Konstantin Tsiolkovsky is seen as the Russian father of rocketry who developed insights for space travel and rocket science that are still widely used today – hundreds of years later. He is seen and regarded as one of the pioneers of astronautics. The really amazing part of this story is that he was entirely self-educated.
Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky was part of a massive family with over 18 siblings. At age 10 he was afflicted with scarlet fever, which resulted in him losing a significant amount of his hearing and being isolated from all his peers. And by the age of 14, he was suspended from school which meant that he only ever a couple of years of formal education.
But his family knew that he had an everlasting thirst for learning, so his father sent him to Moscow when he was 16. Konstantin took advantage of the free to use Chertkovskaya Library, studying mathematics, physics, chemistry, and mechanics. This is where he discovered his love for space and interest in space travel, by stumbling upon the works of science fiction writer Jules Verne.
He even went so far to calculate Verne’s science fiction method of using a giant cannon to launch a spacecraft to the moon and concluded that the acceleration would kill its passengers. After three years in Moscow, he took the exam to qualify as a teacher. He started teaching arithmetic and geometry in a small town in Borokvsk while testing his ideas about gravitational effects.
In 1883, he published a paper about living in outer space and dealing with the effects of zero gravity which is widely studied today. He also created ideas that improved rocket steering, fuel holding and how to cool the parts of the rocket that needs to stay cool. He even predicted the need for pressurized suits if astronauts wanted to leave their spacecraft.
In what can only be described as a miracle worker, it is possible that a pregnant mother can be saved by her baby from the womb. In reports where a mother’s organs were critically damaged, doctors have seen fetus send stem cells to repair them. It shows how amazing the human body is, the miracle of life really does exist.
It has long been a running internet joke, a science meme, that explains how a pregnant mother’s fetus can send its stem cells to its mother for organ repairs. The joke revolves around imagery that explains: we must save the mothership! And though most internet memes do simply spread urban myths, this one is actually for the most part entirely accurate. The science behind the claim is actually pretty solid and well researched.
Of course, the joke is still problematic, the baby does not send anything, this happens during the time that the baby is not really even there yet: it happens during the fetus stages of pregnancy. And there is no conscious decision where the baby decides to send out their stem cells, this is a kind of biologic automatic response.
What happens is that during a mother’s pregnancy there is a certain amount of fetal cells that are transferred over to the mother, it is a process known as fetal cell microchimerism. And these cells can even migrate through the circulation, reaching tissues and bone marrow. The reason they can repair any damage to the mother’s organs is that they are not rejected, and also tend to stay present in a mother’s body for decades after the pregnancy.
Stem cells are essentially a blank canvas, they can turn into different tissues and play a very important part in the development of a fetus. The amazing part is that they can be transported into the mother’s system and become fully integrated despite different genetics. A 1996 study by the National Academy of Sciences, found that these stem cells can exist in a mother’s body as long as 27 years after birth and that these cells become present in multiple organs.
Though it has not been proven that the stem cells repair damaged organs in human mothers, a study in 2015 proved that it did happen in mice. And there are many tales of mother’s with cancer, going into remission and being cured after pregnancy – even when stopping chemo for the safety of the pregnancy.
The Scientist Who Used A Nuclear Bomb To Light A Cigarette
Forgot your lighter? Then you would probably ask your colleagues or someone you saw smoking on the street, well that was too easy for the American scientist Ted Taylor who in 1952 decided a better option would be to light his cigarette with a nuclear bomb. That’s right, a nuclear explosion was used to light a cigarette, helping the celebrated theoretical physicist get his daily dose of nicotine.
The physicist is Ted Taylor is known to have been a very talented nuclear bomb designer. What is not known is how he managed to light his cigarette by a nuclear explosion, of course, if you are a genius like Ted then it doesn’t take too long. The source was a 15 kiloton nuclear bomb that was being tested in a northern Nevada town of Elko. At 3:50 in the evening, all the researchers and troops were safely in their trenches, ready to observe and monitor the nuclear bomb testing.
It was June 1st, 1952, when they tested this particular fission bomb, and Ted decided he had another plan – to use it to light his cigarette. He already had his cigarettes, so he quickly grabbed a parabolic concave mirror. Using a bit of wire he suspended the cigarette and aimed the parabolic mirror towards the intense explosion that would come out of the nuclear fission bomb. He arranged all in a way that would ensure the tip of the cigarette would be hit by the most light.
When the bomb went off a 37,000 feet tall mushroom cloud exploded upwards, with winds of 41 mph in all directions. The intense heat that Ted had calculated carefully was focused onto the tip of the cigarette, making it light up within a second. Thus Ted entered the history books, or even the legend books, of someone who had lit a cigarette with a nuclear bomb. This personal project did help grow his reputation immensely, allowing him to go on and do many more great projects.
Humans Are Not The Only Species That Likes To Get Drunk
Veterinary doctors around Northern Australia are used to the giant influx of parrots found on the streets being brought in for check-ups periodically throughout the year. They have dubbed it the drunken parrot season. A period of the year when the Red-collared lorikeets decide to get completely intoxicated and tipsy off natural brews.
They are picked off the streets of Darwin and brought up to the Ark Animal Hospital in Palmerston. Generally found huddled in a corner or lying at the bottom of a tree, these parrots appear to be very confused and look very sick. They are usually depressed, unable to fly and have difficulty balancing on a perch – much like an inebriated human. This is because, in Northern Australia, mango, umbrella and other trees can come together to cause a fermented drink.
Parrots have learned that if they eat the fruit at certain times throughout the year then they will be pretty drunk. But this is not just a mild drunk, these parrots become completely sloshed for days at a time. And the main culprit is just one tree. Known as the drunken parrot tree, it is native to southern Africa and scientifically called the Schotia brachypetala. The species of tree is seeing a rapid rise and popping up in gardens all over Darwin, which is why we are seeing more and more parrots waking up drunk.
Unlike humans, birds are not experienced drinkers – they are eating the fruit as food and not drinking to get drunk. Fruit-eating birds are extremely vulnerable to this situation as they are becoming drunk off their main source of food. And the region does not help either – the northern regions see heavy snow which makes it difficult to find food. But when the snow melts, we find blackberries and crab apples with high levels of ethanol which is another way the parrots become drunk.
If the parrots do not like to party and get drunk, some animals have been known to like it. Such as the orangutans, apes, and elephants all like to eat fermented fruit and get drunk.
Becoming An Astronaut Is Not Exactly A Piece Of Cake
When you commit yourself to be an astronaut you are taking up a tremendous task. Astronaut candidates tend to only be selected in their 30s or 40s even, many leave behind their already prestigious careers with the chance of being an astronaut and having to start at the bottom of the career ladder once again. There is not even a guarantee that you will make it into space and training is extremely intense.
Even with all those barriers over 18,000 Americans compete in NASA’s astronaut selection trials every year. But the requirements for even making it to that selection process are not easy at all, some of the requirements are extremely surprising. Not only do you need to be in top physical shape, but it also demands a technical skill to be able to understand space stations and spacecraft.
As a basic requirement, you need a bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics. And with that bachelor’s degree, you need to have at least three years of professional experience. Candidates, of course, need to pass NASA’s physical test but they also need to hold down many other skills.
Astronauts must be fully licensed scuba divers and also have wilderness survival experience. Not only that but there is a requirement to be fluent in other languages such as Russian, to ensure space stations joint ventures are a success. And then astronauts also need a track record of leadership skills, to show they will not panic during stressful situations.
Even during the candidate stage, they will have two years of basic training, in fact, most of their time is spent training and supporting other missions. Only a small percentage of astronauts end up traveling into space. When they do graduate, they may be assigned to an ongoing space mission or end up in technical roles in the Astronaut Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Roles could be things such as helping and supporting space engineers create the tools that will be used on future spacecraft and missions.
The Man Who Discovered So Much They Stopped Naming Things After Him
Leonhard Euler was one of the greatest mathematicians in history, and he also studied and researched nearly every other type of science also. But not only did he produce amazing mathematics that the world had never seen, but he also published at an outrageous rate. He published more than any other single mathematician before him. If the quality of output multiplied by the quantity of output is the formula for greatness, well then Euler may have been the greatest mathematician to ever live.
You see he was studying so many different areas of maths and topics, and as a result, made so many discoveries and innovations that he is nearly always the earliest written reference on a given matter. It was so much so that historians decided, to avoid naming everything after Euler, that some theorems were attributed to the first person who wrote and proved them after Euler.
Imagine that, having a legacy so big that people decided it was only fair to take a couple of discoveries away and hand them to the second place mathematicians! Leonhard Euler was born in Basel, Switzerland and grew up in Riehen. From a very early age, he should phenomenal memory, performing extremely difficult calculations in his head and reciting long poems by heart without much difficulty.
He attended the University of Basel and graduated as a Master of Philosophy where he intensively studied two mathematical geniuses: Isaac Newton and Rene Descartes. He ended up authoring over 800 papers, and all of his work added up does take up a rather impressive fraction of all the mathematical and scientific research made in the 1700s.
This is why you can find so many entities in maths called Euler’s function, Euler’s equation or Euler’s formula. Though many of his formulas have their unique names, so it is hard to know the number of innovations he brought to the field.
The Astronomer That Just Could Never See The Transit Of Venus
Guillaume Le Gentil was a well-respected astronomer from France that discovered several nebulae and was even a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences. And though he made some amazing scientific discoveries he is more remembered for his turmoil of two unsuccessful attempts of observing the transit of Venus from India in 1761 and 1769.
He was part of an international project that was trying to measure the distance to the Sun by observing the transit of Venus at different points to the Earth. Hundreds of observers were dispatched to different parts of the globe in 1761, but the French expedition that was sent to Pondicherry in India proved to be extremely unlucky – especially Guillaume Le Gentil.
He left France in 1760 but took nearly a year to make it to India due to wars between France and Britain causing travel problems. And unfortunately, even though he was on route to make it in time to make the observation, his boat was blown off course. Along with unfavorable winds they were stuck out at sea for five weeks, and then when they were finally going to make it to Pondicherry, the British had occupied the port which forced the French ship to turn around. This meant that Le Gentil to missed the chance to observe the transit of Venus. Due to it taking so long to get to India, Le Gentil decided he may as well wait the 8 years and observe the next transit of Venus.
After spending some time in Madagascar mapping the Eastern coast, he traveled to Manila to prepare to observe the next transit but encountered hostility from Spanish authorities. However, as France and Britain had signed a peace treaty in 1763, he decided to make his way back to Pondicherry and arrived in March 1768. He built up a small observatory and waited patiently for the observation date.
Yet the sky became completely overcast and Le Gentil saw nothing. This misfortune nearly drove him completely mad, but he was able to discover enough courage to travel back to France. His return trip was not great either, but he finally made it home in 1771 after being away for 11 years – only to find he had been declared legally dead! The Academy had replaced him, his wife had remarried and all his relatives had plundered his estate. Due to shipwrecks and wartime attacks, none of his letters had arrived to the Academy. It took an intervention from the King himself to restore his titles.
Chinese Bring Giant Space Vegetables Down To Earth
After a special research project in 2006 saw over 2,000 seeds blasted into space in a Shijan 8satellite the best of the germinating seeds were then selected for further breeding on Earth. And the results have been pretty astounding.
The harvests have seen extra large pumpkins, two foot long cucumbers and even fourteen-pound aubergines. There have even been reports of chili plants being the size of small trees. So if you are ever at a takeaway restaurant in outer space, be sure to order the extra small portion of vegetables.
This is a really important discovery for China, due to their country needing to support over 1 billion people with only limited arable land for farming. Space plants will offer harvest that gives a bigger return of edible food. The concept was written about in a 1989 space fiction novel called Tides of Light. The science fiction writer Gregory Benford wrote about cultivating plants in space by using special growth pods called life zones. These life zones could then be attached to space ships.
Vegetables that are ten sizes the normal size, could potentially be the answer to feed the whole world. Scientists are very hopeful that this may be the solution to the world’s food crisis. It is thought that the near-zero gravity conditions of space are what caused the seeds to produce super-sized vegetables.
Lo Zhigang one of the scientists on the project advised that conventional agricultural development has taken as far as we can in terms of producing as much food as possible. However, our populations are growing endlessly, which is why we now have to look into the possibility of superspace seeds.
22 provinces in China are taking part of the initiative which is being run by the China Academy of Sciences, and China says that some of its giant fruit has already been sold to Japan, Thailand, and Singapore. As you could guess, this means it has also caused great interest from European agricultural firms. The real mystery though is that it is not really fully understood how taking seeds into space causes this reaction.
When it comes to changing into something else or camouflaging, the world is filled with organisms that can do this. The Chameleon is, of course, the most famous one, that can alter its color and blend in with its background. And in the insect world, you will find butterflies that mimic toxic insect or sticks that are actually alive or even mantises that look like orchids.
In the bird world, you can find the Lyrebirds that can make themselves sound like anything, even a car alarm. And even in our own human species, we find many people who can impersonate the voices of famous people. But when it comes to plants and trees, finding mimics are a little harder to locate. However, two scientists in Chile have found a species of vine that can make itself look like a host plant and even impersonate trees.
Reporting in the magazine Current Biology, Ernesto Gianoli, and Fernando Carrasco-Urra, two university researchers explained this amazing discovery. The vine Boquila trifoliolata it is called, which can be found climbing and impersonating other plants in Chile or Argentina. It seems that it just loves their temperate rain forests.
The vine typically will produce a cluster of three leaflets but every shape, size, color, and orientation of the leaves is always different, so they took a closer look at the 45 vines growing on 12 different types of trees. And that is when they noticed the vines were copying their host plant.
When the tree had a thing and pointy leaves, then so does the vine. Or if the tree’s leaves are short and stubby then so is the vine’s leaves. Only when the vine is growing alone or on a tree that did not have any leaves would it actually stick to an original form. The researchers found the master mimic skill actually pays off massively.
Vines that don’t grow on trees or camouflage themselves into their host plants are much more likely to be eaten up by small herbivores such as weevils or leaf beetles. They do not really know how the vine mimics and copies a tree, because they appear to be able to do it without even touching a tree. The vine might be picking up on chemical signals that the trees emit.
The Invention Of Artificial Sweetener Was By Accident
Constantin Fahlberg was a famous Russian chemist who by accident discovered an artificial sweetener by the name of saccharin, this allowed him to become extremely wealthy by mass producing it for the public Here is his story.
The artificial sweetener was known as the new coal tar sugar, and despite the name that seems a bit off-putting it was a big deal back in 1879. The story of its invention is as much great scientific discovery kinds of by accident and a little by the study. Saccharin is known to be the oldest artificial sweetener.
And was discovered when Fahlberg was doing research on the chemical compounds that make up coal tar for Johns Hopkins University. The discovery was made when he made the error of rushing home for lunch, forgetting to wash his hands. Early in the day, Fahlberg had spilled chemicals all over his hands, and as he ate his food he noticed that everything seemed to taste unusually sweet. At first, he thought nothing of it, thinking that his bread was actually a cake or a sweetmeat.
Then he rinsed his mouth and washed his mustache with his napkin. This is when he realized something strange was going on, his napkin seemed even sweeter than the bread. Fahlberg then drank some water and even this tasted like he was drinking syrup. He realized he had discovered a universal sweetener, and it tasted even better than any confectionery he had ever eaten. He knew at that moment he had created a substance that out-sugared sugar!
He ran back to the lab and tasted every beaker in his lab, luckily none of them were poisonous. He found one that contained his invention but it was very impure, after a couple of months of studying he created the best way to make it, scientifically and commercially.
And Saccharin went on to be a big success, it does not decay, mold or ferment and also can’t be attacked by bacteria. During the sugar rationing of World War I was when it really blew up, causing it to be so popular that during the 1960s and 1970s we found Saccharin in diet soft drinks or Sweet’N Low.