Some small things in life, appearing in front of us every day, may make you feel that they are ordinary and there is nothing to be curious about. In fact, in the field of science, some of the most common things in life also carry some unsolvable mysteries.
Tear off the tape to emit X-rays
In the 1950s, Soviet scientists discovered that when scotch tape was torn off glass, high-energy electrons could be produced. However, no one seems to believe the discovery of Soviet scientists that tearing tape can produce electrons with such high energy? This is crazy.
However, in 2008, a group of scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles proved that this crazy phenomenon did indeed occur. This time they placed the scotch tape in a vacuum vessel and used a machine to pull the tape at a speed of 3 centimeters per second. As a result, everyone was shocked. They found that X-rays were released between the tape and the tape reel. The energy of the X-ray pulse is about 15 kiloelectron volts, contains more than 1 million photons, and lasts for one billionth of a second. This dose is enough to take a bone image of a scientist’s finger! When the scientists realized that only in a vacuum environment, the tape would have radiation, and the mood calmed down. Since then, many scientists have successfully replicated this experiment, so this is a real phenomenon, but how does it happen?
We know that when some solids are mechanically ground and vibrated, they will flash. This phenomenon is called triboluminescence. For example, in winter, your hair will be extremely dry. When you comb your hair with a comb, you will hear crackling sounds, and you can see flashing light in the dark. This is because in the friction process, one object will be positively charged and the other negatively charged. When in contact with each other, the positive and negative electrons are neutralized, releasing energy in the form of light. Similarly, tearing the tape will also cause the surface charge of the tape reel to accumulate. Once the charge becomes large enough, a beam of electrons will come in and hit the adhesive surface of the tape at high speed. When the impact occurs, the speed of the electrons will suddenly slow down and be released. X-ray.
However, in all electron discharge processes, only one in ten thousand will generate X-rays. The energy of X-rays is directly related to the amount of charge on the surface when the tape is torn, but the question is, how can a small roll of tape generate such a large amount of charge?
Although there are still many doubts, scientists believe that if heavy hydrogen ions are added to the modified tape, when the ions are accelerated and hit, a nuclear fusion reaction will occur. And some medical institutions are planning to use this new discovery to manufacture low-cost X-ray equipment and use X-rays to destroy tumors.
Silent X chromosome
The boy gets an X chromosome from his mother and a Y chromosome from his father. The two X chromosomes of a girl come from the father and mother. There may be other combinations of X and Y chromosomes. For example, some people will suffer from XYY syndrome, with two Y chromosomes and one X chromosome, but the combination of XY and XX chromosomes is currently the most common.
Every cell in the female body has two copies of the x chromosome. However, since 1949, scientists have discovered that in women’s bodies, one of the X chromosomes is always inactive, and the genetic information on this X chromosome has been neglected. This X chromosome is used throughout the life cycle of the cell and its descendants. The chromosomes will always lose their activity and no protein can be produced.
Assuming that in a girl’s cell, the X chromosome from her mother is not active, and her father’s X chromosome is active, we can call this cell the “father cell”, and vice versa, the “mother cell”.
The inactivation of one of the X chromosomes prevents female mammals from producing twice as much gene product due to having two X chromosomes, but how does a cell decide whether it becomes a father cell or a mother cell?
There are more than 1,000 genes on a chromosome, and it is a very difficult task to prevent these genes from being “expressed”. Researchers also found that cells have an amazing diversity in the way they choose X chromosomes. For example, research on mice found that in some mouse brain cells on the left, most of the male X chromosomes are inactive, while the female X chromosomes in the right brain cells are inactive.
Since each X chromosome carries different variants of the same gene, the body tissue dominated by father cells may be different from the body tissue dominated by mother cells. This may explain why our left and right hands and eyes are slightly different.
Scientists once thought that the cell’s choice of X chromosome was random, but more and more studies have shown that this is not the case.
What makes a cell a father cell or a mother cell? What good is this for human evolution? This is still a mystery.
What makes you blush?
When a person is nervous, angry, or shy, they often blush. The reason why the face turns red is due to vasodilation, but scientists have not found what causes the vasodilation of the face.
In 1982, researchers discovered that facial veins contain two adrenergic receptors: adrenergic α receptors and β receptors. In contrast, the a receptor is more sensitive to norepinephrine, and the β receptor is more sensitive to epinephrine. Some people speculate that these adrenergic receptors may be triggered to increase blood flow and oxygen delivery on the face, and eventually cause people to blush.
To find out, in the 1990s, a professor of psychology at Murdoch University in Australia did some experiments. In the experiment, some volunteers took drugs to inhibit alpha receptors, while others took drugs to inhibit beta receptors. Then, the researchers asked them to do things that usually cause people to blush, such as mental arithmetic, singing loudly, doing moderate exercise, etc., and measuring their reactions.
The results of the study showed that when the α receptor was inhibited, it did not affect the blushing response of people. After the β receptor was inhibited, although the number of blushes of the volunteers decreased, the blood flow on the face would still increase and the blushing response was still observed. This experiment shows that there must be other factors that trigger the vasodilation of facial veins.
More and more peanut allergies
In China, peanuts can be fried, fried, or eaten raw. Various methods have created many delicacies. However, in other countries, when a child who is allergic to peanuts accidentally eats peanuts, severe allergic reactions will occur: itching, swelling of the tongue and throat, fainting, nausea and vomiting, etc. If not treated in time, it may lead to death.
Peanut allergy is the most common cause of death from food allergies in Western countries. What is even more strange is that the number of children with peanut allergies in these countries has increased rapidly in recent years. The study found that American children allergic to peanuts increased from 0.4% in 1997 to 1.4% in 2008. Similar situations have occurred in the UK, Canada and Australia. In contrast, peanut allergy is not common in developing countries.
In order to curb the surge of peanut allergies, experts have recommended that pregnant women and breastfeeding women avoid eating peanuts, and ensure that they do not come into contact with peanut protein before the baby’s digestive system is fully developed, so that this allergic reaction will be stifled in the cradle. However, such suggestions have no effect at all.
So why is this so?
The most common explanation now is the hygiene hypothesis. This hypothesis holds that some modern children grow up in a very clean environment and lack exposure to bacteria, fungi, pollen, viruses and other allergens, which inhibits the normal development of the immune system.
Another possibility is that as a food, peanuts are processed in different ways in developed countries. Compared with frying in developing countries, peanuts in many developed countries are roasted before eating, which may make them more likely to become allergens. It was also suggested that perhaps it was precisely because pregnant women avoided eating peanuts, so that the children were exposed to allergens too late and failed to develop immune tolerance to peanut protein.
People have put forward a lot of explanations, but no fundamental reason has been found. So far, there is no way to completely cure peanut allergy. This also makes many schools in developed countries have to take peanuts out of the school cafeteria, and many airlines no longer provide peanuts in their meals to prevent passengers from having life-threatening allergic reactions at high altitudes; the labels of bagged foods often take the initiative State whether the food production equipment has also been used to process nut foods, because most peanut allergy sufferers are also allergic to one or more nuts, such as walnuts and almonds.