Three random questions that came to mind…
Hi guys! I’m Monica, your new delight to this blog (I kid). I have been intending on writing a blog post for around 2 weeks now, but I simply couldn’t decide what to blog about – finally settled for this.
I am an A-Level student, and study Maths, Chemistry and Physics, as well as Further Maths in my AS year.
I hope to study Natural Sciences/Chemistry with Medicinal Science in September 2014.
Here’s my first post, thank you for reading so far 🙂
1) Why are X-rays called ‘X-rays’?
Not the most exciting answer unfortunately. In 1895, X-Rays were accidently discovered by German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen during an experiment using a Cathode ray tube. As ‘x’ is most commonly used to denote an unknown in mathematics, Roentgen followed suit and used ‘x’ to describe the unknown ray he had seen.
To read more about Roentgen’s discovery visit http://www.ndt-ed.org/EducationResources/HighSchool/Radiography/discoveryxrays.htm
2) Why do we get goosebumps/pimples (and why are they named as such?)
Goosebumps are named after the appearance of a large bird (like a goose) that has had its hairs plucked off, due to the similarity of the ‘hairs-standing-on-end’ that we humans experience.
Most commonly, humans get goosebumps when we get emotional about something, like watching a soppy romantic scene in a film, or listening to a song that reminds us of someone/thing. But why, I hear you ask!
Simply put, when we experience something ‘pleasurable’ (yes, anything pleasurable) our bodies respond with a release of the chemical neurotransmitter, dopamine. Dopamine produces physical effects known as “chills” that cause changes in the skin’s electrical conductance, our heart rate, breathing and body temperature. Hence, the change in temperature causes the muscles at the base of the hairs on our body to contract, forming bumps and making our hairs stand on end. This also explains why the sensations from goosebumps are always felt most strongly on the parts of our bodies with the most hair.
3) Common myths about how much sleep we need
There are many misconceptions about sleep, its impact on the body, and how much sleep we need.
Misconception number one: When we sleep, our body is completely inactive.
Oh, how wrong can someone be? Our brains are actually super active while we are asleep, regulating many aspects affecting our growth, appetite, memory and so on. Therefore, without enough sleep, our bodies are unable to complete all the necessary tasks to fix any issues that we manage to cause while we are conscious.
Misconception number two: If you do not get enough sleep, you can make up it up by sleeping for ages afterwards
Wrong. Once you’ve lost time, you cannot get it back. Similarly with sleep, if you do not sleep for long enough on one night, it doesn’t matter how long you sleep for a couple of days later, or on the weekend, you’ve still missed out on sleep. In fact, sleeping for an excessively long period of time will probably ruin your usual sleeping pattern completely, making you feel more groggy and lethargic. Your sleep-wake cycle follows a regular pattern (circadian rhythm) and when you sleep “too much” that pattern shifts.
For more info on circadian cycles visit – http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.htm
Misconception number 3: I don’t need a lot of sleep, I regularly get around 6 hours sleep (aged 17) and I’m fine.
Lies. All lies. Chances are, if you’re only getting 6 hours sleep on a regular basis, you are just kidding yourself that you are okay. Lack of sleep has all kinds of annoying effects on the body and mind, affecting your natural immune response, cardiovascular health, or something as trivial as being overly grumpy or moody to someone.
Here is a table showing the average healthy amount of sleep for various age groups. I wonder how many people actually do get their daily recommended amount of sleep (I know I certainly do not!). I shall try to find out for my next blog post.
Apologies if you wish you could get the last few minutes of your life back after reading this blog post. All I can say, is ‘I tried.’