10 Answers to Questions You’ve Always Asked Yourself?
Everyday we encounter strange phenomena that baffle us. We have questions that simply won’t stop haunting us until we get answers for them. We always wonder: “Why is it that way?”, “Why is it there?”, or maybe even “Why do I do that?”
These are 10 answers to questions that most of us have probably asked ourselves.
10. If smoking is prohibited, why do planes have ashtrays?
Smoking cigarettes are prohibited on all airplanes across the world. Besides the fact that smoking could be unpleasant for the other passengers, it is also a fire hazard. Cigarettes might have even been the main cause of the Varig Flight 820 plane crash.
Even though smoking is prohibited, planes usually have ashtrays in their restrooms. And not just the old models! Even brand new commercial airplanes come with ashtrays. Why??
Surprisingly, ashtrays are a requirement from the Federal Aviation Administration for airline safety. Despite the fact that smoking is prohibited on planes, and smoke alarms are installed in all airplanes, the FAA believes that a few people might still sneak a smoke once in a while. To be on the safe side, airplanes must have a place where passengers can dispose of their cigarette butts.
9. Why do books have blank pages?
Many published books have at least a couple empty pages that are often marked with “This page has been intentionally left blank.” to ensure readers that no printing error has occurred.
Blank pages do not mean publishers are simply trying to waste paper; they are just a consequence of the printing process used commonly by publishers. Large sheets of paper, which are called signatures, are used to print the pages of books; this allows for many pages to be printed at one time. These signatures are folded and cut by the machines into “book-sized” pages. Most written work can’t be grouped together into one sheet, so spare pages are often produced in the process.
Publishers simply turn these spare pages into notes or they add a message to assure readers that no printing error has occured during the printing of the book.
8. Why do bright lights make us sneeze?
Many people sneeze once bright lights hit them (like sunlight). Scientists have been intrigued by this phenomenon for many many years.
Sneezes are reactions from our bodies; usually nasal irritation usually causes us to sneeze. However, in the case of “photic sneeze reflex”, as called by scientists, the cause of sneezing is by looking directly at a bright source of light. Various theories about this phenomenon had been proposed by different researchers over the years, but none were widely accepted.
Today, most scientists believe that this phenomenon is the result of how different parts of our brain are placed. The nerve that senses light, or the optic nerve, is near the nerve that causes of sneezing, the “trigeminal nerve.” When the optic nerve senses light, it sends a message to the brain. Some of the signals affect the trigeminal nerve, often making the brain falsely think that the nose is irritated, thus a sneeze occurs.
7. Why does our hair turn gray?
We all experience this when we age. At around age 30 (or earlier for some people), you might notice that your hair is losing its color – it is slowly turning to gray and then finally to white by the time you’re a senior. A definite explanation for this phenomenon is not widespread.
Pigment cells called “melanocytes” are what causes hair to get its color. These cells are the ones that produce the chemicals, ranging from black to yellow, that compose the keratin, which is the main component of hair. Less pigment in the hair results from the deterioration of the melanocyte cells due to aging. This leads to the gray coloring. Eventually, the cells stop producing pigments, making the hair not get any color at all and turn white.
6. Why am I greeted with “blasted air” when I enter a store?
Most stores or malls blast air in their entrances; this is not to cool the customers down when they enter a store. Blasted air is used at a wide variety of establishments, including factories and restaurants. The primary reason for this gush of “blasted air” is to prevent air from getting in or out of the building so that the temperature in the building stays constant (stays cool during the summer, warm during the winter). This blasted air is also used for keeping insects and garbage (like papers and plastics) from entering the building.
5. Why do I get butterflies in my stomach?
The sensation of having “butterflies in your stomach” is a phenomenon that most people experience at some point in their lives. This feeling can occur for various reasons, often when someone is scared, nervous, or excited.
The “brain-gut axis”, as it is called, results from different emotions and situations. Fear and excitement are interpreted by your brain as stress activates your fight-or-flight response. This gives your body an adrenaline rush to help you with a situation through increased blood flow to the heart, lungs, and muscles. Since more blood flows into these organs, little blood is left for other organs, like your stomach, which leads to this butterfly feeling in your gut.
4. Why does rubbing alcohol stings?
People usually use rubbing alcohol when treating open cuts and wounds. A lot of us know that rubbing alcohol stings when applied to skin; sometimes it hurts even more than the wound itself. We may think that this is because the alcohol is killing all the bacteria in our wounds, but, actually, it is because of the reactions in our body. The rubbing alcohol directly affects the VR1 receptors, which are responsible for sensing heat in our skin, when it is applied to cuts or wounds. The VR1 receptors activate at high temperatures, usually when we get burns, thus the pain we feel. The rubbing alcohol lowers the point of activation for these receptors, enough to make body temperature high enough to set them off. As a result, the body believes it is being burned. The receptors then transmit pain to the brain even though there is your body isn’t actually burning.
3. Why does orange juice taste horrible after brushing your teeth?
After brushing our teeth, the toothpaste taste is usually left in our mouth for a while. Eating or drinking something after brushing might affect the taste of the food or drink. But the most terrible thing you can drink after brushing your teeth is orange juice.
It turns out that one of the ingredients used in most toothpastes is sodium lauryl sulfate, commonly used as a foaming agent; this is the main culprit. Sodium lauryl sulfate weakens the sweet receptors in your tongue, thus anything you drink or eat will be less sweet than it actually is. It also destroys phospholipids that prevent your mouth from sensing the bitter taste. Not only does toothpaste make orange juice taste less sweet, it also makes it more bitter. These two ingredients in toothpaste combined is the cause of that terrible taste.
2. Why is the sky blue?
Not counting cloudy days, sunsets or sunrises, the sky usually appears blue because of how certain objects affect light – like prisms, which bends light to create rainbows, or a mirrors, which make light bounce back to where it came from. Specifically, oxygen and nitrogen in our atmosphere scatter the light from the sun, producing many colors. Due to the color blue having the shortest wavelength of visible light, it is scattered the most.
Due to this phenomenon, the sky is usually blue; but other colors can also appear in the sky. The sky will look lighter when it is closer to the horizon because the light has traveled and scattered more into the atmosphere, mixing all of the other colors, thus making the sky lose its blueness. During sunsets and sunrises, the light travels more, thus allowing other colors of light to pass through, thus the yellow and red tinge.
1. Why is it hard to remember dreams?
Most of the time, we wake up after an incredible dream; however we are not able to clearly recall it. It is frustrating for most of us. No matter how hard we try, our dreams can only be recalled only a matter of minutes from when we woke up, if at all.
There are some reasons for this phenomenon that are suggested by scientists. During REM (Rapid Eye Movement) when we dream, the condition is not well suited for storing the dream experiences in our long-term memory. The hormone norepinephrine, a hormone that aids in memory building, is also absent during this stage of sleep.
The neurons in the hippocampus also contribute to the poor recall of our dreams. These neurons are not as active during REM sleep as they are most other times. The neurons then misfire with neurons that aid in recording our memories, thus the memories of our dreams quickly fade away.