I was half listening to the weekly program which has a panel of very interesting experts being interrupted and side-tracked by Melvyn bloody Bragg as a format, and I was suddenly brought to full attention by an almost casual comment by one of the scientist guests. This week's show was all about parasites.
The expert mentioned that - as we all know from Tom and Jerry cartoons - mice are alerted by the smell of cat urine to the presence of cats and instinctively stay away - until they have been infected with a micro-parasite called 'toxiplasma'. Once they have this parasite in their brains, they love the smell of cat-piss and will come running up to the cat like a long-lost friend.
Further research has shown that many people who have died through their own dangerous driving have been found to be infected with toxiplasma. It is also often found in the brains of schizophrenics.
Taking it one step further, this may explain why some people just love putting themselves in the way of extreme danger by jumping out of planes, free-running, extreme-skiing, rock-climbing etc. whereas the rest of us would prefer to sit at home by the fire with a good book.
We have been told that these people are simply adrenalin junkies, but it seems to me that they may have a little micro-organism inside their heads, telling them to live life dangerously. It is pure science fiction, but quite possibly fact.
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