1. Are the colors you see the same as the ones I see?
Imagine looking at a particular color with your friend, and suddenly your friend sees the color blue while you see something else. After years of head-scratching and thinking, scientists agree that humans could have a different perception of colors and that various factors surrounding the color determine the judgment. An average human has three photoreceptors that identify green, blue, and red colors. However, some people have four photoreceptors instead of three. Scientists call them “tetrachromats.” Tetrachromats can see a color between red and green and will argue that all other persons that do not know that color are color blind.
2. Why do clouds float when they have tons of water in them?
Clouds are a collection of billions of water droplets and/or ice crystals. These water droplets and/or ice crystals are widely spread up the sky, giving it a floating look. Clouds form when the Sun heats the Earth’s surface, including the oceans and seas. Water in these water bodies evaporates and rises as warm air. At some heights high above, the warm air cools to form tiny water droplets. When illuminated by light, the small droplets appear as though floating. It is the same as the small particles you see in a dark room when the sun comes through the window.
The reason why clouds do not fall despite vast volumes of water in them is that the water droplets are lightweight and dispersed in the atmosphere. Also, the upward motions (updrafts) counteract the falling tendencies of particles in the atmosphere, causing the clouds to form, grow, and survive in air moving upwards. As the air rises, the pressure decreases, and at high altitudes, the wind causes cooling and the survival and growth of clouds. As the water droplets cool, they clump together to big sizes, big enough to finally give in to gravity and fall as rain. (1, 2)
3. How can we be falling asleep while watching TV but are wide awake when we go to bed just five minutes later?
There are times when a person, despite being sleepy, is unable to fall asleep when they go to bed. This condition is referred to as “psychophysiological insomnia.” Something in their sleep environment triggers “waking up” as the natural response to being in bed instead of falling asleep. Beds are supposed to induce sleep. If we use our laptops or mobile phones in bed, or use our beds for a different purpose than sleeping, our brains start associating beds with staying awake and engaging in those activities instead of sleeping.
According to sleep-medicine specialist and associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, Philip Gehrman, being unable to fall asleep while lying in bed is often a learned arousal. There are certain therapies and ways through which this condition can be treated. One of them is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) that aims at rewiring your brain to see the bed as a place to get sleep. However, if a person does not have insomnia, they just might have a late body clock. Reducing or avoiding screen time before bed can be crucial, as the blue light emitted from the screens can decrease the production of melatonin which is an important chemical that helps us sleep. (source)
4. Caffeine almost has no calories, yet it seems to give us a burst of energy on its own. Where does this energy come from?
Most of us have wondered how caffeine provides energy yet does not affect our caloric intake. Caffeine, in spite of having zero calories, provides a massive energy boost to our bodies because it increases the effects of vital chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine, and also stimulates the release of adrenaline.
Consumption of caffeine can make you feel energetic. As much as 80% of Americans consume caffeine every single day. Caffeine interacts with our bodies differently. It acts as a central nervous system stimulant. It is known to increase the effects of neurotransmitters. Caffeine interacts with adenosine receptors by blocking them which, in turn, enhances the effects of dopamine. Consumption of caffeine can also increase adrenaline in your blood which makes your heart rate shoot up and your liver release more sugar into your bloodstream. It helps contract our muscles by stimulating the release of calcium ions into the muscle fibers.
Caffeine does provide us with that extra energy we need in the morning, but overconsumption of caffeine can cause withdrawal symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, a healthy adult can safely consume 400 milligrams of caffeine daily. Caffeine, on one hand, lowers the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s and cuts suicide risk by almost 45%. Yet, on the other hand, consumption of caffeine can cause serve acid reflux, heartburn, increased urination, irregular heartbeat, and a long list of other undesirable effects. Caffeine also interferes with absorption and metabolism of calcium which can result in thin bones and muscle aches. It is very important to read the labels and monitor the intake of caffeine. (source)
5. Why do we lose our baby teeth?
Getting rid of baby teeth is not funny at all. But, in the long run, the baby teeth must go. We all know that shortly after babies are born, they begin to acquire baby teeth. These teeth emerge on average at six months. The baby teeth help the baby with their dental structure, biting and chewing, the pronunciation of words and speaking, and overall face structure. However, baby teeth can’t sustain them in adulthood. As the baby grows, the jawbones grow demanding a set of larger teeth. The baby teeth pave the way for the permanent teeth.
At around ages five and six, the permanent teeth start pushing at the roots of the baby teeth, making them loose. The loose teeth will fall after a certain period. The little blood you see when the baby teeth fall is caused by the bleeding of the gums that were holding the teeth. Humans lose all the first 20 teeth, also called ‘milk teeth,’ and gain a total of 32 permanent teeth. However, some people retain their baby teeth for life and never get permanent teeth. This condition is known as a “congenital” issue. (1, 2)
6. Why do you blink when there is a sudden loud noise close by?
Given the delicate nature and usefulness of eyes to both humans and animals, the brain acts spontaneously to make sure that the eye protects itself. Often, a loud sound is associated with danger, so when the door bangs, eyes blink in an attempt to protect the eye from any dust or particles. The condition is known as the “acoustic startle-reflex eye blink.” Eye blinking when you hear a loud noise or intense light happens fast without having a second thought about blinking.
When there is a loud noise, the ears and eyes send messages to the subconscious part of the brain using sensory nerves. The mind, in turn, commands the nerves controlling the eyelid to close the eye. (source)
7. Why does your eyesight get worse with age?
Apart from genetics, there are several factors that make our eyes get weaker over time. An adult between the age of 19 to 40 enjoys the best vision. Most problems related to vision are due to genetics, but, there are several other factors that cause our vision to deteriorate as we age.
Presbyopia is a part of the natural aging process. It makes the lenses in our eyes hard which weakens the ability of our eyes to change focus. This lens-hardening is caused due to decreasing levels of alpha-crystalline. It is considered a type of refractive error where a person is not able to focus on nearby objects, especially in low-light conditions. Ability to focus on nearby objects deteriorates as we age. As a child, we can focus on objects as near as 50 mm. As we grow older, this distance increases to 100 mm by the age of 25, and then to about one to two meters above the age of 60. The risk of developing presbyopia increases after the age of 35, and almost everyone is affected by the condition to some extent.
Some other factors which affect our eyesight daily are exposure to shorter wavelengths of visible light and UV light. Constant and prolonged exposure to these types of light can cause vision impairment. Apart from that, smoking is considered really harmful to your vision. According to studies, an individual who smokes is twice as likely to develop AMD as a non-smoker. The probability of developing cataracts is three times that of non-smokers. Smoking causes deposits of heavy metals such as cadmium in the lens of our eyes which can lead to such problems. (source)
8. Why do people snore?
The reason people snore is that while asleep, their muscles relax which obstructs the flow of air causing the air to vibrate and create the snoring sound. When a person is asleep, the muscles in their body relax, including the ones that support the air passage. Due to this obstruction, the air they breathe in does not flow in a smooth path causing vibrations with the membranous parts of the airway.
Snoring can be induced through a variety of factors which include consumption of alcohol, sleep deprivation, the position in sleep, and the anatomy of a person’s mouth. While snoring is not a disease, it is a symptom of a disorder known as “sleep apnea.” It is a condition in which a person is not able to sleep properly due to poor breathing and obstruction of their airway. About 40% of men and 24% of women suffer from habitual snoring, and an estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. (source)
9. Why does shaking soda make it lose its carbonation
Soft drinks taste flat and lose their carbonation when shaken because the process of shaking allows the dissolved gas to escape from the liquid by forming bubbles. Carbonated drinks contain carbon dioxide which is dissolved in the liquid under high pressure. When a can of soda is shaken or the soda is poured out vigorously, the carbon dioxide molecules trapped in the liquid overcome the surface tension of the liquid and escape. Initially, a certain quantity of energy is required for the formation of a bubble, Once a bubble is formed, however, relatively less energy is required for the liquid to vaporize and join the bubble. The movement of shaking a soda can provides the energy required by the gas molecules to move out of the liquid and join with each other as bubbles resulting in more fizz. (source)
10. What makes a shooting star fall?
Did you know that a shooting star is not a star? The shooting star you see falling towards the Earth’s surface at night is a meteorite made up of dust and tiny rocks. As the meteor falls, it glows due to friction. Meteors are small particles from comets and asteroids and mostly come from the Asteroid Belt. Others form when a collision occurs in other Solar System bodies like the Moon and Mars.
When the object enters the Earth’s atmosphere and burns up in the sky, it is called a “meteor.” When it survives the burning and hits the Earth’s surface, it is called a “meteorite.” Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through a comet’s debris stream. During this time, the meteors appear a few minutes or seconds apart and originate from the same spot. It is estimated that 25 million debris, meteorites, and other fragments enter the Earth’s atmosphere every day. (1, 2)