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10 Amazing Little-known Facts About the Human Body

 We don’t often think of all of the capabilities of the human body, but there are actually many amazing things about it that are hardly ever given a second thought. Here are 10 amazing, but little-known, facts about the human body:

1. Your body measurements equal each other


You’re likely to have seen the Vetruvian Man, the famous sketch by Leonardo da Vinci. It’s one of the earliest and best explorations of anthropometry, which is the scientific study of the measurements and proportion of the human body. Did you know, for instance, that your foot will fit neatly into your forearm? Or that your height is equal to the span of your arms when you stretch your legs out to the side?

What’s more is that your height is approximately 10 times the length from your wrist to the tip of your middle finger. Anthropometric correlation is more than just a bit of fun – anthropologists use it to determine how tall the owner of a particular bone is.

2. You’re tallest in the morning

NASA astronauts can be as much as two inches taller in zero gravity, and that’s because the absence of gravity prevents compression of the discs in the spine. The effect isn’t nearly quite as pronounced here on Earth as it is in space, however, our joints decompress when we lie down because gravity isn’t literally pulling us down. As a result, we’re tallest when we wake up we get out of bed in the morning.

3. Your body is capable of boiling water

The human body is capable of generating enough heat in just half an hour to bring half a gallon of water to the boil. With that being said, it regulates itself to keep itself at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit in spite of all the biochemical reactions that occur within it and give off a lot of heat. This same process also makes the body electric. In fact, it gives off about 100 watts of electrical energy when at rest, which is the same as your average light bulb. A sprinting athlete can give off as much as 2,000 watts.

4. Your bones are stronger than steel

Inch for inch, human bones are stronger than steel. A cubic inch of bone can withstand a weight of 19,000 pounds. To give you an idea of how strong that is, helicopters, small jet, and semi-trucks weight about 14,000 pounds, whereas a large male elephant weighs in at about 15,000. In addition, bone immediately begins to repair itself when broken – steel doesn’t.

5. Your hair is as durable as rope

The story of Rapunzel allowing the prince to climb up the tower she was imprisoned in using her tresses as a rope is far from implausible, and that’s because a rope of hair can actually withstand the weight of several men. A single strand of human hair can bear about 3 ounces of weight, but if you multiply that number by the average number of human hairs on a woman’s head, the hair would be capable of bearing a weight of 12 tons. Furthermore, flammability aside, hair is virtually indestructible.

6. Your heart can regulate to music

Your favorite music can make your heart beat faster. The connection between the human heart and music is so deep that various elite medical schools around the world are studying it in order to develop new treatments for heart disease. Your heart can actually be strengthened by its response to music. In essence, it mirrors the beat of the music you’re hearing – a Mozart concerto will slow it down, whereas an electronic song will speed it up. The response is strongest when a person is listening to the music that they really love.

7. You can smell and see more than you think

It’s quite common to hear that the human nose can identify roughly 10,000 different smells, but a Rockefeller University study conducted this year showed that the figure is actually at least 1 trillion! This finding came from observing human eye function. Despite the human eye having just three color receptors, it can see up to 10 million colors. In contrast, the nose has 400 olfactory receptors, so the team thought the human nose was capable of smelling far more different scents than previously thought.

8. You see with your brain rather than your eyes

It’s actually your brain that’s responsible for seeing rather than your eyes. The human eye collects information, which it then sends to the brain for processing. Another example of such a sensory system is the tongue, which can actually be used to reliably relay the same information to the brain as the eye would. Sensory substitution was pioneered in the 1960s, and it enabled people that were born blind to see well enough to recognize photos of then-supermodel, Twiggy. This work was recently used to help Navy SEAL orient their bodies when they’re underwater because the senses work differently when an individual is immersed in it.

9. Your mouth contains billions of bacteria

The average human mouth contains about the same amount of bacteria as there are humans on this planet. What’s more is that the bacteria form colonies and communities in here. For instance, bacteria on the roof of your mouth is different from the bacteria that resides underneath your tongue. Kissing for a mere 10 seconds can transfer as many as 80 million bacteria from one person’s mouth to another. You don’t have to stop kissing, though – saliva contains powerful antibacterial and antimicrobial compounds to kill off bad bacteria.  

10. Your body operates like the solar system

In his famous PBS series, Cosmos, astronomer Carl Sagan famously said: “…the cosmos is within us. We are made of star stuff.” Despite sounding like some fanciful new age notion, it’s actually the literal truth – scientific research and quantum physics has proved it. The iron in the blood, the calcium in the teeth and even the oxygen that fills the lungs were all created when novas and supernovas exploded and began to travel through space. In fact, some of the stuff in your cells may be more than 4 billion years old. Yep – we’re actually made of stardust.
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