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Image: Wikimedia Commons

After he’d been stung by almost everything, entomologist Justin O. Schmidt created the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, a four-point scale comparing the overall pain of insect stings:

  • 1.0 – Sweat bee: “Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.”
  • 1.2 – Fire ant: “Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet and reaching for the light switch.”
  • 1.8 – Bullhorn acacia ant: “A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.”
  • 2.0 – Bald-faced hornet: “Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.”
  • 2.0 – Yellowjacket: “Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W.C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.”
  • 3.0 – Red harvester ant: “Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.”
  • 3.0 – Paper wasp: “Caustic and burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.”
  • 4.0 – Pepsis wasp: “Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath (if you get stung by one you might as well lie down and scream).”
  • 4.0+ – Bullet ant: “Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail in your heel.”

What Would Darwin Say?

Robert Wallace had a noble impulse when he discovered a new species of monkey in Bolivia’s Madidi National Park. Rather than name the species after himself, he would auction off the naming rights to raise money for the park.

The marketers of the world are not so noble: $650,000 changed hands and the new species was named after an Internet casino. It’s officially called the “GoldenPalace.com Monkey.”

Anesthesia Awareness

In 1998, Carol Weihrer was undergoing eye surgery when she woke up. Desperate and in agony, she could feel everything that was happening to her, but the muscle relaxants kept her from moving or speaking.

This happens to 4,000 people each year, largely due to anesthesiologists’ errors, and the psychological trauma can lead to years of nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, and alcoholism. It’s called “anesthesia awareness.”

The Bridges of Konigsberg

In old Konigsberg there were seven bridges:

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Villagers used to wonder: Is it possible to leave your door, walk through the town, and return home having crossed each bridge exactly once?

Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler had to invent graph theory to answer the question rigorously, but there’s a fairly intuitive informal proof. Can you find it?

Click for Answer