All Facts

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Posted by More Science Facts on 4th November 2014

Fact: World’s Longest Snake

The longest ever species of snake is the Python! Species of Python can be found all over the world originating from India to Burma and even Africa.

The World’s Longest; Thelma is an 11 year old reticulated female Python that lives in the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky. She weighs an incredible 200 pounds (91Kg) and stretches up to 20 feet long (6 metres).

The Python reticulatus are an ancient old species of python known to be currently the largest in the snake animal kingdom. They were discovered in Southeast Asia and have average lifespan of 15-20 years though some have been known to live up to 30 years. The average adult reticulated python usually grow up to 10 to 20 feet long.

Virgin Birth
In 2012 Thelma was documentated to have given birth to 6 of her own through virgin birth. Virgin births requiring no mating have started to become popular amongst animals such as the boas, birds, sharks and more including other snakes!

The fatherless reproduction normally requiring 2 mates to reproduce young is called parthenogenesis. Such a phenomenon occurs when polar bodies, or cells produced with the animal’s egg that usually die or disappear, behave like sperm and fuse with the egg itself.

The recent uproar in Thelma’s virgin birth was never seen before in Pythons until now. Parthenogenesis is still a mystery however it has been hypothesised that geographical isolation from males is a significant factor.

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Posted by More Science Facts on 25th October 2014

Fact: The Busiest Gold Mine

Gold has been mined in many different locations all around the world from the Americas, to Europe and Asia.
However the busiest of all gold reserve locations; an estimated 55% of all the world’s gold has been mined from the Witwatersrand Basin located on top of the Kaapvaal craton in South Africa.

Since it was discovered that an incredibly high yield of gold was deposited in Witwatersrand, it triggered an intense gold rush in 1886. Like many diamond discoveries before, the gold rush caused thousands of foreign expatriates to prospect and mine the region.

The Witwatersrand Basin is a composite foreland basin that developed initially on the cratonward side of an Andean arc, similar to those presently behind the Andes.
2.7 billion years ago 2 large formations of Earth’s crust known as cratons, collided together.
The crust formations involved were the Kaapvaal and the Zimbabwe cratons whom after colliding with each other, caused further subsidence and deposition in the Witwatersrand Basin. It’s filled with clastic sedimentary rocks that age predominantly between 2.6-2.8 billion years old.

The size of the Witwatersrand Basin approximates from 350 km long by 200 km wide. The name ‘Witwatersand’ itself if translated from its Afrikaans name (a West Germanic language of Dutch, French and German origin) would mean ‘White Waters Ridge’.

Not just Gold!
In 2005 a survey was undertaken with reports of up to 250,000 tonnes of Uranium metal being situated also in the Witwatersand Basin.

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Posted by Science Facts on 5th March 2012

Fact: Dead Sea Facts

Despite it’s name the Dead Sea which is located between the borders of Israel and Jordan is actually a lake. Sitting in a valley almost 400m below sea level it’s positioned at not only the lowest point on Earth but also happens to be the second saltiest lake in the world (1st saltiest being lake Assal in Djibouti, Africa).

In fact it’s so salty (almost 8 times saltier than regular sea water) that nothing except small plants and salt loving bacteria survive, explaining why it’s called the Dead Sea i.e. nothing in it survives.

Salt Makes You Float ?

Now despite very few things being able to survive one cool thing about the lake is that most things that enter it float. It’s a feature well publicized in both pictures and videos of tourists visiting the lake for it’s health & spa benefits.

The basic theory behind the floating is that salt water is much denser than regular water and it’s this density which makes the water much more buoyant. If you want to float on your back completely unaided whilst reading the newspaper, well that’s not a problem in the Dead Sea because it’s extremely salty!

The Dead Sea is Dieing

Unfortunately due to it’s climatic position almost 7 million tons of water evaporate from the lake every day. In addition to that both Israel and Jordan are tapping into the Jordan river (the Dead Sea’s main water source) for irrigation purposes at a rate which is depleting the lake to dangerous levels.

Combine that further with the recent droughts we’re seeing in the region and it’s quite clear that the famous lake is drying up with many parts already below the point of recovery.

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Posted by deepspace on 21st January 2012

Fact: Atacama Desert Facts

We all know that deserts are one of the driest places in the world but did you know that the Atacama desert in Chile is the driest. To understand what that really means let’s take as an example the Sahara desert (the worlds largest hot desert) and note that it receives a meager 2mm of rain each year.

Now if you think that’s nothing then just imagine how dry the Atacama is when it receives just 0.1mm per year. In fact some parts of the desert have not seen rainfall for over 400 years making it in most estimations the driest place on the planet earth.

Looks Like Mars

Located west of the Andes and sprawling across a stretch of almost 600 miles a small region of the Atacama is so unlike anything else on the planet that it’s been compared to Mars. In fact due to it’s strange appearance not only have movies been filmed there e.g. Space Odyssey but NASA have continued to use it as their testing grounds for equipment, projects and instruments when preparing for Mars space missions.

Do People Live There ?

For an extremely harsh environment you’d be surprised if anything could survive there, however there are small communities located near the various natural oases that exist within the desert. In fact some of these settlements have been populated for thousands of years going back as far as the earliest of ancient civilisations.

Sodium Nitrate

As well as being extremely rich in copper it also carries the largest natural supply of sodium nitrate. This was mined heavily in the early 20th century for use in fertilizers and gun powder. However after the discovery of the Haber process (early-mid 20th century) sodium nitrate could now be synthetically produced and most of these mines were closed.

According to estimates the desert is still littered with up to 170 of these old mining towns which lie completely abandoned like ghost towns.

Astronomy, Astronomy, Astronomy

The Atacama is also one of the best places in the world for astronomy. Thanks to its location (i.e. high altitude), dry weather (i.e. very little cloud cover) and non existant light pollution it’s home to two of the worlds top observatories. Namely the La Silla and Paranal observatories owned and operated by the European Southern Observatory.

In addition to these on the 3rd October 2011 it also officially became home to the most expensive ground telescope in the world, otherwise known as ALMA. The telescope consists of an array of 66 radio telescopes all using radio waves to peer deep into space helping us learn more about star formations especially during the early years of the universe.

So there you go, that’s the Atacama desert for you. Hope you enjoyed the facts.

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Posted by Science Facts on 19th January 2012

Fact: Birds That Can Talk

Did you know that parrots can be trained to say up to 200 words and short phrases. In fact their ability to mimic human language is so well known that many parrot owners initially purchase the bird for this reason alone.

The truth however is that like most talking birds they’re not really talking but mimicking the sounds they hear around them. They certainly don’t have any real understanding of the words they repeat and what’s more interesting is that parrots as a species are not the best of the bird mimickers.

Mynah Bird

Yes that’s right the top word mimic is actually the Mynah bird. Their ability to create amazingly realistic human and non human sounds such as words, coughs, sneezes and even cell phone ring tones is well documented.

Other birds that are extremely intelligent and known to mimic human words are crows, ravens and jackdaws. Although their abilities are less publicized.

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Posted by EvolutionMonkey on 14th January 2012

Fact: Smallest Bird In The World ?

At just 5cm long and 2g in weight the smallest bird in the world is none other than the Bee Hummingbird. Found mainly in Cuba and also holding the record for the smallest egg in the world these guys are tiny.

Like all hummingbirds they can fly not only forwards but also backwards, up, down and even just hover. Their small size and amazing flying skills mean they’re experts at moving from flower to flower collecting nectar and even small insects. In fact they’re so good at flying (some visiting as many as 1500 flowers a day) that they don’t even walk anymore and only use their feet for perching.

Now in order to maintain such flying control there’s one skill we haven’t touched upon yet, and that’s their ability to beat their wings at up to 80 times per second. That’s so fast that humans can only see the wings moving as a faint blur. Now that’s quick!

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Posted by deepspace on 12th January 2012

Fact: When Were Vaccinations Invented ?

Most historians document the first vaccination to be around 1796 when English doctor Edward Jenner observed that people working in close proximity to cows were completely immune to the smallpox virus.

For those that don’t know much about the virus or its severity then imagine chicken pox or the measles but much worse. The picture above is of a young Bangladeshi girl taken in 1973 and demonstrates how severe the outbreak on the body was.

Not something you’d want to pick up, and with death from infection being as high as 80% in children it wasn’t a surprise why this virus was so feared.

The Cowpox Connection

Going back to Dr Jenner’s original observations he quickly came to the conclusion that some how the workers were picking up the less dangerous cowpox virus which in turn left them completely immune to the far more dangerous smallpox.

After some experimentation he injected an 8 year old boy with a small amount of cowpox and confirmed his original hypothesis.

Smallpox Eradicated

Within 3 years 100,000 British people were vaccinated and saved from the potentially fatal virus. By 1979 the World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared smallpox to be the first infectious disease to have been eradicated from the face of the earth.

Now a days this killer virus exists only in a few select laboratories throughout the world!

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