1. An asteroid once destroyed a massive forest in Siberia without ever hitting the ground.
The event is known as the “Tunguska Impact.” It occurred in 1908 in Siberia when an asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere traveling around 33,500 miles per hour and exploded at a height of about 28,000 feet. The resulting fireball released about 185 Hiroshima bombs’ worth of energy, destroying around 800 square miles of Siberian forest. Even though it is classified as an impact, the asteroid itself never made it to the ground. It was probably pretty freaking terrifying.
2. The days were shorter millions of years in the past.
Earth’s rotation is very gradually slowing due to a confusingly named process calledtidal acceleration. Basically, the moon is getting all up in Earth’s business, causing it to slow. The result: days are getting longer. 350 million years ago, for example, there were probably around 385 days in a year, meaning each day lasted less than 23 hours. Geologists can even verify this in the geologic record!
3. The Mediterranean Sea once dried up almost completely.
Geologists think this event, which happened around 5.5 million years ago, was caused by tectonic shifts that closed off the sea’s connection to the Atlantic Ocean. Over hundreds of thousands of years, the sea dried up from evaporation. Later, the Straight of Gibraltar re-opened, rapidly refilling the basin in a presumably baller and epically named event called the Zanclean Flood.
4. The atmosphere around the sun is much hotter than the actual surface of the sun.
The sun’s majestic and cryptic atmosphere is called the corona. It is actually over600 times hotter than the surface of the sun itself. Science still doesn’t have a great answer for this one.
5. It once rained fish in a small town in the Australian outback.
It doesn’t end there, though! There have been numerous reports of spiders, fish,frogs, and other animals “raining” from the sky. Scientists think the most reasonableexplanation for such events is animals being sucked up and transported by waterspouts or other tornadic winds.
6. Earth shares its orbit with its very own asteroid buddy.
This 1000-foot wide asteroid is named 2010 TK7. It’s not a moon per se, but it is a constant companion to our home planet. Earth actually follows it on its path around the Sun. Objects that hang around in the orbits of bigger objects are named trojans. So far, 2010 TK7 is the only known Earth trojan.
7. There is a lake in Venezuela that experiences almost constant lightning.
This weird but totally badass phenomenon occurs at the mouth of the Catatumbo River, where it empties into Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. This flashy place actually has the most lightning in the world. Its origins are mysterious, but scientists think that it most likely has to do with the local topography and wind patterns of the region.
8. There are planets floating around space without a sun or a solar system to call home.
There are probably whole bunch of them roaming through interstellar space. Scientists think these fellas were likely ejected from solar systems as they were in the early stages of forming planets. Now they are lonely and you should be sad for them.
9. Many oranges have to be “degreened” to get their distinctive orange color.
Despite the fact that they are perfectly ripe and ready to eat, many oranges grown in equatorial regions remain green even after they are picked. In many cases, though, the people purchasing those oranges in non-equatorial regions areinterested only in orange oranges. For this reason many oranges are exposed to ethylene gas to remove the green from the skin by breaking down its chlorophyll. So… You best be happy with your orange oranges.
10. There is a dwarf planet in our solar system that spins so rapidly that its shape is all messed-up.
Orbiting between 3.2 and 4.7 billion miles away from the sun, the dwarf planetHaumea is one of the fastest rotating objects in our solar system. Even though it is roughly the size of Pluto, it completes a full rotation every four hours. This fast rotation has distorted the icy world into an oblong shape. Also, it’s the size of Pluto, has two moons, and you probably hadn’t heard of it before.
11. Male koalas have two penises and female koalas have three vaginas.
The males of most koala species have a bifurcated penis — essentially that means they have two penises. A female koala has two “lateral vaginas” which transport semen, and a third “medial” vagina, which their young travel through during birth.
12. Russia is bigger than Pluto.
13. Firenados are a thing that happens.
Firenados are fairly self-explanatory and completely terrifying. They are tornadoes that are full of raging hot flames. They occur during wildfires, which, due to all that rising hot air, create their own massive winds, which can pull more oxygen into the fire, making them stronger as they pull the flames high into the sky.
14. The tallest known cliff in the Solar System is on Uranus’ tiny moon Miranda.
Uranus’ tiny moon Miranda has a cliff named named Verona Rupes that is estimated to be up to 10 times the depth of the Grand Canyon. Due to Miranda’s low gravity and the height of the cliff, it would take a full 12 minutes to jump off of this thing. It remains unclear why such a small object would have such a ragged surface.
15. There was a time when dragonflies the size of seagulls terrorized the Earth.
These bad boys were named Meganeura and were closely related to living dragonflies. They lived around 300 million years ago and preyed on smaller insects. How and why such large insects could develop at that time is still an open question.
16. All the planets of the Solar System could theoretically fit in the space between Earth and the Moon.
The average distance between the Earth and the Moon is 239,200 miles. The total distance covered by the the diameter of all the planets stacked next to each other is233,865 miles. Plenty of room to spare!
17. An entirely new system in the human body was discovered thanks to weed.
It’s called the endocannabinoid system, and it’s in yo brain. It just so happens that the chemicals in pot target this system exclusively. In fact, it was our understanding of those plant-based chemicals that led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the mid-1990s. It plays a role in pain, learning, appetite, and a wholevariety of other things, too.