News

STRANGE BUT TRUE: The riskiest kisses of all

Q.  What are the riskiest “kisses” of them all?

Fortunately, these are probably unfamiliar to most readers.

A.  The recent rise of interest in vampires, particularly among teens, has brought to the fore the practice of biting another person to draw blood, says Sheril Kirshenbaum in “The Science of Kissing.”

“Just don’t do it,” she cautions.  Swapping saliva through trading kisses is vastly safer than injecting gobs of potentially dangerous microorganisms into the bloodstream of your beloved--a bad way to show someone you care.

“Many of the germs in our mouths are harmless until they break the skin barrier.

“In fact, doctors consider the human bite to be of greater concern than most snake bites or broken bones and often send human bite victims straight to the emergency room.

“Killer kisses of an entirely different sort can strike even a conventional pair when one of them becomes covered with hives or has trouble breathing after coming into contact with trace amounts of food on the other’s lips.

“Allergens like peanut butter or shellfish or split pea soup can kill more than a romantic mood.”

Then there was the bizarre case reported in 2009 by Florida’s Lee County Health Department, when authorities put out a search for three boys, aged ten to twelve, who had been seen kissing a dead rabid bat.

“Who knows what they were thinking but they were taking a tremendous risk.  There is no cure for rabies.”

Q.  What’s the shortest English word in which every vowel is used once and only once?

A.  There’s the everyday “sequoia” and the equally short “eumonia,” for “the state of having good laws that are well administered,” says Anu Garg in “The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two.”  Other short five-vowelers are “eulogia” (eulogies or blessings) and “aerious” (airy), the latter with all the vowels in order.

To add the sometime vowel “y,” make that “aeriously.”

And for a word that more than takes the vowel prize, consider “ultrarevolutionaries,” which contains two full sets of regular vowels!

Q.  A puzzle for you math lovers:  Several cats are brought on board a ship to eliminate a rat infestation.

Each cat kills exactly the same number of rats, and that number is larger than the number of cats.

If a total of 1,111 rats are killed, how many cats were there?

A.  Let C = the number of cats, R = the number of rats killed by each.  You know C x R = 1,111.  There are only four ways to factor 1,111:  1 x 1,111; 11 x 101; 101 x 11; 1,111 x 1.  So C must be 1, 11, 101 or 1,111.  Since there were “several” cats, 1 can be eliminated.  But if C is 101 or 1,111, then R = 11 or 1 respectively, meaning more cats than rats, so eliminate them as well.

Therefore the number of cats must be 11, with each cat dispatching 101 rats (from “ScienceIllustrated.Com” magazine).

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

A part of the community
 
One last holdup on B.C. railway tracks
 
Bank shears off in a flow of mud
Exposing the uncommon man
 
Win a Kobo
 
Avis wins NDP nomination
Cowichan gearing up for Earth Day fun
 
The Week - March 10
 
Inquiry slams door in face of First Nations groups

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 22 edition online now. Browse the archives.