Fun Facts About Science

10 Fun Facts To Finish The Summer That You'll Be Talking About All Semester

The things you never knew you needed to know.

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Ever wonder how many teaspoons it might take to fill the Atlantic Ocean? No? Well, then maybe you'll find the other 9 interesting.

1. There is enough DNA in an average person's body to stretch from the sun to Pluto and back 17 times

The human genome, the genetic code in each human cell, contains 23 DNA molecules each containing from 500 thousand to 2.5 million nucleotide pairs. DNA molecules of this size are 1.7 to 8.5 cm long when uncoiled, or about 5 cm on average. There are about 37 trillion cells in the human body and if you'd uncoil all of the DNA encased in each cell and put them end to end, then these would sum to a total length of 2×10 meters or enough for 17 Pluto roundtrips (1.2×10 meters/Pluto roundtrip.)

2. The average human body carries 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells

It's funny how we compulsively wash our hands, spray our countertops and grimace when someone sneezes near us—in fact, we do everything we can to avoid unnecessary encounters with the germ world. The truth of the matter is that each and every one of us is a walking petri dish! All the bacteria living inside you would fill a half-gallon jug or 10 times more bacterial cells in your body than human cells, according to Carolyn Bohach, a microbiologist at the University of Idaho. Don't worry, though. Most of these bacteria are helpful; in fact, we couldn't survive without them.

For one thing, bacteria produce chemicals that help us harness energy and nutrients from our food. Germ-free rodents have to consume nearly a third more calories than normal rodents to maintain their body weight, and when the same animals were later given a dose of bacteria, their body fat levels spiked, even if they didn't eat any more than they had before. The gut bacteria are also very important to maintaining immunity.

3. It can take a photon 40,000 years to travel from the core of the sun to its surface, but only eight minutes to travel the rest of the way to Earth

Photon travels, on average, a particular distance before being briefly absorbed and released by an atom, which scatters it in a new random direction. From the core to the sun's surface (696,000 kilometers) where it can escape into space, a photon needs to make a huge number of drunken jumps. The calculation is a little tricky, but the conclusion is that a photon takes between many thousands and many millions of years to drunkenly wander to the surface of the sun. In a way, the light that reaches us today is energy produced maybe millions of years ago. Amazing!

4. At over 2000 kilometers long, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on Earth

Coral reefs consist of huge numbers of individual coral polyps—soft-bodied, invertebrate animals—linked by tissue. The Great Barrier Reef is an interlinked system of about 3000 reefs and 900 coral islands, divided by narrow passages, just beneath the surface of the Coral Sea. Spanning more than 2000 km and covering an area of some 350,000 sq km, it is the largest living structure on Earth and the only one visible from space. But this fragile coral colony is beginning to crumble, battered by the effects of climate change, pollution, and manmade disasters.

5. There are eight times as many atoms in a teaspoon of water as there are teaspoons of water in the Atlantic Ocean

A teaspoon of water (about 5 mL) contains 2×10 water molecules, but each water molecule is comprised of three atoms: two hydrogens and one oxygen. Moreover, if you'd laid down end to end each water molecule from a teaspoon, you'd end up with a length of 50 billion km, or 10 times the width of our solar system.

6. The average person walks the equivalent of five times around the world in a lifetime

The average moderately active person takes around 7,500 steps a day. If you maintain that daily average and live until 80 years of age, you'll have walked about 216,262,500 steps in your lifetime. Doing the math, the average person with the average stride genome that lives until 80 will walk a distance of around 110,000 miles. This is the equivalent of walking about 5 times around the Earth, right on the equator.

7. When Helium is cooled to almost absolute zero (-460°F or -273°C), the lowest temperature possible, it becomes a liquid with surprising properties: it flows against gravity and will start running up and over the lip of a glass container

We all know helium as a gas for blowing up balloons and making people talk like chipmunks, but what most people don't know is that it comes in two distinct liquid states, one of which is borderline creepy. When helium is just a few degrees below its boiling point of -452 degrees Fahrenheit (-269 degrees Celsius) it will suddenly be able to do things that other fluids can't, like dribble through molecule-thin cracks, climb up and over the sides of a dish, and remain motionless when its container is spun. No longer a mere liquid, the helium has become a superfluid—a liquid that flows without friction.

"If you set [down] a cup with a liquid circulating around and you come back 10 minutes later, of course, it's stopped moving," says John Beamish, an experimental physicist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Atoms in the liquid will collide with one another and slow down. "But if you did that with helium at low temperature and came back a million years later," he says, "it would still be moving."

8. If Betelgeuse would explode, transiting from the red supergiant stage to supernova, then our sky would light continuously for two months. It can happen anytime, within a couple of thousand years, tomorrow or even now

Betelgeuse lies some 430 light-years from Earth. Yet it's already one of the brightest stars in Earth's sky. The reason is that Betelgeuse is a supergiant star. Betelgeuse has a luminosity about 10,000 times that of the sun and its radius is calculated to be about 370 times that of the sun. If it were positioned at the center of our sun, its radius would extend out past the orbit of Mars. Because it's near the end of its lifetime, Betelgeuse is likely to explode into a supernova.

9. An individual blood cell takes about 60 seconds to make a complete circuit of the body

The average heart pumps about 70 mL of blood out with each beat. Also, a healthy heart beats around 70 times a minute. So, if you multiply the amount of blood that the heart can pump by the number of beats in a minute, you actually get about 4.9 liters of blood, which is almost your whole body's worth of blood. In just a minute, the hearts pumps the entire blood volume around your body.

10. You are not alone

The known universe is made up of 50,000,000,000 galaxies. There are between 100,000,000,000 and 1,000,000,000,000 stars in a normal galaxy. In the Milky Way alone, there might be as many as 100 billion Earth-like planets. And no one knows who live in those galaxies. Still, you think you're alone.


Popular Right Now

9 Reasons Crocs Are The Only Shoes You Need

Crocs have holes so your swag can breathe.
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Do you have fond childhood objects that make you nostalgic just thinking about your favorite Barbie or sequenced purse? Well for me, its my navy Crocs. Those shoes put me through elementary school. I eventually wore them out so much that I had to say goodbye. I tried Airwalks and sandals, but nothing compared. Then on my senior trip in New York City, a four story Crocs store gleamed at me from across the street and I bought another pair of Navy Blue Crocs. The rest is history. I wear them every morning to the lake for practice and then throughout the day to help air out my soaking feet. I love my Crocs so much, that I was in shock when it became apparent to me that people don't feel the same. Here are nine reasons why you should just throw out all of your other shoes and settle on Crocs.

1. They are waterproof.

These bad boys can take on the wettest of water. Nobody is sure what they are made of, though. The debate is still out there on foam vs. rubber. You can wear these bad boys any place water may or may not be: to the lake for practice or to the club where all the thirsty boys are. But honestly who cares because they're buoyant and water proof. Raise the roof.


2. Your most reliable support system

There is a reason nurses and swimming instructors alike swear by Crocs. Comfort. Croc's clogs will make you feel like your are walking on a cloud of Laffy Taffy. They are wide enough that your toes are not squished, and the rubbery material forms perfectly around your foot. Added bonus: The holes let in a nice breeze while riding around on your Razor Scooter.

3. Insane durability

Have you ever been so angry you could throw a Croc 'cause same? Have you ever had a Croc bitten while wrestling a great white shark? Me too. Have you ever had your entire foot rolled like a fruit roll up but had your Crocs still intact? Also me. All I know is that Seal Team 6 may or may not have worn these shoes to find and kill Osama Bin Laden. Just sayin'.


4. Bling, bling, bling

Jibbitz, am I right?! These are basically they're own money in the industry of comfortable footwear. From Spongebob to Christmas to your favorite fossil, Jibbitz has it all. There's nothing more swag-tastic than pimped out crocs. Lady. Killer.

5. So many options

From the classic clog to fashionable sneakers, Crocs offer so many options that are just too good to pass up on. They have fur lined boots, wedges, sandals, loafers, Maryjane's, glow in the dark, Minion themed, and best of all, CAMO! Where did your feet go?!

6. Affordable

Crocs: $30

Feeling like a boss: Priceless

7. Two words: Adventure Straps

Because you know that when you move the strap from casual mode chillin' in the front to behind the heal, it's like using a shell on Mario Cart.

8. Crocs cares

Okay, but for real, Crocs is a great company because they have donated over 3 million pairs of crocs to people in need around the world. Move over Toms, the Croc is in the house.

9. Stylish AF

The boys will be coming for you like Steve Irwin.

Who cares what the haters say, right? Wear with pride, and go forth in style.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Tribune

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.

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Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.


I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.


I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.


As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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