15 Little-Known Science Facts That Will Blow Your Mind
1. What a Scent
A dog’s sense of smell is a whopping 10,000 times more sensitive than a human’s. This is because a dog possesses up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in us. And the part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is, proportionally speaking, 40 times greater than ours. On top of all this, dogs have a second olfactory capability that we don’t have, made possible by an organ we don’t possess: the vomeronasal organ. This picks up pheromones, the chemicals unique to each animal species that advertise mating readiness and other sex-related details.
2. Just a Dot
Imagine this: if our Sun was the size of a beach ball, Jupiter would be as small as a golf ball and Earth would be as tiny as a pea. Our sun is so large that about 1,300,000 planet Earths can fit inside of it. On the other hand, over 1,300 Earths could fit inside Jupiter.
3. So Splenda!
Sucralose is a zero-calorie artificial sweetener, and Splenda is the most common sucralose-based product. Interestingly, Splenda was discovered in 1976 when a scientist misheard his coworker saying “Test this chemical.” He thought he said, “Taste this chemical.” So the scientist tasted the substance and found how sweet it was.
4. Bloody Amazing
If you took all the blood vessels out of an average child and laid them out in one line, the line would stretch over 60,000 miles. An adult’s would be closer to 100,000 miles long. Laid end to end, they would circle Earth 2.5 times!
5. That’s a Heavy Cloud
Clouds float so effortlessly on the sky. However, according to scientists, an average-size cumulus cloud weighs approximately 1.1 million pounds! That’s almost the same as 100 elephants. Just think about it. A million pound of water floating above your head every time you head out.
6. A Galaxy Far Far Away
Andromeda is the nearest galaxy to us. However, it would take an object from Earth traveling in the speed of light 2 million years to reach it. That also means that if you view it from a telescope, you’re seeing it as it was 2.5 million years ago.
7. Bottoms Up
Astronauts in space cannot belch, because there’s no gravity to separate liquid from gas in the stomach. That means burping in space causes them to throw up as burping could expel more than just gas.
8. What’s That Smell
Outer space actually has its own distinct scent, and it’s a smelly universe that we live in. While we can’t smell anything in outer space because, as we mentioned, anyone attempting to do so would almost instantly die, what we can smell are the things that have come back from space. The lingering scent smells like a combination of charred meat, hot metal, and fuel. Scientists believe that it could come from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are high-powered particles released into space during the nuclear reactions that power stars and supernovae.
9. Earth’s Overspeeding
The Earth spins at 1,000 mph and travels through space at 67,000 mph. The day-night has carried you around in a constant circle under the stars every day of your life, and yet you don’t feel Earth spinning. Why not? It’s because you and everything else, including Earth’s oceans and atmosphere, are spinning along with the Earth at the same constant speed. But you’d definitely feel the speed of the spin if Earth hits the breaks abruptly.
10. Killer Platypus
Platypuses look adorable and cuddly and all, but male ones have a poison apparatus on their hind legs. There are poison glands in the thighs and a hollow spur near the heel. The sting is not dangerous to humans, but is extremely painful and causes rapid swelling in the stung area. Many archaic mammal groups possess similar tarsal spurs, so it is thought that, rather than having developed this characteristic uniquely, the platypus simply inherited this character from its ancestors.
11. New Day, New Discoveries
Thousands of new animals are still being discovered every single day. By “discovered,” we mean “given a formal scientific name and description.” In addition to direct field work, there are literally millions of unnamed specimens (mostly insects and marine invertebrates, plus a large number of small fish) in bottles and drawers in research institutions and museums of natural history around the world. From those sources, the number of new animal species being “discovered” is about 1–2 new species described per day.
12. Diamonds from Tequila?
In 2008, a team of Mexican scientists have found a way to turn tequila into diamonds! The scientists noted that tequila with 40 percent alcohol had the ideal proportion of ethanol to water to create diamond films. In order to make the diamonds, they evaporated the tequila into a vapor and then heated the vapor above 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit before depositing it on silicon or stainless steel trays. The resulting diamond films were between 100 to 400 nm in diameter and free of impurities.
13. Beautiful Mind
The unconscious processing abilities of the human brain are estimated at roughly 11 million pieces of information per second. Compare that to the estimate for conscious processing: about 40 pieces per second. There are approximately 100 billion cells in the brain, each with connections to thousands of other brain cells. Equipped with this many processors, the brain might be capable of executing as many as 100 billion operations per second.
Koalas sleep between 18 and 22 hours. Sleeping this much longer is very unusual for an herbivore and marsupial. They sleep a lot to conserve energy as their diet requires a lot of energy to digest. The eucalyptus leaves they eat contain toxins and are very low in nutrition and high in fibrous matter, so they take a large amount of energy to digest. Sleeping for long periods is a strategy for conserving energy.
Plica semilunaris is the pink thing in the corner of your eye. It is an evolutionary leftover from when we had an inner eyelid. It functions during movement of the eye, to help maintain tear drainage via the lacrimal lake, and to permit greater rotation of the globe. Without it, the conjunctiva would attach directly to the eyeball and restrict movement. It is a remnant of the nictitating membrane (the “third eyelid”), which is drawn across the eye for protection, and is present in other animals such as birds, reptiles, and fish. Only one species of primate, the Calabar angwantibo, is known to have a functioning nictitating membrane.