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Reddit Asks The Question: What is a Scientific Fact That You Know is True But Still Blows Your Mind

By Petr Knava | reddit | April 24, 2017 |

By Petr Knava | reddit | April 24, 2017 |

Over the weekend, thousands of people around the world marched for science.

As per the BBC:

Thousands of scientists have taken part in demonstrations around the world in protest against what they see as a global political assault on facts.

The first-ever March for Science, which was timed to coincide with Earth Day, was aimed at promoting action to protect the environment.

Organisers said it was a celebration of science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community.

The main event was held in Washington DC.

The event’s promoters said the march in the US capital was not aimed against President Donald Trump, while adding that his administration had “catalysed” the movement.

Science is the proverbial tits. Certain corners of Reddit take great joy in celebrating science. In times of crisis, this is important. So, while the march for science was taking place, Reddit asked its users the question: ‘What is a Scientific Fact That You Know is True But Still Blows Your Mind’

Here are some highlights:


Sharks existed before trees!!!


Sharks first arose in the very end of the Silurian Period, about 420 million years ago. Since then, five mass extinction events have occurred.

The Late Devonian extinction

The Mid-Permian extinction

The Great Dying

The Triassic-Jurassic extinction

The Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction

In the most severe one, the Great Dying, as many as 96% of all marine species were wiped out. But not sharks. Never sharks. Sharks just didn’t care, man.


The size of the universe is not only growing, the growth is accelerating, and many of the earliest galaxies have such a strong red shift that we needed to build the James Webb space telescope so that we can image them in infrared, since Hubble has reached the limit of what can be seen at visible wavelengths.

Quite literally, Hubble has reached the universal equivalent of draw distance in a video game, and eventually James Webb will do the same thing, in the far infrared. At some point we will stop seeing modern galaxies, and theoretically start seeing the early protouniverse, assuming James Webb is sensitive enough to detect it.

Bonus mind blowing fact: that observable distance is related to time. The farther away you look, the farther back in time you look.


That everytime you shuffle a deck of cards it is statistically more likely that this new combination has never been shuffled by anyone in history, not just yourself. You can crunch the numbers and it adds up, but it’s just so crazy when you have those 52 cards in your hands how this can be true.


That the black mesh on the front of microwaves works by physically blocking the waves, because the waves are so big they can’t fit through the holes.


Your shoelaces come undone because the knot is subject to forces of up to 7G with every step you take.


More of a historical than scientific fact, but mammoths and the pyramids existed at the same time


The T-Rex is closer in time to us than it was to the Stegosaurus.

Dinosaurs were here for a very long time.


Cleopatra lived closer in time to the opening of the first Pizza Hut than she did to the construction of the great Pyramids


Leave a bunch of hydrogen alone for a long time, and it will probably do everything.


I forgot who the exact person the quote is attributed to, but a physicist once said “Given enough time, hydrogen atoms will eventually go through puberty and want to talk to girls.”


My favorite version of the saying is “Hydrogen is an odorless colorless gas which, given enough time, will start to think about itself.”

Also, relevant xkcd


A spec of dust is halfway between the size of the earth and an atom.


Goedel’s Incompleteness Theorem is up there for me.

You can prove using only arithmetic that there are true statements about arithmetic that you cannot prove using arithmetic.

The proof involves encoding statements about numbers into numbers and then breaking the fourth wall to let one side of an equation represent facts and the other represent numbers. Reading the proof fucks your head so much more than just reading the theorem.


you can fit all of the planets in our solar system between us and the moon


So Lake Waushakum (a lake I live on) lost about 3.5 feet of water from the start of may to the end of August last year. It’s a 90 acre lake so that’s about 103 million gallons. That’s about 860 million lbs of water or about 430000 tons of water. That’s about 3500 tons of water a day. 146 tons of water per hour. 82 pounds of water leaves my lake every second (almost entirely by evaporation) in the summer. It’s a really small lake, most people call it a pond.

Edit: last year, not this year.

Edit 2: I understand there is a lot more going on than just evaporation and I’m not about to do a differential equation to factor in ground slope for my silly thought experiment. My number is obviously significantly off from the actual amount but I’ve had it confirmed that I’m on the right order of magnitude from a NASA friend of mine that studies this sort of thing. My point is that it’s a lot of fucking water.

82 (37.2kg) pounds is like 5.8 stone for everyone complaining about my freedom units.


The fact that my heart beats, my food digests, my muscle cells and neurons fire, my body knows where to replace an eye cell or toenail cell in the right place- all of this and plenty more happens while I sit on my ass and surf Reddit without a thought about all that’s going on inside.


There are more trees on earth than stars in the milky way. About 10 times more really.


More of a stats fact, and to be honest it still wrinkles my brain when I think about it too hard, but The Monty Hall Problem, which is loosely based off an old game show

Basically, there are 3 mystery doors. You pick one. The host opens one of the two doors you didn’t pick. You then have the option to change to the other unopened door. You apparently have a higher probability of winning the prize if you change your pick than if you keep with your original choice.

The link does a better job explaining it than I can. Numbers-wise I get it. Common sense-wise, it gives me a headache


If you had an image 2000 X 2000 pixels (range 0 to 256 3) and randomised the pixels at some point you’d see pictures of yourself, your children, works of art, the cure for cancer and everything else that could be imagined or exists or will exist.

More info here


Everybody here is so scientific, but I was thinking

Wombats have cubed poop


Petr Knava
lives in London and plays music

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Petr is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.