Jellyfish Stings and The “Pee on it” Myth

By Anupum Pant

I haven’t been ever stung by a jelly fish, but from how Destin says it in the video, and other people I’ve seen getting bitten, tells me that it is something no one would want to experience in their life. If you did not know, the sting is awfully painful.

A jelly fish uses venom, not poison. They are two different things. Which means that a jellyfish stings you and uses extremely tiny hypodermic needle like things to inject toxins in your body.

But doesn’t jellyfish seem like a bunch of jelly floating around with no visible prickly parts? how does something so soft actually go about inserting something sharp into your skin?

Turns out, on the surface of those long tentacles these fish have, there are microscopic organelles called nematocysts which it uses to sting you. Even a tiny brush with those tentacles can trigger them. The more interesting part is that these tiny needles act very fast, and like I said, they are also very tiny. So, to see them you need a really high frame-rate camera attached to a microscope.

That is exactly what Destin does in the video below. It’s fascinating to see those tiny stingers do their work so fast under a microscope. Not many get a chance to see something like this.

Just FYI. In case you ever end up getting bitten by a jellyfish, please don’t ask your friend to pee on it. There’s a word going around that this helps, but in reality it doesn’t. In fact it can make it worse. Instead try washing it off with sea water. And then use a credit card to scratch the sting to remove any nematocysts stuck in your skin.

Don’t believe me? Please watch this…

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!

Pacific Leaping Blenny – Fish Lives on Land

By Anupum Pant

Scientific name: Alticus arnoldorum

After having seen animals that live on for centuries, fish that have legs and several others, another fascinating animal joins the list at AweSci today. The Pacific Leaping Blenny – A fish that, unlike every other extant specie of fish, lives on land.

Wait! What?

The Pacific Leaping Blenny is a 2-4 inches long fish that is found on reefs in Samoa, Marianas, Society, and Cook Islands, in the western and southern Pacific Ocean. For all its life, this fish stays on land. It breathes through its gills and partly through its skin.

During the few hours when the tide is at a normal level, such that the waves are just strong enough to reach them and not enough to pull them back into water, these fish take care of their business on land. They need the water to hit them because it keeps their skin wet. Which in turn, lets them breathe through their gills and skin. As long as their skin is moist, they can live out of water indefinitely. So much that they have been officially classified as a terrestrial specie. They would suffocate if their skin dries off completely.

Their fascinating camouflage

It is fascinating to see an existing example of how ancient sea dwelling creatures must have first evolved. At these times when we have great predators waiting on land to immediately end this transitional specie, this fish does a great job of hiding itself from them. And given their poor speed on land, that is how they survive on these rocky shores. They have developed a specialized kind of camouflage that makes it difficult for a predator to find and kill them. As you can see in the picture above, they have a skin color that matches very well with the surrounding reefs/rocks.

How do they move on land?

Since they don’t have legs, that is exactly the question that hit my mind when I first read about these creatures. Turns out, for movement on land, they have developed a very peculiar kind of a movement style. They twist their tails, load up the tension and then release to leap. This sequence happens too quickly to notice easily through naked eyes. So, picked off directly from the Wikipedia page, here we have a slow motion video of this fish leaping off.

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