It all started with the big bang!
While this sounds completely strange, every substance has a “triple point,” the exact temperature and pressure at which the three main states of matter—gas, liquid, and solid are at equilibrium.
As the temperature and pressure fluctuate in tiny amounts around that triple point, a frozen liquid can start to boil, and a boiling liquid can freeze solid.
Animals tend to protect themselves from predators in whatever way they can. For some, like Iberian ribbed newts, that means pushing their own bones through their skin.
The newt’s abdomen contains special tubercles that allow its ribs to poke out through its skin when the newt is frightened. As an added bonus, its skin emits a toxic chemical, turning this little creature into a killer of anything.
3. Hurricanes release the energy of 10,000 nuclear bombs.
If you measure the kinetic energy of its wind velocity alone, a single mature storm can equal about half of our entire planet’s capability of producing electricity. If you measure it in terms of rainfall, though, a hurricane releases the force of 10,000 atomic bombs over an area about 413 miles wide.
There are about 1,000 different kinds of bamboo and many grow quite fast, but only a few species can reach Guinness World Record speeds. The current record is an astonishing rate of 35 inches in a day, which is nearly three feet. The more typical growth rate in temperate climates is more like 1 to 4 inches per day, which is still a lot.
5. Your tongue is made up of eight muscles.
The tongue is made up of eight muscles. While it may not be the strongest muscle in the body—a credit that would go to the heart, the jaw muscles, or even the gluteus maximus, depending on how you measure strength—that doesn’t make the tongue any less remarkable.
While you probably didn’t think those camel humps were refreshment coolers, you might have imagined that all the water that a camel drinks has to go somewhere. And it does, but it’s not in its humps. The water stays in the camel’s stomach or bloodstream.
Those humps are actually storing fat, which is the camel’s energy source when food is scarce. Since camels live in hot environments, they don’t want all that fat insulating and overheating their organs, so it’s stored in natural “knapsacks” instead.
Also known as the “Rose of Jericho” or “dinosaur plant,” Selaginella lepidophylla can survive extreme dehydration. It’s found in deserts in North and South America, and in the total absence of water, it curls up into a dead ball.
Tiny sea-dwelling creatures called phytoplankton are the ones that produce the vast majority of the oxygen in our atmosphere: 50 to 85 per cent to be exact. They live in the upper layers of water and use photosynthesis to convert sunlight into energy, creating oxygen in the process.
9. A day on Venus lasts way longer than a day on Earth.
On Earth, it only seems like a day can last longer than a whole year. Our planet rotates on its axis once every 24 hours and makes one complete revolution around the sun every 365.25 days.
On Venus, though, it rotates much more slowly. One Venusian day—i.e. one rotation on its axis—can take 243 Earth days. That’d be great on weekends, but it’d make the work week feel torturously long.
The fuzzy rock hyrax is only found in certain parts of Africa and the Middle East. Though it may look somewhat unknown, it has a pretty incredible relative: the elephant. You have to look pretty closely to see the similarities between these 10-pound creatures and a 10,000-pound elephant. But the rock hyrax does have long front teeth that are tusk-like.
The elephant and the hyrax share another relative in the manatee. We’d totally watch a family reunion among these three species.
11. Diamonds and pencils are made of the same material.
Pencils these days are made of graphite, a mineral so soft that it needs to be mixed with a bit of clay to hold its shape while you write. Remarkably, this soft, sooty mineral is made up of the same building blocks as the finest diamonds: carbon.
12. One inch of rain equals 10 to 15 inches of snow.
Similar to graphite and diamonds, water and snow are made up of the same molecules arranged differently. Water expands when frozen, and when snowflakes pile up, they trap some air between them. That means the same number of water molecules will take up more volume as snow than they will as liquid water.
The colder the weather is, the more air between snowflakes and the fluffier the snow. At 28°F, 1 inch of rainwater is equivalent to 10 inches of snow, but at 20°F, the ratio changes to 1:15.
Your DNA is pretty phenomenal in that it encodes the entire blueprint for your body using a set of only four amino acids.
And that’s not all. If you treat the outside surface of cotton fabric with concentrated genetic material, the DNA is flame retardant. It seems the molecules that makeup DNA are similar to those that make up other fireproofing substances.
Though it’s true that sound can’t travel through the vacuum of space, NASA has launched multiple probes that have travelled close by the planets in our solar systems to make recordings.
As it turns out, charged particles in the planets’ atmospheres interact to create radio waves, and NASA has translated these waves into audible sounds. Each planet has its own unique “song,” and they’re all a bit eerie. Jupiter sounds a bit like being underwater, Neptune sounds like ocean waves, and Saturn sounds like the background of a horror movie. Pretty amazing huh!!
15. Greenland sharks don’t reach puberty until they’re 150 years old.
The longest-living vertebral animal on the planet is the Greenland shark. At 21 feet long and 2,200 pounds, it’s also one of the world’s largest predators.
Greenland sharks grow very slowly: only about a centimetre a year. On top of that, they don’t reach sexual maturity until they’re 150 years old.
16. Glass is neither a liquid nor a solid.
Glass is an amorphous solid that doesn’t have the rigid structure of a genuine solid, nor is it a supercooled liquid. It’s somewhere in between the two.
When carrots were first cultivated as a food crop in 10th century Afghanistan, they were largely a rich purple colour, with a few yellow carrots among them. Eventually, carrot seeds made their way to Europe. Over time, people figured out that the yellow carrots actually tasted better than the dark purple varieties, which had a bit of a bitter flavour.
Dutch farmers went to work to breed an even tastier carrot, and by the 16th century, they had developed the bold orange carrot we know today. Evolution is tricky indeed!!
The slow loris is a small, monkey-like creature that you might recognize for its big round eyes.
They also have the distinction of being the only primate in the animal kingdom with a venomous bite. They lick a toxin-producing gland under their arm before deterring predators with their teeth.
19. Female dragonflies play dead to avoid sex.
A scientist at the University of Zurich observed that, when faced with aggressive males, female moorland hawker dragonflies freeze mid-air, fall to the ground, and lie there motionless.
It’s a practice called sexual death feigning, which is an attempt to avoid pain and sometimes even death that can result from female dragonflies being forced into mating. In addition to the dragonfly, four other species, like the spider and praying mantis, are known to practice sexual death feigning.
20. A tiger’s skin also has stripes.
Beneath a tiger’s fur, the animal’s skin is striped as well.
Just as some men have a very visible “five o’clock shadow” where their beards grow, the dark hair follicles of a tiger are easily distinguished from the light ones on its skin. Snow leopards and other big cats also have skin markings to match their fur.