25 Science Facts You Never Learned in School
These strange but true facts prove the world really is a marvelous and mysterious place.
The study of science
If you don’t study science beyond high school you may have never learned some of these fascinating facts. Put on your learning caps because some of these science facts will make your jaw drop. Also, see if you can pass this 4th grade science quiz.
The human stomach can dissolve razor blades
On the rare occasion that you swallow a razor blade, don’t fret. The human body is more capable than you think. Acids are ranked on a scale from 0 to 14—the lower the pH level, the stronger the acid. Human stomach acid is typically 1.0 to 2.0, meaning that it has an impeccably strong pH. In a study, scientists found that the “thickened back of a single-edged blade” dissolved after two hours of immersion in stomach acid. Check out these times animals helped scientists solve big mysteries.
A laser can get trapped in water
Yes, really. A cool thing called total internal reflection is applied when pointing a laser beam through a container of water. When light travels through water, it’s slowed by the heavier particles in water, as described here. Thus, the laser beam effectively gets “trapped” in the water. You also probably never learned these geography facts in school.
Earth’s oxygen is produced by the ocean
Ever stopped to think where oxygen comes from? Your first thought may be a rainforest, but marine organisms take the bait. Plankton, seaweed and other photosynthesizers produce over half of the world’s oxygen. We know the answer to this and other fun science facts, but here are other ocean mysteries that scientists can’t explain.
Animals use Earth’s magnetic field for orientation
Lost land animals may not be able to find their way home, but sea animals might. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “there is evidence that some animals, like sea turtles and salmon, have the ability to sense the Earth’s magnetic field and to use this sense for navigation.” These creepy real experiments sound like science fiction.
A cloud can weigh over a million pounds
Your childhood dreams of floating on a weightless cloud may get rained on with this fact: the average cumulus cloud can weigh up to a million pounds. A million pounds! That’s about as heavy as the world’s largest passenger jet. Before you hop on a plane it’s important to check the weather—here’s how to predict the weather by these types of clouds.
Soil is alive and well
In just one teaspoon of soil, there are more microorganisms than people on the planet, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Millions of species and billions of organisms—bacteria, algae, microscopic insects, earthworms, beetles, ants, mites, fungi and more—represent the greatest concentration of biomass anywhere on the planet.” Here are some facts about Native Americans you never learned in school.
Rats laugh when being tickled
These creatures are more dynamic then we think. Rats have the ability to “laugh” when tickled. A National Geographic video demonstrated that rats respond positively to tickling. And they even chase after the researcher’s hand in a playful manner. Read up on these facts about Black History month you never learned in school.
There are more trees on Earth than stars in our galaxy
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. Check out these disturbing history facts that aren’t taught in schools.
Oxygen has a color
As a gas, oxygen is odorless and colorless. In its liquid and solid forms, however, it looks pale blue. Some science facts are just plain weird. In addition to these fun science facts, learn fascinating facts about America and its history that you never learned in school.
Only two letters don’t appear in the periodic table
The letters J and Q don’t appear anywhere on the periodic table. Go ahead and double check. We’ll wait. Don’t miss these science “facts” that aren’t actually true, either.
Bananas are radioactive
For one of our strangest science facts, bananas contain potassium, and since potassium decays, that makes them slightly radioactive. But this is one of those fun science facts you don’t need to worry about. You’d need to eat 10,000,000 bananas at once to die of radiation poisoning, Forbes reports. Here are some things you learned in school that are no longer true.
Hot water freezes faster than cold water
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 water
The researchers who investigated the cause of the Mpemba effect made this discovery as well. They unsurprisingly named the phenomenon the inverse Mpemba effect. Check out these Memorial Day facts you never learned in school.
Humans are related to fungi
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.
But don’t worry—we have a lot of DNA
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. Once you master these fun science facts, don’t miss these facts about animals you have all wrong.
It can rain diamonds on other planets
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––this is definitely the richest of our science facts!
You can make balls fly
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 once
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. Haven’t gotten your fill of fun science facts? Check out these other “facts” you’ve always believed that are actually false.
Helium can also work against gravity
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 powerful
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 space
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. Check out these foods that are actually banned from space.
About half of your body is bacteria
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. Here are 51 mind-blowing facts that you’ll think are made up.
Men are more likely to be colorblind than women
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 like
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. Now that you know all about these fun science facts, brush up on these 50 interesting facts about basically everything.
- PubMed.gov: In vitro effects of stimulated gastric juice on swallowed metal objects
- NOAA: How Has the Ocean Made Life on Land Possible?
- USGS: Do Animals Use the Magnetic Field for Orientation?
- NRCS: Soil Health Nuggets
- Snopes: Are There More Trees on Earth Than Stars in the Milky Way?
- Nature Journal: Mapping tree density at a global scale
- Forbes: Yes, Bananas are Radioactive, And Yes, You Should Keep Eating them Anyway
- ScienceDaily: Why Hot Water Freezes Faster Than Cold Water
- The Telegraph: Humans ‘May Have Evolved from Genes With Plants’ Study Finds
- Science Daily: Human genome
- Washington Post: It Rains Diamonds on Uranus and Neptune
- Scientific American: Strange but True: Superfluid Helium Can Climb Walls
- Science Alert: NASA Footage of the Biggest Solar Flare This Year
- Popular Science: Are We Really Made Up of More Bacteria Than Human Cells?
- National Eye Institute: Color Blindness
- Space.com: What’s 96% of the Universe Made of? Astronomers Don’t Know