Curiosities: Why does your body shiver when you are cold?

December 5, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.


I could not use my bicycle last night because of the rain, so I decided to go home by bus. While waiting at the bus stop, I noticed two things about a girl who was in front of me: One, she was wearing a miniskirt despite a temperature between three and four degrees. Second, she was shivering.

“Social conventions and male chauvinism dictate cruel rules sometimes”, I thought. “If you are a young girl, people expect you to show your legs even in winter and to extend the length of your skirt some centimeters as you are getting old until the day comes when you cannot even see your feet.” Then my thoughts went back to the second observation: Why does the body shiver when we are cold?

On very cold moments, your body temperature drops from its normal parameters (between 36°C and 37°C) to lower values that can lead to hypothermia, a dangerous condition because of a long exposure to cold. After moving or running for a while, you take your coat off, right? And you do that because friction and movements produce heat. Sometimes, we do not remember this fact, but our body does, and that’s why it shivers: As an attempt to protect you by raising the body temperature.

Copyright 2016 All rights are reserved.


Curiosities: How fast and far does a sneeze travel?

August 7, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.


When you are about to sneeze, you breathe deeply, your body is full of air, pressure increases and the air is forced to come out through your nose and mouth at an incredible speed. How fast? Well, if we could throw a baseball at the same speed as we sneeze (100 miles or 160 kilometers per hour), we would have a millionaire contract as a pitcher in major league. As for the explosive sound we hear when sneezing, it is the result of the significant amount of air coming out of our relatively small mouth and nostrils. The intensity and the onomatopoeia of a sneeze are both variable things. For example, in Japan people usually say “ハクション” (hakushon) when they sneeze while in many countries in Latin American people say “achís”, “atchoo” in USA and so on.

As for the distance, every time you sneeze, what is coming out of your mouth and nose is not a bouquet of flowers, but thousands of germs that travel between 3 and 5 feet because of the force and speed that the mucus particles travel with when they move out of your body. If possible, use a mask or a handkerchief to protect other people around you. In case you do not have time to get your handkerchief out of your pocket (or you don’t have any), use your sleeves rather than your hands since you can infect many things after touching them.

Copyright 2016 All rights are reserved.

Curiosities: Why do we sneeze?

August 6, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.


Last night, I had pizza for dinner. I put some black pepper on it and… Atchoo!! I sneezed immediately. Then, I wondered why we sneeze, my pizza got cold, but at least I could get some answers that I would love to share with you.

A reflex is a movement or action that your body makes naturally in response to something and, in general, we are talking about something that we do without thinking and having much control of it. For example, the quick movement of your eyes to avoid the entry of a particle or an insect is a reflex that prevents your eyes from being hurt. A sneeze is also a reflex action, that is, a body’s natural defense mechanism. Whenever pollutant substances, dust, pollen or any other irritant substances enter into your body, your brain raises the alarm to indicate the presence of unpleasant elements, and your body reacts with a sneeze to try to remove it from your body. Other reasons are associated to the idea of clearing your nasal passage and “reset your system”, so that everything can work better.

Irritant elements can also be found in some food in the form of chemical elements, which explains why pepper makes us sneeze. People usually sneeze one or two at most, but if you do this action several times, you should be interested in knowing that the number of sneezes can vary in accordance with the effort needed to get rid of the irritant substances out of your body. Sometimes, a simple sneeze is enough to get this task done, but sometimes it takes two, three or more. For example, just right now, believe it or not, I sneezed twice! Life is as strange as this curiosity, isn’t it?

Copyright 2016 All rights are reserved.

Curiosities: Why do woodpeckers peck on wood?

February 10, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.


Except for the streak of sadism in people’s nature that leads them to an absurd enjoyment from watching or making somebody suffer, people and animals have many things in common. Let’s see: People use a piece of machinery and tools to harvest food or to make a place to live. Woodpeckers use their sharp claws to hold tightly and their sharp beaks to peak into trees to look for insects, larvae, etc., that are extracted with their long tongues or to create nesting places. When men fall in love, they behave and flirt in different ways: They send flowers, sing, pretend to be rich or strong, etc. Well, a woodpecker drums its beak on either wood or metal to make a recognizable sound that is in fact a message for a beautiful woodpecker: “Love is waiting and love does not like to wait”, an almost irresistible invitation that will let the female woodpecker lay between four and eight eggs. Another possible reason for this sound and message is to let other woodpeckers know that the bird took possession of the area. In short, woodpeckers peck on wood to look for food, to mate, to create a nesting site or to define their place of living, their territory.

Copyright 2016 All rights are reserved.

Curiosities: How many strands of hair does a person have on his or her head?

November 22, 2015

By Eddy Montilla.


A person has an average of 100,000 strands of hair on their head. You might think that it is an incredible number, but in fact, it is nothing compared to the strands of hair of a squirrel or a honeybee (three million) or butterflies and moths, as ultimate examples, with 10 billion strands of hair approximately.

Copyright 2015 All rights are reserved.

Curiosities: Who invented the fire extinguisher?

May 6, 2015

By Eddy Montilla.


A fire extinguisher, a small portable device with chemicals inside for putting out small fires, has saved many houses from collapsing and many people from dying. But who invented it?

Ctesibius (or Ktesibios) Of Alexandria, a Greek physicist and inventor who lived most probably between years 285 and 222 BC, had already invented a force pump for water more than 2,000 years ago. This hand pump could discharge water to a fire. However, there seems to be a consensus that British Captain George William Manby (1765-1864) invented the first modern fire extinguisher in 1813. He is credited with the invention of a copper cylinder which held three gallons of a fire-extinguishing solution (pearl ash/potassium carbonate) under pressure. The compressed solution was forced out through a tube onto the fire. He worked on his project when he witnessed a fire and saw the firefighters’ difficulties to reach upper areas of burning buildings. George William Manby also worked on a mechanism for catching people who jumped from blazing buildings safely.

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved.

Curiosities: What is the color of the Sun?

January 24, 2015

By Eddy Montilla.


At first sight, this question looks like something very silly (which makes me giggle and makes the question itself more interesting too!). After all, who has not painted a yellow sun in his or her life? Who has not seen an orange sunset?

The Sun is not yellow, orange or red. What you see with your naked eye or what is captured by your camera is not always or necessarily right and true. If beauty, as the old saying goes, is in the eye of the beholder, colors too!! The Sun looks yellow because, compared to other colors, yellow is the brightest wavelength from the Sun that can be seen directly with your eyes or through the lens of your camera. The Earth’s atmosphere and pollution lead to the common misconception of a yellow sun and orange or red sunsets. In essence, the Sun is not white either. It looks like that when viewed from the space because it emits light in all colors and when all these colors come together, we see what scientists call “white light”, which is the name given to what the human eye sees when all the colors that make up the visible light spectrum are combined. Therefore, the Sun is not white and this color is the result of all colors emitted by it.

When the Sun’s light is passed through a device like a prism, for example, it emits all C O L O R S (or almost all of them because this part seems to be a little bit unclear yet.). If the Sun emits all colors, we could say that the color of the Sun is in fact a mixture of all of them.

Now you know the answer, but give me a favor a take a look at this picture of a sunrise that I took a couple of days ago in the Caribbean Sea.


If you have the opportunity to see what I saw on that day with your family, with someone you love or alone if you want, forget everything you read in this blog and keep thinking that…The Sun is yellow!!!!!!

Copyright 2015 All rights are reserved.