Return to Video

Medicine: Charming bowels (Science Slam Berlin)

  • 0:02 - 0:06
    Welcome to our next participant.
  • 0:06 - 0:09
    Her name is Giulia Enders.
  • 0:09 - 0:14
    She studies at the Goethe University
    in Frankfurt.
  • 0:14 - 0:21
    Applause to Giulia Enders.
  • 0:21 - 0:24
    The next 10 minutes are yours!
  • 0:24 - 0:27
    (Applause)
  • 0:27 - 0:31
    Okay, I study medicine --
  • 0:31 - 0:33
    (Cheers)
  • 0:33 - 0:34
    -- yes, exactly.
  • 0:34 - 0:38
    And studying medicine
    really comes in handy
  • 0:38 - 0:41
    when i'm having coffee
    and tea with my aunties.
  • 0:41 - 0:43
    Because usually they ask you
    what you study.
  • 0:43 - 0:46
    And whereas my sister needs
    half an hour to explain
  • 0:46 - 0:48
    what Communication Design is,
  • 0:48 - 0:49
    I can just say:
  • 0:49 - 0:51
    medicine.
  • 0:51 - 0:52
    (Laughter)
  • 0:52 - 0:56
    And my aunties just look at me
    all happy and satisfied.
  • 0:56 - 1:00
    (Laughter) (Applause)
  • 1:00 - 1:04
    It is nice, but it lasts only 30 seconds,
  • 1:04 - 1:06
    and then the usual question:
  • 1:06 - 1:08
    What field of medicine
    are you going to specialize in?
  • 1:08 - 1:11
    And then I must confess:
  • 1:11 - 1:15
    I have been crazy about the digestive tract
    since my first semester.
  • 1:15 - 1:19
    It began with the anus,
    and now I'm hooked to it!
  • 1:19 - 1:27
    (Laughter) (Applause)
  • 1:27 - 1:30
    Suddenly all the enthusiasm trickles away,
  • 1:30 - 1:33
    usually there ensues an awkward silence.
  • 1:33 - 1:36
    And the next question comes
    from the far corner of the room:
  • 1:36 - 1:40
    And what is Communication Design good for?
  • 1:40 - 1:41
    (Laughter)
  • 1:41 - 1:44
    It is a pity, because the bowels
    are very charming.
  • 1:44 - 1:46
    (Laughter)
  • 1:46 - 1:49
    I'm not sure what my aunties think.
  • 1:49 - 1:53
    But I suspect they think
    it's about tons of poop
  • 1:53 - 1:54
    (Laughter)
  • 1:54 - 1:57
    in all shapes and sizes
  • 1:57 - 2:03
    or about other people's excrements
  • 2:03 - 2:09
    (Laughter)
  • 2:09 - 2:14
    or about obscure cleansing methods
  • 2:14 - 2:19
    that make us walk like this
    out of doctor's room
  • 2:19 - 2:23
    or internet videos that are so graphic
  • 2:23 - 2:29
    that it's quite enough to watch
    other people's reaction to them.
  • 2:29 - 2:31
    Even science can find reasons
  • 2:31 - 2:33
    to hate the bowel.
  • 2:33 - 2:36
    But these are also the very reasons
    why the bowel is so fascinating:
  • 2:36 - 2:37
    It's 100 times larger
    then the area of the skin.
  • 2:37 - 2:39
    Just think of hundred Giulias
    standing here on this stage.
  • 2:39 - 2:41
    Such a thin tube,
  • 2:41 - 2:43
    with so much immune system inside,
  • 2:43 - 2:44
    so many hormones produced,
  • 2:44 - 2:48
    100 trillion gut bacteria,
  • 2:48 - 2:50
    that's the number of humans
    times the number of humans
  • 2:50 - 2:52
    times two.
  • 2:52 - 2:56
    The gut has such a completely
    independent nervous system
  • 2:56 - 2:58
    that if I cut out a piece and tap on it
  • 2:58 - 3:01
    it would just mumble a friendly reply.
  • 3:01 - 3:03
    (Laughter)
  • 3:03 - 3:05
    It's very complex
    and science is afraid of it,
  • 3:05 - 3:07
    which is understandable,
  • 3:07 - 3:09
    but my grandmother says
    that if you really like something,
  • 3:09 - 3:10
    even if it is overwhelming
    in the beginning,
  • 3:10 - 3:12
    you should approach it step by step,
  • 3:12 - 3:14
    and then even if you step in a puddle,
  • 3:14 - 3:16
    only one foot gets wet.
  • 3:16 - 3:24
    (Laughter) (Applause)
  • 3:24 - 3:26
    Let's begin. Here's the esophagus.
  • 3:26 - 3:29
    It makes powerful movements
    and pushes the food downward.
  • 3:29 - 3:30
    It falls into the stomach,
  • 3:30 - 3:32
    which cradles and rocks it a bit,
  • 3:32 - 3:35
    and feeds it into the small intestine,
  • 3:35 - 3:37
    where it's sort of magically kneaded,
  • 3:37 - 3:38
    diminishing in bulk during the process,
  • 3:38 - 3:40
    then it passes through the colon
  • 3:40 - 3:42
    and comes out from the anus,
    it all sounds so simple.
  • 3:42 - 3:44
    But if we focus on a single process --
  • 3:44 - 3:47
    -- I go for the anus --
  • 3:47 - 3:52
    then we realize it's a bit more complex
    than expected.
  • 3:52 - 3:54
    I actually didn't pick
    this subject on my own
  • 3:54 - 3:55
    rather my roommate asked me:
  • 3:55 - 3:57
    Giulia, you study medicine:
  • 3:57 - 3:59
    How does pooping work?
  • 3:59 - 4:02
    (Laughter)
  • 4:02 - 4:07
    I have noticed that the anus
    is actually very communicative.
  • 4:07 - 4:11
    It's an intermediate between
    two worlds of consciousness.
  • 4:11 - 4:15
    Here's an internal sphincter
  • 4:15 - 4:18
    and here's an external anal sphincter.
  • 4:18 - 4:20
    We know the external one very well.
  • 4:20 - 4:24
    Let's say: A - O - A - O
  • 4:24 - 4:26
    Audience: A - O - A - O
  • 4:26 - 4:28
    I meant with your anus.
  • 4:28 - 4:29
    (Laughter)
  • 4:29 - 4:33
    Probably many are doing it right now,
    we just don't see it.
  • 4:33 - 4:35
    So, you see we can do it.
  • 4:35 - 4:38
    If I say, now do the same --
  • 4:38 - 4:44
    (Laughter)
  • 4:44 - 4:49
    If I say, now do the same
    with your internal sphincter --
  • 4:49 - 4:51
    -- it's more difficult.
  • 4:51 - 4:52
    (Laughter)
  • 4:52 - 4:55
    Perhaps somebody managed...
  • 4:55 - 4:58
    But we can see there's a difference.
  • 4:57 - 4:59
    It's not under our command.
  • 4:59 - 5:02
    Let's take a look at the process:
  • 5:02 - 5:06
    when digested food arrives
    at the internal sphincter,
  • 5:06 - 5:09
    it opens up and lets a little morsel
    pass through for testing.
  • 5:09 - 5:11
    (Laughter)
  • 5:11 - 5:17
    And there are sensor cells
    in between the two sphincters.
  • 5:17 - 5:21
    These cells analyze
    whether it is solid or gaseous
  • 5:21 - 5:22
    and notify the brain.
  • 5:22 - 5:24
    (Laughter)
  • 5:24 - 5:26
    And then the brain realizes:
  • 5:26 - 5:28
    ah, I must poop.
  • 5:28 - 5:29
    (Laughter)
  • 5:29 - 5:33
    And the brain does what it's good at:
  • 5:33 - 5:36
    It informs us of our surroundings.
  • 5:36 - 5:37
    It might say, for example:
  • 5:37 - 5:39
    well, I have looked,
  • 5:39 - 5:43
    (Laughter)
  • 5:43 - 5:47
    we are at the Science Slam right now,
  • 5:47 - 5:49
    perhaps some gas is all right,
  • 5:49 - 5:53
    if you let it pass very silently,
  • 5:53 - 5:56
    but something solid
    would not be so good.
  • 5:56 - 5:58
    (Laughter)
  • 5:58 - 6:01
    So they unite their efforts
    and push it back in
  • 6:01 - 6:03
    (Laughter)
  • 6:03 - 6:05
    it goes back in the queue,
  • 6:05 - 6:08
    but it has to come out, eventually.
  • 6:08 - 6:11
    But when we are at home,
    with nothing better to do,
  • 6:11 - 6:13
    then -- free to go!
  • 6:13 - 6:26
    (Laughter) (Applause)
  • 6:27 - 6:32
    The anus is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • 6:32 - 6:36
    Auntie 1: What did she say?
  • 6:36 - 6:42
    Auntie 2: I think she said that the anus
    is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • 6:42 - 6:45
    The anus is really
    just the tip of the iceberg.
  • 6:45 - 6:51
    There are 2 cm that we perceive
    and that we can control
  • 6:51 - 6:54
    and the whole rest --
  • 6:54 - 6:57
    -- if we want to know what happens there
  • 6:57 - 7:00
    we need to look at the border area.
  • 7:00 - 7:06
    So we chose something which is
    both unconscious and conscious.
  • 7:06 - 7:12
    There are 7 basic emotions
    that show on the face,
  • 7:12 - 7:15
    they are same for all the people worldwide,
    in all cultures,
  • 7:15 - 7:16
    here are 3 of them,
  • 7:16 - 7:17
    fear,
  • 7:17 - 7:18
    joy,
  • 7:18 - 7:20
    sadness.
  • 7:20 - 7:25
    These basic emotions show in our faces
    when we feel them
  • 7:25 - 7:28
    and in the first split second
    we cannot suppress them.
  • 7:28 - 7:31
    That reminds us a bit
    of our internal sphincter,
  • 7:31 - 7:33
    which we cannot control
    consciously either,
  • 7:33 - 7:34
    and that's not a far fetched comparison.
  • 7:34 - 7:37
    For when we were little embryological
    heaps of cells in the womb
  • 7:37 - 7:39
    there wasn't much of a face --
  • 7:39 - 7:42
    - there was just the front opening
    of the intestinal tube.
  • 7:42 - 7:45
    And finally it was decided:
    O.K., let's create a face around it,
  • 7:45 - 7:48
    seems like people like it,
  • 7:48 - 7:52
    so it was a part of this
    unconscious tube of muscle
  • 7:52 - 7:56
    which is why we don't have perfect control
    over our facial expression.
  • 7:56 - 8:00
    We can control our arm any time,
    but not our mimics.
  • 8:00 - 8:05
    That brings up the question
    what the bowel does with all these emotions,
  • 8:05 - 8:07
    if it feels fear,
  • 8:07 - 8:10
    if it can laugh
  • 8:10 - 8:12
    or be sad.
  • 8:12 - 8:16
    And there we are touching
    on the deeper layers of the iceberg
  • 8:16 - 8:19
    on the subconsciousness,
  • 8:19 - 8:21
    and people start arguing,
  • 8:21 - 8:24
    because many people believe that the bowels
    have no influence on our emotions,
  • 8:24 - 8:26
    that they're just a bunch of cells,
  • 8:26 - 8:30
    and the brain, the DNA and the genes
    are the cause of our feelings.
  • 8:30 - 8:32
    So, there are two basic viewpoints:
  • 8:32 - 8:35
    One being that the brain
    decides on an emotion
  • 8:35 - 8:37
    and tells all other organs what to do,
  • 8:37 - 8:41
    and the other being that the gut
    is also involved in our emotions,
  • 8:41 - 8:46
    thoughts, and perhaps even our behavior.
  • 8:46 - 8:48
    So let's just take something
  • 8:48 - 8:51
    which has no connection
    with our genes and our DNA:
  • 8:51 - 8:54
    this huge gut flora.
  • 8:54 - 8:56
    So we have this whole population of bacteria
    inside of us,
  • 8:56 - 9:00
    which can weigh up to 2 kg,
    which would be quite normal,
  • 9:00 - 9:05
    and it's a collection of things,
    decisions, what we have eaten
  • 9:05 - 9:08
    and the environment that surrounds us,
  • 9:08 - 9:13
    our very own Pokemon collection
    of intestinal bacteria.
  • 9:13 - 9:15
    I'd like to introduce you to all of them,
  • 9:15 - 9:18
    but 60% of them we don't even know at all
  • 9:18 - 9:20
    since we cannot cultivate them,
  • 9:20 - 9:22
    they just like it so much in our gut,
  • 9:22 - 9:26
    that we can't simply
    observe them in a Petri dish.
  • 9:26 - 9:28
    But since they do have an influence,
  • 9:28 - 9:32
    scientists began to research them
    intensively in the last years.
  • 9:32 - 9:34
    Some basic things
    were already known before:
  • 9:34 - 9:36
    they train our immune system,
  • 9:36 - 9:42
    our blood type is determined
    by this training and influence,
  • 9:42 - 9:45
    if we have really bad ones
    then we get bad diarrhea.
  • 9:45 - 9:47
    But what about the discreet ones
  • 9:47 - 9:48
    quietly doing their job all day long?
  • 9:48 - 9:51
    So many different types operating
    in a huge variety of ways.
  • 9:51 - 9:53
    What is their influence?
  • 9:53 - 9:57
    And so we have another Babel,
  • 9:57 - 9:59
    which is my passion,
  • 9:59 - 10:05
    and about which we start
    asking ourselves many questions:
  • 10:05 - 10:08
    If I have certain gut bacteria,
  • 10:08 - 10:11
    will I get fatter than others even though
    I eat the same food as them?
  • 10:11 - 10:14
    Can I become depressed
    because of some kinds of gut bacteria?
  • 10:14 - 10:16
    Do some gut bugs protect me from cancer
  • 10:16 - 10:19
    while others promote it?
  • 10:19 - 10:26
    And most of these questions
    are getting answered positively.
  • 10:26 - 10:29
    And this field is so interesting,
  • 10:29 - 10:32
    it's constantly on my mind.
  • 10:32 - 10:35
    I have been in neuroscience in Frankfurt
    for the last half a year,
  • 10:35 - 10:38
    and we are doing experiments
    with endogenous proteins
  • 10:38 - 10:42
    trying to find out whether they protect
    or harm nerve cells
  • 10:42 - 10:47
    but I keep thinking, I want to do this
    with proteins from gut bacteria!
  • 10:47 - 10:49
    They did a study with a truly
    amazing outcome:
  • 10:49 - 10:54
    The bowels [of mice] were colonized
    with certain bacteria
  • 10:54 - 10:55
    and then under conditions of stress,
  • 10:55 - 10:57
    when the gut gets leaky,
  • 10:57 - 11:00
    they developed memory lapses
    of 10 to 30 days.
  • 11:00 - 11:03
    With simultaneous doses of probiotics --
    [no memory loss].
  • 11:03 - 11:06
    And so I wanted to know:
    O.K., how's that?
  • 11:06 - 11:08
    And other questions
    which I keep carrying around.
  • 11:08 - 11:11
    There is almost no research being done
    on this subject in Germany,
  • 11:11 - 11:14
    and I really want to promote this.
  • 11:14 - 11:16
    That's why I hope you got something out of this,
  • 11:16 - 11:17
    for example that the anus is communicative,
  • 11:17 - 11:21
    if you see a beautiful lady smiling
    it's all right to think of her digestive tract,
  • 11:21 - 11:22
    (Laughter)
  • 11:22 - 11:25
    the gut is very close to the people,
    with a lot of private property,
  • 11:25 - 11:27
    you all have your own gut population,
    take good care of it,
  • 11:27 - 11:29
    I hope you are more fond of it now,
  • 11:29 - 11:33
    some politicians might even
    start fearing its competition,
  • 11:33 - 11:36
    I hope the ladies are happier now,
  • 11:36 - 11:39
    Thank you all for listening
    and thanks to my sister,
  • 11:39 - 11:42
    because she made this possible
    with communication design!
  • 11:42 - 11:47
    (Applause)
  • 11:47 - 11:50
    Giulia Enders!
  • 11:50 - 11:54
    (Applause)
  • 11:54 - 11:56
    -- easy, isn't it?
  • 11:56 - 11:59
    So let's give today's winner
  • 11:59 - 12:02
    some more of our time and attention:
  • 12:02 - 12:05
    a short scientific encore!
  • 12:05 - 12:09
    So you have the last word!
  • 12:09 - 12:11
    How nice, how unusual...
  • 12:11 - 12:16
    I have something to share
    which I always forget,
  • 12:16 - 12:18
    and actually it's quite cool,
  • 12:18 - 12:20
    I have told you about those sensor cells,
  • 12:20 - 12:23
    that distinguish between
    gaseous and solid,
  • 12:23 - 12:27
    but there is a state of matter
    which is missing -- liquid,
  • 12:27 - 12:31
    it is always a bit of an awkward topic
    for the audience,
  • 12:31 - 12:33
    but perhaps some of
    you are familiar with this:
  • 12:33 - 12:38
    you have diarrhea, you feel you have to fart,
    do you end up with your pants full?
  • 12:38 - 12:41
    Your gut can't distinguish liquid from gas,
    so it just takes its chances!
  • 12:41 - 12:43
    That was it!
  • 12:43 - 12:50
    (Laughter) (Applause)
  • 12:50 - 12:54
    I have forgotten it in Freiburg already,
    I always forget it...
Title:
Medicine: Charming bowels (Science Slam Berlin)
Description:

Giulia Enders, Science Slam Berlin, 5. March 2012

more » « less
Video Language:
German
Duration:
12:54

English subtitles

Revisions Compare revisions