It’s that time of week again: the Twitter #weirdscifacts for August 1 to August 14 are below the fold! As time passes, it’s been getting harder to find new facts, so I’ve been increasingly relying on the posts and twitter observations of others.
141. Aug 01: Starfish Prime, a 1962 space nuclear test, blew out power lines and streetlights 900 km away in Hawaii!
143. Aug 03: Faraday’s 1831 discovery of induction was misreported by various press and attributed to both French and Italian researchers. It is interesting to note that the problems of “translation” between scientists and journalists is not a recent one.
144. Aug 04: 8% of asian men possess identical Y-chromosomes, suggesting a single forefather. Most likely: Genghis Khan. (via @jgold85)
146. Aug 06: Caving depth record: 7188 ft, Krubera Cave. 2005 expedition took weeks to accomplish. This is one that is quite chilling to visualize: spending weeks in a dark, cold, often ultra-confined space.
147. Aug 07: Only one species of cactus is naturally occurring outside the New World: Rhipsalis baccifera.
148. Aug 08: c. 1820s, science talks at Royal Institution were so popular streets were made one-way for traffic at beginning/end.
149. Aug 09: Physicists who have had a nervous breakdown partly due to overwork: Michelson, Newton, Faraday, Pauli. It is generally thought that scientists tend to tilt a little on the “crazy” side of the sanity scale, so it is not surprising that some of the most driven of them have suffered work-related breakdowns. What is surprising, however, is that many of them produced their greatest work after said breakdowns. Michelson performed his famous “speed of light” experiment only a few years after it was thought he was finished in academia, and Faraday discovered the connection between light and magnetism after his own collapse.
153. Aug 13: Mathematician Abel’s initial 1823 publication of his impossibility theorem was vague and only 6 pages — to save on printing. Plenty of early mathematicians did their work without any official university support and financial backing.
154. Aug 14: Largest known diamond in the universe: 10 billion trillion trillion carats! I’ve already explained to my wife that we will not be upgrading her current engagement ring with this one. (I’m tempted to try and estimate how many years it would take to pay off a diamond ring of this size.)