What is surface tension in biology?

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foxstudy
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#1
In reference to the surfactant in an alveolus^
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JessNaomi19600
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So the inside of the alveoli air sacs are coated with a mucus type material known as a surfactant. This creates surface tension and so prevents the sides of the alveoli from sticking together. This allows the alveoli to remain open, maintaining a large surface area to volume ratio, allowing efficient gaseous exchange.

Hope this helps 😊
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foxstudy
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(Original post by JessNaomi19600)
So the inside of the alveoli air sacs are coated with a mucus type material known as a surfactant. This creates surface tension and so prevents the sides of the alveoli from sticking together. This allows the alveoli to remain open, maintaining a large surface area to volume ratio, allowing efficient gaseous exchange.

Hope this helps 😊
When you say it prevents the sides of the alveoli from sticking together, is that the same as stopping the alveoli from collapsing?
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macpatgh-Sheldon
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(Original post by foxstudy)
When you say it prevents the sides of the alveoli from sticking together, is that the same as stopping the alveoli from collapsing?
Yes correct, young man, if I can answer on behalf of Jess (I am not going to type her whole username as I am a one finger typist), to which you promptly remark: "He has typed even more now!"

Just one correction: although the action of surfactant on the alveoli is highly complex (involves Laplace equations, which might excite our friends the maths nerds! ), one aspect is that it drastically REDUCES surface tension NOT increase it, and that is part of what prevents collapse of alveoli.

(A small medical point to add is that surfactant is formed in the foetal lungs quite late in pregnancy so premature babies can have breathing problems in the form of respiratory distress syndrome due to deficiency of surfactant).

M
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foxstudy
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(Original post by macpatgh-Sheldon)
Yes correct, young man, if I can answer on behalf of Jess (I am not going to type her whole username as I am a one finger typist), to which you promptly remark: "He has typed even more now!"

Just one correction: although the action of surfactant on the alveoli is highly complex (involves Laplace equations, which might excite our friends the maths nerds! ), one aspect is that it drastically REDUCES surface tension NOT increase it, and that is part of what prevents collapse of alveoli.

(A small medical point to add is that surfactant is formed in the foetal lungs quite late in pregnancy so premature babies can have breathing problems in the form of respiratory distress syndrome due to deficiency of surfactant).

M
Thanks for the clarification!
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