"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is one of those songs we hear piped into stores constantly during this season, and while we may get tired of it, we assume it's just a children's story. But it turns out there's some real science behind it.
When Dutch and Norwegian traveled to the Arctic to use video-microscope and thermal imaging technology to measure glow from reindeer noses, they found that tiny blood vessels more abundant in the noses of reindeer than in those of humans.
The question we want answered is, how did the lyricist of that song get that information, since science has just discovered it?
This was reported in the British Medical Journal, which likes to publish "quirky" stories this time of year. In the December 18th edition of the New York Times, Lawrence K. Altman quotes BMJ deputy editor Tony Delamothe as saying, "We are on an incessant search for novelty."
One example of this is a myth they debunked several years ago: that people could get drunk by soaking their feet in alcohol. After participants soaked their feet for 3 hours in a basin containing 3 bottles of vodka and their blood alcohol levels were measured afterwards, they were found to still be sober.
The BMJ sent a questionnaire to members of the Sword Swallowers Association, who collectively report having "swallowed" over 2,000 swords over the previous 3 months. It turns out that sore throats were common while they were learning how to do it, but after repeated performances, only 6 of them perforated their pharynx or esophagus and only 3 of those needed surgery.
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