In this edition of the Random Facts of the Week: Ocean Levels, a Bachelor President, IMAX Projectors, Silent Owls, and a Statue’s Cone Headgear.
The oceans of the world may seem like they’re all at the same level, but that is not the case. The Pacific Ocean is actually about 8 inches higher than the Atlantic Ocean because the Pacific is less dense, having less salinity on average than the Atlantic Ocean . The change in height also occurs because of the conditions of each ocean as well as the prevailing weather conditions that are found on the Pacific side. This change in sea level can be measured at the Panama Canal, and if the canal had somehow been cut level, there would be a strong current flowing from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.
There can even be changes within the level of each individual ocean. In the Atlantic, sea levels are significantly higher in Bermuda than they are along the northeast coast of the United States. This occurs because of the flow of the Gulf Stream ocean current that moves to the north in the Atlantic. Since the rotation of the Earth (Coriolis effect) moves the current to the right, ocean levels end up being higher in Bermuda. Source
James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States, isn’t a president you probably have heard much about, but he does have one legacy that hasn’t been repeated by another sitting president. Buchanan never married and has been the only president to remain a lifelong bachelor.
Why didn’t Buchanan ever marry? Historians aren’t exactly sure, but his personal life was a subject of controversy. Buchanan was once engaged to a woman named Anne Coleman when he was in his late 20s, but her father was against the marriage. There is a belief that Buchanan had an affair while engaged to Coleman. She supposedly found out about the affair and broke off the engagement. Coleman died after the break-up due to unknown reasons. Its unknown what the exact cause of death was, but it was thought to be from suicide or illness because of her split with Buchanan.
Buchanan wasn’t allowed to attend her funeral because her family blamed him for her death. He remained a bachelor for the rest of his life, but there were other claims that Buchanan was in fact gay. He was friends with William Rufus King, who later became the vice-president under the administration of Franklin Pierce. King and Buchanan lived together for a period of time while both of them were in Congress in Washington. They received the unflattering monikers of Miss Nancy and Aunt Fancy even though nothing beyond a friendship had ever been affirmed. Buchanan had a less than stellar presidential career and served only one term. He died in 1868, eight years after leaving office. Source
IMAX is the motion picture film format that stands for “Image Maximum” that allows movies to be seen at resolutions and sizes beyond conventional movies seen at a regular theater. Special cameras are used to film IMAX and uniquely specialized projectors are needed to view the much larger film. They are so unique that projectionists in IMAX cinemas are required to wear protective body armor when changing or handling the xenon short-arc lamps that are used as the light source to project the image from the film. The lamps are made of fused quartz filled with xenon gas that is at a pressure of 367 psi. The reason for the body armor is because if they break, quartz shards could be propelled by the high pressure gas contained in the lamp. A single IMAX projector weighs 2.2 tons. Source, Source
There’s an amazing reason why owls are such good hunters at night and why their prey might not ever hear them coming. The leading edge of an owl’s wings have serrations that are comb-like which control the air flow and reduce the noise from the flapping wings, making them almost silent in flight. On an ordinary wing, turbulence occurs as air builds up around the wings and produces noise. The serrations on an owl’s wings breaks up this turbulence into smaller pieces and any remaining high frequency noise is absorbed by the feathers on the legs and wings allowing them to descend on their prey virtually undetected. Source
The city of Glasgow, Scotland allegedly spends £10,000 (15,195 USD) a year to remove the traffic cones that get placed on the head of the equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington. Why is there a traffic cone on the head of the Duke of Wellington’s statue you may ask? It comes down to a tradition that started some time in the 1980s though the real reason is unknown other than it was a prank.
The Glasgow City Council hasn’t been too fond of the tradition and tried to raise the statue so the practice could be stopped, but it was immediately met with a public backlash. After an online petition that went by “Save Wellington’s Cone” received thousands of responses, the council backed out on their plan. The statue was erected in 1844 and stands in front of the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow’s Royal Exchange Square. Source, Source
Check out other exciting editions of the Random Facts of the Week.