– The field of science is capable
of some amazing things, mostly because it’s filled
with all the Albert Einsteins and Doogie Howsers
the world has produced over the centuries,
but it may shock you that some of the most mundane,
everyday concepts are as big a mystery to scientists
as they are to the average toddler.
Things like, why we sleep.
As far as we know, while the hours we choose to sleep
varies greatly, virtually every creature on Earth
enjoys a good night’s rest as much as people do.
So obviously sleep must serve a key purpose
for all living things, right?
Well it turns out science doesn’t have a clue.
What we have is a handful of proposed explanations
for sleep that not many scientists can agree on.
There’s the theory that it’s helping the brain clean house
after a long day of learning.
You see, your brain is constantly generating new pathways
thanks to all the stuff you see and do all day,
so sleeping is when all the useless info gets tossed out.
Or maybe, instead of ditching the stuff
that’s not necessary, the brain might be reinforcing
the stuff you do need.
Scientists have seen that when rats were asleep
the same neurons fired as when they had run mazes
earlier that day, that means that the rats
are essentially reliving their day
and practicing the maze.
This has led Harvard researchers to assert that sleep
is crucial for humans to form memories and to learn.
But there’s a problem with both of those theories,
plants and microorganisms, otherwise known as
things without brains, have dormant stages that are very
similar to sleep, which kind of puts doubt
on the whole ‘sleep is good for the brain’ theory.
Then there’s the fact that scientists
have found certain humans who can go without sleep
with no ill effects.
There’s even one dude who claims he hasn’t slept
a wink in 33 years.
In fact, all of these theories kind of went out the window
when researchers discovered a gene mutation
that allows people to sleep two to four hours a night
without any adverse effects at all.
So, is sleep useless then?
Is it just god’s way of making us take a break
between masturbation sessions?
Your guess is as good as scientists’
Why ice is slippery.
Saying that ice is slippery is like saying
that water is wet, it’s something we’ve known
for as long as can be said to have known anything.
Presumably, humans as a species knew ice
was slippery before we knew fire was hot
or that it existed.
But ask anyone why and they won’t be able to give you
any better explanation than one
of those cave people would have.
We just don’t know why it is that you can ski
on ice but not on boulders, although at this point
尽管在这一点上 你们中大多数人可能会尖叫道是因为水啊 你这个傻瓜
most of you are probably screaming, it’s water stupid,
and that’s more or less the answer that scientists
have always concluded.
Unlike most substances, ice expands when it freezes,
so when you walk on it you’re actually compacting it
back into slippery old water.
Sounds simple, right?
Too bad then that it’s bullshit.
Experiments have shown that your puny body
doesn’t exert nearly enough pressure on ice
to squeeze even a tiny bit of it into liquid.
One popular theory is that the surface of ice
remains liquid because there’s nothing but
open air on one side to put pressure on it.
And some tests have confirmed that.
Although they also confirmed that the liquid layer
is probably too thin to have any effect on friction.
Another theory that scientists have put forward
is that ice is not actually slippery at all,
though this sounds like something that science,
exasperated, would proclaim while waving a gun in your face
to make you stop asking stupid questions,
a guy named Dr. Salmoran thinks that the roughness
of the surface of ice is actually so high
that, ironically, it becomes slippery when you flash melt it
due to the sheer friction you’re applying to it.
Of course, in the same breath Dr. Salmoran admits
he may be talking out of his ass.
How a bicycle works.
Bicycles have been around since the early 19th century
and its basic design has actually changed
relatively little for almost 200 years.
You always had two wheels, a frame to connect them,
and a handlebar for steering, and you required
a person completely devoid of shame to ride on it.
At the very least, you’d think that the guy
who invented the damn thing knew what he was doing,
but after more than a century of research,
science has been forced to conclude
that he was probably some kind of sorcerer.
Even modern bike design schools admit that
it’s not engineering or computer knowledge
that make a good bike designer, but instead
intuition and experience.
So what happens when you ask scientists
exactly what makes a bicycle stable?
Or what keeps it going?
Or how people ride them?
Well, odds are, they’ll either nervously tell you
that they have cookies in the oven and run out on you,
or if they’re honest, they’ll give you a pretty big shrug.
In fact, top bike researchers admit that
even though some people have come up
with equations on how to ride a bike,
or how they think bikes work, those equations
are pretty much fancy icing on top
of a cake of cluelessness.
One Cornell researcher even says that absolutely nobody
has ever come to an intuitive understanding
of what makes a bicycle do its thing.
For ages scientists have assumed
that the gyroscopic effect, the force that keeps
a spinning top from falling over,
was the key for a bike’s balance,
In the 70s a scientist disproved that theory too.
So then scientists thought that the principal factor
of a bike’s stability was something called
the caster effect, or trail, something to do
with the front wheel’s angle away from the frame.
But just this year top bikeologists from Cornell
and other universities formed an angry
scientific mob and then torched and pitchforked
that theory as well.
They did this by building a goofy looking bike
that had no gyroscopic effect and no trail
but manages to stay upright nonetheless.
So scientists are essentially back at square one
as things such as steering geometry
and the physics of stability are all going
back to the drawing board.
At least you can be secure in the knowledge
that the humiliation you feel when you ride a bike
is akin to the humiliation science feels
when it’s asked how a bike stays up.
How to beat Solitaire.
Odds are pretty high that you’re listening to this video
in the background while you’re at work.
And once you’re done wasting time with Cracked,
odds are you’ll continue to waste time with something else.
And conveniently at your fingertips
is one of the most played and addictive games of all time,
one that you don’t even need a partner for, Solitaire.
More specifically, Klondike Solitaire,
which is as familiar to career procrastinators
as Minesweeper, all of us at some point,
usually around our 10th consecutive loss,
have buckled down and tried to figure out the secret,
after all, if Rain Man can break Vegas,
surely you can beat a god-damn Windows game.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact
that scientists get distracted when studying Solitaire,
or the fact that Solitaire may have evolved
from freaking black magic.
In fact, big time mathematicians openly admit
that it’s one of the embarrassments
of applied mathematics, that’s a quote,
that almost nothing about the standard Klondike Solitaire
game is currently known.
For example, when the math geeks tried to find the odds
of winning, they ran into a problem,
they couldn’t even get a fixed idea
of how many winning hands are possible.
The mathematicians came up with an approximate
percentage of how many hands are winnable,
that was somewhere around 80 or 90%.
But think about it, when you play Solitaire,
do you win at least eight out of every 10 hands?
Either you have the lamest X-Man superpower ever,
or you’re lying, now there are some wild ass guesses
out there as to what the actual odds of winning Klondike
are, but you’ll never get an exact answer,
even if many computer people agree that you don’t have
a good chance of winning at the game.
You might think that it’s just because
scientists are too busy breaking apart neutrons
and corks and shit to bother trying
to hack a card game, but consider that science
has already cracked the secrets
of the seemingly much more complicated game
of Monopoly, but Solitaire, it’s simply beyond
our powers of understanding, then again,
if we actually did know how to beat Solitaire,
we’d have to go to work faster.
How many species of animals exist?
In the 21st century the days of Marco Polo
and Columbus are long behind us,
nobody is exploring new lands and finding
exotic new creatures like the platypus
for the rest of the world to call bullshit on.
So surely having stomped across every nook and cranny
of the blue Earth, we should by now have some kind
of ballpark figure about how many species
we have left to kill, right?
Actually, not even close.
When you ask taxonomists, scientists specifically tasked
with finding and cataloging animals,
they’ll tell you that they haven’t even
scratched the surface in their attempts
to find all the creatures that live
on the planet.
However, despite working on this mission
for almost 250 years, along with discovering
over 15,000 new living beings each year,
taxonomists don’t even have the faintest
idea of how many species live on Earth.
In fact, although scientists have identified
almost two million of the species we’ve got,
estimates for the amount of species that are actually
on the planet range from a measly five million
up to a daunting 100 million.
The reason for this super nova sized room for error
is that no matter what method the scientists use
to make their estimates, there’s always some
amount of guesswork involved.
One of the early estimates from 19th century taxonomists
say that there were about 400,000 species on Earth.
And seeing as how we’ve already discovered
five times that many, it’s only logical
to conclude that there was some faulty sciencing
involved there, in fact, the most recent
estimate which claims that there’s less
than 10 million species is being heavily criticized
by scientists, hell, even the people who put out
this estimate admitted publicly that they might be
way off, there are a few good reasons why
the birds, bees, and bacteria remain woefully uncounted.
First off, the research on species
takes place mostly in the northern hemisphere,
which remains more technologically advanced
than the southern, so it’s very likely
that places like Australia haven’t yet to show us
the complete horror of their fauna.
But the biggest reason that science
is still shrugging its shoulders
and making sad trumped noises is that 99%
of all living space is under the ocean,
and humans have explored less than 10% of it.
Experts say we have better maps of the surface of Mars
than of our own oceans.
We discover new and horrible types of life there
all the time.
How gravity works.
Come on, it’s gravity.
Didn’t you see the movie?
Is there any concept in the universe
quite so basic?
You throw shit up, it comes down again.
Despite his textbook reputation,
Newton didn’t discover gravity,
it was discovered by the first fish ancestor
who crawled onto land and found it had lost
the ability to swim upwards.
What’s to understand?
Turns out there are four basic forces
that hold the universe together.
And out of these four, gravity is the only one
that doesn’t make any sense, specifically,
how it can be so incredibly weak
and incredibly strong at the same time.
Gravity holds the entire universe together,
and no matter how far out you travel,
it never completely disappears, and yet,
it is the weakest force in existence.
To illustrate, you know when you bring two magnets
near each other and they snap together?
That force is actually 10 to the 36th times
stronger than gravity.
Yeah, a big ass order of magnitude stronger.
To add to the confusion, because all these other
forces are controlled by their own particles,
it stands to reason that gravity should have
its own particles too.
But this hypothetical critter, the graviton,
is basically the only one we haven’t found yet,
unlike the particles that mediate a lot of the other
important forces in nature which have been
altogether more cooperative.
But the mother of all baffling gravity mysteries
is that once you get down to the level of atoms
and molecules, and even smaller stuff,
gravity just plain stops working.
In fact, gravity is one of the biggest reasons
why quantum physics and real world physicists
have nothing to say to each other.
We know more about what’s inside an atom
than we do about why a ball comes back down
when we throw it in the air.
For all science knows, it’s because of ghosts.