Page 10 - Science Facts

Although scientists have made a lot of progress in studying tornados, there is still no definite way of predicting them.

Scientists have learned a lot by studying tornadoes. The knowledge gained has helped significantly in determining weather patterns and various aspects of storms. But there is still a lot that we don't know.

Tornadoes that form from supercells are the most common type. It's generally known how these tornadoes form, but there are still a lot of specifics missing. For example, no one's really sure why some storms form very intense tornadoes while others form weak ones.

There are other kinds of tornadoes whose formations no one is sure about, though. Long-lived tornadoes and tornadoes with multiple vortices are, for the most part, a mystery. There have been attempts to understand them, but none have succeeded.

One of these attempts was with a device nicknamed TOTO, which was the inspiration for the device used in the film 'Twister.' Instead of balls that flew around in the tornado, TOTO was a heavy metal cylinder.

Essentially, for the device to work, scientists had to take a 250-pound device to a field with nothing around, get it off the truck and in the correct position, and then hope that the tornado happened to cross its path. Sounds hard enough, but there's always the increased risk of being struck by lightning while standing in an open field handling a metal object in the middle of an intense storm.

TOTO actually almost worked once, but sadly it was too top heavy and was knocked over by the winds of the weak tornado before it ever got to work.


86% of all plants and animals on land and 91% of those in the oceans remain undiscovered.

According to what's being called the most accurate estimate of life on Earth to date, humans share the planet with about 8.7 million different life forms. The majority of those species are insects and live on land. Only one-quarter (2.2 million) are in the ocean, which is amazing, considering 70% of the Earth's surface is water.

The study makes us aware of just how little we know about life on Earth. "Scientists have been working on this question of how many species for so many years," said Dr Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The fact is that 86% of all plants and animals on land and 91% of those in the oceans have not yet been named or catalogued, the study reported. "The truth is we are still so ignorant … There is still not a plot of tropical forest anywhere in the world that has been inventoried completely—not even a hectare," said Rob Dunn, author of 'Every Living Thing.' This means that only 14% of creatures on Earth have been logged—and only a mere 9% of those in the seas.

At the current pace, it would take 300,000 specialists 1,200 years to describe the new discoveries and enter them into a database. That would mean that many species will be extinct before we even become aware of their existence.


A librarian found smallpox stored inside a 19th century medical book!

On March 31, 2003, Susanne Caro found an envelope inside an 1888 Civil War medical book in the College of Santa Fe's library. On the envelope was written: "scabs from vaccination of W.B. Yarrington's children." This statement was signed by the book's author, Dr. W. D. Kelly. Just as he said, inside the envelope were scabs.

Caro contacted the National Museum of Civil War Medecine to see if they wanted the scabs. The museum's director knew that, during the 19th century, bits of scabs of patients with with mild cases of smallpox were inserted into the skin of healthy people. This helped them develop an immunity to the disease. The museum took the scabs and contacted the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

Researchers planned to study the scabs to learn more about smallpox and how we came to have our current smallpox vaccination.


Some awesome lists!

Ever walk into a new room and forget why you were there? You're not the only one!

There's something that we use every day without "thinking"about it, yet it is the most mysterious organ in our body.

Using our brain to think about our brain gives even the most advanced scientists and health doctors a headache.

One of the most infuriating things the brain does is make us instantly forget why we walked into a room as soon as you do it. Why am I here?

Notre Dame scientist Gabriel Radvansky had had enough forgetting and set out to understand why it happens, spending close to 20 years to find the answer. He finally made some progress (without forgetting about it).

He used computer-based and real-world experiments to see how memories are affected by changing their surroundings.

The tasks the subjects were given were simple enough: They were instructed to pick up a colored shape and take it to another table. The second table was either in the same room or a different one. About 50 of the computer-simulated subjects every so often asked what they had just put down. Radvansky found that passing through a door heightened errors.

This is known as "event boundary," where our brains compartmentalize and tie memories to the environment. When you enter another room, your brain creates a new file for it—storing everything you knew about the first room away.


Open your mouth really wide. Does your jaw pop? Find out why

Ready for a fact that has a chance to completely ruin your day and drive you crazy until the end of time? If you're too intrigued to look away, then here it is: About a third of the human population can feel and even hear a slight pop or click when the mouth is opened all the way. Now that you've all tried it, are you able to get it out of your mind?

The jaw joint, formally known as the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ for short, is the part of our jaw that glides down and forward when we open our mouth. A small, soft, lubricated disk, known as the articular disk, exists between the rounded end of the jaw bone and the skull, and it allows the mouth to open smoothly.

Unfortunately, the disk may not be big enough or the correct shape, causing crepitus—the grating, crackling, and popping sound that people hear at their joints.

Don't worry, though; it's as common as it is irritating. A doctor analyzed 1099 jaws of dental hygiene students between 1970 and 1986 and found that 61.2% had no popping or clicking sound and 38.9% did have the popping (17.1% on the right side, 12.7% on the left side, and 9.1% on both sides).

Now go eat a big burger, and try to ignore that annoying pop!



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