Health and Science Trivia Day!


Todays a good day for kicking back and enjoying some curious, quirky bits of trivia from the health and science world. No, not the sort I had from last time (you know, that has been one of my most visited posts???!), more like this one about your spleen.
I love that word ‘spleen’ – it’s a most wonderful almost onomatopaeic word, and I have always wondered how on earth you vent one!

Anyway, that particular article from Science Daily suggests that it is really an organ where important information from the nervous system (particularly the brain) reaches the immune system. The spleen is where immune cells are manufactured, and a site where immune cells and nerves interact. The spleen defends the body against infection, particularly encapsulated bacteria that circulate through the blood.

There, now you can sleep tonight.

From the same site (Science Daily), earlier this year researchers are quoted as confirming yet again that smokers not only smell bad, have more wrinkles and get cancer – but they also experience more back pain. (Well they actually said ‘suffer’ but as I’ve said before, experiencing pain is mandatory, suffering is optional – and OK they didn’t say smokers smell bad, have more wrinkles and get cancer – that’s my bias coming right on through). The back pain part is, however, very true.

The Robert Koch institute released a study conducted in 2003 showing that ‘smokers or former smokers suffer chronic back pain much more often than do non-smokers. The number of years the subjects had been smoking or had smoked was decisive. Subjects who had consumed tobacco for more than 16 years had a two-fold greater probability of suffering chronic back pain than subjects who had smoked for less than 10 years.

The probability of back pain was further multiplied for subjects who had smoked for longer than 26 years. On the other hand, the frequency with which the subjects consumed tobacco and the quantities smoked did not play a role.’

Now, I’m sure you’ve pondered this in the wee small hours of the night (especially if you’re studying, writing or having to get up to kiddies), but Nicole from New Jersy (yes really!) ask at Scienceline whether a person that hasn’t slept for three days can become legally insane.

The short answer is no – and the myth that sleep deprivation leads to hallucination is broken. Apparently this finding was obtained around 50 years ago when researchers saw that people who had been sleep deprived started to ‘hallucinate’. But actually it was found they were really dreaming while awake! Dr. Mark Mahowald, director of the

Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center says “Dreaming actually occurs during wakefulness.” Hmmm, I didn’t know that.

But I did know that when you have had insufficient sleep for a long time, you experience ‘microsleeps’ which are ‘very brief periods of loss of attention associated with events such as blank stare, head snapping, and prolonged eye closure which may occur when a person is fatigued but trying to stay awake to perform a monotonous task like driving a car or watching a computer screen.’ Sort of what happens when you try to stay awake in meetings when you are not playing meeting bingo.

Finally, here’s a beauty spot:
Taken at Kaikoura a couple of weeks ago. Beautiful. And yes, that’s snow on those mountains. It was cold. But I didn’t get the blisters I got last weekend tramping in to Lake Daniels. Photo’s from that episode are in Flickr – click on the images to the left of this post.
Have a great weekend!!

Deutsches Aerzteblatt International (2008, July 3). Smokers Suffer More Back Pain, Survey Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 5, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2008/07/080701092149.htm
North Shore-Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Health System (2008, July 22). How The Immune System And Brain Communicate To Control Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 5, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2008/07/080721173748.htm

5 comments

  1. I was thinking about that too, Health Psych! (the moving to New Zealand thing, I mean – as far as I’m aware I have only one spleen!).
    And I was thinking of visiting rather than moving🙂

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