What are People Made of?

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What are we made of?

We are made of the same thing the whole Universe is made of: Atoms

  • The Universe is made of Atoms.
  • Atoms, are made up of protons, neutrons and rotating electrons. The number of each will vary depending on which Element it is making up. For example this is a representation of carbon atom

                      atom carbon

  • Protons, Neutrons and Electrons are called subatomic particles because they are smaller than an atom.
  • These are still not the smallest things in the Universe
  • The smallest thing in the Universe is called an Elementary Particle 
  • An Elementary Particle cannot be divided into anything smaller (Learn more about Elementary Particles HERE)
  • Absolutely everything in the Universe is made of Atoms

People (and other living things) are made of Cells 

  • Scientists conclude that the average human body contains approximately 37.2 trillion cells
  • Cells, like everything else in the Universe are made of Atoms
  • Scientists estimate the average cell contains 100 trillion atoms
  • The number of atoms per human cell is only a rough estimate because cells come in different sizes.
  • There are about 500 cells in something the size of a full stop like this.

What do Cells do?

  • Cells make Proteins.
  • There are many different types of proteins.
  • Each Protein is made in the cell and then goes off to elsewhere in the body to do its specific job.
  • A protein is a substance that makes your cells the size and shape they are, and makes them work the way they should work.
  • Essentially Cells contain all the instructions needed to make you be uniquely YOU. They know exactly how to make you different from all the other people.
  • With the exception of identical twins, (who share the same genetic make up: the same instructions) everyone is different. 

Inside a Cell?

The nucleus, in the middle of the cell, is the cells control centre making the cell work. 

The nucleus of each cell contains 46 chromosomes: 23 from your mother and 23 from your father. They join together to make 23 pairs of chromosomes: one of the chromosomes in each pair comes from your mother, and the other comes from your father. One pair of these chromosomes determine whether you are a boy or a girl. 

Chromosomes are made of threads of deoxyribonucleic acid (or DNA) which contains the instructions for a recipe to make you the way you are, and keeps your body operating. Your DNA recipe book is split into genes. The DNA threads look like a twisted ladder (called a double helix), the rungs on this ladder represent different genes. Genes represent different parts of the recipe, for example what colour your eyes will be, or what shape your nose is. There are about 30,000 genes across the 46 chromosomes, in each cell in your body. 

If you unravelled the DNA in each cell it would measure approx 1.75m long & roughly 5 million DNA threads would fit through the eye of a needle. The DNA is made up of 4 different chemicals; adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), and guanine (G). These chemicals sit in pairs opposite each other on the rungs of the DNA ladder. Like a line in a recipe they provide an instruction for making something. It’s the combinations of these pairs that make your DNA recipe unique?

Genes make protein, this is a substance that makes your cells the size and shape they are and keeps them operating the way they should. Each gene is a instruction code for a different kind of protein. 

There are thousands of different proteins, all the ones your body needs to grow and survive. 

That's what you are made of today, but how did we get from simple single cell life forms to the complex beings we are today? Next we explore Evolutionary changes, over many millions of years 

Move onto next section about Evolution ....


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