Just like that expensive tablet you bought exclusively to browse Facebook, or that fancy wrist computer that you’ve never used to check the time, the human body has all sorts of extra features most people will never know about. We think some of those features are way too cool to be ignored, though, so consider this article your body’s long-lost instruction manual.
#6. You Can “See” Your Hands In The Dark
For our first trick, we’re going to need you to cover your eyes for a second. What we’ll attempt to prove is that … you … you’re not reading this, are you? Shit. Let’s start over.
OK, according to this study by the University of Rochester, if you put on a blindfold or go to a place that’s completely dark (maybe your workplace has a “make-out” closet?), then wave your hands in front of your face, about half of you should see something like this:
But without the letters, presumably.
No, you don’t have radioactive hands — what’s happening, the researchers say, is that a big part of what we see every day comes not from our eyes, but from what our brain expects to see based on other sensory information. Ah, so you’re just imagining those hand movements, right? Not really: For the experiment, participants were put in a completely dark room with sensors that kept track of their eye movements. It turns out that when you move your hands in the dark, your eyes move exactly the same way they would if you could actually see them. Your sense of sight may be slacking off right now, but you’re still getting signals from other parts of your body, which “create real visual perceptions in the brain.” In simpler terms, you’re fucking Daredevil.
But you keep stumbling into furniture at night because you’re also fucking clumsy.
And if whoever threw you in a dark room also tied your hands, you can always use your nose to navigate. In an unrelated experiment, blindfolded people were able to find their way back to a specific place in a room by using only smelly sponges as reference. This is called using our “smellscapes” (we tragically wasted the term “smell-o-vision” long ago), which are maps we create in our heads by noticing the differences in how each place smells. Rats and pigeons do this all the time — we just haven’t had the chance to exercise this particular ability, is all. Should you ever find yourself in a blackout with two friends who had Mexican food, though, then definitely give this a shot.
#5. You Can Hear The Difference Between Hot And Cold Water
Unless it’s hot enough to sizzle or cold enough to turn your urine into icicles before it even hits the toilet, you wouldn’t think water temperature is something you can hear. And yet, listen to this short clip of a glass of water being poured:
Or maybe someone peeing, now that we put that idea into your head.
Is that hot or cold? How about this other one?
“We’ve secretly replaced their tap water with room-temp Coors Lite. Let’s see if they notice the difference.”
If you’re like 96 percent of the people tested in an experiment by Condiment Junkie, a British branding company, then you probably guessed right: Glass One is cold, Glass Two is hot. Which begs the question: What the hell? Did 96 percent of us get sent on a rocket from another planet as babies and develop the most useless superpower ever?
Actually, the British advertisers/researchers who conducted the experiment explain that we’re hearing the minute differences in molecular speeds; cold water has slower molecules and is therefore more viscous than hot water, which in turn is less dense. You may not consciously say, “Oh, yeah, those are some tight-ass molecules right there,” but your brain is smarter than you and keeps track of these things. For some reason.
Your brain still thinks it’s the sixth grade and you could get quizzed about this crap any moment.
In addition, hot water tends to have more bubbling, and bubbling noises tend to happen at a higher frequency. This is also why the sound of a shower running seems to change as the water heats up, as you can verify right now by looking at the bizarre amount of multihour “shower sounds” videos on YouTube.
Or we guess you can just check your own shower if you have one, Mr. Fancy Pants.
And speaking of showers, or the lack thereof …
#4. We Can Make Other People Happy With Our Sweat
You’re more likely to associate sweat with the dark trenches of an armpit than a fresh ray of sunshine, and yet the former is possibly as likely to put a smile on your face as the latter. Researchers in the Netherlands’ Utrecht University have discovered that, when we smell the sweat of a happy person, we can become happy ourselves — a fact that finally explains the unfathomable euphoria of dancing in a dark room all night surrounded by sweaty assholes (disregarding the excessive inebriation).
Who needs ecstasy when you can bury your nose in this guy’s pit?
We’ve told you before that you can subconsciously smell people’s personalities and even their political opinions, but there’s more to it than that: Our sweatmotions are actually contagious. Researchers gathered sweat samples from 12 healthy young men while making them watch videos that would induce specific emotional reactions. (Hopefully they remembered to clear their browser history after watching the “happy” videos.) They then got 36 young women to get a whiff of that sweat because, according to the scientists, ladies are as good at smelling as dudes are at stinking. Which is to say, remarkably good.
Unfortunately for one of them.
While the women didn’t come out and say they suddenly felt extremely stoked (they’d just been asked to sniff sweat, after all, so that would be kinda weird), the researchers found that there was definitely a behavioral synchronization between those who dealt the stink and those who smelled it — specifically, when the sweaty donors were happy. The women exposed to the happy sweat showed similar facial patterns to the content men and were more likely to act in the way a happy person acts, with more focus when doing certain tasks. On the other hand, those who smelled the fear sweat weren’t more fearful, despite being in a scenario where the phrase “fear sweat” is a valid term.
What this discovery means for the burgeoning bottled sweat industry remains to be seen.
So the next time a friend’s grandma dies, you know what to do: Watch some cute puppy videos, get on the StairMaster, and shove your armpit into his face. He’ll be jumping for joy in no time.
#3. We Can Smell Each Others’ Immune Systems
You’re probably familiar with that unmistakable “old people” smell that can be detected in places like hospitals, retirement homes, bingo halls, or wherever else our elders congregate.
We’ve never been in a major company’s boardroom, but we bet it smells similar.
Well, science has determined that this ominous aroma doesn’t come from senior citizens’ nether regions, as you might have guessed — what you’re smelling is actually their weakened immune system itself. To test this, researchers injected participants with lipopolysaccharide, a bacterial toxin that temporarily sabotages your body’s defenses. They then collected the sweat of these participants and had volunteers smell it, because being a medical researcher is like 75 percent “making people smell sweat,” apparently.
They found that participants rated the sweat of those injected with the toxin to be “unhealthy” and more unpleasant than regular sweat. This suggests that the human body emits a certain smell that warns others that it’s sick, to prevent us from infecting the rest of the community. Basically, the smell is like a biological “SHUN THIS PERSON” sign.
“I’d love to talk more, Grandpa, but evolution is forcing us to go out and check the vending machine.”
However, there are other circumstances in which smelling someone’s immune system can make you want to get closer. Way closer. As in, inside their pants. In a famous study known as the “sweaty T-shirt experiment” (seriously, is this like a fetish thing?), women had to smell the used garments of men with varied types of genes. The results indicated that women are more attracted to males whose immune system genes are different from their own, because the resulting genetic combination leads to healthier super-babies.
“He’s nice but, according to his Hanes, not meant to be.”
What’s freaky is that, just by being exposed to your body odor, a woman can also tell if your genes are too similar to her dad’s — which is nature’s way of preventing the plot of Electra (or the modern version, Oldboy) from coming true.
#2. We Have Superhuman Hearing … When We’re Underwater
Humans have a reputation for having rather crappy hearing compared to other animals — whereas dogs can hear frequencies of up to 45,000 hertz (thus “dog whistles”) and bats go up to 110,000, we stop at a mere 20,000 hertz. Pathetic.
Your suspicion is correct: They’re constantly disparaging your sandal choices in frequencies you can’t hear.
Unless, that is, we go underwater — then we unlock the ability to hear up to an impressive 200,000 hertz, which is more than a beluga whale (that is, an animal that actually lives down there and has to look out for passing ships and Cthulhus). That doesn’t mean our ears don’t suck, though … because, down in Nemo’s turf, we actually hear with our bones.
Usually, humans hear through a process called air conduction, wherein sound pressure waves disturb the air and kick off a whole Rube Goldberg sequence involving our ear canal, eardrum, ossicle bones, and cochlea. However, Navy researchers discovered that, when there’s no air to be disturbed, the sound skips the middle ear and resonates through the mastoid, which is the bone right behind your ear. This process is called bone conduction, and there are already hearing aids and headphones that use it:
If you turn it way up, you can hear your brain jiggling around your skull.
This means that, underwater, we all take on the ability to hear a whole new world of high-pitched sounds that you were never even aware of because, well, how often are you underwater in the vicinity of creatures making those kind of noises? Go for a swim in the ocean and really listen this time — you’ll be able to command that shit like Aquaman before you know it.
#1. Your Skin Can “Smell” And Heals Because Of It
Aromatherapy is one of those things you only do because your significant other has a friend from the office who recommended it, and you’re in a relationship that needs breaks like this or else you’re not sure if you can continue. Literally, that’s the only possible scenario. But, does laying down in a smelly room while getting an overpriced massage actually help improve your health? Up until now, the answer has been an empathetic “hahaha no,” but researchers may have just proved otherwise, thanks to a mysterious substance called Sandalore. You know, this crap:
This isn’t complimentary chocolate? Uh-oh.
German scientists have recently found that some of the cells that give your nose its ability to be a nose (that is, to smell) also exist in the skin. So, yes, your skin can smell — as if being in the lower back regions wasn’t undignified enough already. While we don’t actually perceive what the skin is smelling, this process still serves a productive purpose. When the researchers exposed skin cells to Sandalore (a synthetic sandalwood scent), they found that it generated a 32 percent boost in cell division. Those cells can then go and help heal anything that needs to be healed, which should make all those spa knife fights a lot less dangerous.
Wolverine doesn’t really smoke cigars; that’s actually an incense stick.
But here’s the catch: The concentration of Sandalore needed to trigger that reaction was 1,000 times higher than what it takes for your nose to detect the fragrance, meaning that you’re probably gonna need a gas mask if you wanna try this. Nonetheless, it’s interesting that aromatherapy isn’t quite as much a junk science as it’s been believed to be. Well, shit, what else are the hippies right about?