getting away from the fact that science is pretty amazing. From the
unexpected consequences of the space programme to the substances that make up the human body, here are 10 astounding scientific facts…
10 Amazing Scientific Facts
10. Many of the inventions that we use in our everyday lives were originally developed for use in the space programme. From memory foam to cell-phone cameras to MRI scanners to baby formula, the benefits of space research are an integral part of day-to-day life.
9. When you think of a scientist you may imagine a white- coated university boffin. However, much of the world’s scientific research takes place not on stuffy university campuses but in specially built ‘science parks’ – collections of buildings devoted to scientific research. There are over 140 of these science parks in the USA alone, some of which have hundreds of companies and thousands of staff on the premises. They’re also popular in the UK, with a number of famous premises such as Harwell Oxford and Colworth Science Park contributing to the furthering of scientific knowledge.
8. The average healthy human being has ten times as many bacteria living in their body as they do cells making up that same body. Bacteria are much smaller than human cells, and as many as 500 different species may be happily living on your skin without you even being aware of it.
7. Sodium and chlorine are very dangerous chemicals in their pure form. Pure sodium is a soft metal that must be kept under oil or it will react violently with moisture in the air. Chlorine gas was used as a chemical weapon during World War One and is used in tiny quantities to kill bacteria in swimming pools. However, when combined together as sodium chloride they form normal table salt, an essential part of our diets.
6. Aluminium is the most common metal in the crust of the earth, and is now used in everything from cooking foil to drink cans. Less than two hundred years ago it was so difficult to extract from ore that it was considered to be more valuable than gold. Napoleon once held a banquet where the honoured guests had aluminium cutlery and the less favoured were only given gold!
5. Tetanus is caused by a bacterium known as Clostridium tetani. Just 60 nanograms (one nanogram is a billionth of a gram) of tetanospasmin, the toxic substance that causes tetanus, is enough to kill a human being.
4. Scientists estimate that up to 200 species of plants, animals, reptiles, birds and insects go extinct every day. That’s over 70,000 a year!
3. Analysis of mitochondrial DNA (DNA that is only inherited from your mother) has shown that every human alive is descended from one woman who lived in East Africa around 200,000
2. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, contains between 100 billion and 400 billion stars and more than 50 billion planets. At least 500 million planets are thought to be in orbits that could potentially support life. That’s just in our galaxy - there are around 200 billion other galaxies in the universe.
1. The aftermath of a hurricane shows unparalleled destruction, with trees uprooted, houses flattened and entire landscapes unrecognisable. That’s because over a single day a hurricane can unleash as much force as if a 10 megaton nuclear bomb was detonated every twenty minutes.