Your Science Questions Answered #2

By Stephanie Ma

What is the fastest animal on earth?

It may certainly come as a surprise to a lot of people, but the fastest member of the animal kingdom is actually the Peregrine falcon. With blue-grey wings and barred underparts, the powerful Falcon is most renowned for its speed, which can reach up to 320 km/h during its characteristic hunting stoop. According to the National Geographic, the highest velocity ever recorded of the aerial raptor is 389 km/h, surpassing that of cheetahs, the fastest land animal, by a whopping 268.3 km/h.

What natural resources do deserts contain?

Barren, bone-dry and devoid of life: Deserts may seem like a wasteland at first glance, but underneath the shifting sand dunes is an enormous wealth of natural resources that have proven useful to the humankind for many centuries. Principal amongst the Sahara Desert, for instance, are massive reserves of petroleum, uranium, oil, natural gas, iron ore and phosphates, especially in the territories of Algeria and Libya. In addition, usage of desert succulents is so extensive that they could be used in making syrups, candy, medicine and more.

Which earthquake is the deadliest in human history?

The Huaxian earthquake, which occurred on the morning of 23 January 1556 in Shaanxi, China during the Ming Dynasty. Wreaking havoc in more than 97 counties in the provinces of Shaaxi, Shanxi, Henan, Gansu and more, scholars believed that the destruction done by the earthquake is almost impossible to measure in modern terms. With a death toll of approximately 830,000 and damage extending as far away as about 270 miles northeast of the epicentre, the catastrophe was rendered the deadliest earthquake ever recorded in human history.

Is it a good idea to drink urine when water is scarce?

Although some have often claimed that drinking urine is the only way of survival during accidents and natural disasters, experts believed that this practice might actually kill you. A healthy person’s urine usually consists of 95% water and sterile, hence it is safe to drink urine in the short term for replenishing loss water. However, the remaining 5% comprises a multitude of waste products such as nitrogen, potassium and calcium. High concentration of urea and these waste products in your bloodstream would eventually result in serious health repercussions or worse, death.

What colour is the blood inside our veins?

Human blood is always red in colour. Depending on the level of oxygenation, the colour spans from bright red when oxygenated to a dark, blackish-red when deoxygenated. It owes its colour to a molecule named hemoglobin, to which oxygen binds. When oxygen is attached to a hemoglobin, the latter changes shape and thus making human blood to appear red in colour.

Why is a cough worse at night?

Whilst we are awake during the day, it’s our bodies’ natural reaction to swallow frequently, thus permitting nasal mucus to easily drain down our nose and throat. However, when we lie down at night to go to bed, it becomes more difficult for the body to naturally clear the airways, allowing mucus to easily build up in your throat. This forces us to breathe through the mouth, which will, in turn, irritate the sensitive nerves at the back our throats and cause us to cough – often more and worse at night.