Scientific Discoveries and Inventions Fun Facts
Power in Urine!
In Singapore, at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, researches created a battery powered by urine! The battery will be used in a disposable healthcare kit. 0.2 ml of urine generates 1.5 volts.
Dirt or Prozac?
Turn off video games and send your child to play with dirt. Dr. Chris Lowry, a brain scientist at Bristol University in England, found during an experiment with mice that mycobacterium vaccae, a special bacteria found in dirt, increase levels of the hormone serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a hormone that regulates moods. Dirt bacteria had a similar effect as Prozac, but without harmful side effects. Perhaps one of the many reasons we have an unusually high number of depressed children is the lack of old-fashioned dirt playing!
Fluff Your Muscles
New synthetic oil called synthol is being used today to fluff muscles. The oil, used by some bodybuilders, is injected into the muscle to fluff it. This practice is actually harmful—it destroys muscle fiber. Its long-term effects have not been discovered yet.
All Male Species by 2085?
For the tuatara reptile (and many other reptiles), egg temperature to some extent determines the gender. If the temperature is warmer than 71 degrees Fahrenheit, than tuataras are usually males. Tuatara reptiles are native to New Zealand; with global warming, by 2085, temperatures in New Zealand will consistently be over 71 degrees, resulting in no more female tuataras (Nature, 2008).
No More Tears
Thanks to genetic engineering at Crop and Food Institute in New Zealand, in about 10 years there might be “tear-free” onions available for you at your local grocery store. Onions bring tears because they contain an enzyme which produces sulfur. Scientists have been able to make the gene of this enzyme inactive, yet maintain the taste, smell, and health benefits of onions.
In 2007, coal miners in Illinois discovered an underground fossilized forest covering about 15 square miles. The forest included some extinct trees.
Space Travel for Bacteria
Harmful bacteria can become more powerful when sent into space. In 2007, scientists sent salmonella bacteria (bacteria that cause food poisoning) into space on the space shuttle Atlantis; the bacteria returned 3 times stronger.