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

December 5, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

cold

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 the girl who was in front of me: One, she was wearing a miniskirt and boots 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 extend the length of your skirt some centimeters annually 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 your body shiver when we are cold?

     On very cold moments, your body temperature drops from its normal parameters (from 36°C to 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 as soon as you feel hot, 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 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.

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Curiosities: How fast and far does a sneeze travel?

August 7, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

SNEEZE-2

     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 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, and in case of 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 with your hands.

Copyright 2016 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.


Curiosities: Why do we sneeze?

August 6, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

SNEEZE

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 inside 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 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.


Curiosities: Why do some people crack their fingers (knuckles) and why knuckle cracking makes a popping sound?

April 2, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

HANDS

Yesterday, I wanted to go to a quiet place to write a short story, so I went to the town library. It was very quiet indeed, except for the noise made by a student who was cracking his knuckles. The first time he did it, minutes later, he tried to repeat the same action, but it was in vain. However, after 20 minutes or so, he was right there, doing the same thing again. Then, I was a little bit upset and also curious to know why some people crack their knuckles to a point that they cannot stop.

     Joint cracking is a habit, and in general, people keep attached to their habits because they feel good doing so. Some people crack their knuckles to get rid of stress; others claim to experience physical release, certain feeling of comfort and looseness.

     As for the popping sound, what do you hear when a balloon bursts? A sound, right? And a balloon contains gas. There are different theories about the popping noise, but in general they have the same thing in common: gas bubbles. Between the bones, there is a liquid called synovial fluid whose function is to allow the joint to move freely by acting as a lubricant. This synovial fluid contains gas bubbles that pop when they receive some pressure, making the familiar sound we know. A most recent theory points to a cavity filled with gas that is formed when the joint is stretched apart. However, in both cases, the idea is the same: The popping noise comes from gas as primary agent. Since the gas stays in the synovial fluid more than 20 minutes, a person cannot crack his or her knuckles repeatedly. They need 20-30 minute intervals for that, and that’s why the kid in the library could not crack his fingers twice so quickly, which allowed me to write the first paragraph of my story without being interrupted by his noise.

     Finally, until now, there is no scientific evidence that links joint cracking to arthritis. Joint injuries, swelling and other problems are not beyond the bounds of possibility, but is not sure that you will end up dealing with these problems either. But the sound you make whenever you crack your knuckles is socially disturbing and annoying. Therefore, be careful and think about other people.

Copyright 2016 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.


Curiosities: How many times does a person blink per minute and why?

March 19, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

EYELASHES

When you blink, you shut and open your eyes quickly, in fact, quicker than the proverb “in the blink of an eye”, because a blink only takes one third of a second. We blink for several reasons, for example, to keep the eye clean and moist because if the eyeball dries out, it becomes itchy and irritating. A blink is also a protective mechanism against bright light or particles that could hurt your eyes.

     As for the number of times we blink, I think that we have to be very careful with figures here because the range of blink rate is wide and it depends on different factors and situations. For example, while an infant only blinks one or twice per minute, a person under great stress and anxiety, could blink 40 or 50 times, and if you are very concentrated on something, you will not blink more than 20. But if you still want something more specific, a person blinks on average between 15 and 20 times per minute, 900 and 1200 times in an hour.

Copyright 2016 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.


Curiosities: Why don’t woodpeckers get hurt when they peck on wood?

February 10, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

WOODPECKERS

Last Friday, I saw a Japanese office worker, “a little bit drunk”, hitting softly a lamp post with his fists first, and with his head later. “I think I have discovered a new and rare species of woodpeckers.” I said. And the question about why these birds don’t get hurt when they peck came to my mind at once. And this is the answer:

     If you are going to move and you don’t wrap some protective material around your glasses and put something between them, I am sure that you will enjoy your new house, but you will miss your glasses because they will be broken! They more space there is between the skull and the brain, the more the brain gets hurt after a blow. Compared to humans, in the case of woodpeckers, the space between their brains and skulls is minimal. Besides, these birds have special bones in their skulls that act like plates and have an absorbent structure and capacity, which help avoid concussions. Woodpeckers’ upper beak and lower beak are asymmetric. This unevenness seems to play an important role to protect theses birds’ brain by absorbing the impact of the blows when they peck. Finally, next time you have problems at work, at home, etc., remember that woodpeckers are well prepared to do that, but your head is not. So do not hit your head with your palm, fist or any other thing. Be smarter than the woodpeckers and try to solve your problems instead.

Copyright 2016 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.


Curiosities: Why do woodpeckers peck on wood?

February 10, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

WOODPECKERS

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 they will eat later 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 food (insects, larvae, etc., that are extracted with their long tongues.) or to create nesting places. When men fall in love or want to make 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 woodpecker lay between four and eight eggs. Another possible reason for this sound and message is to let other woodpeckers know that this is my 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 littlethings4all.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.