Plants have been busily harnessing sunlight to make sugar for hundreds of millions of years – a process called photosynthesis. But fairly recently, some plants have found a better way to do it. C4 photosynthesis is far more efficient than normal photosynthesis, allowing C4 plants to cope with harsh conditions. Today scientists are trying to engineer rice to use C4 photosynthesis, to help feed the growing population.
All life needs energy to survive, and the biggest source of energy for life on Earth is the Sun. Some of the early micro-organisms evolved a way to use the energy from sunlight to make sugars out of simpler molecules. This process is called photosynthesis. But unlike green plants today, the first photosynthesising organisms did not release oxygen as a waste product, so there was no oxygen in the air.
Earth grew from a cloud of dust and rocks surrounding the young Sun. Earth formed when some of these rocks collided. Eventually they were massive enough to attract other rocks with the force of gravity, and vacuumed up all the nearby junk, becoming the Earth. The Moon probably formed soon after, when a planet-sized chunk of rock smashed into the Earth and threw up a huge cloud of debris. This condensed into the Moon.
Baby planet; that is to say, a solid object (larger than approximately 1 km in the solar nebula – the birthplace of a star) arising during the accumulation of planets whose internal strength is dominated by self-gravity and whose orbital dynamics is not significantly affected by gas drag.
Humans are the nearly-hairless apes. No one knows why, but it happened 3-4 million years ago. That’s when pubic lice evolved, which could only infest us once our other body hair was gone. Exposed to the Sun, our skin darkened. From then on all our ancestors were black, until some humans left the tropics.
In the Aztec language, the words for sun and eagle are the same – so are the words for moon and rabbit.
In 2011, ASAPS (American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) surgeons performed 316,848 breast-augmentation procedures.
If you drilled a tunnel straight through the Earth and jumped in, it would take you exactly 42 minutes and 12 seconds to get to the other side.
In Cambodia, male prostitutes outnumber female prostitutes by a ratio of three to one.
Iran is one of the few countries in the world where a couple can have a “temporary marriage” in order to facilitate sex within wedlock – essentially prostitution. These so-called marriages can be valid for as short as an hour.