This Week I Learned #2

More stuff I’ve learned this week. Further reading/sources are provided.

Tropical rainforests in the Amazon rain forest have their nutrients periodically replenished by the Sahara Desert. 

First off, I never would have guessed that one of the most arid and desolate places on earth was chock full of minerals. But yes, the Sahara is apparently full of the stuff left over from a time when it was a more fertile place. Even more amazing than that though is the journey that these minerals take. They are blown high into the atmosphere where they cross the Atlantic. They eventually touch down in South America where they go on to fertilize the Amazon Rainforest – in fact this immense ecosystem is pretty much dependant on it.

Courtesy of

I now know what anosognosia is.

It’s basically when someone has a stroke or another kind of brain injury, which leaves them with some disability (e.g. the inability to move their arm), but becomes unaware that they have this disability. It can be extremely frustrating for the carers of these people. Arguably the craziest thing about this condition is that squirting cold water into the left ear temporarily enables them to acknowledge the disability. But no one knows for sure why this is so.

Courtesy of wikipedia.

Most of the world’s oxygen (80%) is produced by the oceans, not trees.

Its only a recent discovery that over night, the Amazon rain forest actually takes back in almost all of the oxygen it produces during the day and expires as much CO2 at night as it takes in during the day. So the net effect on the earth is nearly zero. How does the ocean produce oxygen? Its not just the immense amount of seaweed (althought that does contribute) but also tiny organisms such as cyanobacteria and phytoplankton which produce it through photosynthesis. It makes a lot more sense when you take into account that seas and oceans cover roughly ten times more of the earths surface than forests do.

Courtesy of

Male anglerfish literally become a part of female anglerfish.

Angler fish are known for their hideous features and that thing what protrudes from their face and glows in the dark (its full of bioluminescent bacteria.) Another little known fact pertains to the extreme clinginess of the angler fish males. The bottom of the ocean is a lonely place so when you find a mate, you don’t let go. The male attaches himself to the female by biting down hard. Eventually he fuses with her biologically, losing all his internal organs over time. Except for his testes, of course. Females have been found with up to six withered males attached to them.

Courtesy of National Geographic

Deimos, Mars’ smallest moon has an escape velocity of 5.6 m/s

Escape velocity refers to how fast you need to be going in order to leave a planets gravitational attraction. Basically you could jump yourself free of Deimos. Not surprising as the little guy is quite small (average diameter: 6.2km)

Courtesy of

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About the author: Conor Hughes works as a Marketing Executive at Life Science Recruitment

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