Cotard Syndrome – Walking Dead Disorder

By Anupum Pant

Neurological conditions can be bizarre. Now I know that there is a condition that can delude patients to such an extent that they start thinking they no longer exist, or are dead. It’s called the Cotard Syndrome or the walking dead disorder.

Named after a French doctor Jules Cotard, the Cotard syndrome is a neurological condition in which severe degeneration of neural synapses occurs and messes with the facial recognition and emotion centres of the brain. Their brain creates a totally impaired perception of the self. As a result, patients suffering from it some times get convinced that their body parts no longer exist, or have started decaying.

Often times, patients think that they no longer need to eat (because they are already dead), and they starve to death.

There have also been cases in which patients have tried to get rid of their body parts using acid because they felt doing this was only the way to free themselves of being zombies.

Graham, a person who got caught up by this bizarre disorder was totally convinced that his brain did not exist. He had lost all his senses, he thought he was in a state between life and death, and saw no point in continuing to live this way. He tried to kill himself by getting electrocuted in a bathtub. Graham got cured to some extent, but the disorder completely messed up the rest of his life.

Another person who suffered brain injury due to a motorcycle accident was first cleared as health by doctors initially. After which he went on a vacation to South Africa. By the time he came back, he was totally convinced that he had died and had gone to hell.

Thankfully, it is an extremely rare disorder.

via [NewScientist]

Calculating Sunset Time With Your Fingers

Did you know, estimating sunset time with the help of your fingers is really very easy. This is one thing every person going for a trek should remember. I know you have smartphones which tell you the exact sunset time these days. In that case, learn it to show it off to your friends. By the time their smartphones come out of their pockets, and get unlocked, you’ll have an estimate ready.

Here’s what you do…

Estimate sunset time with hand

Stretch your arm as much as you can and count the number of fingers that can come in between the sun and the horizon. That’s it.

Each finger is about 15 minutes of remaining sun time. If four of your fingers, or one hand fits there, you can directly say that it’s one hour to sunset.

Another thing to note is – where you are on Earth roughly. Good news for people near the equator. The estimate near the equator is very close to 15 minutes per finger. However, for people trekking nearer to the poles, you might have more time than what you just estimated using this technique. Very near to poles, it is a completely different story.

When pros have 2 hands (8 fingers or 2 hours) of time left for sunset, they start searching for a shelter to spend the night.

But again, smartphones can give you really an accurate time. This simple farm trick, like the one  I shared a few days back – telling temperature with cricket sound. It is just a rough estimate. So make sure you don’t completely rely on this to get back home before it gets dark.

via [Groovy Matter] and [Lifehacker]

Walking from Cape Town to Buenos Aires

By Anupum Pant

You could theoretically walk from cape town in South Africa to Buenos Aires in Argentina. No, I’m not talking about you walking on the deck of a cruise liner while it’s sailing across the South Atlantic ocean. I’m talking about a really really long walk on land, that would require you to walk to Argentina from the other side of the globe!

This is the path you could take if you are adventurous enough –

cape town to buenos aires

Winter time: If you ever plan to do that, remember to plan your journey in such a way that you get to cross the Bering strait during the winters.

Since the land masses are separated by sea, it won’t be possible to cross it on foot. But during winters, when there a couple of chunks of ice floating around, you could theoretically jump from chunk to chunk and complete your almost impossible journey. Two things to remember would be that it is illegal to do that and is extremely dangerous too. Read on to know why.

Bering Strait: At the closest distance, the mainlands of America and Russia are just 85 km apart. The main lands are separated by the Bering strait. But the 2 seemingly distant countries get much closer to each other at edges of these 2 islands in between the Bering strait – The Diomede islands. Separated by just about 4 km, one of the islands is in Russia while the other is in America. A date line passes from right in between the islands and the times one island is 23 hours ahead of the other.

bering strait

During winters the parts of Bering strait freeze and they have huge chunks of ice floating around. But almost always, even during winters, there is a very strong current of water flowing across the Bering Strait. If you are lucky enough, the top part could get clogged for some time due to big ice chunks and could allow you to walk across to Russia, from Alaska.

In fact, people have done it in the past. In the year 2006, two friends Karl Bushby, and his friend Dimitri Kieffer were able to walk across the Bering strait from Alaska to Russia. They were immediately detained and deported for entering the country illegally. Most other attempts have ended fatally, involving rescue teams almost every time.

On November 1, 1998, at the age of 29, Bushby began walking from Punta Arenas, Chile at the southern tip of South America. Everything he owned was in a makeshift trolley called “The Beast.” He only had $300 in his pocket. Since then he has traversed the entire length of South and North America, completed the first recorded crossing of the Bering Strait on foot and progressed two thousand miles into Siberia. His goal is to finish the remainder of his journey across Asia and Europe back to England. To date, he has walked 20,000 miles of the 36,000-mile journey over the course of 15 years.

Even crossing this strait on a boat could prove to be dangerous as you’d be bombarded by intense storms constantly. And of course you’d end up in jail for attempting it. There is also no chance you are getting a legal permission to do it.

In short, provided you cross it in winter, have the ability to survive wind chill temperatures up to -100 degree C, are ready to risk your life and are ready to face legal consequences, you can cross the Bering strait and literally walk across from America to Russia.

In addition, if you are sure you can walk for several thousands of kilometres to make a one of its kind journey, you could actually walk from Cape Town to Buenos Aires.

[Read more]

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