Due to the relative lack of effort we put into staying alive every day -- basically, remember to breathe and eat ... if it's cheap and close to the couch -- it's easy to forget how incredibly complex our bodies are. But our stupid meatshells are actually working overtime to juggle ridiculously complicated tasks behind the scenes. They're truly wonderful machines, so let's take a minute to appreciate the fact that ...
5Your Kidneys Are Literally Tasting Your Pee for Toxins
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Taste and smell receptors don't just exist in your face. For the past decade or so, scientists have been discovering, to their surprise, that these specialized cells are actually found in tissues and organs all over your body, like the kidneys, heart, spine, respiratory tract, and even red blood cells. They initially wrote it off as a case of bodily confusion, but now they have a more interesting theory: your entire body is constantly smelling and tasting the world around you. That last sentence reads like either madness or the setup for a gory body-horror movie, but it may be true.
The appropriate reaction.
Take your kidneys, for example: Scent receptors are found within a tight grouping of cells called the macula densa. This region regulates blood filtration rates and therefore urine production, but the presence of these receptors suggests that it's literally smelling and/or tasting your piss as a form of chemical analysis. That's right: Your kidneys are super freaky.
"Yeah, that wasn't tea ..."
Even your blood can smell things. In an experiment, scientists put blood cells on one side of a chamber and an aromatic compound that reacted with their scent receptors on the other, and watched in fascination (or perhaps abject horror) as the blood moved toward the scent. Getting more Cronenbergian by the minute here, aren't we? Well hold on, because it gets weirder:
You know what can also smell? Sperm.
"Guys, smell that? I think we went the wrong way."
And not just "like a teenager's bedroom" either. It's suggested that sperm use smell receptors to hunt out a woman's egg like bloodhounds. Now picture a penis firing out a billion tiny writhing creatures, each hungrily huffing the air around them, trying to track down what they all collectively want.
Supersize that scene, slap some spikes on it, and you got a pretty solid sequel to The Thing.
4There are 1,000 Times More Synapses in Your Brain Than There Are Stars in Our Galaxy
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For a while, scientists estimated that there were 100 billion neurons in the human brain. This theory was debunked when they did a direct study -- which involved tossing brains into a blender and then subjecting the goop to microscopic analysis -- and found that the number is closer to only 86 billion. Great. We're a bunch of idiots. Thanks for confirming that one, science.
But then there's our synapses, the connections between neurons, which snap together like thinky Legos to create the immense network that is the human mind. The total number of these synapses is a mind-boggling 100 trillion. A number that's 1,000 times greater than the total amount of stars found within our Milky Way galaxy.
This one reminds you to clear your browser history.
At a rate of 20 million billion calculations per second, your brain makes world-class computers look as technologically advanced as a drinking bird. To put things in perspective, Japanese and German scientists in 2013 tried to build a machine that could simulate the computing power encased in your skull. Using the power of 82,944 processors, they were actually able to achieve something approaching the computing power of one second in the human brain. It took them 40 minutes.
And yet here you are, reading a comedy website in one window with 16 tabs of sloth memes in the other. It's like having a Large Hadron Collider in your kitchen and using it to make toast.