Science Fun Facts #1

Science Fun Facts #1

Mathematics

There are as many positive even numbers as there are positive numbers (even or odd). It is because the two sets are in bijection.

N. Bourbaki, Éléments de mathématique : Théorie des ensembles, ISBN 978-3-540-34035-5

Computer science

The first ever computer bug occurred in September 1947. Indeed, Admiral Grace Hopper used that word when she found a dead moth shorting a relay inside a computer.

Taylor, Alexander L., III (16 April 1984). “The Wizard Inside the Machine”. TIME. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,954266,00.html

Physics

We say the speed of light is the highest speed possible. We should say it is the highest speed possible in the Universe. Indeed, the Universe itself expands faster than the speed of light (and accelerating). It also means that there are parts of our Universe we will never have the possibility to observe.

Tamara M. Davis and Charles H. Lineweaver, Expanding Confusion: common misconceptions of cosmological horizons and the superluminal expansion of the universe. doi:10.1071/AS03040

Chemistry

Using nuclear transmutation, it is possible to transform bismuth into gold but extremely complicated and expensive. Glenn Seaborg did it in 1980.

Aleklett, K.; Morrissey, D.; Loveland, W.; McGaughey, P.; Seaborg, G. (1981). “Energy dependence of 209Bi fragmentation in relativistic nuclear collisions”. Physical Review C23 (3): 1044. doi:10.1103/PhysRevC.23.1044.

Geology

Ruby and sapphire are in fact the same mineral, called corundum, which is originally transparent. It is called ruby when we have traces of chromium (giving its colour red) and sapphire otherwise (blue with traces of titanium or iron, purple with vanadium, pink with a little bit of chrome and yellow or green with iron only).

Giuliani, Gaston; Ohnenstetter, Daniel; Fallick, Anthony E.; Groat, Lee; Fagan; Andrew J (2014). “The Geology and Genesis of Gem Corundum Deposits”. Gem Corundum. Research Gate: Mineralogical Association of Canada. pp. 37–38. ISBN 978 – 0 – 921294 – 54 – 2.

Astronomy

We know the surface of Mars better than the surface of our ocean’s depths.

NASA – Oceans: The Great Unknown, https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/5-8/features/oceans-the-great-unknown-58.html

Biology

If we wanted to print the DNA code of a person (3 billion base pairs) it would take 262,000 pages. 500 pages (5 million base pairs) only are different from one person to another. Craig Venter, the person who first sequenced DNA, actually made a series of 175 books with his genetic codes.

Riccardo Sabatini: How to read the genome and build a human being | TED Talk, https://www.ted.com/talks/riccardo_sabatini_how_to_read_the_genome_and_build_a_human_being?language=fr

Medicine

Penicillin, the antibiotic effective against a large number of bacterias, was discovered accidentally by Alexander Fleming.

Lax E (2004). The Mold in Dr. Florey’s Coat: The Story of the Penicillin Miracle, doi:10.1172/JCI24342

Psychology

There is a cognitive bias called “IKEA effect” saying that people tend to place a higher importance into furniture or objects they build themselves (even partially) no matter the result of this construction.

Norton, Michael; Mochon, Daniel; Ariely, Dan (9 September 2011). “The IKEA effect: When labor leads to love”. Journal of Consumer Psychology22: 453–460. doi:10.1016/j.jcps. 2011.08.002.

Sociology

Mike Godwin stated in 1990 that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1 ».

Godwin, Mike (October 1994). “Meme, Counter-meme”. Wiredhttps://www.wired.com/wired/archive/2.10/godwin.if_pr.html

History

Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Leon Trotsky, Josip Broz Tito, Sigmund Freud and Archduke Franz Ferdinand were neighbours living within a 8 kilometre radius (5 miles) in Vienna, Austria during the year 1913.

Illies. F (2013): “1913: Der Sommer des Jahrhunderts”, ISBN 978-3-100-36801-0

Morton. F (2014): “Thunder at Twilight: Vienna 1913/1914”, ISBN 978-0-684-19143-0

Archaeology

The Antikhytera mechanism is an analog computer with a clockwork mechanism of 30 gears. It comes from Ancient Greece around 200 B.C. However this technology was lost during antiquity and reappeared during the 14th century.

Marchant, Jo (30 November 2006). “In search of lost time”. Nature444 (7119): 534–538. doi:10.1038/444534a. PMID 17136067.

Geography

The largest city is Hulunbuir in China. It has an area of 263,953 square kilometres
(101,913 square miles) for a population of 2.710 million (in 2004). It is as large as 42 of U.S. states or half of France.

Linguistic

Rotokas, a language from Papua New Guinea, has the smallest alphabet we know of, with only 12 letters (7 consonants and 5 vowels).

Stuart Robinson (2006). “Inventory of the Aita Dialect of Rotokas”. Oceanic Linguistics45 (1): 206-209. doi:10.1353/ol.2006.0018.

 

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