1. Big Bang Theory
Based on research performed by Edwin Hubble, Georges Lemaitre and Albert Einstein, among others, the big bang theory postulates that the universe began almost 14 billion years ago with a massive expansion event. At the time, the universe was confined to a single point, encompassing all of the universe’s matter. That original movement continues today, as the universe keeps expanding outward.
The theory of the big bang gained widespread support in the scientific community after Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered cosmic microwave background radiation in 1965. Using radio telescopes, the two astronomers detected cosmic noise, or static, that didn’t dissipate over time. Collaborating with Princeton researcher Robert Dicke, the pair confirmed Dicke’s hypothesis that the original big bang left behind low-level radiation detectable throughout the universe.
Vultures often feed on dead bodies of sickly animals and curb the proliferation of bacteria. If they disappear, it could open the door to a spike in diseases, including anthrax and brucellosis in livestock, which could then spread to people.
The population of Oriental white-backed vultures in India has dropped from tens of millions to around 11,000 as of May 2008 [source: Morrison]. Around 97 percent of two related species, the long-billed and slender-billed vultures, have also died off in India in large numbers [source: Morrison]. Scientists have identified an anti-inflammatory drug called diclofenac as the culprit. Banned from use in India in 2006, ranchers used to treat their livestock with it. If cattle given diclofenac died, and vultures fed on their carcasses, it took only one exposure to the tainted meat to kill the birds
Although they hunt down rotting carcasses of dead animals, vultures are referred to as birds of prey. They soar at altitudes thousands of feet above the ground in search of meat. New World vultures in particular have acute senses of smell to help them locate their meals. But even though they feed on nature’s garbage, vultures are surprisingly sanitary birds. For instance, they have no feathers on their heads, which allows them to stay cleaner while digging into messy carnage that may contain unhealthy bacteria. Vultures also urinate on themselves to keep comfortable and disease-free. As the urine evaporates, it cools the vulture’s body in the same way sweat works on humans. The acid in the urine simultaneously destroys harmful pathogens from their last dinner.
3. Baboons Keep Pet Dogs
For many years, it has been asserted that the only animals that keep pets are human beings, but a troop of Hamadryas baboons near Ta-if, Saudi Arabia seems to have debunked that theory. Although some remain skeptical, claiming that the animals merely co-exist rather than share any bond, it is believed that the baboons kidnap the dogs as puppies and enjoy a symbiotic relationship with them much in the way that humans do. In exchange for food and companionship, the dogs protect the troop, particularly the vulnerable babies, against other dogs. There has been very little research on the phenomenon, but the footage captured on the scene by a French film crew seems very compelling evidence.
4. Google Is A Dog Company
Like many internet companies, Google is a fairly unorthodox workplace. Along with free gourmet meals, daily summer BBQs, pool tables, and slides, employees are actually encouraged to bring their dogs with them to work. Of course, the pups are required to be fairly well-behaved and housebroken; overly vocal or otherwise ill-tempered dogs are asked to stay at home. From Google’s own codes of conduct: “Google’s affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture. We like cats, but we’re a dog company, so as a general rule, we feel cats visiting our offices would be fairly stressed out.”
5. Metéora, Greece
Metéora—meaning “middle of the sky”—is high up on a sandstone pillar in the Plain of Thessaly in central Greece. The Eastern Orthodox monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage site with perhaps the coolest origin story of the lot. Fable has it that the founder of the monastery, St. Athanasius, didn’t need to climb the rock face to plonk his religious flag in the sandstone: instead, he was carried to the dizzy heights by an eagle.
carved steps are the only mode of transport to the top. Before the 1920s, most people had to use ropes and pulleys to climb to the top, and when it was built-in the 14th century, ladders and nets were used to transport the materials over the 550-meter (1,800-ft) drop. The monastery is also famous for having featured in the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only.