The human body is a marvel in itself. With over five litres of blood, 60% of water, 206 bones and a ‘100 billion cells’ sized nervous system, without mentioning the other long lists of known facts, it is one of the most complex and sophisticated ‘machines’ that mankind has come across.
Although certain new discovery about the human body pops up every now and then, there are also various facts that are unknown to many of us, although they have been discovered. Here are some not-so-known facts about the various organs in our body.
I. The Tongue
The tongue is probably one of the most underrated senses in the human body. However, it does have several facts to elucidate.
1. The tongue is a structure with no skeletal support, what Biologists term as a muscular hydrostat. It is also the only muscle connected at one end, while the other end is free.
2. There are 2000 to 8000 taste buds in our tongue.
3. It is only a myth that we taste different flavours in different areas of the tongue. Taste can be detected by any area of the tongue. For experience, we can try putting some salt at the tip, which is said to contain the receptors for ‘sweet’ taste.
4. The average life of a taste bud is ten days, and then they are replaced. Also, smoking can reduce the number of taste buds a person has.
5. Our tongue cannot taste anything if it is dry. It must be moist with saliva in order to sense the taste.
II. The Heart
If the heart stops pumping blood, it’s all over. However, certain other things also work in relation to the heart.
6. Our left lung is smaller than our right lung. Wonder why? It is to make room for our heart.
7. Aristotle had believed that the heart collected sensory input from the peripheral organs through blood vessels. He thought that emotions generated from this process. And hence the word ‘heartfelt’ was originated.
8. The heart rate slows down ten to twenty-five percent when our face touches the water. It is called the Mammalian Dive Reflex.
9. Laughter really is the best medicine. A good laugh can send 20% more blood flowing through our entire body. So whatever we do, we must not forget to have a good laugh each day.
10. Women and men may be equals in several other areas, but are certainly not equal in matters of the heart. A man’s heart weighs 10 ounces while a woman’s heart weighs approximately 8 ounces. Also, a woman’s heart beats faster than a man’s- average being 78 bpm compared to man’s approximately 70.
III. The Brain and Nervous System
The brain controls while the nervous system relays messages back and forth. However, it is a very unusual organ. Here are some facts which illustrate this feature.
11. Our brain size is shrinking. Its present size is roughly 10 percent smaller than our ancestors. However, there is no need to worry for now- because brain size is not correlated to intellect.
12. The cerebral cortex of our brain is filled with a lot of wrinkles- and the good news is, it actually develops our processing power. In short, we can say- more wrinkles in our brain make us smarter.
13. Women’s and men’s brainpower is similar. There are genetic, social and psychological differences of course- however, neuroscience doesn’t really recognise it.
14. The left side of the human brain controls the right side of the body and the right side of the human brain controls the left side of the body. So if a right handed person were to activate his right brain, he should use his left hand- probably while brushing his teeth.
15. Ever tried to count the stars in the sky? Well, we wouldn’t be able to count our neurones either. There are more neurones in the brain than there are stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.
IV. The Skin
The skin is the largest part of our body- and the fact that it is covered with hair makes it even larger. Here are some things we should know about our own skin, and some things we already know but choose to ignore.
16. Our palm, lips and sole are the only skin in our body which do not have hair.
17. Facial hair grows faster than hair growth in other parts of the body. Men would know this better- no matter how much they shave, the hair comes back again, and also at an increasing rate compared to other body parts.
18. On only one centimetre of our body lies 15 million germs- however, these are healthy germs. Mostly.
19. It is our fingerprints that help us grab objects by increasing friction.
20. Ever wondered why body odour is mostly smelt in the armpits? It is because body odour comes from a different kind of sweat- a fatty secretion produced by the apocrine sweat glands. And they are found mostly around the armpits, genitals and anus. The odour is actually caused by bacteria on the skin eating and digesting those fatty compounds.