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Impress your mates with these fascinating facts about the world around us. Read on and improve your general knowledge by finding out interesting science facts!

 

1. Babies have around 100 more bones than adults

At birth, babies have about 300 bones, with cartilage in between. This extra flexibility helps them move through the birth canal and also allows for fast growth. Many of the bones fuse with age, leaving 206 bones which form an average adult skeleton.

 

2. The Eiffel Tower can be 15 cm taller during the summer

The process is called thermal expansion, and it happens when a substance is heated up, causing its particles to move more and take a larger volume. Therefore, a decrease in temperature is causing it to contract again. For example, the level of mercury inside a thermometer rises and falls as the volume of the mercury changes with the ambient temperature.

This effect is most dramatic in gases but also exists in liquids and solids like iron as well. Because of this, large structures such as bridges are constructed with expansion joints that give them some leeway to expand and contract with no damage.

 

3. 20% of Earth’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon rainforest

Our atmosphere consists of approximately 78 percent nitrogen and 21 percent oxygen, with minor quantities of various other gasses present. The vast majority of Earth’s living organisms require oxygen to live, turning it into carbon dioxide when breathing. Luckily, by photosynthesis plants continuously replenish the oxygen levels on our planet.

The carbon dioxide and water are converted into energy during this process, releasing oxygen as a by-product. Covering 5.5 million square kilometers (2.1 million square miles), the Amazon rainforest absorbs a considerable proportion of Earth’s oxygen, while also consuming massive quantities of carbon dioxide.

 

4. Hawaii moves 7.5cm closer to Alaska every year

The crust of the Earth is divided into gigantic pieces, called tectonic plates. Such plates are in continuous movement, driven by currents in the upper mantle of the Earth. Until cooling and sinking, soft, less-dense rock rises, forming circular currents of convection that act like massive conveyor belts, gradually moving the tectonic plates above.

Hawaii sits in the center of the Pacific Plate, which gradually drifts northwest toward the North American Plate, back to Alaska. The speed of the plates is comparable to the velocity our fingernails develop at.

 

5. Some metals are so reactive that they explode on contact with water

There are some metals–including potassium, sodium, lithium, rubidium, and caesium–that are so reactive that when exposed to oxygen they oxidize (or tarnish) instantly. Even when dropped in the water they can cause explosions! All elements strive to be chemically stable and to have a complete outer electron shell.

Metals tend to shed electrons to achieve this. The alkali metals have only one electron on their outer shell, making them ultra-keen to pass that unwanted passenger through bonding to another element. Consequently, they form compounds so readily with other elements that they can not exist separately in nature.

 

6. In 2.3 billion years it will be too hot for life to exist on Earth

The Sun will begin to get increasingly brighter and hotter in the coming hundreds of millions of years. Temperatures will be high enough in just over 2 billion years to evaporate our oceans making life impossible on Earth.

Our earth is going to turn into a vast desert similar to Mars today. As it transforms into a red giant over the next few billion years, scientists expect that the Sun will eventually completely engulf Earth, pointing out the definite end for our world.

 

7. It takes 8 minutes, 19 seconds for light to travel from the Sun to the Earth

Light travels inside space are at 300,000 kilometers (186,000 miles) per second. Even at this breakneck pace, it takes some time to cover the 150 million-odd kilometers (93 million miles) between us and the Sun. Eight minutes is still very little considering that it takes five and a half hours for the Sun’s light to reach Pluto.

 

8. Stomach acid is strong enough to dissolve stainless steel

Your stomach digests food with a pH of 2 to 3, due to highly corrosive hydrochloric acid. This acid also attacks your stomach lining which secretes an alkali bicarbonate solution to protect itself. The lining has yet to be regularly replaced, so it completely renews itself every four days.

 

9. Venus is the only planet to spin clockwise

Our Solar System began as a swirling cloud of dust and gas which eventually collapsed with the Sun at its center in a spinning disc. Because of this common origin, all planets travel in the same direction around the Sun, and on roughly the same plane. We all often rotate in the same direction (if viewed from ‘above’ in counterclockwise) -except for Uranus and Venus.

Uranus turns on its side, while Venus defiantly turns in the opposite direction entirely. These planetary oddballs are most likely caused by gigantic asteroids which knocked them off course in the distant past.

 

10. Polar bears are nearly undetectable by infrared cameras

Thermal cameras can detect the heat lost by a subject as infrared, however, it’s interesting that polar bears are experts at conserving heat. Because of a dense layer of blubber below the skin, the bears can stay warm. Add a thick fur coat to this and they can survive the chilliest Arctic day.

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