Ask Mr Brain...all will be explained

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 December, 1999, 12:00am

What is the origin of the saying 'not enough room to swing a cat'? The saying 'not enough room to swing a cat', used to describe small rooms or places lacking space, seems very strange. Why would anyone want to swing a cat anyway, let alone need a large room in which to do it? Actually, the saying refers not to the meowing variety of cat, but the cat-o'-nine-tails.

The cat-o'-nine-tails was a rope whip made from nine knotted thongs which was used to punish prisoners and errant sailors in former times.

Since one needed plenty of room to swing the whip, 'not enough room to swing a cat' originally meant not enough room to swing a cat-o'-nine-tails.

This must have been annoying for the prison guard, but a relief to those unfortunate prisoners and sailors. It later came to mean any small place, although many people who use the saying are unaware of its brutal origins.

What makes the eye twitch? The eye twitches when the muscles around the eye are stimulated. If we read for too long or if we don't get enough sleep, our eyes may twitch.

Smoking or drinking can also make the eye twitch. Excessively bright light or chemicals can also cause twitching. If your eye keeps twitching, you can try putting a hot towel over it or simply close your eyes for a while.

How do worms breathe? And is it true that a worm can grow another head if it is chopped off? The three most important groups of worms are flatworms, segmented worms and roundworms. Segmented worms include the most familiar types of worm, such as earthworms and leeches.

All organisms breathe in one way or another. Worms breathe through their skin.

They have tiny blood vessels, or capillaries, near the surface of their skin and oxygen is absorbed directly into these capillaries.

As for whether a worm can grow another head, it depends on the type of worm it is.

Segmented worms can lose a few segments off the end and regrow them, but if they lose the vital organs in the middle, they will die.

However, flatworms have the amazing ability to regenerate. If a flatworm is cut into pieces, each fragment will grow into a new worm, complete with head and sensory organs.

If the head of a flatworm is damaged, a fork-headed worm can regrow. If a section is cut from it, it can develop a new head at each end.