There are things that you think you should be able to do with your body. But if you're like 99.9999% of people in the world, no matter how hard you try, you just can't quite manage to do it.
Here is a list of things that are impossible to do with your body, and the few mutants who can do 'em:
10. Raise One Eyebrow
I can raise both of my eyebrows in bewilderment on how some people can raise just one. In fact, I know only one person in my life who can do this: my mother-in-law, who said that her ability just came to her during the pain of childbirth - and that this superpower was very useful in raising kids. Well, her and of course Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock: "Fascinating, Captain"), Sean Connery, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and Stephen Colbert.
Some people call this the eyebrow cock, and it is known as the universal sign of O RLY ... I mean, skepticism. The ability to raising eyebrows may be an evolutionary trait: baboons, mandrills and cebus monkeys raise their eyebrows as a threat gesture. (Source: David Givens / Center for Nonverbal Studies).
For all of you who want to do this (and yes, geeks who want to imitate Mr. Spock: I'm talkin' to you), it turns out that you can learn to raise one eyebrow. Here's the trick, according to wikiHow:
1. Start by keeping one eyebrow down with one hand and holding one up with the other. Keep practicing this in the mirror so you can detect the correct muscle movement to obtain one eyebrow up.
2. Once you are familiar with this and can do it quite well, try it with out using your hands.
3. Practice this in the mirror intil you get it just right
4. Scare and thrill people with your new talent!
9. Lick Your Elbow
Photo: Gussy (Luke) [Flickr]
I once read a trivia that said it's impossible to lick your own elbow. And that 75% of the people told this immediately tried to lick their elbows.
Well! It's obviously not so impossible for some people. Supposedly, Guinness World Records get about 5 claims a day from people who think that they are special just because they can lick their elbows (Source).
Patrick Ellison gleeking. Photo by Josh Devine [Wikipedia]
Okay, it is kind of gross but it's fascinating. Gleeking (or gleeting / glicking) is like spitting - but not quite: the term means projecting saliva from the submandibular gland upon compression by the tongue.
Interestingly, the word gleek appears in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, where a character named Bottom says "Nay, I can gleek upon occasion." (The Bard meant it as "joke," though, not spit like a camel)
7. Twitch Your Nose
Y'know, twitch your nose like the witch Samantha Stephens of Bewitched.
Elizabeth Montgomery, the actress that played Samantha, actually got sick and tired of being asked to twitch her nose by her fans that she refused to do it after the series was over.
They should bring back Bewitched. I missed that show.
6. Wiggle Your Ear
Jeff Goldblum wiggling his ears [YouTube]
Your cat can do it. And so can the hippo and Jeff Goldblum. But only few other people in the world can wiggle their ears. It turned out that in 2006, scientists determined exactly why most people couldn't wiggle their own ears:
"The mechanism behind ear movements is sophisticated," says Bastiaan ter Meulen, who led the ear wiggling study, accepted for publication in the journal Clinical Neurophysiology.
Unlike other facial muscles, ear muscles have their own accessory nucleus, a control area for muscle function, in the brainstem, says ter Meulen, a researcher at Erasmus MC, a university medical centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
"Compared to animals, especially bats and cats, this nucleus is rather small in humans," he says. (Source)
But fear not, non-ear wiggling people! You can train yourself to do it. WikiHow explains:
Isolate your ear-wiggling muscles. You may be able to wiggle your ears, but it won't be that impressive if you have to raise your eyebrows or look awfully surprised every time. You may not be able to move your ears without moving your scalp, but you should be able to learn to move them without moving your eyebrows. Practice wiggling your ears without moving any other parts of your face.
5. Touch Your Nose or Chin With Your Tongue
This is much better than a photo of Gene Simmons sticking his tongue out!
Photo: floyka [Flickr]
I betcha Gene Simmons of the rock band KISS could do both easily, but most people can't touch the tip of their nose or their chin with their tongue. Rumor was Gene had a cow's tongue grafted onto his own. But Snopes, ever the party pooper, set the record straight:
But, as Simmons wrote in his autobiography, his unusual tongue was indeed the work of Mother Nature alone, a feature whose distinctiveness (and value) he first realized in his early teens:
I was oblivious, for the first thirteen years of my life, that I was endowed with a large oral appendage, my superlong tongue. It really was longer than everyone else's, and I was soon to find out that having a long tongue came in handy with the girls.
4. Strange Tongue Tricks
While we're still on the subject of tongues, there are a few tricks that most people can't do (just don't get a tongue cramp trying to do all these, mmkay?):
Tongue tricks by YouTube user tinasandwich [YouTube Link]
Just go ahead and try to to the last one, the smiley face, like YouTube user a51a did [YouTube Link, shaky video but still!]
3. Sneeze with Your Eyes Open
Nope, you can't sneeze with your eyes open (well, without forcing 'em open with your hands, anyhow). Why? Because when you sneeze, the "sneeze center" in the brain "sends coordinated motor impulses along nerves controlling muscles of the abdomen, chest, diaphragm, neck, face, eyelids and various sphincters, as well as the mucus glands and blood vessels of the nose. All this happens automatically." (Source) You can't help it.
Now, if you did force open your eyes, would your eyeballs pop out when you sneeze? Adam Savage of The Mythbuster risked his eyes doing the experiment:
The Mythbuster: Will Your Eyes Fall Out From Sneezing? episode [YouTube]
2. Tickle Yourself
We all have a ticklish spot or two, which are never a secret from the ones we love. Gentle tickling is fun - so one can be tempted to "auto-tickle" to amuse oneself. But alas, you can't tickle yourself, and scientists actually know why.
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London explains:
The answer lies at the back of the brain in an area called the cerebellum, which is involved in monitoring movements. Our studies at University College London have shown that the cerebellum can predict sensations when your own movement causes them but not when someone else does. When you try to tickle yourself, the cerebellum predicts the sensation and this prediction is used to cancel the response of other brain areas to the tickle. (Source)
1. Toot Your Own Horn
I'm going to let Will Ferrell in the famous SNL yoga skit explain this one ("Look, I've done yoga everyday for three years ... now I've finally reached my goal"). Or if you prefer something more literary: There once was a man from Nantucket ...
All right, all right, this one's only for the guys: Why do dogs lick their balls? Because they can. And apparently, so can 2 to 3 out of 1,000 men in the world, according to sex researcher Alfred Kinsey. (Source)
As stand-up comedian Bill Hicks once famously quipped:
"A woman one night yelled out, 'Yeah, you ever try it?' I said, yeah. Almost broke my back. It's that one vertebrae, I swear to God, it's that close. I think that vertebrae is going to be the thing to go in our next evolutionary step. Just a theory and a fervent prayer. Yeah, now all the guys are going, 'Honey, I have no idea what he's talking about. I think he's a devil-child.' That may be true, but guys, yoooo u know what I'm talking about. I can speak for every guy in this room here tonight, guys, if you could blow yourselves, ladies, you'd be in this room alone right now. Watching an empty stage." (Source)
Because Neatorama is a nice blog, I'm just going to let you read all about autofellatio over on Wikipedia (warning: NSFW, obviously).
Bonus: The Paralyzed Finger Trick
Okay, give this one a try: bend your middle finger like the picture on the left shows and put your hand on the table. Then lift your thumb, index finger, and pinkie. No problem, right? Now try the ring finger.
Stepanie Weaver of Science Made Simple explains why you can't:
The tendons in your fingers are independent from one another apart from the ones in your middle and ring finger. These tendons are connected, so that when your middle finger is folded down you cannot move your ring finger. It feels like your ring finger is stuck!
Bonus: Draw The Number Six While Making Clockwise Circles With Your Leg
Think you can multitask? Try this: while sitting on a chair, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles. Then, while doing that, draw the number 6 with your right hand. You can't help it: your foot will change direction.
Similarly: move your right leg in anti-clockwise circles and simultaneously draw the number 8 with your right hand.
Another tricky thing to do: simultaneously rotate the index fingers of both hands clockwise. Do it slowly at first, but then pick up speed. Try to go faster and faster, and pretty soon your two fingers will be going in opposite directions!
Bonus: Put Your Fist in Your Mouth
Well, the steps are easy enough: 1. Make a fist, and 2. Insert into mouth - but most people can't do it, except the few (all women it seems) who have a) small fists and b) big mouths!
If you've got more things that seemingly easy to do but are actually impossible, I'd love to hear them - please add them to the comment section.