• If a virus were about the size of a baseball, then a bacterium would be very close to the size of a pitchers mound and a human cell the size of a baseball field.
• There are more bacteria in and on your body than there are cells in your body. This is a huge number when you consider that the average adult has around 100 trillion cells. Bacteria are relatively very small and it could take as many as 50,000 bacteria to cover one square inch.
A Little About Bacteria At one time these tiny organisms were classified as animals because of their ability to move and respond to stimuli. Later they were classified as plants because of the way that they are enclosed within a cell wall. Now they are classified as monera and are generally thought to have characteristics of both animals and plants. It is interesting to note that the single celled ancestors from which both plants and animals evolved were similar in many ways to modern day bacteria. Learn more.
• There are one million, trillion atoms in one cubic centimeter of air at sea level.
• There is only one atom per cubic centimeter in the void (the vacuum) between stars.
Where Did The Matter Come From The Big Bang produced huge amounts of energy, some of which took the form of highly energetic photons of light. Many of these photons were powerful enough to transform into matter, and they took the form of protons and neutrons. These protons and neutrons naturally exhibit the tendency to link up and soon they began to form the atoms of some of our lightest elements like hydrogen and helium. This ancient process accounts for why hydrogen, and helium are the two most plentiful elements in the universe. Learn more.
• The air that surrounds a lightning bolt is superheated to a point where it is forced to expand faster than the speed of sound. We hear this compression, and the resulting shock wave, as thunder.
Where Does Our Biological Mass Originate From? We get two things from the matter that we consume, materials to build our bodies, and energy to move and breathe. The materials come mostly from the air, and from water, and the energy comes from the sun. These materials, and the energy contained inside of them are neatly packaged for us by plants. Plants use photosynthesis to unite carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water from the ground. Our consumption of plant matter, or our consumption of those animals that eat plants, allows us the building blocks to build our bodies and allows us the energy that we need to move. We are made out of the same hydrogen, carbon and oxygen atoms that plants once pulled out of the water, and out of the air. Learn more.
• Many forms of life that live under the water are able to live without photosynthesis, sunlight, or air. In fact life began on the early earth, deep under ancient oceans, without any of the three. These life forms took their energy from non-organic chemicals in their environment.
Relative Age Our Universe is about 14.5 billion years old and it is predicted that it will last indefinitely. The earth and our solar system are about 5 billion years old. Life has existed on earth for about 3.85 billion years. For the first two billion years of life on earth there were no plants or animals and life was composed strictly of single cell organisms. Modern humans have existed for merely 100,000 years. Learn more.
• Light travels at C or 186,000 miles per second. At this speed it takes light 6 hours to travel between the earth and Pluto, 8 minutes to travel between the earth and the sun, and 1.3 seconds to travel between the earth and the moon. Learn more.
Newton’s Legacy Soon after the time that Isaac Newton published his book The Principia Mathematica, many scientists of his day believed that he had fully explained the mechanics of the universe with the equations and axioms that he derived. It turns out that he laid the groundwork for classical physics, but, quite similar to the state of affairs that we find ourselves in today, he was far from explaining the physical laws that govern our universe in their entirety. Since Newton we have made tremendous strides in physics, yet now we are able to see that the puzzles that we are trying to solve are somewhat more complicated than they may have seemed in Newton’s time. Still we are finding that physical phenomenon can be understood in terms of mathematical computation. Newton was one of the first to truly show that physical systems can be represented by equations and laws, and so, his legacy lives on. Learn more.
• A sea squirt found in Japanese seas reaches maturity then permanently attaches itself to a rock. It then proceeds to eat its own brain. It does this because it will no longer use its brain and also it proves to be a good source of nutrients and energy.
• Two women that are very close for a number of months may begin to see that their periods synchronize. Chemical messengers that are excreted by the skin, called pheromones, are responsible for the synchronization.
Where did Bugs Come From? Insects (just like all earth based life forms) evolved from ancestors that, at one time, were only able to live under water. Insects did not make the move to land with our ancestors (amphibians) though. Insects are actually the decedents of certain arthropods like crabs, lobsters and shrimp. The similarities between insects and arthropods are apparent in their body shape, eyes, antennae, legs and exoskeletons. Unlike some of their relatives that they left behind, insects adapted to life on dry land. In much the same way, our ancestors (monkeys) would have a very difficult time surviving without the benefits that they gain from living in or amongst trees. Usually a wide variety of significant adaptations are necessary to alter a species’ preferred or necessitated habitat. Learn more.
• Evolutionary biologists estimate that cockroaches have not changed or evolved in any obvious ways for about 250,000,000 years
• An oyster is capable of changing its sex a number of times during its lifetime.
Symmetrical Animals Some animals like jellyfish and ctenophores exhibit radial symmetry. This means that they are arranged circularly, with an easily identifiable bottom and a top, but no true sides. Humans and most animals that you can think of are bilaterally symmetrical. This means that they have a bottom and a top, along with two sides that are nearly identical. Most bilaterally arranged animals show signs of cephalization, or a concentration of sensory and nervous structures within the head. Radially symmetrical animals don't seem to show this trait and therefore have more simplistic nervous systems (minds).
• The turtle’s shell evolved as its ribs and spine fused.
• A rhino’s horn evolved as hairs on its snout became more and more compacted.
Galactic Collision In about 5 billion years the Milky Way galaxy will collide with the Andromeda galaxy, currently our nearest, largest neighboring galaxy. The two galaxies are about 2 million light years apart and are on a collision course. The collision won’t really look like two disks hitting one another. Instead they willpass through each other and then start swirling together and merging because of their considerable gravities.
• Some male monkeys lose the hair on their heads in the same way men do.
• Relative to their weight and size, birds are much stronger than people.
Einstein’s Energy Mass Equivalency Every second the earth is struck by energy in the form of sunlight that is equivalent to about 4.5 pounds of matter (according to special relativity). Relativity shows us that E=MC². This means that a great deal of energy can be transformed into a small amount of mass, and conversely a small amount of mass can be transformed into a large amount of energy (an example of the latter is an atom bomb). This is why we can measure light in pounds just as we can measure height in miles. Learn more.
The Importance of the Immune System To understand exactly what our immune systems do for us first consider a dead animal. Once an animal is dead, the many electrical and chemical based systems within its body shut down, including the immune system. Once the immune system is inactive the body is no longer able stop bacteria, and other microorganisms from invading and consuming the body. A freshly dead corpse can be thoroughly permeated in a matter of hours, and it can take as little as a few weeks before the microorganisms have devoured all of the flesh, leaving behind only a skeleton. The immune system performs a pretty amazing and complex job, and it is always at work.
• 15 million blood cells are produced and destroyed within the human body every second.
Audible Vibrations For an object (such as a fork, a speaker, or our vocal cords) to make a sound it must move the air that surrounds it very quickly. Anything that vibrates creates areas of low and high density, in the air. These density fluctuations (sound waves) travel at the speed of sound, 340 m/s. If an object vibrates back and forth 20 times per second, it will be audible to the human ear, and will sound like a low pitched hum. The faster it vibrates the higher the pitch; the “bigger” the object, the louder the noise. Humans can hear anything between 20 and 20,000 vibrations per second (also know as hertz or Hz.). The range of the human voice is between 80 and 300 hertz.
• Many animals can become alcoholics and drug abusers if such substances are readily available to them.
The Epiglottis The epiglottis is a small flap of cartilage that closes off the entrance to the lungs, when food or drink is detected by the lower throat. This rather small structure keeps air from entering the digestive tract (the stomach) and it also keeps food and liquids from entering the respiratory tract (the lungs).
• Gorillas beat their chests when they become nervous or anxious.
Birdsong A bird will not learn its species song, unless it hears it at an early age. Male birds do most of the singing, and they do so mainly for sexual and territorial reasons. Females often select those males who sing the most because their singing is indicative of food storage and other resources. Male birds that have stockpiled more food (or have a territory rich in food sources), have to hunt less and therefore they can sing more. Many species of birds show tendencies toward devoted relationships and they happen to be one of the few types of animals, and life forms for that matter that consistently practice monogamy.
Knuckle Cracking The sound that is made when you crack your knuckles is actually made by a burst of gas within your joint. A think, clear lubricant called synovial fluid is found within the joints between your bones. When you stretch a joint this fluid becomes pressurized and a gas within the fluid comes out of solution and expands very rapidly. This process is called cavitation, and it is what makes the cracking sound. After a knuckle has been cracked it can take up to one half hour for the gas to dissolve into the joint fluid, but once it has, it is able to be “cracked” again. Joint cracking is habit forming, partly because the cracking is usually accompanied by a release of endorphins. Because endorphins are natural chemicals that make you feel good, cracking is a hard habit to break.
• The barbiturate known as sodium pentothal is also known as the “truth serum.” This sedative does not force people to tell the truth, rather it lowers one’s inhibitions on a neural level and usually results in making people much more talkative.
Finally Cooled Off Because of the gravitational forces inherent in matter, matter tends to clump together. Around 4.5 billion years ago this tendency led to the formation of our earth. It was a small piece of a giant ball of gas and dust- our sun’s solar nebula. For the first billion years on the earth, know as the Hadean Period, the earth featured some pretty harsh environmental conditions. The seeming ubiquity of volcanoes from the ground and asteroids from the sky left the surface of the earth too hot and too violent for the formation of life. After a long while the earth, the sun and the rest of the planets swept up most of the floating debris in the solar system (by the process of planetessimal accretion) and the earth’s core cooled. This allowed the formation of both oceans and an atmosphere, and these were the key ingredients for the development of life. Click here to read more about the early earth.
• Things that are more massive have a stronger gravitational pull. A person weighing 150 pounds on the earth would weigh 2 tons on the sun.
Life is Resourceful Life is amazingly resourceful, and it permeates the surface of our planet. Forms of life can be found in the driest deserts, the coldest glaciers, the tallest mountains, and the deepest parts of the ocean.
• Less than 10% of U.S. criminals commit around 67% of all domestic crimes. In societies of apes, there are usually only a few repeat offenders, and these are often ostracized.
Mind Mass The animal brain is made up of specialized cells called neurons. These neurons send chemical and electrical information to one another at junction points where they connect, these points are called synapses. A single neuron can connect with thousands of other neurons. The human brain, more specifically the cortex, contains about 30 billion of these neurons. Chimps and gorillas have between seven and eight billion neurons in their cortices. A rat has around 65 million neurons. The number of neurons does correspond to intelligence, but it also corresponds to body mass. This is because bigger animals require bigger brains in order to manage their musculature.
• A person locked in an airtight room will die of carbon dioxide poisoning before they die of oxygen deprivation.
• The ashes of an average cremated person weigh around 10 pounds.
• Fossil evidence and skull size indicates that the Neanderthal brain was significantly bigger than the human brain.
Like the Heat? Certain archaea, very primitive forms of cellular life, can grow at temperatures that exceed 105 degrees Celsius. Life forms that are able to live and grow at such high temperatures are called thermophiles. They have special adaptations that allow them to perform the processes necessary for living matter, at very high temperatures. These adaptations can be foundational and certain thermophiles are able to regulate their bodies (eg. synthesize proteins) in radical and resourceful ways.
• Elephants and certain species of shrews necessitate only 2 hours of sleep per night.
• Ants do not sleep but they have the largest brain to body ratio of any animal.
• Hummingbirds cannot walk.
Our Earliest Ancestors Based on what we know about organic chemicals and the early earth environment we can make many predictions about what the first life forms were like. Life probably formed near the bottom of the oceans near volcanic, hydrothermal vents. These organisms most probably could not have tolerated oxygen (they had an anaerobic metabolism), they would have necessitated very high temperatures (they were hyperthermophilic) and highly salty environments (they were halophilic). They used C02; just as we (indirectly) do, to build their bodies… and they would have metabolized available chemicals, just as we do, to get their energy. These creatures might not seem very interesting at first, but once you recall that they are our direct ancestors the similarities, and differences can seem fascinating. Click here to read more about the earth's early replicators.
• Hydrogen burns invisibly during combustion. If you light a balloon of hydrogen it will explode but the explosion will only produce light in the UV spectrum, not in the range of visible light.
• The sun burns hydrogen and causes it to produce a vast amount of visible light. The sun does not burn hydrogen by combustion though. It uses fusion, a type of burning that takes place under tremendous pressures.
Viruses are not Alive, But They Are Pretty Close Viruses are considered by biologists to be nonliving entities even though they have many characteristics of living entities. They do have either DNA or RNA, they are parasites on living organisms and they are able to “reproduce.” Viruses do not have metabolisms and therefore have no source of energy. Because they have no energy source, they cannot move by themselves. Without an ability to move they only have one option, one way to reproduce… Their pointed bodies enable them to penetrate the membrane of living cells. They are able to interact with the host cell in a way that forces the host to use its resources to produce many replicates of the virus. Even though they are not “alive” they have a viable method of replication analogous to our own.
• A cockroach can live up to nine days without its head before it dies of starvation.
• Starfish do not have brains.
Lungfish The African lungfish can live out of water for up to four years. It is a strange looking fish that buries itself in mud, when the water that it previously lived in dries up. It hibernates there in a film of mud, mucous and other secretions, breathing through its two lungs, awaiting rainfall.
• The longest living cells in the body are brain cells, neurons, which can last an entire lifetime.
The Rate of Time is Variable Einstein’s theory of relativity correctly predicted that time would move more slowly in areas that experienced more gravitational force. You will experience time more slowly than your friend who chose the top bed in the bunk bed because you are closer than they are to the center of the earth. However; the difference would be so small that it could not be perceived or measured by modern means. Near a super-massive black hole though time slows down considerably. In fact, in the center of a black hole time is completely stopped. Click here to read more about general relativity.
• Einstein’s relativity predicts that if one object moves faster than another object, then time will pass more slowly for the faster object. If someone were able to travel near the speed of light, time would slow down for them considerably, and if they reached the speed of light, time would stop altogether. So why does light not freeze you ask… well the answer is that it has no mass. Click here to read more about special relativity.
• Crickets hear through their knees.
House Cats The majority of house cats can run slightly more than 30 miles per hour. House cats spend about 70 percent of their day sleeping and 15 percent of their day grooming. Cats were brought to North America by colonists to protect their granaries. As settlers moved west, some of these same cats went along in covered wagons. Cats were domesticated house pets more than 4,000 years ago, although at that time they had not been bred by humans, and thus many looked somewhat different than the ones we see today.
Escape Velocity In order to escape the gravitational pull of the earth you must be traveling sufficiently fast. If you could leave the earth at 25,000 miles per hour (7miles per second) you could escape the Earth’s gravity without applying any additional force. This is not what space shuttles do; they continually apply the same force over several minutes to exit the atmosphere. The escape velocity for more massive bodies is higher than that for earth. The escape velocity for a black hole is higher than the speed of light; this is why they do not shine at all- because no light can escape from them. Black holes cannot be detected by optical telescopes, or our own eyes. We actually infer their existence from the gravitational effects that they have on other celestial objects. Click here to read more about gravity.
• A type of bumble bee bat that lives in Thailand weighs less than a single penny.
Chemicals Modern researchers have been able to create amino acids in laboratories by mixing a few basic chemicals and exposing them to certain processes that attempt to mimic the conditions of the primordial earth. Amino acids are complex molecular structures that are precursors to the proteins that cells are composed of. Learn more.
• 250 million years ago the continent of Antarctica was covered in dense, lush jungles. At this time all of the continents on earth were conjoined to form Pangaea.
Honeybee Navigation Honeybees use the sun as a point of reference to help them navigate and find their way around. Even when the sun is hidden behind cloud cover, bees can estimate its place in the sky by referencing the orientation of the polarization of ultraviolet light from small patches of blue sky.
• Out of 20,000 species of bees, only four make honey.
• Mice, whales, elephants, giraffes, and humans all have seven neck vertebrae. Mammals share a vast number of physical traits and this is because we all came from the same ancestor.
Terminal Velocity and Non Lethal Raindrops In the airless vacuum of outer space, an object that has a force continually applied on it will continue to go faster and faster unless obstructed. Within a gas, or in the earth’s atmosphere, it will stop accelerating due to air friction. The heavier the object, the longer it takes for it to reach its terminal velocity. A person will reach their terminal velocity at about 130 miles per hour. Luckily the terminal velocity for raindrops is only 20 miles per hour because if they were not stopped by the “viscous drag” or air resistance they would continue accelerating and would be lethal to us on the ground. Learn more.
• Mercury is the only metal that is a liquid at room temperature (at 1 atmosphere).
• Air is less dense in hot weather and in higher altitudes. A wind in the winter can exert 25% more force than a wind of identical speed in the summer.
A Cosmic Year Just as the earth orbits around the sun, the sun orbits around the Milky Way galaxy. It takes about 225 million earth years for the sun to make one complete revolution. The sun is estimated to be about 5 billion years old and this equates to between 20 and 21 cosmic years.
• A monkey is the only animal besides a human that is able to recognize itself in a mirror.
• Humans are the only animals that sleep on their backs
The Coldest Cold Matter can get no colder than -273 degrees Celsius, or 0 degrees Kelvin. At this temperature, which has been dubbed “absolute zero”, all of the atoms and molecules within an object are motionless. Scientists have been able to reach this temperature (actually within a very small fraction of it) in laboratory experimentation. Because our universe is gradually cooling and expanding, all of the matter within it is approaching this temperature (very slowly of course).
• Each worker bee only produces 1/12 of a teaspoon (4.17 ml.) of honey in its entire lifetime.
• The highest temperature ever recorded in a laboratory was 920,000,000 degrees F at the Tokamak Fusion Reactor in Princeton New Jersey.
Color Blindness A few species of animals are able to see the full spectrum of colors that humans can, these include many monkeys, apes, birds and fish. The majority of animals see their world in shades of gray.
• Humans have around 100,000 hairs on their head; sea otters have more than this in one square centimeter of their pelt.
Aurora Borealis An aurora is a large glowing region of the atmosphere that is caused by particles traveling along the earth’s magnetic field. These high energy particles are emitted by the sun in large amounts through what is called the solar wind. The particles are channeled towards the North and South poles by the earth’s magnetic field. When these particles pass through the atmosphere, they glow and in large numbers they may glow in a way that is visible from the earth’s surface.
Boredom in Parrots Boredom can lead to insanity in parrots. When caged alone and neglected for long periods, these very sociable and intelligent birds can easily become mentally ill. Many develop certain tics, inflict wounds upon themselves and rip out their own feathers.
• South of Japan in the Pacific Ocean, the sea floor at the Mariana Trench has been recorded to be as deep as 36,198 feet (or 6.9 miles).
• The diameter of the earth is 7,921 miles. The distance to our moon is 238,774 miles. The distance to our sun is one AU, or 93,150,000 miles. The distance to the nearest star is 4.3 light years. One light year is equal to 5.9 trillion miles.
The Fossil Record Scientists use something called the fossil record to keep track of what we know about ancient animals. This “record” contains details about the findings of paleontologists, especially about the preserved evidence of animal remains. We have used the fossil record to trace the evolutionary history of certain extant and extinct animals. We use geologic markers and radiocarbon dating to find out what time periods certain fossils came from. Scientists look to the fossil record to help us answer a large variety of questions involving the origins, and history of biological life.
• There are three golf balls sitting on the surface of the moon.
The First Reflexes Most healthy babies are born with many reflexes at birth. These include breathing, choking, coughing and crying. Another reflex called moro is marked by the ability to extend the arms when a newborn feels a loss of support. Palmar is a reflex that most newborns exhibit and it is marked by hand grasping. Rooting is yet another reflex that happens when an infant turns toward an object, brushes its cheek past it, and begins to suck.
• There is only one known animal that has a single eye, the tiny sea crustaceans known as copepods.
What a Mirage is When layers of air of differing densities (temperatures) are placed on top of one another they can act like a lens, effectively bending light. When the air just above a hot object is very warm (like the air above an asphalt road) it can reflect and bend light at a variety of angles. Often such heat will reflect the light from the sky in a tumultuous way, making it appear as if there is shimmering water on the ground below it.
• Escaping the grip of a crocodile’s strong jaws is very difficult. If you know to press your thumbs into each of its two eye balls, it will release its grip instantly.
Microbes Involved in Food Preparation Did you know that humans use tiny, mostly one celled organisms, to help them develop certain foods. Yeast cells, which are a type of fungi, are vitally important in the production of bread, cheese, beer, wine and soy sauce. Bacteria are used to prepare vinegar, sauerkraut and a few types of vitamins as well. Certain types of bacteria are purposely added to some types of food (especially canned food) because they consume other toxic microbes protecting the public from botulism and many other types of deadly diseases.
• The average person will experience around 2 billion heartbeats in their lifetime.
The Crack of a Whip When a whip cracks, the end piece is actually traveling faster than the speed of sound. The noise that is created is in fact a small sonic boom.
The Cosmological Principle This principle states that any observer in any galaxy will report seeing the same general features pertaining to the universe that any other observer will. This is based on three assumptions: Homogeneity, the assumption that matter is uniformly distributed throughout space. Isotropy, the assumption that the universe looks similar no matter what direction one looks. Universality, the assumption that the laws of the universe are the same in every part of the universe.
• Butterflies taste with their feet instead of their mouths.
Science – Unpopular? Neo Darwinism, a variation on the evolutionary theories proposed by Charles Darwin, is accepted by the modern scientific community to be more or less indisputable. However, according to an accepted interpretation of a 1999 Gallup poll, less than 10% of Americans believe in the naturalistic theory of evolution, i.e. neo Darwinism. About 40% believe in some form of god guided evolution and 45% reject evolution altogether (i.e. creationism).
• It is estimated that our Milky Way galaxy contains somewhere near 400 billion stars. We are located a little less than half way from the center on a long spiral arm of stars.
• It is estimated that the average adult body probably has around 100 trillion cells. "We" are located somewhere among the 100 billion neurons in our brain.
• Armadillos are the only animal besides humans that can contract leprosy.
Einstein Wrong? It seems to most modern physicists that Einstein was wrong when he attempted to denounce some of the tenants of quantum theory (mostly pertaining to the randomness found in subatomic particles) when he said “God does not play dice with the universe.” His stand on the issue represents one of the two stands that physicists and philosophers take. We still do not know how classical physics (the study of large, visible objects) interrelates with quantum physics (the study of the extremely small). If we can understand the inconsistencies that keep popping up between these two paradigms we should be able to answer certain questions regarding fate, determinism and free will definitively Learn more.
• The unifying theme in biology explains that all of the organisms on the face of the earth are related to one another through common ancestry.
• Bacteria live among most of the cells in our bodies and are actually present within the digestive tracts of all animals. Without their presence we would die because we would not be able to extract energy from the food that we eat.
• Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is a flattened spiral galaxy that is around 70,000 to 100,000 light years across. Meaning that even if we could travel at the speed of light, it would take over 70,000 years to get from one end to the other.
Nitroglycerine to Dynamite In 1846 nitroglycerine was invented by Ascanio Sobrero and was a highly potent explosive. It was used for many commercial and government projects, namely the Central Pacific Railroad where it caused many terrible accidents. Nitroglycerine explosions travel at 17,000 miles per hour and are incredibly violent. It was not until 1867 that Albert Nobel devised a way of mixing nitroglycerine with silica, creating dynamite, a less volatile and easier to ship form of the explosive substance. He slapped fuses on them, wrapped them in heat resistant paper and sold them as dynamite. This was the same Albert Nobel that gave up on chemistry to found the eponymous Nobel Prizes.
• After a full meal of blood a leech can live up to six months without consuming any other foods.
Coffee Solutions A cup of coffee that is filled to the brim will not overflow even if several tablespoons of sugar are slowly added. Because of the way that sugar forms a solution with water, adding sugar increases the mass of the liquid inside the cup, but not the volume. Dissolved salt makes up about 3.5 % of the oceans mass.
• Every cubic mile of seawater contains more than 150 million tons of minerals.
Is the Universe Smooth or Grainy? Plank scale physicists attempt to study very small portions of space and time. They study energetic activity at scales that are smaller than the scales studied by most quantum physicists. One of the biggest questions that Plank scale physics considers, asks weather space and time can be divided into ever smaller units. It seems that one could keep dividing a second, or a meter in half forever, but this may not be so. The current consensus (which is far from definite) among physicists claims that neither space nor time are continuous, and are in fact composed of indivisible portions. To find an answer scientists are looking to many different phenomena: the echo from the big bang, the movement of particles within particle accelerators, and certain qualities of the light coming to us from distant galaxies.
• Most varieties of snake can go an entire year without eating a single morsel of food.
An Interesting Trend that Began on the Early Earth The conditions on our early earth, about 3.5 billion years ago, allowed a chemical process to occur that is extremely rare in our observable universe. Certain microscopic chemicals were able to form under the earths oceans that had the ability to replicate. These complex molecules could easily be torn apart by the violent environment. Also just like all complex chemicals they tended to disintegrate after short periods of time. So the molecules that were able to replicate before they were destroyed began to grow in number. These chemicals changed with the conditions of the earth, they also varied and changed within their immediate environments. After a while these complex molecules began to compete with one another for resources, this competition along with harsh environmental conditions allowed for the selection of only the most well formed chemical combinations. This long but successful process of natural selection created a vast number of chemical combinations including us.
• Most tropical fish could survive in a tank filled with human blood.
Mayfly Lifespan Mayflies actually live for up to three years as nymphs. In this larval stage it lives under water, breathes through gills located on its abdomen and eats in order to grow larger. After the nymph stage, the mayfly becomes an imago; it surfaces and sheds its skin to reveal wings, and a dull body. About a day later the mayfly assumes its adult form and it sheds once more revealing a small, shiny body. After attaining is adult form, the mayfly will never eat again, in fact it no longer has a functioning mouth. An adult mayfly lasts for only a few hours, but its life is not in vain if it makes it to the mating swarm. Here it mates with a mayfly of the opposite sex. The males die shortly before the eggs are laid and the female dies shortly after.
• Rats that were given a chance to sober up after learning to run a maze while intoxicated have trouble remembering how to complete the maze. After a couple more drinks though they can find their way to the cheese with no difficulty. To learn more about state dependent learning click here.
• There are more bacteria in your mouth than there are people on the earth.
Mosquito Feeding Mosquitoes are drawn to animals that consume above average amounts of sugar, they are also attracted to those animals that are more active that others. They are able to detect blood sugar levels (which increase with sugar consumption) and lactic acid levels (which increase with muscle activity) and mosquitoes are actually somewhat picky eaters. When a mosquito bites, it injects its saliva into the opening; this saliva keeps the opening from bleeding. The skin becomes inflamed as a reaction to the saliva. This creates an area that is raised, and filled with blood- this lump is an attempt by the immune system to break down the foreign chemicals within the saliva.
• The male mosquito is a strict vegetarian. It will never bite another animal and it never sucks blood. It lives on nectar and fruits.
• Bacteria can reproduce sexually.
• The bite of a leech is painless because it provides its own anesthetic.
Particle Antiparticle Duality The earth and the majority of the matter that we observe in our universe is normal matter. However, for every particle of matter in the universe there exists somewhere an antiparticle. Particles and their antiparticles are identical except for the fact that they have opposite electric and nuclear charges. Physicists have been able to observe anti particles in the laboratory. One interesting characteristic of particles and antiparticles is: when they meet, they undergo an immediate process called annihilation, where they explode and release energy in different forms.
• The bones of a pigeon weigh less than its feathers.
A Red Giant In about 5 billion years our sun will exhaust its hydrogen supply and begins to burn helium. Helium burning will cause the sun to expand greatly. Because of the pressure and radiation differences inherent in burning helium the sun will become a red giant and will completely engulf the earth and reach out toward Jupiter.
• The hooves on horses, goats, sheep and pigs evolved as their toes fused together.
Alcohol Feels Hot Allowing alcohol to come into contact with skin or other tissues can feel painful, or hot, this is because alcohol lowers the VR1 threshold. VR1 receptors are special cells in the skin that allow us to detect heat. These receptor cells respond to alcohol in the same way that they respond to heat, they release certain neurochemicals in order to pass the message on to the nervous system, and to our brain. Alcohol feels harsh and hot to the throat, to the skin, and especially to open cuts.
• There are 206 bones in the adult human body yet 300 in a child’s body, this is because as we mature, some bones actually fuse together.
Alcohol Kills Bacteria Alcohol kills bacteria, viruses and other microbes. It actually kills 99.99% of the bacteria on a normal surface within 15 seconds. Using it on the skin can help if a dirty object has punctured or lacerated the skin. It is usually best to use alcohol before a cut, or incision in made because if applied afterwards the alcohol actually kills the cells that are trying to heal, inviting future infection. Learn more about the effects of alcohol on our brain cells.
• The most dangerous animal in the world may be the common house fly. Because of their ability to absorb nutrients from animal waste they pick up and then transmit more deadly diseases than any other animal.
• The longest cells in the body are motor neurons. Although very thin, they can extend up to 4 and a half feet- from the spine to the big toe.
• Fingernails and toenails take about 6 months to grow from base to tip.
• By age 70 your heart will have beat around 2.5 billion times.
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