24 Animals You’d Want In Your Superhero Squad

Watch your back, Superman: The mantis shrimp is as fast as a speeding bullet.

Will Varner / BuzzFeed

1. The Hercules beetle can carry up to 850 times its weight, which is like a human lifting eight fully grown elephants (or about 65 tons).

2. Millipedes of the genus Motyxia glow in the dark and ooze cyanide — the perfect defense against enemies.

3. Wood frogs can survive being frozen in solid ice.

4. The Pompeii worm lives in deep-sea hydrothermal vents at temperatures of 176˚F (80˚C). It assembles a coating of minions – symbiotic microbes that apparently feed on mucus secreted by the worm – that might help insulate it from the heat.

5. Fireflies' nervous systems control their glowing, and each species has its own pattern — kind of like a subtle Bat-Signal.

6. Elephant seals can hold their breath for up to two hours, making them excellent water spies.

Will Varner / BuzzFeed

7. Komodo dragons will eat almost any kind of meat, including smaller dragons, large water buffalo, and humans.

8. Goats like eating poison ivy and other invasive plants, if you need any obstructive paths cleared.

9. Black swallowers are deep-sea fish with collapsable teeth and an expandable stomach, letting then gulp down prey ten times their weight.

10. African lungfishes can survive for years without food or water by tunneling into mud and secreting a mucus cocoon.

11. Mantis shrimp can punch their prey at the speed of a .22 caliber bullet (or about 50 times faster than you blink).

12. Narwhals' tusks are actually teeth, and each tooth can contain up to 10 million nerve endings.

13. Some spiders can grow bigger in urban areas.


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Why You Hate Hearing Your Voice On Recordings

Yes, that’s what you really sound like — but it’s not as bad as you think.

If you’ve ever heard your voice played back to you and hate it, you’re not alone.

If you’ve ever heard your voice played back to you and hate it, you’re not alone.

Will Varner/BuzzFeed / Thinkstock

“That's pretty universal,” said Aaron Johnson, assistant professor at the Department of Speech & Hearing Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “I don't know that I've ever met anyone who's starting off in vocal training that likes to listen to themselves.”

That means that even professional singers go through it, and as Billboard charts might indicate, they've probably gotten over it.

To understand why you can't stand hearing your own pipes, there are two complementary explanations: the mental and the physical. With some practice, you can overcome hating how you sound.

Let's break it down into bite-size chunks.

How your voice works

How your voice works

Will Varner / BuzzFeed

When you talk or sing, your two vocal folds (also known as vocal cords, which are folds of tissue) flutter, and those vibrations journey through your vocal tract to the back of your throat.

The sound that comes out depends on the position of each player involved: the shape and length of that tube, where your tongue is, if your lips are parted or rounded, and so on.


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18 Science Facts You Believed In The 1990s That Are Now Totally Wrong

The 1990s had better music, but it was a more primitive time. Science is a constantly changing endeavor.

“Dinosaurs died off because of a volcano.”

"Dinosaurs died off because of a volcano."

The volcano theory was one of the opposing theories to the now widely accepted impact theory, which was proposed in the 1980s. But geologists didn't find find the (now famous) 65 million-year-old asteroid crater until 1991. That sort of killed the volcano theory for a while. More recently, scientists think that dinosaurs may have gone extinct because of a mix of the two theories.

National Geographic / Via youtube.com

“There’s a lot of genetic difference between the races.”

"There's a lot of genetic difference between the races."

There's not even that much genetic difference between a human and a wine grape for god's sake. (Well, we share around a quarter of our genes with a grape). A freaking grape.

A 2002 genetics study even found that there are larger genetic differences between Africans than there are between Africans and Eurasians.

HBO / Via giphy.com

“There are only nine planets that exist.”

"There are only nine planets that exist."

In the past, scientists theorized the existence of numerous planets, but we confirmed the first exoplanet (or planet outside of our solar system) in 1992.

“One of the greatest discoveries of the last 20 years is that there are a lot of planets around distant stars…There are a lot of Earth-like planets. Nobody knew that in the 1990s. It's very promising. If you're hopeful, like me, then we'll eventually find life outside of our solar system,” said Peter Galison.

Now it's estimated that there's billions and billions of planets.

Hugh Osborn / Via hughosborn.co.uk

“This is what dinosaurs looked like:”

"This is what dinosaurs looked like:"

Thanks Steven Spielberg.

Nowadays, paleontologists say that most dinosaurs, including that evil-looking T. rex, had feathers. Gorgeous, fabulous, COLORFUL feathers.

Universal / Via giphy.com


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This CD Shattering In Slow Motion Is Majestically Satisfying

Finally, a use for all those free AOL hours you’ve been saving up for decades.

The Slow Mo Guys take everyday things and film them using high-speed cameras for magnificent slow-motion videos.

The Slow Mo Guys take everyday things and film them using high-speed cameras for magnificent slow-motion videos.

In a new episode featuring their slowest footage yet, Gavin Free and Daniel Gruchy take a few CDs to see if they can make them shatter using nothing but a vacuum cleaner motor and some good old-fashioned rotational speed.

The Slow Mo Guys / Via youtube.com

At 2,500 frames per second (FPS), there’s not much to see.

At 2,500 frames per second (FPS), there's not much to see.

OK, so warp speed isn't technically real, but the CD is warping.

The Slow Mo Guys / Via youtube.com

At 28,500 FPS, you start to see some of that sweet bending action.

At 28,500 FPS, you start to see some of that sweet bending action.

That's only about 1,100 times slower than regular speed.

The Slow Mo Guys / Via youtube.com

How about even faster — say, about 170,000 FPS?

How about even faster — say, about 170,000 FPS?

It would only take seven-and-a-half hours to watch those four seconds and 96 gigs of footage.

The Slow Mo Guys / Via youtube.com


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Hummingbirds Are More Badass Than You Realize

But how did they get that way?

Look at this baller bird:

Look at this baller bird:

This blue-eared hummingbird looks pretty neat, but what it can do is far more impressive.

Brockswood / Getty Images

Hummingbirds flap their wings real fast. And they do it differently than other birds.

Hummingbirds flap their wings real fast. And they do it differently than other birds.

They are most famous for their mode of flight, which allows them to flap their wings over 60 times per second in an innovative figure-eight motion. This motion requires a uniquely-shaped humerus bone, and it requires a higher metabolic rate than nearly any other creature on Earth.

Discovery / Via youtube.com

And their beaks are a perfect match for the specific flowers they feed on.

And their beaks are a perfect match for the specific flowers they feed on.

The birds' beaks are an ideal shape for extracting nectar from the species of flower they feed on. This adaptation is clearly good for the bird (who gets to eat delicious sugary nectar), and it also helps the plant (which uses the bird as a vessel to transport its pollen to other plants for fertilization and reproduction).

Since the birds are uniquely suited to specific plants, many different species of hummingbirds can co-exist in the same areas if there are enough flowering plants.

Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images


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There’s Arsenic In Cheap Wine — And Pretty Much Everything Else You Eat

A class-action lawsuit filed last week against two dozen California wineries alleges that some of the state’s most popular vinos are laced with dangerous levels of arsenic. But independent scientists say there’s nothing to worry about.

Kris/Flickr / Via flickr.com

Last Thursday, four California residents filed a lawsuit alleging that some of the state's most popular (read: cheap) wines — including Franzia, Korbel, and the infamous two-buck Chuck, Charles Shaw — are laced with arsenic at up to five times the level of what's considered safe.

According to the class-action suit, brought against 28 wine producers, “just a glass or two of these arsenic-contaminated wines a day over time could result in dangerous arsenic toxicity to the consumers.” Since California wines make up nearly 90% of the U.S. wine industry, American wine drinkers have become the “unwitting 'guinea pigs' of arsenic exposure,” the suit alleges.

But don't dump your boxes of Franzia just yet. These wines do contain tiny amounts of the toxic compound — but so do expensive wines, as well as pretty much everything that we eat and drink.

Arsenic is naturally present at high levels in much of the untreated groundwater in the U.S. and a handful of other countries. Taken in large doses or over long stretches of time, arsenic can cause cancer, brain toxicity, heart problems, or death. (As pointed out in the lawsuit, it led to the ultimate demise of Napoleon and King George III, among others.)

This is why the World Health Organization has labeled groundwater as the “greatest threat to public health from arsenic,” and why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is strict about keeping arsenic out of the water supply. Only 10 parts per billion (ppb) of arsenic are allowed in drinking water (meaning 10 parts arsenic for every 1 billion parts water). Assuming people drink roughly two liters of water a day, this amount of arsenic is totally harmless.

Water is also a big part of how arsenic gets into our food supply. Every winery, for example, bears the unique signature of its particular geography. The soil chemistry, water, and climate of a vineyard contributes to the flavors of whatever grapes are grown there. But because of arsenic present in soil and water, a wine's terroir can also determine its level of toxicity.

“Plants will take it up into their tissues, so any plant material will have some arsenic,” Susan Ebeler, a professor of wine chemistry at University of California, Davis, told BuzzFeed News. “If animals eat the plant material, they'll have some arsenic too. It's ubiquitous. Everything we eat will probably have some low level of arsenic.”

As a result, wine isn't the only product that's been scrutinized for its arsenic content. A 2012 Consumer Reports study showed that fruit juice — which has a high water content — and rice, which is grown in water-flooded conditions and so absorbs more of the toxic compound, had arsenic levels on par with our water supply. In 2013, the FDA proposed a 10 ppb limit for arsenic in apple juice, but nothing has been made official. Water remains the only foodstuff monitored for arsenic — which means there's no legal limit in the U.S. for how much arsenic can be in wine.

In a press release on March 19, the day the lawsuit was filed, the company said that its “state-of-the-art” lab could be used across the supply chain — for producers, retailers, and consumers — to make sure arsenic levels in the wine were up to scratch. The company sent the press release to many wine retailers the day the lawsuit was filed offering their paid testing services.

BeverageGrades declined to answer questions from BuzzFeed News about the specific findings of its wine report, except to note that the “results were verified by two independent laboratories.” The company also declined to answer questions about whether their report helped initiate the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, BeverageGrades tested about 1,300 California wines and found that nearly one-fourth of them had arsenic levels exceeding the EPA's accepted drinking water threshold of 10 ppb. Some, like Charles Shaw white zinfandel, clocked in around three times the limit, while Franzia's white grenache came in at five times that level.

Although U.S. federal agencies have not set a safety threshold for arsenic levels in wine, the International Organization of Vine and Wine, the primary international review board for winemaking, has ruled that anything under 200 ppb is fine. Canadian authorities have decided anything under 100 ppb is safe. When held up to these international standards, all of the California wines pass muster.

Another reason not to worry: Most people drink far less wine than water. “The first principle of toxicology is: The dose makes the poison,” Carl Winter, a professor of food toxicology at UC Davis, told BuzzFeed News. “It's the amount of a contaminant, not its presence or absence, that determines the potential for harm.”

The arsenic safety levels determined for water are based on drinking roughly two liters of water a day — equivalent to roughly 14 glasses of wine. If you're drinking that much alcohol, arsenic is the least of your worries.

At a typical consumption rate — a few glasses of wine, say — arsenic levels are safe. Using water as the main comparison for how much arsenic we can consume in a glass of wine is “like comparing apples and oranges,” Winter said.


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Jane Goodall Used To Have A Crush On Tarzan, And Other Tidbits From A Lost Interview

Goodall is known for her work with primates. But did you know she hopes Bigfoot is real?

English anthropologist Jane Goodall is famous for her extensive research on chimpanzees.

English anthropologist Jane Goodall is famous for her extensive research on chimpanzees.

When she was 26, she left home and arrived in what is now Tanzania, armed for research with nothing more than binoculars and a notebook.

Andrew Burton / Getty Images

In a new episode of Blank on Blank, a show that reimagines lost interviews, Goodall recounts how she got her start.

In a new episode of Blank on Blank, a show that reimagines lost interviews, Goodall recounts how she got her start.

When speaking with Science Friday's Ira Flatow more than a decade ago, Goodall details her love of Tarzan when she was around 10 — and how envious she was of Jane.

After reading The Story of Dr. Dolittle, she wanted to move to Africa to live with animals and write books about them.

Quoted Studios / Via vimeo.com

But living among chimpanzees wasn’t an easy start.

But living among chimpanzees wasn't an easy start.

They'd never seen a white ape before!

Quoted Studios / Via vimeo.com

She also calls herself a romantic and hopes unidentified species like Bigfoot are real.

She also calls herself a romantic and hopes unidentified species like Bigfoot are real.

Quoted Studios / Via vimeo.com


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6 Reasons There’s No Reason To Panic About This Plane Crash

Despite the media attention, plane crashes are extremely rare. And even if your next plane crashes, you’ll probably be OK.

Pixabay / Via pixabay.com

“Statistically speaking, flying just keeps getting safer. Last year was still the safest air travel year on record,” airline safety professor Anthony Brickhouse of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, told BuzzFeed News.

A 2006 analysis by Harvard's David Ropeik put the yearly odds of dying in a plane crash at 1 in 11 million. In contrast, the risk of dying in a car crash was 1 in 5,000.

Crash experts call it the “Swiss Cheese” accident model, Brickhouse said.

“You have to have all the holes in the slices line up to get a hole big enough for an accident to happen,” he said.

That's because modern planes are designed with multiple, redundant systems to do the same jobs or compensate if something goes wrong. Big planes that normally have four working engines, for example, can easily fly with two.

“I once flew from Dulles to Narita, Japan, on a plane with only two engines,” said Brickhouse, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator. “I was probably watching a crash video from an investigation during the flight, and I didn't break a sweat.”

Over the last decade, flight rules have tightened almost yearly for commercial airline pilots and crews.

In 2011, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) increased the flight time needed to qualify for commercial airline co-pilot jobs from 250 to 1,500 hours. In 2013, it also tightened rules to give flight crews more sleep, and last year required grounding and retraining for pilots who are graded deficient on any aspect of flying.

Although the Germanwings flight that crashed on Tuesday belonged to an economy flight subsidiary of Lufthansa, pilots and crews still have to undergo the same training and requirements to qualify to fly.


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