12 Amazing Science Facts You Probably Didn't Know
We all had the same science classes in high school. We learned how to dissect a frog and that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, but they did not teach us everything. Whether you're feeling a bit nostalgic for your high school science class or need some new random facts for your next conversation, here are some science facts that will absolutely blow your mind.
We all know that helium in its gaseous form is lighter than air — it fills our balloons and makes our voices squeak. Did you know that it has anti-gravitational properties when it's in liquid form too? Supercooled helium has two different liquid forms.
The first kind, Helium 1, happens between -455 and -452 degrees Fahrenheit, where it is almost impossible to see. The second type happens when it gets colder than 2.18 Kelvin and that is when things get weird.
Helium supercooled below 2.18K stops obeying the laws of gravity. It turns into a superfluid that can climb up the walls and out of its container. Supercooled helium is as close to a frictionless material as we've discovered thus far.
DNA isn't the sort of substance that you normally associate with being fireproof, but researchers have found that treating cotton fabric with DNA made it more flame retardant.
This is due to the DNA itself. DNA molecules contain phosphate. When it is heated, the phosphate replaces the water that is naturally present in the cotton fibers with phosphoric acid, which is more resistant to heat than the fibers are on their own. Now, we're not suggesting treating your fabrics with genetic material, but this is a great little tidbit to drop at parties.
Not Enough Blood
The average human body contains between 1.2 and 1.5 gallons of blood. That's why you can donate a pint now and then without doing any harm to yourself. You wouldn't want a baby to donate any blood though. When a newborn enters the world, they only have .007 gallons of blood in their body, assuming the baby is eight pounds at birth. That's less than a single ounce of blood!
A Pythagorean Mess
Remember the Pythagorean Theorem? A squared plus B squared equals C squared to find the hypotenuse of a triangle. It's probably one of the few things that you remember from your algebra class because your teacher spent so much time drilling it into your head.
Instead of doing the math, you can prove the theorem with some water. All you need is a triangle, three square containers the same thickness as the triangle and a circular platform to attach them to. By filling the two sides of the triangle with water — A and B — then turning the platform over, the water in the two sides will exactly fill the container on the third side — side C.
Watch it here if you don't believe us.
We all know that cats always land on their feet but it's not just because of some crazy magic — it's because of physics.
When you drop a cat, they instinctively retract their front legs and extend their back legs. This creates a positive body rotation in the front and a negative body rotation in the back. Essentially, the cat can use both parts of its body separately to ensure that it always lands on its feet. By creating two different types of rotation, it can rotate in the air very quickly. Once the front legs are facing down, it can easily pull its back legs into the correct position to allow it to land on its feet.
Brain Freeze Tongue Twister
We've all gotten a brain freeze at one point or another — you drink a cold drink or eat an ice cream cone too quickly, and you get an instant headache. Here's a great little tidbit to drop in conversation — but it'll take you some practice to get it right.
Repeat this — Sphenopalatine Ganglioneuralgia. That is the scientific name for that headache-inducing brain freeze. If you get one, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth to reduce the pain and get back to your frozen treat that much faster.
No one likes getting bit by a spider or stung by a bee — unless you're a toxineer. The title might make you think of a 90s cartoon supervillain, but toxineering is a new type of science that is trying to turn venom from snakes, insects and arachnids into painkillers.
Thankfully, you don't have to get bit or stung to reap the benefits of these painkillers. Just pop a pill or get a shot and you're good to go. If you ever need a really exciting sounding job title for your first blind date, consider calling yourself a toxineer — just make sure you know enough about the subject to back it up.
Don't Drop Your Phone
There's nothing worse than dropping your phone in the toilet. Even if you have a waterproof case on it, it is still gross. Thanks to some scientists, you might want to drop your phone in the toilet more often. New research has now found a way to charge cell phones by peeing in a power cell that is designed to use the minerals in your urine to generate electricity.
Roughly 2.5 cups of urine are enough to charge a cell phone for three hours. Kill two birds with one stone by charging your phone in the bathroom without ever having to plug it into the wall.
Hold Your Breath
Ever wanted to explore an awesome underwater environment but felt annoyed that you have to keep coming up for air or tote around a heavy oxygen tank? Scientists have discovered an oxygen nanoparticle that allows you to live for up to 15 minutes at a time without breathing.
This isn't like injecting oxygen into your bloodstream — which is dumb and could kill you if the bubbles reach your heart or brain. These particles get suspended in liquid but carry enough oxygen that the rabbits injected with them were able to survive for up to 15 minutes with their airways blocked. It isn't a permanent solution — fresh nanoparticles have to get infused into the bloodstream at regular intervals to ensure that there is enough oxygen to keep the body running. However, holding your breath for ten minutes or more could be a neat party trick!
Dance in the Rain
We all try to eat a healthy diet and take supplements daily to make sure that we're getting all the vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy. Instead of taking that Vitamin B12 supplement, why not just dance in the rain?
Rain is the last part of the water cycle — water falls, gets absorbed into the ground where it picks up natural vitamins and minerals, then is evaporated by heat and sunlight before it becomes rain again. Scientists have found that microorganisms in the air and on surfaces such as rooftops can create Vitamin B12 as a metabolic byproduct.
It might not be enough to supplement your diet or replace your vitamin pills, but do we need an excuse to get out and dance in the rain?
Sunflowers are beautiful. Their bright yellow flowers reach five feet or more in the air, and their seeds make some of the tastiest snack foods. These beautiful plants can, and are, also being used to clean up radiation.
Sunflowers are known as hyperaccumulators in the science community. They take in high amounts of toxic chemicals or materials and store them in their tissues. These chemicals get stored in the stems and leaves of the plants. They grow so quickly that a field contaminated by radioactive material can get cleaned up in three to four years.
It might take a bit longer than traditional cleanup methods, but it is much easier to dispose of a field of sunflowers than it is to dig up and move contaminated soil.
You probably know that you can't fold a piece of paper in half more than eight times — no matter how big the paper is. Even with a piece of paper the size of an airplane hangar, the Mythbusters couldn't manage more than 11 folds with a steamroller and a forklift in their arsenal. What would happen if you did manage to fold a piece of paper more than eight or 11 times though?
When you fold a piece of paper in half, you double its thickness. The average piece of paper is about .0039 inches thick. Folding it ten times makes it roughly the thickness of your hand. If you could fold it 23 times, the thickness increases to a kilometer. 30 folds get you into orbit at 100 kilometers. 51 folds will reach the sun, and you’ll get a piece of paper larger than the observable universe with 103 folds.
Aren't you glad you can only fold a piece of paper eight times?
Blow Someone Else’s Mind
If you don't have anything to talk about at your next party, you weren't looking hard enough. Go ahead and read this piece again — we'll wait. Hopefully you've learned something new and have some interesting facts in your arsenal to wow your friends and blow their minds.