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. 


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