‘Cyclone’ is a wonderful word. It signifies ‘turning in a circle’, just as the one-eyed Cyclops who gave Odysseus so much trouble might have done.
“Nice coincidence”, I thought to myself, as these were the first few words I read this morning. I have been reading this book “The Things that Nobody Knows” by William Hartston. When I picked this book, I went into a logical thought loop –
- If these are the things that nobody knows, then how did the author know these things.
- If there are things that nobody knows about, then there would be infinite things, as we do not even know that we do not know these things.
- If there is no such thing that nobody knows, then there still will be one fact that no one will know – the knowledge that ‘there is nothing that we don’t know’ will always be missing
But let us park this philosophical stupidity for the moment, and talk about this book. 501 Mysteries of Life, the Universe and Everything – From lesser-known facts that ‘a day on Venus lasts longer than a year on Venus’ to even more lesser-known facts that the majority of giraffes are gay (See how I used less right after more, much like our life). This book, really, was about things that nobody knows.
At first glance, this book might look like a ‘collection of Whatsapp Hoaxes to forward. But if you research, you will find most of them are true. There are many examples of debatable facts as well – eg. According to this book, there is no verified study that Dream and REM Sleep is actually related. But then, I recently read “Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams“, which was all about REM, dreams, and all types of connections. I have to make a choice of belief, I guess.
When I came across the chapter on Cyclones, it reminded me of ‘Nisarga’ which was supposed to landfall in Mumbai later in the day (Spoiler – The cyclone changed its path. Anti-climax after all the hype). Anyhow, I will list down the top 10 facts from this book which made me wonder.
- Lake Vostok, the unexplored and recently discovered sub galactic lake in Antarctica might still have life as it was 14 million years ago. Everything is trapped there since then. No one knows what exactly. (Maybe 2020 is not the right time to continue drilling)
- Giant Kangaroos were 10ft tall and weighed around 200kg. They disappeared around the same time humans arrived in Australia. (just a correlation I believe)
- Only a bat can know what it is like to be a bat (this fact hit me really deep)
- No one knows why so many birds flying into windows. Neither do we know why birds interrupt each other’s songs (ungli karni hogi shaaayd sirf isliye)
- People with more friends have larger amygdala. No one knows why. (Could it be that people with larger amygdala have more friends?)
- Almost all female cats are right-pawed and tomcats left-pawed. Why? (I think we, as a species, should stop trying to figure out things about cats, as a general rule)
- There is an element named after Richard Feynman – Feynmanium. No one knows if it exists. There is also an element named Californium (because it was discovered in California). Does Californium exist? Haven’t you been reading the general theme around here? NOBODY KNOWS (if Harmony discovered an element, will it be called Harmonium? ….. Sorry)
- A spider’s web design is more affected when the spider is exposed to caffeine, compared to when it is exposed to LSD (this spider must be very happy I guess)
- Has the speed of light always been the same? Is the speed of light now the same everywhere?
- Dogs are more likely to catch a yawn from humans, compared to other humans. ‘Why?’, you might ask? Leave a comment and I shall get back to you on this. (Don’t ask your Dog)
P.S. It appears that the author has written another book following this once – Even More Things That Nobody Knows: 501 Further Mysteries of Life, the Universe and Everything