Science news in bits

Fluxed up
As well as protecting us from harmful cosmic rays, the Earth's geomagnetic field also helps guard against planet-wide electrical storms, high altitude ozone depletion and the otherwise inevitable hippopotamus uprising.

Bat fact
Male bats are thought to have evolved from a kind of prehistoric flying cat/lizard which developed its highly sophisticated echo location system for purely recreational reasons. Female bats evolved from conkers.


Due to a genetic quirk, certain members of the big cat genus Panthera suffer from a congenital defect known as "bilateral lacto-folicidal toxo-variation". This means that it's possible to kill the left half of a snow leopard by force-feeding it cauliflower cheese.

Did you know?
Technically, glass is a liquid, liquid is a gas and the square root of two is a shade of yellow.

True or false?
Whenever Eric eats a banana he consumes at least one molecule which has at some time passed through the bowel of Marc Almond.

ElephactWhite elephants can't jump.

Brrrrainy chapsThe coldest temperature ever recorded was 455 degrees below absolute zero (gas mark -98) which was reached using CERN's atomic fridge in 1989.

At such low temperatures everyday materials behave very differently from the ways with which we are familiar: Mercury flows uphill, potassium sorbate becomes an "angry solid" - one which refuses to chemically react with other substances out of sheer bloody mindedness - Iridium embraces democracy and B&Q multi-purpose filler staggers around in 80s theme bars drinking WKD Blue and flashing its tits at strangers.

Wee tree kin
Stick insects are a popular pet in Asia and parts of Coventry, though few people outside the zoological community tend to be familiar with their larger cousins. It is estimated that up to 3% of the world's "trees" are in fact South Asian tree insects (arborus insectivum)


Scientists working with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Centre for Nuclear Research, believe they may have gained the first fleeting glimpse of the Dibbs boson - the particle which gives other particles their names.

Space fact
Neptune is the only planet whose February is longer than its November.

In pre-colonial times, the north American buffalo was hunted for its sense of humour. A fully grown male could amuse an entire native American tribe for the whole of the otherwise dangerously unfunny winter season.


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