can't go back and re-evolve it... E.G the human eye.
Whereas, were there "intelligent design" it could be revised at a stroke.

Del
(just sayin' )

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#12

Re: Five Design Flaws in Humans

04/14/2016 9:37 AM

I remember reading that the human brain/head has evolved at a significantly greater speed than our pelvises, so that we have the most difficult and painful childbirth of any living thing. That seems like a glaring design/evolutionary flaw.

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#13

Re: Five Design Flaws in Humans

04/14/2016 11:24 AM

Maybe the brain. We're smart enough to wipe ourselves out. Einstein said once that he didn't know what weapons would be used in World War III, but World War IV would probably be fought with sticks and stones.

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#14

Re: Five Design Flaws in Humans

04/15/2016 5:12 AM

xyz test test ?dissapearing comments?

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#15

Re: Five Design Flaws in Humans

04/15/2016 5:22 AM

if you wont restore my prev. 1 the next will be out of context (your choice)

It was that the age of 12 the man should go to several days meditation to link up with origins (very nasty experience as for human) - then in linked mode it (combined) "diffuses "to sys. becomes a future here - i s about that 14...20y

(why to use your 4yo kid for a moderator is good for to keep securely looping in you safe unexpanded world view - and take no responsibilities yourself, very good thinking indeed for a man)

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