Powering Up: 40 Fascinating Facts About Energy

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26Life 7km Deep

Life 7km Deep

There are microscopic living things in solid rock up to 7 km deep, called Endoliths. So little energy is available that they undergo cell division once every 100 years, and some may only divide once every 10,000 years.

27. Glass has been recycled for almost 3,000 years. It never wears out as a raw material. Just one recycled clear glass bottle saves enough energy from the manufacturing process to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours.

28. On Dec 27, 2004, for a brief instant, for a couple of tenths of a second, an invisible burst of energy the equivalent of half a million years of sunlight shone on Earth from 50,000 light-years away. This was caused by starquake.

29. The Orgone Accumulator was a device that was sold in the 1950s to allow a person sitting inside to attract orgone, a massless ‘healing energy.’ FDA noted that one purchaser, a college professor, knew it was “phony” but found it “helpful because his wife sat quietly in it for four hours every day.”

30. The Universe may exist in a false vacuum. If it dropped to a lower energy state in a vacuum metastability event, a true vacuum bubble could form in our Universe, endlessly expanding at light speed and annihilating everything in its volume. Thus, all we know may cease to exist in an instant.

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31VY Canis Majoris

VY Canis Majoris

When the dying star VY Canis Majoris collapses, it will produce 100 times more energy in one single second than our sun will produce over its entire 10 billion year lifetime.

32. After accounting for calories burned when pedaling, a person riding a bicycle has an equivalent energy use of 732 mpg. For comparison, electric cars only have around 100 mpg equivalent.

33. Britain’s power stations have to learn television schedules to anticipate when there will be a huge power draw as everyone turns on their electric kettles during a break in a soap opera or sporting event.

34. Human intelligence increased dramatically once we started extracting more energy from food via cooking.

35. Camels can drink up to 40 gallons of water in one sitting and they do not in fact store water in their humps. They store fat, which is used for energy when traveling long distances without food and water.

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Two tablespoons of honey would be enough to fuel a bee's entire flight around the world.

37. Tachyons (hypothetical particles that travel faster than light) would experience time in reverse. They would have imaginary mass, as in the square root of -1. Adding kinetic energy would slow them down; an infinite amount of energy would be needed to slow them to the speed of light.

38. Positronium is a nearly massless element made out of a meta-stable mix of matter and antimatter with no protons or neutrons. It can even form chemical compounds such as Positronium Hydride. When it does collapse, it releases pure energy as a flash of gamma radiation, leaving nothing behind.

39. No wind turbine can capture more than 59.3% of the kinetic energy in wind, regardless of its design. The “Betz limit” was first derived over 100 years ago.

40. Lightning is a source of fixed nitrogen, and thus nitrate. Nitrogen in the atmosphere is highly stable and nonreactive due to the triple bond between atoms in the N2 molecule. Lightning produces enough energy and heat to break this bond allowing nitrogen atoms to react with oxygen, forming NOx. So when lightning strikes, it rips nitrogen bonds in the atmosphere and the rains carry them into the soil, fertilizing plants.

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