7 crazy facts science has learned about the human body lately We accept a selection of facts with recent discoveries in medicine.
1. There are little mites living in your face right now.
Once in 2014, scientists pointed a powerful electron microscope at the surface of a human face and have not stopped screaming ever since: in high resolution, the average human physiognomy looks like a lunar landscape, and in our pores, right now, there are tiny arachnids, now known as Demodex brevis.
Yes, yes, at times. Researchers have found that 100% of people carry huge colonies of microscopic spiders in their faces.
2. Hey, stop scratching your skin! We cannot survive without it.
It's not hard to guess that some people react very badly to a lot of spiders that regularly throw rave parties in their skin. It is currently believed that a skin condition known as rosacea, which leads to inflammation and rashes, may be caused by our body's immune response to these microscopic Lovecraft monsters.
However, the life of our little roommates is not very rosy. They live for a very short time, because nature did not bother to endow them with an anus. So they only have enough to eat, lay eggs and die. And that's kind of a plus: at least the millions of spiders living in your face won't use it as a toilet.
Oh wait, it also says that all the feces are just stored inside them, and when they die, all this is released outside, all over our face.
Well sorry. This news has no pluses.
3. The microbes in our gut affect our lives
Medicine has always known that we are literally stuffed with tiny creatures called "intestinal microflora", and these creatures can both help us and harm us.
But only very recently have we been able to assess the full extent of their influence. It is so large that many now consider our internal ecosystem to be a separate organ, which is as important as the liver, pancreas or bladder.
The microorganisms in our gut are involved in regulating metabolism, helping the immune system and fighting disease. And they are not at all some small thing - right now there are about a hundred trillion microorganisms living inside you, and their weight varies from 1 to 2 kilograms of your total body weight.
4. Not all gut microbes are friendly.
Recent studies have shown that some types of gut microorganisms have evolved to the point where they can influence the vagus nerve - the one that connects the brain and intestines, so that they may well force us to eat certain foods.
These microbes turn out to prefer sweets or high-fat foods over some healthy alternative, so they may be one of the reasons some of us have an uncontrollable addiction, such as the beer and cheese we eat before until we start sweating with skim milk.
By releasing chemicals that stimulate our nervous system and stimulate these cravings, or, conversely, stimulating our pleasure centers, if their requirements are met, microbes very effectively shape our diet, in accordance with their whims. It is also believed that these internal puppeteers may be partially responsible for today's epidemics of diabetes and obesity.
Fortunately, germs can be beaten in their own field. By overcoming the food cravings imposed by microbes, we can, in fact, starve them to death. After all, dieting is practically genocide. So if you listen properly, you can hear the agonizing screams of your puppeteers.
5. Recently, a new body part was found in our knees
We have always believed that the knees are what allows us to pick up various things from the floor without falling.
But our knees are surprisingly complex, so subtle that many knee surgeries fail. Often disappointed surgeons write that even after a successful knee operation, people still cannot walk as they used to. And this continued until 2013.
It was then that several Belgian surgeons decided that something was clearly missing in their understanding of the anatomy of the human knee, and went in search of this mystery.
And they found a previously unknown ligament in the knee, which is able to solve many of the mysteries of this part of the body.
The presence of this ligament was theoretically assumed back in 1879, when the French surgeon Paul Segond insisted that there are more than four ligaments in our knees. He even claimed to have discovered one new ligament, but he never specified exactly where.
Now that a Belgian discovery has confirmed the existence of what they call the anterolateral ligament, studying it in detail is likely to lead to an increase in the number of successful knee surgeries.
6. Scientists have found stem cells in adult teeth
Stem cells are the "T-1000" of our body. They can transform into anything. They are the Holy Grail of medical science, as stem cell management makes it possible to grow new organs when needed, without waiting in line for transplantation.
The catch is that stem cells only exist inside the human embryo. At the same time, a concept called "harvesting embryos" appeared, which, for obvious reasons, was very frustrating for many people.
Fortunately, this assumption turned out to be false, and they found a way to study stem cells without creating a Matrix-style dystopia, because only recently stem cells were found in adult teeth.
The discovery also challenges the long-standing assumption that stem cells only work in one direction. That is, they, starting as cells proper, can turn into something more concrete, but not vice versa.
In the above case, the scientists who discovered the cells in the teeth could not understand how they got there. And then they saw how the nerve cells in the teeth spontaneously turn into stem cells! This is essentially the biological equivalent of rolling the minced meat backwards.
After the same phenomenon was found in rats, the researchers decided to see what would happen if the cells were shot with a laser. During the experiment, cells stimulated by a laser restored damaged teeth twice as fast.
And now scientists are thinking about whether they can use the soft inner tissues of our teeth in order to grow other types of tissues from them.
7. There is a switch in our brain.
In the medicine that Hollywood is showing us, it is natural that if you get hit on the head, you lose consciousness. And you will be unconscious until the next scene of the film begins.
If something like this happens to you in real life, the chances that you will ever get up are very, very slim. And most importantly, until recently, scientists did not fully understand why this was happening at all.
This continued until 2014. Last year, scientists, perhaps the craziest of them all, probed the human brain and found that we literally have a mind switch.
This experiment was actually part of an epilepsy study, but what they found along the way was the biological equivalent of a computer's power button that you can hold down until the screen goes dark. Scientists have found that stimulation of this area, called the claustrum, with a weak electric current leads to loss of consciousness. And after repeated stimulation of this area, consciousness returns.