Page 6 - Science Facts

NASA plans to start a garden on the Moon next year!

It's a great time to be alive when all of the cliches seen in sci-fi movies time and time again are starting to become a reality.

Men landing on the moon, versatile rovers roam Mars and now we're just a couple years away from starting plant life on our neighboring celestial bodies.

Arabidopsis is a small flowering plant that is closely related to mustard or cabbage, both useful when trying to colonize another planet ecologically. More importantly, it contains one of the model organism that is key for studying plant biology, especially since it's the first plant to have its entire genome sequenced.

NASA, the American space agency, set its sights on Arabidopsis to be part of the first garden on the Moon and Mars. Ambitiously, NASA plans to have it planted on the Moon by 2015, as in next year. Mars isn't that far behind with a target date of 2021.

This very well could be the first step of plans to one day send men and women to live on distant worlds, hopefully with food and water already set up for them.


Parrots can dance perfectly to the beat of music and scientists believe it is because they can also learn to mimic sound

Humans are not the only species that can learn to dance to music. Scientists have discovered a link between the ability to mimic sound and the ability to dance.

This is not a large group, but it includes whales and dolphins, seals and sea lions, elephants, some bats, parrots, hummingbirds and songbirds.

The ability of these animals to move to a beat depend on strong ties between the sense of hearing and motor control.

Parrots are particularly skilled in keeping in perfect beat with music, usually bobbing their heads in time to the rhythm. Looking at the two celebrity internet sensations, Alex the African Grey parrot and Snowball, the white cockatoo, their moves are best when they are listening to their favorite song.

This might leave you thinking they have been trained to make certain moves at certain times during the song, but scientists who studied the two birds considered that and conducted tests to see if that is the case.

They played music the parrots never heard before at different speeds, and the birds consistently caught onto the beat and soon they were shaking their tail feathers and dancing to the music.

The scientists found fifteen examples of vocal learning species of animals that can dance on YouTube—14 parrots and one Asian Elephant. The conclusion is that you have to be able to learn to mimic sounds before you can learn to move to a beat.


A one-year-old boy in India has broken a world record after being born with 34 fingers and toes!

Akshat Saxena had seven fingers on each hand and ten toes on each foot, according to a spokesman for Guinness World Records. This beats the previous record of a Chinese boy born with 31 fingers and toes.

The condition is known as polydactyly and is a rare genetic condition that makes unborn babies grow extra fingers and toes, usually on the little finger side of the hand. The parents were shocked, but did not know that their baby was so unusual. A family friend finally convinced them to go on the internet and enter the data. That's when they found that their kid had broken the world record.

The boy went into surgery and after 16 hours, he now only has 10 fingers and 10 toes.


Some awesome lists!

The point where the Sun and Jupiter orbit each other lies 15,114.85 miles outside the Sun and is called the barycentre

The barycenter is the point between to objects where they balance each other.

In astronomy, it's actually the center of mass where two or more celestial bodies (planets or stars etc.) orbit one another.

In most cases the celestial bodies are not exactly the same size and therefore the barycenter is not always exactly in the center of the largest of those bodies.

A very good example of this is Jupiter and the Sun. Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system.

It's also known as the gas giant. It's heavier than all the planets combined. But even with its great mass, it still only weighs one one-thousandth as much as the Sun!

This means the Sun is the major mass in the orbit between the Sun and Jupiter. The barycenter between the sun and Jupiter is located outside the sun. The distance it is located at outside of the sun is 7% of the radius of the sun.

This may not seem like a lot, but you can easily fit the Earth and two of Earth’s moons into that distance and still have a bit of space left. Compared to the size of the Sun and Jupiter however, that 7% is actually not a lot at all – it's only 15,114.85 miles.


Nerve damage stops fingers from wrinkling under water!

It’s no secret that human fingers (and toes) wrinkle under water.

It’s kind of hard to miss, considering it happens to us all. Well, not all of us. Those with nerve damage actually don’t prune!

This was discovered after a man fell through a glass door and cutting his wrist pretty badly.

After a few weeks he noticed that only some of his fingers were becoming wrinkled under water. He brought this up to doctor and they found that they were the same fingers that had sensory defects.

This isn’t just something that’s interesting to know and that’s it. It can be helpful in the real world. It can be used to test whether further, surgical exploration into a wound is needed without having to actually slice into the patient. It can be used as a quick assessment for doctors.

This discovery is further evidence to the recently proposed reason for skin wrinkles. For a long time it was thought that our skin swells when in water for a sustained period, but that seems to be wrong.

Instead, it’s an evolutionary trait that allows us to grip better in wet environments. The fact that nerve damage affects the wrinkles definitely helps this case.



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