30 Things We Learnt In July, 2022

Posted on 1 August 2022

Here at Gowing Life, we have decided to keep a fun record of everything we learn in 2022, be it longevity-related or something else entirely. Here is a selection of our newly acquired neural connections for the month of July!

1: This is no dead leaf, but an Indian oakleaf butterfly. They are found in tropical Asia from India to Japan.

By Quartl – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16038903

2: The Illusory Truth Effect: The tendency to believe false information after repeated exposure. Information is perceived as more credible if it feels familiar, because it’s easier to process. This helps to explain why repeating misinformation over and over again is so effective, even when the misinformation is easy to disprove.

3: According to recent research, six months in space leads to bone loss equating to up to two decades of ageing, and it takes an entire year in Earth’s gravity just to rebuild half of the lost mass.

4: Webbcompare allows you to directly compare the images taken by the James Webb telescope and its predecessor Hubble.

The southern ring nebula as viewed by Hubble (left) and Webb (right).

5: The Origin of My Two Cents: The American idiom ”my two cents” came from the now disused English version ”to put in my two-penny worth”. However, the origin of the expression may be several millennia old. In the biblical story of the widow’s offering, a poor widow offers all of her money (two small coins) to the temple in Jerusalem, and gains more favour with Jesus than the wealthier patrons. Other more recent possible origins include ”twopenny post” (two pennies being the normal charge for sending a letter containing one’s thoughts or feelings) and ”a penny for your thoughts”.

6: Physicians are less likely to administer painkillers during night shifts than day shifts, according to a recent study. The researchers suggest that night shifts may impact empathic decision-making, and that more structured pain management guidelines should be implemented to account for this.

7: This is what it looks like when a medical cannabis facility leaves its blackout blinds open at night. The eerie lights were captured by multiple residents of Mildura in Australia.

Photograph: Tammy Szumowsk

8: Olber’s paradox: The argument that, based on the darkness of the night’s sky, the universe cannot be infinite, static, and homogeneous at the same time. If all three statements were true, then any line of sight from Earth would end at the surface of a star, and so one would expect the night’s sky to be completely illuminated. However, if space is expanding as in the Big Bang model, this means there are many stars we can never observe, since the part of the universe they are in is expanding away from us faster than the light they emit.

9: According to research, people with very low BMI (Body Mass Index) are significantly less physically active than people with BMIs in the normal range. What sets low BMI individuals apart is that they eat less food and ‘run hotter’ – they have high resting metabolic rates linked to high levels of thyroid hormones.

10: Castles are often thought of as a medieval buildings, but similar fortifications have been built since long before medieval times, including by the Romans and Greeks. Portus Adurni in Porchester, England is one example.

By Charles Miller from Basingstoke, United Kingdom – View from the tower, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10737575

11: King Alfred the Great, ruler of the Saxon kingdom of Wessex from year 871 to 899, most likely had Crohn’s disease. It is written by Asser, the Welsh bishop of King Alfred, that the King had a huge feast after his marriage, soon after which he began experiencing frequent pains that persisted for over twenty years. Despite this, Alfred was still able to defend the kingdom against the Vikings, and is the only English monarch to have earned the title ‘the Great’.

12: You may have heard that the Queen of England technically owns all swans in England and Wales, but did you know that she also owns beached whales? In 1324, Edward II passed a law defining whales, sturgeons, dolphins, and porpoises within 5km of the shore as ‘royal fish’.

13: The world’s first known flight attendant was Heinrich Kubis, who started caring for zeppelin passengers in 1912. He was in the dining room in the Hindenburg when it caught fire, and was able to jump to safety when the zeppelin was close to the ground.

Heinrich Kubis (standing, dark jacket) in Dining Room of the Hindenburg

14: Air conditioning is responsible for nearly 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to recent analysis. Of the 1950 million tons of carbon dioxide released each year as a result of air conditioning, 531 million tons are produced cooling the air, 599 million tons are produced removing the humidity, and 820 million tons are the result of refrigerant leakage, production, and transportation of air conditioning units.

15: This isn’t just any electric car – it’s designed to capture more carbon dioxide while driving than it emits during production. Thanks to a special filter, ten such cars can capture and store about as much carbon as an average tree. This in theory makes it carbon negative, though this of course depends on how the electricity used to power it was generated.

Photo: Bart van Overbeeke

16: Not all geysers are hot: cold water geysers are the result of trapped carbon dioxide-laden water escaping from beneath the ground.

17: This is a horseshoe cloud, one of the rarest clouds observable. They are formed when a horseshoe vortex deforms a cumulus cloud.

By GerritR – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67274628

18: Branchiostegal lungs are organs that resembles gills, but which are more suited to absorbing oxygen from air. They are possessed by some arthropods including coconut crabs, which die if submerged in water for too long.

19: Spider legs are hydraulic: Spiders’ legs contain only a single flexor muscle that draws the leg inward – there are no muscles for leg extension. Instead, a chamber at the centre of the spider’s body pushes fluid into the leg, causing it to extend. Separate valves allow each limb to be controlled independently.

20: The crocodile’s third eyelid can shut when the reptile submerges. Crocodiles can also draw their eyeballs into their sockets.

21: In 1915, Cecil Chubb paid £6600 at an auction (about £680 000 in today’s money) to buy Stonehenge ”on a whim”, supposedly as a present to his wife Mary. Cecil soon passed Stonehenge into public ownership, as his wife apparently did not appreciate the gift – she had asked him to buy curtains.

22: In 1954, maire Lucien Jeune of the winemaking town Châteauneuf-du-Pape made it illegal to fly over, land, or take off in a flying saucer within the town. He had recently visited a wine fair in Paris and noticed that everyone was talking about space travel and UFOs. He came up with the law as a way to draw attention back to his town’s vineyards. The law is still in effect and the current maire has no plans to end it – after all, it’s clearly working.

23: When in 1907 a team successfully climbed Mount Tsurugi, regarded as the last unclimbed mountain in Japan, they found a the remains of a 1000 year-old sword at the summit.

24: Following the 1964 publication of the Warren commission’s report into the assassination of president John F Kennedy, polls estimated that 87% of Americans believed that Lee Harvey Oswald was the only shooter. In 2017, only about 33% of Americans thought that Oswald acted alone.

25: Lee Harvey Oswald was court-martialled twice: once after he accidentally shot himself in the elbow, and a second time for fighting with the sergeant he thought was responsible for his first court-martial.

26: This is the Three Gorges Damn ship lock in Hubei province central China. It has two rows of 5 locks, and they take about 4 hours to traverse.


27: Why do humpback whales jump out of the water? Scientists suspect that it may be a way of communicating with other whales. It is thought that the slapping and splashing creates sounds that propagate long distances underwater and may be used to send messages.

28: The largest study of it’s kind to date suggests that spending more time playing video games doesn’t negatively affect mental health, nor is there a significant association between mental health and the type of game being played. Rather, it is the motivation behind gaming habits that matters. In the survey with nearly 40000 participants, those who played games because they wanted to (intrinsic motivation) did not appear to have diminished well-being. However, when people reported gaming because they felt obligated in some way (extrinsic motivation), this was associated with a small but significant reduction in well-being.

29: Necrogamy, that is to say marrying someone who is deceased, has been legal in France since the 19th century – no wait, let me explain! The law originally came into existence to prevent the birth of illegitimate children. If you were pregnant and engaged, but your husband-to-be died before you could walk down the aisle, necrogamy could save your children from the stigma of being born out of wedlock.

30: Can you guess which country’s special forces are shown in the picture below? Trick question – these are members of the CJNG drug cartel in Mexico, whose criminal activities include drug trafficking and theft of crude oil. They have used armed drones and rocket-propelled grenades, and have previously attempted to buy M-60 machine guns in the United States.

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