Curiosities: How many gallons (liters) of water can a camel drink in one go ?

July 20, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

Thanks to commercial globalization and technological advances, we can have almost any fruit at any time today. In my case, when I was a child, I could only have apples over the winter months. Since I like apples a lot, I used to eat them as many as I could. Either I look like camels or camels look like me, the truth is that these animals are in similar position than I was because of their habitat. One of the desert’s scarcest thing is water, so they try to drink this vital liquid as much as possible when it is in front of them because nobody knows how many days will pass without drinking it again. How much? Well, “just” 30 gallons, that is, 135 liters (considering an imperial gallon as unit) in less than 15 minutes.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.

Curiosities: Why do leaves change colors in autumn?

July 18, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.


This is one of the few moments when the reverse can give you a better answer and lead you to the place you want to go faster. Then, let’s see first why most leaves are green in fall. Leaves are green during the growing season thanks to chlorophyll, a green substance that not only provides the plants with that color, but helps them grow and keeps them alive by absorbing light from the sun. We eat to live; plants do the same too, but they neither have a mouth nor can take carbohydrates from cereal, potatoes, etc., as we do. Instead, green plants use a chemical process that turns carbon dioxide and water into food (carbohydrates) by using energy coming from sunlight. This process is called photosynthesis and it would not be possible without the chlorophyll we mentioned before and, of course, sunlight.

Green chlorophyll coexists with red, yellow and orange pigment molecules called carotenoids in a leaf. In autumn, because of the temperature and, especially, because of the much lower proportion of sunlight, the photosynthesis process does not continue, the green chlorophyll fails and the red, yellow and orange carotenoids emerge giving the leaves the beautiful color we enjoy in that season. Luckily, not all trees turn their green leaves into red, yellow and orange. Broad-leaved plants like those famous Canadian sugar maples or Japanese ginkgo are more sensitive to change while evergreens can protect their leaves better.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.

Curiosities: Why do camels have humps and what is inside of them?

July 17, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

Those camels you can see in a zoo have for granted the food and water they need to live. In return, they have to pay a high price: To live in captivity. Except for them, most camels live in desert areas where food and water are difficult to find. How difficult? It might take days until camels can find something to eat and water to drink. Since these animals can drink an enormous amount of water, many people think that their humps are full of this liquid, which is not the right answer.

The camel’s humps are like a small mound of fat that are used as food when this animal is in a precarious position for the lack of it. This fat can reach up to 80 pounds (36 kilograms). When a camel uses its hump (or humps, depending on what kind of camel is) as supply food, the hump will change its size and will shrink until the camel can store fat there again by eating almost every type of vegetation (you cannot choose when you are in a desert!): dried leaves and dried grass, thorny vegetation, salt bush, etc., and keep walking even for weeks in cool weather.

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Curiosities: Why do we feel that The Moon is following us when we move?

May 29, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

When I was a child, rather than playing with gadgets individually as children do today, my friends and I used to play together or with nature. I remember that we used to race against The Moon and we, of course, always won. Years later, this situation made me think about this curiosity: Why is The Moon behind us when we are walking? Why is The Moon following you when you are seeing it from a moving vehicle?

To start with, the truth is that The Moon is not “following you”. This wrong perception comes from a fact that can be explained with one word: Distance.

When you are moving, there are many objects close to you and inside your visual angle. These objects are used as parameters to judge distance and that’s why you are well aware that you walk past a particular object and it is then behind you. Besides, when an object is near you, it can be seen from different angles, which lets you know its position clearly. This situation does not happen with The Moon for two reasons: First, The Moon is an average of 238,855 miles (384,400 km) away from you without other things to be compared with it for size reasons and second, you cannot see it from different angles because of distance. These two factors give us the wrong impression that The Moon remains in one spot and begins to move right along with us when we move.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.

Curiosities: Are there birds that cannot fly?

May 7, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

Thanks to the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, today we can take a plane and go from one country to another. They invented successfully the first airplane, which was piloted by Orville in 1903. But with all respect that these two American inventors really deserved, I think we should give credits to birds first, since it was Wilbur’s interest in the observation of birds what made possible the Wright brothers’ flying machine. Human beings, therefore, have always associated the idea of flying with birds, and now the question is can really all birds fly?

The answer is no. The ostrich, kiwi, emu and penguin are examples of birds that cannot see the ground from the air.

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Curiosities: What is the characteristic that makes from a seahorse a unique animal on Earth?

April 22, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

Judging by their common name (seahorses) and physical appearance, both ideas lead many people to think that hippocampus (their scientific name) are mammals. Actually, they are not.

Seahorses are fish, and therefore, they lay eggs. They look cute and swim gracefully, but when it comes to eating, I do not recommend you to be at their side if you are a crustacean (a creature with soft body divided into sections, like shrimps, for example), especially a Myside shrimp since you might be sucked up by their long snouts. Seahorses eat dozens of times per day (40 times or more) and at the end, the number of shrimps they eat can be counted by hundreds or thousands of them (3,000 brine shrimps). Their eyes play an important role in this task because both eyes work separately, that means a seahorse can look forwards and backwards simultaneously.

Until now, the explanation is very simple. What is difficult to understand for human beings is that seahorses are monogamous and only mate for life. And if you are a male seahorse, be ready to be a mom! How come? Well, the female will put their eggs into your pouch and after that you have the responsibility to carry them until they hatch. They are the only animals on Earth with this characteristic.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.

Curiosities: How long do your nails grow per day and why?

April 10, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

If you have children, you have noticed how often you cut their nails and, on the contrary, you cannot remember the last time you cut yours. That means age plays an important role when it comes to nail growth. But it is not the only one: health conditions, good diet, and other factors are involved too. In general, nails grow 0.01 millimeter per day in adults. This process, however, is not homogeneous. For example, fingernails grow faster than toenails and, if you are left-handed (as I am), your nails on the fingers of your left hand will grow faster and vice versa.

As for the second question (why?), observe your nails. The visible part of them are on the skin, but the growing part is coming out from under it. The root of the nails is located in a place called matrix (it bears no relation with the movie at all). Your fingernails and toenails are both basically composed of cells, to be more specific, of keratin, which is a protein that forms not only your nails in this case, but also feathers, hair, horns, etc. In the matrix, cells are born, grow and dye by the time you see them as nails (this explains why you do not feel pain when cutting them.). Since cells are growing there constantly, new cells push out the old ones that finally get packed and come out, turning into those nails that a lot of women usually treat with the utmost care.

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