The Tallest Mountain in Our Solar System

By Anupum Pant

Right here on earth there are really tall mountains. Mount Everest is the highest peak and then there’s Mauna Kea in Hawaii which is supposed to be the tallest. Yes, even taller than the Mt. Everest. To add to it, there’s one highest unclimbed mountain – Gangkhar Puensum – in Bhutan.

If we zoom out a little and put the whole solar system in our radar, things change. Mt Everest or even Mauna Kea are no where near the tallest mountains we have in our solar system. For instance, Olympus Mons, a shield volcano has, for a long time, been considered the highest peak in our solar system.

This is how it compares with mount Everest, for example. The peak of  Mount Everest measures 8,848 meters. It’s absolutely huge. And yet, Olympus Mons on Mars is about 2.5 times higher! It measures about 22 kilometres in height. This image clearly shows how it compares with our tallest and highest mountains…

Olympus_Mons_Side_View.svg

And yet again, even Olympus Mons, which has had the title of the tallest mountain in our solar system for several years, is believed to be no longer the tallest one.

A recently discovered peak in a proto-planet called Vesta is probably now the tallest mountain in our solar system. However, since this one – Mount Rheasilvia – is estimated to be only a few 100 meters taller than Olympus Mons, it has not very clearly dethroned Olympus Mons. Still, the data is pretty solid and can be trusted.

Rheasilvia was a peak known to researchers since 1997. But it was in 2011, when the Dawn spacecraft passed it, the data became really clear.

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Do Not Paint Your Walls Pink

By Anupum Pant

Like I’ve told you once, there is no pink. Still, we do see the colour pink and there’s no denying that. Don’t call me a sexist for saying this, but it’s true that the colour pink is associated with femininity. Otherwise the colour is also known to generate feelings of caring, tenderness, and love. If everything we know about pink is somewhat positive, then why isn’t it a good idea to paint your walls pink?

Let me start with a little story.

Hayden Fry and the Pink room

Hayden Fry was an American football player and later he went on to become a coach. In the late 70s he started coaching the University of Iowa football team. Now, the particular thing to note about Fry was that in the year 1951 he had graduated from Baylor with a degree in psychology.

Since he had graduated in psychology, Fry probably knew some good ways that he could use to mess with the opposing team’s brain. And then he decided to paint the walls of the visitor’s locker room at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium, with the colour pink. The walls, floors, toilets, ceiling and everything else in the locker room was painted pink. As a result, the home team started doing significantly well at football games (later the practice of painting locker rooms pink was outlawed).

Some say, he used pink to paint the visitor’s locker room because he knew that the colour pink had a calming effect on people. But I think he was relying on something deeper. He was probably trying to cash on the results of a study that was done by Prof. Alexander Schauss in the year 1979.

The Effect of Pink Colour

Prof. Alexander Schauss started a study with a couple of volunteers. He divided the group into two equal halves. All of their strengths were measured by asking them to use their arms against a counter-force and by asking them to squeeze a device called a dynamometer.

After this, for a minute, the first half had to stare at a dark blue colour and the other half stared at pink. Their strengths were recorded again.

A remarkable decrease in physical strength was recorded among the people who were given the colour pink to stare at. The participants were not aware of the effect it had on them.

Probably it were those pink walls and pink floors at the visitor’s locker that made the opposing team physically weaker and helped Iowa win.

Conclusion

Colours certainly are one of those subtle forces which change the way we think, feel, and behave. Pink has been proven to make you weaker physically. So, unless you wish to be weaker, you wouldn’t want to paint your walls pink! How about blue? It is a simple choice.

Now I think even writing an article about pink and having your brain think about the colour makes you weaker. Seriously, I feel like I need rest after writing this. Phew!

Hit like if you learnt something.

Lucky Worms Survived The Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster

By Anupum Pant

February 1, 2003 was a sad day for science. Space shuttle Columbia, during re-entry, due to a broken piece of insulation, got completely disintegrated. With the shuttle, died all the 7 astronauts who were aboard. [Remembering Columbia]

Scientists had lost hope on all of the 80 experiments that were on board. Only several days later while sifting through the wreckage they found something interesting – at least not all was lost. A live group of lucky worms (roundworms) was successfully salvaged from the wreckage. Yes, odd, but true.

Why were there worms in the shuttle?

The space shuttle Columbia was a research flight and contained 80 experiments on board. The group of live worms, sealed in a metal container which was ensconced in a safe locker, was a part of one of those 80 experiments.

Although the particular gene experiment that had to be conducted with fresh-worms-from-space was lost because they had entered Earth several days back, the worms still proved useful for other science experiments.

From these worms scientists learned a great deal about what micro-gravity could do to animals – Like weakening of muscles and manifestation of diabetic symptoms. When in space, these are the similar things that happen to humans as well.

How did they not get killed?

Firstly, they were in a strong metal container that was nicely protected by a second layer – a reinforced locker meant to really protect things.

Since the shuttle was coming in at a speed more than 2 times the speed of sound, the locker must have hit the ground pretty hard, right? No, till the time it reached the surface, the drag slowed it down. So, the worms basically experienced just a harder-than-normal landing.

What are they doing now?

Well, as round worms don’t really live longer than 2 years usually, they must have died long back. But their descendants have been stored safely in a genetic center – lucky worms indeed. Some of these descendants were lucky enough to be sent to space during 2011 in the shuttle Endeavour.

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