Things I Figured Out - Number 3

At the risk of sounding like an idiot, I've decided to post some little things I figured out over the years. These little discoveries stand out in my mind because I wasn't ever taught them, I just figured them out. 

Some I figured out as a child. Others took longer. Part 1 | Menu of Stuff I Figured Out


Trees grow on the outside.

Trees are solid wood, but they are growing. They grow larger by adding new cells, a new layer all over around the outside. The inside doesn't grow larger like the inside of an animal, it just gets covered by additional layers of new tree.


Sometimes people pre-judge others by how they look.

Ha ha! Of course they do! But what I finally figured out was that I occasionally associate certain attributes to someone I've never met simply because there is someone in my past who looks something like them.

For example if you look like that gal who always asked for cream in a seperate cup, I might subconciously prejudge you to be a pain in the ass, or if you had a mustache like the guy who always overtipped, I might prejudge you to be awesome. When you meet someone who instantly takes a disliking to you, it might just be that you resemble a jerk from their past.


Veteran actors can be valuable because the audience will give him all them attributes of his previous roles.

I had always heard the term "typecast" as being a bad thing for an actor or actress, but its not bad at all. Having a pool of characters that you already know and love can save a lot of time for a director of a new movie. If you've seen their previous movies, you don't have to be introduced to Michael Cera's character. You already know his character is going to be sheepish and awkward.


Oftentimes people get mad because they themselves are doing something wrong.

Line cutters. Ticket scalpers. Jaywalkers, people returning their video camera after their birthday party. They know what they are doing is frowned upon. Maybe they aren't hurting anyone, just breaking a social norm. Nine times out of ten, their actions are unquestioned, but they are poised for confrontation. If you are the one that does question them, be prepared for a tempest, because they are brewing one.


Fat people get hot. Thin people get cold.

I don't understand this completely. I used to think that because someone with a lot of fat has a lot of insulation and holds onto body heat, but they also tend to have more surface area, and the majority of their nerve endings aren't burning up deep inside their bodies but sitting on the surface. Nevertheless, if you are having an air-conditioner war with one of your co-workers.. ah, who am I kidding? You could both probably stand to lose a few pounds.


A disabled helicopter can still land.

I used to think that the tiniest malfuntion in a helicopter engine would mean certain death. Recently I've had a chance to learn from a heli pilot and he let me know that helicopters can indeed coast down to the ground if they run out of fuel or the engine dies. The falling helicopter is slowed because the rushing air is harnessed to spin the blades around backwards. It works just like maple trees with their helicopter seed pods. They fall pretty slowly. It is no picnic, but my pilot friend described it as "much safer than crash-landing a fixed-wing aircraft".

Bananas grow up

Bananas grow in bunches, pointing up towards the sky, not hanging down like grapes.



Some products sell well, some products work well.

Some products are succesful because they sell well, either because they are well marketed or because they claim to solve an big problem easily (Liquid Plumr, Prilosec, Hollywood juice diet). Some products are successful because they work well, such as Sonicare Toothbrushes or Tivo.

A tank full of gasoline isn't as hazardous as a mostly-empty tank of gasoline.

Gasoline, and pretty much every other liquid fuel won't burn unless there is oxygen around. I used to just think of the "fumes" as being dangerous, but fumes are just another way of describing where the gasoline is mixed up with enough air to ignite.

Related: lighting the spray from a can of hairspray is dangerous, but the flames can't jump into the can. There isn't enough oxygen in the can to burn. It may as well be filled with water.

A 12-volt car battery won't shock you.

You can't shock yourself with a regular AA battery (1.5 volts) or a D battery (1.5 volts). You can't shock yourself with a 9 volt battery or a 12 volt car battery or an 18 or 24 volt tool battery.

You can get a shock from a 9 or 12 volt battery if you touch both terminals with your tongue.

You COULD get a 12-volt car battery to make a big spark if you put a wrench between the two terminals, and you could get that spark to burn your skin. But you won't shock yourself if you just grab the two battery posts.

Caution: Do not put a wrench or anything metal between the two terminals.

A taser uses about 1200 volts and a heart defibrillator uses about 800 volts.

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August 5th, 2010  Terms and Conditions  Copyright 2010