Do Not Disturb

By Anupum Pant

Nitrogen tri-iodide (NI3) is a contact explosive. It’s like nitroglycerin but much more sensitive than that. Unlike nitroglycerin, this doesn’t require to be hit by a hammer to explode. That means, the compound is so unstable that even a slight touch will make it explode. It’s so sensitive to disturbance that a mosquito flying off of this powder will detonate it.

Here’s a demonstration in the video below…

Now one thing that comes to mind when you see something like this is that how must have the person in this video handled it and put it on paper. How is it even made in the first place. The video doesn’t tell you that part.

The answer is fairly simple. A more stable solution of this substance is allowed to stand while the liquid evaporates. It leaves only the powder on the table. And when it is touched, it goes off. The making part of it can be seen here.

Pet Dog’s of Baboon Families

By Anupum Pant

Big packs of Baboon family kidnap young puppies. These puppies then end up growing with the family and ultimately become the part of their group. These pet dogs move with the family wherever it goes, sleep, feed and play with them.

Having pets like these has a mutual benefit in the sense that the dogs protect the family from other feral dogs and in return get food, grooming and a nice family.

Whale’s Earwax

By Anupum Pant

Unlike us, whales never clean their ears. And when they die, all of the ear wax they collect through out the span of their lives can be extracted from the skull. This is usually a column of wax which is icky to look at, consists of fibers and is pretty rigid. It might look like a roughed up candle to an untrained eye. Also, these ear wax columns can be as much as 1 to 4 feet in height. But all of that is not even the most interesting thing about whale’s earwax.

Whale’s blubber is interesting for scientists because it carries a lot of information about what kind of toxins/chemicals a whale was exposed to in the ocean. This tells them about the kind of toxins that are being put into the sea. However it doesn’t give them any information about when the whale was exposed to these toxins. The earwax helps here.

The columns of earwax of a whale have rings when you cut them, just like the rings of a tree. And just like the rings of a tree, they carry the information related to the time. Each ring usually corresponds to 6 months of a whale’s life and by studying the composition of these rings scientists can tell what kind of chemicals the whale was exposed to, and when…


Gabriel’s Horn and the Painter’s Paradox

By Anupum Pant

If you take the plot of y=1/x and plot it from 1 to infinity, you’ll see that the plot seems to never meet the x axis. Now, take this plot and spin it fast with the x axis as the axis of rotation. You’ll then have a horn shaped solid object which is endlessly long. A mathematical object also known as the Gabriel;s horn or Torricelli’s trumpet.


Mathematically, this object is interesting because it can contain a finite amount of volume, but it’s surface area is infinite. That is to say, you can fill the horn/trumpet with a finite amount of paint, yet the whole paint it contains would not be enough to paint the inside surface of the object – known as the painter’s paradox. However, there’s a catch about painting the inner part of this horn. As WIkipedia puts it.

In fact, in a theoretical mathematical sense, a finite amount of paint can coat an infinite area, provided the thickness of the coat becomes vanishingly small “quickly enough” to compensate for the ever-expanding area, which in this case is forced to happen to an inner-surface coat as the horn narrows. However, to coat the outer surface of the horn with a constant thickness of paint, no matter how thin, would require an infinite amount of paint.

Buy a Potato Clock

By Anupum Pant

Did you know? You can actually go to Amazon right now and buy a potato clock for just $4. The science experiment kit includes electrodes, wires and a digital clock with all the instructions you’ll need to assemble it. Of course the kit doesn’t include potatoes. You’ll have to get them separately.

Instead of using batteries to power the digital clock, this little science kit allows you to use two potatoes. On two good potaotes this clock will work for about two months, by that time your potatoes will start growing shoots too. When the potatoes become dry, your clock stops. Then you replace the potatoes. Here’s how it works.

Being a Better Human Through Science