Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Pointy stick, o pointy pointy

Just a quick one tonight; LoveFilm have delivered Penelope for me, and to say I am looking forward to it would be an understatement. But first, in a shameless attempt to grab some geek points, here's a five minute experiment that's as much to do with showing little people how to record experimental findings as teaching them about the nerves that help them to feel.

You will need two pokey sticks - knitting needles are good - paper and pencil and a willing victim. The idea is to demonstrate the differing density of nerve endings over your body, and figure out the most sensitive parts (steady!)

Choose the area to work on - classics are the fingertips and the back, but legs, feet, toes, arms all are worth it. My little scientists got a bit carried away poking me with knitting needles, for some reason.

Touch the person with either one

or two points, held about a centimetre apart, and ask them to tell you how many points they feel.

I have only just realised what short stubby scientist fingers I have. Harumph.

Record how many times they get this right. We tried 4 times on each body part.

Once you figure out which areas are most and least sensitive you can vary the distance between the needles - if you put them 5 cm apart, can you now reliably distinguish one from two touches on your back?

You can make a little chart, and probably could get creative with graphs and so on.

There is a variation of this that has you running a pencil point slowly up your forearm and noting the places where it feels icy cold as you encounter a nerve ending, but I think mine need to be a bit bigger before we do this. I remember marking the points with felt tip pens and plotting them out when I was about 12. That explains a lot.

And now, though I love you all dearly I'm going to have to spend a little quality time with a glass of red, a bowl of butternut squash lasagne and James McAvoy ...


  1. Anointy nointy.

    Love the shameless experimenting to garner Moogy approval.

    Hmm, hope the nerve endings aren't too overloaded by the combination of Mr McEvoy AND red wine.

    What with Hugh over on Mrs Moog's post I'm a little flustered now. Hmm, wonder if I get geek points for having a bit of a crush on the king of foodie geeks?

  2. How on earth did you get Mr. McEvoy to agree to come around for dinner? Did you do magic with those pointy pointy sticks?

  3. Surely you're not going to keep Mr McAvoy all to yourself?

    As for experimenting, alas, difficuly on one's own and i don't think the dogs would be much help...

    Enjoy the film!
    D x

  4. Hmmm interesting. I recently trapped my Ulnar nerve - how bizarre it was (and still is) to have two fingers completely numb, and yet painful at the same time. Your smalls could have stabbed me with the knitting needles on those fingers and I wouldn't have felt a thing.

    James McAvoy eh? Mmmmmmm


  5. OoooooH! that is one of my FAVOURITE recipies .. yummy yummy. I make it with extra creme fraiche and serve with lightly roasted potatoes. slurp slurp. xxx

  6. Silverpebble got in before me with the anoint anointy. Boo.

    Must try this one.

    Off to google Mr McEvoy - I don't like to miss out on a popular crush.

  7. Wow - I love this shameless going for maximum geek points! Fascinating too. Need to check out Mr McEvoy who seems to have totally passed me by! As for my geek points... currently standing at zero! Do you think there will be a prize for coming last?

  8. love the shameless geekiness! we had mad science at our house last night when daddy brought home dry ice from work and threw it in a bucket of water..... can I can a geek point?

  9. ooooh, yum! my daughter and i both love james mcavoy - there's just something about him!
    we just loved him as mr tumnus - he was soo cute!
    shameless geekiness - well done you!!


  10. I love that butternut squash lasange - have you tried Jamie olivers buternut squash muffins (on his website) - they're good too. However did you stop your children getting carried away with the needle stabbing exercise? Mine would have kept going for hours until everyones nerves just got fed up and went out for the evening......

  11. Another one for my notebook! Thank you!

    Sounds like a very nice evening too...

  12. I've got only one thing to say to you Val...............

    YOU'RE A GEEK!!!!

    Me xxx

  13. Oh I hope you enjoy Penelope. I loved it!

  14. That is shameless indeed. How do you expect us other poor girls to keep up? Some of us don't have littles around for a cover LOL!

  15. Whoa! Cool experiment! I can't wait to try it -- but maybe not when the three-year-old is around, for the good of all.

  16. Wot, no picture of the lasagne? I'll just have to use my imagination then. Have actually seen James McAvoy in the flesh. Impressed? He was filming Atonement in the town where I was working at the time. (Photos on my blog, not that you can identify him in them).

  17. hands off James!!

    HE'S MINE.

  18. Penelope is fab :-) the daughter and myself have watched it about 4 times now and still love it so hope you enjoy it too!
    Lesley x

  19. Love the science bit and fits in with what my daughter had been doing at school with the 5 senses.

    Have a lovely evening with James

  20. Oooh I can't believe I'm only just here now to see your fantabulous experimental doings!!

    For such dedication to geekery DC you are hereby awarded 68 Geek Points! This has to be the best and weirdest experiment ever!!!
    Poking sensitive body parts with pointy implements could be construed as a bit odd but the graph has taken your experiment into the realms of scientific brilliance.

    16 geek points each to the little Dottycookies for humouring you :)

    While I'm on I must award soem points to Driftwood. For being married to a man who brings home dry ice to entertain his family - 88 Geek Points!!


  21. I think I'll leave off the experiment for a few years otherwise my daughters may well put knitting needles up their noses and manage to poke their eyes out!
    I must watch Penelope, did you enjoy it?
    Jane x

  22. Thanks for your comment on my blog:-) myhouse is definately not showhome material but I am reasonably tidy just not behind closed doors LOL All my rubbish is hidden and yes, most doors and drawers do shut thankfully!
    have given in and bought Penelope on DVD for The Daughters birthday on friday - may have to force myself to watch it again!
    Lesley x

  23. Oooh, my two will like this game, we will try it. I hope Mr McEvoy was a good guest.

  24. Great experiments as usual Val, not sure about letting my two loose with knitting needles though!!! Hope the lasagne and Penelope didn't let you down, I'm sure Mr McAvoy didn't!

  25. Oh, I remember doing a version of this in a biology class in high school! Cool to see that it can work for little ones, too.


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