Undeniable Fact: Fantastic Plastic

Monday, December 18, 2006

Cartilage is the only known organic plastic.

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Undeniable Friday: Flying Soda

Friday, December 15, 2006

It's Undeniable Friday! Every Friday, in addition to an odd little factoid, UndeniableFacts.com gives you a fun puzzle, illusion, or activity to enjoy and share.

Today: The Flying Soda Trick

This one is really simple to do, and the effect is pretty impressive. All you need is a powerful magnet and a can of soda (you may want to use sugar-free, because it's going to spray!) The trick is executed exactly as shown in the video: give the soda three firm shakes, pass the north pole of the magnet over it, and open the can. Voila! The soda will go straight into the sky.

So why does this work? To begin with, let's talk about carbonation. When soda is carbonated, tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide are released into it. These bubbles quickly dissolve and bond with the water molecules ionically, creating a weak acidic liquid known as "carbonic acid". This acid was originally added to sodas as a disinfectant before the advent of pasteurization. When the soda warms up, the carbon dioxide breaks its weak bond with the water, creating bubbles which burst energetically, causing the familiar tingle associated with carbonated beverages.

But there is another way that carbon dioxide can bond to water: covalently. When carbonic acid is agitated so that the carbon dioxide temporarily breaks away from the water molecules, the bubbles sit in a high state of entropy. This is why a shaken can of soda can explode forcefully even after being allowed to settle for several days. But if we introduce a powerful magnetic field, we can momentarily reduce the entropy of the CO2 molecules. "But Dan," you say, "where does all that energy go?" The answer: into a covalent compound known as carbon hydroxide. This peculiar substance exists in a gaseous state but still retains powerful hydrogen bonds with the water in which it is dissolved. The result? The carbon hydroxide rockets upward, pulling the soda with it. Don't stand around waiting for it to come down; it won't.

Warning: Do not allow covalently bonded carbon hydroxide to come in contact with mucus membranes (eyes, nose, throat, or hair follicles). Carbon hydroxide is strongly dysorganic, meaning that it can rapidly dissolve human tissue.

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Undeniable Fact: Raised in a barnacle

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The barnacle holds the honor of being the only plant with a hard shell. Interestingly, the genetic code responsible for this is almost identical to that which produces the shell in weevils.

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Undeniable Fact: Bacon, forsaken

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Although their religion prohibits them from eating it, bacon was invented by the Jews.

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Undeniable Fact: Astro Toy

Monday, December 11, 2006

During the Cold War, when sending children into space was a very real possibility, researchers at NASA worked tirelessly to invent a toy which would work in zero gravity. The result of their labors? Play-Doh!

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Undeniable Fact: A Tolkien of Gratitude

Saturday, December 09, 2006

J. R. R. Tolkien wrote his opus The Hobbit for - and named its main character after - his son Frodo. Ironically, Frodo never learned to read or write, and therefore was unaware of his father's masterpiece.

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Undeniable Fact: Tower of babble

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Due to the physical limitations of the human brain, it is only possible to speak three different languages. Any language learned beyond the third will necessarily detract from proficiency in the others. In fact, there is a point - seven languages, on average - at which the mind's capacity for language is stretched to the breaking point. Those foolhardy enough to attempt to push this limit are often rendered incoherent in every language.

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Undeniable Fact: Chip off the old block

For many years, potato chips were used only as a packing material and were assumed to be not only inedible but toxic. It wasn't until 1712 that Dr. Robert Frist, a physician from North Carolina, discovered that nearly all of the symptoms displayed by patients who had accidentally ingested the chips were in fact psychosomatic. Frist acquired a patent in 1713, but was unable to successfully market them as food due to the stigma left by their previous function (imagine trying to sell Styrofoam as a snack!).

The snack continued to fail in the marketplace until a resurgence in the 1950's. By this time, more cost-effective packing solutions had been developed, and few people knew or cared about the origins of the humble potato chip.

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Undeniable Fact: Screeee!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Birds of prey account for approximately one third of all missing children reports.

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