What do you think is more probable — to get struck by lightning or to get killed by a falling asteroid? You might be surprised but the probability of death caused by an asteroid is almost twice as high. In their Book of General Ignorance, Stephen Fry, John Lloyd, and John Mitchinson say that lightning bolts strike the earth 17 million times each day, which is 200 strikes per second. Yet the risk of “electrical” death per year is one to 10 million, and that’s as probable as being bitten by a viper!
We at don’t believe that ignorance is bliss and we want our readers to be aware of the most recent facts and truths.
1. Chameleons don’t change their color depending on their surroundings.
It might have been useful in many cases, given that chameleons aren’t properly armed against anyone who’d like to eat them, but no. They never have and never will, though this belief is extremely popular. Truth be told, the color of a chameleon completely depends on its emotional state. And if it’s the same as the place where it currently is, then it’s totally coincidental.
A chameleon changes its color when it’s scared, when someone picks it up, or when it has just beaten another chameleon in a fight. Temperature, light, and the presence of a female can also alter its looks. It’s interesting to know that a chameleon’s skin has several layers of special cells called chromatophores, each of which has its own color pigments. The change in the layers’ ratio makes the skin reflect different types of light, causing the chameleon to look like a moving disco ball.
By the way, the word “chameleon” means “an earthen lion” translated from Greek.
2. The blue whale isn’t the biggest living creature on Earth.
It’s huge, don’t doubt that, but it’s not the biggest one. The trick here is in an important nuance — the biggest living creature on Earth is, in fact, a mushroom. And its name is Armillaria Ostoyae, or, as it’s now known, Humongous Fungus.
The record-winning honey mushroom has been growing in Malheur National Forest, Oregon, USA, for approximately 2,000-8,000 years (the exact age of this giant creature cannot be estimated.) It occupies 880 hectares (2,200 acres), and its biggest part is hidden from the human eye. It spreads underground in the shape of a massive white mycelium. This mycelium covers the trees’ roots, survives off of them, and then eventually kills them. From time to time, it springs through the ground and starts growing on the surface disguising itself as a pretty little golden mushroom and not the giant it actually is.
3. Cockroaches won’t survive a nuclear war.
Many people tend to think that cockroaches are indestructible. Yes, they’ve been around for much longer than humans (approximately 280 million years) and are very hard to get rid of as house pests. Plus, they can live without a head for some time. But a scientific experiment held in 1959 showed that cockroaches will be among the first insects to die in case of a nuclear catastrophe.
2 scientists, Wharton and Wharton, put a large variety of insects under radiation of different levels. In the end, they came to the conclusion that a lethal dose for humans is 1000 rad, while for a cockroach, this number is 20,000 rad. A parasitic wasp will need 180,000 rad to end its life. Though the real winner here is a tiny bacteria Deinococcus durans because it can endure an amazingly high dosage of radiation — 1.5 million rad, and this number is doubled if the bacteria is frozen!
4. Eating lots of carrots won’t improve your eyesight.
Carrots are a good source of vitamin A, the deficiency of which leads to night blindness, a condition that causes your eyes to adapt to darkness very slowly. The easiest way to improve this condition is to increase your intake of vitamin A, which is most often found in carotene. Carrots have carotene, of course, but apricots, blueberries, spinach, and other vegetables with dark leaves have even more of it!
Nonetheless, improving your night vision and fixing night blindness are 2 completely different things. Eating a lot of carrots will only give your skin tone an orange tint but it won’t help you see better in the dark. This myth appeared during World War II when the British government created a rumor that captain John Cunningham (known as “Cat’s Eye”) from squadron 604 fought only during the night because of his impeccable night vision due to all of the carrots he was eating. It was mere disinformation, in fact. The captain was testing a top-secret radar at the time and his incredible eyesight had nothing to do with his carrot consumption.
5. The recommended amount of sleep is less than 8 hours.
In 2004, Professor Daniel Kripke published an article in which he stated that adults who sleep for 8 hours die younger than those who sleep 6 or 7 hours during the night. His study took 6 years and included 1.1 million participants. More people who slept for less than 8 hours, but not less than 4, stayed alive up to the end of the study.
So, not getting 8 hours of sleep isn’t as harmful as it was previously thought to be. However, it’s important to make sure that you’re not sleep-deprived, either.
6. Humans have more than 5 senses.
We’re all familiar with our 5 senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. They were all mentioned centuries ago by Aristotle. But according to a common opinion, there are at least 4 more senses that humans possess.
Thermoception: the sense of warmth (or its absence) on our skin.
Equilibrioception: the sense of balance and agility powered by cavities in our inner ear that are filled with liquid.
Nociception: the sense of pain experienced by our skin, joints, and organs.
Proprioception: the sense of the body. It’s realizing where our body parts are without seeing or feeling them.
7. Water isn’t transparent — it has a color.
People are used to thinking that water is clear and transparent and the reason why seas and oceans seem blue is due to the sky’s reflection. But water is actually blue. You can see that it’s a very light shade of blue if you look at a deep pit in the snow or through thick ice in a frozen waterfall.
The reflected color of the sky still plays an important role here but it’s also due to some light that springs from underneath. Large water reservoirs like seas and oceans have a high concentration of tiny plants and seaweed, all of which reflect and scatter light. This is why we can notice a great variety of water shades.
8. Oxygen isn’t the most common substance in the world.
If you’re wondering what’s so special about this ordinary-looking rock, you’re not alone. This is a calcium titanium oxide mineral that’s composed of calcium titanate and it’s called perovskite.It comprises almost half of our planet’s total mass. Scientists think that the Earth’s mantle consists of perovskite, but this hypothesis has yet to be proved.
This material can conduct electricity under normal temperatures without any resistance and it can make “floating” trains a reality.
9. The common cold isn’t all that common.
The rates are worrying, but depression is one of the most common diseases in the world — much more common than the common cold, according to statistics. 10 years ago, a prognosis was made about depression becoming extremely widespread by the year 2020 and unfortunately, it has spread much quicker.
While people tend to turn to a doctor at the first signs of a cold, most will put off treating signs of an unsettling mental condition for as long as they can. Many people who suffer from depression feel that their sadness is something they should keep hidden from others. They may even feel ashamed of the realization that they are depressed while others are not.
Our mutual task as a society is to promote awareness and encourage people who suffer from this disease to seek professional help.
Bonus: Swallowed chewing gum doesn’t stay in your stomach for 7 years.
It’s almost safe to say that we’ve all heard this myth and were either horribly afraid of accidentally swallowing our gum or would lay awake at night just imagining how much gum was still stuck in your stomach. Digesting chewing gum isn’t much harder than dealing with a medium rare steak or a slice of Red Velvet cake.
The acids, enzymes, juices, and gastric movements inside your stomach all work well together to dissolve the gum. Since the chemical properties of the gum don’t dissolve completely, the remains leave your body the same way as anything else. And it’s not going to take 7 years!
Knowledge is power and it’s always interesting to discover that something wasn’t exactly the way you believed it to be. Once we get ahold of new mysteries to discover, we’ll make sure to share them with you!
But for now, you are more than welcome to share other exciting truths with our audience! What do you think everyone should be aware of?