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Friday, December 30, 2011

The Top 10 Facts of ALL Time

Cool facts

1. Where is Uranus? We can't believe people keep asking us this one since the answer is so obvious. "Well, where do you think?" If the entire solar system were reduced to the scale of your body - with the sun at your head and Pluto at your feet - then Uranus would be located exactly where you think it'd be. Incidentally, if anyone ever asks you if Uranus has any rings around it, you should stand up and proudly say, "Yes, indeed! Nine, to be exact. But you can't see them with the naked eye. They are only visible through high-powered telescopes." 

2. Do mummies have brains? We've been asked this question so many times that we finally went out and learned the real answer, which is something we ordinarily hate to do. It turns out that mummies don't have brains for the simple reason that the Egyptians dug them out and tossed them. They reached in through their mummy noses with little hooks and fished them out. It's all part of the mummification process. (There now, aren't you glad you asked? ) 

 3. Do Termites have gas problems? Yes, they do. But before you act all surprised and grossed out, remember that termites eat wood and wood is difficult to digest. Try it sometime. The result is unfortunate, but hardly unexpected, often leading to awkward social situations. Incidentally, there are enough termites in the world, and each of them emits enough methane, that they (and cows, too, for that matter) have been identified as significant sources of greenhouse gases and thus, contribute to global warming. P.S. Ancient termites have been discovered trapped in pieces of amber in which tiny bubbles can sometimes be seen in a little chain coming from their south ends. How embarrassing is that? 

4. Are Martians dangerous? Only one person that we know of has been killed by a Martian and there's an asterisk attached since the person was actually a dog (in Nakhla, Egypt, 1911). And the Martian was actually just a rock that came from Mars. But still. The rock was exploded off the surface of Mars millions of years ago by an asteroid impact. It then proceeded on a long flight plan that eventually ended on the head of an Egyptian dog. The meteorite was saved and, more than 50 years later, analyzed. Only then was it discovered to have originated on Mars. 

5. How do they get rid of the bugs, before they make cereal? The answer, you'll be a little unhappy to learn, is they don't. At least not all of them. Cereal is made from things like rice or wheat or corn, and grains like that have lots of insects on them when they get harvested. Plus, bugs get into them when they are stored and transported. The processing kills most of them (hopefully) but that leaves dead bug carcasses and dead bug parts. Yuck. The law allows a percentage of every box of cereal to be "insect parts and bodies." Although you will not find them on the list of ingredients, they are in there. In two cups of cereal (50 grams) there are allowed to be 75 insect parts. 

6. I think my little brother is an ape. He says he is not. Who's right? Technically speaking, he is; but it's actually very close. Ninety-nine percent of an ape's DNA is identical to human DNA. 

7. Are bugs bugged by bugs? You'd think bugs would be nice to each other, since they're all about the same size and sort of look alike and so forth. But in fact, a lot of bugs are horrible to each other - really horrible. For example: Did you know that fleas have fleas? (We're calling them fleas, but they're actually mites.) Except that when you're already a flea, your own fleas are about the size of Frisbees (relatively speaking). Or think what life is like for the caterpillar. One species of wasp lays its eggs inside a caterpillar with its stinger. Then the baby wasp grows up, eating the caterpillar from the inside out. Yuck! Fortunately, caterpillars know how to fight dirty, too. They are able to eject their tiny doo-doo at high speed toward the attacking wasps. Ready! Aim! Fire doo-doo!  

8. What do well-bred ladies do with whale vomit? The answer, you'll be pleased to know, is put it behind their ears. But wait a minute! Don't worry! They don't use new whale vomit (that would be disgusting). They use old whale vomit. It washes up on beaches sometimes. French perfume manufacturers have used it for years in their more expensive fragrances. These days, good quality whale vomit is very rare and illegal to sell in the U.S. (Google "ambergris" if you don't believe us.) 

9. If the rate of population growth doesn't change in the future, what's going to happen? The population of the Earth, which is a little over 6 billion people, will double every 40 years. Therefore, if we do the math, 2,400 years from now Planet Earth will be a packed ball of human flesh expanding outward at the speed of light. 

10. What would happen if a penny dropped off the Empire State Building and hit me on the head? You'll probably be disappointed with this answer, but it would not burn a hole in your head. A falling penny acts a good bit more like a feather than a rock. A penny reaches a top speed of something like 40 mph in free fall. It might sting, but that's about it.

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