You Would Not Sink in Lava

Golum in LavaContrary to what you might have seen in movies, if you jumped into lava you would not sink. Lava is nothing like water. Lava is a term used for molten rock on the surface of the earth and is incredibly dense, over 3 times the density of water.

Water has a density of 1000 kg/m3 and Lava has a density of 3100 kg/m3

Humans have a density of around 1010 kg/m3 which is very similar to water and this is the reason that we can float and not sink in water. However lava has a density much higher than our own so we would not sink or float, we would be stuck on the surface.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Pablo Escobar’s Bloat of Hippos

pablopotamusWhen he died in 1993, Pablo Escobar was one of the wealthiest men in the entire world. He made Forbes’ list of international billionaires for seven years straight. His drug empire was worth an estimated $30 billion and, by the end of the 80’s, he supplied 80% of the worlds cocaine.

With this wealth he owned an estate in Antioquia in Columbia. This estate held a private airport, a bullring, a cart racing track, sculpture garden, a collection of dinosaur skeletons and a private zoo filled with various exotic animals including elephants, zebras, giraffes and four hippos, three females and one male.

Continue reading

You Can’t Smell Gas

gas_flame

Natural Gas is odorless. It is comprised mainly of methane which does not smell, however when you turn on the gas on your stove it gives off a very strong stench!

This is because of a chemical known as Mercaptan (also known as Thiol). This is added to Natural gas in order to make it smell! It is a harmless gas which is a waste product of normal metabolism and is found naturally in living organisms.

The chemical features very few useful qualities, bar one, it gives off an incredibly pungent smell. Even in the smallest quantities the human nose can still detect it. It is the world’s smelliest substance and is unbearable in its concentrated form.

Continue reading

Why are Flamingos Pink?

FlamingosFlamingos are one of the most iconic creatures in the animal kingdom, easily identified by their bright pink plumage. However when Flamingos were first brought to zoos from the wild, the keepers were dismayed to find they lost their bright pink colour and turned a grey/white shade.

It turns out the secret to the flamingo’s pink feathers comes from their diet. In the wild flamingos eat algae and invertebrates that contain things called carotenoids. Carotenoids contain pigments which dissolve in the flamingos fats and are then deposited in the growing feathers of the flamingo giving them their colour. If this is removed from the diet of the flamingo then the colour will be lost and feathers come through as their natural grey colour.

Continue reading

Dolphins Only Drink Milk

baby-dolphin-pictures-9Dolphins are mammals, which means, like us, they require fresh water to survive. But how to do they get water? They live in the sea, which contains a large amount of water but unfortunately this is salt water, which for mammals can cause kidney damage and dehydration if drank in excess. They actually obtain their water through eating other animals such as fish and squid whose bodies contain a high amount of fresh water. They eat them whole and as they are broken down inside the dolphin the water is released and absorbed.

But how do they get fresh water before they can hunt?

Continue reading

The Misinformed Mongoose Invasion of Hawaii

145359In Hawaii in the 1800’s the sugar industry was facing problems from the growing rat population which was eating through their sugar plantations and costing them a lot of money. In order to try and control the rat population, a predator was introduced to the islands, in 1833 Mongooses, which are originally native to India, were let loose in the fields of Hawaii to end the rat threat to the agriculture.

However this decision seemed to be incredibly misinformed, rats are a nocturnal animal which means they are only active at night and spend the days hidden away in nests, however the Mongoose is diurnal, which means they only hunt in the daytime and nest at night so the two animals would never encounter each other!

Continue reading

The Smouldering Ghost Town of Centralia

centralia-45Founded in 1862 the mining town of Centralia in Pennsylvania was created due to the demand for coal as a primary fuel source, throughout the 19th and 20th Century a mass web of mines, tunnels and underground gangways were constructed to get at the coal resources deep under ground. It is estimated that 95% of Anthracite coal (a very high energy form of coal) is located underneath Pennsylvania and there was an estimated 25 million tons of it under the town of Centralia.

However during the mid 20th century the demand for coal reduced in favour of other fuels such as gas and oil and the vast web of mines underneath the town of Centralia were eventually abandoned.

On the 27th May 1962 the mine shafts under Centralia caught fire, it is still debated how the fire initially caught ablaze but the main assumption is that a fire was purposely ignited in an attempt to clear up a rubbish tip, beneath this rubbish tip was a hidden mineshaft entrance where the fire began to slowly wind its way through the labyrinth of underground mines beneath the town.

Continue reading