10 Interesting Science Facts University Students Should Know but Probably Don’t

I am majoring in Environmental Science at Queen’s, and over the course of the past few years, I’ve learned some pretty cool facts about the environment and nature while studying for my degree. In case you don’t have enough information to cram into your brain during the next couple weeks of finals, here are some facts about nature and the environment that I find really interesting.

1. It is estimated that there are 200-400 billion birds in the world.

While it is impossible to know for sure, this would mean that there are roughly 40-60 birds for every human.

https://www.amnh.org/explore/ology/earth/ask-a-scientist-about-our-environment/how-big-is-the-bird-population

If it seems like there are a lot of birds on the planet, that’s nothing compared to how many ants exist...

2. It is estimated that there are at least 10,000,000,000,000,000 ants alive at all times.

https://io9.gizmodo.com/5880539/10-frightening-facts-you-probably-didnt-know-about-ants

3. The tusk of a narwhal, which earned the animal the nickname of “unicorn of the sea” is actually a modified tooth, and can be up to nine feet long.

http://www.wwf.ca/conservation/arctic/wildlife/narwhal/gclid=Cj0KCQiA6JjgBRDbARIsANfu58HHc0KACZ2IZFR2UTYlcLe2wyQbNQvBmDl3Tb3RL18tIjQqIpJttT0aAuq0EALw_wcB

4. The most likely theory to explain the formation of the moon is known as the giant impact hypothesis.

Under this theory, a Mars-sized object collided with Earth, and the Moon formed from a portion of Earth that was ejected as a result of this collision. The collision is estimated to have had 100 million times the energy of the collision that caused the extinction of dinosaurs. The Moon is made of lighter materials that are found in Earth’s crust, while denser materials from Earth’s core were not affected by the collision.

https://www.space.com/19275-moon-formation.html

5. 10% of all known species on the planet can be found in the Amazon rainforest, and the rainforest stores between 90 and 140 billion metric tons of carbon.

Therefore, this is an extremely important region to protect; however, 20% of the Amazon has already been destroyed, and it is expected that over a quarter of the rainforest will be destroyed by 2030 if current deforestation rates continue.

http://wwf.panda.org/our_work/forests/deforestation_fronts/deforestation_in_the_amazon/

6. During the Eocene (52-53 million years ago), temperatures in the Arctic could reach 20°C, and alligators and tortoises inhabited the continent.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100824132417.htm

7. China is the world’s largest producer of pork; 500 million pigs are produced and consumed annually in China.

This has substantial environmental consequences related to everything from the resources required to feed the animals to the waste produced by the animals.

https://www.economist.com/christmas-specials/2014/12/17/empire-of-the-pig

8. While people often discuss Pangaea, there have actually been several different supercontinents that have formed on Earth.

Furthermore, it’s expected that the continents will one day converge into a supercontinent again!

https://io9.gizmodo.com/5744636/a-geological-history-of-supercontinents-on-planet-earth

9. Coral reefs cover 0.1% of the ocean floor, but are extremely biodiverse and are home to a quarter of all marine fish species.

33% of reef-building corals are threatened by climate change, and the only way to protect them is to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the warming of ocean temperatures.

https://www.iucn.org/resources/issues-briefs/coral-reefs-and-climate-change

10. Antarctica is a deceptively large continent, as it is 1.5x the size of the United States, and contains 90% of the ice on Earth.

If all the ice in Antarctica were to melt, sea levels would rise by 200 feet worldwide.

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/icebridge/multimedia/fall11/antarctica-US.html