Tuesday, 30 September 2014


10 Amazing Scientific Discoveries (Made Recently)
By Nic Arcadio,
Toptenz, 30 September 2014.

We tend to think of all the important scientific discoveries and theories (gravity, the speed of light, the infusion of cookie dough into ice cream) as things that happened a long time ago. But lots of new discoveries are being made every year, and they make us realize there’s still so much we don’t know.

10. Element 117


Unless you’re a chemistry major or a science geek, you probably don’t even remember half the elements of the periodic table taught to you in school. As a refresher, the number of protons an element has distinguishes it from others, so an atom with eight protons will always be oxygen. The heaviest element that can commonly be found in nature is element 92, uranium, and elements beyond that are mostly man-made. In 2010, element 117 was successfully created by a team of researchers, filling the void between elements 116 and 118.

Temporarily being called ununseptium, producing such a heavy element was no easy task. Not only does it need a lot of energy to create, but finding the right combination of elements to get a 117-proton element is also a huge problem. Heavier elements also appear to have shorter half-lives - element 118 only lasted a few milliseconds before decaying. But creating these heavy elements helps ever-curious scientists find out just how large can an atom go.

9. Electron’s Mass


Electrons are the negatively-charged particles that orbit a nucleus. They’re so small that accurately measuring their mass is no easy task. For years, scientists have been using the Committee on Data for Science and Technology’s recommended value, which was adopted in 2006.

But recently the mass has been measured at a more precise value of 0.000548579909067 of an atomic mass unit. Or to give you a better idea how small that is, about 9.1 x 10-31 kg. Yes, that’s 30 zeros after the decimal place. Although there’s little difference between the previously known mass and the new, more precise mass, it has a huge impact on various fields of science, especially particle physics.

8. From Skin to Liver


For years, scientists had been experimenting on transforming skin cells into cells of other organs. So far these experiments have fallen short because the cells produced were immature versions of the organ cells, but a new study found that it could be possible to produce mature liver cells from skin cells. The new liver cells were able to thrive on their own after being transplanted to mice that had been engineered with liver problems.

Scientists were able to make the experiment work by using skin cells at an intermediate state which have a potential to mature into working liver cells. Although the new liver cells aren’t 100% matured, tests done on mice with liver problems showed a potential that this experiment could work on humans in the future. This could help solve the huge problem of limited donor organ availability.

7. Nuclear Fusion


After decades of wait, we could finally be closer to achieving an unlimited source of energy without the threat of pollution, greenhouse gases and radioactive waste. This would be possible with nuclear fusion, a natural process in stars. Fusion happens when atoms fuse into each other and release energy. When a large quantity of atoms fuse, more energy capable of sustaining the process is released. This is called ignition, and it’s what’s needed for a fusion power plant. Scientists believe that it will take many more years before this could be achieved on a large scale, but recent tiny successes with fusion represent a huge milestone that could benefit future generations.

6. Breast Cancer Research


Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the world, affecting hundreds of thousand people in the United States alone. Recently, a study found a connection between cholesterol level and breast cancer. The study found that women with higher cholesterol levels have a higher risk of acquiring breast cancer.

But there may now be a drug that not only lowers your cholesterol, but can also treat your breast cancer. After an anti-cholesterol drug was injected in mice, proteins that cause tumours were exterminated. The drug was also effective in reducing the growth of breast cancer cells and can even kill the cells after it was administered to breast cancer cells outside the human body. Further tests are needed, but hopefully it’s a step in the right direction of fighting both high cholesterol and breast cancer.

5. Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria’s Weakness


The world has been facing the ever-growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which poses an enormous threat to public health because it renders some antibiotics useless. Antibiotics have been one of the keys that allow us to live longer by fighting bacteria that cause some of the most common infectious diseases. But some of these bacteria have adapted to create barriers against antibiotic drugs.

Scientists recently found a possible way to combat these walled bacteria by specifically attacking the walls instead of the bacteria itself, which just causes the organisms to find another defense. This gives us the chance to defeat these bacteria and ensure healthier lives.

4. New Domain of Life


In the past, living things were divided into two divisions: prokaryotes (single-celled organisms) and eukaryotes (multi-celled organisms, including us). The prokaryote division was then further divided into two more domains: bacteria and archaea. And for years we thought that all life on earth falls into these three categories.

But a fourth domain just might be added after scientists found two viruses in Chile and Australia bigger than anything found before. Pandoraviruses, named after the Greek figure, are so alien to us that only 7% of their genes match with all the previously known lineage in nature. The discovery of these viruses (which are harmless to us) show how little we still know about microscopic life here on Earth.

3. New State of Matter


Remember when the states of matter were just solid, liquid and gas? Then came plasma, then Bose-Einstein Condensate, and the list goes on. What could be a new state was recently discovered, and where else would it be found but in your favourite food, chicken. You might feel stupid and weird if you look closely into a chicken’s eye, but some researchers did just that and found the new state of matter known as “disordered hyperuniformity.”

It was named that because the cells found in a chicken’s retina appear to be arranged randomly, and yet at the same time appear to be somewhat uniform. The materials in this new state have the efficiency of crystals in the way the density of particles are kept consistent, and they also have the flexibility of liquid. The new discovery will be a great help in the development of light-transmitting devices since the cells found in the bird are light-sensitive.

2. Quantum Teleportation


Our lifelong dream of teleportation that we only see in sci-fi movies looks like it’s on the verge of becoming…well, not true, but a very distant possibility. Instant teleportation from the United States to Japan is still impossible, but what scientists achieved was spectacular enough. Physicists from the Netherlands were able to teleport quantum data regarding an electron’s spin state to another election located three meters away.

This achievement might be able to prove the existence of “quantum entanglement,” which Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance” and implies that our current understanding of quantum mechanics is wrong. This truly spooky action allows quantum data to be transferred from one point to another so fast that it should be even faster than the speed of light. Quantum teleportation could be the key to quantum computing, which could give us ground-breaking computing power.

1. Deep Ocean


Our planet is already full of water, covering roughly 71% of our surface. But a new ocean, possibly bigger than all the other oceans combined, could be sitting right underneath us. Evidence suggests that some water became trapped in ringwoodites, a mineral with a sponge-like ability to absorb water, deep below in the mantle. This new discovery could help answer the question on where the water of our planet’s oceans come from. It’s believed that tectonic plate movements cycle the water from beneath the earth, out to the surface, and back.

Top image: Electron microscopy image of a Pandoravirus particle (edited using Adobe Photoshop artistic filters). Credit: Image courtesy of Chantal Abergel/Jean-Michel Claverie, via Inside Science.

[Source: Toptenz. Edited. Top image added.]


10 delicious ways countries around the world cook their steaks
10 delicious ways countries around the world cook their steaks
By Casey Chan,
Sploid, 29 September 2014.

With my steaks, I prefer the unbeatable seasoning one-two punch of salt and pepper. And well, maybe some garlic if I'm feeling frisky. I just like the taste of red meat too much. But around the world? You'll get steaks seasoned and marinated with orange peel, lime zest, soy sauce, shrimp paste, sugar and much more.

And after watching this video by Foodbeast, I think I'll have to re-evaluate my meat marriage to salt and pepper. I'm going to start getting crazy.

[Source: Sploid.]

Monday, 29 September 2014


Tasty Tech Eye Candy Of The Week (Sept 28)
By Tracy Staedter,
Discovery News, 27 September 2014.

This week we feature glowing, gooey, flying tech.

1. Ambilight TV


The "glow" comes from LEDs made by Philips that are illuminating skiers in a movie due out this October to promote the company's new Ambilight TV. The TV casts different hues of light onto the wall behind to create a more immersive experience. The ski movie, called Afterglow, was made by Sweetgrass Productions and recently won Best Cinematography and Best Short Movie at the International Freeski Film Festival in Montreal.

2. Facebook's Internet Drone


Facebook wants to deliver Internet to the two-thirds of the world that don't have it. This week, Yael Maguire, the engineering director at Facebook‘s Connectivity Lab, told Mashable's CEO Pete Cashmore, that the planes would be “roughly the size of a commercial aircraft, like a 747.” No no one really imaged the drones would be that big, although they'll be much lighter than a 747. Maguire also said that the drones would fly between 60,000 and 90,000 feet, where weather and other air traffic won't be a problem and they'll run for months or longer solely on solar power.

3. Liquid Battery


Researchers at MIT are working on a battery that has two layers of molten metal, separated by a layer of molten salt. Such a battery could work better than conventional batteries at storing large amounts of energy harvested by wind turbines and solar power plants. Storing energy means less of it goes to waste because more of that energy can be used when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining.

4. Heart-Shaped Solar


The people of New Caledonia are building a beautiful solar farm in the shape of a heart. The solar panels will produce 2 megawatts of electricity and deliver it to 750 homes on the Pacific island.

5. Flying Lampshades


Drones can also be works of art. A collaboration between Cirque de Soleil, Swiss university ETH Zürich and Verity Studios has resulted in a magical short film called Sparked. Here, UAV quadcopters bring colourful lamp shades to life.

6. Monolitt


An art project shows the sticky side of emotional tweets. Two artists in Norway, Syver Lauritzsen and Eirik Haugen Murvoll, created a sculpture called Monolitt and linked it electronically with Twitter. Every time nearby phone users tweeted emotions, goo oozed from the top. Different colours were assigned to different emotions. For example, black showed annoyance and pink revealed happiness. Watch the results here.

7. LED Hammock


LEDs come into play again. This time it's with a temporary art installation called Swing Time, located in Boston, between the Boston Convention and Exhibition Centre and D Street. Here, 20 softly glowing hammocks invite people to recline and sway. The more they swing, the brighter the hammocks glow.

8. Smart Light Bulb


Alba light bulbs from Stack are smart enough to adjust when sunlight is adequate to light an interior and also learn and adapt to people's habits. The bulbs have sensors that detect motion, occupancy and ambient light. At US$150 for two bulbs, they're expensive, but they use 60 to 80 percent less energy than a regular LED bulb.

9. Sunflower-Shaped Solar Panels


First a heart-shaped solar energy farm and now concentrated solar dishes in the shape of sunflowers. Each dish, developed by IBM, not only converts 80 percent of the sunlight harvested into useful energy, it's also capable of filtering water to produce 30 to 40 litres of drinkable water per square meter of receiver area per day.

10. Robot Octopus Swims Faster Than Ever


We love robots that mimic living creatures. This one from the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas in Greece, takes after an octopus, right down to the web between its tentacles, which helps it swim fast. While studying the robot in the ocean, the scientists noted that little fish followed it around as if it were a normal part of the scenery. That suggests it could one day be a nonintrusive tool for observing ocean life.

[Source: Discovery News. Edited. Some links added.]

Sunday, 28 September 2014


40 Ways to Screw Up a PowerPoint Slide
By Curtis Newbold,
The Visual Communication Guy, 10 September 2014.

Bad PowerPoint design may be just as detrimental to your presentation as smelling like a horse. When you have poorly designed slides, a few things happen: your professionalism is questioned (because you essentially tell the people looking at your PowerPoint that you don’t know how to create professional work); your audience members get distracted as they toggle between looking at your bad design and listen to what you’re actually saying (and, in the end, they don’t really ingest either); and your audience just gets bored or annoyed - which is about the worst possible outcome when presenting.

Obviously, there are a number of great ways to design PowerPoint slides. Keep them simple, use lots of pictures, and pick an effective typeface. But there are dozens of ways to screw up a PowerPoint slide. Avoid the “screw up” list below and you should feel much more comfortable knowing that your slides don’t fall under the bad design umbrella.

40 Ways to Screw Up a PowerPoint Slide (Infographic)
Infographic courtesy of The Visual Communication Guy

[Source: The Visual Communication Guy. Edited. Top image added.]


Coke and 8 More of the World's Most Closely Guarded Recipes
By Dan Myers,
The Daily Meal, 23 September 2014.

When a new food product is invented, the creator obviously has good reason to keep the recipe close to his or her chest. But in certain cases, the “secret recipe” for a food or drink product takes on a life of its own, and adds to the overall lore and appeal of the product itself.

Secret recipes are nothing new. Back in the old days, before the government required food and drink manufacturers to list ingredients on the label, legitimate companies as well as snake oil salesmen made good money selling products they claimed could cure everything from arthritis to stomach aches, all based on a “secret recipe.” These tonics usually did more harm than good, thanks to the fact that active ingredients ranged from nothing at all to morphine and cocaine. Once the labelling laws were passed, many of these tonics disappeared entirely, but some wiggle room remained.

It was still possible to maintain a somewhat secret formula, and Coca-Cola certainly capitalized on that. By being allowed to list only “natural flavours” as a catch-all for certain groups of ingredients, they were able to keep the world guessing as to what exactly went into the magic elixir.

Today, it’s harder than ever to keep a formula secret. Chemists and food scientists are able to break down just about any food product and figure out exactly what goes into it, and whole books have been published claiming to reveal the recipes to foods with famous secret formulas. But in reality, until the company itself comes out and releases the exact recipe (as McDonald’s did with its “special sauce”), we’ll never know for sure exactly what goes into these foods and drinks.

1. Dr Pepper


The recipe for Dr Pepper is cloaked in secrecy; allegedly it’s divided into two parts, each locked in a different Dallas bank so that nobody can possess the whole formula. Nobody knows for sure what the “23 flavours and other ingredients” are in the drink, but the rumour that prune juice is one of them has been debunked.

2. Krispy Kreme Plain Doughnut


The original recipe to Krispy Kreme’s legendary plain glazed doughnut is kept under lock and key at the company’s headquarters in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and only a handful of employees have access to it. In fact, they took a rogue New York operator to court back in 2010 when he tweaked the recipe after running out of “key proprietary ingredients.”

3. Coca-Cola


This is quite possibly the most legendary secret recipe on earth; the lore surrounding the Coke formula is almost as famous as the beverage itself. The only written copy of the recipe was locked in an Atlanta bank vault for decades - in 2011, it was transferred to a vault in an exhibit at Atlanta's World of Coca-Cola interactive museum - and the fact that the recipe has been such a tightly-guarded secret has been great for Coke’s PR. Every so often someone claims to have come across inventor John Pemberton’s original recipe, but it’s been tweaked so many times since the original days that to reproduce it today would be nearly impossible. Oh, and only one producer in the country is allowed to produce decocainized flavour essence of the coca leaf, a key ingredient, and they’re not likely to sell it to you anytime soon.

4. Kentucky Fried Chicken


KFC’s fried chicken famously contains a blend of 11 herbs and spices, which are supposedly produced at two different plants and then combined at a third, so nobody can be in possession of the entire recipe, which is locked away in a vault. Many people claim to have decoded the recipe, and a lab test discovered that the only ingredients were flour, salt, pepper, and MSG. When it comes to what’s actually in that chicken, the world will most likely never know for sure.

5. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate


The chocolate wars were going strong at around the turn of the century, with innovators like Hershey and Mars going after the big English manufacturers like Fry, Rowntree's, and Cadbury for market dominance. When Hershey finally nailed the formula for milk chocolate, after three years of trial and error, he kept it a proprietary secret and released the first Hershey’s Bar in 1900, cementing his place in chocolate lore. The exact formula for Hershey’s milk chocolate is still a mystery today.

6. Bush’s Baked Beans


While it may seem like a marketing ploy more than anything else, the recipe to Bush’s Baked Beans is, in fact, a secret. The recipe was created by the founder’s daughter-in-law Kathleen, and in fact only current owner Jay Bush knows the recipe (him and his dog Duke, of course). The beans contain brown sugar and bacon, but as for the spice blend, even the supplier doesn’t know it.

7. Barr’s Irn-Bru


The recipe for this Scottish soft drink has been passed down from generation to generation since 1901, and today it’s only known by three people: former chairman Robin Barr, his daughter Julie, and one anonymous board member. All that the company admits is that there are 32 ingredients, and one of them is iron.

8. Chartreuse


In 1737, a monk named Jérôme Maubec happened upon a secret formula for an elixir for long life that had been given to the monastery by an officer of King Henry IV, and decided to modify it. He distilled 130 flowers and plants into a powerful elixir, and over the years it was used as the base for Green Chartreuse and Yellow Chartreuse. The formula that goes into each of these products is still a closely-held secret, one that plenty of would-be copycats have attempted to replicate.

9. Twinkies


There are plenty of Twinkie imitators out there, but the exact formula (which was recently purchased by Apollo Global Management and C. Dean Metropoulos & Co. from Hostess) is still a complete secret. Hostess made a couple of tweaks to the formula, like adding a secret ingredient that prolongs the product’s shelf life, but they didn’t divulge all of those either.

[Source: The Daily Meal. Edited. Some links added.]


6 Animals Tiny Enough To Sit On Your Finger
By Margaret Badore,
Treehugger, 26 September 2014.

Charismatic megafauna like elephants, polar bears, whales and rhinos get a lot of attention. However, there are many amazing creatures on the other side of the size spectrum, from bats to birds. Let’s meet some of the world’s smaller critters.

1. Pipistrelle bat


The common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) is 3.5–5.2 centimetres (1.4–2.0 inches) long from heat to tail. However, the smallest bat species is the Kitti's hog-nosed bat found in Thailand and Burma, also know as the bumblebee bat.

2. Brookesia micra

Credit: Frank Glaw

This little lizard is a species of leaf chameleon and is among the smallest known reptiles. It can grow up to 29 millimetres (1.1 inches) in length. It’s found on a islet of Madagascar, and was only recently described by zoologists.

3. Baluchistan pygmy jerboa

Credit: Bell Pletsch

Also known as the dwarf three-toed jerboa, this bitty rodent is found only in the Chaghi desert region of Pakistan. The head and body of adults averages about 4.4 centimetres (1.7 inches) and the tail adds another 8 centimetres (3.1 inches).

4. Paedophryne amauensis frog


There are many species of tiny tropical frogs, but the tiniest of them all may be the Paedophryne amauensis. Discovered in 2013, it is the smallest know vertebrate in the world. It’s 7.7 millimetres in length (0.3 inches) and is found in Papua New Guinea. According to the researchers who first described it, this little frog has a call that sounds similar to that of an insect.

5. Pygmy shrew

Credit: Stella N.

Isn’t this little shrew adorable? The Eurasian pygmy shrew (Sorex minutus) is the only shrew native to Ireland and has an average weight of 4 grams. According to International Union for Conservation of Nature, this Eurasian shrew population may suffer from habitat loss and pesticide use, but it’s not considered a threatened species.

6. Bee hummingbird

Credit: Rainer Jung

The smallest living bird is the bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae), which weighs less than a penny and lives in Cuba. Barely bigger than some insects, it dines mostly on nectar.

Top image: Kitti's hog-nosed bat, via SciTech Daily.

[Source: Treehugger. Edited. Top image and some links added.]

Saturday, 27 September 2014


The Seven Deadly Sins of Punctuation
By Curtis Newbold,
The Visual Communication Guy, 22 July 2014.

While there are countless ways to ruin good writing, there is probably no quicker way to lose writing credibility than by exhibiting punctuation errors. Punctuation is the visual cue in our language that we use to increase comprehension, to change speed and tone, and to improve the overall reading experience. Plus, punctuation can completely change meanings. Consider this now-famous sentence where the words remain the same, but the punctuation changes:

A woman, without her man, is nothing.
A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Two perfectly fine sentences. Two completely different meanings. When punctuation gets messed up, so does the intended meaning of the writer. If you want to improve your writing, start with the basics: understand your punctuation and stay out of Punctuation Purgatory!

Here’s my list of the Seven Deadly Sins of Punctuation. There are certainly many more errors you can make when using the 15 punctuation marks we have in English, but if you avoid these most deadly, sinful errors that fall in the punctuation pits of purgatory, you’re writing is much more likely to sound, well, heavenly.

For more punctuation tips, please go to the Punctuation Portal. To purchase a 20×30 version of this poster, visit the shop.

Infographic courtesy of The Visual Communication Guy


10 Answers To Baffling Questions You’ve Always Wondered About
By Nathan P. Gibson,
Listverse, 27 September 2014.

There are certain questions that burn in the back of your mind throughout your life. You might wonder why something is built in a certain way, why a particular item is always in a specific location, or why your body does something. Yet you’ve never been able to come up with a logical answer to these common questions despite knowing that there must be one.

Below are 10 questions that have baffled people every day, along with the simple answers that finally provide closure.

10. Why Do Airplanes Have Ashtrays When Smoking Is Banned?


Smoking on airplanes is banned by pretty much every airline in the world. Apart from the fact that cigarette smoke is unpleasant for others passengers, smoking is also a fire hazard, possibly even responsible for the downing of Varig Flight 820.

Despite the fact that smoking is forbidden, it is hard not to notice that toilets on airplanes have ashtrays in them. It is not just older plane models, either; brand new commercial aircraft also come fitted with ashtrays.

The answer is that the Federal Aviation Administration requires airlines to have ashtrays on their airplanes. Even though smoking is banned and airplanes are fitted with smoke alarms, the FAA knew that some people would still smoke. Providing a place for people to safely dispose of their cigarettes was deemed too important for safety reasons.

9. Why Do Books Have Intentionally Blank Pages?

A huge portion of all published books come with at least one or two blank pages. Some books have even more empty pages, and they may carry a message saying “This page has been intentionally left blank.”

These blank pages are not the result of publishers purposefully wasting paper but rather a consequence of the printing process most commonly used. Pages for books are usually printed on very large sheets of paper - called “signatures” - rather than on individual pieces, allowing groups of 8, 16, or 32 pages to be printed together. Machines then fold and cut the pages into book form, but most written work will not divide exactly into eight, so there will be spare pages from the process.

Some books turn these extra pages into note sections or simply add a message to reassure readers that there has not been a printing error.

8. Why Do People Sneeze When Looking At A Bright Light?


Around a third of all people will uncontrollably sneeze when they enter a brightly lit environment, such as when they go outdoors from a dim building. It’s a phenomenon that has baffled scientists for thousands of years.

Sneezes are a reactionary response. They can be caused by a number of different stimuli but usually happen due to nasal irritation. However, in the case of the so-called “photic sneeze reflex,” the sneeze is triggered by looking directly at a source of light. Researchers have proposed various theories to explain exactly why this happens, although none have ever been widely accepted.

Most scientists now believe that the photic sneeze reflex may be the result of some crossed wires in the brain. The optic nerve that senses light is located right next to the trigeminal nerve that controls sneezing. When the optic nerve sends electrical impulses to the brain, the signal triggers the trigeminal nerve, confusing the brain into thinking the nose is irritated and a sneeze is necessary.

7. Why Does Hair Turn Grey?


It happens to everyone as they advance in age. From around 30 years of age - although it can certainly start earlier than that - people begin to notice that their hair is slowly losing its natural colour and instead is turning grey and eventually white. Despite how widespread this is, the explanation behind the phenomenon is not well known.

Hair gets its natural colour from pigment cells known as “melanocytes.” Melanocytes produce chemicals that pass black, dark brown, red, and yellow melanin to cells that create the chief ingredient of hair, keratin. As people get older, melanocyte cells degrade, causing the keratin to receive less pigment. This leads to hair becoming grey. Eventually, the cells stop functioning altogether, which leads to hair no longer getting any pigment at all and turning completely white.

6. Why Do Stores Blast Air At Entrances?


It is a fairly common occurrence to be blasted with air upon entering a store or mall. This isn’t simply the owners trying to cool you down. The practice is used in a variety of buildings, including restaurants, factories, and loading bays. It has several uses, but the primary one is to keep the temperature in a building steady by preventing air from leaving or going in through an entrance. The jet of air is used to keep cold air out of the stores during the winter and to prevent cool air escaping during the summer. This is especially useful when doors need to remain open most of the time. Air doors are also incredibly useful for stopping flying insects and trash from entering a building by providing turbulent air that they cannot pass through.

5. What Causes Butterflies In Your Stomach?


Every single person reading this will have at some point in their lives experienced the sensation known as having “butterflies in your stomach.” The fluttery feeling in the gut can occur for a variety of reasons, from being scared or nervous because of an upcoming event to being excited about going on a first date. Different emotions can cause sensations and physical changes in your stomach thanks to the so-called “brain-gut axis.” Feelings in the brain, such as fear or excitement, are interpreted as stress and activate the fight-or-flight response. This releases extra adrenaline into the body to help us either combat a threat or get away from it by increasing blood flow to the heart, lungs, and muscles. With only a limited amount of blood in the human body, less of it can flow to other organs, such as the gut, which leads to the familiar feeling of nausea.

4. Why Does Rubbing Alcohol Sting?


People have been using rubbing alcohol on cuts and open wounds for a very long time. If you have ever used it, you’ll know that it can sting when applied, often more than the cut itself. This happens not because the alcohol is killing bacteria but due to a reaction it causes in the body. When rubbing alcohol is applied to a cut, it directly affects the VR1 receptors in the skin. These receptors are responsible for sensing heat. While they usually activate at high temperatures, the alcohol lowers their threshold to a point where the body temperature is enough to set them off. The receptors believe the body is being burned and transmit that pain to the brain, even though no damage is actually done to the skin.

3. Why Does Orange Juice Taste Horrible After Brushing Your Teeth?


Eating or drinking anything right after brushing your teeth is not a pleasant experience. Toothpaste can make anything taste a little off. However, in the case of chugging down orange juice just after brushing, the taste can be one of the most disgusting you will encounter.

It turns out that the foaming agent used in most toothpaste is to blame for the unappealing taste. The agent, sodium lauryl sulphate, dampens the sweet receptors in your mouth. This means orange juice and anything else you might eat or drink will not taste as sweet straight after brushing.

Additionally, sodium lauryl sulphate destroy phospholipids that usually help to prevent bitter tastes from being too strong. So the toothpaste not only works to make the orange juice less sweet, it also amplifies its bitterness. These two effects combine to create the horrible taste.

2. Why Is The Sky Blue?


Barring cloudy days (along with both sunsets and sunrises), the sky will usually appear to be blue. This happens because of the way certain things can manipulate light. Just as prisms can bend light to create a rainbow and a mirror can reflect light back to where it came from, some objects can scatter light. The white light from the Sun hits oxygen and nitrogen molecules that make up most of the Earth’s atmosphere and is scattered to produce all the colours. However, since the colour blue has a shorter wavelength than the rest, it is scattered more.

This effect also explains the other colours that can appear in the sky. Closer to the horizon, the sky will look much paler. Here, the light has travelled through more air and has been scattered more intensively, mixing in with the other colours and losing its blue tinge. With the Sun lower in the sky, as with sunsets, the light has to travel through even more light. This scatters the blue light further, allowing the red and yellow light to travel through.

1. Why Are Dreams So Hard To Remember?


Everyone has experienced waking up after an amazing dream and struggling to remember it only moments later. It can be infuriating, and even with self-help techniques, dreams can usually only be fully remembered for a matter of minutes.

Scientists have suggested several reasons for why dreams are so hard to recall. The conditions in the brain during REM sleep, where most dreaming takes place, are not suited to putting experiences into long-term memory. Lack of the hormone norepinephrine also plays a part. The hormone plays an important role in memory and is absent during REM sleep.

Another factor that contributes to the poor recall of dreams is that during REM sleep, neurons from the hippocampus may not fire as they do at other times. This causes them to misfire with other neurons that help to record memory, which is why the dream quickly fades.

[Source: Listverse. Edited.]