Did a Teacher Ever Scold You for Yawning in Class?

By Anupum Pant

Background

I always found school interesting. I wasn’t one of those kids who felt bored and sleepy during the class. And yet, during the classes, I yawned often. I remember being sent out of the class a couple of times because I had yawned. This happened again, and again at college. However, lecturers never cared to send me out in college. And then there were no more classes.

Then, when I started working, at a meeting one day, a friend yawned in a board room where the head of the company was present. The head saw this happen. Being a fresher, the guy got scolded very badly by the head. I felt sad for him. I knew, he wasn’t really sleepy when he yawned; clearly he wasn’t bored too. There could have been a different reason for it. The head should have known this.

Yawning is universally considered as a sign of sleepiness or boredom. I however, am pretty sure that a yawn doesn’t necessarily comes when someone is bored or sleepy. I do have a theory to back my belief that I discuss below. Also, yawning has a lot to do with empathy too. But that is not what I’m discussing today. To educate yourself about the empathy side of it, you could watch the following video.

No one knows for sure why we yawn. In addition to that there might be several different reasons that could explain why we yawn. Like a couple of reasons that explain why we sleep (may be there are more). Most definitely, it isn’t a single reason.

A study shows that yawning could be the body’s way of cooling down the brain and it makes perfect sense to me!

The Study

Scientists from the Princeton University say that people yawn more during the winters. That is because during the winter the air outside is colder and the body knows that. So, it makes us yawn to take in the cold air to cool the brain by exchanging heat.

There’s also this other explanation which breaks down the process of yawning into two parts – 1. stretching of your jaw muscles and 2. air entering your mouth after you do that.

When you stretch the jaw muscles in the first step, blood flow increases in your face, brain and sinus area. Now the cool air enters and cools down the blood vessels in the nasal cavity and sinus area. These blood vessels in turn cool the blood and circulate cooler blood to your brain, to cool it down.

Teacher’s theory

Now, it’s a well-known human rhythm that bodies get heated up just before we fall asleep. As a result, we yawn more. So, teachers were not completely wrong. However, sleep is not the direct reason. The reason we yawn is because the brain gets heated up, and it may as well get heated up due to other reasons; not always due to sleepiness or tiredness. Plus the yawn tries to correct the heated-sleepy-brain by circulating cooler blood.

The body does this to cool down the over-heated brain – which obviously gets heated due to extra information processing – like a computer processor. Why would the brain heat up when I’m not actively processing information better. So, yawning doesn’t mean I’m bored, or I’m not actively listening to the teacher when they’re speaking. Teachers need to know this.

Even if yawning is a sign of boredom to some extent. A yawn actually helps you cool down and helps you to process information better. So, teachers should be happy when you yawn in their class. You are trying to be a better listener than people who aren’t yawning in the class!

Hit like if you learnt something interesting today.

Sun’s Green Flash

By Anupum Pant

More often while setting than rising, if the conditions are right, a part of the sun (on the top) can appear green. This happens for very short interval lasting for about 2-3 seconds and is considered a rare phenomenon. Since it is green and lasts for a very small interval, it is also called the green flash, emerald flash or green ray. If you have ever captured it or plan to do it in the future, do share your results with me through mail/twitter. [See the animation] [Real GIF]

What does it look like?

Sometimes the sun’s rim can appear green (in optically zoomed images). Otherwise, when the sun is set, for a brief moment, it appears as if a part of sun has separated from the main body and has turned green. It is usually seen as a horizontal line, like in the video below. But, a few lucky ones have captured complete green auras too.

Why does it happen?

The sun gives out a white light, which contains all the colors – Green is one among  them. Normally, our eye isn’t able to resolve the separate colors and sees them as a mixture which is white. When the sun sets, our atmosphere acts like a prism and bends the colors. A few colors get bent more than others. For example, green bends more than red. As a result the two colors get separated enough to be resolved by our eye. But the right amount of bending happens only if the atmospheric conditions are right.

In extremely rare cases, blue or violet flashes have been reported. [image]

For a detailed explanation you can go through this – [Geometric Optics of Green Flashes]

At poles where the sun moves in a different manner, probably the green ray can last much longer. Admiral Richard Byrd has claimed to have seen this green flash for 35 minutes while on an expedition to Antarctica.

 

Ambergris – Whale Vomit Can Make You Rich

By Anupum Pant

It is yellow/gray, smells really bad and can make you rich [image]. Ambergris, or commonly known as whale vomit is a waxy, hard, flammable substance that sells for several thousand dollars a pound. Although it is known as whale vomit, it is usually excreted (not vomited) by the sperm whale. It is formed by the lumping of Bilary Secretions in a whale. They can’t be digested and are often excreted by whales. These lumps can float for years and might get washed to the beach or are found in whale abdomen.

A fresh lump would be black and slowly a lighter colored coating forms on it with age. Generally, lighter colored pieces have a sweeter smell because they have cured in the ocean for a longer time.

What makes it so costly?

Firstly, it is rare to find a lump of Ambergris. Secondly, as this substance ages, it leaves the stink and starts emitting a sweet, musky odor. Not all people like this smell. Other than its unique scent, the perfumes made of this substance last much longer than other scents that tend to evaporate. Both these reasons make it a substance in high demand.

Although the scent can be mimicked by using chemicals, there is nothing like using the real substance. Thus, whale vomit will always carry a premium price.

This year, Ken Wilman, while walking his dog on the beach, spotted a 6 lb lump of whale vomit that turned out to be worth £100,000.
Note to self: So, the next time you are going out for a walk on the beach, take your dog with you. And go on walks more often.

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