That was the very word Archimedes used when he jumped out of his bath, and Isaac Newton must have felt much the same when an apple fell on his head.
The apple might have smarted a little, but it was nothing compared to the pain Michael Smith experienced when a wayward honey bee inadvertently flew up his shorts and stung him on the scrotum.
But that was the spur for the scientist to explore how pain affects humans – by forcing the insects to sting him , literally from head to toe, over five weeks.
The subject of exactly where would hurt the most had already come up in conversation between Michael – a postgraduate studying bee behaviour – and his colleagues at Cornell University, New York.
He said: “If you’re wearing shorts and doing bee work, a bee can get up there easily.
“We speculated it probably really would hurt to get stung in the testicles. Two days later, by chance, I did get stung there.
“But I was really surprised that it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would.”
So, in the name of science, he put himself through the pain barrier. On being stung in the genitals again, he recalled: “It wasn’t a pleasurable experience, put it that way. It didn’t worry me. I knew the swelling would go down.
“I’m actually recently single – happily single – which is absolutely nothing to do with this study. I was not worried at all that I would lose any ability down south.”
You might feel a little prick: Bee stung boffin’s nether regions
And despite being stung on his most sensitive areas, he can confirm the worst place, rather surprisingly, is the nose.
He explained: “If you’re stung in the nose and the penis, you’re going to want more stings to the penis, over the nose –if you’re forced to choose. There’s definitely no crossing of wires of pleasure and pain down there. It’s painful. Getting stung on the nose is a whole body experience. Your body really reacts. You’re sneezing and wheezing and snot is just dribbling out. It’s electric and pulsating.
Michael, who previously studied bee-keeping at United World College of the Atlantic, near Cardiff, took agitated bees in forceps and applied them to 25 different areas of his body. He then rated the resulting pain from zero to ten.
And he did not do just do it once – the human guinea pig stung himself three times in each area.
At times he needed to use a mirror and adopt some awkward poses to get to some harder to reach areas. But he wanted to go even further.
He said: “I originally had the eye on the list, but when I talked to my advisor, he was concerned I might go blind. I wanted to keep my eyes.”
The findings’ long-term usefulness may not be obvious, but the results, published this week in scientific journal PeerJ, are certainly unexpected and thought-provoking.
It turns out the more delicate parts of the body do not react as badly to bee stings compared to areas where you might expect the skin to be thicker and less sensitive.
Although his testicles were the fourth worst place to be stung – with a pain rating of 7.0 – that was only equally as painful as being stung in the palm and the cheek. The penis was only marginally more uncomfortable with a 7.3 rating.
His nostril with a rating of 9.0 was the most painful, with the upper lip not far behind on 8.7.