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Ask Maxim June 2011

This month, we tell you why back cracking feels good, how you'll lose your hearing, and six facts about Conan the Barbarian.

Answering all the questions you never knew you had (and some you did).

Why does cracking my back feel so good?
Robert Tonne, via e-mail

“When you get adjusted, the joint moves and a pocket of nitrogen is released, which is what the ‘cracking’ refers to,” explains Jezariah Munyer, a massage therapist at Chiro-Medical
Group Inc. in San Francisco. 

And why does it feel so good? “It resets the nerve so it’s no longer irritated and also increases your circulation, which gives you that kind of flush feeling.” 

Sounds plausible, but let’s ask a real doctor! Says Andrew Sama, M.D., a surgeon at the Spine Care Institute at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City: “When the joint capsules in the spine are stretched, pressure causes natural gas in the synovial fluid to come out of solution and ‘pop.’ This sense of release feels good to some, who get relief from cracking their joints.” Just say yes to crack.

Fast Facts
1. Robert E. howard died 75 years ago, so Bone up on his creation: Conan the Barbarian.
2. Conan debuted in 1932, making him older than Superman but younger than Mickey Mouse.
3. He was born during the fictional Hyborian Age in Cimmeria, thought to be modern-day Ukraine.
4. Howard described Conan at 6'2", 210 pounds, supposedly the author’s own height and weight.
5. Conan’s an orphan: His mom was decapitated, and his dad was eaten by dogs.
6. Conan has ties in politics: He’s been played by the ex–California governor and counts Obama among his fans.


One of you actually asked this: Would a suit of diamond armor make me invincible? 
Shawn Dempsey, Kansas City, KS

X Stephen Lenhart, Ph.D., of the geol­ogy department at Radford University in Virginia is here to literally shatter your fantasy. “Although diamonds are an extremely strong material, they are also brittle and wouldn’t stand up to much in the way of impact. So the short answer is no.” In terms of warfare, diamonds would be more effective as bullets. Glamorous bullets!

35.09 = According to Japanese researchers, this is the exact age at which time hits home
and skin damage becomes longer-lasting and much more difficult to prevent…for women. Did a skin-care company preying on female insecurity commission this study? Probably! Do we care Not really!

(Now, that’s a head-scratcher!)

Will an entire generation be deaf thanks to earbuds?
Jonah Pal, Arlington, TX
X “No, but we’ll see a number of people with hearing loss in the future,” says Abbey Berg, an audiologist at Pace Univer­sity. “Kids listen too long at excessive levels. An hour a day at half volume is OK.” Pete Townshend agrees, saying maxing out headphones and concert amps have destroyed his eardrums. God, hope we die before we get old.