Robert the haunted doll

Robert the haunted doll

Robert the haunted doll

Robert the haunted doll


Let me take you back to the year 1896 in Key West, Florida. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Otto had a young son named Robert Eugene, “Gene” for short. The Ottos mistreated their servants and in particular took care of Gene. It was said that she practiced voodoo and gave Gene a three foot doll, stuffed with straw.
Gene named the doll Robert after himself. Gene became obsessed with playing with and you would never see Gene without Robert.

The Ottos would often hear Gene talking to himself. This may not seem so bad, but it is said that he would answer himself in a completely different voice.

Strange things started to happen in the Otto household. The neighbors would see Robert walk about the widow’s walk from window to window watching the commotion on the street. Mr. Otto even claimed he heard Robert giggle and he could of sworn he saw Robert walk about the house.
Gene began to have nightmares and would wake up screaming. His parents would respond to his screams and would find their child frightened on the bed, with his furniture turned over and Robert the doll at the foot of Gene’s bed with a smirk on his face. Gene would yell out “ROBERT DID IT!!” When any mishaps would happen, Gene would always say “ROBERT DID IT!! IT WAS ROBERT!!”
Robert was eventually moved to the attic.

After Gene’s father died, Gene inherited the house. He moved his wife in and they found Robert in the attic and promptly moved him to the turret room, so Robert could have a view.

Gene became an artist and when he returned home from work and found Robert had been moved he would get angry and return him to the Turret room or Roberts room, as Gene called it. Of course Gene’s wife began to question her husband’s sanity.

Eventually Gene grew tired of Robert’s antics and returned him to the attic. Gene died in 1972 and his wife sold the house, leaving Robert in the attic. A new family moved in and it wasn’t long before their daughter found Robert and added him to her doll collection. It wasn’t long before Robert unleashed his fury on the child.

Robert now sits in a glass case in a museum in Key West in this little sailor suit, holding his little white lion. His expression is said to change with his mood and if you don’t ask Robert’s permission to take a picture, your picture will come out blurred or blacked out. Robert’s soul is slowly dying and if you don’t believe me, just look him up on Youtube:

Mystery of shadow people

A shadow people ©

A shadow people                                    ©


Shadow people are supernatural shadow-like humanoid figures that, according to believers, are seen flickering on walls and ceilings in the viewer’s peripheral vision. They are often reported moving with quick, jerky movements, and quickly disintegrate into walls or mirrors. They are believed to be evil and aggressive in nature, although a few people consider them to be a form of guardian angel.

In 2010, the apparitions were described as one of the most regularly reported paranormal phenomena in the United States. This is attributed to occasional reports on the Coast to Coast AM show, where paranormal researcher Heidi Hollis has been interviewed several times on the subject of shadow people. Hollis believes that shadow people have always existed, that they feed upon emotions of fear, and that they can be repelled by thinking positively.Others believe that shadow people may be the extra-dimensional inhabitants of another universe.

The stories of shadow people have been compared to those of the Raven Mocker, a witch from Cherokee Indian mythology who sometimes appears as a shadowy phantom, and the Islamic Jinn.

Several scientific principles can be used to explain reports of apparitional experiences such as shadow people. These include optical illusions or hallucinations brought on by physiological or psychological circumstances, drug use or side effects of medication, and the interaction of external agents on the human body. Another reason that could be behind the illusion is sleep deprivation, which may lead to hallucinations.

The most believed theory is that Shadow People are spirits with dense energy, like orbs and vortexes. Some photos show that orbs and vortexes do occasionally cast shadows. All though we can’t see orbs or vortexes with our naked eye, it’s believed we can sometimes see the shadows they cast. essentially, this theory explains that the Shadow People we actually see represents the energy of the spirit that we can’t see with our naked eyes.

Another theory is that we’re getting a glimpse into another dimension. Perhaps that dimension or realm blends in with ours a bit and what we’re seeing is the shadow of someone from the other dimension. If that’s the case, then can that person see us? Do we appear like a shadow to them? Many paranormal investigators are intrigued by this theory. Unfortunately though, there’s really no way to prove it.

When it comes to Shadow People, all we can do is theorize and speculate. Perhaps all explanations are equally valid. Maybe Shadow People don’t have just one origin. While they mostly appear to be “human” outlines, there are still some that are witnessed in different sizes and shapes. Unfortunately, they go away as quickly as they appear, so nobody ever really gets a good look at them. They are strange though. One good thing that can be said about Shadow People is that, for the most part, witnesses don’t report any feelings of negativity coming from them. Shadow People leave witnesses feeling strange, and maybe a bit uneasy, but hardly ever frightened. We can only hope that Shadow People aren’t evil or malevolent, whatever they may be.


Well…. This is true. Believe me or not, I’ve seen one of them.

5 iconic items that were invented accidentally

© Today I Found Out

© Today I Found Out

It Is Not Necessary To Drink At Least Eight Glasses Of Water A Day To Stay Properly Hydrated

©Today I Found Out

Myth: You should drink at least eight glasses of water per day to stay properly hydrated.

Probably one of the most widely spread urban health myths of all time is that the average person needs to drink at least eight 8oz glasses (approx. 2 liters) of water per day to remain properly hydrated. Popularly known as the ’8×8′ (for eight, eight-ounce glasses), this H2O guzzling advice has been publicized by health writers, physicians and nutritionists alike, and often stated as the ‘first commandment of good health’. However, this widely acknowledged recommendation has been proven to lack any scientific basis.

The origins of this so called rule of health are as fuzzy as the medical benefits it’s meant to provide. Some say the notion may have started in 1945 when the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council recommended approximately “1 milliliter of water for each calorie of food,” which would amount to roughly 2 to 2.5 quarts per day (64 to 80 ounces) for a typical 2,000-calorie diet.

Some trace it back even further to as early as the 1700′s with German physician, Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland (1764-1836), who practiced natural medicine and vitalism, and wrote a few books on macrobiotics. In his book titled Makrobiotik oder Die Kunst, he propagated the importance of drinking water that was alive like fresh spring or mineral water. He went on to emphasize the many special curative properties attributed to fresh, cold water, which he said was a “fortifier and vivifier of the stomach and nerves, and an excellent antibilious and antiputrid remedy.” Dr. Hufeland even described his water prescription to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.

While his book was written in 1796, Dr. Hufeland described a Surgeon General to the King of Prussia, who, from the age of 30, had suffered from “hypochondria, melancholy, heart palpitations, and indigestion.” By following a water diet, “all his complaints disappeared” and he was said to have enjoyed better health the last half of his life than he had during his youth. Throughout the 18th and 20th centuries, the hydropathy water cure was popular in Europe and America, as practitioners encouraged their followers to drink lots of water for healthful and curative properties and to flush out toxins and impurities, showing that the popularly known 8×8 health recommendation has been believed for at least several centuries.

Regardless of its origins though, the 8-glasses-a-day dictum caught on and now up to three out of four adults can recite this bit of health wisdom, with very little clinical evidence to support it. In one such study on this myth, done in 2002, Heinz Valtin, a Dartmouth Medical School physician and kidney specialist, who researched the subject thoroughly, released his findings. He believed that the statement supporting the notion, taken from the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council was grossly misrepresented by removing it from the original context. The sentence that followed the one popularized by the Council stated, “most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods,” which was left out either consciously or erroneously, and led to the false interpretation that the requirement needed to be fulfilled by drinking plain water alone. After 45 years of studying the biological system that keeps the water in our bodies in balance, Valtin concluded that drinking such large amounts of water is not needed at all. He points out a number of published experiments that attest to the capability of the human body for maintaining proper water balance from sources other than directly drinking water which may include drinks such as tea, coffee, soft drinks, as well as other prepared foods. The truth of the matter is that most foods have some water content. For example, here’s a look at the percentage of water content in certain foods- Apples: 85%, Bean sprouts: 92%, Chicken, boiled: 71%, Cucumbers, raw: 96%, Lettuce, head: 96%, Potatoes, raw: 85%, Turkey, roasted: 62% and so on. These and other food sources account for some of the fluid intake needed by our bodies.

The bottom line is that the body does a pretty good job of letting us know when we need more water by making us feel thirsty. The only thing chugging down glass after glass of water is going to do is make you pee more frequently as your body needs to expel the excess liquid. Except in the case of people who have specific health concerns, such as kidney stones or a tendency to develop urinary tract infections, where drinking lots of water can be beneficial, the average person will remain properly hydrated if they simply drink when they’re thirsty.

Bonus Factoids:

  • Scientific evidence also debunks the popular myth that by the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. A number of scientific studies have confirmed there is no support for this fear. Quite the opposite. Thirst hits long before we’re near risk for dehydration. Specifically, most people’s thirst mechanism kicks in when the osmolality of our blood plasma is less than 2%, whereas dehydration begins at osmolalities of 5% and higher.
  • Valtin found that, among most adults, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages constitute half or slightly more of their daily fluid intake, meaning the average adult drinks a respectable 1,700 ml and this doesn’t include the water from foods and metabolism, which also count. Yet, the medical research indicates that even 1,700 ml may be as much as a full liter more than what sedentary adults actually need to maintain physiological homeostasis.


Both cats and dogs can see color

©Today I Found Out

©Today I Found Out

Myth: Cats and dogs can only see in black and white

The myth that cats and dogs are fully colorblind has been around for quite some time, despite the fact that it has been proven false for nearly half a century. Before this time, though, many thought that cats and dogs could only see in black and white.  This myth even seemed to be backed up by the results of properly executed scientific experiments.  For instance, in 1915 at the University of Colorado, two scientists were trying to determine whether cats could see colors and so devised an experiment like so: two jars, one wrapped with gray paper, one wrapped with colored paper, were placed before the cat.  If the cat touched the colored jar with its nose or paw or the like, it would get a tiny fish.  If it touched the gray jar, it got nothing. After 18 months and 100,000 tries, the cats tested only correctly picked the colored jar around half the time.  Given that the odds were 50/50 in the first place, it would seem from this that they couldn’t see color.  (Perhaps, though, they were just sick of fish after around 50,000 correct guesses between 9 cats, so about 10 little fish per day, per cat, every day, for 18 months.  So their picking the gray jar was really just a cry for help.  Alternatively, the cats were just screwing with the humans, because, you know… cats.) ;-)

Given the large sample-size, this particular bit of research was accepted and for a time it was considered “fact” that cats were completely colorblind.  However, cats did have both cones and rods in their eyes, which seemed to fly in the face of the above research.  If they have both, why couldn’t cats see color?  Enter a more advanced scientific experiment:  using electrodes, neurologists wired up a cat’s brain and showed the cat various shades of color.  What they found was that the cat’s brain did respond and distinguished between many shades of color.  Hence, they could perceive color.

So what gives?  Why did the cats never learn that they could have all the fish they wanted if they just kept picking the colored jar?  Nobody really knows, but probably the “you can’t tell me what do to / you don’t own me / screw you, that’s why” theory is correct.  I mean, have you ever tried to get a cat to do what you wanted it to do?  I rest my case. :-)

In any event, cats are partially colorblind in that they seem to lack the ability to see red, but have no problem with blues and greens.  So it’s possible that played a role in some of the experiments that seemed to demonstrate that cats couldn’t see colors.  After it was discovered that cats could distinguish colors, the “fish” style experiment was run again in the 1960s.  This time, it was a success.  However, cats never learn this trick very quickly.  On average, it took about 1550 tries before each cat would finally learn to pick the colored item to get their treat (presumably at this point they just got tired of the experiment, so started cooperating just to make it all stop).   The real leading theory as to why it took so long for cats to learn this is simply that color doesn’t really factor into the daily life of a cat, in terms of being important.  Thus, their brains, while able to distinguish between many colors, aren’t really used to doing so, so it takes a long time to train them to do a task like this.

This same type of experiment was run on dogs, with much more success (presumably because they long to please you, unlike cats who likely pick incorrectly out of spite).  Dogs do have significantly fewer cones than humans, though, so scientists estimate that they only see colors about 1/7th as vibrant as humans do.  Despite this, dogs were quickly able to learn to distinguish not only gray from various colors, but also to easily distinguish between many shades of colors.  Like cats, though, dogs are partially colorblind.  Specifically, due to lack of L-cones they have trouble with differentiating between red, orange, and chartreuse shades, though they can do things like distinguish red and blue and distinguish between the various shades of blue and the like.

Bonus Factoids:

  • Long nosed breeds of dogs typically have very wide fields of vision.  For certain breeds of dog, this field of vision can be as wide as 270 degrees.
  • Dogs have much better vision when something is moving vs. when it is standing still, being able to distinguish objects as much as twice as far away if it is moving, rather than motionless.  Dogs can also visually detect movement 10 to 20 times better than humans, even though dog’s eye-sight is actually not that great overall, compared to humans.  For instance, Poodles are estimated to have around 20/75 vision overall.
  • One thing cats and dogs both have a lot of, though, are rods in their eyes, which, among other mechanisms they each have, allow them to see much better than humans in low-light situations.
  • Another common animal/color misconception is that bulls are angered by the color red.  In fact, bulls can’t even see the color red as all cows are red/green colorblind.  Like dogs and cats, though, bulls are not wholly colorblind.
  • The longest lived domestic cat was named Creme Puff.  She lived from August 3, 1967 to August 6, 2005, a span of 38 years and 3 days.  This is well over double the normal life span for domestic cats, which is typically around 12-14 years for males and 13-15 years for females. Interestingly, the owner of Creme Puff, Jake Perry, also raised a sphynx cat which was born in 1964 and didn’t die until 1998, a span of 34 years and 2 months.  The cat’s name was “Grandpa Rexs Allen”.  Why Perry’s two cats lived so long isn’t entirely known, however, he didn’t typically feed them store bought cat food.  Rather, he raised them on a variety of “natural” foods; prominent among these foods were: bacon, eggs, asparagus, and broccoli, among other things.  This can be a somewhat dangerous practice normally as cats require certain nutrients they won’t always get if they are just eating “human” food.  For instance, cats will go blind fairly quickly (and permanently) if they don’t get enough taurine, found in muscle.  Cats also require a high amount of protein and calcium.  This high amount of protein consumed by cats is thought to be why dogs like cat poop so much, with it being very protein-rich.
  • Cats are thought to have been domesticated around 9000-10,000 years ago.  The first known potentially domesticated cat was discovered in a 9,500 year old grave.
  • Both cats and dogs are commonly eaten in certain parts of the world.  For instance, in Guangdong, China alone, around 10,000 cats are eaten per day.  In all of Asia, it is thought that around 4 million cats are eaten every year, or about just shy of 1% of the world-wide population of domestic cats.  Dogs are also commonly eaten in Asia with around 13-16 million dogs eaten every year there, or around nearly 4% of the world’s dog population.  It should be noted though that typical breeds you’d find in people’s households as pets are not the ones usually eaten.  Rather, specific breeds have been developed for consumption, such as the hugely popular Nureongi dog, which is rarely raised for anything else but livestock and is one of the most popular dog breeds to eat.  The nureongi resembles slightly a small yellow Labrador.
  • In South Korea, both dogs meant to be pets and dogs meant to be eaten can often be seen sold in the same marketplace.  Usually the cages the dogs are kept in will be marked or color coded to distinguish which dogs are for what purpose.
  • It was once popularly thought that cats were domesticated by humans in order to provide rodent control.  However, it is now thought that they were probably self domesticated in that they simply lived around humans long enough, hunting rodents and other vermin in towns, that certain cats with the predisposition to be friendly to humans gradually became adapted to domesticated life as they scavenged near human settlements.
  • Chocolate is poisonous to both cats and dogs, though cats usually aren’t interested in eating chocolate due to lacking the ability to taste sweet things.  This inability is due to a mutant chemoreceptor in their taste buds, which is actually a trait shared by all cats big and small, not just domestic ones. (read why chocolate is poisonous to cats and dogs here)  Onions and garlic are also poisonous to cats and dogs, though they can both typically stomach more of these than chocolate, particularly cats.  Dogs are also highly allergic to grapes and macadamia nuts.  Cats are highly allergic to many common over the counter medications, such as Tylenol and Aspirin.
  • A cat’s forelimbs have a free-floating clavicle bone.  Unless they are very overweight, this allows them to fit through any space their head can fit through.
  • A cat’s normal body temperature is around 101.5° F.  Unlike humans, they can comfortably withstand high external temperatures ranging up to 126° F to 133° F before showing any signs that they are hot.  This is thought to be a remnant of the fact that they were once probably desert animals.  Their feces is also typically very dry and their urine highly concentrated so as not to waste water.  In fact, cats need so little water that they can survive on nothing but uncooked, fresh meat, with no other water source needed.
  • Cats can see quite well in light levels as little as 1/6 of what is required for humans to see normally.  They accomplish this largely via a tapetum lucidum, which reflects light passed through the retina back into the eye.  They also have exceptionally large pupils for their body size and a much higher density of rods than humans do, as previously stated.
  • Cats also have some of the best hearing of any animal.  They can hear frequencies as high as 79 KHz and as low as 55 Hz.  For reference, humans hearing range is typically between 31 Hz to 18 KHz and dog’s hearing range is typically between 67 Hz and 44 KHz.  This extremely good hearing helps cats hunt rodents in that rodents often communicate in ultrasonic frequencies which the cats can hear.
  • A large percentage of non-albino white cats, particularly those with blue eyes, are deaf.  Why this is the case, in terms of what gene is causing it, is not yet known.
  • Cats have exceptional vision when viewing far away objects, but horrible vision when seeing things up close.  Specifically, they generally are thought to have around 20/100 vision on objects very close to them.  This, along with the fact that cats have a blind spot in front of their nose, is why cats will sometimes appear not to recognize when food is placed right in front of them.
  • Domestic dogs are descended from the gray wolf at least 15,000 years ago (and possibly further back as the 15,000 year ago mark was just when it is thought the domestic dog diverged from the gray wolf).  Dogs were also probably the first animal to be domesticated, likely due to their high utility, such as helping in hunting and as work animals.  They are also somewhat predisposed for domestication due to their extremely sophisticated social cognition abilities, rarely found in any animal outside of humans.
  • Like with the cat, it isn’t known whether the dog was purposefully domesticated by humans or if they were self-domesticated, with certain of the gray wolves becoming friendly with humans from continually scavenging food scraps around human camps.  Also, similar to the domestic cat that all likely descended from just a handful of cats, it is thought that all dogs descend from just a handful of gray wolves in a small number of domesticated events.  In the dog’s case, this probably took place in East Asia, with the dogs quickly being bred and spreading throughout the world, even to North America around 10,000 years ago.
  • The world record for the smallest adult dog was a 2.5 inch high, 3.7 inch long Yorkshire Terrier.  The largest dog on record is an English Mastiff that was 8 feet 2 inches long (around 2.5 meters) and weighed 343 pounds.
  • Dogs are exceptionally good at learning names of objects.  The world record holder for this is a Border Collie named Chaser.  Chaser’s master purchased 1,022 toys over the course of three years and trained the dog to fetch the toys based on the name.  Even after so many toys, Chaser has no problem remember which toy is which, though her trainer eventually had to start labeling them to keep track.
  • Interestingly, a study done in Hungary has recently shown that dogs can judge with remarkable accuracy (about 83%) the size of another dog, solely based on the growl of the dog.


Reading in dim lighting will not damage your eyes

©Today I Found out

©Today I Found out

Myth: Reading in a dimly lit area will damage your eyesight.

In fact, the only “damage” reading in a dimly lit setting will do, in comparison to reading in an ample lighted setting, is to cause extra eyestrain, which will go away simply by resting your eyes.  This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given the fact that for centuries people have been reading by candlelight without rampant reports of rapidly reduced eyesight.  In fact, the opposite has happened with rates of things like myopia, usually what is most cited as being what reading in dim light contributes to, being on the rise despite all our bright light sources.  Nonetheless, perhaps because parents the world over are trying to get their kids to go to bed, rather than to sneakily try to read by a nightlight or the like, this myth has been widely perpetuated.

It even made it on the list of “Seven Medical Myths That Doctors are Most Likely to Believe”, a list put together by the British Medical Journal, which is in turn owned by the British Medical Association (for the other six medical myths that even doctors sometimes perpetuate, see the Bonus Facts below).  In addition to doctors, 56.3% of teachers surveyed by BioMed Central say that in order to maintain good eye health, people should avoid reading in dim light, despite the fact that to date no scientific study has been able to conclusively show that reading in dim light hurts your eyesight (long term) more than reading in an adequately lit area.

Now it should be noted that people who read a lot or otherwise focus on things close up for long periods of time, such as people who work on computers all day or do a lot of sewing or the like, do have a higher tendency to develop myopia (nearsightedness), but dim lighting doesn’t appear to make this tendency worse, simply that excessive reading seems to contribute to eventually developing nearsightedness.

Why exactly this is the case isn’t yet fully understood, but the correlation is strong enough between groups of people who do a lot of “close-eye work” and their propensity to develop myopia at a drastically higher rate than the average, that most optometrists are prepared to say that “close-eye work” is for some a major contributing factor to developing myopia.  Although, of course, until someone figures out exactly why and proves it in a scientific manner, they can’t say for sure as correlation does not imply causation.  The leading theory, which seems plausible enough, is that the near constant straining of muscles focusing the eye, stretching the eyeball a bit, over the years gradually causes a permanent lengthening of the eyeball, thus the person developing myopia as they age.

Now, reading in dim light does seem to increase eyestrain, so some theorize that this exacerbates the above problem, assuming that theory is correct, but the consensus among optometrists is that if this is what is happening and eyestrain is indeed significantly greater in low-light, it’s very unlikely that the difference is going to be so great that it produces a noticeable acceleration of the development of myopia over reading in a well lit area.

The reason reading in low light is thought to increase eyestrain is because your eyes have to work a lot harder to focus on the words. Your iris is simultaneously trying to open your pupil as wide as possible to let in more light, while your eye is also trying to focus that small amount of light hitting the words onto your retina just right so that you can distinguish between the words and the page itself. According to optometry professor Howard Howland of Cornell University, this is accomplished by your muscles lengthening your eye even more than normal when reading to bring everything into focus.

Whether reading in low-light or ample light for lengthy time frames, the resulting eyestrain is not serious and one simply needs to rest the eyes on occasion. You can do so by periodically taking a break from focusing on something close up, and instead looking at something far away. Specifically as a general rule, optometrists tend to recommend taking a break from focusing your eyes on close up things for a minute or two every 15-30 minutes.  Also, closing your eyes for a minute helps because, while reading, you typically blink about 1/4 the amount you would normally do, so your eyes can get a bit dry.  Trying to train yourself to blink regularly while concentrating isn’t usually feasible, so the eye-closing method tends to work better for most people.

Bonus Facts:

  • The other six items on the British Medical Journal list of myths that many doctors still believe are (I’ve already covered several of them on this site, so click the links if you’re interested to know more about each myth):
    • Myth: You Need to Drink at Least 8 Glasses of Water Per Day to Stay Hydrated
    • Myth: You Only Use 10% of Your Brain
    • Myth: Hair and Fingernails Continue to Grow After Death (It’s actually the body tissue contracting that creates this illusion.)
    • Myth: Shaving Makes Your Hair Grow Back Faster/Thicker
    • Myth: Eating Turkey Will Makes You Drowsy
    • Myth: Cellphones used in a normal way create enough electromagnetic interference to cause considerable problems with hospital equipment, creating false alarms, incorrect equipment readings, and subsequent errors in treatment.  This myth was based on a highly publicized study done in 1993 that offered no actual direct evidence that this was happening, just several doctor’s suspicions that it was happening.  An actual scientific study by the Mayo Clinic in 2005 busted this myth, as did another done in 2007.  Not only this, but, funny enough, according to a survey of anesthesiologists, having a cell phone to use while treating patients resulted in about 22% fewer medical errors than when they had to delay communicating with someone about something pertaining to their patient.
  • One more myth that didn’t make the above list, but is none-the-less rampant among us non-MD’s is that alcohol kills brain cells.  In fact, if you’ll follow the link, you’ll see that it actually does not, at least, not the amounts of alcohol it is possible for humans to consume without dying.
  • Developing Myopia and having a high IQ were at one time thought to go hand in hand, perhaps having some underlying genetic cause.  However, today most don’t think this is the case and it is rather because people with high IQ’s tend to read more, often from studying in academia.  Once again proving the logical precept that correlation does not imply causation.
  • Smoking is not only bad for your lungs, but is also bad for your eyes, among other parts of your body.  Particularly, smoking has been shown to increase your risk of cataracts and accelerate macular degeneration.
  • Another way to promote good eye health is to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, particularly those rich in antioxidants, as well as staying away from saturated fats and hydrogenated oils.  This obviously is good for your whole body too, so no surprise that it’s also healthy for your eyes.
  • Wearing 100% UV filtering sunglasses anytime you’re outside in the daytime is also extremely good for the long-term health of your eyes.  Even when it’s cloudy out, UV light travels right through the clouds (as clouds are mostly made of water and water is UV transparent) and causes very slight damage to your eyes, which over time adds up.
  • The “opposite” of myopia is hyperopia, which is farsightedness.  When eyeballs are too “long” people develop myopia and things that are far away get very blurry, so it’s no surprise that people get hyperopia when their eyeballs are too “short”, so things close up get blurry.
  • A third “eyeball shape” vision condition is astigmatism, where the cornea isn’t perfectly round, which in turn results in blurred vision both far away and close up.
  • A large percentage of babies are born with hyperopia, but as they grow, their eyeballs lengthen to the correct size.
  • There are around 130 million light sensitive cells in your retina, which is only about the size of a postage stamp.


You Can Survive Being Exposed to the Near Vacuum of Space for About 90 Seconds With No Longterm Damag Read

Col. Joseph Kittinger's record breaking jump from 19.47 miles up

Col. Joseph Kittinger’s record breaking jump from 19.47 miles up © TODAY I FOUND OUT


Myth: The instant you’re exposed to the near vacuum of space, you’ll lose consciousness, your blood will start to boil, and you’ll explode. (Other variations on this myth include you freezing near instantly from the extreme “cold” of space.)

In fact, so long as you don’t try to hold your breath, which would result in your lungs rupturing and thus pretty well guaranteed that the incident will be fatal, you’ll likely remain conscious for about 10-15 seconds.  After that, you’ll be fine as long as you’re placed back  in a pressurized environment within about 90 seconds.  It’s even possible that some might be able to survive as much as 3 minutes, as chimpanzees are capable of this without lasting detrimental effect.

These numbers are based on both human accidents that have occurred and on experiments run on animals.  For instance, in 1965, researchers at the Brooks Air Force Base in Texas ran a series of experiments on man’s best friend, dogs (dog lovers out there, prepare to be enraged).  They exposed the dogs to a near vacuum (1/380th normal atmospheric pressure) for varying amounts of time to see how the animals’ bodies would react. In most cases, the dogs survived without permanent damage, so long as the time frame was less than 90 seconds.  Once they pushed it to two minutes, the dogs suffered cardiac arrest and died.

During the experiments, the dogs became unconscious after 10-20 seconds.  They also experienced simultaneous urination, projectile vomiting, and defecation, the latter two caused by gas from their digestive tract being rapidly expelled.  Many of the dogs also experienced dramatic seizures.  Some of the dogs ended up with a thin layer of ice on their tongues as the moisture in their mouths evaporated, cooling the tongue rapidly.   Finally, the dogs’ bodies themselves swelled to nearly twice their normal size, so that they looked like “an inflated goatskin bag”.

You might think from this that there would be no way their bodies could recover from this, but in fact, as long as atmospheric pressure was restored before that 90 second mark (while the dog’s heart was still beating), they all survived with no apparent lasting damage.  The immediate after effect was simply that they were not able to walk for about 10-15 minutes after normal atmospheric pressure was restored.  A few more minutes later and their eyesight returned.  Beyond that, the dogs were apparently fine.

So that’s dogs.  What about humans?  Chimpanzees were chosen here as the guinea pigs.  They did much better than the dogs, with most able to survive for up to 3 minutes, with the record being 3.5 minutes.  For those under 3 minutes, they not only were fine, but the researchers were able to confirm that their cognitive abilities, with one exception, were not damaged in any way.

We don’t just need to rely on animal tests though. Enough depressurization accidents have happened over the years for us to see that the typical Hollywood version of things isn’t at all accurate.  One of the first such accidents was when a technician at the Johnson Space Center in 1965 accidentally depressurized his suit by ripping out a hose.  Around the 15 second mark, other technicians started the process of re-pressurizing the chamber, but the process took long enough to get a brief glimpse of how a human would perform in that situation.  Specifically, he remained conscious for 14 seconds.  During this time, he remembered feeling the water rapidly evaporating off his tongue.  He regained consciousness at around the 15,000 ft. atmospheric pressure level, which was about 27 seconds into the ordeal.  The only residual effect noted was that he couldn’t taste anything for several days after the accident, though his sense of taste returned back to normal within a week.

In another accident, the person involved wasn’t so lucky.  In his case, it took about 3 minutes to re-pressurize the chamber he was in.  Once it was re-pressurized, the man gasped a few times, then ceased to breathe and no amount of manual artificial respiration could get him breathing again.  So it would appear the 3 minute mark is just a little bit too long.

A worse incident, in that it included three people instead of one, occurred during the Soyuz-11 mission in 1971.   During the crew’s decent back to Earth, 12 small explosives that were supposed to fire one at a time to detach the orbital module from the service module ended up firing all at once.  The result of this was that the pressure equalization valve, whose function is to equalize the inside pressure of the capsule to the outside when atmospheric pressure reaches appropriate levels, opened and allowed air to escape from the module as they descended from orbit (beginning to lose pressure at 104 miles up).

The three crew members instantly knew what had happened and Viktor Patsayev, being the only one close enough to do anything about it, attempted to close the valve manually.  This takes 60 seconds to accomplish and it took 30 seconds for the cabin to completely depressurize (at about the 15 second mark the crew would have only had about 10-15 seconds of useful consciousness).  Despite all this, Patsayev almost managed to fix the problem, managing to close the valve half way before passing out.

The three men were exposed to the near vacuum of space for approximately 11 minutes and 30 seconds.  The capsule landed without the recovery crew aware that there was anything wrong.  When they opened the hatch, they found all three cosmonauts appearing as if they were asleep, showing no real tissue damage at first glance.  It wasn’t until they looked closer at them that they noticed some tissue damage, though not any more severe than what often occurs during explosive decompression, despite the extended time in a vacuum.

So now that we have a pretty good idea of roughly how long you could last if your full body was exposed to a near perfect vacuum, what would happen if just one part of your body was exposed to the near vacuum of space, say your hand if you’re trying to plug a hole in your space ship with it?  We can actually answer that question because of an equipment malfunction during Joe Kittinger’s record leap from about 19.5 miles up on August 16, 1960.  During his ascent, the following happened:

At 43,000 feet, I find out [what can go wrong]. My right hand does not feel normal. I examine the pressure glove; its air bladder is not inflating. The prospect of exposing the hand to the near-vacuum of peak altitude causes me some concern. From my previous experiences, I know that the hand will swell, lose most of its circulation, and cause extreme pain…. I decide to continue the ascent, without notifying ground control of my difficulty… Circulation has almost stopped in my unpressurized right hand, which feels stiff and painful… [Upon landing] Dick looks at the swollen hand with concern. Three hours later the swelling disappeared with no ill effect.

His total ascent took 1 hour and 31 minutes, he stayed at the peak altitude for 12 minutes, and his total decent took 13 minutes and 45 seconds, so his hand was exposed to a near vacuum for quite some time without long term ill effects.

So to sum up, if exposed to the near vacuum of space, as long as you don’t try to hold your breath or impeded its decompression, you’d:

  • Remain conscious for about 10-15 seconds, during which time you’d feel the water evaporating off your tongue and the moisture on your skin doing the same, such as if you were sweating. (This would make the vacuum feel cold.)
  • You may or may not projectile vomit and defecate, as the gasses in your stomach and bowels are ejected rapidly (Mental note: might want to avoid chili and Coke before going into space.)
  • If your Eustachian tubes in your ears are blocked by ear wax or the like, you may have some inner-ear problems that result, but otherwise should be fine there.
  • Your heart rate will spike up, then steadily fall thereafter, as will your arterial blood pressure.  Your venous pressure will steadily rise as gasses form.
  • Your body will swell up to as much as twice its normal size as your skin stretches, assuming you weren’t wearing a suit that constricted things. According to the Bioastronautics Data Book, with a properly designed and fitted elastic suit, experiments have shown that the formation of gas bubbles in your body fluids can be completely prevented as low as 15 torr (for reference 760 torr is normal atmospheric pressure and atmospheric pressure on the moon is 10-11 torr.  Further, 47 torr is the point at which your blood would normally boil.)  The swelling of your body is due to the moisture in your soft tissue turning to a gaseous state. However, your skin is strong enough to hold it in. So you won’t explode, you’ll simply expand.
  • During this process, your body will continually eject gas and water vapor through your mouth and nose, resulting in these getting colder and colder as the moisture evaporates, possibly even freezing your mouth or tongue.
  • If you happen to be in direct sunlight, you can expect extreme sunburns without the Earth’s atmosphere or other medium to protect you from the intense UV rays of the Sun.
  • Your skin will start to turn blue-ish purple from lack of oxygen, a condition known as cyanosis.
  • Your brain and heart will remain relatively undamaged for a time and your heart will continue to beat until around the 90-180 second mark. As your blood pressure drops, your blood itself will begin to boil once the pressure drops below 47 torr, resulting in your heart stopping beating, among other problems.  This doesn’t happen instantly, though, as is depicted in the movies.  No animal or human has ever been successfully resuscitated in these instances once the heart stops.
  • If pressure is restored in time, you’ll find yourself temporarily blind and unable to move, but both of these symptoms will pass.  You also apparently will lose your sense of taste for a few days.
  • On the flip-side, if you hold your breath or otherwise try to impede the rate at which air is exhaled during explosive decompression, the “lungs and thorax will become over-expanded by the excessively high intrapulmonic pressure, causing actual tearing and rupture of the lung tissues and capillaries. The trapped air is forced through the lungs into the thoracic cage, and air can be injected directly into the general circulation by way of the ruptured blood vessels, with massive air bubbles moving throughout the body and lodging in vital organs such as the heart and brain.”  This goes for decompression in a commercial airplane at high altitude too, so make sure you don’t try to hold your breath if that ever happens to you on a plane.

Bonus Facts:

  • There is a type of amazing animal that is known to be able to survive the near vacuum of space for at least 10 days with no ill effect, and that includes being able to handle direct exposure to solar radiation during that span.  These tiny animals, growing to about 1.5 mm, are called Tardigrades (also “water bears”).  “Tardigrades” means “slow walker”.  They were originally given the name “little water bear” because the way they walk resembles the gait of a bear.
  • On the whole, Tardigrades seem to be able to live just about anywhere.  Depending on the species, they can be found high in the Himalayas and then down to as much as 13,000 ft under water in the ocean.  They also have been found everywhere from the polar regions to the tropical equator.  They further can handle temperature swings down near absolute zero and up to 304 degrees Fahrenheit.  On top of that, they can take around 1,000 times as much ionizing radiation as most other animals and can live for as much as 10 years without water in a dehydrated state, snapping out of it once water is re-introduced to their environment.  They can also survive down to the near vacuum in space all the way up to 6,000 atmospheres of pressure.  (I for one welcome our new Tardigrade overlords.)
  • On airline flights, the reason that they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping anyone else in the case of decompression of the plane cabin is because the time of useful consciousness in complete decompression of the plane is about 10-15 seconds, at which point your cognitive abilities will diminish and you’ll eventually pass out at around 15-20 seconds at 45,000 ft. (This is a major problem if you happen to be on your way or in the bathroom at the time of the decompression.)  In the case of explosive decompression, the problem is estimated by some to be much worse due to the fact that the incident will cause your heart rate to skyrocket and adrenaline to surge through your body.  So in these cases, the amount of useful consciousness you have is estimated to be closer to 6 seconds, which is probably just enough time to get that mask on.
  • Space doesn’t actually really have a temperature, per say, as you are insulated from other molecules thanks to the near perfect vacuum.  You will, however, likely feel cold when exposed to a vacuum, as illustrated above, due to moisture rapidly evaporating off your skin and in your mouth and nose.  Even without the moisture and no external heat source, eventually the heat from your body would all radiate away, but that would take quite a long time.
  • NASA has had one incident of someone’s space suit getting punctured while the person was space walking.  Interestingly, the astronaut didn’t even know it happened until after he got back in the ship.  The hole size was 1/8 of an inch, but his skin sealed it.  Once he got back in the ship, he saw the red mark on his hand.  He didn’t think anything of it, but ground control knew he had punctured his suit.  They just hadn’t told him as his adrenaline levels and the like were already quite high from being out in open space.
  • During explosive decompression, the air may develop fog for a time as it loses its ability to retain as much moisture.  The vapor that no longer can be held in the air then turns to fog.  In the case of an airline plane, this fog can make it difficult to see throughout the passenger cabin until it dissipates.
  • While you won’t explode when exposed to the near vacuum of space, as some movies will show, you may end up getting torn to pieces, depending on your environment.  This has actually happened before in a decompression chamber.  Three of the SCUBA divers in the chamber at the time died from the event, but their bodies otherwise looked normal. The fourth wasn’t so “lucky”.  The small hatch that blew in the chamber caused all the air to rush to it and out, along with that diver.  His body was forced through the small opening and out.  As you might imagine, the results weren’t pretty.  With a little Googling you can even see for yourself (I don’t recommend it.  If you’re into that sort of thing, though, also try Googling metal lathe accidents. Just remember, some things that have been seen, cannot be unseen. *shudders*)
  • Joseph Kittinger is actually still around today and still holds a variety of records including highest balloon accent, highest parachute jump, longest free-fall (4 minutes and 36 seconds before he opened his parachute), and fastest speed by a human falling through the atmosphere (614 miles per hour).
  • His records are soon to be broken by Felix Baumgartner.  Kittinger is serving as an adviser to Baumgartner’s jumps.  If successfully, Baumgartner will jump from 120,000 ft and break the sound barrier.  This would have happened already, except for a legal fight between Red Bull and Daniel Hogan over who first proposed the jump.  Thus far, two test jumps have been made, only a few months ago, in preparation for the big jump.
  • In Kittinger’s first high altitude jump at 76,400 ft on November 16, 1959, he nearly died.  During the fall an equipment problem caused him to lose consciousness thanks to spinning at an extreme rate, resulting in extreme G-forces on his body.  Luckily, his automatic parachute deployment system worked and he survived the leap.





8 Amazing History Stories

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10 Totally Random Interesting Facts

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