Breathe Deep

Fact: Oxygen is a poison. The air we breathe, the very thing keeping us alive… it turns out oxygen is actually poisonous to most life on Earth, including humans. Oxygen is a critical reagent in the reaction we use to release energy from our food (‘respiration’). We do this by passing electrons from sugar molecules…

Part 2: Death by Sex

Fact: Anacondas spend months mating: it can go on so long that they die from it. Green anacondas are the worlds largest snakes, but lasting up to a month in the sack they’re also the world finest endurance sex athletes. Such a marathon requires organisation and planning. A keen female lays down a trail of…

Part 1: Sex or Death

Fact: Ferrets die if they don’t get enough sex. “I’m dying for it”. “It’s killing me.” They might be phrases you’ve said in the past, but we shouldn’t be so dramatic: for female ferrets, sex really is a matter of life and death. Sex is so important to female ferrets because of the nature of…

Part 2: A Watery Grave

Fact: It’s better to drown in salt water than in fresh water. Drowning is bad no matter which way you spin it, but you’re less likely to end up in Davy Jones’ locker if you get into trouble in the sea rather than in a freshwater source like a pool or river. We always think…

Part 1: Bananas in Pyjamas

Fact: Bananas can kill you. Bananas are great for your health – they’re packed with essential ions, full of fibre and they come with their own handy natural wrapping. They can now even be a way of getting vaccinations to the poorest areas of the world. But where pineapples and then apples were out to…

The Weigh In

Fact: A teaspoon-full of a neutron star would weigh the same as Mount Everest. Mount Everest is a heavy mountain: rough estimates place its mass at around 10 trillion kilos. But just 5ml (or 1 teaspoon scoop) of a neutron star would weigh just as much. Neutron stars are the densest known objects in the…

How Now Brown Cow

Fact: Mad Cow Disease was caused by cows eating other cows. Rather than the setup for a creepy horror film it’s cold hard fact: it was cow cannibalism that set off the Mad Cow Disease epidemic in the UK. ‘Mad Cow Disease’, otherwise known as BSE (or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) is quite a unique disease….

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…

Cause and Effect…

Fact: Eating margarine in Maine does not cause you to get divorced. Maybe this week’s fact seems like an obvious one. I’m guessing that the question of whether eating margarine causes couples to divorce anywhere in the world was one that was far from the tip of your tongue. Why am I bringing this up? Well,…

Holy S**t

Fact: There is a particle called the “Oh-My-God particle”. You might have thought the God particle (otherwise known as the Higgs Boson) had a pretty cool name, but physicists can be a dramatic bunch sometimes – like when discovering something entirely unexpected. The so-called “Oh-My-God” particle is named after the state of shock scientists found…

It’s in the Blood

Fact: Fuel cells can turn glucose in your blood into electricity. The biggest barrier to portable technology is the need to constantly recharge it. But in the future you might be plugging your phone into a different power supply at night – you. Canadian scientists have created a tiny fuel cell packed with yeast cells….

Freezing Hot // Boiling Cold

Fact: Water can freeze and boil at the same time. Get the temperature and pressure absolutely spot on and you can watch a cup of water boil while ice forms on the top. It might sound like magic but once again it’s due to the power of physics. This precise balance of temperature and pressure…