9 Of The Most Interesting Questions With Their Detailed Answers | Part 2

How to tell if a person is curious about knowledge? Well, you’ve landed on this page, which indicates that you have been bitten by a bug called curiosity, and now there is no going back. Everyday, dozens of fascinating questions pop into your head for no reason. Deep down you know there is an answer out there somewhere, but it is not so important that you’ve to drop everything what you’re doing and research it right now.

Today, you will find answers of some of those interesting questions related to science and technology. Each question has a simple answer, followed by a brief explanation. So let’s find out how smart you are.

9. What’s The Brightest Thing In the Universe?

Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser | a very distant quasar

Short Answer: Quasar

Explanation: The brightness of stellar objects in space is measured by the apparent magnitude of the body as seen from the Earth. At present, the apparent magnitude of our Sun is -26.74. Sirius A, on the other hand, is 25 times more luminous than the Sun and twice as massive. It’s 8.6 light years away from Earth and has an apparent magnitude of -1.47.

Quasars shine thousands of times more brightly than even the brightest stars (Sirius A). Actually, that’s not accurate, let me rephrase, Quasars shine thousands of times more brightly than galaxies containing billions of stars.

The first identified quasar, named 3C 273, has an absolute magnitude of -26.7, making it more than 4 trillion times brighter than our Sun, and 100 times more luminous than the total amount of light generated by the entire Milky Way.

Quasars are 9 billion light years away, which means what we are seeing has already happened billions of years ago. Quasars are one of the most ancient things in our universe, and if you could somehow teleport instantaneously to one right now faster than light, it would most likely no longer be burning. Also, it’s fascinating that the brightest things in the universe, quasars are caused by the darkest things in the universe, black holes.

Read: 15 Brightest Stars In The Sky | Based On Apparent Magnitude

8. Will We Ever Cure Cancer?

cancer cellImage credit: nih.gov

Short Answer: Probably Not (at least not in this century)

Explanation: The question sounds simple but the answer is quite complex. First of all, cancer is not just a single disease. There are more than 100 different kinds of cancer, each with their own challenges. According to American Cancer Society, 1,688,780 cancer cases were diagnosed in 2017 alone. This means, the likelihood that one treatment could ever cure all types of cancer is extremely unlikely.

The cancer in each person is different too, making tumor as unique as fingerprints. However, that doesn’t mean we should quit trying. Many advances in biomedicine, like CRISPR, have allowed scientists to edit genome in mouse. Their immune cells are genetically engineered to destroy cancer cells. This could be a good treatment option for people suffering from a specific type of cancer known as multiple myeloma (affecting blood plasma cells).

A few of the cancer types have been already cured, including Prostate, Testicular, Melanoma, Thyroid and Breast cancer (early stage). And for those that can’t be cured, treatments can help control the disease, giving patients extra precious time.

According to the experts, the chance are very remote that we’ll find a single cure over the next century.

7. Will We Ever Run Out Of New Music?

Short Answer: No, although the combination of all possible tones is finite.

Explanation: The digital music is made out of bits which can be either in 0 state or 1 state. This means that for a 5 minute long audio file, the number of possibilities is enormous but finite. A CD samat thples music at 44.1 kHz requires 211 million bits to store one 5-minute song.

Since a bit can either be 0 or 1, the number of different ways to arrange those bits is 2211,000,000 – a massive number with 63 million digits. To put this into context, estimation of the total number of hydrogen atoms in our universe is a number that’s 80 digits long. 

But since, there are finite number of tones human ears can distinguish and because it takes only a few notes in common for two musical tones to sound similar, will we ever run out of new music?

According to Yerricde’s calculation, typical melodies we know today, across 8 notes, over 12 intervals, there are almost 79 billion possible combinations. Under this definition of melody, 100 songwriters making a new 8 note melody every second would exhaust all possible melodies within only 248 years.

It’s still a big number, way bigger than the total number of songs that have been written. So, you can say that we’ll never run out of new music. Even though the number of possible different melodies is enormous, us humans tend to gravitate towards certain pattern that we like and most of the time we are influenced by what came before. That’s the reason sometimes we find a few commonalities between some songs.

6. What’s The Speed Of The Darkness?

Most Interesting QuestionsImage credit: Vsauce

Short Answer: No speed at all.

Explanation: Light travels at the fastest speed possible for a physical object. Darkness is erased when light appears and return when light leaves. Basically the speed of dark is the speed of light. However, there are some other types of darkness that can move faster than light, for instance a shadow across a distance.

A shadow can become much bigger than the object creating it, while mimicking it source moving in the same manner for the same amount of time. So, when an object moves and its shadow is larger, the shadow can actually move a greater distance. If you make the shadow large enough, it can travel across the surface faster than light.

Let’s consider a scenario, in which you can cast a shadow onto moon. To make your shadow move from point A to point B on the moon, you need to move your finger just a few centimeters. This would take you fraction of a second, but the shadow it casts on the moon would move thousands of kilometers in the same amount of time.

What’s actually happening here? The shadow of your finger is easily breaking the light barrier. Actually the physics rule is that information cannot travel faster than light. You cannot cause something to happen somewhere else faster than light could travel from you to that somewhere else.

In this case, our shadow is transferring no information from point A to point B. Also, darkness isn’t traveling from point A to B. It is traveling from you to point A and point B at the speed of light.

In fact, shadow doesn’t travel at all. It’s an illusion caused by us thinking that a shadow is a physical thing when in reality it’s just a lack of physical things called photons.

5. What’s The Maximum No Of Views On Can Get On a Single YouTube Video?

youTube views maximum

Short Answer: 9,223,372,036,854,775,807

Explanation: If you are a relatively small channel you will probably be happy to get a couple of thousands of views on a video you post. Bigger channels can hope for hundreds of thousands or even million of views. Some famous music videos have touched the “billion” milestone in the last few couple of years, but we are interested in the maximum number of views on a single video before YouTube view counter would basically break.

YouTube can be divided into 1 eras – Before Gangnam Style and after Gangnam Style. You many know the South Korean musician PSY was the first to ever reach 1 billion views in 2012. The video had such a huge impact on YouTube developers that they stated the platform’s view counter needs to be upgraded to handle views on future viral videos.

Before this, YouTube view counter was using 32-bit integer which guaranteed a maximum of 4,294,967,296 (2^32) views. Because of the huge success of the song, they had to upgrade the counter to a 64-bit integer, which can now handle 9,223,372,036,854,775,807 (2^64) views.

Read: What’s The Largest Known Prime Number | It’s 23 Million Digits Long

To put this into context, almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day. Now imagine a scenario in which a video posted by you generated that many daily views. It would still take more than 5 million years for your video to break the YouTube view counter.

4. Can We Use Water To Trap Laser Beam?

Short Answer: Yes

Explanation: Lasers are extremely powerful, versatile, and they can travel far distances. It’s actually possible to trap a laser beam in water. What’s more interesting is you can try this at home (with precaution).

All you need to do is poke a hole in the side of bottle, letting a water stream to smoothly shoot out. Now aim the laser through this hole and you will see the laser get caught up in the cascading waterfall.

This is an example of total internal reflection that occurs when a light beam hits a medium boundary at specific angle, and instead of going straight, it reflects. The same is happening in this experiment over and over again – the laser beam hits each boundary (water) and curves downwards with it. The experiment perfectly demonstrates how optical fibre works.

3. What’s the Tallest Structure We Can Possibly Build?

Short Answer: X Seed 4000 (4 Kilometers)

Explanation: We all know that tallest structure human has ever built is Burj Khalifa, and soon this is going to change in 2020. Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia is currently under construction that dares to go beyond the 1 kilometer mark. But this is not how tall we possibly could build if we wanted to.

There isn’t any limit to how tall we could build something at all, as long as we kept expanding the base of the structure to support the weight on the top. However, the Earth is spherical which put a limit how much we could expand the base of the structure.

With current technology and resources, we could possibly exceed 4000 kilometers of altitude. The tallest structure, named X-Seed 4000, is a completely-designed blueprint that would reach about 45% as high as Mount Everest.

To support the massive weight on the top, the base of the tower would have to be six kilometers wide. It would be capable of housing over 1 million people inside the building, and it would be so gigantic that it would likely disrupt weather patterns around wherever it is built. The cost of building this structure would be almost US $2 trillion – more than the entire GDP of Russia.

We haven’t mentioned the outrageous structures like a space elevator, which would be 100,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, because we don’t know about any strong enough material yet that can support these kinds of structure. Theoretically, it is possible in future, and people at this height would experience a modest amount of time dilation.

2. What If You Were Born In Space?

in space body

Short Answer: The body would be much weaker. A child would have thinner legs, weak muscles, poor eyesight, puffier face, and a higher than normal proclivity to dementia later in life.

Explanation: We are talking about outer space that happens to be 100,000 meters above the ground. If you were born at that height (zero gravity), what would you look like? Actually, we are not sure we can make babies in space.

You might not realize but gravity plays an important role in developing your body correctly and healthfully. In zero-g environment things are very different. The enzyme responsible for stopping the movement of a sperm cell’s tale does not work very well at zero-g. In space, sperms swim faster and the fluid in the vestibular system floats around – it’s confused. This can lead to visual illusions, disorientation and motion sickness. It affects almost 50 percent of astronauts.

In 1983, the Soviet Union sent pregnant rats into space and found the trip was harder on the mother than on the fetuses. Once the babies were born upon returning to the ground, they were weaker, thinner and struggled with directions. Also, the mother lost about 25% of her body weight and had significant changes in her endocrine systems.

The body fluid is free to evenly distribute in space, giving space travelers their characteristic bird legs and puffy faces. In fact the new fluid pressure on face can compromise vision, and astronauts can lose up to 22% of their total blood volume, leading to weaker atrophied hearts.

Read: How Strong Are Black Holes? | Precise Measurement of Magnetic Field

Without proper exercise, care and precautions, like astronauts already take, children developing in zero-g could look very much similar to what shown in the image. Not because of lack of vitamin D or Rickets, but because the necessary forces required for healthy bone development would not be there.  

1. Can We Make A Liquid Boil and Freeze At The Same Time?

Short Answer: Yes

Explanation: You might have heard the term triple point. It occurs when the pressure and temperature of the substance is just right for the three phases (solid, liquid and gas) to coexist in thermodynamic equilibrium.

The video shows cyclohexane in a vacuum. As it boils, high energy molecules leave the liquid in the gaseous form, reducing the temperature of liquid left behind and causing it to freeze. The process of freezing and boiling continues while cyclohexane remains at this particular temperature and pressure (or triple point).

Read: What If A Black Hole Appears Near You?

The stable equilibrium of water occurs at exactly 0.01°C and a pressure of 611.73 pascals. Simply put, at this temperature and pressure, the water can exist in all three states at once.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a professional science and technology journalist and a big fan of AI, machines, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out about his latest projects, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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