· On December 2, 1942, a nuclear chain reaction was achieved for the first time under the stands of the University of Chicago’s football stadium. The first reactor measured 30 feet wide, 32 feet long, and 21.5 feet high. It weighed 1,400 tons and contained 52 tons of uranium in the form of uranium metal and uranium oxide. Although the same process led to the massive energy release of the atomic bomb, the first artificially sustained nuclear reaction produced just enough energy to light a small flashlight.
· A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continually from the bottom of the glass to the top. This is because the carbonation in the drink gets pockets of air stuck in the wrinkles of the raisin, which is light enough to be raised by this air. When it reaches the surface of the champagne, the bubbles pop, and the raisin sinks back to the bottom, starting the cycle over.
· Bacteria, the tiniest free-living cells, are so small that a single drop of liquid contains as many as 50 million of them.
· The proper name of earth’s satellite is Luna. The grammar books say that “moon” (and likewise “earth” and “sun”) should be lower case, with the exception of when “earth” is in a list with other planets. The earth is Terra; the sun is Sol. This is where we get the words “extraTERREstrial” and “SOLar”.
· At any given time, there are 1,800 thunderstorms in progress over the earth’s atmosphere.
· Compact discs read from the inside to the outside edge, the reverse of how a record works.
· Because of the rotation of the earth, an object can be thrown farther if it is thrown west.
· The fastest moon in our solar system circles Jupiter once every seven hours – traveling at 70,400 miles per hour.
· George Ellery Hale was the 20th century’s most important builder of telescopes. In 1897, Hale built a 40 inch wide telescope, the largest ever built at that time. His second telescope, with a sixty inch lens, was set up in 1917 and took 14 years to build. During the 14 years Hale became convinced that he suffered from “Americanitis” a disorder in which the ambitions of Americans drive them insane. During the building of his 100 inch lens Hale spent time in a sanatorium and would only discuss his plans for the telescope with a “sympathetic green elf”.
· Hale’s 100 inch lens built in the early 1900s was the largest solid piece of glass made until then. The lens was made by a French specialist who poured the equivalent of ten thousand melted champagne bottles into a mold packed with heat maintaining manure so that the glass would cool slowly and not crack.
· The shockwave from a nitroglycerin explosion travels at 17,000 miles per hour.
· The planet Saturn has a density lower than water. If there was a bathtub large enough to hold it, Saturn would float.
· Earth’s atmosphere is, proportionally, thinner than the skin of an apple.
· The first portable calculator placed on sale by Texas Instruments weighed only 2-1/2 pounds and cost a mere $150. (1971)
· Carolyn Shoemaker has discovered 32 comets and approximately 800 asteroids.
· Because of the salt content of the Dead Sea, it is difficult to dive below its surface.
· The planet Venus has the longest day.
· The first atomic bomb exploded at Trinity Site, New Mexico.
· All organic compounds contain carbon.
· Three astronauts manned each Apollo flight.
· Out of all the senses, smell is most closely linked to memory.
· There are 7 stars in the Big Dipper.
· Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system.
· The speed of sound must be exceeded to produce a sonic boom.
· The nearest galaxy to our own is Andromeda.
· The Leaning Tower of Pisa is predicted to topple over between 2010 and 2020.
· Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature.
· Blood is 6 times thicker than water.
· Dissolved salt makes up 3.5 percent of the oceans.
· Three stars make up Orion’s belt.
· Glaciers store about 75% of the world’s freshwater. In Washington State alone, glaciers provide 470 billion gallons of water each summer.
· To an observer standing on Pluto, the sun would appear no brighter than Venus appears in our evening sky.
· Traveling at the speed of 186,000 miles per second, light take 6 hours to travel from Pluto to the earth.
· A car traveling at a constant speed of 60 miles per hour would take over 48 million years to reach the nearest star (other than our sun), Proxima Centauri. This is about 685,000 average human lifetimes.
· Scientists recently announced the discovery of a new planet orbiting a star that’s practically next door – relatively speaking. There’s also the possibility that the system might contain a second planet. The star, Epsilon Eridani, is only 10.5 light years away — which is just down the block in astronomical terms — making it the nearest star known to have such a planet. The new planet appears similar to Jupiter, but half again as big. The discovery was made by a team of researchers led by scientists at the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin.
· A cosmic year is the length of time it takes the sun to complete one revolution around the center of the Milky Way galaxy. That’s approximately 225 million earth years.
· The sun is estimated to be between 20 and 21 cosmic years old.
· It takes a plastic container 50000 years to start decomposing.
· Lab tests can detect traces of alcohol in urine six to 12 hours after a person has stopped drinking.
· Sound at the right vibration can bore holes through a solid object.
· The color black is produced by the complete absorption of light rays.
· There are 3 golf balls sitting on the moon.
· The Sun has a diameter of 864,000 miles.
· Air is denser in cold weather. A wind of the same speed can exert 25 percent more force during the winter as compared to the summer.
· An iceberg contains more heat than a match.
· Every cubic mile of seawater holds over 150 million tons of minerals.
· A temperature of 70 million degrees Celsius was generated at Princeton University in 1978. This was during a fusionism experiment and is the highest man-made temperature ever.
· Bacteria can reproduce sexually.
· The pressure at the center of the Earth is 27,000 tons per square inch.
· There are five trillion trillion atoms in one pound of iron.
· German chemist Hennig Brand discovered phosphorus while he was examining urine.
· The densest substance on Earth is the metal “osmium.”
· The clock at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., will gain or lose only one second in 300 years because it uses cesium atoms.
· Vinegar was the strongest acid known in the ancient times.
· A shrimp has more than a hundred pair of chromosomes in each cell nucleus.
· About 500 meteorites hit the Earth each year. The largest known meteorite was found at Grootfontein in Namibia, southwest Africa, in 1920. It is 9 feet (2.75m) long and 8 feet (2.43m) wide.
· According to experts, large caves tend to “breathe”; they inhale and exhale great quantities of air when the barometric pressure on the surface changes, and air rushes in or out seeking equilibrium.
· Because of a large orbital eccentricity, Pluto was closer to the sun than Neptune between January 1979 and March 1999.
· The whirling cloud, a flat cloud hovering over the peak of an extinct volcano, Mount Jirinaj in Indonesia, affected by hot air rising from the crater, spins swiftly around and around.
· The Earth gets heavier each day by tons, as meteoric dust settles on it.
· The earth rotates on its axis more slowly in March than in September.
· The first man-made insecticide was DDT.
· We are in the middle of an ice age. Ice ages include both cold and warm periods; at the moment we are experiencing a relatively warm span of time known as an “interglacial period.” Geologists believe that the warmest part of this period occurred from 1890 through 1945 and that since 1945 things have slowly begun freezing up again.