Three Things I’d Always Wondered About

Ever have one of those nights where you wake up at 3 am and your brain turns on and starts going around and around, wondering about stuff? You aren’t lying awake worrying about paying the bills or fretting about the assignment due next week. In fact there’s really no reason to be awake… except you are. And you’re thinking things like:

  • When it rains, why don’t sheep shrink?
  • How do porcupines mate without stabbing each other?
  • If bulls are colorblind, why are matadors’ capes red?

Sound familiar? If so, then you’ll understand where the rest of this post is coming from. If you have no idea of what I’m talking about, continue reading—and don’t blame me the next time you’re wide awake in the middle of the night, wondering.

How do you set your clock at the poles?
Everyone is aware of time zones. If it’s noon in San Francisco, it is one o’clock here in Colorado, two in Kansas, and three in New York. No problem. A few places like to be difficult—India is out of step with the rest of the world by 30 minutes. Not to be outdone, Nepal adjusted its time zone by an additional 15 minutes. But for the most part, we set our clocks to approximate noon as the sun being at its zenith.

Now consider that you’re at the north or south pole. All time zones converge into this one point. So… what time is it?

I did a bit of research when writing this post, and discovered that there really is somewhat of a “right” answer for this. According to National Geographic, New Zealand time is used at the south pole. (Antarctica’s research stations vary according to where they are located and which country the residents came from.)

That still doesn’t answer the question for the north pole. Or the moon, for that matter.

A hair’s length
We have hair over most of our bodies. Even if it’s not immediately noticeable, a close examination reveals short, often blonde hairs even on our foreheads.

Each strand of hair on our head grows and grows for about two to seven years. Then it stops growing and eventually falls out. In time, a new hair grows to take its place. If we never cut them, each hair will get as long as it can during its lifetime, and that’s that. People who are able to grow their hair extra long simply have hairs that live longer.

However, the hair on our foreheads—and arms and legs and earlobes—doesn’t get nearly as long as the hair on our heads. In fact, it seems to reach a preset length and then stop growing. Yet, if we shave it off, it grows right back. Shave your legs, and you have prickly nubs the next day. Don’t shave your legs for a few weeks, and the hair gets so long, but no longer.

So I’m wondering—how does the hair follicle know that the hair growing in it has been sheared off? Do the hairs on various parts of our body all have different life expectancies? How do they know when to grow and when to stop growing?

Once again, some deft googling turned up an answer to this on several websites. It appears that my guess was correct—hairs in different parts of our body do have different lifespans. They grow for a little while. Then they stop and rest. Eventually the resting hair shaft breaks off and a new hair starts growing. The hairs that seem to grow back quickly after shaving are the ones in their initial growth phase.

Why do men’s ears get filled with hair as they age?
Speaking of hairs… have you ever noticed that older men have tufts of hair in their ears? It seems to start about the time they reach 50 or so, and gets thicker over time. Why does this happen?

I know a man’s beard starts growing in response to hormones that kick in during adolescence. But what happens in middle age?

Pete proposed that it’s merely hair follicles relocating from the top of his head. Goodness knows there aren’t many left up there!

But really? Could this be a topic for my future Ph.D. dissertation?

Now you know what I’ll be pondering in the middle of the night tonight. What things do you wonder about?

2 thoughts on “Three Things I’d Always Wondered About

  1. That was a cute one Leslie! Thanks for sharing!! 🙂 Hair follicles relocating is a bad idea 😉 they would then be much longer than they ought to be… remember the picture of Pete years ago??? yikes!!! and then in the ears!!! LoL

    I wonder sometimes about how to create some new gadget which makes something easier to do… at the moment though my gadget thoughts are reduced due to planning for upcoming events, there seem to be so many!!!

  2. My Dad used to ask questions like that all the time. He thought outside the box before we knew there were boxes. As to men’s hair – eventually the stuff on the head grows inwards and seeks the eyebrows, ears and nose for relief. The grey is just excessive grey matter seeping into the follicles, which is why we (mockingly?) call it a sign of wisdom – whereas bald guys, as you know, are just so smart and good looking that they don’t need the vanity of hair any longer.

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