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Things I'm curious about

but are impossible to google

This is a running list of questions I've genuinely been wondering for ages, but struggled to get a good explanation. If you know, or know an expert who might, please do drop me a line!

Last updated 1/3/24

Open questions

↔️ 👣 Why is the bilateral body plan so successful? Many many dissimilar creatures on Earth have a body plan with two similar halves that are mirror imaged. Every mammal I can think of looks like this, plus unrelated invertebrates like insects. It's so hard to think of counterexamples that I can only come up with two off the top of my head: jellyfish and leaves of miner's lettuce. Is this a coincidence of evolution, like a common bilateral ancestor, or does it have some enduring advantage? My best guess is terrestrial locomotion.

🛢️ 🚀 Is it possible for a civilization to get into space from a planet without existing chemical energy deposits like coal and oil? Or is that concentrated store of energy needed not just for rocket fuel, but also for the industrial revolution that would let a civilization build e.g. the instruments needed to get into space, and to have the time and stability to work out the science?

🧟‍♀️ 🪑 Why do I keep putting my feet up on the roll-y base of my office chair? I know I'm supposed to keep them on the floor, and it's killing my posture, but no matter how many times I reset I find them there again. Something about my body finds that configuration more stable, but what is it and what do I do about it?

👔 📏 Related, why do I have so much trouble sitting up straight? Standing up straight is much easier but sitting, paradoxically, seems to take a lot of muscular effort to keep my pelvis upright. Are my hamstrings too tight? Core too weak? Does anyone else have this problem or am I the only weirdo who struggles just to sit??

🧠 ⌨️ I switched to the Dvorak keyboard layout when I was really bored one summer in college and never looked back. I'm reduced to hunt-and-peck when I have to use Qwerty on a computer keyboard, so why can I literally type with my eyes closed on my phone? Does this mean our brains have two totally different maps for the different ways of typing?

👅 🙅 We all know about the cilantro/soap gene—what other taste/smell genes are less well known? I think root beer is disgusting and tastes like toothpaste, is that one of them?

Potentially answered!

🍕 🤤 Hunger is precipitated by the hypothalamus in the brain, right? So why do we feel the sensation of hunger as a pang that's physically located in our stomachs? Is it a learned association? Or is the neural system in our guts involved? Or maybe it's physical, like too much stomach acid?

Answer: it's physical!

Hunger pangs — sometimes called “hunger pains” — are a sensation of discomfort or gnawing in your stomach or abdomen. They’re caused by contractions in the muscles of your stomach and intestines due to the release of the hormone ghrelin — the hunger hormone — when your stomach is empty.

Source: Cleveland Clinic

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“Should” is SUCH an informative word

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