Here’s another instalment of astounding facts to share with your dear friends and family. Share it anyway, even if you don’t like them.

No pain, no migraine

At some stage in our lives, starting when we were kids, we’ve all wished we were born almost invincible, immune to pain. We could then do things others couldn’t, because we were fearless. We couldn’t get hurt.

As we stagger and stumble over life’s unpredictable hurdles, I’m sure many of us wish it was a real possibility and not fantasy. No more migraines, arthritis, anaesthetics or hangovers. Sounds enticing, but it would be disastrous.

In the last century, only a few dozen people around the world have been recorded who felt little or no pain at all. When Elisabeth Andrews’ leg became swollen, her parents and the doctor put it down to childhood rheumatism. But her leg continued to swell and got worse, and after a few weeks the doctor had an X-ray taken and found that she had broken her ankle in several places.

When others would be screaming in agony, Lizzy just carried on obliviously, making healing virtually impossible.

People experience two types of physical pain – sharp and instant, or a dull ache. For both types, messages are carried to the brain through the spinal cord, but on different nerve/fibre networks, like Instagram and Postnet.

The Instagram pain is flashed to the brain, telling you to snatch your hand away from that hot stove because it bloody hurts. The second ‘dull’ pain is transmitted slower through Postnet, and tells the brain that the hand is injured, and unless treated, will continue to throb until healing takes place. Fascinating stuff. But there’s more!

The brain is the computer that mysteriously allots different people varying pain thresholds. Research has shown that physical labourers generally have a higher threshold than office workers. Women, probably because they’re programmed for childbirth, have a higher threshold than men. Just accept it, guys.

100 Hours of history

It’s almost impossible for us to comprehend the vast sweep of time since the earth evolved out of cosmic gas and dust, thousands of millions years ago. So let’s imagine the earth’s history condensed into one century, and we’re at year 100 looking back.

Bearing in mind the leap of this imagined timeline, the oldest known rocks were formed in the year 15, and primitive forms of bacteria and algae in year 26. From 26 to 80, life evolved slowly as the continents drifted apart, but it wasn’t until 8 years later (± year 88) that amphibians struggled onto dry land.

Dinosaurs appeared only 8 years ago (year 92), but became extinct the following year. In the last year of our journey – year 99 – things hotted up somewhat and need to be broken down further. Three weeks ago, the first man appeared in Africa using tools and walking upright.

The last Ice Age ended two hours ago and the Industrial Revolution started two minutes ago. In earth’s ‘100 years’ of history, we sent the first man to the moon a mere 3 seconds ago.

In the last 2 seconds, as our scientific knowledge exploded, we discovered thousands of Exoplanets – worlds in other galaxies which are in the ‘Goldilocks’ zone of having the potential for life as we know it. If any one of them was only 5 seconds older and more advanced than Earthlings, they’d surely have conquered the science behind space travel and time-warps – still a conundrum to us.

This leads us to the prickly subject of millennia-old extra-terrestrial interactions here on Earth, which governments have stringently covered up since the 1940s. But that is another story.

Words words words

Hoodlum In 1870 a journalist in San Francisco conjured up the word to describe the local young ruffians. He reversed the gang-leader’s name from Muldoon to Noodlum, but his handwriting was so bad, the typesetter thought the N was an H. The word stuck.

Quarantine To prevent the spread of communicable disease or pests, sick people or those suspected of being infected, were subjected to 40 days of isolation – quarantena in Latin. Thereafter they were pronounced either not contagious, recovered or dead.

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