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21 Science Facts You Won’t Believe Are True –

 

 

 

Science is an ever moving, ever changing behemoth, made up of a vast mish mash of knowledge, questions, experiments and answers.

Seeing as science is all about discovering the weird and wonderful secrets of the universe, it should come as no surprise that, sometimes, it throws something out there so bizarre that you almost think it couldn’t possibly be true.

Whether it concerns a far flung planet in the dark void of space, a weird quirk of our own evolution, or a strange creature from the deep ocean, science has always had the ability to shock and surprise us and you can’t help but feel it hasn’t finished with us yet.

Let’s start with this ill-advised medical practice:

21. Coconut Water Can Be Given Intravenously (Injected Straight Into The Bloodstream)

Wikipedia

When a patient is severely dehydrated, they will sometimes have a saline solution injected directly into their bloodstream to replace fluids and electrolytes.

On the rare occasions that no medical saline is available, coconut water, with its composition of of sugar, sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes can be used as a short-term replacement for blood plasma in extreme circumstances. It is, however, probably more pleasant to just drink it.

20. The Photons From Stars Could Be Older Than The Human Race When They Hit Your Eye

Wikipedia

The photons, or “light particles” from stars rain down on us from space, and have literally travelled astronomical distances.

The Andromeda Galaxy, for example, is just over 2.5 million light years away and is the most distant object that can be seen with the naked eye. This means that the photons coming from it first set off when the Homo genus, from which all modern humans are descended, first emerged in the form of Homo hablis.

19. A Cubic Meter Of Neutron Star Weighs More Than All The Water In The Atlantic Ocean

NASA

Neutron stars are made when stars collapse under their own gravity and form incredibly small, dense objects, mostly made up of neutrons. They can have the mass of two of our suns packed down into a radius of just 30 kilometres.

This means that, if you somehow got some of it back to Earth (which would be tricky as the escape velocity from your average neutron star is about a third of the speed of light), then a block about the size of a washing machine would weigh approximately 400 billion tonnes. You wouldn’t have long to appreciate the effect, however, as the gravitational tidal forces would likely rip you apart.

18. The Moon Was Formed By A Planet Crashing Into Earth

Wikipedia

The Earth hasn’t always had a moon, and many astrophysicists think that we could have gained our nocturnal companion as a result of a massive collision between the Earth and another large object during the early stages of the formation of the solar system.

It’s not certain what this huge body was. Some scientists think that it could have been a planet the the size of Mars called Theia that all but vaporized both us and itself in the crash, and the debris then coalesced into our moon.

17. The Moon Is Moving Away From Us

NASA

Speaking of the moon, it used to be much closer to the Earth than it is today, and has been moving away from us at a rate of around 3.78 centimetres (1.48 inches) every year.

This is caused by the braking effect of the tidal bulge that is, in turn, caused by the moon’s gravitational pull. It is thought, however, that the moon will never truly abandon us, as the tidal forces will get weaker, the further it wanders and it may eventually end up in a geostationary orbit around the Earth.

16. Octopuses Have Three Hearts And Nine Brains

Wikipedia

Octopuses are a weird bunch, as they have three hearts, nine brains, and blue blood. Two of the hearts circulate blood to the gills, much like the pulmonary artery carries blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs in humans. The third heart deals with the rest of the body. Eight of its brains control the legs, and one acts as a nerve centre.

Bonus fact: The correct plural of “octopus” is not “octopi”, as that is derived from latin, whereas “octopus” is greek. The plural is actually generally accepted to be “octopus” in the case of several of the same species, and “octopuses” when talking about different species.

15. Squid Have Doughnut Shape Brains

Wikipedia

Not to be outdone in the bizarre bodies department, the Colossal Squid has a brain shaped like a doughnut. Why does it have a hole in the middle of its brain, you ask? Why, to allow its oesophagus to pass through it, of course.

This whacky plumbing has a major drawback as it means that is a Colossal Squid’s eyes are bigger than its belly (which, er, they probably are actually), then it risks brain damage from swallowing anything too big to fit through the hole. This necessitates the squid to rip up its food before eating.

14. Colour Blindness Was Discovered When A Man Accidentally Bought His Mother Some Bright Red Stockings

Flickr/Jamie

Back in the late 1700s, English chemist John Dalton shocked everyone when he gifted his mother with a saucy pair of bright red stockings. Dalton, and the rest of his community, were Protestant Quakers, and would only wear plain clothes in dark colours to maintain modesty.

John Dalton was convinced that the stockings were blue, as was his brother, which indicated the the condition is genetic (which it is), and more common in men (which is also true, due to the fact that they only have one X chromosome). Dalton, however, thought that the effect was caused by the fluid in his eye being tinted blue (which it wasn’t).

13. Life On Earth Used To Be Purple

Pixabay

These days, plants use chlorophyll to absorb the sun’s rays and convert it into energy, and this gives them their green colour, but some scientists think that earlier life on the planet might have had a purple hue thanks to a molecule called retinal, which absorbs green light and reflects the blue and red wavelengths, making it appear purple.

Green, chlorophyll-using organisms are thought to have emerged because it worked in the exact opposite way, absorbing the blue and red wavelengths, and reflecting the green. This might explain why, even though most of the light that comes from the light is green, plants on Earth don’t bother to absorb it.

12. Newborn Babies Don’t Cry Tears

Wikipedia

As much as we might associate babies with crying (and pooping and not much else), newborns don’t actually produce tears, even though they make crying sounds.

This is because they are born with underdeveloped tear ducts that can only produce enough fluid to keep their eyes moist and will only cry “real tears” after about 3 – 12 weeks. Weirdly, newborns will produce excess tears to remove dirt and irritants from eyes, they just won’t waste them on being upset. Perhaps this is a lesson we could all learn.

11. Female Babies Can Sometimes Menstruate

Pixabay

Sticking with just how weird babies are for a second, female newborns can sometimes experience what is known as pseudomenstruation within the first week of life.

When babies are in the womb, they are bathed in high levels of the female hormone oestrogen from the mother, but after birth these levels quickly take a dive. In adult women, the sudden drop in oestrogen during the menstrual cycle is what triggers a period, and the same happens in some babies, which can be alarming for parents who aren’t aware of the phenomenon.

10. In Just One Month We Spend More Time Playing Farmville Than Has Passed Since The Invention Of Agriculture

Zynga

In a month, 290 million people play Farmville and other Facebook games every day and, in just one month and users spend 105,878 years farming imaginary animals.

This is about ten times as long as the period of time that has passed since the very earliest estimates for the invention of agriculture or, as we sometimes call it, real farming. What’s more, real farmers don’t send you irritating invitations every 10 minutes.

9. The T. Rex Lived Closer To Humans Than Stegosaurus

Fox

Speaking of mind-boggling lengths of time – we tend think of the dinosaurs as living it up in one big Jurassic Park kinda set up, but they were actually ruling the roost for anything between 230 and 65 million years, which is a long time for different species to rise and fall. This means that the Tyrannosaurus Rex actually lived much closer in time to humans than the Stegosaurus.

Bonus: Cleopatra lived closer in time to the Moon landing than to the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. By the time she was born, it was already 2530 years old, so it would be like imagining us living cheek by jowl with Jesus of Nazareth.

8. Humans Would Be Able To Fly Like Birds On Titan

Wikipedia/NASA

Thanks to its thick atmosphere, on the Saturnian moon Titan, humans would be able to fly like birds if they strapped wings to their arms.

A paper, entitled “You can fly” was published by the University of Leicester and runs the numbers on the possibility of human flight on Saturn’s biggest moon and has found that with a wing area of 1.4 square meters and a run up of 11 meters per second, we could soar with the alien birds.

7. Scientists Have Concluded That The Chicken Came Before The Egg

Deviantart/AivisV

Science is all about answering the big questions, and finally this age old conundrum can be put to bed.

Researchers at Sheffield University have concluded that the chicken must have come before the egg, because the formation of the shell of a chicken’s egg is only possible thanks to a protein that is made in the chicken’s ovaries. So, it must have been the mutation in the chicken that can first, to produce those eggs.

6. When You Drink Alcohol, Your Gut Leaks Into Your Blood

HBO

Part of the reason you want to crawl up your own butt and disappear forever the morning after a big night, is down to all the poop floating around in your blood. Or, more specifically, the bacteria from your poop called endotoxins.

When your body metabolises alcohol, it produces a toxin called acetaldehyde which damages the lining of the gut, allowing bacteria to pass through the protective barrier. This means that your body reacts as though it is suffering from bacterial infection and swells up, causing you to feel like you’ve done a few rounds with Mike Tyson and causing damage that can last up to two months.

5. Pompeii’s Residents Had Upstairs Toilets

Pompeii

We’ll keep with the toilet humour for a second.

Considering a lot of people in 1950s Britain hadn’t figured out the joys of indoor plumbing yet, the residents of 1st Century Pompeii were living the dream, and archaeological evidence – mostly consisting of ancient poo scrapings – suggest that they not only had civilised indoor bathrooms, but they were also upstairs.

Despite the fact that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius destroyed most of the upper city’s storeys (rude) we have so far, 23 second-storey lavs used by the technologically advanced, colonically cleansed, Pompeians.

4. If You Could Fold A Piece Of Paper 42 Times, It Would Reach The Moon

Nick Ut/AP

What’s more, fold it 50 times, and it’ll get you to the sun.

The average distance to the Moon from the Earth is about 384,000 km, and your average sheet of paper is about 0.01 cm thick, so intuitively you would think that you would need thousands, if not millions of foldings to reach the moon. Folding paper, however, increases its thickness exponentially, always doubling the last value, which drastically speeds things up.

The first time you fold it, the paper only doubles its original thickness, but when you fold it a second time, it quadruples it. By the time you’re at just the sixth fold, it’s already 64 times its original thickness. By the time you get to 20 folds, its 10 kilometres high. At 41 folds, you’re more than halfway there, and so one more fold would be all it would take to double the height and reach the moon.

3. The Solar Eclipses We Get On Earth Are Unique In The Solar System

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

We get total solar eclipses like no other here on Earth, because by a staggering coincidence, the moon is about 400 times smaller than the sun in diameter, but it also happens to be about 400 times closer, making both objects appear to be the same size in the sky.

This means that, during a solar eclipse, the disk of the moon perfectly covers the disk of the sun, just leaving the shining corona poking out around the sides. Whilst other planets might experience partial eclipses, where the sun is bigger than the moon, or full eclipses where the sun is much smaller, nowhere else in the solar system will you see them line up so perfectly.

2. Da Vinci’s Random Doodles Show He Discovered The Laws Of Friction 200 Years Early

Wikipedia/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Da Vinci did a lot of scribbling, and the fact that he wrote everything in mirror writing makes it even harder to decipher, so perhaps scientists can be forgiven for missing the fact that Leonardo had discovered some important fundamental laws 200 years before the French scientist, Guillaume Amontons, who was originally credited with the discovery.

The little sketches showing an experiment with weights and pulleys is tucked away in the corner of a page of notes and was dismissed as “irrelevant scribblings” alongside a random doodle of an old woman with the caption “mortal beauty passes and does not last”.

1. We’ve Put A Worm’s Mind In A Lego Robot’s Body

As far as we can figure out, the brain is just made up of a bunch of electrical signals. The signals in the humans brain are still a little too complicated for scientists to replicate, but a worm on the other hand, that works.

The OpenWorm project has mapped the connections between 302 worm neurons and translated them into software. The software has since been uploaded into a simple Lego robot, and now it’s rolling around, thinking it’s a worm. Has science gone too far, or not far enough?

 

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