Wednesday 14 May 2014



As a gift to my regular readers of my blog, I am presenting to you these truly fascinating tidbits of information that will boggle your minds.

An unusual way to start a fire 


A man started a fire by positioning a magnifying lens near a window so that the light from the sun would be focused on the curtains. The curtains caught fire and the house burned to the ground. Glass and plastic can be scorched and even melted but it cannot be turned into an ash. Despite that, the magnifying lens was completely destroyed by the fire so that there was no evidence that the magnifying lens had been used to start the fire. How could that have been possible?


Crystals that form out of sugars are used to manufacture glass-like surfaces. Fake diamonds and fake window glass along with fake liquor bottles are also made of sugar. These fakes are used by the movie industry. It follows that magnifying glasses can also be made from sugar.


Growing sugar crystals is easy. There are two simple methods that are used; the evaporation method and the slow cooling method. These two methods require that you begin with a saturated solution of water and sugar granules. The evaporation method employs the use of heat to separate the water from the sugar. This process may take a long time, depending on the solubility of the sugar in your solution. The slow cooling method produces sugar crystals by letting a very hot and very saturated sugar solution cool down slowly. The slower the processes, the bigger the sugar crystals are formed. The process may take as long as several hours to several days.


Most magnifying glasses are double-convex lenses. The focal length of any lens is determined by the amount of curve on the lens. The real hard part is grinding the block of sugar into curved glass-like lens and polishing it until you can see through it as if it was real glass. It is difficult to do but it can be done. If faked diamonds made from sugar crystals can be polished so that they look real, so can a magnifying lens made from sugar crystals.


How would you describe how small an atom is?


Let’s begin with the size of a millimeter. The dash that follows this sentence  is the length of a millimeter. -  Now if you divide that millimeter into one thousand parts, you will have one thousand microns. If you wanted to see with your naked eye, a paramecium, (a single-cell freshwater creature) which is two microns wide, swimming in a drop of water, you would have to enlarge the drop until it is 12 meters (39.3 feet) across. A paramecium is large compared to an atom. If you want to see an atom, you would have to enlarge the drop of water until it is 24 kilometres (15 miles) across. Now in the centre of the atom is the nucleus. That too is very small albeit very dense. The nucleus of an atom is only one millionth of a billionth of the full volume of an atom. To give you some idea of just how small the nucleus is, let’s compare one nucleus by enlarging the atom to the size of a large cathedral. The nucleus would be the size of a fly in the centre of the cathedral.    


Astronomers believe that there are approximately 140 billion galaxies in space. How would you define that number by comparing it with something else?


If galaxies were frozen peas, you could fill the Royal Albert Hall in London, England with that many peas. The volume of that building is 3.5 million cubic feet.


How would you best describe the size of the universe?


Imagine if you will just how many stars there are in the universe when you consider just how many of them are in our galaxy. It has been estimated that our Milky Way galaxy in which our solar system revolves around has as about two billion stars and a total mass equivalent to 1.9 million million of the mass of our own Sun. Our galaxy is small compared to some. For example, giant elliptical galaxies may have up to 100 times the mass of the Milky Way or the equivalent of 1,900 million million (a trillion) stars the size of our Sun. The volume of our Sun is 1,299,400 times bigger than the volume of the Earth; about 1,300,000 Earths could fit inside our Sun. As compared to other stars, however, our Sun is about average. Red giants like Betelgeuse are about 700 times bigger than our Sun and roughly 50 times as massive.


The typical distance between galaxies is between 20-40 times the size of a galaxy. The length of our galaxy is approximately, 100,000 light years. A light year is 5,878,625,373,183 miles.(9,460,528,401,200 kilometres) That is almost five trillion miles across our galaxy. The Andromeda Galaxy is approximately 2.5 thousand light-years away from Earth. The Sloan Great Wall galaxy has been measured to be approximately one gigalight-year distant. That means that it is one billion light years away from us. The distance from the Earth to the edge of the visible universe is about 46.5 gigalight-years in any direction. In other words, even if we could travel the speed of light (which it has been said would be impossible) it would take us forty five and a half billion years to reach it. Obviously, those that follow us in time will not even consider in their wildest dreams, visiting stars that far away.


How would you describe a trillion?


If you had gone into business on the day Jesus was born, and your business lost a million dollars a day, day in and day out, 365 days a year, it would take you until October 2737 to lose a trillion dollars. If you began hitting the table once every second, it would take you 31,546 years before you reached one trillion. If you laid one dollar bills end to end, you could make a chain that stretches from earth to the moon and back again 200 times before you ran out of dollar bills. One trillion dollars would stretch nearly from the earth to the sun. It would take a military jet flying at the speed of sound, reeling out a roll of dollar bills behind it, 14 years before it reeled out one trillion dollar bills. If you have a bucket that holds 100 thousand marbles, you would need 10 million of those same buckets to hold a trillion marbles.


Will all life on earth eventually become extinct?


I will give you two answers. The first is the bad news; the second is the good news.


First, the bad news. Stars convert hydrogen to helium to produce light and other forms of radiation. As time progresses, the heavier helium sinks to the center of the star, with a shell of hydrogen around this helium center core. Eventually the hydrogen is depleted so it no longer generates enough energy and pressure to support the outer layers of the star. As the star collapses, the pressure and temperature rises until it is high enough for helium to fuse into carbon. That is when helium burning begins. To radiate the energy produced by the helium burning, the star expands into a Red Giant. Such stars have diameters 5–40 or more times that of our Sun. When our sun becomes a red-giant star, its photosphere will remain inside the orbit of Mercury. It will by then have a surface temperature of between 2500 to 3500 degrees Celsius.


As the Sun reaches this late stage in its stellar evolution, it loses a tremendous amount of mass through powerful stellar winds. As it grows, it will continue to lose mass, causing Earth and the other planets in our solar system to spiral outwards. So the question is, will the expanding Sun overtake the planets spiraling outwards, or will Earth (and maybe even Venus) escape its grasp.

When the Sun does begin to bloat up, it will go quickly, sweeping through the inner Solar System in just 5 million years. It will then enter its relatively brief (130 million year) helium-burning phase. It will expand past the orbit of Mercury, and then Venus. By the time it approaches the Earth, all living things will become extinct and incinerated. The expanding Sun will engulf the Earth just before it reaches the tip of the red giant phase. Even then, the Sun would still have another 500,000 years to grow. The heating Red Sun will evaporate the Earth's oceans away, and then solar radiation will blast away the hydrogen from the water. The Earth will never have oceans again. Our planet will then eventually become molten again.

Now the good news. No one knows for sure but scientists believe that it will be several billion years from now before all human life is extinct. Can anyone actually escape this fate? Yes but only if they move to other planets beyond our own solar system.

How dense can anything be?


A neutron star is the metamorphose of a star. Once a star the size of our sun consumes all of its thermonuclear fuel, its core collapses. Without nuclear fuel to generate heat, the star is unable to halt its gravitational collapse. A neutron star has a typical radius of 15 kilometres. Despite its size, it would have the weight of 1.3 million planets the size of Earth. A part of the material the size of a pinhead (1 millimetre across) would weigh almost one million tons.

Scientists believe that the Universe was at one time all squished together into a size smaller that a dot on this page. Now that is really dense. There is nothing in the universe that is more denser than that unless you are considering the mind of George W. Bush. 


Professional gamblers in casinos generally wear glasses to shade their eyes. Why do they do that?


When a person sees something pleasurable, such as good food or a good poker hand, the pupils of his or her eyes will automatically dilate. If a person sees something they don’t like, the pupils get smaller. A good poker player can more or less correctly judge whether or not the player sitting across from him has a good hand or not by looking at the pupils of the other player’s eyes. By wearing shades over the eyes, the pupils of the eyes are not seen by the other players.


Describe the smallest guitar in the world


Scientists in Cornell University have made the world’s smallest guitar. It is twenty times smaller than the thickness of a human hair. It has six strings, each one only 100 hundred atoms thick. The strings can be plucked by using an atomic force microscope. The guitar can actually be played but the frequencies of the music produced are well above the range of the human ear.


What is a liquid and yet is so strong, you can’t poke your finger through it?


It has sometimes been said that glass in very old churches is thicker at the bottom than at the top because glass is a liquid, and so over several centuries it has flowed towards the bottom.  This is not true.  In Mediaeval times, panes of glass were often made by the Crown glass process.  A lump of molten glass was rolled, blown, expanded, flattened and finally spun into a disc before being cut into panes.  The sheets were thicker towards the edge of the disc and were usually installed with the heavier side at the bottom. Other techniques of forming glass panes have been used but it is only the relatively recent float glass processes which have produced good quality flat sheets of glass.


In 1927, an experiment began to show that solid black pitch was in fact, a liquid. A lump of the black substance, which can be broken with a hammer, was put into a glass funnel and then the waiting began. Eight drops have fallen in the 83 years since the pitch began dripping, however no-one has ever seen one fall. The viscous liquid continued its incredibly slow, but inexorable, journey downwards, and in 1947 the second drop fell. The next drops occurred in 1954, 1962, 1970, 1979, 1988 and lastly in 2000.

Has anything ever been teleported from one place to another?


In 1995, scientists at IBM showed that it was physically possible to teleport objects, at least at the atomic level, from one place to another. They transported photons and entire cesium atoms from one container to another by teleportation. It is called, ‘quantum teleportation’. In 2004, physicists at the University of Vienna were able to teleport particles of light a distance of 600 metres along a cable below the river bed of the Danube. The physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Washington, D.C., successfully entangled three beryllium atoms and transferred the properties of one atom into another. In 2006, physicists at the Neil Bohr Institute in Copenhagen and the Max Planck Institute in Germany made a spectacular advance in teleportation. They were able to entangle a light beam with a gas cesium atom, a feat involving trillions upon trillions of atoms. Then they recorded information to the cesium atoms over a distance of half a metre. For the first time, quantum teleportation had been achieved between light; the carrier of information, to the atoms. Many generations of scientists will probably pass before humans can be teleported to different places.

Is it possible for you to tickle yourself?


It is almost impossible for you to tickle yourself because your brain anticipates things going on around you so when you make an attempt to tickle yourself, you brain speeds up to counter that move by treating it merely as a touch. Now if someone else tickles you unexpectently, that is different. You brain is caught off guard and therefore hasn’t sped up to counter the feeling of tickling. The cerebellum in your brain monitors body movements and it can distinguish between expected sensations and unexpected sensations thereby diminishing o2 completely disregarding expected sensations.  Now it is different with pain. If you place a burning cigarette to the surface of your skin, your cerebellum knows that pain will follow and that there is nothing it can do to prevent it. Despite that, there are some people who have control of their cerebellum to such an extent that they can diminish pain or completely ignore pain.


Who invented the light bulb


it wasn’t Thomas Edison. Light bulbs were in use long before Edison applied for the patent in 1879. British inventor Humphry Davy invented an incandescent light bulb in 1801 and created the “arc lamp” in 1809. In 1835, Scottish inventor James Bowman Lindsay demonstrated a constant electric light in Dundee. In 1840, British scientist Warren de la Rue also demonstrated a light bulb. In 1841, British inventor Frederick DeMoleyns patented a light bulb and in 1844 American John Wellington Starr filed a U. S. patent caveat for an incandescent lamp. Many others would follow suit but none of the bulbs were effective for everyday use. It wasn`t until Edison perfected his light bulb that its use became popular.

I hope you have enjoyed reading these fascinating facts.

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