Amusing Science

AmusingScience was established by a group of people who are not only passionate about science but de We put education and safety first.

Amusing Science was established and run by a group of people who are not only passionate about science, but determined to spread their passion to the next generation. All of the concepts for our experiments have been written by scientists with PhD degrees and have been tested for workability and safety. Each experiment in the course follows a theme and specific learning objectives. Not only are th

Operating as usual

07/09/2022

These fish, commonly known as Koi, are a type of carp bred intentionally as pets.

They live in cold water and are therefore easy to keep and can survive in most environments.

Such Koi are multi-coloured due to several genetic mutations and were bred in China for their colourful scales over a thousand years ago.

03/09/2022

The Blue Passion flower is often found in England now but native to South America.
 
All parts of the flowers and leaves can be made into tea, although small amounts of cyanide is found in the leaves.
 
The plant will eventually bear a bright, reddish orange fruit similar to a passionfruit, but bland in taste and therefore the Blue Passion flower is usually only cultivated for ornamental purposes.

26/06/2022

🔬UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
Paramecium are single-celled organisms which live in fresh or salt water. Their bodies are covered with hair like structures which helps them “brush” bacteria or algae towards them for food.

These paramecium are stained for easy viewing under a light microscope.

13/06/2022

🔬UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
This purple bubble is a neutrophil, one type of white blood cell found in human blood, as seen under a light microscope.

Neutrophils are the most abundant type of white blood cell in humans, and they play an important role in innate immunity. Their primary function is to prevent infections in the body by engulfing and destroying invading pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.

17/04/2022

😋 Pastel de nata
The brown topping on these Portuguese egg tarts are due to what is scientifically known as the Maillard Reaction - the reaction between proteins and sugars in food.

The Maillard Reaction happens every time we brown our food including when we sear steaks or just roast a few marshmallows on the BBQ.

Though browning food is capable of producing thousands of tasty flavours and aromas, we must be careful not to eat overly (blackened) food as acrylamide - a human carcinogen - is a by-product of the Maillard reaction left to run too long.

08/04/2022

👀HAVE YOU SEEN?

These mechanical art installations at the Tate Modern are by Anicka Yi and are known as “aerobes” - organisms which can survive in any environment containing oxygen.

Filled with helium and powered using a rotor and small battery pack - these mechanical aerobes are fitted with artificial intelligent technology which gives them an unpredictable flight path. The A.I technology also allows the aerobes to interact with each other as well as other organisms (the people coming to the exhibition😃) in their vicinity. They react just like real aerobes in nature!

07/04/2022

🌿 Spring in Hong Kong is a riot of colours thanks to the Handroanthus chrysanthus trees which are seen in nearly every district during March and April.

But don’t be fooled by these golden trumpet-shaped flowers - the whole tree including flowers, leaves and bark is poisonous. The Handroanthus chrysanthus produces poisonous plant alkaloids which when ingested can cause muscle weakness as well as hallucinations.

Some famous Agatha-Christie-eque plant alkaloids include strychnine and aconitine which are deadly, even if only a few milligrams is ingested.

21/03/2022

🕷Golden orb weaver spider

This female spider was photographed in Cairns, Australia.

These spiders are known for the impressive webs they weave and prey on beetles, locusts, flies and even bats and birds!

Using a stress-testing machine to evaluate the strength of this spider’s silk, it was found that the silk is up to a hundred times tougher than synthetic threads currently being used for medical surgeries!

Attempts to weave clothes out of the silk have also been made and a sample of such a jacket can be seen at the Victoria and Albert museum in London.

05/03/2022

How many colours are there in a rainbow?

There are seven distinct colours in a rainbow- but did you know that a human eye can distinguish between three million different colours? - and that’s all achieved by the three types of photoreceptors we have in our eyes - called cones. These three types of cones can detect wavelengths of light in the visible spectrum and our brain will translate these wavelengths into a “colour”.

As mammals, we humans are the lucky ones - dogs and most other mammals only possess two types of cones and can therefore see fewer colours than humans.

05/02/2022

Happy Year of the Tiger!

🧐How do neon lights work?

These lights consists of glass tubes filled with a noble gas - neon. When the light is switched on (ie, electricity is applied), the electrical energy will charge up the neon atoms. These charged-up atoms become excited and will release a colour characteristic of the gas. So neon only releases a reddish orange colour.

So how are other colours produced ?

A mixture of noble gases can be used - helium will give a pink glow, whilst argon is blue and krypton is green. But most “neon” lights nowadays do not contain any noble gases - the glass tubes are coated with a coloured chemical that will produce the desired light colours without having to excite atoms 😀

31/01/2022

🤓What’s in a firecracker?
Ushering in the Year of the Tiger 🐯with traditional firecrackers! Happy new year! 🏮🧧🎉

23/01/2022

These vibrating creatures are bees trying to protect their territory from the large hornet hovering around.

When predators or even bees from other hives stake out their home, bees will emit a high pitch scream recognisable to their hive members. When this scream is heard the hive members will surround the predator. When a critical number is reached, the bees will vibrate their bodies in unison creating an increase in temperature which will eventually kill the hornet.

The critical mass of bees have not been reached in this video- but nevertheless, the hornet is not confident enough to enter this particular hive.


13/01/2022

🧐 Why does it only take half an hour to charge my phone from 50% to 90%, but it takes an hour to get from 90% to 100%?!

The batteries used in your mobile phone and other mobile devices are lithium batteries which are expensive as well as delicate.

When you first plug in your charger, your device will ascertain how much power is remaining in your battery and set the charging speed.

The speed will be fast if the battery power is low, but in order to protect your battery from over charging, once it get to 90%, the device will slow the speed way down.

Over charging a lithium battery causes crystals to form which not only ruins the battery but can burst open through the battery plastic shell.

31/12/2021

🧐 The black rings and orange specks are lichen growing on granite. But what is a lichen?

Lichens are tiny ecosystems made up of fungi, algae, and sometimes even bacteria. The fungus part of the lichen provides the structure and the algae give it its color and provide nutrients for the fungus through photosynthesis.

In addition to algae photosynthesis, lichens get much of their nutrients from the air, and since lichens have no roots or protective surface, they cannot filter anything they absorb. Whatever is in the air is taken straight inside. If there are pollutants, it can accumulate in the lichen and can kill it very quickly.

So if you find lichens like this growing in an area - you know that the air there must be clean!

08/12/2021

We spotted this dragonfly inside Hong Kong University. Can you spot the damage to the wings? Can it still fly?

The wings of dragonflies are made of CHITIN, a hardened protein similar to the shells of prawns. Dragonflies have amazing flying power - flying further, higher and faster than most insects, at speeds of up to 70km per hour.

They can also propel themselves upwards and downwards, backwards and forwards, side to side and hover in midair as dragonflies have two sets of wings that can be used in tandem or independently.

Even when damaged, it will be able to fly without any problems.

05/12/2021

💡DID YOU KNOW?
Ladybirds have smelly knees?!

These brightly coloured insects are a gardener’s friend ~ often eating aphids and other crop pests.

There are over 5000 species of ladybirds. Some are red with black spots while some are with yellow with no spots at all - but regardless of their markings, their bright colours tell predators one thing ~ don’t eat me ! I taste bad !

When threatened, ladybirds will release a foul smelling alkaloid from their knees! This alkaloid is both smelly and extremely bitter! Better not annoy a ladybird!

21/10/2021

💡FUN FACT: This is a paddle cactus - native to South America but now grows in most temperate regions of the world.

These large fruits on the cactus are prickly pear. The bright fruit containing cochineal were once used as dyes for the red coats required in the British Army.

The prickly pear is edible and is often made into sweets, jams and beverages - when eaten raw they are said to taste like a combination of watermelon and bubblegum! 😀

15/10/2021

🌸 These beautiful flowers are LANTANA CAMARA, native to South America and other tropical regions are now found all over the world and considered one of the top ten invasive weeds.

Despite their ‘weed’ status, they are loved by gardeners as they contain a high volume of nectar at the base of each little flower- which attracts bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.

However, the flowers are less popular with farmers because they cause liver damage when eaten by horses, sheep and cattle (due to high levels of Pentacyclic triterpenoids contained in the ripened berries). The fruit may look like blackberries, but don’t eat them!

12/10/2021

🤔 Can you eat this flower?
This is a hibiscus, a genus of flowering plant which is found in most temperate regions of the world.

Both the flowers and the leaves are used in TEA-MAKING and is a popular drink in Asia as well as the Middle East.

Studies on humans (published in 2010, Journal of Nutrition) show that hibiscus tea, with this specific combination of vitamin C and phenolic compounds can lower blood pressure after drinking every day for six weeks.

09/10/2021

🧐Why do parrots imitate human voices?

There are only two species of animals which can produce voices like humans - birds and … humans!

Even our much closer relatives, the Great Apes, lack the brain capacity to produce human sound.

And birds do not only imitate human voices but can reproduce just about any sounds from running taps to camera clicks and even chainsaws!

So why do birds imitate such sounds ?

Parrots in the wild are highly sociable and learn the calls and sounds made by their flock to preserve flock cohesion and as a means of communication. Baby parrots are each given their own names which are learnt by other members of the flock!

Parrots in captivity treat humans as members of their community and therefore learn to reproduce sounds we make in order to become part of “human” society - just as they would in the wild.

07/10/2021

🤔 Can you fold glass?

The short answer to that is yes, you can fold anything that is thin enough…

Imagine folding the trunk of a tree? It’s impossible to fold wood right? Yet the thin shavings which come off when you sharpen a wooden pencil are curly and foldable.

Folding something involves stretching their chemical bonds and as long as the bonds aren’t stretched to breaking point, that material can fold.

So the thinner something is, the more likely it can fold without breaking the bonds - now for glass, it has to be less than 100 microns thick - the width of a human hair - before it can fold - Samsung says that the glass on their new foldable phone is only 40 microns thick!

06/10/2021

💡FUN FACT: The rose chafer is a brightly coloured beetle found in many places from Europe to Hong Kong.

They feed on nectar, pollen and flowers, especially roses and are not to be confused with their cousins, the noble chafer. You see the bright golden area just below its head? It is an isosceles triangle. The noble chafer sports an equilateral triangle in this area.

The iridescent colours act as a camouflage - the beetle appears to be different colours when seen from different angles which confuses its predators 😀

28/09/2021

🍎FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Sesame seeds have many health benefits because they are high in phytosterols and stanols, naturally occurring molecules which when eaten can help to lower the cholesterol in our blood. BUT you’re going to need more than a few seeds on bread to make a difference, more like three tablespoons a day!

Photos from Amusing Science's post 20/09/2021

💡FUN FACT: We’ve talked a lot about a group of pigments called anthocyanins here…they give colour to many plants from aubergines to blueberries to flowers and they are responsible for these purple runner beans here!

The beans still contain green chlorophyll - but because the anthocyanin is so strong - the green colour is hidden.

Cooking the beans will cause some of the purple pigment to break down and the green chlorophyll will be revealed.

18/09/2021

🤔DID YOU KNOW…? Purple aubergines produce a pigment called NASUNIN, which is a member of the big family of ANTHOCYANINS.

Anthocyanins come in a myriad of colours, but are usually more RED when found in ACIDIC conditions and more PURPLE when ALKALINE. It is responsible for the reds to purples to nearly black colours of fruits, vegetables and leaves.

These pigments have been found to be strong ANTIOXIDANTS in the lab, and are therefore now popular health supplements... but no strong evidence exist as to any health benefits they may have in people who eat them😀

06/09/2021

🤔QUESTION: Can bananas really help fruit ripen?

The fruit ripening process is a process where baby fruit mature into adult fruit. Just like in animals, hormones play a big role in this maturation process.

Ethylene is a gas produced by plants which acts as a plant hormone.

Fruits which can ripen after being picked (called climacteric fruits) are very sensitive to the hormone ethylene.

Since bananas, rice and other plants produce and release ethylene, putting an unripe tomato or peach or apple next to a banana will ensure speedy ripening 😀

22/08/2021

🍎FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Vegetables like cucumbers are often “pickled” - or preserved in a solution of salt, spices and vinegar.

So what happens when you put a cucumber into pickling juice?

Cucumbers contain a lot of water - actually it contains a lot “more” water than the pickling juice - so the water from the cucumber will leave the cucumber cells and enter the pickling juice through osmosis, diluting the juice and at the same time drying out the cucumber.

The pickling juice - containing a high concentration of salt and vinegar will prevent bacteria from growing, therefore preserving the cucumber so that it can be eaten even years after it has been picked.

06/08/2021

🧐What gives eggs their colour?

The shell of a egg is made of calcium carbonate which is a white, crystalline solid. So all eggs start off white!

As the egg matures down the hen’s oviduct, pigments are deposited into the egg shell. Shades of greens and blues are caused by the pigment biliverdin, while protoporphyrin is responsible for reddish-brown colours. Both of these pigments are also found in the human body!

20/07/2021

💡DID YOU KNOW?
Although the word peacock is often used for both the male and female birds - the generic term for them should be peafowl - with the males being peacocks and the females being peahens.

Although it is commonly assumed that the females are attracted to males with the biggest and most colourful tail feathers, new eye tracking technology has shown that this is probably a myth.

Studies tracking eye movements of females during their interactions with potential mates have shown that females seldom look at anything above the males’ head - that means that peahens don’t even look at the feathers of peacocks.

The race then is to find the real reason peacocks spend so much time and energy growing such a colourful plume!

18/07/2021

This is a toad in our lab 🐸. Toad is a common name for certain frogs, especially of the family ‘Bufonidae’.

Toads are characterised by darker, drier and more bumpy skin. But despite popular belief, the bumps are not warts ... they are glands which secrete chemicals onto the toad - some of these chemicals are toxins and are there to prevent predators from eating them!

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Videos (show all)

👀HAVE YOU SEEN?These mechanical art installations at the Tate Modern are by Anicka Yi and are known as “aerobes” - organ...
🤓What’s in a firecracker? Ushering in the Year of the Tiger 🐯with traditional firecrackers! Happy new year! 🏮🧧🎉#amusings...
These vibrating creatures are bees trying to protect their territory from the large hornet hovering around. When predato...
🤔QUESTION: Are these seals or sea lions? Seals, sea lions and walruses are semiaquatic mammals called pinnipeds, meaning...
💡FUN FACT: The Eurasian (Common) Crane was once extinct in the UK due to the amount of hunting that has taken place thro...
🤔 How do birds get shiny, brightly coloured feathers ? 🔍Birds’ feathers contain cell organelles called melanosomes which...
💡WHAT CAUSES LIGHTENING?Lightning is a burst of electricity which can occur between clouds and the ground or within clou...
💡DID YOU KNOW? Some birds, such as vultures, eagles and hawks, sustain flight for long periods without flapping their wi...
💡FUN FACT: These kangaroos were filmed recently in Queensland. Both males and females spar with each other - they are ju...
During the Covid pandemic we are often reminded to wash our hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. But why 20 se...
🤔YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED:Toothpaste contains lots of active ingredients - including sodium fluoride which prevents cavit...
🧪TRY THIS AT HOME: Why does the egg get sucked into the bottle? Air expands when it is heated and escapes from the mouth...

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