Don't Try to Swim in Peru's Legendary Boiling River

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As a child, Andrés Ruzo, a geothermal scientist from Lima, Peru, heard legends of the Spanish conquistadors’ failed quest to discover the lost city of gold. They were peppered with colorful details, ranging from man-eating snakes to a boiling river in the Amazon. Ruzo initially dismissed the tales as myths, according to Gizmodo, but while creating a geothermal map of Peru in graduate school, he began wondering if there was any truth to the anecdote about the boiling river. As a new video from Great Big Story details, there was: He eventually located a hidden Peruvian river that's hot enough to kill.

In 2011, family members led Ruzo to the 82-foot-wide, steaming river tucked deep in the remote rain forest. The site is considered sacred by locals, and is home to multiple traditional healing centers.

But this isn't your average hot spring. The water's intense heat comes from a geological fault, according to Science Alert. Although Ruzo’s aunt and mother have safely ventured into its waters after cool, heavy rainfall, he cautions against taking a casual dip. The hottest temperature he’s ever measured was more than 210°F, the scientist told Great Big Story—just a few degrees short of the boiling point. The river runs hot enough to burn for almost 4 miles, and will essentially cook alive any animal that falls into it. “You stick your hand in, and you will see second and third-degree burns in a matter of seconds.”

Learn more about the real-life wonder, detailed in Ruzo's 2016 book The Boiling River: Adventure and Discovery in the Amazon, by watching Great Big Story’s video below.

Why Is Pee Yellow?

Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

WHY? is our attempt to answer all the questions every little kid asks. Do you have a question? Send it to why@mentalfloss.com.

Your body is kind of like a house. You bring things into your body by eating, drinking, and breathing. But just like the things we bring home to real houses, we don’t need every part of what we take in. So there are leftovers, or garbage. And if you let garbage sit around in your house or your body for too long, it gets gross and can make you sick. Your body takes out the garbage by peeing and pooping. These two things are part of your body’s excretory system (ECKS-krih-tore-eee SISS-tem), which is just a fancy way of saying “trash removal.” If your body is healthy, when you look in the toilet you should see brown poop and yellow pee.

Clear, light yellow pee is a sign that your excretory system and the rest of your body are working right. If your pee, or urine (YER-inn), is not see-through, that might mean you are sick. Dark yellow urine usually means that you aren’t drinking enough water. On the other hand, really pale or colorless pee can mean you might be drinking too much water! 

Your blood is filtered through two small organs called kidneys (KID-knees). Remember the garbage we talked about earlier? The chemicals called toxins (TOCK-sins) are like garbage in your blood. Your kidneys act like a net, catching the toxins and other leftovers and turning them into pee.

One part of your blood is called hemoglobin (HEE-moh-gloh-bin). This is what makes your blood red. Hemoglobin goes through a lot of changes as it passes through your body. When it reaches your kidneys, it turns yellow thanks to a chemical called urobilin (yer-ah-BY-lin). Urobilin is kind of like food coloring. The more water you add, the lighter it will be. That's why, if you see dark yellow pee in the toilet, it's time to ask your mom or dad for a cup of water. 

To learn more about pee, check out this article from Kids Health. 

Flashing Status Symbols Won’t Impress New Friends—and May Even Backfire

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Trying to keep up with the Joneses isn’t a very effective way of making friends. As The Outline reports, a recent study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science suggests that flashing status symbols makes people less likely to want to be your friend.

While some may feel like sporting a luxury watch or designer clothes will draw people toward them, it actually does the opposite, making you a less attractive potential friend, according to a trio of researchers from Michigan, Singapore, and Israel. Over the course of six different experiments, the researchers found that study participants tended to think that high-status markers like fancy cars would help them make new friends. The trend stayed true across both participants recruited using Amazon Mechanical Turk and upscale shoppers stopped for a survey in a high-income suburb.

People thought that showing up to an outdoor wedding in a luxury car or going out to a downtown bar wearing a fancy brand-name watch would lead people to be more attracted to them as potential friends, compared to someone driving a basic car or wearing a generic watch. Yet participants also rated themselves as being more willing to befriend someone with generic clothes and cars than someone who flashed designer goods.

The paradox makes a little more sense if you go back to the idea of “keeping up” with our neighbors. People want to look high status in comparison to others. They don’t want to hang out with people who are flashing around luxury goods—they want to be the flashier ones.

[h/t The Outline]

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