Monday, September 29, 2014

Facts about the Human Body

In order for humans to taste something, saliva needs to dissolve it.

The human eye is so sensitive that if the Earth were flat, you could spot a candle flickering at night from up to 30 miles away.

The average person produces enough saliva in their lifetime to fill one large swimming pool.

When you blush, the lining of your stomach blushes too.

The muscles which control your eyes contract about 100,000 times a day. That's the equivalent of giving your legs a workout by walking 50 miles.

With the 60,000 miles of blood vessels inside the average human body, you could circumnavigate Earth two and a half times.

Over the course of an average lifetime, people shed about 40lbs of skin.


In each human kidney, there are 1 million filters that clean around 1.3 liters of blood every minute and push out close to 1.5 liters of urine every day.


Nerve impulses travel to and from the brain at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour.


Human female ovaries contain over 500,000 eggs but only about 400 get the opportunity to create life.


When in love, the human brain releases the same cocktail of neurotransmitters and hormones that are released by amphetamines. That leads to increased heart rate, loss of appetite and sleep, and intense feelings of excitement.


Except for twins, every human being has a completely unique smell.


An adult is made up of 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion) atoms. For perspective, there’s a "measly" 300,000,000,000 (300 billion) stars in our galaxy.


A circumcised male adult's or baby's foreskin is often used as a skin graft for burn victims.


Humans have the same amount of hairs on our body as a chimpanzee. But, most of them are useless and so fine that they are invisible.


Along with the five traditional senses of sound, sight, touch, smell and taste, humans have 15 other senses. These include balance, temperature, pain and time as well as internal senses for suffocation, thirst, and fullness.


Human skin is the largest organ in the body. If an adult male's skin were stretched out, it would cover 20 square feet.


In just 30 minutes, the human body can produce enough heat to boil half a gallon of water.

The atoms that make up your human body today are same atoms that formed during the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. (Sorry, Christian Fundamentalists, but evolution  and not creationism is a fact.)


Every 60 seconds, your red blood cells do a complete circuit of a human body.


For every pound of fat or muscle gained, the human body creates seven miles of new blood vessels.


Most babies are born with blue eyes but exposure to ultraviolet light brings out their true color.


Humans share 50% of their DNA with bananas.


It can take your finger and toenails up to a half-year to grow an entirely new nail from the base to the tip.


Loneliness is physically painful. Just as humans have a drive to avoid physical pain, they have a similarly powerful drive to connect with others and seek companionship in order to avoid the pain of loneliness.


The stomach does not digest itself because stomach cells are created faster than they can be destroyed.


The human body produces 25 million new cells each second. Every 13 seconds, you produce more cells than there are people in the United States.


Humans are extremely visual. 90% of the information humans gather from their surroundings is gathered from the eyes.


The average man produces about 10 million new sperm daily, approximately enough to repopulate the entire planet in 6 months.


Humans are bioluminescent and glow in the dark. The light that we emit is 1,000 times weaker than our human eyes are able to pick up.


There are more than 300,000,000 capillaries in a human lung and if they were stretched out tip to tip they would reach approximately 1,300 miles.


Around 90% of the cells that make humans are not human in origin. People are mostly fungi and bacteria.


Humans shed 40 pounds of skin in their lifetime, completely replacing their outer skin every month.


Frequent night dreams have been correlated with having a higher than average IQ.


Cartilage in the human spine slowly compresses throughout the day. As a result, an average person is about 1cm shorter when they go to bed at night as compared to when they wake up in the morning.


Crying alleviates stress and allows humans to decrease feelings of anger and sadness. It also helps physically to let it out. Humans also produce differently structured tears depending on the reason for crying.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Puns, No. 6

1. The fattest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.

6. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

7. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

8. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

9. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

10. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

11.Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, “You stay here; I’ll go on a head.”

12. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

13. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said, “Keep off the Grass.”

14. A backward poet writes inverse.

15. In a democracy, it’s your vote that counts. In feudalism, it’s your count that votes.

16. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

17. The midget fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
18. The soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
19.Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, "I’ve lost my electron." The other says, "Are you sure?" The first replies, "Yes, I’m positive."
20.Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turned to the other and says, "Dam!"
21. A vulture carrying two dead raccoons boards an airplane. The stewardess looks at him and says, "I’m sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger."
22.There was the person who sent ten puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.

Strange but True, No. 2

The City of Garbage

Nowhere in the world is garbage as important a part of the economy as Manshiyat Naser, a section of Cairo, Egypt. The people of Manshiyat Naser live by processing the trash of Cairo’s 10 million residents. In this part of Cairo, there is no running water, no sewers, and no electricity. And, every inch of space is packed with towers of garbage. There are also pigs that wander around living on the garbage and the filth. Living in extreme poverty, the families of “Garbage City” tend to each specialize in a particular type of trash, with some relying on recyclable bottles, others on metal, and others burning what they can for warmth.

Canadian Anti-Catholic Book

In January 1836, a former nun named Maria Monk published a book titled The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk about her time spent cloistered in the Hotel Dieu nunnery in Montreal, Canada. The book describes a variety of bizarre goings-on, including initiation ceremonies involving coffins, mass physical abuse, infanticide, and a leather hat known as “the cap” which was said to inflict pain. When Monk discovered she was pregnant, she fled the convent, fearing she would die in labor, and wrote her book. But, the whole thing was actually a hoax created by Monk and a number of men who were preying on the anti-Catholic attitudes of that time. The truth was uncovered by a New York City newspaper editor, Colonel William Leete Stone, who traveled to the Hotel Dieu nunnery and revealed that Monk’s story had no basis in fact. Discredited, she spent the rest of her life in poverty, went insane and died in prison in 1849.


A kiwi is not a fruit. It is New Zealand’s native flightless bird and it is also a slang term for a New Zealander. The fruit is call the fruit “kiwifruit” but they are also known as Chinese Gooseberries.

Ballooning Hoax

On the morning of April 13, 1844, readers of The New York Sun newspaper read an amazing story. The article claimed that eight people had flown across the Atlantic Ocean, from England to the United States, in a balloon. The travelers were trying to fly to Paris but had been blown far off course. A number of famous and well-respected figures were said to have been on the journey which the article said took only 75 hours. But, the story was a total fabrication conceived by American writer and poet, Edgar Allan Poe, who was destitute and needed money. The newspaper retracted the story two days later.

Rarest Snake in the World
The rarest snake in the world is the St. Lucia racer. They were thought to be only found on the small island of St. Lucia in the tropical Caribbean. While these snakes once existed on St. Lucia, they were thought to have been eradicated when invasive predators such as the mongoose and black rat were introduced to the island. They were actually declared to be extinct in 1936 but they were rediscovered on Maria Major island in 1973 where the snakes managed to survive because of the lack of mongooses. This non-venomous snake reaches a maximum length of just under 1 meter (3 ft), and is usually light brown in color with a distinctive brown stripe running from the neck down to the tail. With a recent survey indicating that as few as 18 of these snakes exist on the island, the St. Lucian racer is one of the rarest animals in the world. Currently, major conservation efforts are underway to protect these snakes before they become extinct.
Tony Blair Plagiarized War Statement
In 2003, British prime minister Tony Blair was trying to justify joining the American invasion of Iraq. A 19-page document, subsequently known as the “Dodgy Dossier,” formed the backbone of the case for the invasion. The dossier contained lots of unattributed, stolen material. Material was taken from, among other sources, a doctoral thesis from California State University professor Ibrahim Al-Marashi. Blair’s staff even included the original typing errors.
Earthquake Lights
For centuries, eyewitnesses have reported seeing mysterious lights appearing in the sky moments before or during major earthquakes. The lights were described alternately as bright flashes, blue flames, or faint rainbows that emerge from the ground and sometimes stretch up to 200 meters (650 ft). Before the 1960s, geologists dismissed these reports as hallucinations because no  photographs or video footage existed. However, this all changed in the mid-1960s when a series of earthquakes hit Nagano, Japan, giving skeptical geologists an excellent chance to document and finally acknowledge the phenomenon. Several theories have been proposed to explain how earthquake lights form. One of them includes disruption of the Earth’s magnetic field by piezoelectric effect, which is caused by quartz rocks in the tectonic stress region. However, since not every major earthquake is preceded by lightning, these theories haven’t yet been investigated.
Naked Male Marijuana Festival
The Chu Valley of the mostly Muslim nation of Kyrgyzstan grows some of the world’s most verdant crops of wild cannabis. From these, a bizarre drug is harvested. Called “plastilin,” the concentrated marijuana hash is gathered in a strange traditional way and has been for generations. A horseman and his mount are freshly washed. The rider, stripped naked, rides the horse through fields of marijuana for hours, both man and beast working up a sweat. Resin from the plants becomes plastered to their skin. It is then carefully scraped away, molded, and allowed to dry. The result is a spectacularly potent drug which can be easily hidden and later enjoyed. A couple of tiny balls of the substance wrapped in an regular cigarette is enough to leave a user happily buzzed.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Three Tribes Created Modern Europeans

The modern European gene pool was formed when three ancient populations mixed within the last 7,000 years, the journal Nature reports. Blue-eyed, swarthy hunters mingled with brown-eyed, pale skinned farmers as the latter swept into Europe from the Near East. But, another mysterious population with Siberian affinities also contributed to the genetic landscape of the continent. The findings are based on analysis of genomes from nine ancient Europeans.

Agriculture originated in the Near East in what is now modern Syria, Iraq and Israel before expanding into Europe around 7,500 years ago. Multiple lines of evidence suggested this new way of life was spread by a wave of migrants, who interbred with the indigenous European hunter-gatherers they encountered on the way. However, assumptions about European origins were based largely on the genetic patterns of living people. The science of analyzing genomic DNA from ancient bones has put some of the prevailing theories to the test, throwing up a few surprises. Genomic DNA contains the biochemical instructions for building a human, and resides within the nuclei of our cells.

In the new paper, Professor David Reich from the Harvard Medical School in the U.S. and his colleagues studied the genomes of seven hunter-gatherers from Scandinavia, one hunter whose remains were found in a cave in Luxembourg and an early farmer from Stuttgart, Germany. The hunters-gathers arrived in Europe thousands of years before the advent of agriculture, hunkered down in southern refuges during the Ice Age and then expanded during a period called the Mesolithic, after the ice sheets had retreated from central and northern Europe. Their genetic profile is not a good match for any modern group of people. But, their genes live on in modern Europeans to a greater extent in the north-east than in the south.

The early farmer genome showed a completely different pattern, however. Her genetic profile was a good match for modern people in Sardinia, and was rather different from the indigenous hunters.  However, puzzlingly, while the early farmers share genetic similarities with Near Eastern people at a global level, they are significantly different in other ways. Professor Reich suggests that more recent migrations in the farmers' "homeland" may have diluted their genetic signal in that region today. Reich said, The only way we'll be able to prove this is by getting ancient DNA samples along the potential trail from the Near East to Europe... and seeing if they genetically match these predictions or if they're different. Maybe they're different. That would be extremely interesting.

Pigmentation genes carried by the hunters and farmers showed that, while the dark hair, brown eyes and pale skin of the early farmer would look familiar to us, the hunter-gatherers would stand out if we saw them on a street today. It really does look like the indigenous West European hunter gatherers had this striking combination of dark skin and blue eyes that doesn't exist anymore, Reich told BBC News.

Dr. Carles Lalueza-Fox, of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, Spain, who was not involved with the research, told BBC News, If you look at all the reconstructions of Mesolithic people on the internet, they are always depicted as fair skinned. And the farmers are sometimes depicted as dark-skinned newcomers to Europe. This shows the opposite.

So where did fair pigmentation in present-day Europeans come from? The farmer seems to be on her way there, carrying a gene variant for light skin that's still around today. There's an evolutionary argument about this - that light skin in Europe is biologically advantageous for people who farm, because you need to make vitamin D, said Professor Reich. Hunters and gatherers get vitamin D through their food - because animals have a lot of it. But once you're farming, you don't get a lot of it, and once you switch to agriculture, there's strong natural selection to lighten your skin so that when it's hit by sunlight you can synthesize vitamin D, he added.

When the researchers looked at DNA from 2,345 present day people, they found that a third population was needed to capture the genetic complexity of modern Europeans. This additional "tribe" is the most enigmatic and, surprisingly, is related to Native Americans. Hints of this group surfaced in an analysis of European genomes two years ago. Dubbed Ancient North Eurasians, this group remained a "ghost population" until 2013, when scientists published the genome of a 24,000-year-old boy buried near Lake Baikal in Siberia. This individual had genetic similarities to both Europeans and indigenous Americans, suggesting he was part of a population that contributed to movements into the New World 15,000 years ago and Europe at a later date. The ancient hunter from Luxembourg and the farmer from Germany show no signs of mixture from this population, implying this third ancestor was added to the continental mix after farming was already established in Europe. 

The study also revealed that the early farmers and their European descendents can trace a large part of their ancestry to a previously unknown, even older lineage called Basal Eurasians. This group represents the earliest known population divergence among the humans who left Africa 60,000 years ago.