Powering Up: 40 Fascinating Facts About Energy

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1Blimps vs 747

Blimps vs 747

A blimp flying an entire week consumes the same amount of fuel as a 747 commercial jet uses to move away from the gate.

2. Some sap-sucking sea slugs incorporate living chloroplasts from the algae they eat into their own bodies, allowing the slugs to temporarily live off of solar energy through photosynthesis. For this reason, they are also known as “solar-powered sea slugs.”

3. The ghost plants unlike most plants are white and do not contain chlorophyll. Instead of generating energy from sunlight, it is parasitic. It hosts certain fungi that are mycorrhizal with trees, meaning it ultimately gets its energy from photosynthetic trees.

4. In 2017, after 1250 gallons of mayonnaise went bad at Michigan State University last year, the school’s Sustainability Officer used an anaerobic digester to turn it into energy and power part of the campus. In the anaerobic digester, microorganisms eat biodegradable waste and produce biogas, which can then be combusted into heat and electricity.

5. The Atmos clock is a mechanical torsion pendulum clock which gets the energy it needs to run from temperature and air pressure changes in the environment and can run for many years without human intervention. A temperature variation of only 1 degree is sufficient for two days of operation.

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6Lazy Dog

Lazy Dog

The “Lazy Dog” bomb, developed during World War 2, was a 2 inch steel kinetic projectile that was dropped by the thousands at 3,000 feet and could penetrate up to 9 inches of solid concrete with no explosive.

7. Evidence to support the view that some obese people eat little yet gain weight due to a slow metabolism is limited. On average, obese people have a greater energy expenditure than their healthy-weight counterparts due to the energy required to maintain an increased body mass.

8. Infants lack the ability to shiver, so they rely on fat tissue called brown fat, which is capable of converting chemical energy into heat.

9. The ash from coal power plants contains uranium and thorium and carries 100 times more radiation into the surrounding environment than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy.

10. Asphalt pavements are America’s most recycled product. Reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) can be recycled into the pavement that is as high, or even higher, in quality as pavements made of all-virgin materials. The same material can be recycled again and again. It never loses its value.

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11First Solar Plant

First Solar Plant

In 1913, the first practical thermal solar ‘power plant’ was built in Egypt, it generated power using polished steel to focus the sunlight. Unfortunately, World War 1 broke out and the power plant was abandoned due to conflict in the area and oil became a much more attractive energy source.

12. It takes 95% less energy to recycle a ton of aluminum cans than to produce the new. One ton of recycled aluminum is equivalent to saving 40 barrels of oil.

13. In 2009, scientists in Iceland unexpectedly drilled into a magma chamber 2.1 km below ground, creating the world’s first magma enhanced geothermal energy source capable of powering 80,000 homes.

14. The Oh-My-God Particle was a proton traveling at about 99.99999999999999999999951% the speed of light. It is the fastest moving object ever recorded and as it hit the atmosphere it carried the kinetic energy equivalent to a baseball traveling at 50MPH, all in one particle.

15. The amount of matter converted to energy in the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was about 700 milligrams, less than one-third the mass of a U.S. dime.

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Photosynthesis is most likely so efficient because plants evolved to use quantum mechanics, like superposition, to aid inefficient energy transfer. These are the same concepts we are struggling to utilize to make better computers today.

17. 2,4-dinitrophenol, a widely used chemical in industries, is also a powerful weight loss agent with severe side effects. In some people, it can burn food energy so fast that their body isn't able to expel the heat quickly enough, thus causing them to die by literally burning from the inside out.

18. A thermos flask creates a highly efficient thermal insulation by creating a partial vacuum between 2 barriers. Since there’s virtually no air/gas/matter, there's nothing to carry energy away (bar the canister itself). This is how rocket fuel is stored, in a giant Thermos.

19. Radiotrophic fungi were discovered in 1991 growing inside and around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in an environment in which the radiation level was 500 times higher than in the normal environment. The fungi convert gamma radiation into chemical energy for growth.

20. All of the tin produced in the US is recycled. The United States has neither mined tin since 1993 nor smelted tin since 1989, but it was the largest secondary producer, recycling nearly 14,000 tons in 2006.

21SR-71's Energy Secret

SR-71's Energy Secret

80% of the SR-71 Blackbird’s thrust at Mach 3.2 was generated from its ability to harness energy from the shock waves it created, thanks to special retractable spikes in front of its inlets. Its engines generated the other 20% of thrust.

22. The bioluminescent chemical reaction created by fireflies is nearly 100% efficient and subsequently, no heat is generated. Conversely, some light bulbs lose 90% of their energy as heat.

23. Without enzymes, it would take about 1 million years for our body to extract energy from ATP. ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) is essentially the most common form of "energy currency" in almost any living cell. When they say the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, that’s because it makes about 36 molecules of ATP for every one glucose molecule it processes.

24. Switzerland has no landfills. 50% of the municipal waste is recycled and the other 50% is incinerated to produce electricity.

25. The Pentagon has rocket balls a.k.a. kinetic fireball incendiaries made of rubberized rocket fuel. When ignited, they propel themselves randomly at high speed, bouncing off walls, smashing through doors, turning an entire building into an inferno.

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