Saturday, 31 March 2012

10 Things you didn't know 5 minutes ago! (Part 4)

We are at that time of the week again!

10. Uranus spins on it's side

It spins like a barrel, this is thought to be because of a collision with a planet-like body earlier in the solar system's history.

9. Butterflies taste things through their feet

Their receptors for taste are on their feet, so to test if a flower is safe if stands on it for a moment to try it. Which is why you see them land for a second then fly away after.

8. Although the Stegosaurus was 9m long, its' brain was the size of a walnut

Erm, I guess that's why it didn't survive the asteroid impact..

7. Suicide bomber ants
wrong place at the wrong time

Yes you read that correctly, a species of Malaysian ants carry glands all over their body which allow it to literally explode and cover their enemies in a toxin spraying from where it's head used to be.

6. Humpback whales sing the same song all over the world

But not only is that amazing enough, the song changes annually! Think of it like a whale national anthem, only it changes every year, and every whale knows it.

5. Oysters can change sex

Ever wondered what it's like to be a girl? Or a guy if you're a girl, well if you're one of these shelled creatures you can! Unfortunately you're not so you cant..

This is because they're asexual, so a few brave members of the species take one for the team and turn opposite gender.

4. You can't kill yourself by holding your breath

Your body just simply won't let you, the most you can do is faint and then you'll be breathing again.

3. How to test a pearl is real

Maybe you've found one on the beach, or maybe you've found one on the floor.

Want to see if it has any value? Just pour some vinegar on it, the chemical makeup of the pearl will cause it to bubble vigorously, of course then you'd be left with no pearl..

Okay here's a better test, bite the pearl gently, if it feels gritty then it is real, if it feels smooth, then it's an imitation.

2. Right handed people live 9 years longer on average than left handed people

Unfortunately I fall into that category :(, there are various reasons for this, most commonly being susceptibility to more accidents.

Evidence also suggests that left handed people may be a marker for birth stress related neuropathy (disease of the peripheral nerves which are the nerves that carry infomation to your brain).

1. If you rub an onion on your foot you can taste it in 30-60 minutes

This is due to the chemicals within the onion, it travels through your bloodstream and into your taste buds.

It works with garlic as well, this is because it contains a mild toxin which can seep through just about every membrane.

This is why people can smell if you've been eating it, not from your breath but from your skin.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Largest full face transplant is successful

A team at the Maryland medical centre have completed a 36 hour operation replacing a man's entire face, including all his teeth, jaw and tongue. This resembles the largest transplant recorded.

This is a huge benchmark for medicine, as the US is now looking for troops eligible for face transplants.

The first ever face transplant was carried out in 2005 on a woman who had been mauled by her dog.

Hidden hero

The donor who wants to remain anonymous has not only saved this man's life by donating his face, but also 5 others by donating other organs which took 72 hours for the whole procedure.

Richard lee Norris

Suffering horrific injuries in a gun accident, he lost his lips, nose and was capable of only partial movement in his mouth.

After the incident Norris cut himself off from society, never making public appearances, even doing his shopping in the evening to avoid attention.

Surgeon leader Eduardo Rodriguez: "He put the mirror down and hugged me"

"Our goal is to restore function as well as have aesthetically pleasing results" he said.

Leader Eduardo is happy than Mr Norris would get his life back

He is now already brushing his teeth and shaving regularly according to the medical centre.

He has also regained the sense of smell according to the medical centre.

This CT scan shows his skull after the accident. Surgeons carried out a number of reconstructive operations
Surgeons first removed damaged parts of the face and skin graphed areas from his forehead and other regions of Richard's body to fix his injured face
With aid of computer modelling, the surgeons were able to re construct his face, using teeth, bones and the face of his donor to transplant onto him. Nerves and underlying tissue were also transplanted so Richard could gain control over his new identity.

Richard must take anti rejection drugs for the rest of his life so that his body can adapt to his new face.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

You better stand up to read this, sitting for too long may kill you

Chances are, you're sitting down right now!

A huge study of over 200,000 people regarding standing up was published in the journal internal medicine.

It shows that standing up more often reduces your chance of dying in the next 3 years for nearly 40%. Physically active? There's no hiding, standing up is just as good for you as for anyone!

The study was on a large scale which increases reliability of these findings.

How long should I be up and about?

The research shows that adults who spent more than 11 hours a day sat down had a 40% increased chance of dying in the next 3 years than people who sat for less than 4 hours a day.

Signs that you sit down too much are:

  • Bigger waist sizes
  • Higher level cholesterol
  • Higher level blood sugar and triglyceride's.

Keep up those morning runs and trips to the gym!

Physical activity is still essential, statistics being inactive people have double the chance of dying within 3 years than active people.

The average adult spends 90% of their leisure time sat time, eg watching tv, driving, playing xbox etc.

Even more alarming is the amount of people who don't meet the WHO's (world health organization) exercise recommendations, less than 50%!

Heart foundation CEO Tony Thirlwell said that being inactive increases the risk for cardiovascular disease substantially.

Cardiovascular disease is responsible for around 17 million deaths worldwide every year!

If you're wondering why people get out and move in aeroplanes, this is the reason!

Modern entertainment

Nowadays a lot of activities are based around sitting down, noticeably the majority of activities young people take part in.

For example using computers, playing computer games, watching tv, even sitting in cars during traffic.

Don't you think it's about time to get up and have a walk?

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Smoking may increase risk of Schizophrenia

Yet another disadvantage of smoking appears in the news..

Smoking may feel good, but here's another wave of crippling downsides.


Schizophrenia has for a long time thought to be hereditary, but even though countless studies and research goes towards it, not even the gene has been isolated.

Many attempted treatments have appeared to have just worsened the symptoms. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder expressed by sudden changes of thought, and poor emotive response.

It ties in with many other disorders too such as depression and drug abuse.

Common symptoms are hallucinations (most report hearing voices), delusions, inability to create flowing sentences and a noticeable absence in social groups if any.


When you process a certain stimuli, most mentally well people suppress all irrelevant stimuli so their brain can focus on the main one.

The study

Boris Quednow and his team lead a study of over 1,800 people to investigate the connection between schizophrenia and a gene called TCF4. This gene plays a role in early brain development.

The study showed that the carriers of TCF4 filtered stimuli less effectively, and this effect was increased with the factor of smoking.

It's also not coincidence that the good majority of those with schizophrenia and smokers as well.

The scientists surveyed the interactions the subjects did with other people and deduced that smoking alters the impact of genes associated with schizophrenia.

Monday, 26 March 2012

What is deja vu?

Haven't you already read this?

I had to fit this in..
Deja vu is not yet fully understood, but there are 40 odd theories trying to unravel the mystery. Generally it can be triggered by any of the 5 senses; touch, smell, sight, taste and hearing.

Deja vu is often confused with Precognitive experiences, this is when you have the feeling something will happen and it does.

Precognitive experience are when you think something will happen in the future, not the past!

Most scientists agree it's to do with your memory acting like a cache, remembering bits of information.

The Cell Phone theory

This is one of the most credited theories for Deja vu, during experimentation..

A group of students were randomly picked and shown photos at subliminal speeds (For around 10 milliseconds).

They weren't able to physically comprehend and make out the photo, however their brain registers that there was a photo. They then were shown the actual photos.

The photos the students were subliminally flashed with beforehand were reported to be a lot more familiar than the photos that weren't flashed, even though that they didn't have sufficient time to comprehend the photo.

To prove that it had nothing to do with colours, the study was repeated again by Larry Jacoby from Washington University with words, and the same effect was observed.

They deduced that our brain constantly subliminally takes in information from our surroundings, and dubbed the theory the "Cell Phone" theory, because when we're on the phone we don't pay conscious attention to our environment.

In the real world

An example would include when you visit a friend's house, when you talk to them at the door, you have a glimpse into the room, which your brain takes note of.

Then when you walk into the room you feel like you've been in there before.

This can happen similarly such as in a restaurant when you smell the food on the table next to you, you happen to order the same dish and you now think you've had the dish before!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The planets that travel at 30 million mph

Okay, you may have realised, it's quite fast.. but still it's only a twentieth of the speed of light!

These badass planets are some of the fastest moving things in our universe, but since they're planets you should give them more credit!
Supermassive black holes

As you probably know, there's a supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. 

Now it's no ordinary black hole (as you can guess by the name). 

It's a super badass black hole which has the power to engulf everything. 
Think of it as the big evil black creature from mario, it destroys EVERYTHING. 

Anyway, the supermassive black hole is the reason why our galaxy is swirling and rotating and looks like a spiral.

So planets..

Miss the first sunset? Catch it again on Sunset+1!
When a dual solar system (like our solar system but with 2 suns) goes near a supermassive black hole, the black hole rips it apart, sending one sun into the hole of doom and the other slingshots out like a cannonball (only a lot faster).

Because planets orbit the sun, scientists have simulated this and reckon it'll fly with the sun.

So what if you managed to travel at that speed?

  1. You could travel from London to New York in less than half a second!
  2. You could fly to the moon in about 30 seconds
  3. You would get from Macclesfield to London in 0.0000050 seconds! (Beats driving there in 4 hours..)

Saturday, 24 March 2012

10 Things you didn't know 5 minutes ago! (Part 3)

Here's the next chapter!

10. Women speak more than men

Women speak roughly 7000 words a day, men speak roughly just over 2000.

9. One human hair can support 3kg

Pretty cool this, it explains why you can't pull a patch of hair out at one time (not that you'd want to anyway).

8. Every second 10,000,000 of your cells die

Your body is a factory there's no doubt in that, every one of your cell is undergoing mitosis right now, replicating each cell so that when one dies, there's one to replace it.

If 10 million cells die a second, then the amount of cells which die in a year is 3.15 x10^14, to appreciate this value, that is 315,000,000,000,000 cells!

7. The hardest bone in your body is the jawbone

Your jawbone, the tool you use to crack nuts, and gnaw your way though a delicious steak.

The average human biting force is just short of 1000N.

The T-rex though had a biting force of 57000 newtons which would no doubt crush through most materials.

6. Why parrots can talk

Parrots have 4 vocal chords.

Now I'm sure you're thinking 'yeah but we have 2' or 'why can't monkey?'

Parrots have an organ called the syrinx which is good at modulating sounds. Apes however have a more compact mouth and their soft palate is not free (the back of the roof of your mouth).

5. Why Pi doesn't end

Pi if you don't know if the ratio of the circumference to diameter of a perfect circle. It doesn't end because it is irrational or it cannot be expressed as a simple fraction, so far pi has been calculated to a few trillion digits, never repeating itself.

4. Every second, over 1000 lightning bolts strike the earth

That's some serious electricity! If we could harness all this some way, we wouldn't have to touch fossil fuels ever again!

3. Human tapeworms can grow up to 23m

Tapeworms are parasites, they survive by living off you basically, while they make constant company, do you want a 23 metre one crawling around your body?

2. Water is bulletproof

Next time you're being shot at, take a dive into a nearby lake or pond. Experiments have been done to find if being shot at underwater still penetrates skin.

To do this, they scientists created a gel target seeing as they weren't keen to take one for science.

They found that the bullets quickly decelerated within a couple feet of water and didn't penetrate the gel target.

1. You can use salami as rocket fuel

This was tested in a myth-busters episode, the salami is rich in nitrates, so when an oxidising agent was added, the mini rocket shoots up.

To prove the salami had an effect, a control was used by another rocket just using nitrous oxide. However when the salami was added the rocket has 3x as much thrust.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Sorry again

Sorry no article tonight again, will be spending the night cramming music practice for my exam on saturday!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The size of your nose affects how much you eat

It's known that the stronger the smell of food, the less you tend to eat, this could mean that our nose size affects the bite size, and consequently how much we eat which potentially defines our weight.

Dutch scientists reported in the journal Flavour how aromas from food affect how much we eat.

Bite size is not a defined variable. It varies between people and even between the food you eat. 

Many things affect bite size, for example..
  • viscosity 
  • reputation of the food
  • how full you are
  • even the mood of the person

The denser the food, the harder it is to break it down, therefore you naturally take smaller bites. But even as you enjoy your dinner, as you eat more, you become more full and subsequently take smaller bites during the length of your meal.

Rene A de Wijk, a Dutch scientist and his team carried out an experiment on 10 volunteers. 

He got 10 volunteers between the ages of 26-50 to eat vanilla custard (I bet you want to volunteer right?) to experiment aroma vs bite size.

The taste of the custard did not change, but the intensity of the smell did. 

There were 3 types of aromas of the same tasting custard
  • No aroma
  • Weak 
  • Strong
Results showed that there was a strong link between the smell and bite size. The stronger the aroma, the smaller the bite size.

One interesting observation was that the second to last bite was always smaller. 

This study could play important roles in weight loss. Perhaps if you're trying to cut the pounds, try adding strong aromas to your food.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Sex enabled the first birds to fly

Scientists have discovered a dinosaur with a collection of glossy feathers which suggests it was sex, not aerodynamics which drove them to fly.

The Microraptor

The genus splits into 4 distinct species called 'winged dromaeosaurid dinosaurs'.

This specific bird is famous for it's glossy colours similar to that of when you look at the rainbow effect of an oil leak.

Sexual signalling

For centuries scientists have been debating the origin of flight, and was previously thought to be from small feathers having aerodynamic properties which eventually grew into wings.

But lately it's clear that birds have more uses for feathers than flying.

Most birds use their colours or other features to compete with other usually male birds for mates.

Down to business

Analysis of the bones from a Microraptor show that it was unable to flap it's wings to fly. It has the feathers to fly, but the bone structure means it can only hover, not flap.

This suggests that the feathers were put only developed for on show purposes and actually have no part in flight (yet!)

The tail tuft is also for display

Normally tails are used during flight for aerodynamic purposes, but analysis of the Microraptor's tail showed that the feathers were too spread out to have any aerodynamic capability.

This suggests that they also were for ornamental use which scientists reckon played a crucial part in the mating game.

Through more evidence it's discovered that many land animals have tail tufts which were also used for only display purposes, this means that the tail had no factor into the development of flight.

Sex before flight

This paints a new picture for the origin of feathers, the origin now being mating components and sexual signalling.

This all points the finger at when the bird did develop flying capabilities.

We can now be sure that flight was not the primary purpose of feathers, sexual signalling was. But further down the evolution line it opened a capability which allowed them to live

Monday, 19 March 2012


Sorry but I am not around today so there will no post tonight! x

Sunday, 18 March 2012

10 Things you didn't know 5 minutes ago! (Part 2)

Here's part two of things you didn't know!

10. A weapon could turn you gay

Some people named this the gay bomb. The U.S air force planned on developing a chemical weapon which can turn the victims homosexual.

Recently I heard they dropped this over Canada just before Justin Bieber's rise to fame!

9. Astronauts can't burp

Well, on earth they can..

There's no gravity in space to separate the liquid from gas, and so gas can't flow to the top of the stomach.

8. Picking your nose and eating it is healthy

Strong evidence shows that it gives your body smaller doses of bacteria which makes the body produce antibodies to fight against.

This strengthens the immune system. Better now than later right?

7. Alcohol in space

The gas cloud that makes up Sagittarius B contain a billion billion billion (x10^27) litres of alcohol, anyone plan on opening a pub called Sagittarius?

6. Our moon is extremely dry

In fact, 1 million times drier than the treacherous Gobi desert, I doubt you'll be imagining oasis on the moon..

5. Around a trillion neutrinos from the sun will pass through your body while you read this sentence

Neutrino's are neutral sub atomic particles which have a mass close to 0. Being electically neutral, they don't react with much and the sun is completely packed of these.

4. You can die of laughter

In roughly 300 BC, a greek philospher called Chrysippus died of laughter after seeing a donkey eating some figs (absolutely hilarious).

3. The moon is moving away from the earth

Astronomers have observed the moon's orbit getting larger and larger. This works to the moon getting 3.8cm further away every year.

It's suspected though after 15 billion years that the distancing will stabilise at 1.6x the current distance.

2. Blood pumps out of your heart at 3 feet per second

This might seem slow, but if you measure out 3 feet, and consider the size of your heart (clench your fist) then it's quite remarkable.

Your heart doesn't stop pumping throughout your life, so if you live for 80 years, at 72bpm.

Here's the calculation..

72 beats in a minute x 60 minutes in an hour = 4320 beats in an hour.

4320 beats in an hour x 24 hours = 103680 beats in a day

103680 beats in a day x 365.25 days (0.25 so it's not complicated by leap years) = 37,869,120 beats in a year

37,869,120 beats in a year x 80 years = 3,029,529,600 beats in your lifetime!

And last but not least!


When a flea jumps, the acceleration is 20x faster than that of a shuttle launch!

How high and fast can you jump?

Fleas have the energy to catapult itself up a distance of 200x it's length. But how?

Scientists discovered that it's due to a special mechanism in their legs, a multi joint system. It has a structure inside which acts like an internal spring, allowing it to spring up to massive heights.

Scientists are planning to exploit this design into robots and the like.