A Disease That Doesn’t Let You Sleep And Kills

By Anupum Pant

Background

In my very first article on this website, I talked about a 17-year-old boy, Randy Gardner who remained awake for an incredible 11 days and set a world record which no one had beat for a very long time. And then, in the 90s, Toimi Soini, of Hamina, Finland, set a new record of 276 hours of sleeplessness.

Well, no one should even try to beat it because depriving yourself of sleep can have some serious health issues and can even kill you. The seriousness of health consequences associated with such attempts is the reason that these records are no longer recorded in the Guinness books.

The disease

Not always do people decide to voluntarily break sleeplessness records. Some times, they can be the victims of a horrific and an extremely rare disease called fatal familial insomnia (FFI) – A progressively worsening form of insomnia discovered only 10-15 years ago. When it affects someone, the person starts having bouts of insomnia at first and then they aren’t able to sleep at all. Hallucinations, delirium, and confusional states occur and a person usually dies within 18 months from the first insomnia. 

The disease is caused due to a defective gene and the people having it start seeing symptoms from the age of 30 (never at an early age). It has been believed to have originated from an Italian man in the year 1765 (not necessarily).

Symptoms in detail

  • For the first four months there is an onset of insomnia and the person starts getting panic attacks and unfounded phobias.
  • For the the next 5 months the hallucinations become severe.
  • In the next 3 months, rapid weight loss and serious deterioration of mental ability happens,
  • Next comes dementia, unresponsiveness, and may be death.
[A list of couple of people who never slept]

Here’s a 10 minute documentary which discusses FFI in detail.

[Everything else you need to know about it]

$20 Parking Ticket to NASA for Parking on an Asteroid

By Anupum Pant

Michael Stevens from Vsauce never ceases to amaze me with his facts. Recently, while watching a video on the channel, I noted this interesting story.

About 11 months before NASA’s ‘NEAR Shoemaker’ spacecraft landed on the asteroid 433, Eros, Gregory W. Nemitz claimed its ownership. He somehow got it registered and waited for the NASA’s probe to land on the near earth asteroid.

The asteroid was estimated to hold several million billion dollars of platinum. When NASA landed their spacecraft on Eros, Nemitz prepared an invoice of $20 and sent it to NASA. According to him, the parking rates on his extra-terrestrial land were $ 0.20 per year and he had decided to charge them to cover the next $ 100 years of parking.

NASA of course refused to pay and sent him a letter denying the payment. In the year 2003, Nemitz filed a case against NASA, saying that they had defaulted his payment.

The judgement was of course against Nemitz as he wasn’t able to prove the actual ownership. There’s no way he could have. Michael explains why…

[more]