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Friday 26th August 2016
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The Mystery Hour - Human Body

<a class='autolink' href='/james-obrien-3537'>James O'Brien</a>Thursdays 12-1pm

Every week, James O'Brien enlists the help of LBC listeners to solve the questions you've always wondered the answer to.

It's all about shared human knowledge. Call up with a question and then another listener around the country will know the answer.

But we're strict - no reptition and no dullness (so leave the motoring questions out!). If it's something that most of the audience would say "yes, I've wondered about that", then we want to hear from you.

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Human Body


Why don't black people get goosebumps?

Why do white people get goosebumps, when black people don't?
runners lane

Why do runners get a second wind?

When someone has run a lot, people say they get a second wind. Is the second wind something physical?

Do you weigh the same holding food as after eating it?

If you hold a sandwich and weigh yourself, then eat the sandwich and weigh yourself, would you weigh the same?
beauty icons

What are beauty spots?

Why do you get beauty spots? They look different to moles.

Why do you feel sick reading in cars?

When I'm travelling in a train or plane, I have no problems reading. So why can't I read in a car without feeling carsick?

If human cells all regenerate, why don't tattoos vanish?

If human cells are all replaced every few years, how come tattoos stay exactly the same forever?

Is one blood group better than others?

Is one blood group more superior than another? Is a group more efficient than any other?
beer belly

Belly Buttons: Why do you have an innie or an outie?

What determines whether we have an innie or an outie belly button?

Why don't snorers wake themselves up?

Why do snorers not wake themselves up when they snore? Most people can’t sleep when there is a great deal of ambient noise.
man writing small

Do identical twins have the same writing?

Would a pair of identical twins with the same DNA have the same handwriting?

What causes ringing in my ears?

Occasionally, I get a ringing noise in my ear. What is it that causes that?

Why can my wife not whisper?

Why can my wife not whisper? What is it that allows you to whisper?

Why do we put our hands on our hips when tired?

When we get out of breath, why do we put our hands on our hips?

Why do your arms jerk when you're asleep?

Why do you suddenly jolt wide awake in the middle of the night?

Do babies go wrinkly in the womb?

When you lie in the bath, your baby goes all crinkly. When a baby is in the womb, does the same thing happen?

Why can I feel pain in my missing foot?

My missing foot - why can I still wriggle my toes and how come I can feel phantom pain in it? How does that work?

Why is scar tissue never replaced?

They say the human body is replaced every seven years. So why does the body replace all scars to look exactly the same?

Why can't you put two feet into a hot bath?

If you run a bath that's too hot, why can you cope with one foot in it, but it's too hot if you put both feet in the bath?

Why are things brighter in your peripheral vision?

In a dark room, why are things lighter in your peripheral vision than when you look at them?

Why do females have higher voices than males?

Why do females have higher voices than males? It includes dogs, cats and other animals.

Why does swimming make you need the toilet?

Why do you always need to go to the toilet when you're swimming in the sea or in a pool?
man with heart coffee small.jpg

Why do we "feel our heart in our mouth"?

When I nearly crashed, I "felt my heart in my mouth". Where does the phrase come from and why do we get that feeling?

Why does asparagus make your urine smell?

Sugar-puffs and asparagus – why do they change the colour of your urine?

Why does your big toe goes up when you walk?

Why does your big toe goes up when you walk? Is this natural or learned?
heart shape hands small

Can your heart actually skip a beat?

When someone scares you and you say “My heart skipped a beat”, does your heart actually skip a beat?

Why do men go bald on their crown?

My wife noticed my hair was receding. But why do men go bald on the top of their head first?

Why do you get a stitch when you're running?

When you are exercising, what is a stitch and why does it happen?
hairy leg

Why doesn't leg hair turn grey?

Why do you go grey on the top half of your body, but your leg hair remains brown?

Why don't bigger muscles mean you're stronger?

At the gym, I struggled to push 65kg, but my friend who has much smaller muscles than me managed to push 85kg. How come? Don’t bigger muscles make you stronger?

Why do children suck their thumbs?

Why does my son sometimes suck his thumb? Why do children do it?

Why can't you get heart cancer?

Why can't you get cancer in your heart? You hear of lung cancer, liver cancer prostate cancer, but you never hear of heart cancer.

Can you smell things in your sleep?

Can you smell in your sleep? You can't hear things when you sleep in front of the TV.

Could you parachute through the ash cloud?

When the ash cloud was above us, what would have happened to someone who parachuted through it?

Is it true that ears don't stop growing?

My grandson told be "Did you know your ears never stop growing?" And I didn't believe him. Is it true?

How many times can an organ be transplanted?

If you have an organ transplant and it was transplanted again, how many times could you use one organ?

Why do some noises wake us and some don't?

When you’re asleep, how much do your ears switch off? Why do some things wake you up and some don’t?

Why do we have fingernails?

My son just asked me this: why do we have finger-nails and toe-nails? What are they for?

Why are our fingers different lengths?

Why are all the fingers on our hands a different length?

Why are most people right-handed?

Why is there not an equal split of right- and left-handed people across the planet? We seem to be living in a right-handed world.

Why don't you get goosebumps on your face?

When you get cold, you get goosebumps. But why don’t you get them on your face, seeing we have hair follicles there?

Why do we get 'a lump in our throat'?

When you get upset, why do you get a lump in your throat? What is that lump?

Where does our body heat come from?

Where does the heat come from in our bodies? Is it from a central point and then carried around by our blood, or is it heated across the body?

Why can't I hear when I yawn?

Why is it that when we yawn, we can't hear anything? How does it affect my hearing?

How do nostrils switch being blocked?

When you have a cold and a nostril is blocked, you use a spray to clear it and then the other nostril becomes blocked. How does the blocked one switch?

Why do we stick our tongue out when concentrating?

I was writing a Christmas card last week and my girlfriend asked me: why do people stick their tongue out when they concentrate?


Why does helium make your voice go high?

This is something we've all done, but I don't know whey it happens - why does helium make your voice go high?

How to women's cycles synchronise?

When females live together, their "cycles" all synchronise with each other. Why and how does it happen?

Could you identify an adult from their baby fingerprints?

At what age could the fingerprints be taken and still be identified later as an adult?

Could I get drunk by using alcoholic handwash?

We can absorb things through the skin. So with alcoholic handwash in hospitals, how much would I need to use to get drunk?

Why do I need to scratch my nose when wearing gloves?

When you're gardening or washing up, when you put your gloves on, why do you get an itchy nose and need to scratch it?

If two sets of identical twins had children, would they look the same?

If two sets of identical twins, and they got married to each other, would their children all look the same?
doctor with clipboard small

Why does a nose job bruise your eyelids?

When someone has a nose job, their eyelids and face is bruised. Why?

How much pressure do dentures exert?

When you wear dentures and you eat food, how much pressure is asserted when you bite? If you get a tiny piece of food in between, it feels like a brick. Why?

Why does body hair stop growing, but doesn't on your head?

Body hair - how does your body know how long your hair should grow? My eyebrows aren’t growing any more.

Why do we lose our sweet tooth with age?

Why are men born with a sweet tooth, but lose it, yet women never lose their sweet tooth?

Why does my beard itch?

I have my stubble as a shadow and it feels fine. But if it grows a couple of millimetres, it gets really itchy. Why does that happen?

Why don't spacemen get the Bends?

When you go deep sea diving, you have to be careful in case you get the bends. But why don't astronauts decompress when they come back from space?

Why does running water make us wee?

When you hear the sound of running water, why do you need to go to the toilet?


Why does looking up make you sneeze?

When you get a really bad tickle in your nose and you’re about to sneeze, why does it stop when you look up?

Why do you get ill more in winter?

If cold air kills viruses and bugs, why do more people get flu in the winter?

How do birthmarks appear?

What is a birthmark and how do we get them? My son’s got a small one on his elbow, but I don’t know why.

Why can't you give blood if you've had a transfusion?

I wanted to give blood. But they would not allow my blood as I’d had a transfusion within the last 25 years. Why not?

Why doesn't stomach acid eat away at the stomach?

A crocodile's stomach acid is 1,000 times stronger than that of a human, so it can digest full animals. But why does the stomach itself not get eaten away?

Why don't you get hay fever at night?

My daughter gets hay fever all the time with a runny nose and constant sneezing. But at night she's fine. Why?

Why do people have different coloured eyes?

Why do people have different coloured eyes and why can't you see the colour through your own eyes?

Why do armpits blunt my razor?

Why do razors last a few days, but if my lovely wife uses it on her armpits, it's completely done in straight away?

Why does the same temp feel hotter in summer?

In winter, 12 degrees is really chilly, but last night it was 12 and I was really hot. Why does 12 degrees feel warmer in the summer than winter?

Are all races the same on the inside?

We're told "Black people, white people - we're all the same on the inside". So why are there some diseases that some races get more than others?

What is the life expectency of organs?

Do our organs have a life expectancy? If I died tomorrow and gave someone my liver, how long would it last for them?

Do swimmers sweat?

Do Olympic swimmers sweat during and/or after their exertions?

Does chemo stop hair going grey?

Before undergoing chemotherapy, I was greying, but when my hair grew back, it was brown. Is that regular and if so, why?

What happens to gold teeth when you're cremated?

What happens to gold teeth or metal pins in people's legs when they are cremated?

Why do you need a drink after swimming?

When you go for a swim, the first thing you want to do is go and have a drink. Why is that?

Why does my bike work better at night?

Why does my bike run much more smoothly in the early evening than at any other time? It's the same with cars.

How can you breath in and out at the same time?

How can I inhale smoke and blow it through my nose at the same time? Surely that's impossible?

Why does hair keep growing when you die?

When someone dies, why do their hair and nails continue to grow? Why don't other things continue to grow?

Do deaf people sign to themselves?

If you are completely deaf and do sign-language and you "talk" to yourself, do you sign to yourself instead?
Category: Human body

Why do we hate the noise of nails on a blackboard?

When you scratch a chalkboard, does it make you feel so weird and uncomfortable?
Category: Human body

Why does asparagus make your urine smell?

As an asparagus fan, what is it in the vegetable that makes your urine smell so much?

Why do men have Adam's Apples?

It's a simple question - why do men have Adam's Apples and women don't?

Can women be colourblind?

My daughter went to an eye test and asked if she could be colourblind. She was told no, because only men are colourblind. Is that true and if so, why?

Why do you always get a stitch on the right?

Whenever I run, I get a stitch on the right-hand side. Does everyone get them on the right-hand side or does it vary?

Why does your arm have a funny bone?

When you bang your elbow, why is the bone known as the funny bone?

Does anyone in the UK have leprosy?

In the year of 2009, is there anyone in the UK who is suffering from leprosy? If so, where and how did they get it and how are they being treated?

Why are people right-handed?

What dictates whether you are left- or right-handed? Both of my sons are right-handed, but one of them is left-footed.