20 incredible facts that people recently tweeted
This Twitter thread may provide all the education a person needs.
- A simple question on Twitter resulted in an avalanche of mind-blowing answers.
- What else are we supposed to do with all of these stray bits of information?
- Sciency, helpful, and ridiculous — we've got 'em all.
On January 27, educator, organizer, and writer Brittany Packnett Cunningham tweeted a simple question: "What's the most random fact you know?" It turns out people know a lot of random things — the replies have been stunningly informative, amazing, and ridiculous. Here are 20 of the best facts shared:
1. A tarantula's best friend
The Colombian tarantula keeps tiny frogs as pets to protect their spider eggies from pests aka the froggies are lil spider pups— Ashley (@aNippz) January 28, 2020
So many thoughts. Interspecies slavery? Frog mills?
2. The snap
When you snap the sound comes from your finger hitting your palm— Jacqueline (@DacolinDudley) January 28, 2020
This might make you feel better if you're one of the many people incapable of doing the African Finger Snap once explained and demonstrated by Lupita Nyong'o.
Mind = blown. Did her folks do this on purpose?
4. Blood stains
If you get a drop of blood on clothing, you can remove it spitting on it. Only works if it’s your blood and your spit, though, because the enzymes need to match. Just a little bit of Professional Seamstress trivia.— Megan #wwdd? Odett (formerly Kidical Mass DC) (@Megan2Wheels) January 28, 2020
This is both amazing and cool. Custom-coded saliva just for your own personal use.
5. Not to worry
The stickers on fruit are made to be edible, just in case.— Tammy Howe (@thowe555) January 28, 2020
Are we the only ones who worry about this? Also, if you don't remove the label before washing the fruit, good luck getting it off.
6. In the event of alligator
If you are attacked by a gator and your arm is in its jaws, push, don't pull. If you can push the flap open at the back of its throat, water rushes in and it starts to drown and will open jaws, hopefully releasing you.— Anika Noni Rose (@AnikaNoniRose) January 28, 2020
7. Listen carefully
When you hum a song, the sounds comes out of your nose— Jared Palmer (@jaredpalmer) January 28, 2020
Hmmm, mmm, mmm. Whaddya know!
8. The nipple rule
most mammals have twice as many nipples as their species' average litter size (e.g. humans mostly have 1 kid at a time, but 2 nipples), this is colloquially referred to as the 'half nipple rule'— Anarcho-Bobcat (@AnarchoBob) January 28, 2020
except opossums, which for some reason have an odd number of nipples
Today is not the day nature stops being weird.
9. Your final sensation in space
If you were ever ejected into space, the last thing you’d feel before losing consciousness is the saliva on your tongue beginning to boil— Jay Kristoff (@misterkristoff) January 29, 2020
(The boiling point of liquids is lower when air pressure is lower. In vacuum, your body heat is enough to boil the spit in your mouth)
Grim, but fascinating. Let's not do this.
10. Dotting your “i”
The dot above an i is called a tittle.— ηєωт, GIFmeister General (@newtnewtriot) January 28, 2020
Because of course.
11. Not who you think they are
Roly poly bugs/pillbugs aren’t insects, they’re crustaceans, more specifically isopods, the only ones likely to be anywhere near your average North American backyard. They have giant sea-floor cousins that can grow up to a foot and a half long but look basically the same.— Megan Romer (@meganromer) January 28, 2020
12. Vegans beware
Artificial raspberry and strawberry flavoring comes from the anal glands of a beaver.— Stephanie ”I Need ❄️” Nelson (@stephanienels) January 28, 2020
While this is true, the resulting flavoring is so expensive to produce that it rarely gets used in foods. Check the label for castoreum. While you're there, keep an eye out for carmine, which is commonly used as a red coloring for food. It's made from crushed beetles.
13. Stand back or run away
Male dolphins can ejaculate as far as 10' and with such force it can kill a human if that human was foolish enough to attempt zoophilic relations with dolphin.— dr. kittens not kids (@kittensnotkids) January 28, 2020
Marine researchers must be very dedicated.
14. Or maybe just swim as fast as you can
Maybe keep your horses away from the ocean.
15. The fine grain of time
No matter how fast our brain can process information, it can never be fast enough to experience the actual present moment. Everything we experience is in the past.— bioethics402 (@jacob_dahlke) January 28, 2020
Of course "now" is a difficult concept to really comprehend. The moment you notice it, it's gone, as the tweet suggests.
This brings to mind quantum entanglement. Maybe particles don't really exist in multiple states at a time, but our ability to capture "now" is just so coarse it seems that way. Our idea of simultaneity may actually be a series of fine-grained moments rounded off into a single "now" that's large enough for us to perceive. Thus, we perceive multiple particle states as simultaneous but they're really not. Just saying.
16. Million billion
A million seconds is 12 days— Dr. M (@MaaloufMD) January 28, 2020
A billion seconds is 31 years
You've wondered, right? A perfect fact for the next conversation lull you need to fill.
17. Nuts in nature
Cashews grow on the bottom of a cashew apple. The apple is too perishable to export, so we only ever see the nuts. pic.twitter.com/ScAXAKNk6g— Drew Barth (@drewbarth) January 28, 2020
Also, we only see the nuts because some of the discarded parts of the plant are toxic.
18. Orange carrots
Oh, another:— Lynne Up North 🕷️ (@AndOrNorLyn) January 28, 2020
Carrots are orange because of a political statement.
Originally carrots came in multiple colors, including white, yellow, and purple, but orange ones were selectively bred by the Dutch as support for William of Orange, who led the the struggle for Dutch independence.
Censored vegetables, for goodness' sake.
19. Angular numbers?
The numbers we use today are based on drawings done by Phoenician merchants. Many of them were illiterate, so they added angles to a straight line and counted them instead. This picture explains it nicely: pic.twitter.com/iM51BGMGrq— Damski (@TuftyBall) January 29, 2020
Some researchers are skeptical about this origin story, especially when it comes to the symbol for zero.
20. How long you’ll remember all this
Within one hour, people will forget an average of 50 percent of info presented; 24 hours, an average of 70 percent of new info;and within a week, an average of 90 percent of it.— 2019Families2Investigate MLK/X/JFK Deaths (@jjconceptsinc) January 28, 2020
What was the first fact on this list?
What would happen if you tripled the US population? Join Matthew Yglesias and Charles Duhigg at 1pm ET on Monday, September 28.
An open letter predicts that a massive wall of rock is about to plunge into Barry Arm Fjord in Alaska.
- A remote area visited by tourists and cruises, and home to fishing villages, is about to be visited by a devastating tsunami.
- A wall of rock exposed by a receding glacier is about crash into the waters below.
- Glaciers hold such areas together — and when they're gone, bad stuff can be left behind.
The Barry Glacier gives its name to Alaska's Barry Arm Fjord, and a new open letter forecasts trouble ahead.
Thanks to global warming, the glacier has been retreating, so far removing two-thirds of its support for a steep mile-long slope, or scarp, containing perhaps 500 million cubic meters of material. (Think the Hoover Dam times several hundred.) The slope has been moving slowly since 1957, but scientists say it's become an avalanche waiting to happen, maybe within the next year, and likely within 20. When it does come crashing down into the fjord, it could set in motion a frightening tsunami overwhelming the fjord's normally peaceful waters .
The Barry Arm Fjord
Camping on the fjord's Black Sand Beach
Image source: Matt Zimmerman
The Barry Arm Fjord is a stretch of water between the Harriman Fjord and the Port Wills Fjord, located at the northwest corner of the well-known Prince William Sound. It's a beautiful area, home to a few hundred people supporting the local fishing industry, and it's also a popular destination for tourists — its Black Sand Beach is one of Alaska's most scenic — and cruise ships.
Not Alaska’s first watery rodeo, but likely the biggest
Image source: whrc.org
There have been at least two similar events in the state's recent history, though not on such a massive scale. On July 9, 1958, an earthquake nearby caused 40 million cubic yards of rock to suddenly slide 2,000 feet down into Lituya Bay, producing a tsunami whose peak waves reportedly reached 1,720 feet in height. By the time the wall of water reached the mouth of the bay, it was still 75 feet high. At Taan Fjord in 2015, a landslide caused a tsunami that crested at 600 feet. Both of these events thankfully occurred in sparsely populated areas, so few fatalities occurred.
The Barry Arm event will be larger than either of these by far.
"This is an enormous slope — the mass that could fail weighs over a billion tonnes," said geologist Dave Petley, speaking to Earther. "The internal structure of that rock mass, which will determine whether it collapses, is very complex. At the moment we don't know enough about it to be able to forecast its future behavior."
Outside of Alaska, on the west coast of Greenland, a landslide-produced tsunami towered 300 feet high, obliterating a fishing village in its path.
What the letter predicts for Barry Arm Fjord
Moving slowly at first...
Image source: whrc.org
"The effects would be especially severe near where the landslide enters the water at the head of Barry Arm. Additionally, areas of shallow water, or low-lying land near the shore, would be in danger even further from the source. A minor failure may not produce significant impacts beyond the inner parts of the fiord, while a complete failure could be destructive throughout Barry Arm, Harriman Fiord, and parts of Port Wells. Our initial results show complex impacts further from the landslide than Barry Arm, with over 30 foot waves in some distant bays, including Whittier."
The discovery of the impeding landslide began with an observation by the sister of geologist Hig Higman of Ground Truth, an organization in Seldovia, Alaska. Artist Valisa Higman was vacationing in the area and sent her brother some photos of worrying fractures she noticed in the slope, taken while she was on a boat cruising the fjord.
Higman confirmed his sister's hunch via available satellite imagery and, digging deeper, found that between 2009 and 2015 the slope had moved 600 feet downhill, leaving a prominent scar.
Ohio State's Chunli Dai unearthed a connection between the movement and the receding of the Barry Glacier. Comparison of the Barry Arm slope with other similar areas, combined with computer modeling of the possible resulting tsunamis, led to the publication of the group's letter.
While the full group of signatories from 14 organizations and institutions has only been working on the situation for a month, the implications were immediately clear. The signers include experts from Ohio State University, the University of Southern California, and the Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses of the University of Alaska.
Once informed of the open letter's contents, the Alaska's Department of Natural Resources immediately released a warning that "an increasingly likely landslide could generate a wave with devastating effects on fishermen and recreationalists."
How do you prepare for something like this?
Image source: whrc.org
The obvious question is what can be done to prepare for the landslide and tsunami? For one thing, there's more to understand about the upcoming event, and the researchers lay out their plan in the letter:
"To inform and refine hazard mitigation efforts, we would like to pursue several lines of investigation: Detect changes in the slope that might forewarn of a landslide, better understand what could trigger a landslide, and refine tsunami model projections. By mapping the landslide and nearby terrain, both above and below sea level, we can more accurately determine the basic physical dimensions of the landslide. This can be paired with GPS and seismic measurements made over time to see how the slope responds to changes in the glacier and to events like rainstorms and earthquakes. Field and satellite data can support near-real time hazard monitoring, while computer models of landslide and tsunami scenarios can help identify specific places that are most at risk."
In the letter, the authors reached out to those living in and visiting the area, asking, "What specific questions are most important to you?" and "What could be done to reduce the danger to people who want to visit or work in Barry Arm?" They also invited locals to let them know about any changes, including even small rock-falls and landslides.
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