Category Archives: Interesting Facts

Weight and Mass Facts

  • Mass is the amount of matter in an object.
  • Weight is not the same as mass. Scientists say weight is the force of gravity pulling on an object. Weight varies with the mass of the object and the strength of gravity.
  • Objects weigh more at sea level, which is nearer the center of the Earth, than up a mountain.
  • A person on the Moon weighs one sixth of their weight on Earth because the Moon’s gravity is one sixth of the Earth’s gravity.
  • Weight varies with gravity but mass is always the same, so scientists use mass when talking about how heavy something is.
  • The smallest known mass is that of a photon (see light and atoms). Its mass is 5.3 times 10- 63 (62 zeros and a 1 after the decimal point) kg.
  • The mass of the Earth is 6 x 1024 (six trillion trillion) kg. The mass of the Universe may be 10 51 (10 followed by 50 zeros) kg.
  • Density is the amount of mass in a certain space. It is measured in grams per cubic centimeter (g/cm3).
  • The lightest solids are silica aerogels made for space science, with a density of 0.005 g/cm 3. The lightest gas is hydrogen, at 0.00008989 g/cm 3. The density of air is 0.00128 g/cm3.
  • The densest solid is osmium at 22.59 g/cm3. Lead is 11.37 g/cm 3. A neutron star has an incredible density of about one billion trillion g/cm3.

Lavoiseir Facts

  • Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743- 1794) was a brilliant French scientist who is regarded as the founder of modern chemistry.
  • He was elected to the French Royal Academy of Sciences at just 25 for an essay on street lighting. A year later, he worked on the first geological map of France.
  • Lavoisier earned his living for a long while as a ‘tax farmer,’ which meant he worked for a private company collecting taxes.
  • In 1771 he married 14-year old Marie Paulze, who later became his illustrator and collaborator in the laboratory.
  • Lavoisier was the first person to realize that air is essentially a mixture of two gases: oxygen and nitrogen.
  • Lavoisier discovered that water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Lavoisier showed that the popular phlogiston theory of burning was wrong and that burning involves oxygen instead. The frontiers of science
  • A Lavoisier showed that old theories about burning were wrong and that oxygen is essential in order for burning to take place.
  • Lavoisier gave the first working list of chemical elements in his famous book Elementary Treatise of Chemistry (1789), which was illustrated by his wife Marie.
  • From 1776 Lavoisier headed research at the Royal Arsenal in Paris, developing gunpowder manufacture.
  • Lavoisier ran schemes for public education, fair taxation, old-age insurance and other welfare schemes. But his good deeds did not save him. When Lavoisier had a wall built round Paris to reduce smuggling, revolutionary leader Marat accused him of imprisoning Paris’s air. His past as a tax farmer was remembered and Lavoisier was guillotined in 1794. Lavoisier had a wall built round Paris to reduce smuggling; revolutionary leader Marat accused him of imprisoning Paris’s air. His past as a tax farmer was remembered and Lavoisier was guillotined in 1794.

Crop Facts

  • The first crops were probably root crops like turnips. Grains and green vegetables were probably first grown as crops later.
  • Einkorn and emmer wheat and wild barley may have been cultivated by Natufians (stone-age people) around 7000Bc at Ali Kosh on the border of Iran and Iraq.
  • Pumpkins are grown on bushes or on vines like these throughout Europe and North America.
  • Flax was the most important vegetable fibre in Europe before cotton. It is still used in make linen.
  • Pumpkins and beans were cultivated in Mexico c.7000 Bc.
  • People in the Amazon have grown manioc to make a flat bread called cazabi for thousands of years.
  • Corn was probably first grown about 9000 years ago from the teosinte plant of the Mexican highlands.
  • Russian botanist N. I. Vavilov worked out that wheat and rye came from the wild grasses of central Asia, millet and barley from highland China and rice from India.
  • Millet was grown in China from c.4500Bc.
  • In northern Europe the first grains were those now called fat hen, gold of pleasure and curl-topped lady’s thumb.
  • Sumerian farmers in the Middle East c.3000Bc grew barley, wheat, flax, dates, and grapes.
  • Beans, bottle gourds and water chestnuts were grown at Spirit Cave in Thailand 11,000 years ago.

Galileo Galilei Facts

  • Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was a great Italian mathematician and astronomer.
  • Galileo was born in Pisa on 15 February 1564, in the same year as William Shakespeare.
  • The pendulum clock was invented by Galileo after watching a swinging lamp in Pisa Cathedral in 1583.
  • Galileo’s experiments with balls rolling down slopes laid the basis for our understanding of how gravity affects acceleration (speeding up).
  • Learning of the telescope’s invention, Galileo made his own to look at the Moon, Venus and Jupiter.
  • Galileo described his observations of space in a book called The Starry Messenger, published in 1613.
  • Through his telescope Galileo saw that Jupiter has four moons (see Jupiter’s Galilean moons). He also saw that Venus has phases (as our Moon does).
  • Jupiter’s moon and Venus’s phases were the first visible evidence of Copernicus’ theory that the Earth moves round the Sun. Galileo also believed this.
  • Galileo was declared a heretic in 1616 by the Catholic Church, for his support of Copernican theory. Later, threatened with torture, Galileo was forced to deny that the Earth orbits the Sun. Legend has it he muttered `eppur si muove’ (`yet it does move’) afterwards

Liver Facts

  • The liver is a large organ situated to the right of the stomach.
  • The liver is your body’s chemical processing center.
  • The liver is your body’s biggest internal organ, and the word hepatic means ‘to do with the liver.
  • The liver’s prime task is handling all the Gall bladders nutrients and substances digested from the food you eat and sending them out to your body cells when they are needed.
  • The liver turns carbohydrates into glucose, the main energy-giving chemical for body cells.
  • The liver keeps the levels of glucose in the blood steady. It does this by releasing more when levels drop, and by storing it as glycogen, a type of starch, when levels rise.
  • The liver packs off excess food energy to be stored as fat around the body.
  • The liver filters harmful substances such as alcohol and food additives to keep the body safe.
  • The liver breaks down proteins and stores vitamins and minerals.
  • The liver produces bile, the yellowish or greenish bitter liquid that helps dissolve fat as food is digested in the intestines.
  • The liver clears the blood of old red cells and harmful substances such as alcohol, and makes new plasma (see blood).
  • The liver’s chemical processing units, called lobules, take in unprocessed blood from the outside and dispatch it through a collecting vein.

Quark Facts

  • Quarks are one of the three tiniest basic, or elementary, particles from which every substance is made.
  • Quarks are too small for their size to be measured, but their mass can. The biggest quark, called a top quark, is as heavy as an atom of gold. The smallest, called an up quark, is 35,000 times lighter.
  • There are six kinds, or flavors, of quark: up (u), down (d), bottom (b), top (t), strange (s) and charm (c).
  • Down, bottom and strange quarks carry one-third of the negative charge of electrons; up, top and charm ones carry two-thirds of the positive charge of protons.
  • Quarks never exist separately but in combination with one or two other quarks. Combinations of two or three quarks are called hadrons.
  • Three-quark hadrons are called baryons and include protons and neutrons. Rare two-quark hadrons are mesons.
  • A proton is made from two up quarks (two lots of +2/3 of a charge) and one down quark (-1/3) and has a positive charge of 1.
  • A neutron is made from two down quarks (two lots of –1/3 of a charge) and an up quark (+2/3). The charges cancel each other out, giving a neutron no charge.
  • The theory of quarks was first proposed by Murray Gell-Mann and Georg Zweig in 1964.
  • Quarks are named after a famous passage in James Joyce’s hook Ulysses: ‘Three quarks for Muster Mark!’

Spacecraft Facts

  • There are three kinds of spacecraft – artificial satellites, unmanned probes and manned spacecraft.
  • Spacecraft have double hulls (outer coverings) to protect against other space objects that crash into them.
  • Manned spacecraft must also protect the crew from heat and other dangerous effects of launch and landing.
  • Spacecraft windows have filters to protect astronauts from the Sun’s dangerous ultraviolet rays.
  • Supposed alien spacecraft are sometimes called flying saucers. Modern science-fiction portrays them as more like this.
  • Radiators on the outside of the spacecraft lose heat, to stop the crew’s body temperatures overheating the craft.
  • Manned spacecraft have life-support systems that provide oxygen to breathe, usually mixed with nitrogen (as in ordinary air). Charcoal filters out smells.
  • The carbon dioxide that crews breathe out is absorbed by pellets of lithium hydroxide.
  • Spacecraft toilets have to get rid of waste in low gravity conditions. Astronauts have to sit on a device which sucks away the waste. Solid waste is dried and dumped in space, but the water is saved.
  • To wash, astronauts have a waterproof shower which sprays them with jets of water from all sides and also sucks away all the waste water, most astronauts sleep floating in the air. The weightlessness of space means that held in place by a few straps.
  • The US space shuttle, the first reusable spacecraft, has made manned space flights out into Earth’s orbit and back almost a matter of routine.

Steam Train Facts

  • Steam trains get their power by burning coal in a firebox. This heats up water in a boiler, making steam. The steam drives a piston to and fro and the piston turns the wheels via connecting rods and cranks.
  • It takes about three hours for the crew to get up enough steam to get a locomotive moving.
  • Coal and water are often stored in a wagon called a tender, towed behind the locomotive.
  • A tender holds 10 tons of coal and 30,000 liters of water.
  • Loco classes are described by their wheel layout.
  • A 4-6-2 has four small leading ‘bogie’ wheels, six big driving wheels and two small trailing wheels. The small bogie wheels carry much of the weight.
  • The greatest Victorian loco designer was James Nasmyth.
  • In the American Civil War (1861-65) the loco The General was recaptured by Confederates after an epic chase in another loco.
  • The Flying Scotsman was a famous loco designed by Sir Nigel Gresley (1876-1941). It pulled trains non-stop the 630 km from London to Edinhurgli in less than six hours.
  • The first loco to hit 100 mph (160 km/h) was in the City of Truro in 1895.

Palm Tree Facts

  • Palm Trees are a group of 2780 species of tropical trees and shrubs.
  • Palm Trees have a few very large leaves called fronds.
  • The fronds grow from the main bud at the top of a tall thin trunk.
  • If the main bud at the top of the trunk is damaged, the tree will stop growing and die.
  • Palm trunks do not get thicker like other trees; they simply grow taller.
  • Some Palm Trees have trunks no bigger than a pencil; others are 60 m high and 1 m across.
  • Palm fruits vary enormously. Some are no bigger than a pea. The fruit of the coco-de-mer coconut palm is the biggest seed in the world, growing over 60 cm across.
  • The world’s largest leaves are those of the
  • Raffia palm, which grow up to 20 m long.
  • Palm trees are a very ancient group of plants, and fossil Palm Trees have been found dating back 100 million years to the time of the dinosaurs.
  • Date Palm Trees have been cultivated in the hottest parts of North Africa and the Middle East for at least 5000 years. Muslims regard it as the tree of life.

Facts About A Nebula

  • Nebula (plural nebulae) was the word once used for any fuzzy patch of light in the night sky. Nowadays, many nebulae are known to be galaxies instead.
  • Many nebulae are gigantic clouds of gas and space dust.
  • Glowing nebulae are named because they give off a dim, red light, as the hydrogen gas in them is heated by radiation from nearby stars.
  • The Great Nebula of Orion is a glowing nebula just visible to the naked eye.
  • Reflection nebulae have no light of their own. They can only be seen because starlight shines off the dust in them.
  • Dark nebulae not only have no light of their own, they also soak up light. They are seen as patches of darkness, blocking light from the stars behind them
  • The Horsehead nebula in Orion is the best-known dark nebula. As its name suggests, it is shaped like a horse’s head.
  • Planetary nebulae are thin rings of gas cloud which are thrown out by dying stars. Despite their name, they have nothing to do with planets.
  • The Ring nebula in Lyra is the best-known of the planetary nebulae.
  • The Crab nebula is the remains of a supernova that exploded in AD1054.