Whether it’s to settle a heated argument among friends or to learn about the most obscure facts on earth, Google has always been our most trusted companion. This is even more true today, what with their voice-activated AI being constantly at our disposal. Still, there are some questions that seem too silly to ask even Google? What do you do then, right? Well, not to worry, because we’ve now brought to you a list of such questions right here! So, here are ten interesting facts you’re too lazy to Google.
1. How do birds fly such long distances over the ocean?
Birds often fly long distances over oceans without any rest breaks. This has prompted scientists to try and understand how they sleep during such long flights. Turns out, many birds can shut down one hemisphere of their brain at a time and fly with the other, allowing them to travel long distances.
Frigate birds are known to fly for days together over oceans in search of food. As a result, they have always baffled scientists with their apparent lack of need to sleep. However, as it turns out, they do need sleep while in flight but maybe not as much we think.
Since ducks have been observed to sleep with one-half of their brains at a time, scientists have long suspected that frigate birds, too, could do the same. In a study published in 2016, this hypothesis was confirmed by observing the brain wave patterns of these birds.
Surprisingly, scientists also discovered that frigate birds can sleep with both halves of their brains and still maintain aerodynamic control over their bodies. Some birds were also seen briefly slipping to REM (rapid eye movement) sleep (usually associated with total muscle relaxation) and continuing to fly. This has prompted scientists to look more closely at the evolutionary traits that allow birds to fly while asleep. (1, 2)
2. Why do popcorn bags need to be microwaved “This Side Up”?
Popcorn bags often come with a sign that says “This Side Up.” The bags must be placed inside the microwave this way because their bottom sides have a metallic strip that helps the popcorn kernels cook. This metal strip, also known as the “susceptor,” absorbs the microwave radiation and generates extra heat inside the bags to pop the kernels.
If you’re a popcorn connoisseur, you’ve probably noticed that microwaveable popcorn bags come with a “This Side Up” sign. Additionally, it’s also seen that when the bags are placed upside down in the microwave, it takes longer to cook, and many kernels may just not pop.
This is because the bottom part of the bags has something called a “susceptor” that helps the kernels pop efficiently.
The susceptor is a metallic strip or sheet that is sometimes wrapped in paper and seen on the inside of the bags as a gray surface. When placed on the bottom, this strip absorbs the microwave radiation and heats up enough to cook the kernels through conduction.
With this heat, coupled with the heat of the microwaves themselves, you’re more likely to see the kernels pop uniformly. Furthermore, since they’re quite useful this way, susceptors are also found in other microwaveable food bags. (1, 2)
3. What is the difference between the shiny and dull sides of aluminum foil?
Everyone has at some point wondered if there is a “right” side to use on aluminum foil. As it turns out, there isn’t much difference between the shiny and dull sides. They only look different because the heat and tension applied to each side vary during its manufacturing.
Aluminum foil is an important part of most cooking processes. So, it’s no wonder that people across the globe have questioned why its two sides look so different.
Does it then mean that there’s a right and wrong side to be used for cooking? It turns out, which side of the foil you use does not affect how you cook your food. The only distinction between the two is that the shiny and dull sides are manufactured slightly differently.
According to the experts at Reynold’s Aluminum kitchen, this difference is caused by a process called “milling.” During this, two sheets of aluminum foil are pressed together and stretched with the use of heat and tension.
It’s done this way because they are less likely to break when milled in double layers. So, the dull side of the foil is the part that gets pressed against other sheets, and the shiny side is the one on the outside. (1, 2)
4. Why are rubber tires black when rubber is actually white?
If you’ve ever seen what natural rubber looks like, you may have noticed that it is milky white in color. However, despite being made of the same material, rubber tires are almost always black. This is because tire manufacturers add something called “carbon black” to the mixture, making tires more durable and black in color.
With the exception of some specifically colored rubber tires, most appear black in color. Yet, rubber latex sheets are almost always milky white. So where does the tire get its color? The answer is simple, it’s carbon black! Tire manufacturers today add carbon black to the rubber to make tires more durable, giving them their distinct color.
Interestingly, until about the beginning of the 20th century, rubber tires weren’t as black as they are today. It was only when manufacturers realized that mixing soot with rubber made the tires stronger that the deep-black tire was born.
With just 50% by weight of carbon black, tires improve in tensile strength by about 1,008%. Moreover, carbon black is known to create a conductive path away from the vehicle, allowing it to prevent itself from overheating during a ride. This makes the vehicle safer and the tires more durable. (1, 2)
5. Where does all the salt in the ocean come from?
Ocean water is one of the greatest sources of salt on Earth, but where does its saltiness come from? According to oceanologists, this salt primarily comes from rocks on the land or from openings in the ocean bed.
According to oceanologists, there are two primary sources for the salt in seas and oceans – run-offs from rocks on land and openings in the sea and ocean floors. When it rains on land, the water that falls is slightly acidic and capable of carrying away ions from the rocks.
This water then makes its way to the many oceans and seas around the world where the ions are either absorbed by marine organisms or allowed to remain in the water and form various salts.
The other source is the hydrothermal fluids that come from the vents in sea and ocean beds. The water in the oceans and seas may seep through these cracks and go deep underground where it gets heated by the underlying magma.