10 Things You Don’t Know About Albert Einstein
Most people know that Albert Einstein was a famous scientist who came up with the formula E=mc2. But do you know these ten things about this genius?
10. Loved to Sail
When Einstein attended college at the Polytechnic Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, he fell in love with sailing. He would often take a boat out onto a lake, pull out a notebook, relax, and think. Even though Einstein never learned to swim, he kept sailing as a hobby throughout his life.
9. Einstein’s Brain
When Einstein died in 1955, his body was cremated and his ashes scattered, as was his wish. However, before his body was cremated, pathologist Thomas Harvey at Princeton Hospital conducted an autopsy in which he removed Einstein’s brain. Rather than putting the brain back in the body, Harvey decided to keep it, ostensibly for study. Harvey did not have permission to keep Einstein’s brain, but days later, he convinced Einstein’s son that it would help science. Shortly thereafter, Harvey was fired from his position at Princeton because he refused to give up Einstein’s brain.
For the next four decades, Harvey kept Einstein’s chopped-up brain (Harvey had it cut into over 200 pieces) in two mason jars with him as he moved around the country. Every once in a while, Harvey would slice off a piece and send it to a researcher. Finally, in 1998, Harvey returned Einstein’s brain to the pathologist at Princeton Hospital.
8. Einstein and the Violin
Einstein’s mother, Pauline, was an accomplished pianist and wanted her son to love music too, so she started him on violin lessons when he was six years old. Unfortunately, at first, Einstein hated playing the violin. He would much rather build houses of cards, which he was really good at (he once built one 14 stories high!), or do just about anything else. When Einstein was 13-years old, he suddenly changed his mind about the violin when he heard the music of Mozart. With a new passion for playing, Einstein continued to play the violin until the last few years of his life. For nearly seven decades, Einstein would not only use the violin to relax when he became stuck in his thinking process, he would play socially at local recitals or join in impromptu groups such as Christmas carolers who stopped at his home.
7. Presidency of Israel
A few days after Zionist leader and first President of Israel Chaim Weizmann died on November 9, 1952, Einstein was asked if he would accept the position of being the second president of Israel. Einstein, age 73, declined the offer. In his official letter of refusal, Einstein stated that he not only lacked the “natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people,” but also, he was getting old.
6. No Socks
Part of Einstein’s charm was his disheveled look. In addition to his uncombed hair, one of Einstein’s peculiar habits was to never wear socks. Whether it was while out sailing or to a formal dinner at the White House, Einstein went without socks everywhere. To Einstein, socks were a pain because they often would get holes in them. Plus, why wear both socks and shoes when one of them would do just fine?
5. A Simple Compass
When Albert Einstein was five years old and sick in bed, his father showed him a simple pocket compass. Einstein was mesmerized. What force exerted itself on the little needle to make it point in a single direction? This question haunted Einstein for many years and has been noted as the beginning of his fascination with science.
4. Designed a Refrigerator
Twenty-one years after writing his Special Theory of Relativity, Albert Einstein invented a refrigerator that operated on alcohol gas. The refrigerator was patented in 1926 but never went into production because new technology made it unnecessary. Einstein invented the refrigerator because he read about a family that was poisoned by a sulphur dioxide-emitting refrigerator.
3. Obsessed Smoker
Einstein loved to smoke. As he walked between his house and his office at Princeton, one could often see him followed by a trail of smoke. Nearly as part of his image as his wild hair and baggy clothes was Einstein clutching his trusty briar pipe. In 1950, Einstein is noted as saying, “I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs,” Although he favored pipes, Einstein was not one to turn down a cigar or even a cigarette.
2. Married His Cousin
After Einstein divorced his first wife, Mileva Maric, in 1919, he married his cousin, Elsa Loewenthal (nee Einstein). How closely were they related? Quite close. Elsa was actually related to Albert on both sides of his family. Albert’s mother and Elsa’s mother were sisters, plus Albert’s father and Elsa’s father were cousins. When they were both little, Elsa and Albert had played together; however, their romance only began once Elsa had married and divorced Max Loewenthal.
1. An Illegitimate Daughter
In 1901, before Albert Einstein and Mileva Maric were married, the college sweethearts took a romantic getaway to Lake Como in Italy. After the vacation, Mileva found herself pregnant. In that day and age, illegitimate children were not uncommon and yet they were also not accepted by society. Since Einstein did not have the money to marry Maric nor the ability to support a child, the two were not able to get married until Einstein got the patent job over a year later. So as not to besmirch Einstein’s reputation, Maric went back to her family and had the baby girl, whom she named Lieserl.
Although we know that Einstein knew about his daughter, we don’t actually know what happened to her. There are but just a few references of her in Einstein’s letters, with the last one in September 1903. It is believed that Lieserl either died after suffering from scarlet fever at an early age or she survived the scarlet fever and was given up for adoption. Both Albert and Mileva kept the existence of Lieserl so secret that Einstein scholars only discovered her existence in recent years.
10 Things You Might Not Know About Cheetah
10. The cheetah’s English-language name is derived from the Hindi word ‘chita’, meaning ‘spotted one’.
9. Lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar can roar but not purr. With cheetah it’s the other way round – they can purr but not roar. Cheetah communicate through shrill ‘yips’ and ‘yelps’ to indicate stress or fear while deeper, more resonant ‘churrs’ have friendlier connotations.
8. Cheetah’s favoured method of hunting is by means of a high-speed chase. This makes them, in the words of cheetah experts Jonathan and Angela Scott, “the last of the sprinting cats”. There is no four-legged creature on Earth which is faster than a cheetah over a short distance.In the Mara-Serengeti the cheetah needs to be quick when trying to catch a Thomson’s gazelle in full flight – the ‘Tommy’ can reach speeds of 40mph. The cheetah’s leaping strides can see it reach speeds of up to 68mph. However, if prey can evade capture by a cheetah over the first few hundred meters of a chase they stand a better chance of surviving as cheetah lack the stamina to sustain high speeds over longer distances.
7. This beautiful beast really is a prime example of precision engineering. Its toes, which it uses to walk on, are pointed and hard enough to assist sudden ‘braking’ when it is cornering at speed. The animal has excellent eyesight which enables it to hunt at night and in the daytime too.
6. However it does not have a strong sense of smell; perhaps this is why its urine, used to mark its territory, is so pungent! There is also much evidence to suggest that its colour-perception is limited. Jonathan and Angela Scott, writing in the BBC’s Big Cat Diary Cheetah book, recall seeing a cheetah struggling to find pieces of red meat that had fallen from its larder in a tree.
5. Every cheetah has unique spot markings. The patterns found on the face, chest and tail are particularly useful at identifying which cheetah is which.
4. Cheetah tends to use a throat bite to strangle or suffocate their prey. They typically kill every one to three days; a higher strike rate than that of the other Big Cats. Lions and leopards tend to dine on the spoils of their kill for longer as they are better able to defend them from other predators. Cheetah, unlike hyaena, are incapable of dragging their kill into trees to keep it safe from being stolen.
3. Mankind’s relationship with cheetah is thought to date back to around 4,000 to 5,000 years. In times gone by we have domesticated cheetah for sport, hunting purposes and prestige – we value their incredible speed.
Artefacts dating from around 500BC retrieved from a Caucasus burial ground show cheetah wearing collars. In today’s world, cheetah can still become intimidated by humans. The Bushmen of the central Kalahari take advantage of this to steal fresh kill from cheetah by walking up to the, waving their arms and shouting out to force the cat to retreat.
2. Cheetahs were once found in Asia, Europe and North America. Today they are thought of as typically African creatures. The cheetah’s natural African habitat is grassy plains, open woodlands and semi-desert.
1. Namibia is the African country which is most strongly-associated with cheetah. In 2005, there was thought to be around 3,000 cheetah in Namibia – making the nation the cheetah capital of the world.
James Christie writes for African safari specialists Safari Consultants.
Safari Consultants can organise a tailor-made safari in Namibia – a great place to see cheetah in their natural environment.
Source: The BBC Big Cat Cheetah diary by Jonathan and Angela Scott
8 Baffling Astronomy Mysteries
The Wonder of It All
The universe has been around for roughly 13.7 billion years, but it still holds many mysteries that continue to perplex astronomers to this day. Ranging from dark energy to cosmic rays to the uniqueness of our own solar system, there is no shortage of cosmic oddities.
The journal Science summarized some of the most bewildering questions being asked by leading astronomers today. In no particular order, here are eight of the most enduring mysteries in astronomy:
1. What is Dark Energy?
Dark energy is thought to be the enigmatic force that is pulling the cosmos apart at ever-increasing speeds, and is used by astronomers to explain the universe’s accelerated expansion.
This elusive force has yet to be directly detected, but dark energy is thought to make up roughly 73 percent of the universe.
2. How Hot is Dark Matter?
Dark matter is an invisible mass that is thought to make up about 23 percent of the universe. Dark matter has mass but cannot be seen, so scientists infer its presence based on the gravitational pull it exerts on regular matter.
Researchers remain curious about the properties of dark matter, such as whether it is icy cold as many theories predict, or if it is warmer.
3. Where are the Missing Baryons?
Dark energy and dark matter combine to occupy approximately 95 percent of the universe, with regular matter making up the remaining 5 percent. But, researchers have been puzzled to find that more than half of this regular matter is missing.
This missing matter is called baryonic matter, and it is composed of particles such as protons and electrons that make up majority of the mass of the universe’s visible matter.
Some astrophysicists suspect that missing baryonic matter may be found between galaxies, in material known as warm-hot intergalactic medium, but the universe’s missing baryons remain a hotly debated topic.
4. How do Stars Explode?
When massive stars run out of fuel, they end their lives in gigantic explosions called supernovas. These spectacular blasts are so bright they can briefly outshine entire galaxies.
Extensive research and modern technologies have illuminated many details about supernovas, but how these massive explosions occur is still a mystery.
Scientists are keen to understand the mechanics of these stellar blasts, including what happens inside a star before it ignites as a supernova.
5. What Re-ionized the Universe?
The broadly accepted Big Bang model for the origin of the universe states that the cosmos began as a hot, dense point approximately 13.7 billion years ago.
The early universe is thought to have been a dynamic place, and about 13 billion years ago, it underwent a so-called age of re-ionization. During this period, the universe’s fog of hydrogen gas was clearing and becoming translucent to ultraviolet light for the first time.
Scientists have long been puzzled over what caused this re-ionization to occur.
6. What’s the Source of the Most Energetic Cosmic Rays?
Cosmic rays are highly energetic particles that flow into our solar system from deep in outer space, but the actual origin of these charged subatomic particles has perplexed astronomers for about a century.
The most energetic cosmic rays are extraordinarily strong, with energies up to 100 million times greater than particles that have been produced in manmade colliders. Over the years, astronomers have attempted to explain where cosmic rays originate before flowing into the solar system, but their source has proven to be an enduring astronomical mystery.
7. Why is the Solar System so Bizarre?
As alien planets around other stars are discovered, astronomers have tried to tackle and understand how our own solar system came to be.
The differences in the planets within our solar system have no easy explanation, and scientists are studying how planets are formed in hopes of better grasping the unique characteristics of our solar system.
This research could, in fact, get a boost from the hung for alien worlds, some astronomers have said, particularly if patterns arise in their observations of extrasolar planetary systems.
Solar physicists have been puzzled by how the sun reheats its corona, but research points to a link between energy beneath the visible surface, and processes in the sun’s magnetic field. But, the detailed mechanics behind coronal heating are still unknown.
1. Scientists do not know why pandas are black and white. Some scientists speculate that their unusual coloring provides camouflage in snowy and rocky surroundings.
3. If a mother panda has twins, usually only one of the cubs will survive in the wild. The mother panda can only produce enough milk for one cub, so she will select the stronger of the twin cubs and the other will die
4. Panda cubs are born pink, blind, and toothless. A week or two after birth, the baby panda’s skin will turn grey where the fur will eventually become black. A chemical reactionfrom the mother panda’s saliva may cause the cub’s fur to turn slightly pink. About a month after birth, the color pattern of the
5. Pandas in captivity seem to have little interest in mating. This has led to scientists taking extreme measures to attempt to get pandas to reproduce, such as showing them videos of panda’s mating and giving the male pandas Viagra.
6. Though its diet consists mostly of bamboo, a panda’s digestive systemis more like that of a carnivore than a herbivore. Because of this, much of what a panda eats is passed as waste. To make up for this inefficiency, panda’s must consume 20-40 pounds of bamboo each day.
7. Pandas do, occasionally, eat meat. In the wild, they may eat birds, rodents, and carrion. Pandas in captivity have been known to eat eggs and fish.
8. Pandas are generally solitary creatures. Adult pandas have their own defined territory and females are not tolerant of other females in their territory. Pandas may, however, communicate periodically via scent marks, calls, and occasional meetings.
9. Unlike most other bears, pandas do not hibernate.
10. Pandas spend 10-16 hours a day foraging and eating. The rest of the day is mostly spent sleeping.
Top 10 Strangest Things in Space
The universe is a weird place. Here’s a look at some of the strangest things in the cosmos.
Like Superman’s alter-ego, Bizzaro, the particles making up normal matter also have opposite versions of themselves. An electron has a negative charge, for example, but its antimatter equivalent, the positron, is positive. Matter and antimatter annihilate each other when they collide and their mass is converted into pure energy by Einstein’s equation E=mc2. Some futuristic spacecraft designs incorporate anti-matter engines.
2. Mini-Black Holes
If a radical new “braneworld” theory of gravity is correct, then scattered throughout our solar system are thousands of tiny black holes, each about the size of an atomic nucleus. Unlike their larger brethren, these mini-black holes are primordial leftovers from the Big Bang and affect space-time differently because of their close association with a fifth dimension.
3. Cosmic Microwave Background
Also known as the CMB, this radiation is a primordial leftover from the Big Bang that birthed the universe. It was first detected during the 1960s as a radio noise that seemed to emanate from everywhere in space. The CMB is regarded as one of the best pieces of evidence for the theoretical Big Bang. Recent precise measurements by the WMAP project place the CMB temperature at -455 degrees Fahrenheit (-270 Celsius).
4. Dark Matter
Scientists think it makes up the bulk of matter in the universe, but it can neither be seen nor detected directly using current technologies. Candidates range from light-weight neutrinos to invisible black holes. Some scientists question whether dark matter is even real, and suggest that the mysteries it was conjured to solve could be explained by a better understanding of gravity.
Until about the early 1990s, the only known planets in the universe were the familiar ones in our solar system. Astronomers have since identified more than 500 extrasolar planets (as of November 2010). They range from gargantuan gas worlds whose masses are just shy of being stars to small, rocky ones orbiting dim, red dwarfs. Searches for a second Earth, however, are still ongoing. Astronomers generally believe that better technology is likely to eventually reveal worlds similar to our own.
6. Gravity Waves
Gravity waves are distortions in the fabric of space-time predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The gravitational waves travel at the speed of light, but they are so weak that scientists expect to detect only those created during colossal cosmic events, such as black hole mergers like the one shown above. LIGO and LISA are two detectors designed to spot the elusive waves.
7. Galactic Cannibalism
Like life on Earth, galaxies can “eat” each other and evolve over time. The Milky Way’s neighbor, Andromeda, is currently dining on one of its satellites. More than a dozen star clusters are scattered throughout Andromeda, the cosmic remains of past meals. The image above is from a simulation of Andromeda and our galaxy colliding, an event that will take place in about 3 billion years.
Neutrinos are electrically neutral, virtually mass-less elementary particles that can pass through miles of lead unhindered. Some are passing through your body as you read this. These “phantom” particles are produced in the inner fires of burning, healthy stars as well as in the supernova explosions of dying stars. Detectors are being embedded underground, beneath the sea, or into a large chunk of ice as part of IceCube, a neutrino-detecting project.
These bright beacons shine to us from the edges of the visible universe and are reminders to scientists of our universe’s chaotic infancy. Quasars release more energy than hundreds of galaxies combined. The general consensus is that they aremonstrous black holes in the hearts of distant galaxies. This image is of quasar 3C 273, photographed in 1979.
10. Vacuum Energy
Quantum physics tells us that contrary to appearances, empty space is a bubbling brew of “virtual” subatomic particles that are constantly being created and destroyed. The fleeting particles endow every cubic centimeter of space with a certain energy that, according to general relativity, produces an anti-gravitational force that pushes space apart. Nobody knows what’s really causing the accelerated expansion of the universe, however.
10 interesting facts about planet Earth
1. Plate tectonics keep the planet comfortable
Earth is the only planet in the Solar System with plate tectonics. The outer crust of the Earth is broken up into regions known as tectonic plates. These are floating on top of the magma interior of the Earth and can move against one another. When two plates collide, one plate can go underneath another.
This process is very important. When microscopic plants in the ocean die, they fall to the bottom of the ocean. Over long periods of time, the remnants of this life, rich in carbon, are carried back into the interior of the Earth and recycled. This pulls carbon out of the atmosphere, which makes sure we don’t get a runaway greenhouse effect, like what happened on Venus.
Without the plate tectonics, there’d be no way to recycle this carbon, and the Earth would overheat.
2. Earth is almost a sphere
The Earth’s shape could be described as an oblate spheroid. It’s kind of like a sphere, but the Earth’s rotation causes the equator to bulge out . What this means is that the measurement from pole to pole is about 43 km less than the diameter of Earth across the equator.
Even though the tallest mountain on Earth is Mount Everest, the feature that’s furthest from the center of the Earth is actually Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador.
3. Earth is mostly iron, oxygen and silicon
If you could separate the Earth out into piles of material, you’d get 32.1 % iron, 30.1% oxygen, 15.1% silicon, and 13.9% magnesium. Of course, most of this iron is actually down at the core of the Earth. If you could actually get down and sample the core, it would be 88% iron. 47% of the Earth’s crust consists of oxygen.
4. 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water
When astronauts first went into the space, they looked back at the Earth with human eyes for the first time, and called our home the Blue Planet. And it’s no surprise. 70% of our planet is covered with oceans. The remaining 30% is the solid ground, rising above sea level.
5. The Earth’s atmosphere extends out to 10,000 km
The atmosphere is thickest within the first 50 km or so, but it actually reaches out to about 10,000 km above the surface of the planet. This outermost layer of the atmosphere is called the exosphere, and starts about 500 km above the surface of the Earth. As we said, it goes all the way up to 10,000 km above the surface. At this point, free-moving particles can actually escape the pull of Earth’s gravity, and be blown away by the Sun’s solar wind.
But this high atmosphere is extremely thin. The bulk of the Earth’s atmosphere is down near the Earth itself. In fact, 75% of the Earth’s atmosphere is contained within the first 11 km above the planet’s surface.
Want more planet Earth facts? We’re halfway through. Here come 5 more.
6. The Earth’s molten iron core creates a magnetic field
The Earth is like a great big magnet, with poles at the top and bottom of the planet, near to the actual geographic poles. This magnetic field extends from the surface of the Earth out thousands of kilometers – a region called the magnetosphere.
Be grateful for the magnetosphere. Without it particles from the Sun’s solar wind would hit the Earth directly, exposing the surface of the planet to significant amounts of radiation. Instead, the magnetosphere channels the solar wind around the Earth, protecting us from harm.
Scientists think that the magnetic field is generated by the molten outer core of the Earth, where heat creates convection motions of conducting materials. This generates electric currents that create the magnetic field.
7. Earth doesn’t take 24 hours to rotate on its axis
It’s actually 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds. This is the amount of time it takes for the Earth to completely rotate around its axis; astronomers call this a sidereal day. Now wait a second, that means a day is 4 minutes shorter than we think it is. You’d think that time would add up, day by day, and within a few months, day would be night, and night would be day.
Remember that the Earth orbits around the Sun. Every day, the Sun moves compared to the background stars by about 1° – about the size of the Moon in the sky. And so, if you add up that little motion from the Sun that we see because the Earth is orbiting around it, as well as the rotation on its axis, you get a total of 24 hours. Now that sounds like the day we know.
8. A year on Earth isn’t 365 days
It’s actually 365.2564 days. It’s this extra .2564 days that creates the need for leap years. That’s why we tack on an extra day in February every year divisible by 4 – 2004, 2008, etc – unless it’s divisible by 100 (1900, 2100, etc)… unless it’s divisible by 400 (1600, 2000, etc).
9. Earth has 1 moon and 2 co-orbital satellites
As you’re probably aware, Earth has 1 moon (The Moon). But did you know there are 2 additional asteroids locked into a co-orbital orbits with Earth? They’re called 3753 Cruithne and 2002 AA29. We won’t go into too much detail about the Moon, I’m sure you’ve heard all about it.
3753 Cruithne is 5 km across, and sometimes called Earth’s second moon. It doesn’t actually orbit the Earth, but has a synchronized orbit with our home planet. It has an orbit that makes it look like it’s following the Earth in orbit, but it’s actually following its own, distinct path around the Sun.
2002 AA29 is only 60 meters across, and makes a horseshoe orbit around the Earth that brings it close to the planet every 95 years. In about 600 years, it will appear to circle Earth in a quasi-satellite orbit. Scientists have suggested that it might make a good target for a space exploration mission.
10. Earth is the only planet known to have life
We’ve discovered past evidence of water on Mars, and the building blocks of life on Saturn’s moon Titan. We can see amino acids in nebulae in deep space. But Earth is the only place life has actually been discovered.
But if there’s life on other planets, scientists are building the experiments that will help find it. A new rover called the Mars Science Laboratory will be heading to Mars in the next few years, equipped with experiments that can detect life in the soil on the Red Planet. Giant radio dishes scan distant stars, listening for the characteristic signals of intelligent life reaching out across interstellar space. And new space telescopes, such as the European Space Agency’s Darwin mission might be powerful enough to sense the presence of life on other worlds.
Ten Most Enduring Mysteries of Mercury
1. Dense Metal Core
Mercury is so dense, scientists believe its heavy iron core accounts for two-thirds of the planet’s mass, more than twice the ratio of core to mass for Earth, Venus or Mars. Scientists aren’t sure what caused this incredibly high density, but suggest it might have started off with more mass that got scraped off by collisions. Researchers hope MESSENGER’s geology measurements can shed light on how the planet formed, and how it got to be so dense.
2. Why Does It Have an Atmosphere
Mercury is so small, scientists long assumed it had no atmosphere. But Mariner 10 surprised experts by revealing a tenuous net of gas around the planet. Mercury’s thin atmosphere constantly escapes the weak gravity of the planet, but somehow, hydrogen and helium are constantly replenished. Scientists suspect the solar wind draws the gases back to the planet, and hope MESSENGER measurements can provide further insight.
3. Mercury’s Tails
Scientists don’t know exactly what creates and shapes the bright tails of particles that stream off the planet’s surface. They believe some mechanism of interaction between the solar wind and Mercury’s magnetosphere is responsible. Messenger took sensitive measurements of the light emission from the tails of sodium and hydrogen to learn more about them.
4. Mercury’s Violent History
The pock-marked surface of Mercury is highly reminiscent of the moon. The planet has been continually bombarded by space rocks that leave their mark with craters.
But there are important differences between Mercury’s craters and the moon’s. For one thing, some craters on Mercury seem to be shallower than similar-sized craters on the moon, although the scientists must investigate further Messenger data to see if this trend holds across the planet.
5. What Lies on the Hidden Side
The last time humans sent a probe to Mercury, more than three decades ago, we were able to see less than half of the planet. Messenger has already revealed another 30 percent of Mercury that the 1975 Mariner 10 mission didn’t cover.
6. Did Mercury Have Volcanoes?
Plains on the surface seem to have been formed when volcanic lava spilled over the rough surface and dried smooth. Many craters appear to be filled with this material. These are strong clues that Mercury once had volcanic activity, although scientists don’t see this going on now. In the lower right corner of this picture is a crater within a crater, filled in with smooth plains material that scientists think might be volcanic in origin.
7. Mercury’s Magnetoshpere
Earth has one, and so does Mercury, inexplicably. Researchers don’t know why this small, slowly spinning planet has a magnetic field around it, but measurements taken when Messenger flew through Mercury’s magnetosphere have shed new light on the conundrum. The data shows that Mercury’s magnetic field has two poles, like Earth’s, and hosts significant densities of charged particle plasma pulled off the sun.
8. Does Ice Hide on the Planet’s Surface
A spectrometer on Messenger has taken measurements of the light bouncing off Mercury’s surface in different colors to help scientists understand what the soil is made of, and whether ice can exist on the closest planet to the sun. The red and blue lines represent two different points on the planet’s surface, and their divergence reveals that different minerals are present in each bit of land.
9. Is Mercury Shrinking?
Scientists suspect the core of the planet is slowly cooling and becoming smaller, causing the whole globe to shrink. Many long and high cliffs on Mercury appear to be signs that the surface is crumbling as the planet buckles beneath it.
10. The “Spider”
This baffling structure on Mercury’s surface, an impact crater surrounded by radiating cracks in the ground, is unlike anything seen elsewhere in the solar system. Scientists are at a loss to explain what caused the troughs to form, but suspect that underground volcanism might be involved. They aren’t sure of the relationship of the central crater to the more than 50 grooves, and say it’s even possible that the cracks occurred first, and a meteoroid just happened to land in the center.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Light
10) Light can make some people sneeze
Between 18% and 35% of the human population is estimated to be affected by a so-called “photic sneeze reflex,” a heritable condition that results in sneezing when the person is exposed to bright light.
9) Plato thought that human vision was dependent upon light, but not in the way you’re imagining
In the 4th Century BC, Plato conceived of a so-called “extramission theory” of sight, wherein visual perception depends on light that emanates from the eyes and “seizes objects with its rays.”
8) Einstein was not the first one to come up with a theory of relativity
Many people associate “the speed of light” with Einstein’s theory of relativity, but the concept of relativity did not originate with Einstein. Props for relativity actually go to none other thanGalileo, who was the first to propose formally that you cannot tell if a room is at rest, or moving at a constant speed in one direction, by simply observing the motion of objects in the room.
7) E=mc^2 was once m=(4/3)E/c^2
Einstein was not the first person to relate energy with mass. Between 1881 and 1905, several scientists — most notably phycisist J.J. Thomson and Friedrich Hasenohrl — derived numerous equations relating the apparent mass of radiation with its energy, concluding, for example, thatm=(4/3)E/c^2. What Einstein did was recognize the equivalence of mass and energy, along with the importance of that relevance in light of relativity, which gave rise to the famous equation we all recognized today.
6)The light from the aurorae is the result of solar wind
When solar winds from cosmic events like solar flares reach Earth’s atmosphere, they interact with particles of oxygen atoms, causing them to emit stunning green lights. These waves of light — termed the aurora borealis and aurora australis (or northern lights and southern lights, respectively) — are typically green, but hues of blue and red can be emitted from atmospheric nitrogen atoms, as well.
5) Neutrinos aren’t the first things to apparently outpace the speed of light
The Hubble telescope has detected the existence of countless galaxies receding from our point in space at speeds in excess of the speed of light. However, this still does not violate Einstein’s theories on relativity because it is space — not the galaxies themselves — that is expanding away (a symptom of the Big Bang), and “carrying” the aforementioned galaxies along with it.
4) This expansion means there are some galaxies whose light we’ll never see
As far as we can tell, the Universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. On account of this, there are some who predict that many of the Universe’s galaxies will eventually be carried along by expanding space at a rate that will prevent their light from reaching us at any time in the infinite future.
3) Bioluminescence lights the ocean deep
More than half of the visible light spectrum is absorbed within three feet of the ocean’s surface; at a depth of 10 meters, less than 20% of the light that entered at the surface is still visible; by 100 meters, this percentage drops to 0.5%.
2) Bioluminescence: also in humans!
Bioluminescene isn’t just for jellyfish and the notorious, nightmare-inducing Anglerfish; in fact, humans emit light, too. All living creatures produce some amount of light as a result of metabolic biochemical reactions, even if this light is not readily visible.
1) It’s possible to trick your brain into seeing imaginary (and “impossible”) colors
Your brain uses what are known as “opponent channels” to receive and process light. On one hand, these opponent channels allow you to process visual information more efficiently (more on this here), but they also prevent you from seeing, for example, an object that is simultaneously emitting wavelengths that could be interpreted as blue and yellow — even if such a simultaneous, “impossible” color could potentially exist.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Jellyfish
1. Jellyfishes are made up of more than 95% water.
Their bodies are soft and lack a skeletal structure or outer shell. They are delicate and easily damanged. Jellyfishes require water to help support their body and if removed from their aquatic surroundings, they collapse and die.
2. Jellyfish are radially symmetrical.
Jellyfish are symmetrical about a central axis that runs through the length of their body, from the top of their bell to the ends of their tentacles. They have a top and a bottom but they lack a left and right side and as a result differ from many other types of animals (such as mammals, reptiles, fish, birds, and arthropods) which exhibit bilateral symmetry.
3. A jellyfish has a simple digestives system with only one opening.
A jellyfish takes food in through its mouth which is located on the underside if its bell. Food is digested in a sac-like structure called a coelenteron or gastrovascular cavity. Waste material is passed out through the mouth.
4. A common analogy used to describe the delicate way jellyfish pounce through the water likens the jellys’ movements to ‘a simple form of jet propulsion’.
To move forward, jellyfishes take water into their muscular bell and then squirt it out behind them, creating a jet of water that propels the jelly forward. In addition to this form of movement, jellies also drift on water currents to move.
5. Jellyfishes have no brain, no blood, and no nervous system.
Their senses are primitive and consist of a neural net, eye spots that can sense light from dark, and chemosensory pits that help them identify potential prey.
6. A jellyfishes’ body consists of three layers.
The outer layer is called the epidermis, the inner layer which lines the gastrovascular cavity is called the gastrodermis, and the middle layer consists of a thick substance called the mesoglea.
7. Thousands of nematocytes are located on the tentacles, feeding arms, and mouth of a jellyfish.
Nenatocysts consist of a capsule that holds a hollow barbed coil, a vemon sac, and chemo-sensitive trigger hairs that detect when something edible brushes against them. When potential prey brushes against the trigger hairs, the nematocytes expel the coiled barb and inject venom into the victim through the hollow thread. The venom immobilizes the prey and the jellyfish uses its oral arms to move the prey into its mouth where it is passed through to the coelenteron for digestion.
8. Jellyfish belong to the Phylum Cnidaria.
This group of animals, all radially symmetrical, includes corals, sea anemones, hydras, and jellyfish.
9. There are about 200 species of True Jellyfishes.
True Jellyfish are species belonging to the Class Scyphozoa. Examples of True Jellyfish include Moon Jellies, Mediterranean Jellyfish, Sea Nettles, Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, Blue Jellies, and many other lesser known species. The Class Cubozoa includes about 20 species not considered to be True Jellyfish. The Class Cubozoa is also referred to as box jellyfish. The most imfamous of the Cubozoa is the Sea Wasp, a creature with a deadly sting that inhabits the waters off the coast of Australia.
10. The species Craspedacusta sowerbii is sometimes referred to as the only species of freshwater jellyfish, although it is not a true jellyfish.
Craspedacusta sowerbii belongs to the Class Hydrozoa (the group of animals that includes the hydra), not the Class Scyphozoa.