The human body, as well as the world of medicine, will never stop surprising us. Who could ever think that the first tests for pregnancy already existed in Ancient Egypt? It also turns out that scientists have a perfect sense of humor, otherwise, they wouldn’t have named a protein found in the retina after Pikachu the Pokémon.

Bright Side compiled a set of curious medical facts, some of which can become a true discovery for you. Don’t miss our bonus at the end of the article — it will tell you about 5 benefits of putting a wet cotton ball in your navel.

The first pregnancy test appeared in Ancient Egypt.

According to the information that scientists have about Ancient Egypt, the medicine of this country was surprisingly well-developed. The doctors in The New Kingdom (the middle of the 16th — 3rd quarter of the 11th century B.C.) were already aware of a method used to spot pregnancy at early stages. They even tried to determine the gender of the baby.

According to a papyrus that is stored in the Carlsberg Laboratory in Denmark, in order to find out whether a woman was pregnant, the following actions had to be performed: place barley grain and wheat grain mixed with dates and sand into 2 separate sacks and wet them with the woman’s urine daily. Sprouted grains indicated pregnancy. If it was only the barley that sprouted, it meant the woman was supposed to have a baby boy; if it was only wheat grains that sprouted, it was a baby girl. If the grains didn’t sprout, the woman wasn’t pregnant.

Initially, there were only living people in morgues.

In the 16th century, a morgue was a place of “exhibiting faces” and those faces were alive. Initially, morgue ( translated from Old-French as — ’to look at solemnly, to defy’) was a sector in prisons where guards would examine newly-arrived prisoners in order to remember their faces. Later those sections were used for storing corpses of unknown people so that passersby could see and recognize them.

The placebo effect can work even when a patient is aware that they are taking a “dummy” pill.

According to research conducted among people suffering from anxiety disorders in the USA, patients well-being improved even when they knew that they were not taking real medicine. Scientists came to the conclusion that this thing could be explained by the faith of patients in the method itself.

There is an existing concept of “impossible color”

Impossible or forbidden colors are combinations of frequencies of visible light that can’t be perceived by the human eye under normal conditions. The thing is that there are 3 types of color receptors that are used when perceiving a color and due to their specifics, a human brain is not able to perceive the combinations of opponent colors: red and green, blue and yellow.

However, under some special conditions, a human can see the impossible color and we have a picture for you that proves it. Try looking at the cross in the middle of the green circle for 20 seconds and then shift your eyes to the same cross in the white square. You’ll see a light pink circle in it.

The most wide-spread color of human eyes is brown but, in fact, all people have blue eyes.

Only 17% of people on Earth have blue eyes, while brown is the most popular eye color. At the same time, the eyes of most babies have a bluish tinge apart from babies with dark skin. The front layer of the iris of a newborn baby doesn’t have pigment, and the color isn’t considered permanent until the age of 11.

To put it simply, all people are initially blue-eyed and even brown eyes are actually blue — the color is simply hidden behind the layer of the brown pigment. By the way, there is a surgery that can transform brown eyes into blue eyes and the result is irreversible because the brown pigment is removed with a laser and can’t be restored.

There is a protein called Pikachurin in the retina and it was named after Pikachu the Pokémon.

In 2008, Japanese scientists found out that there is a protein in the retina of the eye that is responsible for transmitting visual signals from the eyes to the brain. It turns out, that without this ’fast as lightning’ protein, the process of transmitting would take 3 times longer. That’s why it was decided to name it after Pikachu — the most popular Pokémon who possesses “electrical” abilities.

As a rule, it’s not blood as a whole, but its products that are used for transfusion.

Perhaps, you have seen many episodes in movies and TV series where blood is directly transfused from one person to another with the help of a special device. In real life, this procedure is not performed anymore — today’s approach consists of component transfusion when it’s only blood products that are used. For example, plasma, leukocytes, erythrocytes, or platelet mass and other components.

A human has much more than 5 senses.

Apart from the main senses, humans have other senses as well. For example:

  • The sense of balance – the ability to keep balance and a sense of body movement in terms of acceleration and change of direction.
  • Proprioception, or the sense of space — the ability to spot different parts of your body relative to other body parts. This sense helps us go upstairs without looking at the stairs. People with bad proprioception can be clumsy.
  • Stereognosis — the ability to recognize a subject by touch with closed eyes.
  • 2-dimensional feeling  in order to understand how it works, close your eyes and ask someone to write something on your skin (not with a pen, of course, but with a fingertip). You’ll probably be able to understand what exactly was written on you or at least you’ll recognize separate letters.
  • Muscle and joint senses help you stay aware of what position your legs and arms are in at the moment.
  • The sense of localization helps to spot the place you are touched at.
  • The sense of pressure determines the difference between a light touch and a heavy pressing.

There is a deepening on your hand that is called anatomical snuff box.

Here is a funny thing — a small deepening that can be seen on the hands of most people has its own name — anatomical snuff box. It was named after the bad habit of snuffing tobacco. This habit was widespread both among ladies and gentlemen from the elite society and among simple people in the 18th-19th centuries. It’s easy to guess that tobacco was placed right into this deepening and then it was snuffed with the nose. The habit has gone, but the name has stayed.

One of the reasons for the invention of the stethoscope was the big breasts of one of the patients of doctor René Laennec.

French doctor and anatomist René Laennec invented the stethoscope in 1816 after he couldn’t hear the heart of a young lady with “significant fatty tissue” ( that’s how the doctor himself described it) in the area of her chest. In other words, the lush breasts of the patient prevented him from diagnosing her because, in those times, hearts and lungs were listened to by putting an ear to the chest of a patient.

But the doctor didn’t give up and remembered one acoustic phenomenon — if you put your ear to one side of a log, you will be able to hear the touch of a needle to the other end. So Laennec took a piece of paper, rolled it into a narrow cylinder, and was finally able to hear the heart of the big-breasted young lady with the help of this simple device. Later the doctor improved his device — you can see it in the photo, and in the 20th century, thanks to other specialists, the stethoscope got its modern look.

Bonus: 5 ailments that a wet cotton ball can treat

Though this technique is not proven scientifically, it is still widely used in folk medicine. You can treat up to 5 ailments by simply placing a wet cotton ball, moistened with different substances, in the navel:

  • putting cotton moistened with almond oil to the navel will improve the condition of your skin all over the body;
  • cotton moistened with coconut and olive oil will improve fertility;
  • placing a cotton ball with essential lemon oil will help to get rid of blemishes on the face;
  • a cotton ball placed in the navel and soaked in neem oil will help get rid of white spots on the face;
  • using chamomile oil the same way will treat stomach pain.

Which of these facts amazed you the most? Please tell us about it in the comments!

Illustrated by Daniil Shubin for

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