The Golden Rule

Fact: You can turn lead into gold.  For centuries kings and men alike have chased the dream of turning lead into gold, otherwise known as alchemy. They made one fatal flaw – they never asked a physicist. Turning lead into gold sounds like the reserve of the desperate or the downright crazy, but it is…

A Leap of Faith

Fact: You can keep your milk fresh by putting frogs in it. It sounds like I’ve lost my marbles, I know, but if your fridge breaks down and you need to keep your milk fresh, dunking a few frogs in it could be your best bet. Milk goes off because bacteria eat the sugar in…

Cosmic Cocktails

Fact: The centre of our galaxy tastes like raspberries and smells like rum. If you could taste the space dust right the centre of the Milky Way, you might be pleasantly surprised – there’s a good chance it would have the sharp tang of fresh raspberries and the boozy aroma of rum. (As a quick…

Tinsel Inferno

Fact: You should always burn your Christmas tree. Setting fire to things feels inherently bad for the environment, but it turns out that its actually one of the most eco-friendly ways to dispose of your Christmas tree. As we know, global warming is caused by excessive greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The most famous of…

Mummy Says I’m Special

Fact: Every single snowflake is unique – but only just. Science backs the magic of snowflakes – they’re all special, just like mummy used to tell you. However, they’re also all very similar: it’s only microscopic, molecular quirks that make them unique. The intricate structure of snowflakes is formed when water slowly freezes around a…

It’s Getting Hot in Here

Fact: A lit cigarette is as hot as lava. It’s become normal to light up a cheeky one in the smoking area after a few pints, but few realise that the end of a lit cigarette burns at around 900°C – roughly the same temperature as molten rock when it erupts from the top of…

Part 1: Burn Baby Burn

Fact: Capcaisin makes chillies hot. Put a foot wrong when ordering in your local curry house and you could easily find yourself downing pints of milk to try and stop the fire in your mouth. But what causes that burning sensation? It’s all down to a single molecule called capcaisin. This molecule causes irritation and a burning…

Pearly Whites

Fact: Pearls dissolve in vinegar. Pearls are as solid as rocks, but drop your necklace in a glass of vinegar and watch your favourite pearls melt away before your eyes. It might seem outlandish, but really its just simple chemistry. The trick is that pearls are simply calcium carbonate crystals (or CaCO3, if you’re feeling academic…

Part 2: Diamonds Are Forever

Fact: It can rain diamonds. But don’t get overexcited, its not anywhere close; this phenomenon is only known to occur on planets such as Neptune and Uranus, known as ‘gas giants’. Such planets have high concentrations of methane in their atmosphere, and massive lightning storms ignite the methane to produce burnt carbon, or soot, the raw building…

Part 1: My Sun and Stars

Fact: Humans are 90% stardust. Human beings are mostly made up of water, with a few other bits and pieces thrown in for good measure. That means we are largely made of Hydrogen atoms, followed by lots of Oxygen, a fair bit of Carbon, some Nitrogen and a sprinkling of some more interesting stuff. Immediately…