Guinness World Records 2015 - page 19

Mapping the senses
This oddly shaped figure is
a “sensory homunculus”.
This is what you’d look like
if your body parts were in
proportion to the areas of
the brain concerned with
sensory perception. Based
on a model at the UK’s
Natural History Museum,
it shows which areas of
our bodies are the most
sensitive to touch.
075
FACT
The term “homunculus”
was coined by
alchemists in the 17th
century and means
simply “little person”.
Sweetest
substance
Thaumatin, aka
talin, from arils
(appendages found
on certain seeds) of
the katemfe plant
(
Thaumatococcus
daniellii
) found in
West Africa, is
3,250 times
sweeter
than sugar
when compared
with a 7.5%
sucrose
solution.
Smell accounts for around 80% of our sense of
taste. The first sense to develop, it is functional
before we are born and is generally most sensitive
in childhood. We can detect some 10,000 odours,
but prolonged exposure to a smell causes our
awareness of it to reduce quickly. We are more
sensitive to smells in spring and summer, as the
air is more moist then; exercise also increases the
moisture in our nostrils, improving our sense of
smell. Women have a stronger sense of smell than
men – it is particularly acute during pregnancy.
Talking scents:
our sense of smell
Most valuable nose
On 19 Mar 2008, Lloyd’s reported that Ilja
Gort (NLD) had his nose insured for 5 m euro
(£3.9 m; $7.8 m). Gort, the owner of the
vineyard Château la Tulipe de la Garde in
Bordeaux, France, insured his nose in an
attempt to protect his livelihood.
ingredients respectively.
Bathroom Malodor smells
primarily of human faeces
and becomes incredibly
repellant to people at a ratio
of just two parts per million.
It was originally developed
to test the power of
deodorizing products.
Smelliest molecule
The chemicals ethyl
mercaptan (C
2
H
5
SH) and
butyl seleno-mercaptan
(C
4
H
9
SeH) have a distinctive
smell reminiscent of a
combination of rotting
cabbage, garlic, onions,
burnt toast and sewer gas.
TASTE
Bitterest substance
The bitterest-tasting
substances are based on the
denatonium cation and have
been produced
commercially
as benzoate
and saccharide.
Taste detection
levels are as low
as just one part
in 500 million,
while a dilution
of just one
part in
100 million
will leave a
lingering taste.
TOUCH
Most touch-sensitive
part of the body
Our fingers have the highest
density of touch receptors in
the body. So sensitive are our
fingers that we can distinguish
two points of contact just
2 mm (0.07 in) apart.
They can also detect
a movement of
just 0.02 microns
– that’s 200-
thousandths of
a millimetre (or
31-millionths
of an inch).
Actual
Size
Our fingers feel the world
in sensory high definition
by containing the highest
density of touch receptors in
the body. Sense receptors
are more concentrated in
smaller fingers. As a result,
women tend to have a more
developed tactile sensitivity
than men.
The calves are among
the least sensitive body
parts – the brain can only
distinguish two points of
contact around 45 mm
apart, compared with
2 mm for the fingers.
The 100,000–200,000 sense
receptors on the sole of
each foot help stabilize
the whole body. They are
at their most effective
when we walk barefoot.
When it comes to detecting
our world, the tongue is
highly sensitive, with a
very dense concentration
of neural connections.
Lips have many sense
receptors – which is one of
the reasons why babies put
objects into their mouths to
learn about them.
Receptor cells
Nasal vestibule
Nasal cavity
Mouth
Smells enter the
nasal vestibule
(nostril), where
small hairs filter
out dust and other
fine particles.
At the top of
the nasal cavity
are
c
. 40 million
olfactory receptor
cells, which detect
the odourant
molecules and
send a message to
the brain. When you
eat, you “taste” the
food using these
same cells, which
detect food odours
in the mouth.
And finally...
Longest echo:
1 min
15 sec by Trevor Cox and
Allan Kilpatrick (both UK)
inside a disused oil tank at
Inchindown in Highland,
UK, on 3 Jun 2012.
Fastest time to boil
water by passing
electricity through body:
1 min 22.503 sec, to heat
150 ml of water from 25°C
to 97°C by Slavisa “Biba”
Pajkic (SRB) in Istanbul,
Turkey, on 13 Jul 2013.
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