Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Today I learned about the human hand

Posted by Unknown

Today we will learn about the human hand. The hand has only 29 bones and major joints but 48 nerves and at least 123 ligaments. You might be interested to know that there are no muscles in your fingers. The fingers are pulled around by tendons leading down from a muscle in the lower arm. They are controlled like little puppets! Like the soles of our feet, the palms of our hands are rather unusual patches of skin. They are hairless, have finger or toe prints, cannot tan and usually have little color, as well as being tough and durable while still being rather sensitive. This skin is also anchored to the bone through an intermediate layer called fascia. This is what stops the skin from moving all over the place when we grip or twist. There is a medical condition known as Dupuytren's disease in which the fascia shrinks and thickens, making something like a thick cord holding a finger or fingers in a bent position.

Here's another fun finger fact (ooh, how alliterative!). Fingers are never perfectly straight. They all curve slightly toward the middle finger, while the middle finger itself can point slightly one way or the other. A rather gross hand fact is that during the Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar ordered the thumbs of captured warriors to be amputated. This served as a tragic example for their people when they returned and made certain they would not bear arms again. Since that time, the practice has been repeated in a number of other wars and in slave trade.

Speaking of gross, the longest fingernails on one hand in the world belonged to Shidhar Chillal, who began growing them in 1952 and stopped in 2000, after it caused some nerve damage in his hand and deafened his left ear. He cut the record-breaking 20 feet nails. Now the record holder is Lee Redmond of Utah, US. She had started in 1979 and had planned to cut them in 2006, but had decided against that. Instead she kept them, a complete length of 24 feet! In 2009, Miss Redmond was in a car accident and broke her nails, as well as suffering serious injuries. 

Following the incident, Miss Redmond stated it took her 30 years to grow her nails that long and she may not last another 30, so she doesn't intend to grow them out again. She also said her hands seem to fly around without the extra weight of the nails. Her nails are currently about 4 inches each.

Another hand-related fact is that 12.6% of men are left handed while only 9.9% of women are. All you lefthanders can celebrate International Left Handers Day on August 13th. An incredible number of politicians have been left handed. 8 presidents, including the present Barack Obama, are left handed. Benjamin Franklin, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Senator McCain are some others. Historically speaking, there is an amazingly long list. Joan of Arc, Alexander the Great, Charlamagne, Caesar, Napoleon, Queen Victoria, Fidel Castro, Henry Ford, John Dillinger and even Jack the Ripper were left handed. Recently, there have even been guitarists who actually play left handed, namely Paul McCartney, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and Zacky Vengeance.

Artists M.C. Escher (his work Hand With Sphere pictured above), Paul Klee, Michelangelo, Raphael and Da Vinci. There's also an extraordinarily long list of left handed actors. Some are Matthew Broderick, Carol Burnett, Charlie Chaplin, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Robert DeNiro, Whoopi Goldberg, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Jim Henson, Goldie Hawn, Nicole Kidman, Ron Perlman, Robert Redford, Christian Slater, Dick Van Dyke and Oprah. There is, of course, also a large amount of famous athletes, but as I don't care much for sports, you are on your own in finding out who they are. 

I hope everyone found today's lesson entertaining and interesting. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Today I learned about human feet!

Posted by Unknown


My apologies to those who follow, the holidays were a very busy time and it was difficult to keep up, but here I am and I come bearing foot knowledge. Sit back and kick up your feet, they deserve to have some attention! Not many people think about their feet more than what socks and shoes they will use, but the feet are very interesting.

There are 52 bones in a pair of feet, accounting for 25% of all the bones in the body. Each individual foot has 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. In addition to all those fun things, the feet contain 250,000 sweat glands and can produce as much as a pint of moisture each day. To fully understand the weight of that statement, picture this:

But instead of tasty ice cream, it is filled with foot juice. Delicious, isn't it? 

The soles of the feet have more nerve endings and sweat glands in one place than any other place in the body, which is why so many people have ticklish feet. When it comes to footwear, it is best to shop in the afternoon. The reason being that our feet swell slightly throughout the day and it's important to get shoes that fit during that time. The average shoe sizes in the US are 10.5 for men and 8.5 for women, which makes me feel better about my size 9s. 

Walking is the best exercise to give your feet. It helps with weight control, improves circulation and makes a person healthier overall. The average person takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, adding up to 115,000 times a lifetime, which is longer than walking the circumference of the globe four times over! That's some serious footwork! On top of that, adding up the total amount of weight put on your feet by a day's worth of walking is equal to hundreds of tons, something like the weight of a fully loaded cement truck. Standing in one place for an extended period of time, as many who work know, is more tiring than walking because it is making demands of the same muscles for a long time. 

Now that you've learned a bit about your feet, let's kick things up a notch (pun intended) and look at some famous feet. One very interesting and inspiring person is known not even for two foot, but one. Christy Brown, an Irish writer and painter was born with cerebral palsy and was unable to move anything but his left foot. He learned to create using all that he had and became an amazing writer and painter. The above image is a picture of his work Killarney.

Another amazing example of perseverance and fancy footwork is the lovely Miss Jessica Cox of Tuscon, AZ. Miss Cox was born without any arms due to a birth defect, but she has not let it slow her down by any means! Jessica is able to drive without any car modifications, type on a keyboard at a rate of 25 words per minute, pump her own gas and even put in remove her contact lenses. What's more impressive than that? Well, she alsoset records for being the first armless black-belt in the American Taekwondo Association. If you still aren't impressed, try this: Jessica Cox is the first armless person to be licensed to fly. That's right, she flies a plane with her feet and she does it well. 

So there are some interesting foot facts for your day! I hope everyone enjoyed today's learning!