A Case of Heartburn: Replicating the Heart’s Electrical Signals with Fire

Craig Klumpp


Typically, when someone mentions fire, a person’s first thought is that of a blazing inferno. However, humanity has learned to somewhat tame flame over the millennia and it has been used greatly in our progress as a species. My research set out to use fire as a tool to replicate one of the most delicate systems found within the human body. This system is the heart’s electrical conduction system which is responsible for the heartbeat. By using fire, behaviors of this system can be replicated in an easy to visualize manner. A few heart behaviors observed over the course of this research include: oscillatory pulses similar to those produced by the sinus node, pulses that matched heart arrhythmias, and blockages of pulses similar to conduction blocks. What was found in this research can be used to further understand how excitation pulses travel within the heart and how certain heart conditions may arise.