Crying is one of the most confusing things about humans. We cry for a number of reasons; when we’re watching some sappy romantic movie, while laughing too hard at a funny joke or even while yawning. And sometimes having a long good cry helps us to release whatever negative feelings we’re experiencing. As for tears, well, scientists have discovered all sorts of crazy facts about them over the years. So here are five facts concerning tears you didn’t know about.
1. Tears Are Unique
At first glance they all look the same as they roll down our cheeks in the same manner. But like snowflakes, no one tear is like the other and they all vary from person to person. You see, tears are divided into three main subtypes – reflex, basal and emotional and each type is a distinct mixture of enzymes, antibodies and oils. This was proven in a study by Dutch artist Maurice Mikkers who collected the tears of his friends then viewed them under a microscope and to his surprise, they were all different. So tears basically reflect our state of mind at the time!
2. Tears Could Generate Electricity
Found in the tears, saliva and milk of humans and other mammals is the enzyme lysozyme. When crystallized, lysozyme has the potential for piezoelectricity which is produced by certain substances under pressure such as quartz crystal. In 2017, researchers isolated the protein to study whether it could actually produce electricity by smearing it over films which were then subjected to mechanical force. As expected, the enzyme did generate some power similar to that of clear quartz. Sounds like we’re one step closer to gaining super powers!
3. Chemical Communication
We can all tell that when someone is sad, but did you know that the smell of someone’s tears has a physical effect on our bodies as well? This was the basis of a 2011 study where researchers collected the tears of women who cried easily and had the male participants sniff it. After watching a sad video, the tears were presented to the guys (along with a placebo liquid) who mentioned that it smelled like saline water. Researchers also noted that the men experienced a drop in their libido and testosterone even though they didn’t see any of the women cry. Male tears also had the same effect on them.
4. Using Tears to Test Glucose
It is only a matter of time before diabetics will forego ever having to prick their fingers to test their blood sugar levels. In 2018, South Korean researchers developed a special contact lens that kept track of glucose without hurting the eye. It worked by monitoring your glucose level in real time and having a glucose spike trigger the tiny green LED light to switch off. The contact lenses were said to be flexible and comfortable to wear and did not interfere with one’s vision, despite being fitted with an antenna, rectifier and really thin wires.
5. People Who Cry While Using the Bathroom
In 2009, the parents of a three-year-old brought her to the doctor for an examination. Apparently, whenever she urinated, she would get teary-eyed with a slack jaw and a vacant expression. After scouring the internet, they found 35 other people with the same condition. Doctors believe that damaged nerves caused by Bell’s palsy failed to regrow correctly. Another theory is that the condition originates in the brain because the production of tears and peeing are controlled by the same part of the brain known as the pons.
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