In 1999 a report was published about a boy (Samuel Armas) that grasped his surgeon’s hand from a hole in his mother’s uterus during open fetal surgery for spina bifida.

The story became an internet hit and in september 2011 the story became hyped again due to a controversy because it was used by opponents of abortion who asserted that the baby reached through the womb and grabbed the doctor’s hand, thus showing signs of life at the 21st week of pregnancy.

A hand of hope… or just a (primitive) reflex?

Doctors have reported that it is not unusual for babies in this position to reach out to the world, and during a spina bifida surgery both the mother and the fetus are under anesthesia – which implicates that both can not move.

The truth is that any grasping ‘hand of hope’ in likewise conditions can best be described as nothing but a simple primitive reflex (a.k.a. a palmar reflex), which are automatic reflex actions of the body originating in the central nervous system. This implicates that such apparent ‘reflexes’ should not get confused with conscious behavior.

What you might want to know about:
Primitive reflexes of the hand!

This summer an important fundamental discovery was reported at the Society for Experimental Biology’s annual meeting July 3-6 in Valencia, Spain: hand gestures grew out of fish brains!

Andrew Bass, Cornell professor of neurobiology and behavior, described how he found evidence that illustrates how fish are able to vocalize and communicate via their pectorial fins:

“Using methods to understand how the brain is connected to different muscle groups, we mapped the early development of two systems in the brain that control muscles that allow fish to vocalize and to move their pectoral fins.”

“Using methods to understand how the brain is connected to different muscle groups, we mapped the early development of two systems in the brain that control muscles that allow fish to vocalize and to move their pectoral fins. We found that these systems arise from the same compartment.”

“Evidence that the evolutionary origins of the link between speech and gesturing can be traced to a developmental compartment in the caudal hindbrain of fish.”

This insight can be understood visually by notifying how the pectorial fins in fishes are usually located close to the hind brain – see picture below.

Source: 11 strange things we learned this summer


This remarkable photo was taken by Arizona’s Randy Atkins, who is a professional photographer. His wife Alicia gave birth to their daughter Neveah last October.

“The doctor called me over and said, ‘Hey, she’s grabbing my finger,'” Mr Atkins told Arizona’s 3TV News. “So I ran over there and just grabbed the shot and I was just in awe looking at it. It was such an amazing picture.”

The Atkins posted the photo on facebook and thanked obstetrician Dr Allen Sawyer.

By the way, doctors say that it is not unusual for babies in this position to reach out to the world. The story reminds us to an even more impressive story about a 22 week old fetus who made a likewise gesture in the year 1999 (see picture below):
Holding hands with a 21-week old fetus: the story of Samuel Armas

A new  study from the University of Utah suggests that the size and shape of the human hand may have evolved for fighting… with bare fists!

Human hands built the Taj Mahal and adorned the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with glorious art – but they also evolved for fighting, according to a new theory.

New evidence suggests it was not just dexterity that shaped the human hand, violence may have been involved also. The scientist claim that hands may have evolved through natural selection to form a punching fist:

“The role aggression has played in our evolution has not been adequately appreciated,” said Professor David Carrier, from the University of Utah.

FULL STORY: The Telegraph

Five out of the last seven US presidents were left-handed. Will the ‘lefties’ beat the ‘righties’ again?

During the past 40 years five out of 7 US presidential elections were won by ‘lefties’ – including: Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton & Barack Obama; during the past 4 decades there were only two right-handed US presidents: Jimmy Carter & George W. Bush were ‘righties’! In 1992 and 1996 all three presidential nomenies were ‘lefties’.

What will the 2012 election bring: will the ‘lefties’ (Barack Obama) beat the ‘righties’ (Mitt Romney) again?

Your opinion is welcome…

The Guardian, Aug 1 – People have started speaking with hashtags. Not often, and not, in most cases, people anyone really likes, but people nonetheless. And the problem – beyond the fact that this is happening at all – is that no one seems to be quite sure how to say, for example, #spokenhashtag.

Abruptly inserting the word “hashtag” mid-sentence just won’t do. It’s far too clunky, like having to shout out “inverted commas!” before and after a suspect sentence, instead of forming a pair of air-quote bunny rabbits.

An “air hashtag” also looks tricky: attempting to draw out the # symbol with a finger takes four time-consuming strokes, and makes you look as if you’ve paused mid-thought to bust out a hand-jive to the imaginary music in your head.

Trying it with two fingers and two quick strokes – one horizontal and one vertical – just looks like an effete mimed raptor attack, while going all-out with two slashes of both hands risks being mistaken for a bizarre attempt at semaphore without flags.

They would all also require you to say “hashtag” while doing them anyway. At least at first, until people caught on.

No, we need standardisation. We need – drumroll please – a hashtag tone of voice. Sarcasm, after all, has one. Why not the humble hashtag? It’s the new gesture-language, and it appears a matter of time before you’ll tweeting fingers everywhere!

Testing. Is it time to stop and scrounge for shelter or is it better to keep trekking? Use this simple trick to measure the remaining daylight. Remember to allow yourself at least two hours to set up camp before the sun goes down.

Count the finger widths between the sun and the horizon. Each finger is equivalent to fifteen minutes, with each hand totaling an hour. When the sun dips low enough that only two hands fit. It’s time to search for a suitable campsite and assemble a shelter.

(A caveat: if you’re near the poles, the sun will hover over the horizon for a longer period of time, giving you an innaccurate reading)

Via: Groovy Matters.

While watching the swimming tournament at the London Summer Olympics, take a good look at the hands of the competitive swimmers! For, new research finds that this hand position creates an “invisible web” of water that gives swimmers more speed. Now, should Michael Phelps improve his ‘finger-techniques’?

Researcher Adrian Bejan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Duke University reports:

“It is a counterintuitive idea, the fact that you should paddle with a fork, not with an oar.”

However, the 2012 study was preceeded by a 2009 study which had already pointed out why most swimmers spread their fingers while swimming (see the picture below – describing how water flow varies for different finger positions).

Webbed feet and hands, of course, are a common trait of swimming animals from frogs to whales. In human swimmers, the invisible web of water allows them not to propel themselves faster, but to better lift themselves out of the water. That’s where the speed comes from, Bejan said. Swimmers push against the water’s surface not unlike South American Lizards, which can scamper on top of water by slapping their big feet against the surface. This force propels the swimmers out of the water, where they then fall forward, generating a horizontal wave.

“The higher you are above the water, the faster you fall forward and you see this effect in greater speed,” Bejan said.

With ideal finger spacing, the forces a swimmer can exert are 53 percent greater than those produced with no finger spacing, Bejan and his colleagues reported online June 9 in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. For aspiring swimmers at home, the perfect spacing is between 0.2 and 0.4 times the diameter of the finger itself.

The findings could have implications for better swimming robots and propulsion systems, Bejan said. They’re also handy for those trying to beat personal bests in the water.

What do you think: should Michael Phelps improve his finger-swimming techniques… in order to make another golden- paddle?

(Check out Phelps’ finger techniques below!)

The TOP 10 most irritating HAND GESTURES resulted from an American study including 2,000 people – and was commissioned to mark the launch of iPhone app Goggle Eyes.

1. Inverted commas
2. Talk to the hand
3. None of your business
4. Blah blah blah
5. The pistol
6. Hand punching
7. I’m watching you
8. Call me
9. Fake yawn
10. Cutthroat


The finger-flicking ‘inverted commas’ motion has been hailed as the most irritating hand gesture.

‘Talk to the hand!’ was voted the second most annoying gesture.

‘None of your buisiness’ (nosetapping) was voted the third most annoying gesture.

‘Blah blah blah’ (making an imaginary mouth with the hand) is the fourth most annoying thing to do when talking with people.

Firing an imaginary pistol was voted fifth most galling of all hand signals.

Discover more about the meaning of hand gestures at Hand Gestures News

Here’s a fun experiment: stop what you’re doing and use your hands to count to ten. Done? Good. Now remember how you did it, because we’re about to analyze your technique; as it turns out, how you count with your hands may say a lot more about you than you think.

So, how do you count?

Many cultures use some variation of what psychologists call the “closed fist method”, wherein one starts with a closed fist, and begins counting by unfurling the fingers of his or her hand. But the similarities end there.

“The degree of cultural diversity in finger counting… has been grossly underestimated,” write psychologists Andrea Bender and Sieghard Beller in the latest issue of  Cognition.


What finger-counting says about you and your brain