18 Mind-Blowing Science Facts You Never Learned in School
These strange but true facts prove the world really is a marvelous and mysterious place.
There are more trees on Earth than stars in our galaxyCreative Travel Projects/Shutterstock
NASA experts believe there could be anywhere from 100 billion to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, Snopes reports. However, a 2015 paper published in the journal Nature estimated that the number of trees around the world is much higher: 3.04 trillion.
Oxygen has a colorBackground All/Shutterstock
As a gas, oxygen is odorless and colorless. In its liquid and solid forms, however, it looks pale blue.
Only one letter doesn’t appear in the periodic tabledemarcomedia/Shutterstock
It’s the letter J. Go ahead and double check. We’ll wait. Don’t miss these science “facts” that aren’t actually true, either.
Bananas are radioactiveCapture Collect/Shutterstock
Bananas contain potassium, and since potassium decays, that makes them slightly radioactive. But it’s nothing you need to worry about. You’d need to eat 10,000,000 bananas at once to die of radiation poisoning, Forbes reports.
Hot water freezes faster than cold waterBachkova Natalia/Shutterstock
This fact seems counterintuitive, but it’s called the Mpemba effect, after a Tanzanian student named Erasto Mpemba who told his teacher than a hot mixture of ice cream froze faster than a cold one. Scientists now believe this is because the velocities of water particles have a specific disposition while they’re hot that allows them to freeze more readily. If proven correct, this finding could also have implications in daily life, like cooling down electronic devices.
Cold water heats up faster than hot waterSergey Parantaev/shutterstock
The researchers who investigated the cause of the Mpemba effect made this discovery as well. They unsurprisingly named the phenomenon the inverse Mpemba effect.
Humans are related to fungiKateryna Kon/Shutterstock
A 2015 study from the University of Cambridge suggests that mankind may have evolved with genes that came from plants. Because of those findings, researchers accept that about 1 percent of the human genome could have been acquired from plants, The Telegraph reports. So all those times your corny uncle called himself a “fungi”? He was actually sort of right. Brush up on these 50 interesting facts about basically anything for next time you see him.
But don’t worry—we have a lot of DNAvitstudio/shutterstock
Scientists predict that there are over 3 billion base pairs of DNA in human genes and over 25,000 genes in the human genome. An entire copy of that genome exists in each of the 10 trillion cells in the human body. If all of that DNA were lined up, it would cover the distance between Earth and the sun 100 times.
It can rain diamonds on other planetsKamil Hajek/Shutterstock
Diamonds are definitely the Milky Way galaxy’s best friends. Studies have examined the potential that Neptune, Uranus, Jupiter, and Saturn have to produce diamonds. The atmospheres in all four planets have such extreme pressure that they can crystalize carbon atoms and turn them into diamonds. Scientists were able to create the correct conditions in a lab to prove this occurs on Neptune and Uranus. Separately, a different group of researchers speculates that it may rain as much as 2.2 million pounds of diamonds on parts of Saturn every year.
You can make balls flyVyas Abhishek/Shutterstock
If you spin a ball when you drop it, it will fly through the air as it falls. This is called the Magnus effect, and it makes playing tennis and soccer a whole lot easier.
Water can exist in three states at onceMarta navarroP/Shutterstock
This is called the Triple Boil, and at that temperature, water exists as a gas, a liquid, and a solid simultaneously. It requires very specific conditions to achieve, so don’t even think about trying it at home. Be sure to check out these weird facts you never knew about rain, too.
Only one type of mammal has wingsGizmoPhoto/shutterstock
Those mammals would be bats. While flying squirrels can jump from trees and glide, they can’t truly fly like bats can.
Helium can also work against gravityKhrystyna Bakuchava/shutterstock
When helium is cooled to extreme temperatures, just a few degrees away from absolute zero (-460˚F or -273˚C), it turns into a superfluid, meaning it can flow without friction. It can climb up and over the sides of a glass. It can leak through molecule-think cracks in a container. If it starts flowing like a fountain, it will never stop.
Solar flares are scarily powerfulTwin Design/Shutterstock
The energy they release is the equivalent of 100-megaton atomic bombs exploding at once. It’s a good thing the Earth’s atmosphere protects us from their radiation.
It’s impossible to burp in spaceVadim Sadovski/Shutterstock
When you burp on Earth, gravity keeps down the solids and liquid from the food you just ate, so only the gas escapes from your mouth. In the absence of gravity, the gas cannot separate from the liquids and solids, so burping essentially turns into puking. (Yuck! In case you’re curious, these foods are actually banned from space.)
About half of your body is bacteriaJezper/Shutterstock
That’s right. A 2014 study estimates that the human body consists of 39 trillion bacteria and 30 trillion human cells. In the past, researchers thought we were more bacteria than human with a ratio of 10:1. While this new calculation is probably closer to the true numbers, it’s not a hard fact.
Men are more likely to be colorblind than womenHUAJI/Shutterstock
The genes responsible for the most common type of colorblindness are found on the X chromosome, the National Eye Institute explains. Even if women have the genes on one of their two X chromosomes, a properly functioning gene on the other one makes up for that loss. If men inherit the gene on their only X chromosome, they’ll become colorblind.
We have no idea what most of the universe looks likeMaraQu/Shutterstock
About 96 percent of the universe is made up of dark matter and dark energy, which are undetectable to humans. Scientists believe this is because the particles that make up these substances don’t interact with regular matter or light. Even though scientific discoveries are constantly being made about the stars, planets, and other galaxies we can see, it’s impossible to make conclusions about things that are invisible to our eyes. (In case you’re wondering, this is what being in space really feels like.)