Why do we sleep? What are dreams and memories? How does the brain work? These questions have puzzled one and all. However, these are still mysteries of the human body waiting to be unraveled. This Buzzle article highlights some of these enigmas that science is unable to explain.
Did you know…
… that depending on various factors, a human can survive without food for a month or two, however if you are deprived of sleep for a few days, your personality, behavior and body functions will undergo a drastic change.
Ever wondered which is the biggest mystery to have walked the Earth? No, it’s not the dinosaurs or any prehistoric creature. You don’t need to venture far to find an answer to this question. Just look in the mirror. Yes! The human body and many of its functions still remain a mystery that has confounded scientists and researchers for ages.
Though there have been noteworthy and remarkable discoveries of human physiology and psychology in medical science, there are some phenomena that have baffled scientists for decades and still seem like a closed book. Here, we have tried to list certain facts and functions of the human body whose cause or reason still baffles experts, scientists, researchers, and philosophers alike.
Vestigial Organs and Certain Body Parts
The appendix is a vestigial organ whose removal does no harm to the normal functioning of the human body. Neither does it inflict any damage nor disturb our body anatomy. In other words these organs exist in the human body, but serve no apparent purpose.
Though some scientists believe that appendix has a role in strengthening the immune system during fetal development, there is no consensus on this. Likewise, some experts believe the tail-bone or coccyx, and the wisdom teeth are remnants of the over-sized jaw and tail which human beings once exhibited. But now are redundant. In fact, the pain that is inflicted due to these organs, can sometimes be excruciating and unbearable. So, whether these vestigial organs are ancestral, evolutionary or rudimentary is a mystery that continues to puzzle scientists.
Presence of Microbes
For every cell in your body, there are 10 microbes that reside inside you. Some microbes and bacteria like E. coli, Bacteroides fragilis and Clostridia are present in the nose, mouth, the gastrointestinal tract, and on the skin. They help in the metabolic processes that take place inside the human body. These microbes also protect you against disease-causing pathogens and increase the production of vitamins, thus keeping you fit and healthy.
Thus, we know about the presence of microbes, their types and some role that they play in our body. However, why are they present in such huge numbers and what exact role do they serve is still a mystery waiting to be unraveled.
Though there are a number of reasons behind a yawn, scientists are yet to pin down a definite answer to the cause of yawning. Though it helps increase the intake of oxygen, some scientists think it is a way to prevent the brain from warming up, to make us more alert and active.
Commonly associated with fatigue, boredom, and drowsiness, some researchers think that yawning is inherited from our ancestors who yawned to show off their teeth to scare or restrain others. It may also be a way of communicating with others. There is no definite proof as yet about the validity of these theories but we sure know that it is contagious and can occur anytime (I am sure you have started by now).
Sleep and Dreams
We know that lack of sleep is bad for our health, but science has not been able to explain why we need to sleep in the first place. A theory suggests sleep is essential for the development of the brain and is a restorative function which gives the body a chance to rest and rebuild for the next day. However, if that is the case, then why are our brains active during sleep.
However, while sleeping, the exact opposite happens and the brain is constantly alert and active. It is a mystery as to why this happens. What deepens the mystery is, why do we dream when we are asleep. There are many theories regarding the occurrence of dreams, some scientists say that dreams are a way of analyzing things, they reflect your feelings, fantasies, or desires and may help in forming memories. Whether it is for psychological significance or interpretation of signals, the exact cause still remains unclear.
How is it that you remember the taste of the pie your grandma made, and the method/formula to solve an equation in algebra even after so many years? Science does not have an answer to this question as well. How does your brain recall exactly what you want and when you really need some information? How do you form these memories? Where are these memories stored? These are questions that scientists have no definite answer as of now.
Do you remember your first kiss? Of course, you do! It is a memory etched in your mind forever. But why do we kiss, and what is the purpose behind this act, is still a mystery. Some scientists say it is a form of social bonding and to express your love. Some think that the act unleashes hormones to initiate mating and create intimacy. Whether it is for pleasure, attachment or a combination of psychological and biological factors, we don’t know, however a lip-lock feels good and makes you blush.
That brings me to the mystery of blushing. When faced with a difficult situation, why do you get butterflies in your stomach, or turn red and feel the heat rise in your cheeks when someone compliments or praises you?
These are the questions that are yet to be answered by scientists. Do remember that it is an involuntary action, and try as you might, you have no control over.
Adolescence is the onset of puberty that brings about physical, biological and psychological changes in the body. Experts believe that this prepares the brain for the responsibilities that await you.
But scientists and medical experts are not able to explain why we humans take so long to mature physically and get ready to face the challenges and obstacles in life? I am sure a lot of you experiencing this phase must be equally eager to know the answer as well.
What tells you whether you should accept the tempting job offer or not? What gives you a feeling that something is amiss or is not right? Some call it the gut feeling and some, the sixth sense and some feel it’s merely coincidence. You may call it by any name, however we all experience intuition at one point or another.
There are many psychological theories that describe intuition as a sense of the unconscious, perception or contemplation. This does not hold true for all the beliefs and does not justify each and every case that we come across. Hence, intuition falls under the study of psychology as well as occult interests.
The function and working of the brain and the nervous system is probably the biggest riddle that scientists are yet to solve. How does the brain work so fast? Does the brain work alone, or rely on other organs for its smooth-functioning? What happens in various neurological disorders or injury? These questions have puzzled scientists for a long time and are still unanswered.
With the help of brain imaging we know some functions of the brain, however, the things we know are just the tip of the iceberg and the pursuit to understand our brain and its functions seems a long endeavor.
These processes and occurrences were, are, and will always remain an inevitable part of life. They are essential for our survival. We just hope that some day science will provide us with the answers and keys to unravel these mysteries of the human body that has puzzled not only scientists but every individual since time immemorial.