Get ready to have your mind explode with these epic science facts! Click the photos for large versions. Let’s begin, shall we?
Every day on average about 100 tons of meteoroids (mostly dust particles) strike our atmosphere. About 40 tons actually make it through and hit the Earth.
Source: Science at NASA. Photo before editing from Rhys Logan via Nat Geo.
The Oh-My-God Particle, the fastest object ever recorded accelerated to nearly the speed of light from a super nova explosion. Source: Wikipedia, hat-tip to Sci-Fact for bringing it to my attention. The Fermi Telescope video explaining where these particles come from.
Molten Sulfur burns with a blue flame. Sulfur will melt, just above water’s boiling point, at 115 C, but the temperatures in these sulfur mines do not get high enough for combustion. The fires were lit by the miner’s torches and the flame is best seen in the dark.
See more photography like this from Olivier Grunewald.
All of the water on Earth would fit into a sphere 1,385 kilometers across. The amount of freshwater is much smaller. Though 1,300 kilometers is well beyond the clouds and even beyond the Thermosphere and into the Exosphere. That is where the space shuttle and ISS orbit around the Earth, so that sphere is still pretty huge but still probably much less than what you imagined before.
Source: APOD, illustrations by Jack Cook (Earth) and Kevin Hand (Europa).
The Diving Bell Spider – Because nightmares live underwater too.
No but seriously, these spiders are friggin’ awesome! These spiders use their webs to trap air bubbles and use them to breathe underwater, kind of like gills in that the bubble will extract oxygen from the water (by diffusion) when concentrations are low. The silvery appearance comes from the bubbles surrounding the spider because of hairs that trap air. Since they rely on cutaneous respiration to breathe, the bubble layer can act like a space suit even if it is only around certain parts of the abdomen. They only need to resurface when nitrogen levels in the bubble drop, this causes the bubble to collapse, so replenishing the nitrogen prevents that. During times of winter when the lake may freeze over, they simply gather enough air to the bottom of the lake to last a few weeks.
Argyria, the condition where your skin turns blue from too much silver intake. The process that causes this is similar to developing black and white photographs. After the silver has gone through the digestive tract and lost/gained electrons it will deposit into the skin as silver sulfide. When exposed to sunlight, electrons will jump back on to the silver (from the surrounding materials in the skin), returning it back into the elemental form of silver which turns the skin blue.
Source: Wiki via Futurity
There are millions of tiny (like nano-sized) diamonds in candle flames. That beautiful rainbow you see is coming from tiny droplets of wax inside the smoke refracting light. The wax in the smoke is also what allows the candle to be re-lit just by igniting the smoke.
Source: Phys.org, Sea Moon Flickr
Tungsten has a melting point of 3422°C which is extremely hot! Carbon has a higher melting point, see this periodic table of melting points, but at atmospheric pressure liquid carbon can’t exist, instead it just sublimates from solid to gas. But liquid tungsten on the other hand can exist and lava is so cold compared to it, the lava would actually freeze the tungsten.
Via xkcd: Extreme Boating
We have taken pictures of sunspots on Betelgeuse! Of course, the star doesn’t look like the illustration here but that is the picture of the sunspots (just over-layed onto the art). The images were taken in infrared by the IOTA interferometer in Arizona and you can see how big the sunspots are compared to the star itself. When you compare that to our puny solar system you can start to understand how large the star actually is. Just one of the spots is the distance Earth is from the Sun! The full illustration of Betelgeuse by ESO shows a huge plume of gas being ejected from Betelgeuse that reaches out to the orbit of Neptune. The star is losing a lot of material and is shrouded in these plums and it is contracting and expanding as it gives its last breaths. So measuring the exact size is difficult. But one thing is for sure, it is on the verge of exploding, but “on the verge” in stellar time scales means it will go supernova sometime within the next million years or so. We have seen another star with huge sunspots as well, HD 12545.
Source: Astronomy Now
You can see your own DNA with a few simple steps. You can watch this video to let Brian Cox explain it to you, but it might get taken down from Youtube again so I’ll explain it here.
First you need to get some of your cells, a good spot is from the inside of your mouth because your cheeks slough off a good amount of cells frequently. Now break off some of those cells by swirling your tongue around and then spit into a tube or beaker. Next, add the liquid soap to break open the cells and get the DNA out. Then add a little salt to encourage molecules and proteins to clump together. Now, add the alcohol, pour it down the side and you will start to see the DNA precipitating out of the solution because it is insoluble in alcohol. It will appear as little white strands. That’s your DNA! All the information needed to make you!
Both libration and the size differences are caused by the Moons elliptical orbit. The moon seems to wobble because as it reaches the wider part of its orbit, it slows down and its rotation gets out of sync with its orbit around Earth. That is what allows us to see 59% of the Moon over the course of a month and also what causes the Moon to seem smaller/bigger at different times. If you don’t want to wait around for a month to try and see it wobble, you can check out this gif and see it for yourself.
If Earth stopped spinning all of the water would gradually move to the poles. This is because there is a bulge at the equator, so when there is no centrifugal force to bring the water to the equator, it will just settle to the next lowest point. Also if the Earth actually did suddenly stop spinning, (among other terrible disasters) everything would be thrown to the side, with more force at the equator. At the equator everything would be thrown to the side at 1,600kmh. If someone was standing at the poles (and could somehow watch the equator), they would see everything fly to the side but they would feel almost nothing.
Sources: Esri, HowStuffWorks and UniverseToday
Cats can’t taste sweets. Yep, also including most meat eaters and all felines from big to small. Because their diet has been mostly meat, the need to taste sweets just wasn’t necessary and the gene required to make part of the sweet receptor protein became ‘broken’. Those spikes, called filiform papillae, are what make cat tongues so rough and help them groom. We have them as well, they are just a lot smaller.
Source: Discover / Ed Yong
Using sound waves to levitate individual droplets of solutions containing pharmaceutical drugs and drying them in mid-air. Why do this? This is useful because most of the drugs on the market are either amorphous or crystalline and the crystalline form doesn’t get absorbed by the body completely. So levitating the solution allows the drug to be made into an amorphous state (by evaporation) because if it were to touch any surface it would simply crystallize. They call this “containerless processing”.
The frequencies used are just above the audible range at about 22 kilohertz and when the two speakers are aligned they create two sets of sound waves, perfectly interfering with each other creating a phenomenon known as a standing wave. This allows the objects to levitate in areas within the waves known as nodes as the acoustic pressure is enough to cancel the force of gravity.
Mike The Headless Chicken
This chicken, after getting its head chopped off, continued to go on living for 18 months. He lived normally as any other chicken would, pecking for food and grooming himself and ended up growing to 8 pounds. The farmer who cut off its head, Lloyd Olson, saw the chicken the next morning holding its head under its wing. He then started feeding and giving it water through an eye dropper on account of the chickens strong will to live. The food and water was dropped directly into its esophagus. Mike was able to keep moving and surviving for so long because chickens reflex actions are controlled from the brain stem and most of this was left undamaged. He didn’t bleed out on account of the ax missing the jugular vein and a clot was able to form. This chicken made it into the Guinness Book of World Records and only died because, in the middle of the night, he began to choke and Lloyd misplaced his eye dropper which prevented him from clearing the chickens esophagus. Mike even has his own website.
Yep, Woodpecker Tongues are totally bad ass. They wrap around their head and can extend out 3 times the length of their beaks using a mechanism called the Hyoid Apparatus. The tongue itself has a bony point on the end covered in backward facing barbs in order to harpoon their prey. And if they miss, the tongue is covered in sticky saliva which can also help snag any prey. They also have a listening device in their tongues, called the Herbst Corpuscle, which allows them to sense vibrations from movement.
Via Hilton Pond Center
The freakiest medical condition I can think of, Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, where your muscles, tendons and ligaments turn into bone. There was a case of this where a man had all of his body turned into bone and could only move his lips. He later died of pneumonia. Via ChaosDominium
That is right, we are on a collision course with our neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy. We are hurtling towards each other at 250,000mph, though considering the size of each galaxy and the distance between them that is basically a stand-still. In about 4 billion years however you can expect the sky to be very different as the Andromeda galaxy gets closer and eventually collides with the Milky Way. The Earth (and almost every solar system) will be fine, because there is just so much interstellar space for everything to pass right by. The interstellar gas will collide however and start new star formation, this will be noticeable in the sky as all of the new giant-balls-of-hydrogen (i.e. stars) begin to ignite. Eventually, the cores of each galaxy will merge and dominate the night sky.
See the entire process here via Science at NASA
The Carrington Event (Storm of 1859)
The biggest solar flare on record, well at least 160 years back since we started making records of them. Big enough to cause aurora as far as Hawaii and northern Australia, this solar flare would devastate modern day technology and cripple satellite communications as we have no defense for flares that large.
Via Science at NASA
All of the atoms in your body are constantly being renewed and the ones you were born with are no longer apart of you. Your atoms are probably spread all around the planet right now, especially the ones you have breathed in or out. You have most likely breathed an oxygen atom that Einstein (or any other person really) breathed while writing his famous equation. Of course those atoms would have to still be on Earth for that, so if they all got struck by cosmic rays and were blasted off into space, then you are out of luck. But hey if that is the case, then you are breathing a proton sent from across the galaxy! Though in a way, all of the atoms here were sent from across the universe, considering every element outside of Hydrogen was birthed in the core of a star at some point. Then those stars had to explode to spread their atoms elsewhere, which eventually came together in a momentary flow to create you.