Page 4 - Science Facts

There's a type of mould that can form networks remarkably similar to major railway systems!

When you think of mold you probably don’t associate it with intelligence, but some molds can work in pretty complex ways. Professor John Tyler Bonner, who has spent a lifetime studying slime molds, says that he's seen the mold act with behavior similar to animals, as if they have “simple brains.”

It’s no secret that Mother Nature often creates things so complex that we can only marvel at them. Humans get some of our best technologies by studying the way nature has done things, such as creating transportation systems. Millions of years of evolution have gone into developing these systems, from our own nervous systems to ant colonies. A group of scientists in Tokyo decided to recruit slime mold to help them find ways of improving on our own transportation networks.

Atsushi Tero of Hokkaido University used the slime mold Physarum polycephalum to do this. It was done by placing the mold in a central location that represented Tokyo, then placing oat flakes around it where other major cities around Tokyo would be located. Since the mold uses the flakes as food, it would grow towards these “cities.” The last step was to represent real obstacles such as mountains and bodies of water. Tero achieved this by shining bright light on those places, as the mold avoids light.

This whole experiment was done in a dish about 20cm or 7.8 inches in diameter. This was all to scale, of course. The result was actually strikingly similar to the rail system that was already in place in Tokyo.

It’s amazing how a simple mold can be so efficient. On top of mimicking rail systems, the mold can find the most effective way of linking together scattered sources of food, and it can even find the shortest path through a maze, as well as other impressive feats.

Score one for Mother Nature.


There's a drug so effective at burning fat that it can cook you to death!

DNP , was first used as a weight loss drug in the 1920's. As a result, the drug's use became incredibly popular because of the incredible results that it could produce!

However, in 1938, the drug was banned by the Food and Drug Association because of the number of deaths that the drug was leading to! The drug is now used to kill fungus, but among bodybuilders, the drug is showing it's ugly face once more as a weight loss supplement.

The way DNP works, is that it blocks your body from producing triphosphate, which helps your body produce energy. As a result, your body starts to burn body fat in an emergency attempt to gain energy.

Your body tries to change it's metabolism so quickly, that if you take too much DNP, your body temperature will rise and you will begin to sweat profusely. Furthermore, your internal body temperature can reach 106 degrees Fahrenheit - and you will have literally cooked your insides, and you will die.


How does a Mars rover celebrate its first birthday? By singing, of course! Yes, robots can sing...

Everyone's had that one sad birthday, driving around town alone looking for anything that might be fun to celebrate. Friends are busy, family is far away, and the whole world just seems to have forgotten your special day.

Well, buck up! At least you aren't stuck on Mars!

NASA's Mars exploration rover, Curiosity, landed on the martian surface on August 5, 2012, making that its birthday (since it was technically "born" on Mars, not necessarily built that day). But what's a lonely robot to do once it reaches its first birthday? Sing happy birthday to itself, of course!

Scientists programmed Curiosity to "sing" the famous birthday song using the Sample Analysis on Mars (or SAM), a really fancy, sophisticated chemistry lab sent along on the rover. The SAM is programmed to resonate at different frequencies to filter fine pieces of martian dust through it. Using this tool, they managed to resonate the song that could be audibly heard in the thin Mars atmosphere.

Unfortunately, no cake, presents, or little green men were there to help celebrate.


Some awesome lists!

Sapphires and rubies are the same stone. They only look different due to slight impurities!

Sapphires and rubies look quite different. While both precious stones, sapphires are known to be deep blue and rubies are red. However, they are actually the same stone. Corundum is a crystalline form of aluminum oxide. It is naturally clear but can be different colors when it has impurities.

If corundum is red, it is known as ruby. If it is pink-orange, it’s called padparadscha. All other colors are referred to as sapphire. So sapphires can actually be other colors besides blue. For example, there are green sapphires.

Apart from its beauty, corundum is known for it's hardness (it can scratch almost every other mineral) and it's high density. It is mined in Russia, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and India.


Ever heard that the Great Wall can be seen from the moon? It's FALSE and the myth started in 1754!

This is one of those weird rumors that refuses to die. It's become part of pop culture. In fact, when you search Google for "Great Wall of China seen from the moon," you get over 4 million results. The most interesting part is that it's a fake fact that got started way before humanity dreamt about going to the moon. 

A man named William Stukeley has the first known appearance of this myth. One of his letters written in 1754 says that " the Chinese Wall, […] makes a considerable figure upon the terrestrial globe, and may be discerned at the moon." 

This fake fact even appeared in a Ripley's Believe it or Not strop, and the Second Book of marvels. In fact, in order for the Great Wall to be seen from the mone, it would have to be over 70 miles in diameter, and have to have significant contrast with the areas surrounding it. The Great Wall is at most 30 feet wide, and of similar color to the soil around it. 

To put it in context, the width of the Great Wall as seen from the moon would appear the same as if you viewed a human hair from 2 miles away. That means you would have to be able to see 17,000 times better than a 20/20 vision!



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