Telescopes have done more to transform man’s understanding of space than most other inventions. This is what makes them so interesting. It is also the reason why some of these amazing facts about telescopes are going to fascinate so many people:
People always credit Galileo with the invention of the telescope but actually, that isn’t true. That honour goes to Hans Lippershey. He invented the telescope in 1608.
Speaking of Galileo, he was the first person to use the telescope for astronomy. It was his innovative work that led to the discovery of Jupiter’s satellites. His eventual blindness is attributed to the fact that he used the telescope to look directly at the sun.
For a time, the biggest telescope was the Leviathan (Parsontown). It weighed 40 tons and it came into existence in 1845, built by the Earl of Rosse. But it had to be decommissioned due to poor weather.
The most famous telescope at the moment is the Hubble telescope. It was officially launched in 1990, seven years later than planned. There were delays. The light-collecting mirror wasn’t polished to the right accuracy. This issue was only fully corrected in 1993.
The first telescopes were used by merchants to see approaching trade ships. This supposedly gave them some sort of advantage that they could use to beat the competition.
Ever since its launch in the 1990s, scientists from other countries have been working night and day to produce a superior telescope to Hubble. A European-led team believes that they can deliver a telescope whose images are 15 times sharper by 2024.
NASA, which is responsible for Hubble, has no intention of losing the telescope race. Their goal is to put a radio telescope on the moon by 2030, beating anything Europe could ever hope to achieve.
Work is being done in South Africa and Australia to deliver a radio telescope that will produce an exabyte of raw data every single day. if the telescope works as promised, the data it generates will exceed global internet traffic.
China already has a robotic telescope on the moon. It has been there since 2013 and it is expected to remain in operation for three decades, gathering vital data.
The telescopes of today are operated remotely using computers and the internet.
Scientists can use the telescopes of the 21st Century to see 13 billion light-years away. This is the equivalent of looking back at the beginning of the universe.
The ‘Large Binocular Telescope’ is situated on Mt. Graham in Arizona. Not only is it one of the largest telescopes in the world but, as per the name, it looks like a giant pair of binoculars.
The Hubble Telescope has photographed every planet in our solar system except for Earth, which is too close to the telescope, and Mercury, which is too close to the sun.
The Hubble telescope, which is in Earth’s orbit, is controlled by NASA personnel using radio signals. It was designed to perceive infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light. The sun and new stars emit ultraviolet light, so Hubble can observe them.
The most famous pictures to come from Hubble are the so-called Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula.
The biggest radio telescope in the world has a dish that spans 1,000 feet across. It is situated in the jungles of Arecibo in Puerto Rico.
The Catholic Church has two telescopes: one in the Vatican Observatory and the other at the Mount Graham International Observatory.
The Hubble Telescope is the size of a school bus, but it weighs 11 tons.
There was a time when spinach was the most despised food item on the market. But perceptions have changed. People have grown to appreciate its nutritional value, with some of the more interesting facts surrounding Spinach including:
The Spinach plant originates in Persia. It came to China in the 7th Century, Europe in the 12th Century, and the United States in the 1800s. The food item has been with us for many centuries
If you have ever wondered why some Chinese people call Spinach ‘Persian Green’, they are merely honouring its origins.
The King of France was married to a woman called Catherine de Medici in the 16th Century. A native of Florence, she was obsessed with Spinach. This matters because, today, food recipes that use Spinach in a significant role have the term ‘Florentine’ in their name.
The Popeye cartoon from the 1930s changed the perception of Spinach in the USA, boosting consumption by an estimated 33 percent.
The reason Spinach consumption was low in the first place was because of a cartoon the New Yorker published in 1928 that showed a child displaying utter contempt for Spinach.
The word ‘Spinach’ comes from ‘ispanai’, which eventually became ‘Spanachia’ in Spanish and, in turn, became ‘Spinach’. ‘Ispanai’ means ‘Green Hand’.
To enjoy the nutritional benefits of Spinach, you must eat it fresh. Otherwise, it tends to lose its properties with each day that passes.
You can refrigerate Spinach to preserve it but it is still going to lose half of its nutrients by the end of the week. Spinach must be frozen if you are to keep it fresh.
Half a cup of Spinach (cooked) will give your body 10 percent of all the iron you need to consume each day. Iron is good for the body. It increases your energy levels, improving endurance in the long run.
Spinach is also a source of Vitamins B, A, C, E, and K, not to mention calcium, and magnesium. It has been credited with the regulation of blood pressure, management of diabetes, and improvement of eyesight, to mention but a few.
In the First World War, haemorrhaging French soldiers were served Wine blended with Spinach juice. They wanted the Vitamin K in Spinach to make the blood of these soldiers thicker.
Spinach isn’t all good. It has large amounts of Vitamin K1, which can cause blood clotting. Additionally, Spinach has oxalates. If your body can’t tolerate them, they can cause kidney stones.
To escape the threat of oxalates, you are encouraged to boil Spinach. This will eliminate the oxalic acid.
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as National Spinach Day. It falls on the 26th of March.
China produces over two dozen tons of Spinach every single year. They account for 92 percent of all the Spinach produced in the entire world.
While eating Spinach is healthy, it is even healthier to drink it. Turning the stuff into juice releases beta-carotene, which improves the efficiency with which your body absorbs the food item’s nutrients.
To grow Spinach, you need to provide cool and moist conditions. Spinach also thrives in sandy soil.
The United States produces more Spinach than every other country except China. But its production only accounts for 3 percent of the total global production.
Most people think they understand sheep. But these creatures are far more nuanced than you realise. Here are 17 interesting facts that prove as much:
A sheep’s wool never stops growing. This is particularly true for domestic breeds of sheep. A sheep that hadn’t been sheared for years produced nearly a hundred pounds of fleece in 2015.
Sheep pupils are not like human pupils. First of all, they are rectangular in shape. Secondly, they have 320-degree vision―that is vastly superior to the 155 degrees that human eyes offer. The pupils of a sheep are critical to their survival because they are the prey of so many creatures.
Sheep are better grazers than most other herbivores. You can blame this on the philtrum, a groove separating the upper lip which lets the animals get very close to the ground when grazing.
Female sheep are called ewes. They always form a strong bond with their young ones. They can easily recognise the bleating of a lamb that got lost because it wandered too far.
Wild sheep are larger than their domesticated counterparts, the largest being 1.2 meters tall. Because they have to fend for themselves against predators, their horns are also longer.
Personality and Intelligence
Sheep are very friendly. If you have ever encountered one, you know that, like dogs, they wag their tails. What you might not realise is the fact that they can form very strong bonds with other animals, not just fellow sheep but people and even goats.
Sheep have good memories, hence their friendly nature. They can remember 50 different sheep. The same goes for humans, and that is the minimum number. They retain this memory for years. Science has determined that the process sheep use to remember isn’t that different from what has been seen in humans.
When sheep fall sick, they treat themselves. They know the plants that they need to eat to cure their ailments.
All this proves one thing: sheep are not stupid. That is the prevailing theory but it is false. Sheep are no different from cows in this arena. Science has proven that they can solve complex problems when challenged to do so.
If you’ve ever seen sheep, you probably noticed that they are always together This trait is present in most sheep. As gregarious creatures, they prefer to operate in groups.
There are over a billion sheep in the world and nearly a thousand species.
History and Culture
Sheep meat is consumed by people in most countries around the world. The same goes for sheep milk. The Mongolians are interesting because they add sheep eyes to tomato juice to create hangover cures.
The Egyptians did not necessarily worship sheep. But they considered them to be sacred creatures, which is why individual sheep were mummified like their human counterparts upon death.
The ancient Sumerians, on the other hand, deified sheep.
The Ancient Greeks would use the bones of sheep to make dice.
The sheep industry has existed for at least ten thousand years ago.
The rumors are almost true. A sheep on its back can’t right itself, not without help. But this only applies to pregnant sheep or sheep with too much wool.
Queen is one of the biggest bands in the history of rock music. It left an indelible mark on the world. If you have even the slightest interest in the music they made, not to mention its enduring legacy, these facts will fascinate you, especially if you’re not as knowledgeable about the band as you would like to be:
Queen as a band was officially formed in 1970.
Before joining Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor were part of another band called ‘Smile’. Their lead singer was Tim Staffel, the man responsible for introducing his bandmates to Freddie Mercury. Staffel was never a member of Queen. But he played a critical role in the band’s formation. It was after he left and after he made all the necessary introduction that ‘Queen’ came into existence.
The name change was Freddy’s idea. Precluding the gay connotations, Freddy believed that ‘Queen’ was a strong and regal name.
Freddy’s birth name was Farrokh Bulsara. He adopted ‘Freddie’ during his stint at St. Peter’s School near Bombay. His passport said ‘Frederick Mercury’.
Besides choosing the name, the lead singer is also responsible for the band’s crest which features astrological signs (Leo, Cancer, Virgo).
Queen initially experimented with a ruff rock sound. But they realised that they needed to be more attractive to the radio. So they changed their sound.
The music Queen eventually produced was inspired by the likes of Pink Floyd, the Beatles, and Led Zeppelin.
In 2002, a Guinness World Records survey determined that ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was the UK’s favourite song of all time.
We Are the Champions and We Will Rock You are still some of the most popular songs in sporting history. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call them sports anthems that are recognised the world over.
Freddie Mercury had one of the most iconic voices in music history. But he was never as confident in his piano skills, which is why he always felt some trepidation whenever the band performed ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
Thank God it’s Christmas, which Roger Taylor and Brian May wrote, is a highly popular track that, upon its release in 1984, spent six weeks on the Singles Chart in the UK. However, not only did the track not appear on any Queen album but they never shot a video for it. That doesn’t include its appearance on a ‘Greatest Hits’ EP in 2011.
Queen has the longest-running fan club in rock history. The group was created in 1973 and its longevity is recognised by the Guinness World Book of Records.
The band is responsible for the soundtrack of the ‘Flash Gordon’ movie from 1980.
Brian May’s guitar is two hundred years old. He made it with the help of his father. The mantelpiece from which the guitar was built is two centuries old.
Queen had no intention of releasing Another One Bites the Dust as a single. But then, Michael Jackson convinced them to do just that after a Los Angeles Concert.
Surrounded by Asia, Australia and the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean is the smallest of the three major oceans, stretching between the tips of Africa and Australia and is 28,350,000 square miles in size.
It’s average depth is 3,960 metres, with its deepest point, the Java Trench near the Sunda Islands, off the coast of Indonesia at 7,500 metres.
This accounts for approximately 20% of the total water that’s on the surface of Earth.
…And is home to some of the worlds busiest ports, including Jakarta (Indonesia), Columbo (Sri Lanka), Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai (India), Melbourne (Australia), Durban (South Africa).
The average temperature of the Indian Ocean is a balmy 71 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) – making it the warmest ocean in the world.
The Indian Ocean is popular for scuba diving. With crystal clear warm water, it’s home to a wide range of colourful corals and many species of fish, shark, rays, turtles, dolphins and more to explore – its little wonder!
Did you know that the Indian Ocean connects to the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal? Accessible via the Red Sea, the canal was built between 1859 and 1869 and saves a whopping 9,654km circumnavigation of Africa for all ships passing through it!
Many rivers drain in to the Indian Ocean – the largest include the Zambezi, the Ganges, the Gascoyne and the Murray River.
St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, but he was actually born in Britain around 385AD, his parents were roman citizens living in Scotland.
When he was fourteen he was captured and taken to Ireland where he spent six years in slavery. He returned to Ireland in his 30s as a missionary among the Celtic pagans.
Legend has it that he used the native shamrock as a symbol of the holy Trinity when preaching and brought the Latin alphabet to Ireland.
Miracles attributed to him include the driving of serpents out of Ireland. However, evidence suggests post-glacial Ireland never had any snakes in the first place.
Wearing green, eating green food and even drinking green beer, is said to commemorate St Patrick’s use of the shamrock – although Blue was the original colour of his vestments.
St Patrick was said to have proclaimed that everyone should have a drop of the “hard stuff” on his feast day after chastising an innkeeper who served a short measure of whisky. In the custom known as “drowning the shamrock”, the shamrock that has been worn on a lapel or hat is made available for the last drink of the evening.
St Patrick’s day has been celebrated in America since 1737. Around 34 million modern Americans claim Irish ancestry (2015).
It is thought that St Patricks died on March 17 in 461AD. It is now a national holiday in Ireland, is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and a provincial holiday in the Canadian province of Newfoundland.
Dublin’s St. Patricks Day parade attracts hundreds and thousands of people, while in Chicago the river is dyed green for a few hours. The biggest parade is normally held in New York, while the largest celebration in the southern hemisphere is in Sydney, Australia.
If you do end up finding a pot of 1,000 gold pieces at the end of rainbow, it is estimated the total would be worth around US$1,000,000. Not bad!
Indiana Jones, dinosaurs and rally driving – 18 Magnificent and Fun Facts About Mongolia
Located in east-central Asia, Mongolia is sandwiched between Russia to the North and China to the south, east and west; it is the second largest landlocked country in the world – out of a total of 41.
It has a total area of 604,250 square miles (1,565,000 square kilometres) – twice the size of Eastern Europe.
In 2017 the population was said to be 3.076 million; apparently 30% are under fourteen years of age.
That works out to be a mere 4 people per square mile – making Mongolia the least densely populated country on Earth.
Mongolia stands approximately 5,800 feet above sea level.
The largest city in Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar (also known as Ulan Bator), is the capital and home to approximately 45% of the population; it’s also the coldest capital in the world.
Bogd Khan National Park is the oldest National Park in the world; it lies just South of Ulaanbaatar and dates back to 1778!
Once a sea and now consequently filled with marine fossils, the Gobi Desert in Mongolia is the largest desert in Asia and the fifth largest in the world.
What’s more, the first discovery of dinosaur eggs were made in the Gobi by a man called Roy Chapman Andrews; it’s said that his adventures inspired the creation of Indiana Jones!
Mongolia boasts an array of natural resources including oil, molybdenum, gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, nickel, zine, tungsten, phosphates, wolfram and fluorspar.
Barley, wheat, vegetables, forage crops, horses, sheep, goats, cattle and camels contribute to Mongolia’s agricultural industry.
Surprisingly, the air is so polluted that official figures show that one in ten deaths are caused by pollution; it’s actually believed that breathing the Mongolian air for just a day is the equivalent of smoking four packs of cigarettes!
Mongol Khuumii or ‘throat singing’ is a popular tradition in Mongolia; you can find covers of modern hits sung using throat singing on YouTube.
The Mongol Rally sees participants drive 10 thousand miles over mountains and deserts across Europe (starting in London) and Asia to be rewarded with a chilled beer at a pub in Ulaanbaatar at the end of the rally.
Mongolians like the occasional tipple, especially their local alcoholic drink known as airag, which is fermented mare’s milk. Mmm, delicious.
The Great Wall of China runs through Mongolia.
The three most popular sports here are horse racing, archery, and Mongolian wrestling – sounds ideal!
The international dialling code for Mongolia is +976.
Bordered partly by the Mediterranean and Red Sea, Egypt sits between the Gaza Strip, Israel, Libya and Sudan.
The population was 97.55 million in 2017.
Arabic is the official language, although English and French are understood by many Egyptians.
Cairo is the capital of Egypt.
Egypt’s currency is the ‘Egyptian pound’.
The Sahara and Libyan Desert make up a large part of this country.
Triangular in shape, the Sinai Peninsula has an area of 23,500 square miles (61,000 square kilometres) and spans across two continents, Africa and Asia.
Standing at 2,629 metres (8625 feet), Mount Catherine is the highest mountain in Egypt.
The longest river in the world runs through Egypt, the River Nile; it’s 4,258 miles (6,853 kilometres) long!
Egypt experiences natural dangers such as droughts, dust and sand storms, flash floods, earthquakes, landslides and windstorms (known as ‘khamsin’).
The pyramids were built to have smooth, angled sides, symbolising the rays of the sun; their distinct design was a way to help the king’s soul ascend to heaven and join the gods, particularly the sun god Ra.
Located in an ancient burial ground called Saqqara, the Step Pyramid is the oldest known pyramid in Egypt and was built around 2630 BC.
The Great Pyramid (one of three collectively called the Great Pyramids of Giza), built in 2584 BC and located just outside of modern-day Cairo on the west bank of the River Nile, is the largest pyramid in the world and stands at 147 metres (481.4 feet).
For twenty years, one hundred thousand people worked on the Great Pyramid’s structure for three months of each year during the Nile’s annual flood when it was impossible to farm the land and most of the population was unemployed.
The prominent Egyptian pharaoh, Tutankhamun, was only eight or nine when he became ruler of his country; it had been estimated that he ruled from 1333 BC to 1324 BC.
The population here in 2017 was 32.94 million people.
The capital and largest city in 2011 was Riyadh, with a population of 5.451 million.
Other large cities include Jeddah, with a population of 3.578 million and Makkah (Mecca), with 1.591 million inhabitants.
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is almost entirely the creation of King Ibn Saud (1882–1953). He united the four regions into a single state through a series of conquests beginning in 1902 with the capture of Riyadh, the ancestral home of his family, the House of Saud.
On 23rd September, 1932, King Abdulaziz announced Saudi Arabia as a kingdom and every anniversary of this date is a national day; in 2020, the country will celebrate its 90th Saudi National Day.
The currency here is called the Saudi Riyal.
The Rub Al-Khali, in the southern part of the country, is the largest sand desert in the world.
There are mountain ranges of over 9,000 feet in the southwest region.
From June through to August, the temperature can reach over 33 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit) in the desert! Hot stuff!
There is no flowing water in this country, but there is a manmade lake in the north-western part of the country called Dumat Al-Jandal; although you can’t drink the water as it’s too polluted, you can take a dip and participate in water sports and it’s beneficial for wildlife, plants and agricultural land.
Most of the fresh water here comes from desalinization plants or underground reservoirs.
Saudi Arabia’s 12 months of the Islamic lunar year are: Muharram, Safar, Rabi’ Al-Awal, Rabi’ Al-Akher, Jumada Al-Awal, Jumada Al-Akher, Rajab, Sha’ban, Ramadan, Shawwal, Dhu Al-Qadah and Dhu Al-Hajjah .
Upon its discovery during WW2 in 1936, the commercial production of oil began and the wealth it generated enabled the country to provide free health care and education to its people, without collecting any taxes from them either – brilliant!
The country dialling code for Saudi Arabia is +966.
Algeria is the gateway between Europe and Africa – it’s located in northwest Africa, on the Mediterranean coast and also shares borders with Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya, and Tunisia.
Algeria is the largest country in Africa.
In 2017 the population was 41.32 million.
Algeria has a total area of 919,595 square miles (2,381,740 square kilometres)…
…the Sahara desert covers more than four-fifths of this.
Because of this, more than 90 percent of the population live on the coast, which equates to a mere 12 percent of the country’s land!
Surprisingly, sand covers less than a fifth of the vast Sahara! The rest of the desert landscape is an unforgiving world of stark mountains, gravel plains and dry salt lakes.
Algiers is Algeria’s capital city with a population of 3.416 million (2011).
Whilst Algiers and Oran are home to lots of big shops like we see on our high streets, the majority of towns in Algeria have a poorly developed retail sector and you’ll only see small family-owned shops, farmer’s markets, and temporary roadside stands.
The currency here is called the Algerian Dinar.
It’s estimated that 35 percent of the population are below the age of 14 and just 4 percent are older than 65.
Although, the life expectancy in Algeria is a healthy 76.08 years (2016).
Despite bordering the Mediterranean Sea, fishing is not Algeria’s main industry, it is actually oil and gas that are this country’s main export.
Agriculturally, Algeria produces wheat, barley, oats, grapes and sheep.
The French ruled Algeria from 1830-1962 – a long 132 year rule.
For generations, French vintners transformed Algeria’s best land into grape cultivation and in doing so made their colony the world’s major wine exporter! Sounds perfect.
The international dialling code for Algeria is +213.