Page 9 - Science Facts

It's possible to knock the Empire State Building over with dominoes--all you need is physics


Physics is crazy, and some simple slabs of wood or steel can lead to a storm of released energy that is enough to knock just about anything in the world over with enough of them.

Domino Magnification is the effect where any domino can knock over another one that is about 1.5 times larger than the one before.

With this logic, you can use a domino the size of a brick, find another 1.5 times larger than it, and pretty soon, by the 32nd brick you'd have one large enough to topple the Empire State Building. The video included in the source is the perfect example of how a domino the size of a bean can knock down a 100 pound slab in only 13 steps.

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Hiccups serve no purpose, but according to science it's something we have left over after evolving from fish


Hiccups are one of those annoying things our bodies do that serve absolutely no purpose. We do not have to hiccup, but according to Dr. Michael Mosley it is something we have left over from evolving from fish.

In fish, the nerves responsible for breathing only need to make a short journey from the brainstem to the throat and gills. In humans, through evolution, it has become a much more complex route.

For us to breathe properly the brainstem has to send messages to the throat, but also all the way down to the chest and the diaphragm. Because of this increased complexity, the nerves are prone to spasm which can start a hiccup.

Once started, the hiccups are kept going by a simple motor reflex which, according to Mosley, we inherited from an amphibian ancestor. He reckons this served a purpose for the ancient tadpole because it allowed the entrance to the lungs to remain open when breathing air, but shut when gulping water – allowing it to be directed to the gills.

Hiccups therefore have no value for humans or other mammals, but according to Dr. Mosley it does provide evidence of our common ancestry.

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A neuroscientist is reverse-engineering a human brain and if he succeeds it will be hugely beneficial for the human species


Henry Markram is a neuroscientist on a remarkable mission to reverse-engineer a human brain with digital simulations of all the physical properties of every neuron, powered by IBM Blue Gene supercomputers, by 2020. This project is known as 'Blue Brain'. It will be extremely useful in understanding and treating brain diseases and mental illness.

According to Markram there is not a single drug manufactured for brain diseases or mental illness that scientists can be certain of what effet they'll have on the brain, or what effect it really has on a molecular level. There is not a single brain disease that is completely understood by science.

This model he is building will give scientists a very clear understanding of what happens in the human brain; how it functions and how it responds to medication. According to him it will be the only way we will successfully be able to treat diseases like Alzheimer's disease and depression.

He says we will not solve these problems the way we are doing science today. Unless science is able to simulate the interactions between the brain and certain medications, it will be impossible to find answers.

Project Blue Brain is something that has never been attempted before, but huge progress is being made and documented on film. It is very exciting to think that, as early as 2020, we will finally have a comprehensive understanding of the most complex organ in the human body, and that will allow scientists to finally find ways to work on cures for its mysterious diseases.

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Some awesome lists!

The Apollo's memory modules sure were complicated--but really inefficient by today's standards!


When the United States set its sights on the moon in the early 1960s, the world didn't think it was possible. We were barely able to get a hunk of metal off the ground and into space, let alone a crew of brave human beings. Who could blame them, anyway? The technology was so laughable compared to now that your phone holds almost infinitely more data than the entire Apollo spacecrafts.

The memory module in the ships' computer is built with a lugnut-sized, donut-shaped magnetic core, which is placed into a module. The entire holder is filled with these tiny magnetic cores, which are then wired up with a needle that holds up to 20 feet of wire. A machine lines up with the correct core so that an operator could pass the wire through without error.

A single module can contain over 512 cores and over half a mile of wire. Each of these brick-sized modules could hold 65,000 bits of information. Sound like a lot? To put that in more modern computer terms: That's merely 65kB of storage, compared to the typical 20GB (20,971,520kB) on a single phone today

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Tibetans have evolved to live on less oxygen than most people! It is the strongest evidence of human evolution.


Tibetans have evolved to live on 40% less oxygen than can be found at sea level. Studies have found that there is a mutated gene called EPAS1 that has been found in 87% of Tibetans, which allows them to function normally at high altitudes without their bodies having to produce more hemoglobin. This may represent the strongest instance of documented evolution in humans to date.

"By identifying genes with mutations that are very common in Tibetans, but very rare in lowland populations we can identify genes that have been under natural selection in the Tibetan population," said Professor Rasmus Nielsen of the University of California Berkeley. "It is the fastest change in the frequency of a mutation described in humans," he said.

Populations living at high altitudes usually adapt by producing more red blood cells that transport oxygen to the body’s tissues, but Tibetans don’t have a high red blood cell count. EPAS1 regulates aerobic and anaerobic metabolism in the body. It helps the body balance anaerobic versus aerobic metabolism in such a way that it is more optimal for the environment of the Tibetan plateau.

What makes this evolution remarkable is that it happened within the last 2,750 years, which, as far as evolution goes, is a really short time frame.

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