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Showing posts from August, 2011

Why do fingers and toes wrinkle in water?

Let's start our Top2Toe series not with the top, but with the toe!

It's a well-known fact that our fingers and toes wrinkle when exposed for a moderate amount of time in water. There have been myths about why this is the case, one of which being that they absorb water. While the cause has not been empirically proven, the best theory put forward in my opinion is that of Mark Changizi of 2Al labs.

He thinks that the ridges formed by wrinkling prevent slipping on surfaces by increasing friction between fingers and toes, and what they lie on. This idea makes sense because, if we think about a long-gone scenario, back when our ancestors used four limbs to commute, the hands and feet were all on the ground. The bottom of a rock pool is very slippery when you get in, but does that mean that after a while in it, you become less likely to slip? Is that due to getting used to it, or due to wrinkling of toes and (if you use them) fingers?

Speculation about this somewhat trivial topic abo…

How culture affects perception of the world

Most of us have heard of married people with kids suddenly "coming out" as gay to their families. It seems strange and counter-intuitive that they would have invested so much of their time and energy on a relationship that would have never worked out, and that they would have brought children into that situation. But something drove them on. Of course, aside from severe legal or social action in places where homophobia is widespread, most people in the above situation would be faced with others perceiving them differently.

When the environment communicates to you that a heterosexual married life and children is the best bet, then what is it a best bet for? Presumably, the widespread fear that humans will go extinct otherwise, or that that's what nature or "God" wants us to do. And of course, if we upset either, they will come and get us.

Yet, humans are overpopulating the Earth, and there is no sign that anything will wipe us out. If anything would, surely the …