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The science of skin - Emma Bryce

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Between you and the rest of the world lies an interface that makes up 16% of your physical weight. This is your skin, the largest organ in your body: laid out flat, it would cover close to 1.7 square meters of ground. But besides keeping your organs in, what is its purpose? Emma Bryce takes us into the integumentary system to find out.

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TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Emma Bryce
  • Director Jeremy Jusay
  • Producer Aaron Augenblick
  • Animator Mimi Chiu
  • Associate Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
The integumentary system is vast, multi-layered, and complicated—but these sources will give you some valuable general information about its structure and function, as well as its many different layers and components. Those include the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis, the sweat and oil glands, and hair and nails.

This helpful source also highlights the many different ways that the integumentary system interacts with other systems in the body—like the circulatory, immune, and digestive systems—reminding us that it’s part of a whole structure.

The skin’s role as an immune organ is one of its most important functions: this source does a deep dive into its immune function. These other links will tell you more about the workings of Langerhans Cells, T-cells, and the fascinating microbial communities that live on the surface of your body.

You may also be interested in discovering just how much skin we shed on a daily basis—and the tiny critters that feed on it!

If you’re curious about the system’s important thermoregulatory role, you can turn to these sources for a good overview. If you’d like a little more in-depth information about thermoregulation, this one is a good one to consult.

A major feature of the integumentary system is hair—but have you ever considered why we actually have it? These sources will reveal lots about the importance of human hair and the role it plays in protecting us from physical harm. Interestingly, our relative hairlessness as a species actually makes us quite rare in the animal kingdom. Read here to find out why.

When most people think about skin, they think of its sensory role in our lives. In fact, the skin is so effective at sensing the world around us that some researchers are trying to imitate it. Technology that mimics skin could help people with artificial limbs sense things, or enable buildings to sense cracks in their facades so that they can be repaired.

Finally, check out these other videos, which explore the topic of human skin in different ways. Learn more about the important science of skin color with these two videos. Explore the fascinating process of wound healing in the skin. Everyone experiences itchy skin—this video will tell you why. Want to know why we have to wear sunscreen? This lesson has the answers.

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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Emma Bryce
  • Director Jeremy Jusay
  • Producer Aaron Augenblick
  • Animator Mimi Chiu
  • Associate Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

Share

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