Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 192

Just when you thought your brain could unwind on a Friday, you realise that it would rather be challenged with some good old fashioned medical trivia FFFF, introducing the Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 192

Question 1

Which gas was used in Europe for chemical warfare during the Second World War (apart from agents used in the concentration camps to commit untold atrocities)?

Reveal the funtabulous answer


There was a great deal of fear that the Germans would use chlorine or mustard gas (technically not a gas, it’s a liquid at room temperature and needed to be aerosolised by mortars).

The first gas attacks took place in 1915 and to neutralise the chlorine soldiers soaked their socks in urine and wrapped them around their faces. Not the best option for World War Two so 38 million gas masks were distributed country wide.

It is also rumoured that Hitler had a broader “Kaiser-style” moustache but trimmed it down to fit inside his gas mask.

Question 2

Why did Popeye eat spinach?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

It wasn’t for the iron. 

“Spinach is full of vitamin A an’ tha’s who makes hoomans so strong an’ helty” according to Popeye in 1932. [Reference]

100 grams contains 187% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. It also contains iron but no more than other green vegetables.

The 1980 live-action Popeye movie was filmed in Malta and is still a top tourist attraction, you can even get married there.

Question 3

How did Pavlov get dogs to salivate?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

Not by ringing a bell.

He mainly used a metronome to develop his theory of “conditioning”.

The dog used in the following experiment has been operated upon as described previously. It can be seen that so long as no special stimulus is applied the salivary glands remain quite inactive. But when the sounds from a beating metronome are allowed to fall upon the ear, a salivary secretion begins after 9 seconds, and in the course of 45 seconds eleven drops have been secreted. The activity of the salivary gland has thus been called into play by impulses of sound — a stimulus quite alien to food. This activity of the salivary gland cannot be regarded as anything else than a component of the alimentary reflex. Besides the secretory, the motor component of the food reflex is also very apparent in experiments of this kind. In this very experiment the dog turns in the direction from which it has been customary to present the food and begins: to lick its lips vigorously.

Question 4

What is itai-itai disease?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

Itai-itai is Japanese for ‘ouch-ouch’.

(イタイイタイ病 itai-itai byō, “it hurts-it hurts disease”) was first described in Japan in the downstream basin of the Jinzu River around 1912 was called by locals “itai-itai byo” . A painful and debilitating skeletal disorder characterised by a waddling gait resulting from multiple fractures, anaemia and renal failure.

It predominantly affected post-menopausal women, and is thought to have resulted from chronic cadmium poisoning in the context of estrogen deficiency and poor nutritional status. The original victims were exposed to environmental cadmium from the local mining industry.

Question 5

Where is Bornholm island?

Reveal the funtabulous answer


Bornholm disease is acute, transient viral myositis associated with Coxsackie B. It causes sudden unilateral chest or abdominal pain in children or adults. Attacks can appear ‘out of the blue’ and the slightest movement of the rib cage causes a sharp increase of pain, which makes it very difficult to breathe.

In 1930, Ejnar Sylvest presented a doctoral thesis describing a Danish outbreak of this disease on Bornholm Island entitled, “Bornholm disease-myalgia epidemica”, and this name has persisted

  • Sylvest E. En Bornholmsk Epidemi. Myositis epidemica [A Bornholm epidemic. myositis epidemica], Ugeskr. Lag., 1930, 92, 798-801
  • Sylvest E. Den Bornholmske Syge. Myalgia epidemica. [Bornholm disease-Myalgia epidemica], Doctoral thesis, Copenhagen, 1933.

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Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five

Dr Neil Long BMBS FACEM FRCEM FRCPC. Emergency Physician at Kelowna hospital, British Columbia. Loves the misery of alpine climbing and working in austere environments (namely tertiary trauma centres). Supporter of FOAMed, lifelong education and trying to find that elusive peak performance.

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