Bizarre facts

For the discussion of the sciences. Physics problems, chemistry equations, biology weirdness, it all goes here.

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Zohar
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Bizarre facts

Postby Zohar » Tue Jul 31, 2007 12:16 pm UTC

I'm not sure if this should go in general or science but I think this one is slightly more appropriate.

Post your obscure and strange facts! About anything at all. For example:

Lions can mate up to 50 times a day, but it only takes a couple of minutes each time.

First one to write the duck and echo thing will be first to be shot when the revolution begins.
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Postby markfiend » Tue Jul 31, 2007 2:46 pm UTC

It's not particularly obscure, but it blows my mind that all life* on Earth uses (almost) the same genetic code and (almost) the same core biochemical pathways.

Common descent FTW.

*Well, all life so far discovered.

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Postby nilkemorya » Tue Jul 31, 2007 5:11 pm UTC

Fleas can live without eating for more than a year!

BTW...with a properly shaped room, and if you clamped the duck in place and it's quacks were all identical, you could construct a situation where a ducks quack doesn't echo, but everything else does. :shock: :twisted:

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Postby Cosmologicon » Tue Jul 31, 2007 5:18 pm UTC

Of the nine planets (pre-2006) in the solar system, guess how many are more massive than all smaller planets combined!

answer wrote:Nine. If you replace "more massive" with "larger in volume", it's eight, as Earth drops out.

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Postby 3.14159265... » Tue Jul 31, 2007 5:22 pm UTC

Cosmologicon wrote:Of the nine planets (pre-2006) in the solar system, guess how many are more massive than all smaller planets combined!

answer wrote:Nine. If you replace "more massive" with "larger in volume", it's eight, as Earth drops out.
THAT is news to me.

Flea's can jump 130 times higher than their own height. ADFGHJER
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Postby Herman » Tue Jul 31, 2007 5:31 pm UTC

Cosmoligicon,
Wow. That's pretty wild. I actually didn't believe that the other four (pre-2006) planets were together less massive than the Earth. So I checked -- they sneak under at about .98M(E). Cool!

My fact: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826, fifty years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Adams' last words were an anguished, "Jefferson lives!" but actually Jefferson had died a few hours earlier.

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Re: Bizarre facts

Postby Dibley » Tue Jul 31, 2007 6:41 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Lions can mate up to 50 times a day, but it only takes a couple of minutes each time.

First one to write the duck and echo thing will be first to be shot when the revolution begins.


And male lions are complete bitches. The male lion makes a pathetic mewling noise, while the female roars viciously and is otherwise very dominant. In other news, male lions (and all other cats) have barbed penii.

What's the duck/echo one?

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Postby Vaniver » Tue Jul 31, 2007 6:49 pm UTC

In other news, male lions (and all other cats) have barbed penii.
It's probably a bad thing that my first thought was "who doesn't know that?"

What's the duck/echo one?
There's a myth that ducks' quacks do not echo.
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Postby zenten » Tue Jul 31, 2007 6:49 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
In other news, male lions (and all other cats) have barbed penii.
It's probably a bad thing that my first thought was "who doesn't know that?"

What's the duck/echo one?
There's a myth that ducks' quacks do not echo.


Which was actually confirmed on Mythbusters, sort of.

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Postby MFHodge » Tue Jul 31, 2007 6:57 pm UTC

zenten wrote:Which was actually confirmed on Mythbusters, sort of.

Yeah, that was a good one. What they found is that the sound of the quack is like a damped sinusoidal wave, and the echo matches the original sound so closely that it couldn't be heard.

Very difficult to explain in words.
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Postby zenten » Tue Jul 31, 2007 7:04 pm UTC

VTHodge wrote:
zenten wrote:Which was actually confirmed on Mythbusters, sort of.

Yeah, that was a good one. What they found is that the sound of the quack is like a damped sinusoidal wave, and the echo matches the original sound so closely that it couldn't be heard.

Very difficult to explain in words.


The echo of a quack sounds like a quack.

Seems pretty simple to explain to me :)

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Postby Vaniver » Tue Jul 31, 2007 7:25 pm UTC

That... sounds like complete rubbish. If you bounce a wave off of something it can't cancel out with itself, because the direction of travel is reversed as well as the amplitude.

[edit]Looking into it, they considered that a "busted myth," but claimed that it was difficult to tell the difference between where the quack stopped and the echo began which gave rise to the myth.
Last edited by Vaniver on Tue Jul 31, 2007 9:03 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby 22/7 » Tue Jul 31, 2007 7:56 pm UTC

Cosmologicon wrote:Of the nine planets (pre-2006) in the solar system, guess how many are more massive than all smaller planets combined!

answer wrote:Nine. If you replace "more massive" with "larger in volume", it's eight, as Earth drops out.


That's actually really awesome.

Also, since we're doing the mating thing... isn't there an insect that, after mating the male and female take turns gnawing the "penis" off?
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Postby Zohar » Tue Jul 31, 2007 8:16 pm UTC

All I know about is the preying mantis who eats the male after mating.

In Israel (where I live) it's illegal to grow pigs on land. So all pigs in Israel live on raised platforms. Who needs church (or synagogue, I suppose) and state separation when you can force your wife to stay married by refusing the divorce?
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Postby iop » Tue Jul 31, 2007 8:51 pm UTC

A year has almost exactly pi*10^7 seconds (which is no wonder, because a year is round).

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Postby Nomic » Tue Jul 31, 2007 9:24 pm UTC

Almost exactly pi^anything isn't really an exact number, seeing thta pi is irrational.

On the preaying mantis somebody mentioned, the female mantis actually bites the male's head off before mating. This causes a cluster of nerves on lockated in it's nec area to activate and make it mate more vigorusly before it dies out from being decapitated.

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Postby yy2bggggs » Wed Aug 01, 2007 3:52 am UTC

The eye has three types of cones--S, M, and L. As the name implies, these are sensitive to short, middle, and long wavelengths. S is most sensitive to blue violet. M is most sensitive to green. And L is most sensitive to a slightly more yellow green.

The cells are most packed around your fovea. In particular, there's a region called the foveola, forming a 0.35° visual angle. A full 50% of all of the L and M cones in the eye appear within this region.

So, what do you suppose is the percentage of S cones in your eye that are found in the foveola?

The answer:
0%


Side note... what nine planets? Aren't there only eight?

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Postby joeframbach » Wed Aug 01, 2007 4:09 am UTC

Whoa, so this means there is a 0.35° cone of vision where we can not see blue?

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Postby __Kit » Wed Aug 01, 2007 4:32 am UTC

Talking about ducks...

Ducks are the only birds that can lose their dicks and grow a new one.

The only emotion ducks can feel is hate.

... Off the top o my head.

I've read o-so-many 'useless facts' books.
=]

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Postby OneLess » Wed Aug 01, 2007 5:11 am UTC

Quoting Richard Dawkins quoting someone else, "'Every time you drink a glass of water, the odds are you will imbibe at least one molecule that passed through the bladder of Oliver Cromwell.' It's just elementary probability theory; the number of molecules per glassful is hugely greater than the number of glassfuls (or bladdersful) in the world."

More mathematics than science, but it's a cool thought :)
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Postby yy2bggggs » Wed Aug 01, 2007 5:24 am UTC

joeframbach wrote:Whoa, so this means there is a 0.35° cone of vision where we can not see blue?

Well, not exactly. Seeing is a function of the mind. But, yeah, the M and L cones are the only things giving you information in the foveola (there are no rods there either).

Color is a bit more complex. A lot of people assume that the cones send color signals to the brain. Not so. There are six types of color signals that go to the brain, and these will sound a bit familiar. There's black, white, blue, yellow, red, and green. Ganglions exist to send each of these color signals to the brain. The ganglions responsible for blue/yellow and red/green vision work in opposition to each other, effectively blocking out our ability to see "bluish yellow" or "reddish green" (though our mind can perceive it if you could get the signals through; the "bluish yellow" is perceptually a combination of blue and yellow, distinct from green).

The ganglions work like this:

Black and white process function:
L+M

The L and M cones are, more or less, sensitive over the range of visible light. The sum of their signals gives a raw indication as to the amount of light present. Unique for this pair, the processes for black/white ganglions are not in opposition. The interesting part of this equation is that S plays no role.

Red and green opponent process function:
L-M

Think of M as driving this. L is only slightly redder than M, but the difference between the two signals triggers the red/green opponents. Generally speaking, this separates the middle of the spectrum from both ends. There's some L sensitivity left over at the shorter end of the spectrum (M's sensitivity drops off a bit more than L's at that end), hence the violets.

Yellow and blue opponent process function:
L+M-S

S is severely weighted in this equation. This pair, generally speaking, distinguishes long wavelengths from short ones. Note the similarity with the luminance function L+M (yellow is perceived as the brightest color).

With missing S's in the foveal region, we get a L+M luminance function, an L+M yellow/blue opponent process, and an L-M red/green opponent process. Mind you, the luminance function and the yellow/blue process look identical, but they are not, because the inputs have different weightings. So you wind up actually having a Y/B opponent process, and hence, the ability to perceive yellow and blue.

...which means, boiled down, what's really happening is that you have a different color spectrum in your fovea as you do in the rest of your eye.

But this is just part of the answer... the real answer is that your brain cheats with these signals. In other words, color is more of a product of the brain--it's just a function of the opponent process ganglions (B/W, Y/B, R/G).

And yes, it's no coincidence that the opponent process functions look very much like the types of colorblindness.

Edit:
Consider that M and L's physical spectral sensitivities are pretty close to each other. This means that in terms of wavelength itself, there's not much difference between what M will pick up at peak and what L will. Consider, also, that the fovea contains the most densely packed cones--indeed, they even have a different shape (better still, they are effectively waveguides tuned to the light frequency, distributing the light to tons of photoreceptor molecules, but that's another topic).

Now, in terms of optical demand, this works out very well, because there would be a major problem if the sensitivities were spread out more--particularly, the greater the difference in frequencies of light, the greater the difference in bend the light will have when sent through a lens. This color aberration issue results in different focal lengths for different frequencies of light, and if they are too far off, it's hard to resolve them both on the same surface.

...so the existence of L's in M's in the fovea, the absence of S's, the opponent process, etc are all highly tuned to maximize resolution and overall characterization of the spectrum.

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Postby evilbeanfiend » Wed Aug 01, 2007 8:43 am UTC

__Kit wrote:The only emotion ducks can feel is hate.
.


citation please
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Postby __Kit » Wed Aug 01, 2007 8:58 am UTC

It was, uhh, published... why would I make something like that up!?
=]

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Postby evilbeanfiend » Wed Aug 01, 2007 10:21 am UTC

i'm sure you didn't make up that it was published however just because its published doesn't mean it has any basis in science. it smells like BS to me, how is the emotion of a duck measured?
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Postby Arancaytar » Wed Aug 01, 2007 10:46 am UTC

__Kit wrote:It was, uhh, published... why would I make something like that up!?


It was also published that the British royal family and GW Bush are alien shape-shifting lizards.

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Postby Nomic » Wed Aug 01, 2007 11:30 am UTC

You telling me they aren't? Think about it, if Bush is actually an alien, the reason he keeps fuckign up stuff is because he is secretly preparing the world for alien invasion! Grab you'r tinfoil hats everybody, the invasion is about to begin!

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Postby Arancaytar » Wed Aug 01, 2007 11:46 am UTC

As far as I'm concerned, PNAC and Halliburton are scary enough without throwing aliens into the mix... :?
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Postby Andrew » Wed Aug 01, 2007 12:29 pm UTC

Nomic wrote:You telling me they aren't? Think about it, if Bush is actually an alien, the reason he keeps fuckign up stuff is because he is secretly preparing the world for alien invasion! Grab you'r tinfoil hats everybody, the invasion is about to begin!

That or he's being played by John Lithgow and doesn't know any better.

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Postby ks_physicist » Wed Aug 01, 2007 12:37 pm UTC

zenten wrote:
Vaniver wrote:
In other news, male lions (and all other cats) have barbed penii.
It's probably a bad thing that my first thought was "who doesn't know that?"

What's the duck/echo one?
There's a myth that ducks' quacks do not echo.


Which was actually confirmed on Mythbusters, sort of.


Quack, damn you.

<twirls moustache>

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Postby zenten » Wed Aug 01, 2007 1:00 pm UTC

Arancaytar wrote:As far as I'm concerned, PNAC and Halliburton are scary enough without throwing aliens into the mix... :?


Gah, Haliburton is a cottage community where I went a few weeks ago. I hate the fact that a defense contractor stole the name.

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Postby po2141 » Fri Aug 03, 2007 1:46 pm UTC

Here is some bizarre trivia:

A brazil nut contains your RDA of Selenium.

Tobacco leaves contain a higher concentration of radioactive species than vegetation taken from the chernobyl disaster area.

Whether or not physically possible, the American government, at the time of the first atom bomb test, was willing to accept a 3-in-a-million chance that the bomb would initiate a nitrogen-fusion atmospheric chain reaction that would scour the planet.

This was, and is of course impossible, but one scientist was quoted saying "there is a 1-in-a-million chance that this could happen" meaning that it is vanishingly unlikely, a government report was then issued saying (paraphrased) that if after further investigation the chance is less than 3-in-a-million, the experiment will go ahead.

People, at least here in england, win the lottery at a chance of 1-in-14million...

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Postby ks_physicist » Fri Aug 03, 2007 3:01 pm UTC

I, for one, think igniting the atmosphere would have been *damn* cool, for a short while.

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Postby Unforgiven » Fri Aug 03, 2007 3:19 pm UTC

ks_physicist wrote:I, for one, think igniting the atmosphere would have been *damn* cool, for a short while.

I'm fairly sure it would've been pretty hot.
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Postby ZeroSum » Fri Aug 03, 2007 4:13 pm UTC

po2141 wrote:Whether This was, and is of course impossible, but one scientist was quoted saying "there is a 1-in-a-million chance that this could happen" meaning that it is vanishingly unlikely, a government report was then issued saying (paraphrased) that if after further investigation the chance is less than 3-in-a-million, the experiment will go ahead.

People, at least here in england, win the lottery at a chance of 1-in-14million...
It's commonly quoted as Einstein being the scientist stating that. And far more people play the lottery than atom bombs were tested during the first atom bomb test.

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Postby zenten » Fri Aug 03, 2007 4:42 pm UTC

I'd be willing to play the lottery if I could get something good (ie, more than the price of the ticket) for not getting the jackpot, and getting shot if I won the jackpot. This is assuming the current chances in most large lotteries of course.

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Postby toujoursfolle » Fri Aug 03, 2007 5:59 pm UTC

zenten wrote:I'd be willing to play the lottery if I could get something good (ie, more than the price of the ticket) for not getting the jackpot, and getting shot if I won the jackpot. This is assuming the current chances in most large lotteries of course.


Actually, I just watched an old episode of Sliders where this was the premise. They visited a world where the more money you took out of the Lottery ATM, the higher your chance of "winning the lottery," a.k.a. being painlessly killed.

I'll go introduce myself now. *Hops over to the intro thread.*

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Postby nilkemorya » Fri Aug 03, 2007 5:59 pm UTC

I'd just like to throw out there that mythbusters doesn't really count as a reliable source. They FREQUENTLY get things wrong, which is okay, they are very very entertaining, but not scientifically rigorous. :D

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Postby Swordfish » Fri Aug 03, 2007 6:13 pm UTC

ks_physicist wrote:I, for one, think igniting the atmosphere would have been *damn* cool, for a short while.


War, over! No ifs, ands, or buts.
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Postby po2141 » Fri Aug 03, 2007 6:35 pm UTC

po2141 wrote:a nitrogen-fusion atmospheric chain reaction that would scour the planet.


Definitely one of the more stylish doomsday weapons, if you're gonna do something wrong, do it right :)

Another titbit from the browse through wikipedia (where PROPER scientists go to get their information.....) which surfaced that was:

The largest thermonuclear weapon ever detonated, the 50 megaton Tsar Bomba (Russian), during the course of its detonation, lasting 39 nanoseconds, had a power output 1% that of the sun, in the order of yotta-Watts.

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Postby OneLess » Fri Aug 03, 2007 8:45 pm UTC

The Soviet government was willing, during the Cold War, to keep their store of 100 Tsar Bombas in one place, surrounded by explosive charges. This would have turned the Earth into a sun.

Okay, I totally made that up, but wouldn't it be kickass to build 100 Tsar Bombas and detonate them in interstellar space to see what happens?
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