As the young red blood cell grows and takes on an adult form in the marrow of the bone, it loses its nucleus, and it increases its production of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the red pigment, or color of blood, and contains iron, combined with protein. (Oxygen combined with iron is red; the more oxygen iron has bound to it, the redder it is.)
When blood passes through the lungs, oxygen attaches itself to the hemoglobin of the red cells. From there, the red cells carry the oxygen through the arteries and the capillaries to all other cells of the body. The arteries appear reddish because the iron in the blood gives up its oxygen to the cells that need it as the red blood cells travel throughout the body. By the time the blood is back on its way to the heart and then to the lungs it has less than half as much oxygen as it did before. The veins, therefore, do not get as much oxygen as the other tissues and they appear bluish.
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Which is in charge of space exploration and scientific discovery for the United States, the Hubble transmits about 120 gigabytes of science data every week. That’s equal to about 3,600 feet (1,097 meters) of books on a shelf. The growing collection of pictures and data is stored on magneto-optical disks. Among its many discoveries, Hubble has revealed the age of the universe to be about 13 to 14 billion years, which is a more accurate estimate than the Big Bang range of between 10 to 20 billion years.
Hubble also played a key role in the discovery of dark energy, a mysterious force that causes the expansion of the universe to accelerate. Hubble has shown scientists galaxies in “toddler” stages of growth, helping them understand how galaxies form. It found protoplanetary disks, clumps of gas and dust around young stars that likely function as birthing grounds for new planets. It discovered that gamma-ray bursts—strange, incredibly powerful explosions of energy—occur in far-distant galaxies when massive stars collapse.
The combine harvester saves the farmers time and labor. Before modern machinery, harvesting crops was a painstaking process. Gathering and removing mature plants from the field had to be done by hand. Farm workers used sharp-bladed, long-handled scythes and curved sickles to cut down cereal crops like wheat. Even the fastest reaper could only clear about a third of an acre a day. Because rain could ruin harvested wheat, workers called sheaf-makers quickly tied it into bundles, so that it could be safely stored if the weather turned stormy. During the long winter months farm workers used jointed wooden tools called flails to thresh or beat the dried wheat in order to separate its edible grain seeds from its stalks.
But in 1786 a machine that threshed wheat by rubbing it between rollers was invented, replacing human threshers. And around 1840 a reaping machine—whose revolving wheel pressed grain stalks against a sharp blade that cut them down— replaced human harvesters. Today, farm machines called combine harvesters do this work in much the same way. These machines are very efficient and combine all three jobs of cutting, collecting, and threshing a crop. A single combine harvester can process five acres of wheat in less than an hour!
According to many religions based on Judaism and Christianity, heaven is a state of existence where a person’s spirit is at last united with God forever. In a number of Christian religions, heaven is believed to be the reward for people who have lived good lives according to certain rules of thought and behavior that God has made known through scriptures (sacred writings, like the Bible) and through the teachings of churches and religious leaders. (Those who have not followed these rules, it is believed by many, go to a place of punishment known as hell.) Many Christians believe that at the end of the world their human forms will be resurrected in a perfect state—just as the body of Jesus Christ was, when he arose from the dead on Easter morning—and join their souls or spirits in heaven for eternity.
This idea has led to the concept that heaven is an actual place—located above—with physical characteristics. Over the centuries, through pictures and writings, people have tried to create images of heaven, imagining a place of perfect happiness perched atop fluffy white clouds. It has often been portrayed as a place full of things that would bring happiness on Earth, possessing, for instance, pearly gates and streets of gold.
Scientists often compare Earth to an onion because the planet is made up of many layers of rocks of different densities. On the outside, there is a think crust of hard, cold rock, which is about 4 miles (7 kilometers) thick under the oceans and 22 miles (35 kilometers) thick under the continents. The crust—the layer we live on—surrounds a hard, rocky surface that marks the top of the mantle, called the lithosphere. Most of Earth is made of its mantle, Which goes almost halfway down to Earth’s center.
At the very center is Earth’s core, which has a center of solid iron and nickel about the size of the Moon (called the inner core) and a molten exterior (called the outer core). The temperature of Earth increases about 36 degrees Fahrenheit (2.2 degrees Celsius) for every 0.62 miles (1 kilometer) down you go, reaching temperatures as high as 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit (6,093 degrees Celsius) at its center.
In 1823, the English mathematician originated the concept of a programmable computer. At this time, he persuaded the British government to finance what he called an “analytical engine.” This would have been a machine that could undertake any kind of calculation. It would have been driven by steam, but the most important innovation was that the entire program of operations was stored on a punched tape (a long strip of paper in which holes are punched to store data).
Babbage’s machine was not completed in his lifetime because the technology available to him was not sufficient to support his design. However, in 1991 a team lead by Doron Swade at London’s Science Museum built the analytical engine (sometimes called a “difference engine”) based on Babbage’s work. Measuring 10 feet (3 meters) wide by 6.5 feet (2 meters) tall, it weighed three tons and could calculate equations down to 31 digits. The feat proved that Babbage was way ahead of his time, even though the device was impractical because one had to a turn a crank hundreds of times in order to generate a single calculation. Modern computers use electrons, which travel at the speed of light.
An earthquake is a great shaking of Earth’s surface. It is caused by the cracking and shifting of the plates of rock that make up the planet’s layered crust. As shifting plates suddenly slide past one another, vibrations in the form of waves are released. These shock waves travel through Earth, gradually weakening as they move farther from the spot (or spots) where the quake began, which is called the epicenter. Regions located near faults (places where cracks in Earth’s crust are known to exist), are particularly vulnerable to earthquakes.
Earthquakes vary in size and intensity. They may last a few seconds or continue for a few minutes. They may cause no damage, or they can result in widespread destruction and the deaths of thousands of people. Earthquake vibrations can be so violent that they collapse bridges and buildings, destroy highways, cause landslides, and lead to flooding if they occur in shallow water near a coast.
Yes. Not all plants are seed plants. Some plants, such as ferns and mosses, reproduce with spores instead of seeds. Spores, like seeds, can survive harsh conditions and develop into new plants. However, unlike seeds, spores are produced without fertilization and contain neither a plant embryo nor endosperm. Some plants can reproduce without spores or seeds through vegetative reproduction, in which a part of the stem or root gives rise to a new plant.
Yes. The average person has three or four dreams each night, with each dream lasting 10 minutes or more. Almost all dreams occur during REM sleep, a period of sleep characterized by fast breathing and heart rates. Scientists do not understand why dreaming is important, but one theory is that the brain is either cataloging the information it acquired during the day and discarding the data it does not want, or is creating scenarios to work through situations that may be causing emotional distress.
Like sleep, most people who are deprived of dreams become disoriented, are unable to concentrate, and may even have hallucinations. Sometimes it is hard to remember our dreams because they are stored in our short-term memory.
Once in a while the Moon passes directly in front of the Sun as it makes its way around Earth. It temporarily blocks out the Sun, casting a shadow on a portion of Earth that is experiencing day.
When this total eclipse of the Sun—a solar eclipse occurs, the part of Earth affected becomes dark and cold until the Moon passes by. Surrounding areas experience a partial eclipse, when just part of the Sun is temporarily covered by the Moon.