Weird Science! Seven Strange Science Facts

Amazing Facts About Science and our Sky

January 29, 2019
Rainbow in Winter

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Let’s do something different, and mix sky-stuff with weird science! Ready? Here are seven strange science facts—about everything under the Sun from rainbows to our reflection in mirrors!

  1. Number 1. A rainbow has no independent reality. Sunlight and raindrops are not enough to create one. An observer is necessary for its existence, by standing exactly where the 42-degree refraction geometry gets completed. One bit of evidence that they’re not real is that rainbows not only cannot cast shadows, but also do not cast reflections! Learn more about rainbows and how they form.
  2. Speaking of which, number 2: You’ve always noticed that your reflection in a mirror is reversed left-to-right. But why isn’t it also reversed top-to-bottom? This has engendered heated logical arguments. Think about it.

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  3. Number 3. Nearly the entire Sun, all two octillion tons of it, creates neither heat nor light. Instead the bright ball you can sometimes see through thin clouds is just the thin surface where its energy escapes. Its actual power of 4 trillion watts, equal to 96 billion H bombs per second, is generated in a tiny blindingly dazzling ball at its core, with just ½00th of the Sun’s volume.
  4. Speaking of the Sun, number 4: What kind of energy do you think it emits most strongly? Heat? Ultraviolet light? Gamma rays? No. Its peak emission is ordinary green light. That’s why that color is the one our eyes most easily perceive.  Listen to my podcast on why we don’t see a green Sun.
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  5. Number 5. If you dug a hole clear through the Earth, sucked out the deadly hot air and then jumped in, how long would it take to fall from California to New Zealand? Answer: 90 minutes. The same exact period early satellites took to orbit around Earth.

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  6. Number 6. Ever wonder how long it takes the sun to move its own width as it crosses the sky? (Hint: It’s also the length of every sunset, most precisely those seen from the tropics.) Answer: Two minutes.
  7. Number 7: One breathful of air has the same relationship to all the air on Earth, as one atom of that air to all the air in your lungs.

I love this stuff. Let me know if you do too.

About This Blog

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s hub for everything stargazing and astronomy. Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, he covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob, the world’s mostly widely read astronomer, also has a new weekly podcast, Astounding Universe

Reader Comments

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#5

Ignoring the very good points made about gravity, if you check an antipodes map on the internet, you can see that a straight line through the earth from Wellington, New Zealand would come out in Spain. If you try to start at Christchurch though, you'd come out in the Atlantic.

california to new zealand

Hi Bob, I am super interested in the math behind the 90 mins between california and new zealand (ignoring the extra jazz about stopping at the centre of the earth). The last time I took any math or physics back in my university days was about 20 years ago, and shamefully, I couldn't even figure out the math behind it! Could you share?

Weird Science

Hey, Bob,
I love this stuff too - keep it coming! I'm a grandma whose grandkids enjoy it too!

rainbows

An entire set of people ( homeschooled? I don't know ) believes that all rainbows are by photoshop, because some of them are. Too many of these will only read as far as "they aren't real", and then claim to have found evidence, or a sympathetic authority, to support the claim that a rainbow is not an observable physical phenomenon--one that can be photographed, and, to a certain extent, replicated.

falling through the earth

You could not fall completely through a hole in the center of the earth. As you approached the core, gravitational attraction would be the same all around you. You would stop and have a long walk (or climb) home!

The Sun spins

As to your fact #6, the Sun doesn't move, it rotates! I know, I know, I'm being a smart aleck, but I'm also correct! However, I did enjoy your "facts". Have a blessed 2019!!!

Weird Science Number 5

Seems like due to gravity you wouldn't be able to fall from CA to New Zealand. Instead you would just stop at the center.

sun movement

Actually, the sun IS moving, along with the whole solar system through space.

Fun facts for the New Year.

Fun facts for the New Year. Very thought provoking. Will look forward to more in the coming year. Happy New Year.

What great information!

I'm always looking for facts to tell my grandchildren that will amaze them and make me look really, really smart. I'll be adding these now. Thanks for sharing.

Astronomy/science

Loved this blog! Thank you will be watching for more. Happy New Year!

Weird Science

What fun! Do it some more.

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