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The Ultimate Book of Mind-Blowing Answers

The Ultimate Book of Mind-Blowing Answers

The Ultimate Book of Mind-Blowing Answers

In this special edition, the experts from BBC Science Focus Magazine reveal the mind-blowing answers to the perplexing questions that baffle the brightest of brains. Puzzling questions like... ❱❱ Why do astronauts always wear white suits? ❱❱ Do solar panels work better on hot days? ❱❱ Why don’t horses have toes? ❱❱ What state of matter is fire: solid, liquid or gas? ❱❱ If clouds can weigh tonnes, how do they stay aloft?

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United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
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in deze editie

1 min
eye opener

What is this? The yellow blobs in this image are one of the most dangerous bacteria on the planet, according to the World Health Organisation. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria – seen here inside a dead white blood cell – pose a global health threat as they make infections much harder to treat. MRSA’s imperviousness to drugs marks it out as a ‘superbug’, bacteria that have evolved the ability to withstand antibiotic treatments. The race is on to find new drugs, but in the meantime, health professionals advise that the spread of superbugs can be slowed by using antibiotics only when absolutely necessary. NIAID/NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY VISIT US FOR MORE AMAZING IMAGES: SCIENCEFOCUS BBCSCIENCEFOCUS…

10 min

WHICH PLANE HAS THE BIGGEST WINGSPAN? The passenger plane with the biggest wingspan is the airbus A380 – a monster double-decker plane that carries 550 people, with a wingspan of 80m. But the overall plane with the biggest wingspan is an aircraft that carries no passengers at all. Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and one of the world’s richest men, has helped create the Stratolaunch – an aircraft with six 747 jet engines and twin fuselages (the flight crew go in the fuselage on the right while instrumentation is carried in the one on the left). The Stratolaunch has been built to carry rockets high into the atmosphere to make launching satellites cheaper and more reliable. Its wingspan is an immense 117m and the aircraft made its maiden flight on 13…

2 min
can plants talk?

DO PLANTS TALK TO EACH OTHER? Plants may not seem particularly chatty, but there’s a silent stream of information passing between them. Beneath the soil, the roots of most plants interact with tiny branching strands of fungi, known as mycorrhiza. It’s a two-way deal: fungi provide nutrients from the soil, while the plants provide sugars made in their leaves through photosynthesis. But the fungi don’t restrict their interactions to individual plants: they form a network that spans entire forests. Botanists now know that plants can pass nutrients and chemicals through this network, known as the ‘wood wide web’. RG CAN PLANTS COMMUNICATE WITH INSECTS? We’ve long known that flowering plants use colour and scent to attract insects, but scientists have recently discovered that flowers also use electricity to communicate with their pollinators. Flowers…

1 min
how blood circulates

In 1628, the English physician William Harvey created a sensation by publishing a radical new view of how the body uses blood. Until then, doctors had relied on the 1,300-year-old teachings of Galen, a Greek physician, who claimed that blood was created by the liver and then consumed by living tissue. Harvey argued that the amount of blood is fixed, and circulates round the body, being refreshed by passing through the lungs and other organs. Harvey’s revolutionary view implied that blood supply was limited – casting doubt over widely used practices such as ‘blood-letting’. After sometimes bitter criticism, Harvey’s claims were confirmed and he is now regarded as one of the founders of modern medicine. But historians have since found that Harvey’s revolutionary ideas about the circulation of the blood had already…

1 min
what would happen if everyone on the planet suddenly went vegan?

1. ANIMAL SANCTUARIES Veganism seeks to exclude all cruelty to animals. Opening the farm gates to the existing stock of 3.5 billion grazing animals and 19 billion chickens wouldn’t work. Most would starve to death or be eaten by predators. Instead, farms would need to be turned into sanctuaries for the remaining natural lives of the animals. 2. EMISSIONS Food production is responsible for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from cows burping methane. Methane is such a potent greenhouse gas that a global switch to plant-based diets would cut emissions from food production by 28 per cent – that’s the equivalent of India going carbon neutral. 3. LAND USE Currently, 68 per cent of farmland is used for livestock. Planting a fifth of this with crops would produce the same amount of…

6 min
genes & evolution

WHY DO I HAVE MORE VIVID DREAMS WHEN I SLEEP IN A DIFFERENT BED? It’s well known that our sleep can suffer on the first night in a new environment. Sleep scientists noticed this when they started studying people in sleep labs, dubbing it the ‘first-night effect’. One recent study found that the left side of the brain experiences lighter sleep than the right side during the first night. This may be an evolutionary mechanism to keep us alert to potential dangers in new surroundings. We’re more likely to remember our dreams better when we wake up a lot, this is probably why your dreams seem more vivid than usual. AGr WHY DID SLEEP EVOLVE? Scientists disagree as to why sleep evolved. It seems peculiar that we should spend so much of our…