Monday, September 6, 2021

Episode 593 (9-6-21): Water's at the Heart of Blood

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:19).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 9-3-21.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of September 6, 2021.  This revised episode from October 2017 is part of a series this fall of episodes on water connections to the human body and human biology.

SOUND - ~3 sec

How is a human heartbeat part of a water story?  Have a listen for about 25 seconds to the following mystery sounds, and see if you can guess the heart-and-water connections they represent.  And here’s a hint: if you have the energy, you could follow many branches to this solution.

SOUNDS - ~21 sec

You’ve been listening to sounds from a platelets donation at the American Red Cross’ New River Valley Donor Center in Blacksburg, Virginia.  The sounds—a blood-pressure measurement, a needle stick into an arm vein, and the machine separating blood components and recirculating fluid to the patient—illustrate three connections between the human circulatory system and water.

First, the heart provides a force—measured by blood pressure—to keep blood circulating around the body, like the sun’s energy powers evaporation and winds that help keep water circulating around the earth.  Second, arm veins are part of an intricately branched system of arteries, veins, and capillaries, resembling a watershed’s branching pattern as one travels uphill from ocean to river to headwater streams.   Humans have an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 miles of blood vessels, compared to Virginia’s approximately 100,000 miles of rivers and streams.  Finally, blood’s components are mostly water: blood plasma is a solution of water and many biochemicals, mixed with water-based red and white blood cells and with platelets.  As a result, blood in the human system has water’s physical and chemical properties for transporting materials and regulating heat.

Cells and transported substances make blood “thicker” than water, just as the saying goes.  But the water we borrow temporarily from the global water cycle is at the chemical and physical heart of blood and the circulatory system’s vital functions.

Thanks to staff at the New River Valley Donor Center for participating in this episode, and thanks to for the heartbeat sound.

We close with some music inspired by the action of the human heart.  Here’s about 20 seconds of “Heartbeat,” by the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, Va.-based band, The Steel Wheels.

MUSIC - ~23 sec –Lyrics - “Feel my heartbeat comin’ in next to you; heartbeat, yes you do.”


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water. 


This Virginia Water Radio episode revises and replaces Episode 392, 10-30-17, and Episode 236, 10-20-14.

The human heartbeat sound was recorded by Mike Koenig and made available (9/14/09 upload) online at the Web site,, for public use under the Creative Commons license “Attribution 3.0”; for more information on Creative Commons licenses, please see; information on the Attribution License specifically is online at

Other sounds heard in this episode were recorded at the American Red Cross New River Donor Center in Blacksburg, Virginia, during an October 19, 2014, platelet donation by Virginia Water Radio host Alan Raflo.  Thanks to the staff at the Donor Center for their help and for allowing the sound recording.  For information about blood and platelet donations, please visit the American Red Cross’ “Donating Blood” Web site at

“Heartbeat,” by The Steel Wheels, is from the 2017 album “Wild As We Came Here,” used with permission.  More information about The Steel Wheels is available online at  This music was used previously by Virginia Water Radio in Episode 428, 7-9-18.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at


Two photos above: Blood plasma (upper) and platelets (lower) from a platelet donation at the American Red Cross New River Valley Donor Center in Blacksburg, Va., in October 2014.

Photomicrograph (1000 times magnification) of a fixed blood smear, showing an aggregation of platelets (arrow), a type of leukocyte (or white blood cell; the large, purple-stained structure), and several red blood cells.  Photo taken in 1972 by Dr. F. Gilbert, made available for public use at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library, online at; the specific URL for the photo was, as of 9-6-21.

Dracula gives back at the New River Valley Donor Center in Blacksburg, Va., October 29, 2017.


Used for Audio

Adrian Bejan, Shape and Structure, from Engineering to Nature, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, 2000.

Cleveland Clinic, “Heart & Blood Vessels: How Does Blood Travel Through Your Body,” online at

The Franklin Institute of Philadelphia, Penn., “Blood Vessels,” online at

Leslie Mertz, The Circulatory System, Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn., 2004.

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, “Final 2020 305(b)/303(d) Water Quality Assessment Integrated Report,” Chapter 2: State Background Information, online at  (This source states, “Virginia has an estimated 100,923 miles of streams and rivers divided into nine major river basins.”)

For More Information about Blood and the Circulatory System

American Society of Hematology, “Blood Basics,” online at

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “Facts About Blood and Blood Cells,” online at

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Blood Safety,” online at

U.S. National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute, SEER Training Module, “Leukemia/Anatomy,” online at

U.S. National Institutes of Health/National Library of Medicine, “Blood, Heart and Circulation,” online at


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “Science” subject category.

Following are links to other episodes on connections of water to human biology.  Please note that some of these episodes are being redone in fall 2021; in those cases, the respective links below will have information on the updated episodes. 

Episode 195, 1-6-14 – Water thermodynamics.
Episode 287, 10-26-15 – Skeleton system connections to water.
Episode 392, 10-30-17 – Circulatory system connections to water.
Episode 393, 11-6-17 – Disease: Influenza.
Episode 450, 12-10-18 – Neurological system connections to water
Episode 466, 4-1-19
– Water intake and sports.
Episode 517, 3-23-20
and Episode 519, 4-6-20 – Disease: Water connections to COVID-19.
Episode 592, 8-30-21
– Overview of the human body’s uses of water.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs 

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs 

Grades K-3 plus 5: Matter
K.4 – Water is important in our daily lives and has properties.

Grades K-5: Earth and Space Systems
3.7 – There is a water cycle and water is important to life on Earth.

Grade 6
6.6 – Water has unique physical properties and has a role in the natural and human-made environment.

BIO.2 – Chemical and biochemical processes are essential for life.
BIO.3 – Cells have structure and function. 

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15
– on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15
– on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16
– on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16
– on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18
– on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18
– on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18
– on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18
– on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19
– on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20
– on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20
– on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20
– on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.