It’s Halloween, which means that the season of “scaring yourself into a twitching mess by watching Youtube videos about uncaught serial killers and murderous ghosts” has begun. But if you’d like a more educational fix for your horror fascination, why not look inside the mysteries of the human body.
Sure, you won’t see serial killers roaming around your bloodstream. But studying the human body unlocks stories of “zombie” proteins, mysterious “resurrections”, unrelenting stalkers, stone fetuses, and exploding bodies.
Maybe the real horror was inside us this whole time?
1. We like to imagine that our brains have some firmness and dignity to them, but they’re actually almost as soft as jello. While brains used in anatomy labs tend to be firm, they’ve generally been fixed with formaldehyde. A human brain in the wild is about 3 pounds of easily-dented goop that’s responsible for everything we think, feel and experience.
2. Hydrochloric acid, the digestive acid in our stomach, is as acidic as battery acid. The body has a system of defenses to keep the acid from eating through our skin, starting with the epithelial (wall) cells of the stomach (pictured below). They make a basic mucus coating to cover the inside of the stomach. Even then, these stomach cells have one of the fastest life cycles of any in the human body, dying after days.
3. Although the brain interprets pain signals, it doesn’t have any pain receptors itself. This allows us to perform conscious surgery for neurological conditions like brain tumors and epileptic seizures, enabling us to ask the patient about the bodily sensations surgery is producing.