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 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.


Curiosities: What is the only thing we do unconsciously without being able to stop it?

January 2, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

BREATHE

To breathe.

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


Curiosities: Who invented the fire extinguisher?

May 6, 2015

By Eddy Montilla.

EXTINGHISHER

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 littlethings4all.wordpress.com. All rights reserved.


Curiosities: Where is the world’s largest salt flat?

May 5, 2015

By Eddy Montilla.

Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni, with its more than 10,580 square kilometers, is the world’s largest salt flat and it is located in Potosi, in southwest Bolivia. No one knows for sure how much salt makes up Salar de Uyuni, but it is estimated at 10 billion tons of salt.

     Salar de Uyuni is one of the most incredible natural wonder in the world. It is the flattest place on Earth to a point that scientist use it to calibrate satellite sensors. One of the most surreal landscapes can be seen there, especially during the raining season (from December to March) when water turns Salar de Uyuni into a shallow salt lake (a couple of inches) that perfectly mirrors the sky. This enormous salt flat becomes what must be the world’s biggest mirror. The mirror image of the clouds and sky extend as far as you can see, creating an exotic backdrop for photographers and an invisible horizon where there is nothing to distinguish earth from the heavens.

     Since everything here is salt, you can also find a hotel made, of course, of salt.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

     Several thousand years ago, different lakes covered the plateau there. Around 15,000 years ago, Minchin Lake covered most of the area where Salar de Uyuni is, but the water from the lake had evaporated significantly leaving deposits of different chemical elements and minerals that over several thousand years made the salt crust that we can see today. The crust is comprised of 11 layers which vary in thickness. In many areas, the salt crusts are more than 10 meters thick.

     Salt is extracted from Salar of Uyuni. However, the greatest threat to the environment is lithium, a metal used in batteries for mobile phones, computers, etc. It is said that this area contains from 50 to 70% of the world’s lithium reserves, so nobody knows if men will destroy one more time Mother Nature.

Copyright 2015 littlethings4all.wordpress.com. All rights reserved.