Category Archives: Science

What Science Revealed About Chupacabra?: PART 2 (Science)

PREVIOUSLY ON WHO IS CHUPACABRA, We saw chupacabra is a blood sucking creature .. There are many conspiracy theories on this creature like many people believe it’s a blood sucking vampire, but also many people who believe that origin of this creature can be traced back to government facility , ‘Arecibo observatory’.. They think that experiments done at Arecibo summoned the chupacabra.. But, what Science says about chupacabra, is chupacabra real? If yes, did we found him and if not, who is the real chupacabra killing those livestock? I know there are many questions in your mind and don’t worry after reading this article till end. You will get all your answers. So lets see,

Artist impression of chupacabra ©yavshoke

In 1974, scientists transmitted the Arecibo message beaming description of our planet, our DNA and location of our solar system deep into the cosmos in a hope that one day it will reach extraterrestrial life. A leading chupacabra creation myth theories that extraterrestrial replied to the Arecibo Message sending scientists genetic code to create alien hybrid. While this theory is outside of our world one thing is undeniable i.e. lifestock killings so what’s killing them??

Well, recently Dr. Olivares analyzed the dead bodies of livestock from bercelonta. He observed there are bite wounds on the neck area and by using X ray he revealed that there’s also damage inside, like the neck is broken and separated. By comparing the bite marks with dog skull ‘mandible maxilla’ he revealed that this can be done by the dog.. And the bite marks came from upper canine and lower canine.. He also said that due to overpopulation dogs in Puerto Rico don’t act like domesticated..

X ray image of victim hen with broken neck revealed by olivares © Olivares

Yeah friends, overpopulation causing them to behave in a very wild manner. If you are not aware of psychology, let me tell you its a process called “rewinding”. Successive generations of dogs born without a home or human contact reverting to a primal or more aggressive state. He said that dogs in this situation could kill animals for sport. And there’s more science behind it.

Several years ago, a Rancher in Ceuro Texas claimed she found the carcass of chupacabra, though DNA tests reveled that its also a dog of sorts coyote with mange and remember that popular theory that extraterrestrials sent scientists at Arecibo the genetic recipe to create hybrid. This story look familiar to 1995 movie “Species”. The alien in that movie look similar to chupacabra it turns there may be reason for that.

When Ben Radford from discovery interviewed Madeline, the first person who claimed to see chupacabra, he found that she saw that film weeks before her encounter. Although she stands by her terrifying sighting but it seems as though it may have been coloured by Science fiction. Ernesto also trapped one creature in one of his surveillance cameras which looks similar to chupacabra, but, that footage too doesn’t reveal that it was really a chupacabra. So, as per science the mystery of chupacabra is solved.

Reference: (1) The Chupacabra becomes a recurring legend, 6 May 1996, by Robert Friedman, Princeton university https://www.princeton.edu/~accion/chupa27.html (2) Josh gates, “Expedition Unknown”, 2019. Episode 7 season 8.

Copyright of this article totally belongs to uncover reality. One is allowed to use it only by giving proper credit to its author S. Aman or either to us.

Science Reveals Secrets Behind The Success Of Game of Thrones (Science)

Writing long novels is a pitfall for the unwary, as many an over-ambitious novelist has found to their cost. It’s very hard to maintain the reader’s interest even through 1000 pages of text, never mind keep this going over a series involving several books. Tolkien, of course, famously achieved it in the Lord of the Rings. And so has the American novelist and screenwriter, George R.R. Martin (once referred to as the American Tolkien) in A Song of Ice and Fire. As one of the most successful fantasy series of all time, it achieved iconic status when it was turned into the astonishingly successful TV series Game of Thrones. It has sold more than 90 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 47 languages.

Just consider the enormity of the task Martin set himself. In the five volumes published so far (we are still waiting for the promised sixth and concluding seventh), three separate main stories, with many subplots, are interwoven over the course of 343 chapters, more than 4000 pages and nearly two million words. There are more than 2000 characters who, between them, engage in over 41,000 interactions, with nearly 300 deaths – all crammed into the space of a mere handful of years of storytime. That’s more than enough to baffle and defeat even a Shakespeare – and Shakespeare was a master at tailoring his plays to suit the psychology of his audience.

The problem lies in the way the human mind has been designed by evolution to cope with the social world in which we typically live. That world is much smaller scale than most people realise. We can, for example, only hold four people in a conversation at the same time (and Shakespeare never breaks this rule onstage). Sixty percent of our social effort is devoted to just 15 core friends and family, and our entire personal social networks (the people we have meaningful relationships with) average just 150.

Yet, like Lord of the Rings, the Fire and Ice stories are gripping despite their size and have an enthusiastic international following. How did George Martin do it?

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, a team of physicists, mathematicians and psychologists from Coventry, Warwick, Limerick, Cambridge and Oxford Universities have used network science methods to unpack the secrets behind A Song of Ice and Fire.

It turns out that Martin has very carefully mapped the structure of his storyline to fit the psychology of his readers in two crucial respects. First, the team found remarkable similarities to real life in the way the interactions between the characters are arranged. So much so, in fact, that the sprawling narrative neatly fits into the type of societies for which evolution has designed the human mind. Second, although important characters are famously killed off seemingly at random as the story unfolds, the underlying chronology is not at all unpredictable. Instead, Martin uses the literary device of making each of the chapters an integrated story and then randomly intermingling the stories out of chronological sequence.

Despite the enormous cast of characters and the fact that new characters are added at a constant rate in each of the 343 chapters, the typical number of active characters in each chapter is just 35, about the same as Shakespeare has in each of his plays (and, incidentally, the size that optimises research productivity for English language and literature departments in UK universities). The average number of contacts that each character within a chapter has is stable at between 12-16, about the same number that we would have in our close social circle (our so-called sympathy group).

Each chapter revolves around a central character who provides the “point of view” for the chapter. By virtue of their function as point-of-view characters, of course, these individuals necessarily interact widely, but none of the point-of-view characters has a complete network across the volumes that is significantly above 150. This is the same number as the average human personal social network, known as the Dunbar Number.

In other words, Martin keeps his characters’ networks within the limits that his readers’ human minds were designed by evolution to cope with.

While matching mathematical motifs might, in the hands of a lesser writer, easily have resulted in a rather narrow script, Martin keeps the tale bubbling along by making deaths appear random as the story unfolds, thereby maintaining the suspense for the reader. But, as the team show, when the true chronological sequence of the chapters is reconstructed, the deaths are not random at all: rather, they reflect exactly how non-violent human activities in the real world are typically spaced in time.

Game of Thrones has invited all sorts of comparisons to history and myth. In this respect, the social structure of Game of Thrones is more akin to historical texts that describe real events, such as the Icelandic family sagas, and quite unlike fictional mythological stories like Beowulf or the Irish Táin Bó Cúailnge. Giving the story the characteristic of real life ensures that it stays within the cognitive limits of the reader, thereby making it easier for the reader to track the story without becoming confused. The trick in Game of Thrones, it seems, has been to mix realism and unpredictability in a psychologically engaging manner.

As part of the Coventry University-based Maths Meets Myths Project, the marriage of science and humanities in this paper opens exciting new avenues for comparative literary studies. The computational power of network science has not yet been applied to humanities projects of this kind. Nonetheless, as this project demonstrates it offers the prospect of probing behind the tsunami of detail to provide novel insights into the patterns that underlie stories. As such, it offers a potentially valuable addition to the literary scholar’s analytical toolkit.

Provided by University of Oxford

Next-Gen Smartphones To Keep Their Cool (Science And Technology)

he powerful electronics packed inside the latest smartphones can be a significant challenge to keep cool. KAUST researchers have developed a fast and efficient way to make a carbon material that could be ideally suited to dissipating heat in electronic devices. This versatile material could also have additional uses ranging from gas sensors to solar cells.

Costa1. Model for NGF growth with respect to the Ni surface topography. The variable number of graphene layers correlates with the orientation, size and boundaries of the Ni grains at the surface of the polycrystalline metal foil. © 2020 KAUST; Xavier Pita

Many electronic devices use graphite films to draw away and dissipate the heat generated by their electronic components. Although graphite is a naturally occurring form of carbon, heat management of electronics is a demanding application and usually relies on use of high-quality micrometer-thick manufactured graphite films. “However, the method used to make these graphite films, using polymer as a source material, is complex and very energy intensive,” says G. Deokar, a postdoc in Pedro Costa’s lab, who led the work. The films are made in a multistep process that requires temperatures of up to 3200 degrees Celsius and which cannot produce films any thinner than a few micrometers.

Deokar, Costa and their colleagues have developed a quick, energy-efficient way to make graphite sheets that are approximately 100 nanometers thick. The team grew nanometer-thick graphite films (NGF) on nickel foils using a technique called chemical vapor deposition (CVD) in which the nickel catalytically converts hot methane gas into graphite on its surface. “We achieved NGFs with a CVD growth step of just five minutes at a reaction temperature of 900 degrees Celsius,” Deokar says.

Costa2. Polymer-free wet chemical transfer process for NGFs grown on Ni foil.© 2020 KAUST; Xavier Pita

The NGFs, which could be grown in sheets of up to 55 square centimeters, grew on both sides of the foil. It could be extracted and transferred to other surfaces without the need of a polymer supporting layer, which is a common requirement when handling single-layer graphene films.

Working with electron microscopy specialist Alessandro Genovese, the team captured cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images of the NGF on nickel. “Observing the interface of the graphite films to the nickel foil was an unprecedented achievement that will shed additional light on the growth mechanisms of these films,” Costa says.

In terms of thickness, NGF sits between commercially available micrometer-thick graphite films and single-layer graphene. “NGFs complement graphene and industrial graphite sheets, adding to the toolbox of layered carbon films,” Costa says. Due to its flexibility, for example, NGF could lend itself to heat management in flexible phones now starting to appear on the market. “NGF integration would be cheaper and more robust than what could be obtained with a graphene film,” he adds.

However, NGFs could find many applications in addition to heat dissipation. One intriguing feature, highlighted in the TEM images, was that some sections of the NGF were just a few carbon sheets thick. “Remarkably, the presence of the few-layer graphene domains resulted in a reasonable degree of visible light transparency of the overall film,” Deokar says. The team proposed that conducting, semitransparent NGFs could be used as a component of solar cells, or as a sensor material for detecting NO2 gas. “We plan to integrate NGFs in devices where they would act as a multifunctional active material,” Costa says.

References: Geetanjali Deokar, Alessandro Genovese and Pedro M F J Costa, “Fast, wafer-scale growth of a nanometer-thick graphite film on Ni foil and its structural analysis”, IOPscience, Nanotechnology, Volume 31, Number 48, 2020. Link: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1361-6528/aba712

Provided by KAUST

OS Researchers Reported Compact, Low-Cost System Which Provides Fast 3D Hyperspectral Imaging (Science And Technology)

Researchers reported a new compact low-cost hyperspectral projector system that provides both depth information and hyperspectral images. The new system could be useful for autonomous driving systems, machine vision in industrial robotics, agricultural monitoring of crops, smartphone facial recognition and monitoring material surfaces for wear and corrosion.

Image shows the 3D reconstruction of a scene that contained a small red and green ramp alongside red and green candies of different sizes. Although the green color on the ramp and the green coating of the candy look quite the same to the human eye and a RGB camera, the system was able to clearly distinguish the two materials from the reconstructed spectra as well as measure the correct heights for all the objects. ©Yibo Xu, Rice University

“Our work enables fast 3D hyperspectral imaging in an efficient and low-cost manner,” said lead author Yibo Xu, who earned her Ph.D. from Rice University. “This could one day allow the sensors used for facial recognition on smartphones to be used as hyperspectral 3D scanners, which would improve color accuracy and increase the security of face classification.”

Hyperspectral imagers detect dozens to hundreds of colors, or wavelengths, instead of the three detected by normal cameras. Combining this with 3D imaging is useful for perceiving and understanding real-world scenes and objects. Previous hyperspectral 3D imaging systems have required a complicated, high-cost hardware design and came with a long acquisition and reconstruction time.

Researchers have developed a new compact low-cost hyperspectral projector system that provides both depth information and hyperspectral images using a monochrome camera as the sensor. They used the new system to analyze a scene that contained a small red and green ramp alongside red and green candies of different sizes. Although the green color on the ramp and the green coating of the candy look quite the same to the human eye and a RGB camera, the system was able to clearly distinguish the two materials from the reconstructed spectra as well as measure the correct heights for all the objects. ©Yibu Xu, Rice University

In The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Express, the researchers detail their new simple design for a hyperspectral stripe projector and demonstrate that it allows the use of a monochrome camera to simultaneously capture depth information and also distinguish colors that appear visually similar.

“The combination of 3D spatial and spectrally specific material information is quite powerful,” said research team member Kevin F. Kelly, Ph.D. “It can be used for analyzing cultural heritage objects and pieces of art, monitoring plants and agriculture for signs of nutrient deficiencies or disease, aiding industrial robot systems in sorting and assembly, and expanding current autonomous driving systems to better identify the roadway, other vehicles and potential hazards.”

Optimizing for speed and simplicity

Most hyperspectral 3D imaging systems measure the spectral content of a scene using a hyperspectral camera. In the new work, the researchers redesigned the hardware and developed new software to allow the use of a monochrome camera to capture 4D information (3D spatial and spectral information) from a scene at once.

A traditional digital projector uses a color wheel with just a handful of colors and is not suitable for encoding the spectral information. The researchers used a different approach that creates hyperspectral stripe patterns that can each be programmed to have an arbitrary spectrum. This allows simultaneous 3D spatial and spectral encoding while only requiring a monochrome camera to capture the images.

The projector creates stripes by using a diffraction grating to split white light from a lamp into its different color components. Each color can then be subdivided into finer wavelengths and focused onto an array of tiny, programmable mirrors called digital micromirror devices (DMD). The unique optical layout that guides light through the system makes it simple, efficient and compact. The researchers also developed new algorithms to reconstruct the collected images into a hyperspectral, 3D visualization of the scene.

“Other systems typically require two or more gratings and multiple DMDs or light modulators,” said Xu. “This not only makes them larger and more expensive but also means a brighter light source is needed. Our system achieves its compact form factor by requiring only a single DMD and a single diffraction grating.”

Capturing 3D color detail

The researchers used their new system to analyze a scene that contained a small red and green ramp alongside red and green candies of different sizes. Although the green color on the ramp and the green coating of the candy look quite the same to the human eye and an RGB camera, the system was able to clearly distinguish the two materials from the reconstructed spectra as well as measure the correct heights for all the objects.

“By having an easy way to perform controlled hyperspectral depth imaging, researchers will be able to more easily identify the chemical compounds that make up objects of interest,” said Kelly. “This could also be useful for a variety of applications from medical diagnostics to monitoring fresh produce for damage and contamination during sorting and delivery.”

The researchers are already working on the next-generation design, which will have a more refined optical system and improved reconstruction algorithms. They are also building variations that will operate beyond the visible into infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

References: Y. Xu, A. Giljum, K. F. Kelly, A Hyperspectral projector for simultaneous 3D spatial and hyperspectral imaging via structured illumination, Opt. Express, 28, 20, 29740-29755 (2020). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1364/OE.402812.

Provided by Optical Society

Why Fruits And Vegetables Spark In The Microwave? (Science)

You know you shouldn’t put metal in the microwave because it could spark. But metal is in more than just the fork you left in the pasta and the filigree of that old plate you used — it also makes up some of the minerals in the food you eat, like the iron in leafy greens and the magnesium in bell peppers. Of course, that’s far less metal than what’s in your silverware. Is it enough to actually cause a problem? The answer is yes — as anyone who’s tried making kale chips in the microwave can attest.

Not all metal sparks in the microwave. After all, the interior of your microwave is literally lined with metal, so if it caused a problem, you’d never be able to use the thing. Likewise, metal lines the wrappers of many microwave-safe frozen meals. (Hot Pockets, anyone?) You could even technically put an unopened soda can in the microwave and not see a single spark. (We don’t recommend it, but you can watch some daredevils do it on YouTube).

What draws the line between metal in the microwave sparking or not is a specific quirk of geometry. See, a microwave produces, well, microwaves: a certain wavelength of electromagnetic radiation that’s longer than visible light but shorter than radio waves. Microwave radiation creates an electric field within the protective Faraday cage of the microwave itself that does different things to different materials.

Water molecules, like the ones in a mug of tea or a bowl of pasta sauce, absorb microwaves, which cause the molecules to move around and create heat. But metal does something else. Because it’s a great conductor of electricity, it acts as a lightning rod, creating a stronger electric field than that of the air around it. That electrical charge wants somewhere to cool off, so it makes a beeline for another material with a lower electrical potential, like the plastic in your plate. That creates what’s known as arcing — sparks, basically, that occur when an electrical charge connects between two surfaces through the air. If no material is close by, no sparks form and the energy just goes back into the microwave itself. That can cause real damage, and it’s why you should never run an empty microwave.

This brings us to fruit and vegetables. All plants absorb minerals like iron, magnesium, and copper from the soil through their roots, dispersing them in various amounts throughout their stems, leaves, and fruit. If you put a particularly mineral-rich vegetable, like slices of bell pepper, in the microwave (without extra water, which helps to dampen the effect), the electrical charge is in the perfect place for arcing. That’s because not only are there many tiny metal particles ready boost their local electrical field, but there’s uneven geometry — in the pepper’s bumpy interior, in its awkward shape, and in the angles left by the knife — ready to carry that charge to a nearby surface. Boom, sparks fly. Same goes for greens like brussels sprouts and kale, which are rich in both iron and wrinkly surfaces. Sometimes, this effect can be so strong that a blazing ball of plasma can form, as in the grape video below.

As cool as this effect is, it’s not the safest thing in the world. It can cause fires and fry the delicate electronics in your microwave. If your veggies start to spark, don’t watch the fireworks show: Press “stop,” make sure nothing is in flames, and then find another way to cook your dinner.

The Real Life Inspiration For “Beauty And The Beast” Is Too Dark For The Disney (Science / History)

It may be a “tale as old as time,” but “Beauty and the Beast” isn’t “true as it can be.” Like many fairy tales, the Disney classic you’re familiar with is really a new, child-friendly version of a historically dark tale. But this story has even darker roots. For thousands of years, folktales from around the world have included descriptions of a bride with an animal groom. When French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve finally published the first written version of the story in 1740, it was based on a sad but true tale.

Joris Hoefnagel / Wikimedia commons

The real “Beast” from this tale was a man with a very rare condition. Petrus Gonsalvus was born in 1537 in the Canary Islands, and he was the first person in recorded history to suffer from hypertrichosis — also known as werewolf syndrome. The condition has appeared in both men and women, and researchers didn’t discover its causes until 2011 (basically, an extra set of genes in the X chromosome may switch on an existing hair-growth gene). There have been fewer than 100 documented cases in the world.

Gonsalvus was born in the wrong place at the wrong time. When he was just 10 years old, he was locked in a cage and shipped off to France as a gift for the coronation of King Henry II. Although he was locked in a dungeon for observation and initially treated like an actual beast, doctors eventually took a page out of Pinocchio’s book and concluded that he was a real boy. Here, the story takes a lighter turn, as King Henry decided to give Gonsalvus an education. The king didn’t really think it would work, as he thought Gonsalvus was too monstrous to be capable of learning. But that didn’t stop the boy from becoming fluent in a few languages, including Latin, and becoming well-versed in high-class etiquette.

Gonsalvus was so successful that he became a treasured member of the royal court. Of course, he was treated like a novelty, but he was a nobleman nonetheless, meaning he got to live a pretty nice life. That is, until Catherine de’ Medici came along. King Henry II’s wife took over the throne after he passed away, and she wasn’t exactly known for being a nice person. Accounts vary as to why exactly she wanted to find a wife for Gonsalvus — some say she found the idea of marrying him off to a beautiful woman “hilarious,” others say she wanted to see children who also suffered from hypertrichosis. But by all accounts, it became her personal mission to find him a mate.

Wikimedia commons

Catherine de’ Medici eventually settled on a maiden who also happened to be named Catherine, and the maiden and Gonsalvus married. Whatever the Queen’s initial intentions, Gonsalvus outperformed all expectations in his marriage: he and his wife stayed married for 40 years and had seven children together. Much like the classic fairy tale, it seems, she learned to love him sooner or later.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all fun and games. According to reports, either four or five of Gonsalvus’ children were afflicted with hypertrichosis, and the family was paraded around the royal courts of Europe as a form of entertainment. Though they appeared in portraits wearing classy attire, in reality, they were exploited for their entertainment value and studied by scientists and academics across the continent. Worse, the hairy children were sent off as gifts to nobles — another example of their perceived status as pets and not as people.

“The situation was strange,” Italian historian and Gonsalvus biographer Roberto Zapperi told the Smithsonian Channel. “They were neither captured nor free and they got paid — paid very well.” He and his family were able to enjoy a life of relative comfort and status, but at what cost? In the end, the “Beast” was denied last rites, as he was considered more animal than man. Not exactly Disney movie material … though then again, neither was The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

How Can We Communicate With Humans Of The Future Without Using Language? (Language / Science)

We take for granted that trying to communicate with alien species could be challenging, but what about with our own species 10,000 years in the future? This is the problem faced by agencies charged with safely disposing of nuclear waste. This waste stays dangerous to humans for thousands of years, so in order to protect future humans, there must be some way of telling them to avoid sites where nuclear waste is stored.

There is no guarantee that any of the languages, symbols, or cultural references we have today will make any sense to the people of the future. So how can we make sure our warnings about the dangers of nuclear waste disposal sites will be heeded? In 1981, the U.S. Department of Energy convened a panel of experts for something called the Human Interference Task Force to study the problem and issue a report. They came up with various ideas for the 10,000-year communication task, all of which have drawbacks.

Why langauge won’t work? Language never stops changing. From generation to generation both the form and meanings of words shift in subtle ways that we hardly recognize while the changes are in progress, but after just a few hundred years are significant enough to keep us from understanding. Chaucer’s English, which is only 600 years old, can only be understood by people with special training. Linear A, a form of writing found on a tablet that is significantly less than 10,000 years old, has still not been deciphered.

The most useful approach to take with language on a marker to last 10,000 years into the future is extreme redundancy. The Rosetta Stone was deciphered because it had the same text in three different languages, one of which, Greek, was accessible to scholars. If the same message is written in many different languages and scripts, there is no guarantee that people of the future will know how to interpret them, but the chances of interpretation increase a little.

Why symbols won’t work? We do have some symbols that can transcend language; for example, numerals and mathematical symbols, and airport markers for customs, luggage, and restrooms. There are various international symbols for danger, and even a specific one for nuclear radiation. But they depend heavily on cultural conventions which may not exist even a century from now. Symbols must be interpreted within a context of what is already known or assumed, and we can’t predict what the background context will be in the future. Maybe a skull and crossbones will look enticing if it is interpreted as a marker for the tomb of an important person and may contain treasure.

Other ways to emphasize the idea of danger may backfire in a similar way. Having the area covered in an unnatural color or sharp spikes would work to call attention to it, and if humans of the future are anything like us, their curiosity will draw them toward what captures the attention.

In a report issued for the Office of Nuclear Waste Isolation in 1984, semiotician Thomas Sebeok recommended a strategy to bridge the linguistic and cultural changes that could render a message meaningless in 10,000 years; he proposed that the warning should contain within it a “metamessage” advising that every 250 years, it should be re-encoded into whatever the current communication strategies of the time are. But how can we make sure people of the future comply?

He thought the best chance of success was a created mythology: a folklore passed along through rituals and legends. It would be overseen by an “atomic priesthood” or group of scientists that knew the real dangers and would encourage the development of a deep cultural taboo and fear of dire consequences from non-compliance. Even if the reason for the atomic priesthood were to be forgotten and the legends and stories transform into something else, there was a chance a superstition and aura of danger would linger and offer some protection.

But this would still be no guarantee. We have no idea what the future will look like or how any messages we send will be interpreted. We can only go on the hunch that the people of the future will be, at least in some ways, like us.

The Brazil Nut Effect Is The Mysterious Reason Big Nuts End Up On Top (Science)

Everyone knows what “mixed nuts” really means: a decidedly un-mixed tin with a layer of small peanuts and cashews on the bottom and massive walnuts and Brazil nuts on top. This spontaneous snack sorting is due to the peculiarities of fluid dynamics, and it has a name: the Brazil nut effect.

Despite the nut-centric title, any container full of particles of different sizes can fall prey to this effect when jostled enough (which is why shaking the box won’t help!). Think granola, where the first bowl you pour gets all the delicious clusters and the last bowl gets nothing but oat dust, or coffee grounds, which look perfectly even when they go into the coffee maker but have big partially ground beans at the top when they come out. This everyday phenomenon is deceptively complex, with multiple mechanisms at work. One is percolation. When all of the particles in a container are tossed up together and come back down, small particles move into the spaces beneath larger ones, thereby pushing them upward. Another mechanism is convection: the way particles in the center of a shaken pile will push upward until they get to the top, then fall down in the spaces created at the sides of a container, repeating in a swirling path.

The Brazil nut effect happens when a large particle reaches the top, then just hangs out there. Scientists aren’t sure why this occurs. One reason could be that the particles are too big to fit in the available spaces on the sides of the container. Sometimes, it’s because that particle is a different density than the particles around it—scientists have found that when a particle is either much more or much less dense than its fellow particles, it moves toward the surface much faster. Here’s where things get mysterious: that doesn’t happen when the container is placed in a vacuum chamber, suggesting that the pressure of the air between the particles has something to do with it. Scientists are still studying this phenomenon to learn more about how particles move. And you thought it was just a tin of mixed nuts! Dig deeper into this nutty phenomenon, and other scientific priniciples on display in your food, below.

THE BRAZIL NUT EFFECT

Got A Ghost Problem? It Might Just Be Infrasound (Science / Paranormal)

Let’s say you’ve just moved into a gorgeous old house. It’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of: elaborate Gothic architecture, towering turrets, and an extra-long dining room table for you to sit at, ominously alone. The only thing is that there are … stories about this place. Dark stories. And one day, when you’re down in the cellar, you feel a presence surrounding you. You look up, and for just a second, you see someone standing there — and then they disappear. But this isn’t a ghost story. It’s the terrifying tale of how you have an expensive problem with your plumbing.

Here’s what we’re talking about. The story starts in the 1980s when IT lecturer Vic Tandy was working at a company that made medical equipment. There was one laboratory at the office that had a certain reputation. People just felt like they were being watched in there, and every once in awhile, somebody would say they actually saw something in the room with them. Vic never really gave the stories any credence — until they happened to him.

One night (let’s just go ahead and say it was dark and stormy), he was working in the lab when he began to feel it. He broke out in a cold sweat. And then, just on the periphery of his vision, a dark shape that nearly coalesced into a human figure, but disappeared when he looked directly at it. We certainly don’t blame him for bringing a sword to work the very next day.

Okay, so the sword wasn’t for fighting ghosts. Vic was an avid fencer, and he intended to fix his foil using one of the clamps in the laboratory. But as soon as he secured the blade, it began to vibrate, and suddenly everything fell into place. Vic calculated that the sword was responding to a vibration in the air of about 19 Hz — just outside of the range of human hearing. He then pinpointed the source of the sound to an industrial fan, and as soon as the fan was flipped off, the ominous presence disappeared. Nobody ever saw that shape again, either, probably because the low vibrations were causing the eyeballs to buzz in their sockets.

So what does it all mean? Basically, if you’re experiencing haunting symptoms like an unshakeable feeling of unease, a mysterious presence that disappears when you look at it, and swords vibrating of their own accord, you might have a mechanical problem somewhere in the house. It might be an old piece of machinery (like Vic Tandy’s industrial fan) or something screwy in the plumbing or ventilation system filling your home with an inaudible sound. Once plates start hovering around or the walls start bleeding, then we’d say you might have a real ghost issue.

So what is it about sounds around the area of 19 Hz that disturb us so badly? It might just be our subconscious mind trying to get our attention. The human ear starts picking up sounds at around the 20 Hz mark, but there are other ways that we can detect sound — stand next to a subwoofer at a concert, and you’ll feel the sound in your chest more than your ears. So when there’s a sound that we sense but can’t hear, the body might be thrown into a panic. And that panic might have kept us safe when we were living on the savannah.

See, there are a lot of animals that make noise in the infrasound range. Alligators, rhinoceroses, tigers, and elephants are all known to bellow infrasound frequencies loud enough to be heard for miles — and if you can’t hear them, you might still feel them. If you didn’t notice, all of those animals are ones that you don’t necessarily want to get too close to. So that specter you’ve seen wandering your hallways? It might just be your brain thinking there’s a tiger nearby.