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Science is really cool. Personally, I am fascinated with theoretical physics. I don’t profess to understand much of the complicated underlying math, at all. Nonetheless, I really enjoy learning about space, time, matter, and life. Of course, I won’t limit this blog post to scientific facts pertaining solely to physics. But owing to my fascination, I will include at least a few. Maybe more than a few. But let’s start with this one, cause it’s awesome.
Octopuses have nine brains, three hearts, and blue blood. Two hearts for the gills, one for everything else, and one central brain with a smaller one at the base of each arm.
1. The global position system (GPS) would be 6 miles off without General Relativity
Einstein’s theory of General Relativity states that gravity, the distortion of space and time, becomes weaker as you move further away from the surface of the planet.
In a second, you will see why this observation is crucial for accurate GPS functioning.
A team of physicists set out to test the claim that, in addition to space, time is distorted by heavy objects. They set up an experiment using two atomic clocks in nearly perfect sync, accurate to one billionth of a second.
They kept the master clock at sea level and took the test clock to the top of a mountain in New Hampshire.
According to General Relativity, time should speed up as you move further away from the mass of a planet.
After four days on top of the mountain, the test clock was taken back to the lab for comparison, measuring the difference in clock ticks. What they found not only confirmed Einstein’s theory but also gave us accurate GPS systems.
The results showed that the clock ticks differed by 20 Nanoseconds. The master clock, that stayed at sea level, ticked 20 Nanoseconds slower than the clock that was taken to the mountain. Just to let you know, 20 Nanoseconds is 20 billionth of one second.
While the test clock was up on the mountain, time sped up! The global positioning system would not work if it did not account for this seemingly minuscule difference in time.
Engineers who built our GPS systems, which we take for granted, had to ensure it adjusted for the time difference between clocks on satellite and receivers on the ground.
If they didn’t, GPS would be off by 6 miles (9.66 Kilometres) every day!
Scientists believe that this mutation was a result of all the plagues in the middle ages. So if your ancestors survived The Black Death and The Pox, today you’re probably immune to HIV. Genetics is interesting and strange.
3. Seasons on Uranus are 42 years long
Uranus takes 84 Earth years to complete one full orbit of the sun. This one is a strange planet on account of being knocked onto its side by something quite large. So, while other planets appear to be spinning as they journey around the Sun, Uranus is flipped on the side and looks like its rolling around the sun. This has some crazy effects on the seasons on Uranus. When the northern hemisphere of the Earth is tilted towards the Sun, we experience summer. And vice versa when winter comes.
But, on Uranus, one hemisphere is pointed towards the Sun, and the other is pointed away. The position of the poles slowly reverses until, half a Uranian year later, it’s the opposite situation. In other words, summer for the northern hemisphere lasts 42 years, followed by 42 years of winter.
If you could hypothetically stand on the north pole of Uranus, you would see the Sun appear on the horizon, circle higher and higher for 21 years and then circle back down for another 21 years.
Once the Sun goes below the horizon, you would experience another 42 years of darkness before you can sing,
Here comes the sun (doo doo doo doo)
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right…
Some really bizarre stuff happens when the sun reappears. The side that is in darkness never actually gets the chance to warm up. So when the Sun first shines on this region under a dark shadow for years, it heats up and generates super powerful storms in the atmosphere of Uranus.
4. Saturn is the only planet in our solar system that is less dense than water
Apparently, Saturn could float in a bathtub if anybody could build a bathtub big enough. Here are a few more interesting things about Saturn. Saturn is huge. It is the second-largest planet in our Solar System. Jupiter is the only planet that is bigger.
You cannot stand on Saturn. It is not like Earth. Saturn is made mostly of gases
The mass of Saturn is 95 times the mass of Earth. However, Saturn’s gravity is only 1.08 times the gravity on Earth because Saturn is such a large planet. An object weighing around 50 kilos on Earth would weigh around 54 kilos on Saturn.
5. The mass of our moon is more than all the asteroids in our solar system combined
If you could lump together all the thousands of known asteroids in our solar system, their total mass wouldn’t even equal 10 per cent of the mass of Earth’s Moon.
6. Life on Earth is, one-for-one, made from the most common elements in the universe
We’re all made of star stuff, you might have this phrase somewhere. Well, it is largely true. There 4 elements that are found in abundance in life on Earth, and 5 elements found in abundance in the universe as a whole. Of course, there are a lot more than these 4 or 5, but these are the key ingredients common to life on Earth and the rest of this vast universe.
The 5 elements found in abundance in the universe are Hydrogen, Helium, Oxygen, Carbon, and Nitrogen.
The 4 elements present in life on Earth are Hydrogen, Oxygen, Carbon, and Nitrogen.
Notice that helium is the only element missing. This is because we don’t need helium (chemically intert) for life, we don’t react with helium. I mean you could breathe it in through a balloon and sound funny, but it’s not a necessary element to life.
Those elements are the essential ingredients, in that order.
7. At least half of Earth’s Oxygen comes from the ocean, not trees
Tiny aquatic plants called phytoplankton live near the surface of the water, drift with the currents, and generally do what plants do – make oxygen as a by-product of taking in sunlight and carbon dioxide.
Carbon is known to form around ten million different compounds. It is a pattern maker and can link to itself, forming long, resilient chains called polymers. Carbon can also bond with up to four other atoms because of its electron arrangement.
No surprise, carbon is present in all known life forms. It is the second most abundant element in humans (about 18% of human mass), after oxygen.
And guess where carbon forms? In the belly of stars! Carbon is the most fertile element on the periodical table.
Life is just the extreme expression of complex chemistry
Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
9. You would get split into smaller and smaller fragments if you fell into a black hole
Ok so let’s say you’re falling into a black hole, feet first. Because the rate of change of gravity is so severe at the centre of the black hole, the difference in gravity between your feet and the head begins to grow.
This difference is known as the Tidal Force, and the Tidal Force has the power to stretch things. So as your feet enter the centre faster than your head, you will begin to stretch.
You will keep stretching until you reach a point where the Tidal Force is stronger than the molecular bonds that keep your flesh together.
So first, you would snap into two pieces, likely at the base of your spine. Now the two pieces continue to feel the Tidal Force, and they each split into two further pieces.
This would continue as you fall all the way to the bottom of the black hole until you are nothing but a stream of atoms.
But there’s more! Because space/time is funnelling down to a point, you will also get squeezed from all sides, while you are being stretched.
10. Spaghettification(sometimes referred to as the noodle effect) is the term for dying by falling into a black hole
This is the legitimate term used in astrophysics for the events described above, that is, a gruesome death by falling into a black hole.
In technical terms, spaghettification is the vertical stretching and horizontal compression of objects into long thin shapes (rather like spaghetti) in a very strong non-homogeneous gravitational field; it is caused by extreme tidal forces.
11. If you did manage to survive while falling into a black hole (a spinning black hole to be precise), time for you would stop at some point. And when this happens, the entire universe would unfold before your eyes. You would see the whole future of the universe you just left in the instant it takes you to fall down a black hole
12. To throw a pebble into space so that it never comes back, you would have to throw it at 7 miles per second
13. Theoretically, a spinning black hole has an entire other space/time on the other side of it. So, you could fall in and come out the other side into a completely new universe. The calculations suggest this, but naturally, there have been no tests.
14. The sun makes up more than 99% of the mass of the solar system.
15. Humans can distinguish between at least a trillion smells.
16. An asteroid in our solar system has rings, like Saturn.
17. Each of a tarsier’s eyeballs is as big as its brain.
18. Humans can’t breathe and swallow at the same time.
19. There are about 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms in a human body.
20. A nasa space suit costs $12,000,000, While the entire suit costs a cool $12m, 70% of that cost is for the backpack and control module.
21. Neutron stars can spin 600 times per second
22. Matter determines how space-time curves. General Relativity explains how a spaceship travelling any speed slows down as it passes through a gravitational field, such as passing the planet Earth.
23. The Sun is thought to have completed about 20 orbits during its life time and just 1/1250th of an orbit since the origin of humans.
24. Viruses can get viruses.
25. Pluto takes 248 years to orbit the Sun.
26. Every second, the Sun sends to earth 10 times more neutrinos than the number of people on earth
27. Conifer oils (think pine trees) actually contain an anti-inflammatory compound called Alpha-Pinene. This has been used to treat bronchial issues such as asthma and is being studied for other inflammatory diseases
28. Atomic clocks are the most accurate clocks ever built. Some clock can measure a single vibration in a single atom of Mercury.
29. The Cosmic Microwave Background is the remnant of the hot Big Bang that fills the entire sky. Certain fluctuations in the temperature on Cosmic Microwave Background could give us clues about other universes.
30. Playing a *moderate* amount of video games is actually good for you. It boosts your memory and multitasking skills, can help those with dyslexia, increases coordination, and reduces stress.
31. Stars are located in different spots than we actually see because our sun bends light. Affected by gravity, the path of a beam of light is not entirely straight. So if a beam of light from a distant star passes close to our sun, it will bend slightly around it.
32. Luna moths have no mouths. Once they emerge from their cocoon, they have a 7 day lifespan during which they mate and then starve to death. (And yes, it would be a great band name, but there’s already a band named The Luna Moth.)
33. Coffee is the most widely used recreational drugs we know of. It’s also one of the most addictive.
34. The shortest moment in time is defined by the Planck time, which is 5.391 06(32) × 10−44 s. It is determined by the Planck’s constant, the gravitational constant and speed of light
35. At 600 km wide and 21 km high, Olympus Mons is a volcano on Mars may still be active, according to scientists. That is 3 times the size of Everest.
36. The largest canyon system in the solar system is Valles Marineris on Mars. It’s more than 4,000 kilometers (3,000 miles) long — enough to stretch from California to New York. It is nine times as long and four times as deep as Earth’s Grand Canyon!
37. The average temperature on Venus is more than 480 degrees Celsius (about 900 degrees Fahrenheit) — hotter than a self cleaning oven.
38. Europa is one of the four largest moons of Jupiter. It’s a little smaller than Earth’s Moon. Europa is covered in ice, including some smooth ice! A 3-foot (about 1 meter) Axel jump on this moon would take you 22 feet (more than 6 meters) high, with the same landing speed as on Earth.
39. True to its namesake (the speedy messenger of ancient Roman gods), Mercury is the fastest planet in our solar system. It zips around our Sun at an average of 172,000 kilometers per hour (107,000 miles per hour) — about 65,000 kph (40,000 mph) faster than Earth. A year on Mercury is equal to 88 Earth days.
40. Neptune’s winds are the fastest in the solar system, reaching 2,575 kilometers per hour (1,600 miles per hour)! Neptune’s giant, spinning storms could swallow the whole Earth.
41. Jupiter’s moon Io is the most volcanically active body in our solar system. The moon’s bizarre, blotted yellowish surface looks like a pepperoni pizza!
42. Craters at the Moon’s south pole may be the frostiest locale in the entire solar system. In the permanently shadowed crater floors, “daytime” temperatures may never rise above minus 238 degrees Celsius (minus 397 degrees Fahrenheit).
43. Ceres is the largest, most massive body in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, totalling about a third of the total mass of the entire belt. But Ceres is the smallest of the dwarf planets, which include Pluto and Eris, and the only dwarf planet that resides in the asteroid belt.
44. More than 1,300 Earths would fit into Jupiter’s vast sphere.
45. The radio signal that a spacecraft uses to contact Earth has no more power than a refrigerator light bulb. And by the time the signal has travelled across space, the signal is only one-billionth of one-billionth of one watt!
46. To detect those tiny signals from space, the Deep Space Network uses dish antennas with diameters of up to 70 meters (230 feet). That’s almost as big as a football field
47. A Venus day is approximately 243 Earth days long. The bad news is we would have to wait up to three Earth years for a weekend. That’s because a day on Venus is longer than its year!
48. If you could stand at the Martian equator, the temperature at your feet would be like a warm spring day, but at your head, it would be freezing cold!
49. Tears you cry when you’re upset actually contain a hormone that’s a natural painkiller. Your body releases this hormone (called leucine enkephalin) when you’re under stress.
50. Hot and cold water sounds different when being poured. It’s actually noticeable to the human ear if you pay attention. Water changes viscosity (aka its thickness or stickiness) depending on temperature. The colder the water, the higher the pitch
51. There are animals and plants considered to be “Biologically Immortal.” While they can and do die, this is due to injury or disease. They don’t really age (at least not in the sense of breaking down) and won’t die from old age. Jellyfish and Lobsters are two examples of this.
52. The smell that grass gives off when it’s cut is actually a distress signal. You’re basically smelling the grass screaming in pain
53. The most abundant atom in the universe is the hydrogen atom. Nearly 74% of the atoms in the Milky Way galaxy are hydrogen atoms.
54. Electrons behave differently when they are being observed. In the famous Double Slit Experiment, researches proved that when a camera observes electrons, they act as particles. However, when no equipment is used to observe the electrons, they act as waves and particles simultaneously. There’s a lot of disagreement and lack of certainty as to why this occurs.
55. All objects fall at the same speed. Take the famous feather and bowling ball example. When dropped at the same time, they appear to fall at different speeds.
56. But actually, the force of gravity that pulls the objects toward the centre of the earth at precisely the same speed. It’s air resistance that accounts for the feather’s slower flight.
57. Apparently, all the matter that makes up the human race could fit in a sugar cube. Everyone you’ve ever known, everyone who’s ever lived, all of us could be squashed into a little hunk of the matter about half-an-inch on each side.
58. The above is possible only if we are all reduced down to our basic components. Atoms are, after all, 99.9999999999999% empty space. In other words, If you removed all the empty space from the atoms that make up all the humans on Earth, the remaining mass could fit inside a sugar cube
59. Velociraptors were actually only about the size of a Turkey, not the 6′-7′ beasts we’ve come to know and love from Jurassic Park. Those ‘Raptors were actually based on a dinosaur called Utahraptor.
60. Honey, when sealed, does not rot or go bad. It’s literally edible thousands of years later. Egyptian tombs have been found with jars of still edible honey inside.
61. Several hundred earthquakes actually occur worldwide on a daily basis; they’re just of such a low magnitude (2 or lower) that we often don’t notice. Or they happen in the middle of the ocean.
62. Despite being taught in school we have five senses – sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound – humans really have over 20. For example, Proprioception is the ability to tell where your body parts are in relation to other body parts
63. The weight of the average fluffy, cumulus cloud is a little over a million pounds. Clouds are made up of tiny drops of water dispersed over a large area (much larger than it seems from the ground) and water is very heavy. For context, that’s roughly the weight of 100 elephants
64. The faster you move, the heavier you get. However, this is negligible at human speeds. But once you reach an appreciable fraction of the speed of light, your mass increases rapidly
65. Planets don’t actually travel in a circular motion. They orbit suns because space-time itself is bent. This is because matter tells space how to curve, and space tells matter how to move.
66. Carbon has two naturally occurring stale isotopes on Earth, one of which (carbon-12) accounts for 98% of the carbon found in nature.
67. Carbon is the basis for many organic compounds, inorganic compounds, and organometallic compounds
68. The Milky Way has four spiral arms, not two.
69. If you cry in space the tears just stick to your face.
70. Ladybirds can fly at speeds up to 60 kph
71. It takes a photon, on average, 170,000 years to travel from the core of the sun to the surface. Then it takes just 8 minutes and 17 seconds to travel from the sun’s surface to our eyes
72. You can use a blue whale’s wax earplug to work out its life history.
73. The speed of light is generally rounded down to 186,000 miles per second. In exact terms it is 299,792,458 m/s (metres per second – that is equal to 186,287.49 miles per second).
74. 10% of all human beings ever born are alive at this very moment.
75. The Earth spins at 1,000 mph but it travels through space at an incredible 67,000 mph
76. When Krakatoa erupted in 1883, its force was so great it could be heard 4,800 kilometres away in Australia
77. There’s a mammal in Australia that has sex until it disintegrates.
78. An orgasm can clear your sinuses
79. In the history of the Earth, we’re closer to Tyrannosaurus rex than T. rex is to stegosaurus
80. A Mars-sized object crashed into Earth 4.5 billion years ago, chipping off a chunk of rock that became the moon, and making the Earth’s axis tilt slightly
81. There’s a 3.5-inch aluminium sculpture on the moon.
82. Scientists have found a tiny crystal of zircon that is 4.4 billion years old.
83. The world’s oceans contain 20 million tons of gold.
84. If the oceans dried out, the salt left over would cover the continents to a depth of 5 feet.
85. There are more cells of bacteria in your body than there are human cells.
86. Every second around 100 lightning bolts strikes the Earth. And Every year lightning kills 1000 people
87. In October 1999 an Iceberg the size of London broke free from the Antarctic ice shelf.
88. If you could drive your car straight up you would arrive in space in just over an hour
89. Human tapeworms can grow up to 22.9m.
90. The Earth is 4.56 billion years old…the same age as the Moon and the Sun.
91. When a flea jumps, the rate of acceleration is 20 times that of the space shuttle during launch
92. The human brain weighs 3 pounds, comprising of 60% of fat and is one of the fattest organs in the human body
93. Human brain has the capacity to generate approximately 23 watts of power when awake.
94. Up until the 1960’s, doctors determined if a woman was pregnant by injecting her urine into a female frog. If the frog laid eggs within a day (due to the hormones in the pregnant woman’s urine), it was considered positive. Before frogs, rabbits or mice were used. But they had to be killed and dissected in order to tell if the hormones had any effect on the animal. So, not very humane.
95. There’s a 3.5-inch aluminium sculpture on the moon
96. Of the total blood and oxygen that is produced in our body, the brain gets 20% of it.
97. One million, million, million, million, a millionth of a second after the Big Bang the Universe was the size of a …pea
98. The thermometer was invented in 1607 by Galileo
99. In early pregnancy, the neurons in our brain develop at an alarming rate of 250,000 per minute.
100. There are roughly 2 pints of water in every cubic foot of soil on Mars
101. The brain is capable of surviving for 5 to 6 minutes only if it doesn’t get oxygen after which it dies.
102. Lasers can get trapped in a waterfall. How cool is this? You can actually trap a laser beam in the water! Not only is this a great example of total internal reflection, but it also shows how fibre optic cables work to guide the flow of light.
Tags:102 Interesting Science Facts, Interesting science facts that nobody knows, Interesting science facts which will blow your mind, Unbelievable science facts