Tag Archives: size

175. The Great Saharan Eye

In a remote section of the Sahara Desert, Mauritania specifically, there lies this most mysterious formation, the ‘Eye of the Sahara,’ also known as the Richat Structure. Those passing over the large flat dome on the ground do not notice anything particularly out of the ordinary, but when viewed from space it stands out.

The eye of the Sahara is 50km in diameter and when viewed from above it does bear a resemblance to the human eye. Especially when one considers that it is actually a low dome, like a large eyeball peering out of the desert and gazing up into the sky. Its bizarre appearance and considerable size have led to great speculation as to how it ever came to exist. It used to be that no-one understood its formation and even now it has been extensively studied few believe that we are in possession of the truth yet. I suppose we shall have to wait, and see.

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Posted by on July 22, 2011 in Articles


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158. The Boston Molasses Flood of 1919

Molasses is not the most pleasant substance, a thick and dark brown sugary syrup which clings on to anything it touches. On the hottest days in Boston, locals claim that the streets bleed it. This local folklore is descended from local fact. For at the edge of living memory, a good 90 years ago there was a catastrophic and bizarre flood. A flood of molasses, a thick brown sugary flood which devastated a small area of Boston, killing several horses, 21 people and at least one cat.

January 15, 1919 – a more than sizeable storage tank 25 metres in height was brimming, holding near its full complement of two-and-a-half million gallons of molasses. During the day there was a sudden rise in temperature of approximately 2°C, this caused fermentation in the molasses. The substances produced increased the pressure inside the tank. To add to the strain, the ethyl-alcohol produced was a potent substance used in both rum and munitions at that time. This all led to a reaction slightly less sedate than fermentation.

The sound was described afterwards as a muffled roar; rivets popped with sounds akin to those pf machine gun fire. Then the pressure became too much. The explosion tore apart the half-inch-thick iron surrounds, splitting it into three pieces which were launched through the air.

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Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Articles


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152. Can I Make A Sun Out Of Anything?

As you may have noticed, the sun is rather hot, at its minimum temperature it reaches temperatures as low as those found in the core of the earth. That massive thermonuclear ball in the sky is enough to heat up our whole planet, even with 12 hour breaks.

The sun works hard to produce our heat. There is one odd thing; as long as you keep the mass the same, you can make a sun nearly as hot as our own. The key happens to be the results of so much mass, the force of gravity and the pressure it exerts.

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Posted by on June 21, 2011 in Articles, Trivia


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147. The Big Bum Coconut

Fruit come in all shapes and sizes, no sizes greater however, than that of the Coco de Mer. This bizarre fruit is both rare and exotic, with more than a passing resemblance to a pair of buttocks, earning it the nickname of the ‘Bum nut’ This curiosity is only found on two islands in the Seychelles, Praslin and Cureuse. Also known as the ‘Seychelles Coconut’ it requires 7 years to mature and then another 2 to germinate.

Once it is finished with all of its growth it reaches phenomenal weights, the heaviest one weighed reached 42kg  the largest weight of any fruit ever recorded. Behind this also lies a small mythology, it’s latin name Lodoicea callipyge means in part ‘beautiful rump’ after sailors who saw the mysterious double coconut thought it resembled a pair of disembodied woman’s buttocks.Until the trees were found to be the source in 1768,  people believed their source to be a mythical tree at the bottom of the sea.                   Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 16, 2011 in Articles, Trivia


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142. Sealand, The Unofficial Prinicipality

The Principality of Sealand is an odd case, it is an old World War II floating fort 10km off the coast of Suffolk, England. In 1956 the fort was abandoned, then in 1967 Major Paddy Roy Bates, along with his family and some associates occupied the fort, claiming it to be a new and separate principality. The Principality Of Sealand. Originally it was set up for the British Mr Bates to broadcast his pirate radio station. However it soon became more.

He crowned himself king. In 1968 some British workmen came to service a navigational buoy nearby. Paddy Bates claimed the waters to be part of his territory and his son Michal Bates, shot a rifle to scare them off. Then they went to court on firearms charges. The case could not proceed. A that time anything within 5km of the shore was part of the United Kingdom, and the fort fell just outside of that jurisdiction. It was in international waters and exempt from the rules. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 11, 2011 in Articles, Trivia


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140. Going Faster Than Light

Nothing can go faster than lightThat is the immutable irrefutable edict. Einstein’s legacy and the ultimate law, unfortunately it is wrong, just a little bit but it is still wrong. The wrong part is ‘faster than light’. We can, and do go faster than light, and it shows. This is Cherenkov Radiation.

There are two things you need to know, firstly is that light can go at that famous speed, c as it is written in e = mc². The blistering 300,000 km/s. That is the speed of light. Nothing can go faster than that speed, but light doesn’t always go so fast, only in vacuums such as space. When going through actual stuff, Light slows down, and then we can overtake it, with some very interesting consequences. When light goes through water it is slower, and then we race it, and beat it.

You know the sonic boom – when something approaches the speed of sound the air in front literally cannot move away; so pressure builds up until there is a large shockwave. This flies away at the speed of sound and  produces a thunderous sonic boom. When we go faster than light, we get this too, it is just not quite so loud.

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Posted by on June 9, 2011 in Articles, Misconceptions, Trivia


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138. Why 5 Doesn’t Make Sense

Sight, Taste, Hearing, Touch, Smell. Those 5 things are significant. They are the traditional senses. Put “Sense of …” in front of any single one of them and it makes sense, if you’ll pardon the pun. This view was proposed first by Aristotle, a great Greek philosopher of some note. However great he may be though this is very untrue. We have 5 senses yes, but we also happen to have at least 4 more, depending on what you think constitutes a sense. Most experts in the field think we have at least 21.

What is a sense though? – A system with specialised cells which respond to a specific physical phenomenon and correspond to specific regions of the brain where they are received and interpreted. So with that out-of-the-way, what are the other senses?

Thermoception – Sense of heat. Feel cold? That’s thanks to thermoception. This sense depends upon specialised nerves in the skin. It also links into the sense of pain, which is useful, unless you happen to want to boil or freeze parts of your body.

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Posted by on June 7, 2011 in Articles, Misconceptions


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