I've bumped into the theory that the heart is not a pump a few times now. I'm starting to feel that the idea that the heart is a pump is perhaps a little strange. What else is at work in the human body?
In 1932, Bremer of Harvard filmed the blood in the very early embryo circulating in self-propelled mode in spiralling streams before the heart was functioning. Amazingly, he was so impressed with the spiralling nature of the blood flow pattern that he failed to realize that the phenomena before him had demolished the pressure propulsion principle. Earlier in 1920, Steiner, of the Goetheanum in Switzerland had pointed out in lectures to medical doctors that the heart was not a pump forcing inert blood to move with pressure but that the blood was propelled with its own biological momentum, as can be seen in the embryo, and boosts itself with "induced" momenta from the heart. He also stated that the pressure does not cause the blood to circulate but is caused by interrupting the circulation.
The fact that the heart by itself is incapable of sustaining the circulation of the blood was known to physicians of antiquity. They looked for auxiliary forces of blood movement in various types of `etherisation' and `pneumatisation' or ensoulement of the blood on its passage through the heart and lungs. With the dawn of modern science and over the past three hundred years, such concepts became untenable. The mechanistic concept of the heart as a hydraulic pump prevailed and became firmly established around the middle of the nineteenth century.
The heart, an organ weighing about three hundred grams, is supposed to `pump' some eight thousand liters of blood per day at rest and much more during activity, without fatigue. In terms of mechanical work this represents the lifting of approximately 100 pounds one mile high! In terms of capillary flow, the heart is performing an even more prodigious task of `forcing' the blood with a viscosity five times greater than that of water through millions of capillaries with diameters often smaller than the red blood cells themselves! Clearly, such claims go beyond reason and imagination. Due to the complexity of the variables involved, it has been impossible to calculate the true peripheral resistance even of a single organ, let alone of the entire peripheral circulation. Also, the concept of a centralized pressure source (the heart) generating excessive pressure at its source, so that sufficient pressure remains at the remote capillaries, is not an elegant one.
Movement without applied pressure is movement with momentum, as we observe so dramatically in the long leaps of racing cats. It is also manifest in nature in flowing water in open streams, traveling tornadoes, and jet streams which are actually horizontal spirals of air and moisture that can be thousands of miles long and move around like meandering rivers in the upper atmosphere.
Rudolf Steiner, scientist and philosopher, pointed out on several occasions that the blood moves autonomously 5, and that the pressure is not the cause of blood flow but the result of it 6. The clinicians of old used elaborate methods of describing the nature of the arterial pulse and the ictus cordis or the apex beat, which is the impulse of the heart against the chest wall. Many descriptive terms such as thready pulse of hypovolemic shock, collapsing or water-hammer pulse of aortic incompetence and `heaving' apical impulse of left ventricular hypertrophy, convey the intuitive understanding of the real mechanism of the heart's action.
In a movie made by Bremer of the beating embryonic heart, one observes that the spiraling blood is boosted by the pulsating heart without creating turbulence in the blood. This suggests that the momentum transfer occurring between the heart and blood is in phase; the heart must somehow sense the motion of the blood and respond to it in turn with a spiraling impulses at the same velocities as the blood, thereby combining blood and heart momenta.
...When moving through larger arteries the red cells are in toroidal shape, with their mass at the periphery to maximize the moment of inertia, and are assumed to rotate about their individual axes due to the phenomenon of vorticity (the creation of micro-vortices between swirling layers in the main vortex moving at different velocities). Thus we can expect to find that the billions of red cells are actually traveling in their own unique space as further evidence of the extreme order of the blood motion.
The spiral theme is also apparent in the heart and vessel form and function. The musculature of the heart and arteries all the way down to the pre-capillaries is spirally oriented, and both the heart and arteries move spirally to augment the momenta of the blood 2,(18), 19. The literature on anatomical and physiological considerations of the twisting motion of the heart and vessels is comprehensive and has recently been reviewed 2. The fact that arterial endothelial cell orientation closely follows the blood flow patterns is well established 18, (19).
The autonomic vortex movement of the blood discussed herein is inherent to the blood motion. It is not an accidental local disturbance often explained as turbulence or eddy currents, nor a localized phenomena with a single functional purpose as in heart valve dynamics. From a broader view it is to be expected that blood should so move, considering that fluids in nature tend to move curvilinearly, which is their path of least energy. The extreme expression of this tendency in nature, in terms of order, stability and minimal expenditure of energy are tornados and "jet" streams.
The Bourdon tube gage is named after its inventor, Bourdon. Its pressure sensitive element consists of a circularly bent tube that is flattened to increase its sensitivity to pressure. When the tube is subjected to an internal positive pressure it tends to straighten; when subjected to an internal negative pressure its radius of curvature is increased. The deformation of the tube is proportional to the pressure and is transmitted via links and gears to motions that turn a pointer on a scale calibrated to indicate pressure.
It was this last paragraph which caught my eye. I've no idea what a Bourdon tube gage is, but it's the way it acts which intrigues me. It sounds something like a diaphragm. It also reminds me of the actions of a water-strider as it attempts to tackle the meniscus at the water's edge.(?) And ultimately, of the magnetic field around a bar magnet.(?!)