The Hottest Place on Earth – Not Death Valley!

By Anupum Pant

For years I’ve known that the death valley was the hottest place on earth. Of course, not counting the lava, laboratory furnaces, hot springs and other such smart-ass answers, the death valley has always been, in textbooks and beyond, the hottest place on our planet.

On July 10th 1913, the temperature there was measured to be around 56.7 degrees centigrade. Nowhere else has the mercury risen to such high levels since then. Or so we thought…

Until, like always, a science channel from YouTube – MinuteEarth – decided to dive in a little deeper.

This is what the weather statistics do when they measure the temperature – The temperature outdoors are measured in shade at about 1.5 meters above the ground. Of course they had a standard procedure set to do that, and there must be a solid reason for that.

But, practically, who are we kidding. Anyone who has been on a beach, barefoot on a sunny day knows how hot the surface of sand can get in the sun, right?

The data from NASA’s satellites equipped with spectroradiometers has a different story to tell. A place somewhere in the Lut desert in Iran is the winner. The temperature averaged in a 1 square kilometre by the satellite shows that temperatures here have reached a whooping 70.7 degree Celsius. The place is somewhere inside the blue circle I made on Google maps.

 lut desert hottest place on earth

You could literally cook eggs in the open there. Anyway, that isn’t totally new. Mr. Sargunaraj claims to have cooked an egg on the streets of Tirunelveli District in Tamil Nadu, India too. And I’ve also seen a video of a restaurant serving eggs cooked in the open (without fuel).

The Hard Boiled Egg Sprinkler Mystery

By Anupum Pant


Cracking an egg to check if it is boiled or not is not a very intelligent way. While many know that spinning an egg can be used to determine whether an egg is a boiled one or not, I’m amazed by the sheer number of people who aren’t still aware of this trick.

Just in case you are one of those who don’t know this, it works like this –  try spinning an egg on a smooth surface. If it spins well and stands up vertically, it is a boiled egg. If it doesn’t spin properly, you can say that it isn’t cooked….as simple as that.

Tip: There’s a way to check if your eggs have gone bad without risking opening it up to take in the nasty stench. [Here]

Boiled Egg Sprinkler Experiment

Now that I’m sure you know about the boiled egg spinning trick I can tell you about this simple experiment you can do at home. Besides dealing with an angry mom, it carries no other risks.

Here’s what you do – Get some milk and pour it on the kitchen counter. Now, boil an egg if you don’t have a boiled one already. Make sure it is hard-boiled by doing the spinning test. Next, spin it on the milk puddle you created on the counter. Nasty mess ensues…

Yes, there sure is a mess afterwards. But something amazing happens when the egg spins on the milk puddle. When it spins, the egg first stands up and then the milk starts rising on the surface of the egg till it reaches the equator and then the milk gets sprinkled at the equator in a very beautiful manner. It’s like a skirt of milk. Different sprinkling effects can be obtained with different spinning speeds.

Until now, no one knew why this happened. The rotating egg would suck up milk like magic and create a fountain of milk. The exact physics part of it wasn’t known until some researchers at Brigham Young University decided to figure out why this happens. I, on the other hand didn’t even know this sprinkling thing could be done. Nice to know.

Turns out, there’s nothing peculiar about milk and eggs that creates this effect. The same thing can be done with an 8-ball or any other ball for that matter. On the other side, it works with other liquids too. For instance, if you use a liquid with a higher viscosity (glycerine and water mix), the rotating ball could create not just sprinkles, but whole sheets of liquid getting flicked off at the equator. Some times if the fluid is viscous enough and the ball is spinning fast enough, sheets spanning several feet can be seen getting flicked off the equator of the spinning balls! It’s like a motor.

Here is an amazing hi-speed video of this happening in the laboratory and the elegant physics behind has been explained too. Watch it here:

After having watched the explanation, I can say one thing for sure: There’d be no sprinkling if this was done on Superfluid Helium because superfluid helium would have no viscosity and it wouldn’t rotate with the ball!

Elephant Bird – The Heaviest Bird Ever

By Anupum Pant

Scientific Name: Aepyornis maximus

No, it isn’t about a bird with a trunk or tusks. Weighing almost half a ton, the aptly named, elephant bird of Madagascar, was the heaviest bird to have ever existed on earth.  It looked like an Ostrich on steroids and of course it was a flightless bird. The number 3 bird in this picture is an illustration of the Elephant bird (around 10 feet in height) [image]

Note: Although we say that it was the heaviest bird to have ever existed, we can only say that because we haven’t been able to find any traces of a larger bird yet.

Interestingly, it wasn’t something that belonged to the Dinosaur era. It went extinct recently, around the 17th or 18th century, probably due to humans hunting it for food. Since cameras did not exist at that time, only written accounts of its sighting have been found.

As logic dictates, a huge bird would lay huge eggs. So, with a volume of about 180 to 250 times that of a chicken egg, measuring about 1 feet in height, its eggs were the largest laid eggs ever; larger than human heads. The shells could hold around 11 liters of liquid. Its eggs were said to have fed whole families. Some of them have been preserved – Some are being auctioned and some are available in museums. National Geographic Society in Washington holds a specimen that has the skeleton of an unborn Elephant bird.