What Really Drives Death Valley’s Roving Rocks?

The moving, sailing and sliding rocks of Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park in California have garnered the attention of many scientists and visitors throughout the years. The Racetrack Playa is a dry lake featuring the race track imprints of the moving rocks. The moving rocks are a geological phenomenon where the rocks, some weighing about 318 kgs, move without any human intervention.

Photograph by Pete Ryan

There have been many theories regarding the motion of these rocks. Research on this phenomenon started as early as 1915 when theories suggested that the wind had a role to play in moving the rocks. However, with some stones weighing 318 kgs, it is not probable for the wind to move them. Therefore this theory was discarded. In 1955, George Stanley, a geologist did extensive research on the phenomenon and stated the theory that ice sheets around the rocks help to catch the wind, initiating the movement. His theory again stressed that wind plays a role in the rocks’ movement.

Credit: Maggie McAdam

Further research was done in the 1970s by Bob Sharp and Dwight Carey where they monitored the rock movement by naming the rocks and keeping a record of their changing positions over a period of seven months.

The research continued in the 1990s by the research students of Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The movement of the stones was evident to be the result of two factors: wind and ice floes. In 1996 it was discovered that the wind blowing on the Playa could be intensified and compressed due to its smooth surface and the wind gusts initiate the movement while the moment keeps them moving.

Ice and Wind

In 2006, Ralph Lorenz, a NASA Scientist, investigating the weather conditions on other planets started researching on the moving rocks. Lorenz compared the meteorological conditions of the Racetrack Playa, Death Valley to those near Ontario Laucus, a vast hydrocarbon lake on Titan, a moon of Saturn.

Lorenz conducted a simple experiment where he placed a small rock in a Tupperware filled with water so that there was an inch of water with a bit of the rock sticking out. Next, he froze the Tupperware so that there was a small slab of ice with a rock embedded in it. He then placed the ice bound rock in a container of water with sand at he bottom. In order to move the rock across the water, he just gently blew on the rock and it slid. As the rock moved, it imprinted a track in the sand.

Ralph Lorenz’s home experiment
Ralph Lorenz’s home experiment

Research in 2011 established that the existence of many of the rock-carved trails at Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park is predominantly due to the effect of arbitrarily weak winds on rocks that are floated off the soft bed by small rafts of ice, the ‘ice raft theory’.

Credit: Anatoliy Lukich
Credit: Anatoliy Lukich

These ice cakes need not have a particularly large surface area if the ice is adequately thick-the ice cakes allow the rocks to move by buoyantly reducing the reaction and friction forces at the bed, not by increasing the wind drag. The parameter space of ice thickness and extent versus rock size for flotation is calculated and found to be reasonable. Lorenz’s experiment illustrated this ‘ice raft theory’. Therefore, wind and ice were both the favoring theories responsible for the phenomenon.

30 Jokes Only Intellectuals Will Understand

Don’t burn your eyes trying to read the explanation – copy/paste it into a notepad before reading.

1. It’s hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs because they always take things literally.

Pun is wordplay with two meanings, one literal the other humorous. kleptomaniacs is someone who ‘take things’ (steal).

2. What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?

What do you get when you cross an XXXX with a YYYY” is a common opening to a joke, leading the listener to prepare for the expected joke template and punchline. A rhetorical question is a question asked or stated to make a point, and not an actual inquiry with an expectation of an answer. The joke is that that sentence is a rhetorical question. So the answer is you don’t really get a joke, you just get a meaningless rhetorical question. Which is sort of funny, which actually does make it a joke. [Thanks verywary & rocketvat]

3. Three logicians walk into a bar. The bartender asks “Do all of you want a drink?” The first logician says “I don’t know.” The second logician says “I don’t know.” The third logician says “Yes!”

Explanation: If any one of the three logicians does NOT want a beer, the answer to the bartender’s question is “No.” The first logician wants a beer, but doesn’t know whether his two friends do. So he says “I don’t know.” The second logician now knows that the first logician wants a beer, because if he didn’t he would have said no. And though he does want a beer, the he still doesn’t know whether the third logician wants a beer. So he says “I don’t know.” The third logician now knows that the first two logicians want beer, because otherwise one of them would have said no. So, as he also wants a beer, he now knows that all three logician wants a beer. So he can say “Yes.” [Thanks methamatician]

4. Einstein, Newton and Pascal are playing hide and go seek. It’s Einstein’s turn to count so he covers his eyes and starts counting to ten. Pascal runs off and hides. Newton draws a one meter by one meter square on the ground in front of Einstein then stands in the middle of it.

Einstein reaches ten and uncovers his eyes. He sees Newton immediately and exclaims “Newton! I found you! You’re it!”

Newton smiles and says “You didn’t find me, you found Pascal!”

Pascal is Newton over a square meter.

5. How can you tell the difference between a chemist and a plumber? Ask them to pronounce unionized.

The difference b/w un-ionized and union-ized.

6. Why do engineers confuse Halloween and Christmas? Because Oct 31 = Dec 25

We use the Decimal base (shorthand DEC) for our number system. Octal is another base system (shorthand OCT) if you convert Decimal 25, it is equivalent to OCT 31.

7. An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The bar tender: “What’ll it be, boys?” The first mathematician: “I’ll have one half of a beer.” The second mathematician: “I’ll have one quarter of a beer.” The third mathematician: “I’ll have one eight of a beer.” The forth mathematician: “I’ll have one sixteenth of a …” The bar tender interrupts: “Oh, fuck the lot of ya!” …and he pours a single full beer.

In mathematics, the infinite series 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + · · · converges to a sum of 1.

8. Two kittens on a sloped roof. Which one slides off first?

The one with the lowest mew.

Mew here means friction. coefficient of friction -> μ -> mu -> mew

9. A Roman walks into a bar, holds up two fingers, and says, “Five beers, please”.

5 in Roman = V


10. The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.

“Why did you buy 12 loaves of bread!?”, his wife screamed. “Because they had eggs!”

11. A programmer’s wife sends him to the store and says “get some bread, and while you’re there pick up some eggs” The programmer never returns.

The ‘while’ statement in programming languages never ‘returns’ unless something breaks it.

12. A logician’s wife is having a baby. The doctor immediately hands the newborn to the dad.
His wife asks impatiently: “So, is it a boy or a girl” ?
The logician replies: “yes”.

Any questions that use “and” or “or” are logical questions, that is, can either be “true” or “false”. Is it a boy or a girl? Yes (it’s one of them).

13. Entropy isn’t what it used to be

In any real thermodynamic process or a system the total entropy of the at the end versus the beginning is always bigger i.e. it always increases.

14. Helium walks into a bar and orders a beer, the bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve noble gases here.” He doesn’t react.

In chemistry, Helium belongs to the noble gases that doesn’t react to any substance.

15. Schrödinger’s cat walks into a bar. And doesn’t.

It refers to the famous Schrödinger’s experiment where he put the cat with a radioactive substance in a box. The experiment postulates that the cat can either be living or dead but we don’t know until we open the box.

16. Two men walk into a bar, the first orders H2O, the second says “I’ll have H2O too!” The second man dies.

First guy says H2O (meaning water). Second guy says H20 (too) as in H202 (meaning hydrogen peroxide). Hydrogen peroxide ishighly reactive and will kill you.

17. A neutron walks into a bar. He orders a beer and asks the bartender how much he owes. The bartender replies, “For you? No charge.”

Atoms are composed of positively charged protons, negatively charged electrons and neutrons with no charge on them.

18. There are 10 types of people in the world: Those who know binary and those who don’t.

In Binary the value 2 is represented by 10 (a one and a zero).

19. A physicist, a biologist and a mathematician are sitting outside of a bar when two men walk into the house across the road… Ten minutes later, three men walk out.

The physicist looks confused and says “There must an error in the measurements.”
The biologist retorts “No, they must have reproduced!”
To which the mathematician says “If one person goes inside, the house will be empty.”

From an outside perspective, there are 0 people inside. Add 2 people to the house, now the house has 2 people. Subtract 3 people (pretend a person materialized out of no where and is missing a person). Now the house has -1 people. So adding 1 person would make the house contain 0 persons, or as we understand it: be empty. [Thanks ibcooley]

20. A Photon checks into a hotel and the bellhop asks him if he has any luggage. The Photon replies “No I’m traveling light”

Photon is a light particle

21. Two atoms are walking down the street. The first one stops and says “I think I just lost an electron!” The second one replies “Are you sure?”

“I’m positive!”

An atom with one less electron is a positively charged atom.

22. A farmer has a problem with foxes eating his hens. So he asks his physicist friend to help find a solution. The physicist spends a day thinking, then replies “Well, I’ve found a solution, but it will only work for spherical chickens in a vacuum”.

Basically, the joke is that scientists can ‘theoretically solve anything’, but the practical application of their work is often hindered greatly by physical effects (such as resistance, gravity, etc.). Hence, spherical chickens (a sphere having equal distribution of forces applied on its surface) and in a vacuum (where there is no resistance). [scepticalprophet]

Physicists always find a solution for ideal condition like “If we have an object moving with x speed and blah blah, ASSUMING there is no other forces and blah, blah”. Well assumptions are like “the object is a perfect sphere” or “there is no frictions, as if we were in vacuum”. Things like that. [Thanks Copioli]

23. Q: What do you get when you put root beer in a square glass? A: Beer

In mathematics, ‘root’ and ‘square’ cancel out each other.

24. A man is on his first visit to Boston, and he wants to try some of that delicious New England seafood that he’d long heard about. So he gets into a cab, and asks the driver, “Can you take me to where I can get scrod?” The driver replies, “I’ve heard that question a thousand time, but never in the pluperfect subjunctive.”

In English, the Pluperfect Subjunctive tense of ‘screwed’ is ‘scord’. And scrod is a type of fish. The driver has heard people asking him to take some place where they can get screwed.

25. Who does Polyphemus hate more than Odysseus?


In “The Odyssey,” the classic sequel to Homer’s “Iliad,” Odysseus goes through a lot of stuff trying to get home…
One of these things is crashing on an island and being captured by a cyclops, who was going to eat him and his crew.
The cyclops’ name is Polyphemus.

Odysseus gets the cyclops drunk, and Polyphemus asks Odysseus what his name is. Odyssesu says his name is, “Nobody.”

Odysseus blinds the cyclops while he’s sleeping, and then convinces him that the prisoners are escaping through the cracks between the cave entrance and the huge boulder he uses as a door (the cyclops is very dumb).

So Polyphemus opens his cave and shouts out to the other cyclops, “Help! Nobody is attacking me!” or some variation on that. Naturally, the other cyclops think he’s still drunk or insane or whatever and do nothing. Odysseus and his men escape. [Thanks el Águila]

26. A mathematician finishes a large meal and says: √(-1/64)

Explanation: √(-1/64) = √(-1)/(8) = i / 8 = (i over 8)

27. Did you hear about the man who got cooled to absolute zero?

He’s 0K now.

0k = zero Kelvin is equivalent to −273.15°C also known as absolute zero. He’s not OK, he’s 0k

28. There’s a band called 1023MB. They haven’t had any gigs yet.

One gigabyte or one gig in computer storage is 1024 megabytes or 1024MB.

29. A Buddhist monk approaches a hotdog stand and says “make me one with everything”.

The joke is a play on words, as the oft-quoted Buddhist “motto” is to “be at one” or “be at peace” with everything natural in the world.

30. The vendor makes the hot dog and hands it to the Buddhist monk, who pays with a $20 bill. The vendor puts the bill in the cash box and closes it. “Excuse me, but where’s my change?” asks the Buddhist monk. The vendor replied, “Change must come from within.”

When the Buddhist asked for his change, the vendor also used play of words by quoting a famous Buddhist statement “Change must come from within.” 

Source: Reddit

Fact: Corals are Animals, Not Plants!

The beautiful coral reefs you see underwater are actually animals and not plants!

Coral is any structure that is made up of hundreds of thousands of tiny coral creatures called polyps. They are translucent animals of a sessile nature, which attach themselves to the ocean floor, ‘taking roots’ just like plants.

But, How?

The major differentiating factor between plants and animals is that plants can produce their own food through photosynthesis while animals have to rely on food sources.


The basic structural material of plants is polysaccharide such as cellulose and they lack muscle, nerves and digestive tissues. On the other hand, animals necessarily have muscle, nerves and digestive tissues and their basic structural material is minerals, protein and a polysaccharide such as chitin but never cellulose. This all makes corals more of animals than plants.

What do they eat?

Corals are animals with a have tiny, tentacle-like arms that they use to capture their food from the water and sweep into their inscrutable mouths. Therefore, they have a means to collect food, they have a large percentage of their body devoted to capturing their prey. Their external skeleton comprises of protein and calcium carbonate.

A purple plate coral eating krill.
A purple plate coral eating krill.

Though, reef building corals do contain algal cells that photosynthesize, producing sugar and other chemicals. However, all reef corals require additional sources of nutrition, are most active predators and must feed. Most corals are not reef building and are found as individual polyps in deep water, lacking the symbiotic algae and are incapable of photosynthesis.


Corals are typically capable of reproduction with sexual and asexual phases, but these are not comparable to the gametophyte and sporophyte generations of plants. Unlike most plants, all corals are capable of locomotion at some stage in their life cycle, typically as a swimming dispersal stage called a planula larvae. Note that plants lack larvae.

Coral releasing eggs during a spawning event. Photo credit: Emma Hickerson
Coral releasing eggs during a spawning event. Photo credit: Emma Hickerson

Corals have nerve tissues as they are highly capable of sensing the environment. They also have the ability to move, hence they have muscle tissue as well.

They surely know how to defend themselves

An Anemone Swims Away From Sea Star

Science Books Lie about the Solar System

Classic illustrations in Science books of the solar system are not according to scale and are only merely for illustration purposes. The distances between the planets are so exceedingly vast that there could not possibly be a scale model in text books.

If sun is the size of a tennis ball, a true to scale model of our solar system would be half a mile wide. (Tweet this)

The only scale model of the solar system is presented is created with the aid of Ron Hipschman’s scale model, where the size of the sun is entered as 65 mm (almost 650 pixel in diameter) and all the other sizes of the planets and their distances from the sun are measured accordingly, where the solar system is half a mile wide on this webpage.

The planet sizes are rounded to the nearest pixel and an image was created to a diameter of that size. CSS margins are then used to pad out the spacing between the planets. The website is hence over 2.7 million pixels in height. The conversion rate used means that each pixel equates to over 2100km in real terms. In our textbooks, the model of the galaxy is only for the purpose of illustrations without paying attention to accurate scaling as utilized by Ron Hipschman.

Drawn to Scale - © Andrew Corden
Drawn to Scale – © Andrew Corden

Textbook illustrations of our galaxy are highly misleading as it does not consider the large distances between the planets and their large distances from the sun. Utilizing Ron Hipschman’s scale, the galaxy occupies half a mile on the website which brings the inaccuracies into a perspective. Such a large scale could not possibly be illustrated in textbooks due to the exceptionally vast space between the planets.

6 Animals that are Biggest in Size in Australia

Chills went down my spine and goose bumps tickled my insides as the mammoth creatures glared at me from my laptop screen. My search for Australian wonders had led me to some surprising results.

Disclaimer for the faint hearted: Hold your hearts. Be afraid, be VERY afraid!!!

1. Earth Worms

Size: 3-9 foot long.

Known to be the world’s largest worm – this beast is one which does not need legs to slither around you. They range from 3 feet to 9 feet long. It is very unusual for invertebrates to survive up till 10 years but this one seems immortal in insect terms, as many have the potential life of 10 long years.

source: trasyy.livejournal.com

The favor which this creepy crawly does to mankind is that it chooses to stay hidden most of the time. They are usually only visible when they are slithering in and out of their burrows. If you hear some rippling under Australian soil, you will know who it is. They are abundantly found in Gippsland in south-eastern Australia. You think I’m kidding? Go Google “Gippsland Earthworm”.

2. Spiders

How big? You can find them with leg span of 1-foot across.

Acrophobic? Check off the fear of spiders now or tell yourself that you are about to give it a try, at least. An animal which is ‘supposedly’ a small creature knitting some cobwebs behind your doors or clinging from your roofs, is not that miniature in Australia. They can fit exactly on to the palm of your hand while you are asleep or just lay around in your drawer –BEWARE. Their bites can be fatal!


3. Ants

Not Ants, but Bull Ants.
Size: 0.5 – 2.0 inch long

As evident from the mighty name, expect them to be very daring and fearless. Just to clarify, they’re also called ‘bulldog’ ants. They can grow up to 40 mm and their extensively large bright eyes give them the spying ability of being able to track humans. They feed on plant juices and animal pray as well.

credits: Robert Welsh
credits: Robert Welsh

They exist in a diverse variety of over 90 species with their names indicating their behavior and life cycles. For example, the jumper category can even pounce at you with a painful sting if they see you as an intruder. They hunt alone by a lethal combination of venom, vision and ferocity. Stay alert for the giants of the ant world!

4. Procoptodon (Kangaroos)

Upon reading the word ‘kangaroos’, a picture of the Australian wilderness probably pops into your head. While kangaroos are native to Australia, and many can still be found there, many species have become extinct.

credits: YouTube user mazjai3
credits: YouTube user mazjai3

For example, the species named Procoptodon were known to stand up to almost 6 feet in height, and they weighed almost 230 kg. These short-faced giants were made to survive in the wild with horse’s hoof-like toes on each foot. Imagine them pick pocketing humans and running off back to the wild.

5. Bats

Wingspan: Above 3 feet.

Ever seen these dark knights hovering around your heads? They have the giant tendencies too. From what the name (mega-bats) indicates, they are commonly known as flying foxes. They are tropical animals but they exist in the Asian and Pacific Ocean areas, apart from Australia.

credits: Chi Liu
credits: Chi Liu

They reside in tropic areas because they like to feed on fruits and pollen. They even catch insects in mid-air but crashing down on spotted prey is what they do best. These giants may not be able to rule for long as nature is imposing threats to their survival.

6. Cockroaches

Size: 3 inch in length.

From the mega world of Australia, the last specie is giant cockroaches. The most prominent of them all is the giant burrow cockroach. They happen to be the gang leaders in the creepy cockroach world. They do not have wings but they burrow down into the Australian grounds and live up to 10 years.

credits: GazstronauT
credits: GazstronauT

Moreover, these life-size roaches weigh about 35 grams. However they are a little less detested in comparison to their American relative.

Scared? I guess Australia is out of your bucket list!

50 Facts You’re Better Off Not Knowing

1. Most dust particles in your home are your own dead skin. (Tweet this Fact)

2. Newborn babies are given to the wrong mother in the hospital 12 times a day worldwide. (Tweet this Fact)

3. A duck’s quack will not have echos, the reason til now is unknown. (Tweet this Fact)

4. There are between 5,000 and 7,000 tigers kept as pets in the United States. (Tweet this Fact)

5. Sharks can smell one drop of blood from up to a mile away. (Tweet this Fact)


6. Ancient Egyptians slept on pillows made of stone. (Tweet this Fact)

7. A paper cannot be folded in half more than 13 times.
(Tweet this Fact)

8. You have approximately 4,000 wax glands in each ear. (Tweet this Fact)

9. Heating up a rock in the microwave oven will cause the rock to explode.

10. In space, astronauts are unable to cry or shed tears because there’s no gravity pull for tears to come out.

11. Peanuts are one of the ingredients in dynamite.

12. “Sixth Sick Sheik’s Sixth Sheep’s Sick” is one of the hardest sentences to pronounce in the English language.

13. It is impossible to lick your elbow.

14. Seawater contains up to 50Kg of gold dissolved per every cubic kilometer.

15. The song ‘Happy Birthday to You’ is copyrighted.

16. You see your nose at all times, your brain just chooses to ignore it.

17. A newborn kangaroo is about 1 inch long and weighs less than a gram.

In the Womb: Extreme Animals NGCUS  - Ep Code: 3708

18. The sound you hear when you crack your knuckles is actually the sound of carbon dioxide gas bubbles bursting.

19. Mosquito don’t just bite you. They also urinate on you after sucking your blood.

20. Ink for your printer is literally more expensive than blood.

21. The cost of a standard NASA spacesuit is about $12 million.

22. And the cost of Space Shuttle Discovery was 196 billion USD.

23. Japan uses 24 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks each year, China uses 45 billion – That’s 25 million trees used every year.

24. More than one in every 10 banknotes in circulation in Britain is contaminated with cocaine.

25. There are more plastic flamingos in the U.S. than real ones.

26. The pistol shrimp makes such a loud noise that it can kill fish.

27. It is impossible to hum if your nose is plugged.

28. A Kiwi bird is similar in size to a chicken, but its egg is six times bigger than a chicken egg.

29. There is a village in England called bitchfield.


30. Koalas actually eat their mom’s poop.

31. If you smell something, molecules from that object are sticking to the inside of your nose.

32. The chance of you dying on the way to get your lottery tickets is actually greater than your chance of winning.

33. More than 40,000 parasites and 250 types of bacteria can be exchanged in one kiss.

34. Approximately 2,500 left handed people die every year as a result of using equipment designed for right handed people.

35. 15% of the air you breathe in an average metro station is human skin.

36. There are over 200 corpses on Mount Everest and they are used as way points for climbers.

37. The Romans used crushed mouse brains as toothpaste.

image credits: list25.com
image credits: list25.com

38. Mario’s name used to be “Jumpman”.

39. To burn off 1 M&M candy, you need to walk the full length of a football field.

40. Every unborn baby grows a moustache in the womb, which then spreads to cover the entire body. The baby then eats this fine hair called lanugo and excretes it after birth with their first bowel movement, which is a substance called meconium.

41. If you’re attacked by a bear, it won’t try to kill you like other predators would, it’ll just start eating.

42. Cockroaches can live for weeks without their heads before they starve to death.

image credits: learnsomethingeveryday.co.uk

43. Astronauts in orbit feel weightless because they are constantly falling, not because there is no gravity in space.

44. Tomatoes are a fruit.

45. Alcohol kills more people than all illegal drugs combined.

46. The top richest 1% of Americans own 42% of the nation’s wealth, while the bottom 80% own just 7%.

47. There is only one place you can tickle yourself: the roof of your mouth.

48. You swallow a quart of saliva every day.

49. Every day, 150-200 species go extinct (but they’re mostly bacteria).

50. Mouse sperm is larger than elephant sperm.

10 Commonly Accepted Historical Inaccuracies

In attempts to make the world history seem catchier, people have resorted to putting forward inaccurate facts. We have pointed out some of them in this article. It is quite interesting to see the kind of historical “facts” that have been so easily accepted around the world as being true.

Albert Einstein failed mathematics in school

Albert Einstein did NOT fail mathematics in school, as is commonly believed. Rather, historical records show that he had had mastered differential and integral calculus by the age of 15.


The misunderstanding actually came about due to the fact that people did not understand the Swiss grading system which was being used at the time. His results in mathematics were actually really good, according to one photo of his report card. He got perfect scores in algebra, theoretical and practical geometry, and physics.

Another reason for this rumor making rounds were Einstein’s comments about his “troubles with mathematics” referring to him taking help of the mathematician Minkowski and some others to bring him up to speed on four-dimensional geometry and a few other topics. Given these comments, it can be said that he was not too great at mathematics compared to the top mathematicians of the time, but as a physicist his mathematical abilities were at or above par for that discipline.

Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day

Contrary to widespread belief, Cinco de Mayo is actually not Mexico’s Independence Day. Mexico’s Independence Day is actually held on Sept. 16.

In reality, Cinco de Mayo commemorates El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (The Day of the Battle of Puebla), when the Mexican army defeated the much larger invading French army in 1862.

A line from Kennedy’s famous speech in Berlin translates to “I am a jelly doughnut.”

The story goes that his statement, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” translates to “I am a jelly doughnut.” While “berliner” is a word for a type of jelly-filled pastry, no one at the time thought that’s what Kennedy meant. The general story is that Kennedy should have said “Ich bin Berliner,” rather than “Ich bin ein Berliner.”


However, if seen from a more logical perspective, Kennedy meant to say “I am one with the people of Berlin” by his statement.

Roman gladiatorial battles were blood baths

It is widely believed that these gladiatorial battles resulted in 30 men dying in one fight and 1 in 200 fights always resulted in killing. However, the truth is that gladiators are really expensive and they do not just get killed.

image credits: artofmanliness.com
image credits: artofmanliness.com

An injured man always resulted in the fight coming to an end. Gladiators were very well cared for by those that owned them. The misconception probably stems from the use of the arenas as execution grounds for prisoners and the like. They would often be killed en masse, which could easily be mixed up with the gladiators being tossed in to die as the years go on.

Titanic was badly designed, built, and badly operated by the standards of the time

The truth is that Titanic was an incredibly seaworthy ship, as proven by the fact that she still stayed afloat for more than two hours, even after the iceberg tore a gash almost a third of the way down her side.

Associated Press The Titanic in Southampton, England, on April 10, 1912
Associated Press The Titanic in Southampton, England, on April 10, 1912

Plus, it is also an incorrect claim that Titanic was built using sub-standard material. Yes, in today’s world, there are much better options available but the steel used for building the ship was the best one available at that time period. Titanic also was not travelling too fast for the conditions – by the standards of practice around at the time.

Most of the slaves in the triangle-trade ended up in the USA

This was a completely incorrect belief. The truth was that the majority of slaves shipped from Africa ended up in South- or Central-America or the West Indies.

Rosa Parks just decided one day to not move from her seat on the bus because she was tired

This historical fact making rounds is incorrect. Rather, her reason for not leaving her seat for a white man was purely to stand against the segregation law for which she had years of training with the NAACP leading up to that action.

10-0167_Clark 1..27

Rosa Parks was not too old to get up nor too tired from a long day at work. Instead, Rosa Parks was just fed up with being mistreated.

Napoleon was short in height

Napoleon is sometimes described as being 5 foot 2 inches tall, which would make him short for his era. The truth is, Napoleon was actually above average height (Tweet me).


The misunderstanding exists due to the fact that French inches were different from English inches. Plus, there are some paintings where he is depicted with French grenadiers, which usually were the biggest soldiers in the French army and all towered over him. Napoleon was actually 5 foot 5-7 inches tall, no shorter than the average Frenchman.

Katana is the best sword humanity ever created and the Samurai were the best swordsmen

This belief is false. Katana is a great sword but when up against metal armor, it actually falls short. Plus, history has shown Europeans could handle a sword just as well as the Japanese. The katana is celebrated because Japan and its Samurai-class celebrate it. The reality is that the sword was not nearly as important as other weapons, and the real warriors were prized on their skills with other weapons like the bow or the naginata (lance-ish weapon). Swords were merely side weapons.

Vikings wore horns on their helmets

There is no evidence, archaeological or otherwise, that Viking warriors wore any type of horns or wings on their helmets. The remains of Vikings and “non-horned” helmets have proven this too.


The truth is that Vikings never wore horns on their helmets. Furthermore, Viking warriors also did not wear wings on their helmets, as they were commonly depicted doing before the horned image took over.

Want To Get Away From It All? Go To ‘Point Nemo’

In world’s oceans, you cannot go further from any land than ‘Point Nemo’ before you start coming back. Point Nemo is exactly 2688.22 kilometers (or 1,450 nautical miles) from the nearest land and there’s no other point in ocean that far from the land. It’s named after the fictional character, captain Nemo from Jules Verne’s novel “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” published in 1870.

Image credits: noaa.gov
Image credits: noaa.gov

On a planet such as ours with complex landmass and ocean distribution having thousands of islands, some smaller than the size of a football field, finding such point can be challenging. Further such point should be farthest not from one but three coastlines to fulfil the criteria of being farthest from ‘any land’. Fortunately with modern day computational power at hands, finding such a point is not that difficult.


Point Nemo with a geographical coordinates of s48:52:31.748 w123:23:33.069, is 2688 km away from the following three coastlines:

  1. Ducie Island
  2. Motu Noi
  3. Maher Island

Ducie Island is a non-inhabited small C-shaped strip of land with a diameter of barely two kilometers. Motu Noi is also small piece of land (less than 100 meter across) but it’s near to a well-known bigger island: Rapa Nui or better known as ‘Easter Island’. It’s the Rapa Nui Island where you see those giant stone monolith statues; Moai. The 20km wide volcanic island, Rapa Nui, has its own airport and is a developed tourist destination. The third one, Maher Island is a small piece of land on the outskirts of a larger Siple Island which is the part of Antarctica.

Moai of Ahu Akivi

So just in case if you’re stuck somewhere around Point Nemo and decide to come back, your best option is to head North towards Easter Island (of course 2688 km away), appreciate the historical Moai and get a plane back home. [via globecalc]

10 Quick Facts about Our Earth and the Solar System That Will Make You Wonder

1. Russia is bigger than Pluto

That’s right, the surface area of Russia, 17 million sq. km, is greater than that of Pluto, 16.6 million sq. km. (Tweet this fact!)

Pluto vs Russia
Image credits: omg-facts.com

2. The True Size of Africa

Africa is much bigger than what it looks like on most maps of the world. To put it into perspective, we can fit all of the following 18 countries into Africa and still have room for more:

USA, China, India, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Greece, Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Nepal, Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea.

The combined area of these counties is 30.1 million sq. km which is still slightly less than that of Africa. [See map]

3. Okay, Oklahoma

There’s a town called Okay, OK. It has a population of about 650. (Tweet this fact!)


4. Only 2 percent of the Australian population lives in the yellow area

The total area of Australia is almost equal to that of United States minus Alaska, however, its (Australia’s) population is just 23 million which is less than the population of Texas alone.


5. Since its discovery, Pluto never made a full orbit around the Sun


Pluto takes 248 years to complete its orbit around the sun that our earth completes is just one year.

6. The Diomede Islands are 2.4 miles and One Day apart

Diomede Islands, Bering Sea

The Diomede Islands, just 2.4 miles apart are separated by International Date Line. They are also named “Tomorrow Island” and “Yesterday Island”. Big Diomede belongs to Russia and has a population of zero while the Little one belongs to United States with a population of about 200. Since the big Diomede belongs to Russia, it’s 23 hours ahead of the little Diomede.


You are seeing the map right! Russia and Alaska are indeed this close apart. This is the part where we cut the world map to present it in a planer form instead of a globe.

7. You can actually fly on Saturn’s moon Titan

The gravity is low enough and the atmosphere thick enough on Titan, that by attaching small wings to your arms, you could fly like a bird. The gravitational pull there is seven times less and the escape velocity is four times less than that of the earth.


8. If an alien located 60-65 million light years away from us, looked at earth through a really powerful telescope today, he would see Dinosaurs!


This makes sense since we, at earth, are only able to see the objects in the outer space who’s light has reached us. The Dinosaurs lived on this planet about 60-65 million years ago and their light/visibility has only reached the location 60-65 million light years (or 382,102 trillion miles) away yet. [via quora]

9. The World’s population can fit comfortably in Texas

The world with a population of 7 billion can fit easily in Texas –Tweet this– (water included in area) with each person having a 1000 sq. foot property of his own. Of course, there’ll be no space for roads, parks and other infrastructure whatsoever. [image courtesy: aliveandyoung]


10. A day (sunrise to sunrise) on Mercury is 176 Earth days

Unlike earth, the planet Mercury rotates very slow about its own axis taking almost 59 of our days to complete one rotation. That’s one day by Mercury’s definition, however, one solar day (sunrise to sunrise) on Mercury, which depends on both its rotation and orbital motion around the sun, is 176 Earth days.


Mercury completes its orbit around the sun in approx 88 days so it’s daytime for one Mercurian year, and night-time for another Mercurian year. To complicated to understand? Watch the simple animation. You’ll notice that the Mercury completes its orbit around the sun during the time from its sunrise to sunset. And while the sun rises back from the sunset, it complete yet another orbit around the sun. So from sunrise to the next sunrise, Mercury orbits around the sun twice i.e. 176 days.

A Tiny Island of Just 9,860 People Receives $4 Million from the Internet Every Year

Tuvalu, a tiny island midway between Hawaii and Australia with a population of just 9,860, receives yearly payment of almost $4 million for literally doing nothing at all. The reason? This is the money that the Tuvalu government receives from royalties from the country’s domain name, .tv!


Before you all fire up your calculator, let me burst your bubble that the money comes down to just about $405 per person and also that this money goes to the Tuvalu’s government. Tuvalu commercialized its internet TLD, .tv, in 1988 and started receiving royalties which now account for almost 10% of the government’s total revenue.


Isn’t it amazing that a country that’s merely a speck in ocean (10 sq miles to be exact) with nothing but hundreds of miles of water around it controls something so crucial to the internet world?! [via: Neeharika Palaka on Quora ]