The world we live in is full of wonders. Whatever random thing we lay our eyes on has some interesting story behind it. From the simple white clouds up above that we ignore every day to the most exotic-looking jellyfish from the northern oceans, there is always something wondrous to learn about. All we have to do is open our minds and stay curious. Here are some random, fun facts that we are sure you would enjoy reading about.
1. The average cumulus cloud weighs around 1.1 million pounds.
Cumulus clouds are the fluffy, cotton-like clouds with flat bases generally appearing at low altitudes of less than 2,000 meters (6,600 feet). They can be composed of ice crystals, water droplets, supercooled water droplets, or a mixture of all of them. The weight of a cloud is measured by first calculating their density. Clouds that aren’t yet precipitating into raindrops contain droplets of around five micrometers present in concentrations of 23 to 1,300 droplets per cubic centimeter (380 to 21,300 droplets per cubic inch). On a typical, nice day, a cubic meter of the cloud weights half a gram.
The next measurement is the size of the cloud. One way of doing that is measuring its shadow when the sun is directly above it. A typical cumulus cloud would be roughly cubical, one kilometer across, one kilometer long, and one kilometer tall making its volume one billion cubic meters. That would mean it contains 500 million grams of water or 1.1 million pounds.(1, 2)
2. On an average, there’s one supernova explosion every 50 years in the Milky Way alone. Within the observable universe, it’s close to 30 every single second.
Led by Roland Diehl of Max Plank Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Germany, an international team was able to calculate the average number of Milky Way stars exploding using the European Space Agency’s Integral Satellite. They did this by conducting a long-duration survey of gamma rays produced by the aluminum-26 isotope as it decays. Aluminum-26 is a rare isotope created by supernovas with a half-life of 740,000 years. Each massive-star explosion creates a quantity of the isotope equal to 0.0001 times the mass of our sun. Our galaxy currently has about 2.8 solar masses of the isotope meaning that there have been over 20,000 supernovae during the past million years.
In the observable universe, there are over a 100 billion galaxies, and on an average, each galaxy has at least one supernova in a century. According to Dr. Richard Mushotzky of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, there have been one billion supernovae per year in the last 10 billion years. The universe us 13.7 billion years old not taking into account the first 3.7 billion years during which the stars were still forming. That means there are 30 supernovae per second in the observable universe.(1, 2)
3. Redheads experience more pain and require 20% more anesthesia during a surgery.
Until a few years ago, there was only an impression among anesthesiologists that redheads require more anesthesia than others. In 2002, researchers at University of Louisville, Kentucky performed a study in which 20 women in which half of whom were redheads and the other half dark-haired. They were put under desflurane, a common gaseous anesthesia, and given an electric shock. The result was it was found that the redheads did need significantly more anesthesia than the others. Natural redheads have a distinct mutation of the melanocortin-1 receptor gene which was present in nine out of 10 of the redheaded test subjects. The researchers now associate the presence of this mutated gene with increased anesthesia requirement.(1, 2)
4. Next to the US Army, Disney is the largest buyer and importer of explosives in the USA.
One of the chief attractions at Disneyland is the elaborate fireworks almost every night. Since 1958, it conducted regularly themed fireworks shows such as Fantasy in the Sky, Believe… There’s Magic in the Stars, Halloween Screams, and many Disney fairytale-themed or movie-themed ones such as Star Wars. Not counting in the special shows during holiday seasons, Disneyland spends anywhere between $14,000 and $55,000 per night on just the fireworks which totals at least $18.25 million every year. Adding in IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth and Fantasmic, the total rises to $54.75 million a year. In 2004, Disneyland introduced a new air launch pyrotechnics system to cut down on the smoke, noise at ground level, and the negative impact on environment.(1, 2, 3)
5. The stuffing between the wafers in Kit Kats is made from crushed-up, imperfect Kit Kats.
Kit Kat is produced in over 200 flavors worldwide, many of them including ginger ale, soy sauce, sake, and melon flavored ones produced in Japan. Unlike the hard chocolate in which the Kit Kats are coated on the outside, the stuffing between the wafers has a soft and crumbly texture. This is because the quality assurance technicians reject all the imperfect wafers which have too many bubbles, those that aren’t of right shape, or even those that aren’t shiny enough. Instead of throwing these all away, these wafers are recycled back into the production process. The fine paste made from them become the filling between the wafers that do pass the quality tests.(source)
6. The first electric car was invented during the late 19th century, and it went 65 mph.
With the invention of practically viable, rechargeable, lead-acid batteries by French physicist Gaston Plante in 1859, the building of electric cars became a reality. At the 1867 World Exposition in Paris, an Austrian inventor, Franz Kravogl, exhibited an early, electric-powered two-wheeler, though it could not be driven reliably. Another French scientist, Camille Alphonse Faure, made significant improvements to the design of batteries by 1881.
In 1884, English inventor Thomas Parker who was well-known for electrifying London Underground built the first electric car using special, high-capacity, rechargeable batteries of his own design. France, United Kingdom, and Germany were the first nations to design more electric-powered vehicles. Electric trains also became popular at coal mines as they would not further deplete the already spare oxygen. On April 29, 1899, race car driver Camille Jenatzy broke the previous record speed of 62 mph (100 kmph) by reaching 65.79 mph (105.88 kmph) on the Belgian, rocket-shaped La Jamais Contente.(source)
7. It takes two years to grow a pineapple.
Pineapple plants are propagated from the plantlets called suckers that grow between leaves, or from slips or plantlets that grow at the base of the fruit, or from the top part of a mature fruit. Each method takes slightly different amounts of time and yields different results. Commercial growers often use the suckers that grow after the first fruit is produced. It takes about 12 to 20 months for the plant to start flowering and another six months more for the fruit to mature. Tops take around 24 months to produce fruit and are often used by domestic gardeners who cut them from store-bought fruit.(1, 2)
8. Plants can “hear” flowing water. Their roots seek buried pipes and even grow towards artificially produced water sounds.
One of the discoveries during the 20th century was that plants have life too and react to external stimuli such as light, heat, temperature, and touch. Researchers have recently discovered that plants also react to another stimulus: sound. Experiments conducted at the lab of Italian plant physiologist professor Stefano Mancuso who is also the co-founder of Society for Plant Signaling and Behavior found that plant roots sought buried pipes through which water was flowing even though the exterior of the pipes was dry. This suggested that plants could somehow “hear” the water flowing.
The theory was further tested by playing the sound of running water and the result was the roots grew towards the source of the sound. The reaction was not limited to the sounds of water. When chemical ecologist at University of Missouri Heidi Appel played a recording of caterpillar eating a leaf to a plant, it started producing defensive chemicals proving that plants can indeed hear sounds.(1, 2)
9. When humans first started farming, blue eye color hadn’t yet evolved.
Agriculture developed independently in at least 11 different regions of the world. Collecting and consuming wild grains began 105,000 years ago. Between 8,200 and 13,500 years ago, China started domesticating rice, soy, mung and azuki beans. Around 11,500 years ago, the cultivation of eight crops known as the Neolithic founder crops which consist of emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, barley, peas, chick peas, lentils, bitter vetch, and flax seeds started. On the other hand, though the DNA for light skin, hair, and eyes was found in human remains dating back to tens of thousands of years ago, the earliest remains of blue-eyed Homo Sapiens only date back to 7,700 years ago.(1, 2)
10. There is a species of jellyfish known as lion’s mane jellyfish which can reach over 30 meters in length. The longest specimen to date was 37 meters, longer than a blue whale.
The lion’s mane jellyfish is found mostly in the cold waters of the northern Atlantic and northern Pacific Oceans in the English Channel, Irish Sea, North Sea, and western Scandinavian waters. They are the largest known species of jellyfish. Their hood or bell grows anywhere between 50 centimeters (20 inches) to over two meters (6 feet 7 inches) in diameter. The bell has eight lobes and each lobe has between 70 to 150 tentacles. In the center near its mouth are over 1,200 tentacles equipped with stinging cells. The tentacles of larger specimens trail out as long as 30 meters (100 feet) or more. The longest known specimen had tentacles that were 37 meters (120 feet) long with a bell diameter of 2.3 meters (7 feet 6 inches) and was found washed up on the shore of Massachusetts Bay in 1870.(source)