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…

Space Oddities – Part II

By Anupum Pant
pat on the back self
Self-administered pat on the back to me.

A few days back, in the month of December I had compiled a list of 6 space oddities that really interested me. At that time, I was pretty sure I would stumble upon a few more odd/interesting things about space within a month or two. With that in mind, I had decided to suffix the heading with “Part – I”. Four months have passed. That was a very thoughtful thing I did – thinking 4 months into the future. I have to appreciate my forethought (with a self-administered pat on the back) for doing that because today I’m back with a few more of these odd / interesting things about space and I’m still not embarrassed about the heading for the post.

So, here is the part II of space oddities (read the part I here):

1. A Hole in the Universe

Space Dust Image Gallery

About 7 years from now, researchers from University of Minnesota found out about a really huge void in our universe. The abnormal hole measures approximately sixty billion trillion miles. In easier words, it is about 10 Billion light years wide. Imagine! A beam of light would takes 10 Billion years to travel through that empty place. How lonely would it be at the centre of it. The void is bigger than anything else scientists have ever seen in space.

The whole volume of space shows no sign of any stars, planets, asteroids, gases, clouds, dust. The volume doesn’t even have any signs of dark matter (95% of our universe is dark matter) too. [read more about it]

2. Costliest thing ever built

Think of a huge 5 bed room house floating in space that can be seen moving from the surface of the earth with the naked eye! Yes, I’m talking about the International Space Station. It is a whooping 200,000 kg object that is 171 feet long, 240 feet wide and 90 feet high.

When it comes to the price of building something this huge in space, it beats everything from the most lavish sky scrappers to the most largest dams  ever built. The price of building it is estimated to be about $160 Billion and fortunately the cost is shared by Canada, the European Union, Japan, Russia and the US. It is officially the most expensive object ever constructed, and it is NOT on earth! – Guinness book of World Records.

3. The Cosmic Smile Continue reading Space Oddities – Part II