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Did you know? Memory

Have you made a checklist of things to be done and then only a few minutes or hours later forgotten most of it?

Just as computers have RAM and hard drive the human mind has two storage repositories.

When we sleep the memories from the day are moved to permanent memory from the hippocampus to the cortex. Now for this activity to take place efficiently we need deep uninterrupted NREM sleep through the night when the activity is accomplished. Approximately 8 hours worth of sleep.

NREM sleep – Non-Rapid eye movement sleep is when you sleep without any bodily motion or entering a dream state.

When you wake up you are fresh and all of the memories have been cleared and moved out for the hippocampus to start again.

When you do not get enough sleep and there is a sleep deficit, your ability to hold on the new information suffers and those are the times you walk into a room with a purpose and find that you remember nothing.

Older people often have broken sleep due to weaker bladder and therefore don’t get enough deep NREM sleep, this causes their memories to suffer. The longer they ignore the fact that they are not getting quality sleep, the poorer their memory becomes and this results in hippocampus overload which leads to dementia where the person does not seem to retain any new information.

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Did you know? Sleep

There are fundamentally three different kinds of sleepers amongst humans.

The morning larks – These are people who like to go to bed early and wake up early as well. They like to sleep (9 -5)

The Night Owls – The late nighters who like to sit up the whole night and go to bed late and wake up late as well. They like to sleep (2-10)

The Late evening People – They don’t go to bed as early as the morning larks but sleep earlier than the night owls.

The reason for this is apparently evolutionary. The difference in the sleep timings of the two means that There is only about 3 hours between 2 AM and 5 AM that a human settlement would have been completely vulnerable to an attack. Big cats like to hunt just after dusk of just before sunrise, hence relatively very few predators would be out hunting between 2 and 5 in the morning.

Modern society is very unforgiving of Night Owls because western societies established the factory life which starts at 9AM. Is this right?

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Did you know? Freelance

So we keep hearing certain terms and do not really think to know why they came to be. As someone who works with startups, I hear about freelancers all the time.

In the 18th century when kings lost wars, their soldiers were left without any allegiance. Soldiers in the day used to carry lances. These soldiers were free of any allegiance and were hence called Free Lances. They would work for any king who was willing to pay them for their services as mercenaries.

That is the evolution of the term freelancer.

Now you know.

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Did you know? – Bite the bullet

You may have heard of the phrase – ‘bite the bullet’. It is used to describe the act of doing something unpleasant or difficult, which you have been putting off.

Anaesthesia was discovered by accident in 1840’s

American physician Crawford W. Long noticed that his friends felt no pain when they injured themselves while staggering around under the influence of diethyl ether. He immediately thought of its potential in surgery. Conveniently, a participant in one of those “ether frolics”, a student named James Venable, had two small tumors he wanted excised. But fearing the pain of surgery, Venable kept putting the operation off. Hence, Long suggested that he have his operation while under the influence of ether. Venable agreed, and on 30 March 1842 he underwent a painless operation. However, Long did not announce his discovery until 1849

Before Anaesthesia patients who had to undergo surgery were made to bite a leather belt, and in the field of war – a bullet. The term is born out of there; undergoing surgery in the absence of anaesthesia!

Now you know.

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What is Stem Cell?

I happened to learn about Stem Cells last week and wanted to share this short note!

Cancer researchers started treating cancerous cells with radiation. While they found that this kills the cancerous cells, along with it, the radiation also kills several types of blood cells. We call this chemotherapy

After the treatment was done researchers started introducing fresh bone marrow and found this marrow was able to create all sorts of new blood cells not just marrow cells and this led to the thought that the marrow has some cells that was capable of producing all kinds of blood cells. Red blood cells, white blood cells, etc.

The researchers spent decades sorting the cells. They started pouring mouse blood through a long series of high-tech strainers. With each pass, a different kind of cell was removed. Finally, they isolated the cell that gave birth to all of the other cells.

The cells that they were left with at the end of cycle were called Stem Cells.

Now you know why Stem Cells are such a big deal and so much money is getting poured into stem cell research. Stem Cells are capable of generating cells that we cannot and this opens up the possibility of several health solutions.

It can be the most potent regenerative medicine ever.

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Did you know – Gut

You must have heard the term gut instinct; for the past few years science has spent all of its effort rubbishing it!

Well, gut instinct is real!

The brain is the organ that consumes the most amount of energy in your body. Almost 20% of all energy consumed is by the brain. The gut is responsible for digesting your food and sending the energy towards various organs.

This is apparently why you feel sleepy after a huge meal. All the energy is diverted to the stomach and the gut.

Now when your brain enters stressful situations, it has a veto. It can force the gut to transfer all of the energy towards the brain and gut always obliges.

When the gut feels the ingredients of a stressful situation developing, it tells your brain – “This is not good!!!”.

We call this gut instinct.

 

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Did you know? – Sound

Why do you hear a thunderclap when the sound barrier is broken?

If you throw a ball at 10 Km/hr when stationary, the ball will begin travelling at 10 Km/hr, as it travels through air friction will slow it and it will come to a halt eventually. Let us say you were travelling in a car at 60 Km/hr and threw the same ball, depending on which direction you threw the ball in, it will either travel at 70 Km/hr or 50 Km/hr (for the sake of simplicity, I am not considering vectors).

Unlike the ball, sounds tends to travel at a constant speed depending on the medium that it is travelling in. Also, it is a pressure wave unlike light, which is a transverse wave. The wave leaves the the source and moves at a constant speed through the medium, which may be air, water or even a solid.

This is what a light wave looks like.

This is what a sound wave looks like.

Generally sound travels faster in solids compared to liquids, faster in liquids than in gases. Sound travels at about 1235 Km/hr in air at sea level. It travels a little slower as you go higher since air becomes rarer.

Unlike the case of the ball mentioned above, sound being produced by a jet engine will travel at a constant speed. When the jet begins to approach the speed of sound, every successive pressure wave begins to arrive faster and faster. When a jet reached the speed of sound, the next sound wave arrives before the previous one has been able to move.

Its like someone coming running from behind and slapping you.

This results is what is called interference. In this case constructive interference. The two sound wave collide with one another resulting in the Sonic Boom.

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Did you know? – Mesmerised

Anton Franz Mesmer was a German physician in the 18th Century experimenting with magnets to cure maladies. He began by using magnets and soon discovered that he did not even need them. He referred to his approach to curing as Animal Magnetism. Nobody at the time understood what was happening. In the 19th Century one James Braid studied what Mesmer did and proposed to call it hypnosis.

Mesmerised is a word derived from his name to describe a person who is completely captivated.

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Did you know? – Oxygenation

I keep learning random stuff, here and there. I never document these things although they might contribute to an interesting read.

I also have a writing problem. It takes me a lot of time to think through things and condense it into a blog AND I am mightily indisciplined.

So for the benefit of other and in order to be able to push out some content regularly, I am going to start writing ‘Did you know?’ It would generally contain something I learnt that I did not already know.

At time, you might already know it, which is fine; other times you might be surprised. If you like this leave a comment, so I know what all the 12 people reading this think about it.

So here goes…

 

Our blood carries oxygen from our lungs to all of the vital organs in our body. This oxygen is used to burn glucose in the blood stream to produce energy to keep all the organs functioning.

The body does not have any way of detecting the oxygenation levels of blood, but it can detect the CO2 level in the blood.

If you breathe in and hold your breath, you feel this intense need to release your breath because the body wants to push out CO2, not because it seeks Oxygen.

Freedivers use this fact to dive even upto 100 meters without any oxygen. They just keep breathing out enough CO2 and the body is happy!