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Science and Technology Trivia

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Back in the mid to late 80's, an IBM compatible computer wasn't considered a hundred percent compatible unless it could run Microsoft's Flight Simulator, probably because of the fact that it is one of the hardest programs to get running.

Some early TV screens did emit excessive X-rays, as did computer monitors, but that was fixed long ago. Doctors suggest that at worst, sitting too close might cause some temporary eye fatigue—the same for reading with insufficient light—but no permanent damage, no matter what your mother claimed.

A "fulgerite" is fossilized lightning. It forms when a powerful lightning bolt melts the soil into a glass-like state.

If you stand in the bottom of a well, you would be able to see the stars even in the daytime.

STASI, the East German secret police organization, devised a devilishly clever way to prevent someone from giving them the slip during the Cold War: they managed to synthesize the scent of a female dog in heat, which they applied to the shoes of the person under surveillance. Then they simply had a male dog follow the scent.

Experiments conducted in Germany and at the University of Southampton in England show that even mild and incidental noises cause the pupils of the eyes to dilate. It is believed that this is why surgeons, watchmakers, and others who perform delicate manual operations are so bothered by noise. The sounds cause their pupils to change focus and blur their vision.

A downburst is a downward blowing wind that sometimes comes blasting out of a thunderstorm. The damage looks like tornado damage, since the wind can be as strong as an F2 tornado, but debris is blown straight away from a point on the ground. It's not lofted into the air and transported downwind.

On December 2, 1942, a nuclear chain reaction was achieved for the first time under the stands of the University of Chicago’s football stadium. The first reactor measured 30 feet wide, 32 feet long, and 21.5 feet high. It weighed 1,400 tons and contained 52 tons of uranium in the form of uranium metal and uranium oxide. Although the same process led to the massive energy release of the atomic bomb, the first artificially sustained nuclear reaction produced just enough energy to light a small flashlight.

A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continually from the bottom of the glass to the top. This is because the carbonation in the drink gets pockets of air stuck in the wrinkles of the raisin, which is light enough to be raised by this air. When it reaches the surface of the champagne, the bubbles pop, and the raisin sinks back to the bottom, starting the cycle over.

Bacteria, the tiniest free-living cells, are so small that a single drop of liquid contains as many as 50 million of them.

The proper name of earth's satellite is Luna. The grammar books say that "moon" (and likewise "earth" and "sun") should be lower case, with the exception of when "earth" is in a list with other planets. The earth is Terra; the sun is Sol. This is where we get the words "extraTERREstrial" and "SOLar".

At any given time, there are 1,800 thunderstorms in progress over the earth's atmosphere.

Compact discs read from the inside to the outside edge, the reverse of how a record works.

Because of the rotation of the earth, an object can be thrown farther if it is thrown west.

The fastest moon in our solar system circles Jupiter once every seven hours - traveling at 70,400 miles per hour.

George Ellery Hale was the 20th century's most important builder of telescopes. In 1897, Hale built a 40 inch wide telescope, the largest ever built at that time. His second telescope, with a sixty inch lens, was set up in 1917 and took 14 years to build. During the 14 years Hale became convinced that he suffered from "Americanitis" a disorder in which the ambitions of Americans drive them insane. During the building of his 100 inch lens Hale spent time in a sanatorium and would only discuss his plans for the telescope with a "sympathetic green elf".

Hale's 100 inch lens built in the early 1900s was the largest solid piece of glass made until then. The lens was made by a French specialist who poured the equivalent of ten thousand melted champagne bottles into a mold packed with heat maintaining manure so that the glass would cool slowly and not crack.

The shockwave from a nitroglycerine explosion travels at 17,000 miles per hour.

The planet Saturn has a density lower than water. If there was a bathtub large enough to hold it, Saturn would float.

Earth's atmosphere is, proportionally, thinner than the skin of an apple.

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