7 facts which only get weirder the more you think about them

(Scroll to the bottom for sources and more info)

“Not only is the universe stranger than we think, it’s stranger than we can think”  – Werner Heisenberg, Across the Frontier

1) Pea in a Stadium

You and everything around you are filled of mostly nothing. Well over 99.9% of the mass in every atom comes from the nucleus at the centre. which occupies around 1/100,000 of the radius (the rest being orbiting electrons). The image you’ve seen of a nice chunky nucleus with electrons cuddled up close is there only for your sanity. The truth? The nucleus of an atom occupies a roughly comparable amount of space as a pea hovering in the centre of a sports stadium. That’s an almost unimaginable amount of not-stuff…. yet somehow it still really hurts when bump your head and stub your toe!

If only atoms were as cosy and discrete as this! (Actually that would be far less fun...)If only atoms were as cosy and discrete as this! (Actually that would be far less fun…)

2) Empty Space is not Empty

That said, there is no such thing as truly empty space. Studies in quantum chromodynamics has shown that even in the vacuum of space or in the space between a nucleus and electrons, there is this bubbling broth of particles popping in and out of existence.

This is a vacuum according to Quantum Chromodynamics. Click through for more details and an animated version.This is a vacuum according to Quantum Chromodynamics. Click through for more details and an animated version.

3) Quantum Weirdness in General

Actually… pretty much everything about quantum weirdness belongs on this list. I wish I could be calmer about this, but…. HOW?! How can anything be a wave and a particle at the same time?!! And what kind of witchcraft is quantum entanglement?!! *breaks down*

Abstruse Goose webcomic knows what's up Abstruse Goose knows what’s up

4) 100 trillion “little friends”

Maybe we’ll be safer with biology? Within the mostly-organic orificed sack which you arbitrarily call your body, there are more bacterial cells than mammalian cells. Ten times as many.  So are we human, or are we dancers lumbering micro-organism transportation vessels?

Pic for Em peach

Just be glad most bacteria live happily alongside us and haven’t discovered organised crime (yet)…

5)  That smell? It’s inside you… 

When you smell anything the molecules from that substance actually enter your body. Molecules that were only a few seconds ago in that carton of rancid milk, or the backside of that stranger next to you in the elevator, are presently inside your face. Yum. But thinking about this further – the only difference between roses, bacon and the aforementioned rancid milk smell is the presence and arrangement of some atoms. There is nothing intrinsically revolting aside from that which our evolutionary programming dictates.

H2S vs H2O... or "stinky egg smell" and "nice, not-smelly water" H2S [left] vs H2O [right]… i.e. “stinky egg smell” and “nice, not-smelly water”

6) Dino-lies

The temporal difference between the Stegosaurus and the T-rex (83 million years) is a lot larger than between T-rex and humans (67 million years). The dinosaurs reigned for longer than our puny brains can realistically comprehend.

Dino timeline

Awesome, but made of lies. Millions of years of lies. Top: A tiny bit of perspective for you. B0ttom: Awesome, but made of lies. Millions of years of lies.

7) Oh, and one more thing…

 

Enjoy your day!

Em x

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Links to more information and images:
1) Pea in a stadium: Fact and image source
2) Empty space is not emptyFact and image source
3) General quantum weirdness: Facts: start here and image source
4) 100 trillion “little friends”: Fact source. Image kindly created by Becky using Adobe Illustrator
5) That smell… it’s inside youFact and basic image source
6) Dino-liesFact and image sources (timeline) (fight scene)
7) Rock in spaceimage source (do you really need evidence of this?)

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2 thoughts on “7 facts which only get weirder the more you think about them

  1. Baaaahhhh, physics, it screws with your brain. Also, how insane is that, that the stegosaurus was further away from T-rex than we are? My brothers and I had plastic models of both, courtesy of the Natural History Museum. Finally, I love your phrase “lumbering micro-organism transportation vessels”. Lets not think about that one too closely!

    Like

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