25 Interesting Things that We Notice but Never Ask Why or How

by Piya Sengupta6 months ago
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6 Why do we clink glasses or say cheers while drinking?

Why do we say cheers?
Why do we say cheers?

The practice of clinking glasses with cheers while drinking is an age-old tradition that can be traced back to the Middle Ages. It is said that during the Middle Ages, people clinked their glasses loudly and cheered exuberantly to ward off demons or evil spirits hovering nearby. The clinking sound of the glasses was also said to resemble the sound of the church bells, doubling the purpose of chasing away demons.

Another logical reasoning behind this was also to avoid poisoning, which was pretty common at that time. The glasses were full, and the loud and hard clinking against each other made drinks from one glass spill over another and happily transfer to other glasses, drawing out the potential murderer, if any. Then there is also the theory of trying to achieve a holistic experience with all the five senses. Smell, taste, sight, and feel were already there. Only hearing was missing. Hence the clinking of glasses together and saying “Cheers!”

The exclamation “Cheers!” originates from the French term “chiere,” which originally meant “face” or “head.” Later in the 18th century, it became “gladness.” Thus, today, when we say “Cheers!” it is a way to express gladness, good wishes, and support. (1, 2)

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7 Why do we cringe at the sound of our nails scratching the blackboard?

Nails scratching on a blackboard
Nails scratching on a blackboard

This is one phenomenon whose exact reason is still not known, though there are a few likely theories. One physicist won the Nobel Prize for his research on this question. He recorded the sound of a three-pronged garden tool on a chalkboard and then proceeded to find out which part of the sound we hate so much. Surprisingly, it was not removing the high frequencies that made the sound bearable. It was the middle frequencies that did the trick, the same frequency in a primate warning call. This led him to believe the human ears recognize this sound as a warning call, and hence the aversion. But since then, more research has ensued on the subject.

The human ear canal amplifies certain frequencies, especially between 2000-4000 Hz. These sounds probably induce a distress signal from the amygdala, which processes our negative emotions, to the auditory cortex, which processes sound. The more unpleasant the sound, the greater the activity between these two regions of the brain. (1, 2)

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8 Why do women’s bikes have a bar angled downwards, unlike men’s bikes that have a horizontal bar below the seat?

Women bicycle
Women bicycle

The horizontal crossbar on men’s bikes adds a lot of strength to the bike. But for women, it proved to be a problem. Back in the days’ women used to mostly wear dresses and had to lift their legs quite a bit when they had to cross over the straight bar. This unwanted exposure was quite scandalous at that time.

Therefore, the bike manufacturers started making bikes with a slanted bar so that women could easily get on and off the bike without having to lift their legs high. Though this weakened the frame quite in those days, the advantages of protecting one’s honor outweighed the disadvantages of a weakened frame.

This tradition continues today, and because of better, stronger manufacturing materials, we thankfully don’t need to worry about the bike’s frame strength. (source)

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9 Why is it good to strain your heart through exercise but unhealthy to strain it through stress, caffeine, nicotine, etc.?

Heart
Heart

Straining your heart through exercise and stress are doing opposite things to your heart. Think of your heart as you would a balloon. When you exercise regularly, it causes natural vascular dilation that allows the increase in heart rate to provide your circulatory system with more oxygen. Every time you exercise, you are also inducing adaptation to the lungs, blood, and muscles. As a result, your heart must stretch a little less to blow up the same amount.

But on the other hand, caffeine and nicotine cause vascular constriction along with an increase in heart rate, which puts more stress on your heart since it must work harder to achieve the same level of blood oxygenation. It also has the opposite effect and damages other structures, taking more effort to stretch and blow up the balloon. That is why people with weaker hearts get tired more easily and experience more breathlessness. (1, 2)

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10 Why do we have an extra lace hole in our gym shoes?

Did you know why your running shoes or gym shoes have an extra lace hole closest to the ankles? Chances are that you have seen it but have never used it. But this extra hole serves a specific purpose. Runners use this to keep their shoes tied extra tight. By keeping it tight, your heels don’t rub inside your shoes, preventing painful blisters.

This is also called a “heel lock,” “lace lock,” or a “racer’s loop,” and gives extra heel and ankle support to the person wearing it. You can use this extra hole very easily to tie up your shoe. Use this hole to create loops on each side, pull down and then pull up and tie tightly. (source)

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