Questions to Ponder continued

Scientific facts to make you think.
What happens when two metal objects touch in space?

When two pieces of the same type of metal touch in space, they will bond and become permanently stuck together. This is known as cold welding. This happens because the atoms of the individual pieces of metal have no way of knowing that they are different from each other and join together. This amazing effect does not happen on Earth because there is air and water separating these pieces. This has a lot of implications for metal-based construction in space and/or in vacuums.

Photo Source: NASA (Wikimedia Commons)

Which Pacific Islands are moving closer to Alaska with each passing day?

Hawaii and Alaska are both on the Pacific tectonic plate and its shifting is very slowly bringing Hawaii closer to Alaska. The speed of its movement has been compared to the speed of growing fingernails.

Photo Source: NASA (Wikimedia Commons)

What are magnetized neutron starts normally known as?

Pulsars are magnetized neutron stars that spin incredibly fast and emit a beam of radiation light somewhat like a lighthouse. PSR J1748-2446ad is the fastest known pulsar, located in the Sagittarius constellation some 18,000 light-years away from Earth. It is an average-sized pulsar but spins at an amazing 716 times per second. This is nearly a quarter of the speed of light and exceeds what theorists thought was possible.

Photo Source: NASA, ESA, J Hester and A Lol (Wikimedia Commons)

What is the only letter that does not appear on the periodic table?

The only letter that does not appear on the periodic table is J.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

What is the closest galaxy to the Milky Way?

The Andromeda Galaxy is our closest neighbour, at roughly 2.5 million light-years distance. Though it is 140,000 light-years across, it is not bright enough to be seen in the night sky with the naked eye. If it were brighter, it would appear to be 6x larger than the full moon.

Photo Source: Adam Evans (Wikimedia Commons)

Which area of study is not an original Nobel Prize recipient?

Unlike any other award or prize; Nobel Prizes are given as according to the will of the Swedish industrialist and scientist, Alfred Nobel. The will, which was dated November 27, 1895, stated a major amount of his wealth to be awarded in 5 areas: Physics, Chemistry, Peace, Literature, and Medicine. At that time he left a huge sum of 31 million Swedish Kroner (that in today’s equivalence is about 265 million dollars) to serve as a fund for the prizes. While these 5 awards were given in accordance to his will, the addition of a prize in Economics was started in 1968 by the Bank of Sweden in memory of Alfred Nobel and is chosen by the same committee that choses the other five prizes.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

What animal lives in a matriarchal society where the highest ranking male member is subordinate to the lowest female?

Hyenas. They live in a matriarchal society that is not that common in the animal kingdom. Females are larger, more muscular, and the more aggressive of the sexes. Hyenas are complicated, intelligent, and social animals that have an ill-deserved reputation.

Photo Source: Emmanuel Favre (Wikimedia Commons)

What is the oldest living animal ever recorded?

Ming (named after the Chinese dynasty during which it was born), the deep sea Quahog clam, was believed to be the oldest living animal when it died in 2006. Scientists accidentally killed it when they dredged it up off the coast of Iceland and froze it. It was 507 years old.

Photo Source: NOAA Photo Library (Wikimedia Commons)

What is the hottest place on Earth?

The record for the highest temperature on Earth ever recorded was 58 degrees Celsius in El Azizia, Libya on Sept. 13, 1922 but this record was declared invalid in 2012 because the person that recorded it was inexperienced (I am not really sure what that means, but ok). The holder of the title is Death Valley, California with the whooping temperature of 56.7 degrees Celsius in the summer 1913. The hottest spot on Earth, in any given year, will move from spot to spot depending on a number of factors. There has been some new data from weather satellites monitoring that has stated an area in Iran is actually hotter than either of the two previous places but there was not anyone on the ground to verify this.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

What well-known myth about lightning is false?

Lightning does not strike the same place twice. It is not only possible but probable that lightning will strike objects that are tall and/or conductive over and over although it would be odd for the same patch of flat open ground to be hit multiple times.

Photo Source: Raul Heinrich (Wikimedia Commons)

How does the moonrise and the moonset change throughout the phases of the moon?

At full moon, the moon rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. At 3rd quarter, the moon rises at midnight and sets at noon. At new moon the moon rises at sunrise and sets at sunset and she does not show her illuminated side during this phase causing her to look dark.

Photo Source: Janice Willson

What would happen here on Earth if the star Betelgeuse were to go supernova?

Betelgeuse is a red supergiant in the constellation Orion approximately 500 light-years away and is the ninth brightest star in the night sky. If it were to explode transiting from this stage to supernova, it would light the Earth’s sky continuously for two months. Even though scientists know that it is nearing the end of its lifetime, nobody can say just when this will happen; it could be tomorrow or it could be a million years in the future.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

What animal has 9 brains, 3 hearts, and blue blood?

An octopus has 2 brachial hearts for its gills and 1 systemic heart for everything else. He has the largest brain-to-body mass ratio of all the invertebrates with a highly complex nervous system that includes a central brain and a smaller brain for each of its tentacles. Octopus blood contains a copper-rich protein called hemocyanin to transport their blood (as opposed to hemoglobin in our blood).

Photo Source: Karle Dambrans (Wikimedia Commons)

What can make some people’s blood turn green?

There is a migraine medication called Sumatriptan that can turn a person’s blood green when taken in large amounts. It causes something called sulfhaemoglobinaemia; meaning that there is sulfur present in the blood.

Photo Source: Janice Willson

What is the rarest naturally occurring element on Earth?

Astatine is a naturally occurring semi-metal that results from the decay of uranium and thorium. In its most stable form, it has a half-time of only 8.1 hours. The entire earth’s crust only has approximately 28 grams of this element. If scientists have to use it, they will have to make it themselves.

Photo Source: Greg Ronson (Wikimedia Commons)

What insect does not eat because it has no mouth?

The gorgeous Luna Moth has large shimmering wings and undulating “tails” but has no mouths so hence, cannot eat. The whole purpose of their week-long life span is to mate. (This is not the only moth to have this feature, also included in this group are the Rosy Maple, Polyphemus, Atlas, and Prometheus Moth.)

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

Why is the sand of White Sands Desert in New Mexico so white?

The gypsum, which makes up the desert, is the world’s largest surface deposit of gypsum. Unlike other desert sands, it is quite cool to touch due to the fact that the sand reflects much of the sun’s rays (as opposed to absorbing it) and has a high rate of evaporation of the surface moisture.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

Why do cats have vertical pupils?

To better help them see in the dark. If cats were not nocturnal, they would probably have round pupils like humans because these shaped pupils produce the sharpest images. The combination of the vertical pupils and horizontal eyelids give these felines a more accurate control in variable lighting; they can adjust the amount of light by simply moving their eyelids.

Photo Source: Janice Willson

What is the pH of distilled water?

Pure water has a value of approximately 7 at a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius but this value decreases as the temperature rises. At 50 degrees Celsius, it is 6.55. Also, water that has been exposed to the air will become slightly acidic because it absorbs carbon dioxide from the air.

Photo Source: Janice Willson

What gives of enough heat to light a 100-watt light bulb?

As per recent studies, discoveries in the field of physics have concluded that a nude human body constantly radiates around 1000 watts of heat and absorbs around 900 watts. However, once the person covers his body with clothes, the outflow of heat reduces dramatically due to the exterior barrier. The amount of heat outflow from the naked human body is more than enough to light a 100-watt light bulb.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

What speed is not constant?

We have all heard about the speed of light (299,792,458 metres per second) being the fastest that something can travel but in actuality this only refers to the speed within a vacuum. In reality, light slows down anytime it passes through something and has been measured at a rate as slow as 61 kilometres per hours at absolute zero (-273.15 degrees Celsius) through ultra-cooled rubidium.

Photo Source: Jack Delano (Wikimedia Commons)

Why does “one bad apple spoil the whole bushel”?

Bruised, damaged, or overripe fruit gives off a hormone that speeds up the ripening of other fruit. Ethylene is a hormone produced and released by the growing tips of roots, flowers, damaged tissue, and ripening fruit. Ethylene is thought of as an aging hormone in plants. In addition to causing fruit to ripen, it can cause plants to die. It has a wide range of effects on plants and their fruit depending on the age of the plant/fruit and its sensitivity to ethylene.

Photo Source: Sven Teschke (Wikimedia Commons)

What is a “bergy seltzer”?

Also known as ice sizzle, this is the cracking or sizzling sound that a glacier or iceberg makes when trapped air bubbles within the ice are released during the melting of said ice. It is similar to the sound made by carbonated beverages but much louder..

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

What is the most deadly poisonous animal in the world?

The Box Jellyfish found in the waters of Asia and Australia, has toxins that attack the heart, nervous system, and skin cells. The worst part about their venom is that it is excruciatingly painful which causes the victim to go into shock almost immediately and drown or die of heart failure before even reaching the shore. You virtually have no chance of surviving a box jellyfish sting unless you receive immediate medical attention.

Photo Source: Jan Bielecki (Wikimedia Commons)

What element, in its liquid state, can flow against gravity?

When helium is cooled to almost absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius), the lowest temperature possible, it becomes a liquid with surprising properties: it flows against gravity and will start running up and over the lip of a glass container. When helium is just a few degrees below its boiling point of -269 degrees Celsius it will suddenly do things other liquids are incapable of like dribble through molecule-thin cracks, climb up and over the sides of a dish, and remain motionless when its container is spun.

If you want to see this reaction, do an internet search for “superfluidity of helium”. It is pretty interesting.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

What food stuff does not spoil?

Honey is a food-stuff oddity in that, unlike the majority of food, it does not spoil over time. There has even been a sample of honey dating back 3000 years to ancient Egypt. Honey’s water content of 17% is much lower than that of bacteria or fungi and its acidity.

Photo Source: Janice Willson

What common classroom article is made up of trillions of microscopic skeleton fossils of plankton?

Chalk, also known as calcium carbonate is a soft white limestone formed from the skeletal remains of sea creatures.

Photo Source: Janice Willson

What animal exhibits voting behaviour?

When bees need to move their hive and/or show others where the best food sources are, they will dance their opinion to the rest of the hive. A bee will dance more actively to convince the other bees from their hive that their choice is better than the others’. Majority rules in the hive.

Photo Source: Janice Willson

What organism has the mechanisms to physically break down raw stone?

Lichens are a composite organism combining algae and fungi living in a symbiotic relationship. Lichen covers an estimated 6% of the Earth’s surface and has the ability to chemically and physically break down stone as well as other materials.

Photo Source: Janice Willson

What animal does not show up on infrared?

Polar bears are almost entirely invisible in infrared vision. The polar bears’ layers of fur and blubber trap their body heat well below their skin, leaving the outer layer to be roughly the same temperature as the snow around them.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons