Did you ever want to know something about the human body but were afraid to ask, or you didn’t know who to ask? Here are some answer to “odd body” questions you’ve wanted to know:
◦ Can my nose grow bigger? — You remember the story of “Pinocchio?” Every time he told a lie his nose grew bigger. In fact the Pinocchio effect is very real, at least to some extent. Your nose gets slightly larger or smaller depending on blood flow. What you eat, temperature, illness, allergies, even emotions such as anger can alter the size of your nose. It is common for people to feel they have a temporarily stuffy nose after eating. Some even say they can feel it expanding or contracting. The size difference is tiny. Yet if you measure your nose throughout the day, you’d find that it does get smaller or bigger but not like poor Pinocchio’s.
◦ What are hiccups? — A hiccup is an irritation of the diaphragm that causes a spasm. First, the diaphragm contracts involuntarily. Second, when air is inhaled, the space between the vocal cords snaps shut with a characteristic clicking sound, which is what we hear when we hiccup.
◦ Why do I have fingerprints? — Fingerprints are visible parts of the rete ridges, where the skin’s epidermis dips down into the dermis forming an interlocking structure. Our unique print configurations are due to the semi-randomness of ridge and dermal-structure growth. Fingerprints help us grip and handle objects the way car tires grip the road. A system of troughs, ridges and grooves helps channel water from our fingers and toes. This results in a better gripping ability.
◦ Why can’t I tickle myself? — The “tickle response” is involuntary and cannot be self-induced. It has been suggested that tickling with gentle movement of fingertips excites certain small, fine nerve endings or “touch” sensors just beneath the surface of the skin. These are located all over the body, but especially on the palms and soles.
◦ Why do my feet swell in airplanes? — For the same reason they swell on the ground – inactivity. On an airplane you’re confined and sitting, gravity forces blood and other fluids to the lowest body point – your feet. Feet normally swell during the day. Podiatrists recommend stretching to minimize swelling.