5 Insane Explanations for Stuff Your Body Does Every Day
It's weird: Much of what is going on inside our own bodies is still a complete mystery to us. For instance, we pointed out a while back that science has no idea why we yawn. Then you have things like crying, or laughter, which are parts of our everyday lives, but upon closer examination make no sense at all -- why would we signal sadness with eyeball drool?
And the theories as to why we do some of these things are downright bizarre ...
Hiccuping Is Your Inner Fishman Fighting Back
Hiccups are a series of stupid, diaphragm-driven breath convulsions that bother you for a while, then vanish just as inexplicably. You might have grown up thinking that it's the body trying to get rid of some air you swallowed, but that doesn't appear to be the case (babies even hiccup in the womb). In fact, scientists actually aren't sure what purpose they serve, if any.
But there is a scientific consensus on exactly how annoying hiccups are.
If you think of your body as a temple for the pantheon of your bodily functions, hiccuping would be the trickster god running amok and mooning people for shits and giggles.
The Surprising Truth:
Hiccuping may be useless to you now, but some scientists think it played a huge part in what got you there in the first place.
Think much further back. And slightly more damp.
The theory is that hiccuping is a remnant from an ancient stage of evolution. Namely, the moment where our great-great-great-great-ancestors under the sea took a look at the giant hellbeasts their aquatic living environment was riddled with and turned their gaze to the relatively horror-free land environment. The first obstacle they had to overcome was the whole issue with breathing. After a few attempts, they realized that they obviously couldn't just jump on land and go "ta-da!" So they adapted by small steps. As evolution started to toy with the concept of "lungs," these creatures weren't ready to fully commit to breathing air and kept their gills, remaining amphibious.
"And I'm keeping my rotary phone and Children's Medicinal Heroin, too!"
Eventually, the gills went away -- but a small remnant of the system that operated them remains inside you even today, and every once in a while it goes "Oh shit, I can't breathe!" and gasps for air for a while before it remembers that it technically doesn't exist.
So the next time you get a nasty case of hiccups, cherish your ancestry -- it's just this guy waving from the annals of history:
Don't let great-granddad's smile fool you. He's disappointed in us.
Laughter Is Your Body's Drug Dealer
If you had somehow never seen or heard laughter before, like if you lived in North Korea or something, the first time somebody did it in front of you, you'd think they were having a seizure. Their whole body starts shaking and they start making these loud, incoherent guffaws like some kind of distressed animal. Why the hell did we ever start doing it in the first place? And why do we seem to enjoy it? What if we told you that Reader's Digest was right all along when they said "Laughter is the best medicine?"
"You have hepatitis C. And, uh ... wakka wakka or some such."
Does this mean that if we laugh hard enough, stab wounds will heal instantly, like Wolverine? No, but ...
The Surprising Truth:
Laughter gets you high.
Thanks for the tasteful interpretation, Art Department.
It's literally nothing more or less than a switch your body uses to crank up the old endorphin engine, in order to administer to you a moderate dose of the brain's very own feel-good drug. The trigger lies in the actual, physical movements our body makes when we laugh -- namely, the "Ha, ha, ha" or "Hardee har har" or "Hoo hoo hee hee snort/fart."
And that's all there is to why we love to laugh. Everyone enjoys a cool, natural high, especially one that you can share with your friends and strangers with minimal effort. It's a physical activity that triggers pleasure chemicals, like masturbation, we suppose, only one that's acceptable to do in a theater setting.
In fairness, laughter doesn't make the floor sticky.
Evolution-wise, our ability and willingness to experience that slight rush played an extremely important role in social bonding. It still does -- that's why everyone enjoys comedy; that's why cracking a good joke can grease up social situations that might otherwise be awkward. Hell, that may well be why the sense of humor is so consistently ranked at the top of desirable qualities in a mate. It's all just in search of that endorphin fix.
Your Tears Are Toxic Chemical Leaks
All right, so what about crying? It would almost make sense if crying were something we always did in response to physical pain, like when we were kids -- even animals will squeal or yelp when somebody accidentally steps on them. But humans cry over everything -- when tragedy strikes, when we see a sad movie, when we're really happy. Why in the world would strong emotion cause your eyes to start peeing all over your face?
If your tears actually look like this, you probably have a terrible bladder infection.
The Surprising Truth:
While we usually think of crying as either weakness or Oscar bait, some researchers think the act of crying is actually the body's way of evicting stress -- literally.
As with most things, it all starts with brain chemicals. There is one called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and it plays a crucial part in triggering cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress. When you get emotionally agitated, ACTH builds up, which in turn leads to more and more stress. Which makes you easier to agitate. It's a vicious cycle to which there is no escape. So why don't we all just choke to death on stress buildup every time we see a sad story in the newspaper?
Because sometimes, your brain just flat out declares that it has had enough of this bullshit and blasts a bunch of ACTH the hell out of your body. Through your tear ducts. We guess that's better than leaking them out your ass.
So crying is just the body's way of stabilizing its chemical levels by literally squirting excess stress chemicals out through the tear ducts like optic blasts made of tiny frowns. That's the reason most people feel better after crying -- all that shit that used to make you sad has literally been removed.
Along with some of your makeup.
"Morning Wood" Is Your Dong's Fitness Program
Depending on your perspective, the cruelest joke Mother Nature ever played on mankind was either spontaneous erections or periods. Either way, no one makes it through middle school unscathed. The one time anyone can count on their boner showing up is the morning -- which makes peeing pretty difficult for those of us who haven't mastered handstands or who don't own some kind of harness apparatus. And the a.m. rush is rough for anyone who doesn't carve out an extra few minutes to stand there screaming at their rigid wiener to relax, or swatting at it with a coat hanger.
"Honey, find my gardening shears."
So, what's the deal with that? Why would you ever get a night-boner? We know what you're thinking -- maybe you were having some kind of freaky sex dream moments earlier. But at the risk of this site winding up in some FBI database, we have to point out that babies get morning erections, too. But why?
The Surprising Truth:
Your morning wood is only one of many nightly woods. And it's just flexing to make sure everything works later.
"Don't worry, buddy. You won't disappoint Lady Sockington today."
Like your butt, your brain and your right to vote, your penis needs to exercise, and for some reason the human body has decided that the best time for that workout is every 85 minutes at night. We know that men get erections that last about 25 minutes every 85 minutes or so because there are scientists who study this sort of thing -- scientists with boner trackers.
You can buy one of your own for a mere $4,165.
Boner science calls the nightly up-down-up phenomenon "nocturnal penile tumescence," and apparently its function is maintenance. The triggers that get erections started at night don't come from the brain at all, but from the groin itself. In other words, you're not necessarily picturing anything or anyone when you get them, unlike when you get your daytime erections. And scientists think the triggers happen as a kind of self-inflicted exercise regimen -- the periodic blood flow makes your dong stronger, which means you're less likely to have a case of the limps when you don't want them.
This means that when you wake up with a boner, it doesn't really have anything to do with your general horniness or naughty dreams. You just happened to catch the little guy in mid-rep.
"Oh God, this was a terrible idea."
Your Mom Pooped on You Because- Wait, What?
Yes, as we previously mentioned here, most mothers deliver more than a brand new human when giving birth. In addition to a baby, the mom usually deposits a bouncing baby dump on the delivery table as well. Which, in addition to never getting included in those wacky sitcom episodes, is a pretty sadistic move from Mother Nature. It's bad enough that human women suffer through squeezing out huge-headed babies while other species get to fart out their young on the way to the convenience store for smokes, but human moms also get the knowledge that they've defecated on their own child as well.
"Does this counts as 'regifting'?"
Oh, and you and everyone else in humanity who wasn't cut from their mom's womb get the joy of knowing their moms pooped on them. Just. Pooped. All over your face.
The Surprising Truth:
She's imprinting your insides with her own bacteria so you won't have to invent your own. And that's a good thing.
So a part of your mom does live on forever inside you.
Your colon is sterile when you're born, which leaves it basically unprotected against the various horrors that will travel through it. The exposure to your mother's fecal matter the moment you're born is custom designed to take care of this glaring error. The way it does so is the stuff of horror movies, though.
The mom's poop bacteria creeps up the child's colon and infests it. Thus, your mum's colon bacteria is stuck with you for life, which in turn greatly contributes to the smell of your own crap and even farts. As disgusting as the idea that you and your mom are poop-mates may be, it's a shitload (sorry) better than the alternative. Babies that are born via C-section -- and have therefore not been exposed to shit, vaginal mucus and all the other wonders of a traditional childbirth -- have much worse immune systems (and presumably worse-smelling farts) precisely because they weren't subjected to mom-poop and therefore have to later develop their own colon bacteria from breast milk and whatnot.
Finally, another entry for the list.
So, yeah. Say what you want about science, but we can't help but be impressed by how they're able to explain the fact that you are farting your mother's farts because she pooped on you as a good thing.
Pauli Poisuo wrestles his bodily functions on Twitter and at Year of the Fat Bastard. You can read more of his Cracked articles here.
For more mysteries of your meat sack, check out 6 Things Your Body Does Every Day That Science Can't Explain and 6 Things Your Body Does Every Day (That Can Destroy You).
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out Fat Is Officially Incurable (According to Science)
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And to further expand your noggin, check out Cracked's De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn't Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew.