The history of science is almost as old as time itself. Science is constantly working from the edges of the universe to the innermost cells that make you function. Scientific breakthroughs have tested our limits and showed how we can go beyond what is humanly possible.
See the world through new eyes with this plethora of science facts: from weird facts, branches of science, to how science shapes the tiniest details of your day.
- There are 118 chemical elements.
- Its Latin word, scienta means knowledge.
- The Nobel Peace Prize is the highest scientific honor.
- Over 7 million people in the world have careers in science.
- The scientific method was created in the 17th century.
- Astronomy is the oldest science.
- Before science, ancient civilizations had natural philosophy.
- Geometry originated from Mesopotamia and Egypt around 2000 B.C.
- Nuclear energy supplies 11% of the world’s electricity.
- The branches of science were established during the 19th century.
- Newton formed the Laws of Motion in 1687.
- The English word “scientist” was first coined by William Whewell in the 19th century.
- Over 450 nuclear power reactors are used around the world.
- Electricity is energy produced from charged particles.
- The weather is the state of the atmosphere.
- Lasker Awards recognize scientific achievements in medicine and treatment of disease.
- Scholars refer to the Middle Ages as the Dark Ages because people favored superstition and antiquated beliefs over science during that time.
- The Pacific Ocean makes up ⅓ of the Earth’s surface.
- The Big Bang Theory was theorized by a Catholic priest.
- The science community deems the Wolf Prize as the second-highest honor.
Science has many uses for donated bodies.
When you donate your body to science, it can be used as a crash test dummy, a cadaver for medical training, specimen for forensic research, or a donor for organ transplants.
Marie Curie is the only person to win Nobel prizes in two different sciences.
Marie Curie is the only scientist in history to be awarded Nobel prizes in two different categories: she was awarded her first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 for her work on radiation, and a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2011 for her discovery and work on radium and polonium.
Banana peels have almost no friction.
Banana peels have felled many cartoon characters, Mario Kart players, and average people alike. However, what makes it so slippery in the first place? To answer this, four Japanese scientists measured the amount of friction between a shoe, a banana skin and the floor. Turns out, the friction coefficient was at an almost nonexistent 0.07 – walking with the banana peel was 6 times slippier than normal friction between a shoe and the floor.
More than half of your body is bacteria.
Human cells make up only 43% of the body’s total cell count. The rest are bacteria, viruses, and fungi – the greatest amount of these microbes are in our bowels.
The human eye has a 576 megapixel resolution.
When our eyes send visual signals to the brain, it has enough capacity to process images in 576 megapixels. However, we only see at about 150dpi, since that is more than enough visual stimuli for us to see objects.
Laika was the first animal in space.
Two months after Sputnik 1, the Soviet Union launched its second spacecraft, Sputnik 2 with its first passenger: a small dog named Laika. With this voyage, Laika became the first animal to orbit Earth, but died 7 hours into orbit.
2 is the only even prime number.
A prime number is a special number that is only divisible by 1 and itself. 2 is a prime number that is divisible by 1 and 2. The remaining even numbers cannot be prime numbers as they are always divisible by 2. Don’t believe us? Try it yourself!
Feldspar is the most common mineral on Earth.
Feldspar is a group of tectosilicate minerals that form rocks and make up 41% of the Earth’s crust.
Hot water freezes more quickly than cold water.
The principle of hot liquids freezing faster than cold ones is called the Mpemba effect. This phenomenon was discovered by a Tanzanian student when he realized that hot ice cream mix freezes faster than a cold mix in the early 1960s. Although it has been attempted, no one has successfully explained why hot water would freeze faster than cold water.
It takes 6 minutes for brain cells to react to alcohol.
A 2009 study proved that drinking alcohol can alter brain cells in just 6 minutes. During an experiment, they found that alcohol consumption decreased the levels of creatine and choline in the brain. This could explain the long-term brain damage observed in alcoholics.
Most dinosaurs are known from just a single tooth or bone.
Given that dinosaurs were alive 65 million years ago, complete fossils are extremely rare. Instead, archaeologists study traces such as loose teeth, bones, tracks, or dung in order to identify the dinosaurs we read about in books now.
Nuclear power plants are safer work environments compared to offices.
So far, there has been no record of worker casualties in the entire 50-year history of nuclear power in the U.S.
Helium changes our voice because of its density.
Helium is much less dense than oxygen. Typically, we breathe in nitrogen and oxygen. Since helium is less dense than oxygen, the sound of our voice travels faster through our vocal cords. Therefore, helium makes our voice sound weird because the sound is traveling over two times faster than usual.
Tooth enamel is stronger than bones.
The lining of our teeth is the hardest substance in the human body.
The father of electricity lived his childhood in poverty.
Michael Faraday had to work at the age of 13 to sustain himself, since his father was sickly and could not do so. However, he still went on to contribute to what we know about electricity today.
Humans haven't stop evolving.
If you look at the evolution of life, you’d think we’ve come a long way from the ape-like Homo erectus. However, this is not our final form, yet. Researchers tracking eight million mutations found that defective genes – such as ones that influence disease – are slowly being filtered out of our DNA.
Scientists weigh planets through its gravitational pull.
You may wonder how we have all these measurements for planets when it seems impossible to measure objects in space, much less objects as massive as the planets. However, things changed with Lord Henry Cavendish’s experiment in 1797. Through his findings, scientists now calculate a planet’s weight by the time it takes for objects to orbit the planet and the distance of those objects from the planet.
Cavendish set up an experiment with two 150 kg lead balls (planets) and two smaller spheres (moons). He measured the gravitational pull between these elements. Through his experiment, Cavendish discovered the missing piece of Newton’s gravitational puzzle, which was the value of G – the amount that relates the gravitational force between two bodies to their masses and distance. With the new value of G, Cavendish was also the first man to attempt weighing a planet. He used Newton’s equation with the value of G to calculate that the Earth’s mass is six billion trillion tonnes.
People used to believe the Earth was the center of the universe.
For a long time, people believed in geocentrism, which described the Earth as the center of the universe. It was only until 1543 that Nicolaus Copernicus proposed the concept of heliocentrism, or the sun being the center of the solar system, or the universe. Some years later, Galileo confirmed the theory.
50% of museum items are mislabeled.
About half of all the natural history specimens held in the world’s greatest institutions are wrongly labeled, according to experts from Oxford University and the Royal Botanic Garden. This is troubling since the whole point of museums is to preserve accurate records of the past. Errors in labeling specimens could potentially erase a species’ or peoples’ records from existence. Additionally, revising a museum label would cost around US$750. Given the amount of mislabelled specimen, how much would that end up costing?
Fast food restaurant ice is often dirtier than toilet water.
You may want to think twice about munching on that ice. In a 2016 study conducted in the U.K., major fast-food chains were revealed to have fecal bacteria in their ice. Starbucks was also among the list. It was (hopefully) not due to a case of tampering, but a lack of maintenance for their ice machines.
Swimmers sweat underwater.
Sweating is the biological function of the body to cool itself. During intense workouts, the body will perspire even in the water. However, it’s barely noticeable even to the swimmers themselves since the water washes the sweat off.
It is scientifically possible to die from drinking too much water.
It’s important to stay hydrated to keep our bodies functioning well. However, too much water can also be fatal. When a dehydrated person drinks too much water without the accompanying electrolytes, they can die from water intoxication and hyponatremia. In fact, forced water intake is even a known torture method.
Pure hydrogen can kill you.
Pure hydrogen gas acts as a chemical asphyxiant. If you walk into a room with no oxygen, you won’t be able to breathe, right? It’s one of the no-brainer science facts.
One of the greatest paleontologists did not go to school.
Mary Anning contributed greatly to paleontology, finding many major marine fossils throughout her life. However, Anning did not have the best upbringing. She was born in a family of 10 siblings, but only 2 reached adulthood, including her. She did not attend formal schooling, and yet she became one of the great names in science. How’s that for badass science facts?
The ocean contains 20 million pounds of gold.
Gold in the ocean waters is so dilute that it would be like looking for sugar grains in a gallon of unstirred coffee. Gold ores can also be found in the depths of the seafloor, but these deposits are encased layers upon layers of rock. Currently, there is no efficient way to retrieve these gold deposits from the ocean.
A 5th-grader accidentally created a new molecule in 2012.
During a class activity, 10-year-old Clara Lazen presented her teacher with a randomly-constructed molecule diagram. Instead of dismissing it, Mr. Kenneth Boer took a photo and sent it to a chemist for analysis. Turns out, it was a new, explosive molecule called Tetranitratoxycarbon.
Female animals can sometimes reject sperm.
For different species such as chickens, some animals practice sperm dumping to reject the sperm of mates they don’t like.
Global warming is affecting gravity.
The rapid rate of ice melting in Antarctica is so large in scale that it caused a small shift in gravity in the region. Who’s to say how much more it will change?
We’re living in a time with the most carbon dioxide ever recorded in the atmosphere.
More carbon dioxide has been recorded in the atmosphere today than at any point in the last 800,000 years.
You can use your fingers to get the times table of 9.
Need some help memorizing the times table of 9? Stretch our your hands and the answer you need is there! Starting with your left pinky finger, put it down and you’ll get 9 (1 x 9). Next, put down only your left ring finger, and you’ll get 18 (2 x 9). After that, put down only your left middle finger, and you’ll get 27 (3 x 9), and so on… How cool is this number trick?
Tuna has the highest protein content for fish.
Bluefin and yellowfin tuna are especially rich in protein. Bluefin offers 29.91 grams of protein per 100 grams of dry-cooked fish, and yellowfin provides 29.15 grams. A few other contenders are the following: anchovies (29 gr), salmon (27 g), halibut (27 g) and tilapia (26 grams).
Tungsten is the hardest metal.
Metals vary in structure and properties. For example, aluminum is lightweight and malleable, while mercury is liquid in form. However, tungsten is the hardest metal known to man. It is used for heavy-duty industries such as space travel and ballistics.
Explosives funded the Nobel Prize.
Alfred Nobel was born into extreme poverty. However, his work with science led him to produce dynamite and other explosives. He went on to establish the Nobel Peace Prize in 1895. Now that’s one for science facts you never expected.
The strongest virus had an 80% mortality rate.
A Marburg virus outbreak struck the Democratic Republic of Congo for 2 years. With a 20-80 survival rate, the Marburg virus is the strongest known virus to date.
Tomatoes have more genes than humans.
The tomato contains 31,760 genes – that is 7,000 more genes than a human.
Friends share more DNA than strangers.
According to social homophily, people form bonds based on shared characteristics that can be traced to genetics. A 2018 study tested this theory and discovered that the DNA between friends were more genetically similar than random pairs of strangers. Interestingly, they were only two-thirds as genetically similar as the average married couple.
The average person has 5 liters of blood.
Once a person loses 40% of their blood, they will die without immediate transfusion.
The biggest tsunami reached over 1000 feet.
The largest tsunami ever recorded occurred in Lituya Bay, Alaska in 1958. The huge wave measured a staggering 1720 feet. Definitely one of the science facts that show how nature is terrifying.
It’s scientifically possible to start a fire using flatulence.
Did you know that you could start a fire with your farts? Human flatulence is flammable since it contains methane and hydrogen sulphide. However, it would take very particular amounts of the gases to ignite. A successfully lit fart fire would be blue in color.
The scientist behind modern ballistics survived five fatal sword blows.
Before he developed the theory for modern ballistics, Niccolo Tartaglia sustained severe injuries from an attack in his hometown. He suffered major blows to his face and neck. Because they could not afford it, his mother had to nurse him back to health on her own.
Gasoline can contain between 150 and 1,000 different chemical compounds.
Who knew we had to use that many compounds whenever we take a drive?
Oxygen isn’t colorless.
It may be colorless in its gas form, but solid and liquid oxygen has a pale blue color.
87% of scientists believe that climate change is mostly caused by human activity.
However, only 50% of the public believes humans caused climate change.
The scientific term for brain freeze can make your head hurt, too.
Brain freeze is scientifically known as “Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia.” What a mouthful.
The most complete memorization of Pi lasted 70,000 decimal places.
Rajveer Meena of India holds the world record for reciting the most digits of Pi at 70,000 decimal places. Meena achieved the record on March 21, 2015.
The biggest robot in the world weighs 11 tons.
Tradinno is the largest functional robot in the world. Standing at 15 meters long, the dragon robot weighs 11 tons. Tradinno starred in the German play Drachenstich.
If you get exposed to radiation, you need to get naked.
One of the weirder yet essential nuclear energy facts: If you get exposed to nuclear substances, the best course of action is to remove all of your clothes. This will remove 90% of the radioactive substance you were exposed to.
Scientists found the 8th continent.
Zealandia, also known as the New Zealand continent or Tasmantis, is an almost entirely submerged continent. It sank after breaking away from Australia 60–85 million years ago. It is also theorized that it separated from Antarctica between 85 and 130 million years ago.
The human body is made up of 206 bones.
Surprisingly, babies are born with 300! Babies’ bones only fuse together and harden as they get older.
Diamonds are the hardest natural substance.
Diamonds are not the hardest substance of all-time, but it is the strongest substance naturally found on Earth.
You can charge phones with pee.
Using the minerals in human urine, roughly 2.5 cups of pee are enough to charge a cell phone for three hours. (But we’d suggest leaving this method as your last resort.)
The only letter that doesn't appear on the periodic table is J.
Out of 118 chemical elements, only this letter feels left out.
An ice cube takes up about 9% more volume than the water used to make it.
This explains why liquids expand in containers when they are frozen.
Galileo Galilei created the scientific method.
Galileo Galilei pioneered science through developing the earliest experimental scientific method and the functional telescope.
The Pacific Ocean is the biggest body of water in the world.
Taking up a total of 155 million square kilometers, the Pacific Ocean surrounds Asia, Australia, and the Americas. It is the largest body of water on Earth, having twice as much water as the Atlantic Ocean.
The Earth has a mass of 5.97 x 10^24 kg.
The Earth’s circumference measures 40,075 kilometers, while its diameter is 12,756 kilometers. Overall, the Earth’s mass amounts to 5,970,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg.
The Kilauea Volcano is the most active volcano.
Volcanology is the scientific study of volcanoes. Currently, the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii is the most active volcano. Since 1983, it has erupted over 60 times and counting.
Scientists successfully altered a human gene for the first time in 2017.
On July 27, 2017, Portland researchers successfully used CRISPR, a gene-editing technique, to remove a gene from a human embryo. Using CRISPR, the researchers deleted a gene linked to heart complications from the embryo.
Scientists created a synthetic uterus for lamb.
On April 26, 2017, Physicians at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia created a uterus “biobag” capable of sustaining premature fetal lambs. After 105 days of development (the equivalent of 22 days for humans), the lambs were extracted from their mothers and sealed in the bags. Surprisingly, they developed in the synthetic wombs and even survived long after.
Thomas Edison electrocuted an elephant to death to prove a point.
To prove that his direct current was safer than Nikola Tesla’s alternating current, Thomas Edison conducted a public experiment on an elephant. In 1903, Edison filmed an elephant getting fried by alternating current in Coney Island. Luna Park Zoo offered Topsy the Asian elephant for the experiment, since she had killed 3 handlers throughout the years. Topsy wouldn’t be Edison’s only victim, since he recorded other animals being electrocuted as well.
Johann Conrad Dippel created Dippel’s oil and claimed it was elixir.
Johann Conrad Dippel was a scientist in the late 1600s who created Dippel’s oil: a stew made of animal bones and hide. He claimed his concoction could extend the lifespan of those who drink it. Definitely one of the science facts that are hard to stomach.
Isaac Newton believes the world will end after 2060.
Based on a Bible passage, Newton believed that the apocalypse will come some time after the year 2060.
Leucippus was the first scientist who proposed atoms.
Leucippus and his student Democritus first wrote in 5th century BCE that all matter is composed of small, indivisible atoms. How’s that for cool science facts?
The density of ice is 10% lower than that of water.
This explains why ice floats on water.
Stomach acid can dissolve razor blades.
The PH level in the stomach is so high that it can dissolve metal. However, plastic would come out unscathed. Definitely one of the scarier science facts.
Many scientists believed the world was flat until the 17th century.
The Flat Earth theory might sound ridiculous to you now, but for a time, even the most renowned scholars believed in this theory. Among these scholars were Thales, Leucippus, Democritus, Anaximenes, and Xenophanes, who all contributed to major scientific discoveries of our time.
Athanasius Kircher was a scientist who believed in mythological beasts.
Known by many as the Master of a Hundred Arts, Athanasius Kircher studied everything from science and medicine to religion. However, he strongly believed in mermaids, giants, and dragons. Definitely one of the crazier science facts.
The Office of Alien Property Custodian confiscated Nikola Tesla’s inventions when he died.
From WWI to WWII, the U.S. government delegated an Office of Alien Property Custodian. When Nikola Tesla died in 1943, the Office of Alien Property seized his belongings and unreleased inventions.
Stephen Hawking never won a Nobel Prize.
Despite his extensive work as a theoretical physicist and cosmologist as well as his bestselling book, A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking never received any Nobel Prizes.
A rubber tire is made up of only one molecule.
A tire is one polymer with a large molecular weight.
The sun doesn’t change color during sunset.
We only see it that way because the sun’s wavelengths react to the different substances in the atmosphere.
Sound creates heat.
Sound waves generate heat when they travel and are absorbed by materials.
Time goes faster at the top of the building than at the bottom.
According to Einstein’s theory of Relativity, the farther an object is from the Earth’s surface, the faster time passes.
Gyroscopic effect keeps a bike balanced.
The principle is that a spinning wheel tends to stay aligned in its original direction.
You can’t sink in the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea has a very high density because of its salt content, which would make it impossible for you to sink.
Sound is visible.
Every time you see a vibration, you’re seeing sound.
The entire human race can fit inside a sugar cube.
If we removed all the spaces between the particles in our atoms, the whole of humanity could be compressed into a singular sugar cube.
Touch phones don’t detect certain materials because of electrical charge.
A typical smartphone would not detect touches from fingernails, rubber, or certain fabrics because they lack the ions needed for the interaction.
Thales was the first physicist.
He believed the world was only built from one element: water.
Silk is the strongest natural material.
Spiders make their webs by producing silk. This silk is 5 times stronger than steel.
Gelatin doesn’t break if you tap it because of surface tension.
The outer gelatin layer serves as an elastic membrane, which is why it only bounces and jiggles.
Inertia keeps you from falling out of a rollercoaster.
Your mass resists the acceleration of intense loops and keeps you on your seat.
Not all diamonds are colorless.
Contrary to popular belief, not all diamonds are colorless. Rare diamonds come in different shades of red, green, orange, yellow, brown, black, pink and blue.
Thomas Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb.
However, he was able to create a fully-functional one in 1879. Earlier versions made by Warren de La Rue and Joseph Swan had the lightbulb concept down, but their inventions were not suited for practical use.
Even with all our scientific discoveries, some phenomena remain unexplained – or just plain strange. Anyone who’s watched a few seconds of a nature documentary will agree that science is weird.
Most of the time, science gives us answers. But there are also times where it leaves us with even more questions. Turn your curiosity into discovery with our other science facts.