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Believe it or not?

  1. Mar 26, 2008 #1
    In the vein of did you know? Just thought it was time to get all that useless information about useless things out of your heads and out into the ether.

    Did you know that if you take enough blocks of a certain size and break them by dropping them under scientific conditions, eventually the number of pieces averages out to about [itex]\pi[/itex].

    The largest single organism is a fungus, this organism consists mostly of underground mycelia and covers 2,200 acres.

    It has now been proven that the humble bumble bee can in fact fly despite it's weight, due to the unique structure and motion of its wings.

    The total biomass of ants on the planet is equivalent to the total biomass of humans.

    What's your favourite useless fact?
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 26, 2008 #2
    The recurrent laryngeal nerve loops around the aorta because its "precursor attached to the sixth gill arch, deep in the neck and body region. Fish still retain this pattern, but during late human embryology, the gill arches are modified into the tissues of our throat region and pharynx. Parts of the old fish-like circulatory system were rearranged, so the aorta (also part of the sixth gill arch) moved back into the chest, taking the recurrent laryngeal nerve (looped around it) backward as well." (Prothero, Donal R. "Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters", 2007, pp. 37-38.)

    Although this is a kind of useful fact. :biggrin:
  4. Mar 26, 2008 #3
    I did know this in fact. I remember reading it in 7th grade science class all those years ago. As I recall, the fungus is common in places like Michigan.
  5. Mar 26, 2008 #4
    Hehe yeah if you're a biologist probably. :smile:
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2008
  6. Mar 26, 2008 #5


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    Highly useful fact, actually...the loop around the aorta means that an aortic aneurysm can compress the nerve and a hoarse voice or unexplained cough can be used as part of the diagnosis.
  7. Mar 26, 2008 #6
    Useless hypothesis why contentinentals drive right and Brittains drive right. It all depends how you would put the oxes in front the cart.

    As the majority of Homo sapiens happens to be right handed, in the early days it was custom to pass each other to the left, having the right hand closest to the opposing traffic, either to shake hands or draw swords or whatever. That did not change when the cart was invented with single oxen in front.

    Now for some reason the continental peasants deemed it necesary to haul farm products in big wagons pulled by several pairs of oxes or horses. These wagons had no driver's seat; instead the driver sat on the left rear horse, because in that postion he could keep his right arm free to lash the team. Since you were sitting on the left, naturally you wanted everybody to pass on the left so you could look down and make sure you kept clear of the other guy's wheels in the small tracks which the constituted the roads in those days. Therefore it was more convenient to pass each other to the right side of the road.

    For some unknow reason the albinion islanders never got to put a double row of draft animals in front of the cart, maintaining passing on the left side, to have the most active arm closest to the opposing traffic.

    My school teacher told that story umpty years ago. And sure enough you can find it with google.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2008
  8. Mar 26, 2008 #7

    Chi Meson

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    I had heard that it was Napoleon who decided that, when his Empire was at its largest, that everyone would switch from passing on the left, to passing on the right. This was to reduce the number of fights (early road rage) by having the sword on the wrong side for attack.

    It was noted that the only European countries that remained "passing to the left" were those not conquered by Napoleon.

    Sweden switched from left to right sometime in the 50s. They were expecting all sorts of accidents when the switch occurred, but evidently there was no significant increase.

    Any Swedes out there to corroborate?
  9. Mar 26, 2008 #8


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    Can you elaborate on this?
  10. Mar 26, 2008 #9


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    The word "sabotage" derived from the French word for wooden shoe - sabot. During the French industrial revolution, rebelling workers would throw wooden shoes into the wooden cogs of machine-works, smashing them and forcing the machines to be shut down until new parts could be carved out and the cogs could be re-built.
  11. Mar 26, 2008 #10
    Read it in New Scientist, but you'll have to wait for me to find it because it's not an easy search criteria. :smile:

    IIRC they took blocks of concrete of a particular size and dropped them at specific heights under very specific conditions, and found that the average number of pieces were pi: 3.141 etc.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2008
  12. Mar 26, 2008 #11
    On a similar note to Turbos statement. The word "assasin" comes from "hashish" because hired killers used to bathe in the stuff once they pulled off a job....but you all know that because you've read "Angels and Demons" right?
  13. Mar 26, 2008 #12
    From the Hashishin during the crusades, but nonetheless a good fact. :smile:

    Hoisted by your own petard? Know where this comes from?

    The petard was a gunpowder charge with a fuse that was used to blow "doors" off castles or fortified positions. The petard wielder would run as fast as he could under fire to place it and then get away. Of course if in his efforts to avoid enemy fire he took too long he would be hoisted by his own petard, nasty.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2008
  14. Mar 26, 2008 #13
    Maybe they lowered the petard into place? Love that word though....petard
  15. Mar 26, 2008 #14


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    Main Entry: pe·tard
    Pronunciation: \pə-ˈtär(d)\
    Function: noun

    Etymology: Middle French, from peter to break wind, from pet expulsion of intestinal gas, from Latin peditum, from neuter of peditus, past participle of pedere to break wind; akin to Greek bdein to break wind
    Date: 1598

    1 : a case containing an explosive to break down a door or gate or breach a wall
    2 : a firework that explodes with a loud repo

  16. Mar 27, 2008 #15
    No the petardier or farter I suppose :smile:, wore heavy armour, although not too heavy (obviously) and was supported by a couple of equally suicidal musketeers who would try to keep the heat off the petard bearer, who would then run as fast as he could at the fortified gate. Needless to say this job paid well, but had a rather crappy life expectancy. The logic was why lose hundreds by attrition when you could lose much less by taking a fortified position early.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2008
  17. Mar 27, 2008 #16


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    I'll need confirmation from Moonbear on this.
    When trying to figure out a way to keep Lucy from 'kneading' her paws, with the attendant wounds to my legs, I read that the action is how a kitten induces lactation in its mother. As such, it's an instinctual reaction to being in a comfortable place and is therefore just about impossible to deter.
  18. Mar 27, 2008 #17
    It is to induce lactation, and it is extremely painful. :smile:

    And short of de-clawing your cat, no there's not a lot you can do about it, except throw the cat off say ow, and hope she lands ok, they usually do, being cats and all. :smile:

    Only one of my cats did this though, one was an Amazonian mouse/bird killer with a love of bringing in presents, the other a lap cat, see if you can work out which is which. So there are ways and means of stopping them resorting to infant like behaviour. :smile:
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2008
  19. Mar 27, 2008 #18
    No, it has been proven that the humble bumble bee can in fact fly due to the fact that it can in fact fly.
  20. Mar 27, 2008 #19
    I'm afraid whilst that is experimentally valid without a viable model your theory is still a hypothesis. :smile:
  21. Mar 27, 2008 #20


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    we have not yet ruled out the possibility of bees turning off gravity, and the alien involvement in this just makes it even more complicated

    Fun facts about depression and bipolar disorder:
    -Upwards of 60% of people with bipolar disorder abuse drugs
    -Roughly 50% of all alcoholics have clinical depression, even though depression is only present in ~10% of the population
    -80% of alcoholics are also addicted to cigarettes
    -People who are extremely fearful of crime (think of the children) are twice as likely to have clinical depression, when compared to the population as a whole
    -Depressed people who are given the wrong medication, SSRI drugs in particular, often end up killing themselves or others. Seung-Hui Cho, the man responsible for the Virginia Tech massacre, was on SSRI medication at the time.
    -PMS in women is actually a form of short-term depression
    -Being pregnant is very similar to having bipolar disorder, because changes in hormone levels have drastic effects on mood
    -Teenagers often show signs of many brain diseases at once due to changing hormone levels. Kids who describe themselves as emo usually have clinical depression (except for the ones faking it to fit in), and feelings of being watched, judged, and persecuted are similar to the mentality seen in people who suffer from schizophrenia.

    So when alcoholics say alcoholism is a disease, it's actually true in a sense. Alcoholism is often caused by depression or bipolar disorder, and both of those are diseases.
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