Bright Guy

Cool facts on just about everything


  1. Boquila trifoliolata is a vine that lives in Chile and Argentina.  It's been observed adapting the shape of its leaves to the host plants it climbs!  It's believed it does this to better blend into its background or perhaps to take on the shape of plants that are poisonous to caterpillars and other potential predators.  Interestingly, it accomplishes this merely by proximity versus direct contact.
  2. The largest living organism is thought to be a honey fungus living in Oregon.  It covers 6.5sq km and is estimated to be between 1,900 and 8,650 years old and weighing between 7,500 and 35,000 tonnes.  Known as the gardener's nightmare, it kills other plants and trees wherever it spreads.
  3. Bittersweet nightshade, a weed-like vine found throughout Europe and North 
    America, will when injured, secrete a nectar around the wound.  This attracts ants which, in addition to eating the nectar will also eat offending fauna such as slugs or flea beetles.

  4. The Carolina Reaper is a chilli pepper that holds the record for the world's hottest pepper as per Guinness World Records.  It has peaked 2,200,000 Scoville Heat Units.  A Jalapeno pepper is only about 4000 Scoville units.
  5. Researchers discovered zircon crystals (a mineral in the Earth's crust) half the size of a human hair in Western Australia that's 4.4 billion years old!  Studying oxygen isotopes it was discovered the Earth likely cooled 100 million years earlier than previously estimated; giving life an earlier head-start than what was believed.
  6. Eucalyptus trees, with roots going down as far as 130 feet (40 meters), store gold in their leaves!   Along with water, gold is also absorbed.  Gold is harmful to the plant so it's moved to the leaves.  It's believed the trees could be used to aid prospectors.  However with gold only making up 46 parts per billion (0.000005%) of the leaf's weight, it's not worth collecting leaves.
  7. The chilli pepper is endemic to the Americas.  It was Christopher Columbus who brought them to Europe calling them "peppers" because they were similar in taste to the black and white pepper used in Europe.
  8. The largest volcano on Earth is about 1,600 km east of Japan in the Pacific Ocean.  The shield volcano, named Tamu Massif, is about 4.46 km (14,620 ft) tall and is 450 km x 650 km (about the size of New Mexico) totalling 260,000 km2 (dwarfing the old record holder Mauna Loa which had an area of only 5,000 km2).
  9. Lake Natron is a shallow salt lake in Tanzania, only about 10 feet deep.  Temperatures can reach as high as 50 degrees and the alkalinity can reach 9-10.5 pH (similar to ammonia).  From time to time wildlife has been found completely calcified on the shore because of the unique chemical composition!

  10. Welwitschia is a plant located in western Namibia and Angola and has the longest leaves of the plant kingdom.  The plant is composed of only 2 leaves that grow continuously; some are more than 2000 years of age.
  11. Peanuts are legumes.
  12. Dwarf Mistletoe is known to eject its seeds up to 20 meters during its fruit-bearing stage!  It's been found that the plant will build up the hydrostatic pressure by raising its temperature by 5 to 20 C above ambient temperature to aid in this explosive ejection (like popping popcorn).  This is the first time thermogenesis has been observed during seed dispersal.
  13. N. aristolochioides is an endangered pitcher plant from Sumatra which draws insects to their death using a growth over the entrance which blocks sunlight (like an awning).  White patches allow light to enter the plant through the walls (like stained glass).  This gives the illusion that the bottom of the plant is brighter than the top drawing insects down into the sticky digestive fluids at the bottom.
  14. Russian scientists have revived a plant from a 32,000-year-old fruit (the oldest ever)!  The narrow-leaf campion was buried in fossilised burrows of ancient squirrels about 124 ft (38 m) in a Siberian glacial.

  15. Snow, like ice and water, is actually clear. The crystals trap sunlight (which is white).
  16. The Arctic coastline is eroding by as much as 8 meters/year.
  17. Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined (about 31,700).
  18. Thor Peak, in Auyuittuq National Park, Nunavut, Canada, is the Earth's greatest purely vertical drop at 1,250 m (4,101 ft)!
  19. One of the world's largest, and smelliest, flowers is the titan arum (sometimes called the corpse flower).  This attracts flies which facilitates pollination.
  20. In the Philippines, there's an island within a lake within an island within a lake within an island within the Pacific Ocean.

  21. Apples are endemic to Kazakhstan.
  22. The roots of a wild fig tree (ficus natalensis) at Echo Caves, in South Africa, reach 120 m!  Many trees have roots that go as far as 10 m, the Boscia albitrunca, and Acacia erioloba has roots that go down as far as 60 meters.  This is the picture of pine tree roots in New Zealand.
  23. Once emissions from manufacturing are taken into account, an electric car owner must drive about 129,000 km before making up the CO2 released in producing the vehicle's battery.
  24. Cordyceps is a genus of parasitic fungus that infects insects' brains forcing them to climb a plant or tree and, upon reaching the top, it grows out of the body!  This is commonly utilised for traditional Chinese medicines.

  25. An olive tree can live for 1500 years.

  26. Mt. Everest (8,850 m or 29,035 ft) grows 6.1 cm (2.4") every year!  This is due to the ongoing collision between two tectonic plates.  Everest is about 60 million years old.  It was formally known as 'Peak B' then 'Peak XV'.
  27. The carnivorous pitcher plant attracts insects then dissolves them to absorb their nutrients.  Three species of in Borneo have evolved to attract tree shrews with their nectar.  While in place, the shrew defecates into the bowl of the plant supplying it with much-needed nitrogen.

  28. The only fruit native to geographic North America are blueberries, cranberries, and concord grapes.

  29. Celsius was known as 'centigrade' until 1948.  It's derived from the Latin centrum for 100 and gradus for steps.

  30. Some Arctic lichens may be older than 4,500 years old and have taken hundreds of years to grow 2.5 cm!

  31. In the early years of the Earth's development, trillions of liters of water was evaporating into the atmosphere (the surface was riddled with active volcanoes).  Once it got to the point when the atmosphere was fully saturated it began to rain and didn't stop for 1,000,000 years!
  32. The earthquake that caused the 10 m tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 was so powerful that it caused the Japanese islands to permanently shift 2.4 m (7.9 ft) to the East and shifted the axis of the Earth by 6.7 inches, which means a day is now 1.8 microseconds shorter!

  33. Pitch Lake in Trinidad is the largest natural deposit of asphalt.  There is significant bacterial and archaea life within this pitch, 10^6 and 10^7 cells/gram, similar tar lakes have been located on Saturn's moon Titan.
  34. More than 95% of non-frozen, freshwater is groundwater.
  35. There are three south poles!  There is the geographic south pole (where all the longitudinal lines converge), which must be remarked every year because it's on an ice sheet that moves 10 meters (33 ft per year), the magnetic south pole (similar to the north pole moves about 10-15 km/year), and there's the ceremonial south pole near a south pole research station for photo opportunities.

  36. The Giant Sequoia is the tallest living tree.  Its trunk can be as large as a city street, it can reach heights of 300 ft (27 stories) and can be 3000 years old.  Every day the tree requires about 1 ton of water.  Its bark is over 2 ft thick and contains a fire retardant tannins.  They are the largest living things on the planet.
  37. A collision between an iceberg the size of Luxembourg (780 billion tons [left]) and an Antarctic ice sheet has created a second iceberg [right] weighing 635 billion tons.  Scientists are worried because, like ice cubes in a drink, they cool the water around them.  This slows the cycle of sinking cold water and rising warm water (which generates the ocean currents).  This could lower the oxygen content of the oceans severely affecting aquatic wildlife throughout the world.
  38. Siberian actinobacteria are considered to be the oldest living things on earth.  The bacteria, found in the permafrost of Siberia, are estimated to be 400,000 and 600,000 years old.
  39. It takes 500 years to create an inch of soil.

  40. Due to melting ice caps, Greenland is rising by 15 mm per year.  This rate is expected to grow as the weight of the ice sheets melt away.
  41. There are no rivers in Saudi Arabia.
  42. Almonds and peaches belong to the same subgenus.
  43. Saffron is the world's most expensive spice by weight, ranging from $500 to $5000 per pound (as high as $18,000/kg in Canada).  It is derived from the three stigmas of the saffron crocus.
  44. It takes more calories to burn celery than the celery had to begin with.
  45. Peanuts are an ingredient in the production of dynamite.

  46. Thought to have contraceptive properties by the Romans (it caused gastric problems instead), the "squirting cucumber" can shoot a stream of fluid and seeds up to 20 feet away!
  47. The average temperature difference between the time when the Earth was in an ice age and our current climate is 6 C.  Scientists studying global warming have determined that the Earth's temperature is supposed to rise another 6 degrees!
  48. Smoking Hills in the Northwest Territories, Canada near the Arctic ocean got their name in 1826 by John Franklin.  The land contains oil shale which has been burning without cessation for centuries!  The surrounding water bodies are subsequently acidic and various metals are found in high concentrations.  The nearest community is Paulatuk, 105 km east (traditionally it means, "place of coal").

  49. The average banana flies/ships/trucks about 6,400 km before it gets to your local grocery store!  The banana's skin is healthier for you than the banana itself!  Its DNA is 50% similar to ours.
  50. A trained dog can find a buried avalanche victim 8x faster than a 20-person team with metal probing tools.
  51. The loudest sound ever recorded was the eruption of Krakatoa, near Java in 1883.  The sound was heard in Australia and the shock was felt world wide, it travelled around the world 7 times and it sent ash up 80 km!

  52. The largest snowflake fell in Fort Keogh, Montana in 1887.  It measured 15 inches across and 8 inches thick!  The ranch owner who found it said it was larger than a milk pan.
  53. The most dangerous mountain to climb is K2, the second highest mountain in the world.  It has a much more difficult climb because of rock ribs, ice fields, and cliffs.  Unlike Everest's generally gradual climb, K2 is 3000 m above the surrounding region.  For every four people who summit, one dies trying.
  54. Water is densest at 4 C; 1 L of this water is heavier than 1 L of ice (which is why ice floats).
  55. The Beardmore glacier, in Antarctica, includes a frozen waterfall that is 10,000 ft high!  Sixty times the height of the Niagara falls!  The glacier is 160 km in length
  56. The tallest recorded tree was a mountain ash 152 m (about 500 ft) in Australia!  Unfortunately, it fell after a bush fire.  This picture is of a sequoia gigantae in Australia.  It is similar in girth to that of a mountain ash.
  57. Krubera (or Voronja) is the world's deepest cave.  Located in Georgia, a 2007 expedition explored it to a depth of 7188 ft (2191 m)!
  58. Apples are more effective than coffee at waking people up.  Beware of the seeds, though, they contain a cyanide compound and are poisonous.
  59. Because of the Earth's rotation, People who live at the equator are travelling at about 1600 km per hour.
  60. Gangkhar Puensum is the highest unclimbed mountain.  Located in Bhutan, it is 7,570 m high.  Its exact height and location were only determined in 1986 due to poor mapping.  Local laws prohibit the climbing of any mountain higher than 6000 ft because of spiritual beliefs and the lack of sufficient rescue abilities.
  61. Kanghcenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world at 8,586 m.  It's the highest peak in India and worshiped by the people in the shadow of the mountain.  As a promise to the Maharaja of Sikkim, when first climbed in 1955, the climbing part agreed not to summit the mountain.  Every climbing group since then has followed the tradition.
  62. Rather than producing nectar, the Australian Tongue Orchid deceives male wasps by 'appearing' female.  The male will mate with the flower and, meanwhile, pollen is attached to the legs.  This flower has one of the highest transfer rates for flowers.  Luckily for the wasp species, female wasps are haploid and diploid which means that they can have offspring without a male if necessary.
  63. The average depth Lake Erie is only 62 ft (with its deepest point being 210 ft).
  64. Angel Falls in Venezuela are 3,212 ft high; twice the height of the CN Tower.
  65. Coffee beans are in danger of extinction as climate change leads to a warmer climate.  By 2080 it's estimated that the world's supply of Arabica beans could drop by 38-90%!
  66. Don Juan pond in Antarctica is the saltiest lake in the world, >40% salt (oceans are only 3.5%).
  67. The hottest temperature was recorded in Libya at 57.8 C and the coldest was in Vostok, Antarctica at -89.2 C.
  68. The longest river is the Nile which is 6,670 km long!  If the river itself was untangled it would travel from New York to Berlin.
  69. Lake Geneva in Switzerland is slowly being filled with sediment by the Rhone River.  It is estimated that it will disappear in 40,000 years!
  70. Every day there are 9000 earthquakes!
  71. About 100,000 cubic feet of water pours over Niagara Falls every second!
  72. While Mt. Everest is the tallest peak at 8,848 m (29,029 ft); when measuring from its base on the sea floor Mauna Loa, a volcano in Hawaii, is 17 km high (over 50,000 ft)!
  73. Dandelions have leaves that are more nutritious than spinach, roots that work as diuretics and they can also be roasted to be used as a decaffeinated coffee substitute.  The French name "pissenlit" translates to 'pee in bed'.

  74. If every person on the planet (about 7 billion of us) went swimming in the ocean at the same time, the water would rise to the height of the thickness of a sheet of paper.
  75. The Tambora volcano blast of 1815 is the largest ever recorded, triggering earthquakes 500 km awayDuring the eruption, it launched 50 km^2 of magma into the air!  A large 'thunder blast' was heard up to 1500 km away.  The eruption spewed so much ash into the air that European sunsets had an odd glow because of so many particles in the air.  They reflected much of the sun's light leading to what was dubbed 'the year without a summer'.  Many crops failed (especially in the more northern climates) and the lack of food meant horses weren't practical forms of transportation.  This lead a German man named Baron von Drais to develop the concept of the bicycle in 1817.
  76. In 10 minutes, a hurricane releases more energy than all the world's nuclear weapons combined!
  77. The Earth is mostly liquid!  Its surface is only 66 km thick (comparable to the thickness of the skin of an apple).  The distance to the centre of the Earth is 6,378 km.
  78. Lake Erie was declared dead in the 1960s caused by the exorbitant amount of pollution entering from US and Canadian cities along the shore.  After improvements to water treatment as well as help from Zebra mussel (an invasive species) the lake has recovered.

  79. While not the largest in surface area, lake Baikal in Siberia contains 1/5 of all the fresh water on the planet because of its depth (up to 1.63 km deep)!  It's also one of the oldest lakes (25 million years).  While most lakes are affected by eutrophication, where sediment slowly enters from rivers filling the lake, this doesn't happen with Lake Baikal.
  80. 70% of the Earth's surface area is water.
  81. The largest tsunami to have ever hit a coastline is believed to have been the same height as the statue of liberty!
  82. The Chicxulub crater on the ocean floor in the Yucatan peninsula was formed by an asteroid 10-20 km in diameter and is believed to have ended the Cretaceous period and killed off the dinosaurs.  The crater itself is about 200 km in diameter.
  83. Lake Nicaragua is the only fresh water lake home to sharks and sword fish.  A common misconception was that the Bull Sharks were trapped in the lake once separated from the ocean.  However, tagged lake sharks have been found in the ocean and vice-versa by swimming the San Juan river (similar to Salmon).

  84. The driest place on Earth is in Arica, Chile where they only get 0.76 mm per year!  That means that it would take a century to fill a coffee cup!
  85. 30% of all magma output on the planet comes from Iceland!  Recent eruptions have forced airlines to halt flights over the pole.
  86. Ocean tides are caused by the sun and moon's gravitational pulls.  The highest tidal range is believed to be in the Bay of Fundy with an extreme range of 16.3 meters!
  87. The largest canyons on Earth are located underwater in Alaska's Bering Sea where there are seven canyons that are 200 miles long and 9,000 feet deep compared to the Grand Canyon where it is 1.8 km deep.  A subglacial trench in Antarctica was found to be 3 km deep and 25 km across!
  88. Fossils of sea creatures have been found on Mt. Everest!  These fossils are about 5 million years old!  This is because the Himalaya's used to be underwater.  As the Indian tectonic plate continues to crash into Asia, these fossils are being forced higher and higher away from their native home.
  89. Sudbury, Canada is mining community in Northern Ontario.  The rich resources are likely due to comet that hit the region 2 billion years ago.  The asteroid was 10 km across and the impact site was subsequently stretched by glacial activity.  Today the area is fittingly known as "the valley".
  90. Lake Vostok is the largest subglacial lake in Antarctica with the surface area of lake Ontario and 3x the volume!  It's currently covered by 3,488 meters of glacial ice which has been in place for about 15-25 million years.
  91. A "berry" is a fruit having seeds and pulp produced from a single ovum.  By definition, bananas, coffee, pumpkins, and watermelon are berries while strawberries are fruit.

  92. Tropical storms are named when they display a circular pattern with wind speeds of >60 km/h.  Atlantic storms are named from one of the six lists that include both male and female names.  If a storm was particularly bad (e.g. Katrina - pictured), they're retired.  The concept of naming storms came about in the 1950s to make them easier to talk about and more readily communicated.

  93. There is about 200 times more gold in the world's oceans, then all the volume of gold that has been mined thus far.
  94. Out of all the water on Earth only 3% of it is fresh and out of that only 1% is actually liquid!
  95. Lightning strikes the Earth 6000x per minute!  Each strike has over 1 million volts of electricity.
  96. An acre of trees can remove about 13 tonnes of dust and carbon dioxide every year!  The average North American produces about 5 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year!  Unfortunately, 1.5 acres of rainforest are lost every SECOND!
  97. Physarum polycephaly, a single-celled mould, has been found to create a network as efficient as the Tokyo rail system.  Scientists were able to reproduce actual railways by placing food in locations to represent cities and obstacles to represent real obstacles.  The mould would efficiently reach the food and reroute around the obstacle to the mathematical precision used by railway engineers.

  98. You would weigh nothing at the centre of the Earth.
  99. The magnetic field that makes the needle on a compass spin is created due to the Earth's liquid iron core!  This magnetic field is important because it protects us from various cosmic rays.
  100. The Earth bulges at the centre due to its spinning!
  101. Supervolcanoes are a very rare volcano that have the ability to cause mass destruction.  Geologists have discovered that Yellowstone National Park (famous for its geysers) is a supervolcano.  These volcanoes rarely erupt however when Yellow Stone does erupt it is believed that everyone within 950 km will die while the ash from the resultant explosion will fill the atmosphere for two years!  Currently, there are indications that the volcano is in its preliminary stages of blasting.
  102. The Mariana trench is the deepest point in the world!  Off the coast of Japan, it is 10,911 m (35,798 ft) deep!  At the bottom, the pressure is more than 1000x greater than air pressure on the surface (equivalent to an African elephant standing on your big toenail).  It was first surveyed in 1951 by HMS Challenger.  In 1960, Trieste made a dive to the bottom of Challenger Deep (the deepest part of the trench).

  103. There are an equivalent of 2 Exxon Valdez spills in the Golf of Mexico from natural causes.
  104. In Africa, the top three killers are AIDS, malaria, and war.
  105. If all the salt in all of the oceans was removed and was placed on the continents it would make a layer 500 ft high (a 40 story building)!
  106. The largest piece of ice to ever fall as hail was 20 feet long!  It's believed lightning fused smaller chunks of ice together.
  107. Pingualuit Crater in Quebec is 3.44 km across and 400 m (1300 ft) deep (one of the deepest in North America).  Created about 1.4 million years ago after a meteorite impact, it has no inflowing or outflowing water.  Consequentially it is one of the purest sources of water with a salinity level of <3 ppm (the Great Lakes are 500 ppm).

  108. The deepest layer of permafrost was recorded at 1500 m.
  109. Meteorologists will often use elephants as a unit to measure for cloud-weight according to the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.  The average cumulus cloud weighs 100 elephants while a large storm could tip 200,000 elephants!

  110. Hurricanes spin counterclockwise in the Northern hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern hemisphere due to the rotation of the Earth.
  111. A cubic mile of sea water contains over 150 million tonnes of minerals.


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