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Table 01 below compares the conventional electricity and bio-electricity.

Property Conventional Electricity Bio-Electricity
Charge Carrier Electron Na+ and K+ ions
Medium Metallic wires Intracellular and extracellulat fluids
Motion of carriers Parallel to the direction of transmission Perpendicular to the direction of transmission
Speed of transmission ~ 3x1010 cm/sec ~ 104 cm/sec
Source(s) Chemicals, Sun-light, Wind, ... Ionic gradient supplied by ATP
Current Few amp for household appliances ~ 10-12 amp ~ 106 ions/sec
Voltage Vary at few volts Constant at 50 mv
Electric Field ~ 10 volt/cm for most capacitors ~ 5x104 volt/cm (with membrane thickness of ~ 10-6 cm)

Table 01 Comparison of Conventional and Bio-Electricity

Bio-electricity is at work in our body and the living world around us all the time, we tend to ignore its presence until there is something wrong. The problem ranges from fatal to minor inconvenience. Further investigation often reveals the root cause to be related to the bio-electricity going haywire or being misused. Table 02 below lists the cause and effect in a few selected examples.

Object Cause Effect
Heart Heart beat is initiated spontaneously and periodically by a group of specialized cells called sinoatrial node (SA). Its action potentials travel along the conductive pathways to all parts of the hearts triggering contraction and relaxation rhythms. This is a life giving organ for all organisms with a heart; abnormality means disease, and cessation means death
Night Vision In darkness, the disk in the rod photoreceptor maintains a high concentration of the cGMP molecules keeping the ion channel open to allow Na+ to flow in (with a pump to re-establish the concentration gradient). The process generates an action potential which released the inhibitory neurotransmitter glutamate (to the bipolar cell) to inform the brain that it is dark. Even a single photon would destroy many cGMPs altering the chemical-electrical signal and form a dim image by the brain. The mechanism allows human and animals to see in the dark; the rod photoreceptor is in-activated by too much light
Fertilization Female secretes the hormone progasterone to stimulate electrically the movement of the sperm by opening up the Catsper channel in its tail before fertilization of the egg The stimulation provides the thrust to penetrate the membrane of the egg
Myotonic Congenita Genetic mutation in Cl- channel preventing the Cl- ion to enter the membrane of the muscle fibre Muscle becomes stiff by over stimulation
Electro-sensory Some aquatic or amphibious animals have specialized sense organs to detect electric field as low as 10-8v/cm; electro-genic fish produce electric signals by discharging their electric organs The extra sensory system is used to find prey/mate and/or to navigate
Voltage difference of 150 mV can be generated between the two sides of specialized membrane, a stack of such cells can produce 500 v or more Prey is stunned by electrical shock
Poison Darts Blocking ACh receptors to paralyse the respiratory muscles Victim is killed by suffocation
Nerve Gas Inhibition of ACh's removal to cause muscle convulsions Symptoms include violent tremors, incontinence, ...

Table 02 Bio-electricity in Action

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