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10 QUESTIONS YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK

As human beings, we are born curious and seem to always have questions spinning around in our heads about our daily lives and observations. Time and again, we come across something that makes us question its nature and existence. We want to find an answer and learn more, yet sometimes we either too busy or lazy and just keep wondering why things are the way they are. For those reasons, we have created and answered a list of 10 such curious questions you’ve probably always had in mind but did not know the answer.

1. Why does shaking soda make it lose its carbonation?

Image credit: Pixabay

Soft drinks taste flat and lose their carbonation when shaken because the process of shaking allows the dissolved gas to escape from the liquid by forming bubbles. Carbonated drinks contain carbon dioxide which is dissolved in the liquid under high pressure. When a can of soda is shaken or the soda is poured out vigorously, the carbon dioxide molecules trapped in the liquid overcome the surface tension of the liquid and escape. Initially, a certain quantity of energy is required for the formation of a bubble, Once a bubble is formed, however, relatively less energy is required for the liquid to vaporize and join the bubble. The movement of shaking a soda can provides the energy required by the gas molecules to move out of the liquid and join with each other as bubbles resulting in more fizz. (source)

2. How can we be falling asleep while watching TV but are wide awake when we go to bed just five minutes later?

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There are times when a person, despite being sleepy, is unable to fall asleep when they go to bed. This condition is referred to as “psychophysiological insomnia.” Something in their sleep environment triggers “waking up” as the natural response to being in bed instead of falling asleep. Beds are supposed to induce sleep. If we use our laptops or mobile phones in bed, or use our beds for a different purpose than sleeping, our brains start associating beds with staying awake and engaging in those activities instead of sleeping.

According to sleep-medicine specialist and associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, Philip Gehrman, being unable to fall asleep while lying in bed is often a learned arousal. There are certain therapies and ways through which this condition can be treated. One of them is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) that aims at rewiring your brain to see the bed as a place to get sleep. However, if a person does not have insomnia, they just might have a late body clock. Reducing or avoiding screen time before bed can be crucial, as the blue light emitted from the screens can decrease the production of melatonin which is an important chemical that helps us sleep. (source)

3. Caffeine almost has no calories, yet it seems to give us a burst of energy on its own. Where does this energy come from?

Image credit: Pixabay

Most of us have wondered how caffeine provides energy yet does not affect our caloric intake. Caffeine, in spite of having zero calories, provides a massive energy boost to our bodies because it increases the effects of vital chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine, and also stimulates the release of adrenaline.

Consumption of caffeine can make you feel energetic. As much as 80% of Americans consume caffeine every single day. Caffeine interacts with our bodies differently. It acts as a central nervous system stimulant. It is known to increase the effects of neurotransmitters. Caffeine interacts with adenosine receptors by blocking them which, in turn, enhances the effects of dopamine. Consumption of caffeine can also increase adrenaline in your blood which makes your heart rate shoot up and your liver release more sugar into your bloodstream. It helps contract our muscles by stimulating the release of calcium ions into the muscle fibers.

Caffeine does provide us with that extra energy we need in the morning, but overconsumption of caffeine can cause withdrawal symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, a healthy adult can safely consume 400 milligrams of caffeine daily. Caffeine, on one hand, lowers the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s and cuts suicide risk by almost 45%. Yet, on the other hand, consumption of caffeine can cause serve acid reflux, heartburn, increased urination, irregular heartbeat, and a long list of other undesirable effects. Caffeine also interferes with absorption and metabolism of calcium which can result in thin bones and muscle aches.  It is very important to read the labels and monitor the intake of caffeine. (source)

4. Why does the popping sound we occasionally hear in our ears help us hear better?

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Blocked ears and the feeling of fullness in our ears is very common. It can be caused due to a pressure difference in our ears which makes it difficult to hear things properly. But causing our ears to pop by yawning or just moving our face muscles instantly provides us relief. That pressure difference can cause or eardrums to bulge inwards or outwards.  The eustachian tube, a small tube that connects the middle ear to the throat, is responsible for regulating the air pressure in our ears. The process of yawning, swallowing, or moving our facial muscles allows air to move through that tube which servers to balance air pressure on either side of the eardrums. If the tube does not open easily, it might have been obstructed due to the presence of fluid or earwax. (source)

5. Why does it take longer to get rid of lower belly fat during fat loss?

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Deposits of fats around the lower abdomen are something everyone is aware of.  To get rid of body fats, it is required that we engage in physical activities to help burn them away. Yet some body parts lose fat much quicker than others. Fats around the lower abdominal region are very difficult to get rid of.

Visceral fat is the type of fat which is stored in our abdominal region. Fat accumulation in the midsection can be due to a variety of different factors including hormonal imbalance, underlying diseases, and unhealthy eating. The decrease of testosterone with age can cause deposits of fats in the lower abdominal region in men. In women, fat is naturally stored in the thighs and hips, but as they hit menopause, those fats are distributed to the belly. Imbalance in hormones such as estrogen and androgen in women can also cause fats to accumulate in the midsection. Common disorders like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) lead to insulin resistance which causes the body’s insulin to  be deposited as fat cells. Besides that, consumption of alcohol, junk foods, and high-carb diets add fats to the lower abdominal region. Increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol can cause abdominal fat.

Lipolysis is the process of breaking down fats. While burning fats, they must be released from our cells through the process of lipolysis. But due to the presence of alpha receptors in the lower abdominal region, the process of releasing fat cells there is slowed down while the parts of the body with beta receptors lose fat at a much quicker rate. Apart from the presence of alpha receptors, the lower abdominal region is also insulin sensitive. Insulin plays a vital role in how our body cells store fat. Due to this sensitivity, the lower abdominal region tends to store more fat and release less fat cells. An additional cause of why the process of losing fat in that particular region is slower than others is due to a minimal blood flow which makes it difficult for your body to transport the fats to other areas where they can be burned. (source)

 

6. Why is it that water freezes on the surface of a lake but not below it?

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We all have observed that the surface of the pond or a lake freezes during winters, but the water underneath the surface remains in a liquid state.

The density of a substance plays an important role in how it interacts with its environment. Usually, everything that changes from liquid to a solid-state gets denser. Water, on the other hand, has an amazing property which makes it less dense when it is in a solid-state. The density of water increases when the temperature drops. At 4 °C, water reaches its maximum density and then decreases its density as its temperature goes down to the freezing point. This is because the solid state of water is crystalline in form which allows more space between the molecules than liquid water. Because of this, the less-dense ice does not sink in a glass of water. When the temperature of the surroundings start reaching the freezing point, the water molecules on the surface of the lake which are in direct contact with cold air start to freeze and instead of sinking, float on top of the water due to their low density. (source)

7. Why do people snore?

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The reason people snore is that while asleep, their muscles relax which obstructs the flow of air causing the air to vibrate and create the snoring sound. When a person is asleep, the muscles in their body relax, including the ones that support the air passage. Due to this obstruction, the air they breathe in does not flow in a smooth path causing vibrations with the membranous parts of the airway.

Snoring can be induced through a variety of factors which include consumption of alcohol, sleep deprivation, the position in sleep, and the anatomy of a person’s mouth. While snoring is not a disease, it is a symptom of a disorder known as “sleep apnea.” It is a condition in which a person is not able to sleep properly due to poor breathing and obstruction of their airway. About 40% of men and 24% of women suffer from habitual snoring, and an estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. (source)

8. What are skin tags, and why do they appear on certain people more than others?

Image source: Jmarchn/Wikimedia

Skin tags are small, harmless tumors that form in areas where the skin rubs against itself. Parts of our bodies where the skin folds, like eyelids, armpits, the groin, or breasts are more likely to be affected by skin tags. They’re usually painless and non-cancerous and do not grow over time. Skin tags are more common in women than in men. Almost 45% of people have skin tags on their body.

There is no definite cause known for the formation of skin tags. Some studies show the presence of low-risk HPV 6 and 11 in skin tags, which might be a cause of their formation. The development of skin tags can be related to various different factors including genetics, high insulin levels, and even pregnancy. (source)

9. Why does your eyesight get worse with age?

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Apart from genetics, there are several factors that make our eyes get weaker over time. An adult between the age of 19 to 40 enjoys the best vision. Most problems related to vision are due to genetics, but, there are several other factors that cause our vision to deteriorate as we age.

Presbyopia is a part of the natural aging process. It makes the lenses in our eyes hard which weakens the ability of our eyes to change focus. This lens-hardening is caused due to decreasing levels of alpha-crystalline. It is considered a type of refractive error where a person is not able to focus on nearby objects, especially in low-light conditions. Ability to focus on nearby objects deteriorates as we age. As a child, we can focus on objects as near as 50 mm. As we grow older, this distance increases to 100 mm by the age of 25, and then to about one to two meters above the age of 60. The risk of developing presbyopia increases after the age of 35, and almost everyone is affected by the condition to some extent.

Some other factors which affect our eyesight daily are exposure to shorter wavelengths of visible light and UV light. Constant and prolonged exposure to these types of light can cause vision impairment. Apart from that, smoking is considered really harmful to your vision. According to studies, an individual who smokes is twice as likely to develop AMD as a non-smoker. The probability of developing cataracts is three times that of non-smokers. Smoking causes deposits of heavy metals such as cadmium in the lens of our eyes which can lead to such problems. (source)

10. Why do toilets at our homes have a tank on the back but public toilets do not?

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If you’ve ever wondered why public toilets do not have a tank like the toilets at our homes, it is because of the different flushing mechanism they use.  Toilets operate using a siphon. It is a tube that is connected to the bottom of the bowl which creates suction and drains the bowl when we press the lever. Toilets at our homes are attached to a tank which stores water and fills the bowl causing the contents to be forced out of of the bowl. Home toilets bowels are not attached directly to a water pipeline, which is why a tank is required to aid the mechanism and create the pressure when the bowl is flushed. Whereas public toilets are directly attached to a water pipeline, and when we press the lever, it opens the valve and allows the water to enter the bowl with the required force that creates the pressure to help drain the bowl. (source)

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