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18 Fascinating Science Facts You Didn’t Learn in School

These strange science facts prove the world really is a mysterious place.

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Science facts - TreesPhoto: Creative Travel Projects/Shutterstock

There are more trees on Earth than stars in our galaxy

NASA experts believe there could be anywhere from 100 billion to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, Snopes reports. However, a 2015 paper published in the journal Nature estimated that the number of trees around the world is much higher: 3.04 trillion.

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Science facts - Blue-smokePhoto: Background All/Shutterstock

Oxygen has a colour

As a gas, oxygen is odourless and colourless. In its liquid and solid forms, however, it looks pale blue.

Find out more fun facts about colour.

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Science facts - Periodic-tablePhoto: demarcomedia/Shutterstock

Only one letter doesn’t appear in the periodic table

It’s the letter J. Go ahead and double check. We’ll wait.

Can you pass this quiz of 4th grade science questions?

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Science facts - BananasPhoto: Capture Collect/Shutterstock

Bananas are radioactive

File this under “strange but true”: bananas contain potassium, and since potassium decays, that makes them slightly radioactive. But it’s nothing you need to worry about. You’d need to eat 10,000,000 bananas at once to die of radiation poisoning, Forbes reports.

Find out how to keep bananas fresh for as long as possible.

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Science facts - Freezing-waterPhoto: Bachkova Natalia/Shutterstock

Hot water freezes faster than cold water

This fact seems counterintuitive, but it’s called the Mpemba effect, after a Tanzanian student named Erasto Mpemba who told his teacher than a hot mixture of ice cream froze faster than a cold one. Scientists now believe this is because the velocities of water particles have a specific disposition while they’re hot that allows them to freeze more readily. If proven correct, this finding could also have implications in daily life, like cooling down electronic devices.

Don’t miss these mind-blowing facts about snow.

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Science facts - WaterPhoto: Sergey Parantaev/Shutterstock

Cold water heats up faster than hot water

The researchers who investigated the cause of the Mpemba effect made this discovery as well. They unsurprisingly named the phenomenon the inverse Mpemba effect.

Check out these amazing things caught on camera for the first time.

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Science facts - FungiPhoto: Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock

Humans are related to fungi

A 2015 study from the University of Cambridge suggests that mankind may have evolved with genes that came from plants. Because of those findings, researchers accept that about one per cent of the human genome could have been acquired from plants, The Telegraph reports. So all those times your corny uncle called himself a “fungi”? He was actually sort of right.

Here are 30 lies you were told as a kid (that you probably still believe).

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DNAPhoto: vitstudio/Shutterstock

But don’t worry—we have a lot of DNA

Scientists predict that there are over three billion base pairs of DNA in human genes and over 25,000 genes in the human genome. An entire copy of that genome exists in each of the 10 trillion cells in the human body. If all of that DNA were lined up, it would cover the distance between Earth and the sun 100 times.

Check out these signs of evolution you can still find on your body.

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DiamondsPhoto: Kamil Hajek/Shutterstock

It can rain diamonds on other planets

Diamonds are definitely the Milky Way galaxy’s best friends. Studies have examined the potential that Neptune, Uranus, Jupiter and Saturn have to produce diamonds. The atmospheres in all four planets have such extreme pressure that they can crystalize carbon atoms and turn them into diamonds. Scientists were able to create the correct conditions in a lab to prove this occurs on Neptune and Uranus. Separately, a different group of researchers speculates that it may rain as much as 2.2 million pounds of diamonds on parts of Saturn every year—definitely the richest of our science facts!

Here are 10 scientific mysteries we take for granted.

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BallPhoto: Vyas Abhishek/Shutterstock

You can make balls fly

If you spin a ball when you drop it, it will fly through the air as it falls. This is called the Magnus effect, and it makes playing tennis and soccer a whole lot easier.

Here are 17 science myths you need to stop believing.

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frozen-waterPhoto: Marta navarroP/Shutterstock

Water can exist in three states at once

This is called the Triple Boil, and at that temperature, water exists as a gas, a liquid and a solid simultaneously. It requires very specific conditions to achieve, so don’t even think about trying it at home.

Check out these “facts” you’ve always believed that are actually false.

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BirdsPhoto: GizmoPhoto/Shutterstock

Only one type of mammal has wings

Those mammals would be bats. While flying squirrels can jump from trees and glide, they can’t truly fly like bats can.

Here are 12 facts about animals that you’ve got all wrong.

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HeliumPhoto: Khrystyna Bakuchava/Shutterstock

Helium can also work against gravity

When helium is cooled to extreme temperatures, just a few degrees away from absolute zero (-460˚F or -273˚C), it turns into a superfluid, meaning it can flow without friction. It can climb up and over the sides of a glass, and leak through molecule-think cracks in a container. If it starts flowing like a fountain, it will never stop.

Don’t miss these amazing “did you know” facts most people actually don’t know.

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SunPhoto: Twin Design/Shutterstock

Solar flares are scarily powerful

The energy they release is the equivalent of 100-megaton atomic bombs exploding at once. It’s a good thing the Earth’s atmosphere protects us from their radiation.

Explore more baffling mysteries about the universe.

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AstronautPhoto: Vadim Sadovski/Shutterstock

It’s impossible to burp in space

When you burp on Earth, gravity keeps down the solids and liquid from the food you just ate, so only the gas escapes from your mouth. In the absence of gravity, the gas cannot separate from the liquids and solids, so burping essentially turns into puking.

Find out more normal things astronauts can’t do in space.

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BacteriaPhoto: Jezper/Shutterstock

About half of your body is bacteria

That’s right. A 2014 study estimates that the human body consists of 39 trillion bacteria and 30 trillion human cells. In the past, researchers thought we were more bacteria than human with a ratio of 10:1. While this new calculation is probably closer to the true numbers, it’s not a hard fact.

Unlock the scientific explanations behind these quirky body reactions.

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Color-blind-testPhoto: HUAJI/Shutterstock

Men are more likely to be colourblind than women

The genes responsible for the most common type of colourblindness are found on the X chromosome, the National Eye Institute explains. Even if women have the genes on one of their two X chromosomes, a properly functioning gene on the other one makes up for that loss. If men inherit the gene on their only X chromosome, they’ll become colourblind.

Can you pass this brainteasing colour quiz?

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Science facts - Beautiful cosmos. Science fiction. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.Photo: Shutterstock

We have no idea what most of the universe looks like

About 96 per cent of the universe is made up of dark matter and dark energy, which are undetectable to humans. Scientists believe this is because the particles that make up these substances don’t interact with regular matter or light. Even though scientific discoveries are constantly being made about the stars, planets, and other galaxies we can see, it’s impossible to make conclusions about things that are invisible to our eyes.

Next, check out more mind blowing facts you’ll think are made up (but aren’t).

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest