In this week’s Random Facts edition: A Top-Heavy World, Chipolte Start, DUNE Rejected, The Super Strong Jet Stream, and The Danger of a Lion’s Tongue.
You might not know it, but the world is a little top-heavy. Around 88-90% of the people on Earth live in the Northern Hemisphere. Why is that? It may simply come down to the latitude at which people prefer to live.
Half of the roughly 88-90% of people that live in the northern hemisphere live within 24 degrees north of the equator. This is about 1,648 miles from the equator to 24 degrees north latitude. This is a little more than the distance from New York City to Denver.
With seven billion people worldwide, the North American continent holds about 528 million, Europe has around 743 million, and Asia holds about 4.4 billion. All of these continents fit entirely inside the northern hemisphere and total 5.67 billion people. Add in the approximately 600 million people north of the equator in South America and Africa and more than 6 billion people live in the northern hemisphere. But if you take a look at the map, you can see that a lot of it also comes down to the amount of available land. There’s clearly a lot more land to live on in the northern hemisphere. Source, Source
It may not seem that obvious, but chipotle peppers are smoked, dried jalapenos; just in case you were wondering. Chipolte comes from the Nahuatl word chilpoctli, which means “smoked chili”. Nahuatl was the language spoken by the Aztecs from central Mexico.
Chipolte peppers are usually made from red jalapenos after they have fully ripened . The jalapenos are smoked for several days until most of the moisture is removed. Most of the heat from the jalapeno remains after it is smoked, and it is used as a flavoring in a number of dishes. Source, Source
It took Herbert six years to complete the writing of DUNE. When it was finally accepted and published in 1965, his advance was only $7,500. The novel has since sold almost 20 million copies. Source
You’ve probably heard it on weather reports when a meteorologist happens to mention the jet stream, but what is it exactly? The jet stream, considered a “river” of air in the upper atmosphere, is essentially a very narrow tube of wind that is usually between 20,000 ft and 50,000 ft. They flow from west to east in the upper atmosphere and can reach speeds of more than 275 mph. As a comparison, a Category 5 hurricane (the strongest hurricane) has winds above 156 mph. These are some strong winds, but how do they develop and why are they important, specifically for air travel?
The jet stream blows from west to east because of the rotation of the earth. As the air moves away from the equator, it doesn’t simply rise to the north or south, and it is affected by the location where the air is located. A position on the equator is moving faster relative to a point farther north or south as the earth rotates. To put it simply, as the air moves toward the poles it continues to move in an easterly direction, but the earth moves slower in areas toward the poles (relative to a spot on the earth’s surface). This makes the air move even faster in an easterly direction when it gets farther from the equator.
Jet streams are related to the differences between hot and cold air. These differences can be seen the most during the winter where differences between hot and cold air are the most in the northern and southern hemisphere. When you add in temperature differences between hot and cold air, the wind strength increases even more in the upper atmosphere. This is where two bands of wind form. One is called the Polar Jet, which is located closer to the north and south poles, and the other is called the Subtropical Jet which is located between the Polar Jet and the equator. These bands of strong air can vary in position based on the season, air temperature changes, pressure systems, and the sun.
Jet streams are very important in air travel as airplanes can “ride” these strong winds from west to east to decrease time and fuel costs, thus saving the airline money. One example of the power of the jet stream occurred in January of 2016 when a British Airways Boeing 777 flying from New York to London recorded a ground speed of 745 mph as it rode the jet stream that at the time was producing a wind of more than 200 mph. The airplane even got close to supersonic speeds which is a ground speed of 761 mph. The flight was an hour and a half ahead of schedule when it landed at Heathrow Airport in London. Source, Source, Source
Let’s hope it never happens, but try not to get licked by a lion, among other things. As with a domestic cat, a lion’s tongue has the roughness of sandpaper, but this cat’s lick could leave you in a lot of pain. A lion’s tongue is covered in very small spines that face backward toward the lion’s throat called papillae. Humans also have papillae, but ours are aren’t used in quite the same manner as a lion’s, nor are they nearly as rough. The papillae on a lion’s tongue are used to clean their fur and act like a comb. They’re also used to remove meat from bones. With that last part being said, a lion’s tongue is so rough that a few licks would remove the skin from a human. Source, Source
Enjoy even more Random Facts of the Week.