Filed under Science

Searched For:

Babies Have 6 Kidneys?

A friend’s doctor told her that babies have 6 kidneys. I thought that was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard, and as a product of the Information Age, I wasn’t about to take the doctor’s word for it. So I consulted the one place I know to be trustworthy. The Internet.

Just as I thought, babies don’t have six kidneys. But the doctor was actually right. Hmm … ponder that paradox for a moment…

Ok, ready to move on?

This was a classic game of telephone. What the doctor actually said was probably to the effect of, “Fetuses develop three sets of kidneys.” That doesn’t mean they have six all at the same time – which is how my friend (or maybe just I) interpreted it. The kidneys develop in three stages. You can see an animation of it here.

The fact is, even if I’d understood what the doctor was saying, I still wouldn’t have believed it. It’s pretty weird … and if you don’t think so, you didn’t watch the video … and if you still don’t think so, you’re probably just smarter than me.

CategoryScience Tagged , ,
Searched For:

Why Does Gold Give You Bruises?

This is probably not something that I should be advertising on the general interweb, but I have some serious gold.

Not like, Scrooge McDuck goes swimming gold. But I have a 1910 gold sovereign from England, strung on a gold chain. My grandfather gave it to my grandmother and now I wear it. Not because I’m fancy, but because I’m sentimental. Also because it makes me feel a little like a pirate.

Anyway, yesterday I took the necklace off and there, on my chest, was a dark greenish-black blotch which would not wash away. I would have written this off as a mysterious bruise, were it not the same shape and size of my doubloon. Because I know the gold is real [trust me, my grandmother mails me a facsimile of the insurance appraisal bi-annually] I had to ask Google: “Why does gold give you bruises?” If you believe old wives’ tales, or, I am highly anemic. I guess it’s time to pump up the iron.

CategoryScience Tagged , , ,
Searched For:

Do Eagles Rip Their Beaks Off?

My mom loves email chains. Like, loves ’em. I assume she must have a network of friends that all pass these things in circles, because I get several a day, and some are repeats. This is usually how it works:

Read email, Google validity, confirm skepticism, break news to mom.

I don’t blame her, she hasn’t had tons of exposure to the Internet. So she doesn’t understand how or why someone would make up a story about a dog that saved 967 people from the twin towers.

This email in particular though, was pretty awesome. It’s an inspirational story about how every Bald Eagle goes through a butterfly-like metamorphosis to extend its life by 30 years. The transformation begins with a jolly session of self-mutilation, followed by a death-defying period of starvation. The highlight of it all being when the eagles slam their faces into the rocks until they rip their own beaks off.

By the end of the email, I’m creeped out, and I suppose maybe a little inspired. But mainly I’m stunned that people are passing this around without questioning its absurdity. I mean, I definitely enjoyed the read, but I prefer to assume that one of my mom’s immediate friends wrote it, rather than think thousands of people are sending this out, with new-found expertise in Eagle physiology. According to Snopes it’s been fooling people for 5 years.

So mom, sorry to break it to you, but this one is fake. The good news is, you met the 10-friend forwarding requirement that keeps you from having bad luck. I googled that too. That part is true. So good job.

CategoryScience Tagged , , , ,
Searched For:

How To Prepare For Solar Flare

Solar FlareI don’t really think of Solar Flares as natural disasters, but it seems they are a pretty big threat. Someone in the office yesterday made an announcement about today’s impending solar bombardment, so I looked to see if there was anything I needed to do in preparation. It seems there may be, but probably not for today.

The sun is quickly approaching the stormiest part of its 11 year cycle, which will peak in 2013. Strong solar flares can cause electro-magnetic pulses to surge through the power grid. In 1859, there was one so strong that it shocked telegraph operators and set their machines on fire. Now in your mind, replace the word telegraph with 50″ plasma. Yeah, like the one in your living room. It’s probably on fire right now.

Honestly, it doesn’t sound like today’s storm is going to be that big of a deal, but the next one could be. In preparation, make sure you have a map for when your GPS breaks, some Tylenol for those solar flare migranes, a hazmat suit for the nuclear meltdowns, and a boat-load of gravy. Also, just to be safe, try putting your small electronics in the microwave for protection. Just don’t forget they’re in there when it’s time to warm up your coffee.

UPDATE: We didn’t die today.

CategoryScience Tagged , ,
Searched For:

What Causes Crazy Dreams Every Night?

I have always been a vivid dreamer. But lately it’s getting out of hand. This past week I’ve woken up each morning feeling like I wrote six screenplays in my sleep the night before. Tuesday night I travelled back and forth in time through a magical elevator, and Thursday I stressed out trying to find the classroom for an AP Calculus final in a class that I hadn’t attended all semester.

After eight solid hours of adventure sleep, I’m exhausted. Naturally I turned to Google to find out what was causing my sleep-self to be so active, and what I could do to stifle my subconscious so I don’t wake up feeling like I just ran a mental marathon.

Turns out, I may actually be getting better sleep than someone who isn’t dreaming a lot, since intense dreams usually happen during REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement = kinda creepy), in which time you’re deeply KO’d. The REM cycle happens a few times a night and each cycle lasts about 90 minutes. That’s like five plus hours of writing time per night!

This very informative article breaks down dreams into eight helpful genres (see below), and offers dream causes ranging from: repressed emotions needing to seep out, to our mind alleviating anxiety by helping us connect subconscious dots. Pretty amazing stuff.

Any of these sound familiar?

  • Processing
  • Venting (Nightmares)
  • Integration
  • Breakdown/breakthrough
  • Recurring (High school exams/locker combos for me on this one…)
  • Precognitive
  • Prophetic (I dreamt my best friend was preggo on the day she found out. So weird.)
  • Wish fulfillment

Conclusion: I guess I should be more grateful of our amazing minds, and for my lucid dreams…Start keeping a dream diary, analyze them, and maybe even use them for creative inspiration? The human brain, you guys!

CategoryHow it Works, Science Tagged , ,
Searched For:

Why Do Camels Spit?

No idea how I wound up on this question, but that’s probably true of 95% of the stuff I google, so let’s just get right to it… why do camels spit!?!?

Well, the short answer is that they don’t. So you might be thinking, “hmm… I wonder where I got that crazy misconception? I guess I don’t have to worry about that next time I’m around a camel.” But the long answer is that what they actually do is a lot grosser.

Hey, I'm a camel, and I'm disgusting.

Apparently, when camels “spit,” what they are actually doing is a lot closer to vomiting. Camels are ruminants, which means something, but I don’t know what, and I didn’t really feel like googling that at the time. Anyway, they are similar to cows in that way and this means that when they get agitated they will burp up some of their cud (or semi-digested contents of their fore-stomach). They then flap their head to get some of that good cud onto their bottom droopy lip which they then fling into the air. Impressively enough, using this technique, they can apparently cover the upper half of a human.

I was hoping to really delve into their psyches and find what kind of trauma caused them to be so gross, but I didn’t really get that information. Evidently they don’t do this to humans much, but that doesn’t change the fact that they still leapfrogged bullfrogs in my most feared animals list.

CategoryScience Tagged , , , ,
Searched For:

Metal Eating Bacteria

Reason for Search:

As I was writing Thursday’s post about holes in aluminum foil, I mentioned that I’d considered metal-munching bacteria as the culprit. Since I wasn’t sure if such a thing even existed, I did a quick search to make sure I wasn’t about to sound like an idiot.


Bacteria don’t actually “eat” metals but they can corrode them. This is called MIC (Microbially-Induced Corrosion) and the main cause is sulfate-eating bacteria that produce sulfides as a waste product.

Useful Search Results:

CategoryScience Tagged ,
Searched For:

Holes in Aluminum Foil

Reason for Search:

We’ve had a pan of my mother-in-law’s famous southern cornbread sitting out on the counter for a couple of days covered in aluminum foil. When I pulled the foil back to cut a slice, I noticed that there were disgusting little holes in the foil as if bugs had eaten through it. I wish I had a picture to post here, but my wife threw it away before I had a chance to find out that it wasn’t as gross as we’d thought.


I was pretty surprised to discover the cause of this phenomenon. I would have guessed roaches, metal-munching bacteria, manufacturing defect… but not that our cornbread had magically turned into a battery. Apparently, this is known as the “Lasagna Cell” effect, and it happens when you put a salty wet food (This ain’t your average cornbread. Think cheese log with cornmeal.) into a steel pan and cover it with foil. It becomes a recipe for electricity as much as it is for Coronary heart disease. Now anywhere the food touches the foil, it creates a short in the battery and corrodes a tiny bug-like hole.

Useful Search Results:

CategoryScience Tagged , ,