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Home > Uncategorized > Fact-checking Olaf’s science: From turtles “breathing out their butts” to how often you blink

Fact-checking Olaf’s science: From turtles “breathing out their butts” to how often you blink

Image: Disney
By Jo-Anne Rowney

Anyone that has seen Frozen 2 will tell you Olaf really got deep, not only that but he’d gone on his own journey learning as much as he could since we last saw him.

In one particular scene in the sequel, Olaf is riding with his friend, Elsa, Anna and Kristoff, to the Enchanted Forest when he decides to pass the time by sharing bizarre science trivia.

As you sat in the cinema – or the comfort of your own home – you may have been left wondering what, if anything, was true.

Olaf announces a whole host of things from water having memory, which becomes a theme in the movie, to wombats having square droppings.

Now you’ve tested your knowledge read on to find out the facts behind Olaf’s statements, from whether water has memory to whether turtles breathe “out their butts”.

Water has memory

Sadly, Olaf was wrong on this one, but we’ll just pretend it’s true so we can maintain the magical theme of Frozen 2’s whole premise. The concept of water having memory is unfortunately only something that would exist in a magical world where a woman can manipulate ice and a snowman can come alive and talk. So basically Frozen and Jack Frost (starring Michael Keaton, seriously it’s a good movie).

In short, the scientific community wouldn’t accept such an idea. That isn’t to say it never was considered. Back in 1988 the theory was published in a paper in the journal Nature by immunologist Jacques Benveniste. However, the claim defied all laws of physics and molecular biology.

Now, while Olaf’s version with water horses and what not isn’t possible (for now) water can give us clues as to where it’s been. The impurities in water can give an indication of where the water was, what it’s been exposed to and so on. So if it had a high salt content, you could say it’d been in the sea or in contact with road salt.

So while water may not remember, it does hide and reveal other secrets. In Frozen 2, we see the Nokk – the mythical water horse Elsa rides. While it’s more legend than anything scientific, it does make you wonder what the water hides…no? Loch Ness and the legends around it are not too far from home…

In Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen 2, Elsa encounters a Nokk—a mythical water spirit that takes the form of a horse—who uses the power of the ocean to guard the secrets of the forest. Featuring the voice of Idina Menzel as Elsa, “Frozen 2” opens in U.S. theaters November 22. ©2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Last year a team of scientists used what is known as environmental DNA, or eDNA, to find out if the Loch Ness Monster really was lurking in the Scottish deep.

The technique analyses a sample of water, looking for genetic material living creatures leave in the environment around them, and possible clues to what animals could be swimming around.

Unfortunately for monster hunters, the study didn’t find any evidence of Nessie, instead suggesting that the myth could have been sparked by sightings of giant eels.

People blink 4 million times a day

I mean come on, four million!? Olaf got carried away a bit here. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ 2012 report, humans only blink up to 28,800 times a day since we blink up to 20 times a minute and that’s only if you were awake 24 hours…

You also have to take into account how we blink changes, according to Science Focus. The average adult blinks once every two to 10 seconds, while babies blink once or twice a minute.

Alexander McNamara, Online Editor at BBC Science Focus says: “Blinking is an important reflex that protects your eyes from drying out and clears out any impurities, but with all the excitement of your average day in Arundel you’re likely to experience the ‘acoustic startle-reflex eye blink’ as well. As loud noises often signify danger, this reflex kicks in whenever you hear a bang to protect your eyes. It even happens faster and harder when people are frightened, and with much bigger blinks when it’s dark.”

We wonder if reanimated snowmen blink as much as humans.

Wombats have square poop

Weirdly this is actually true. The Australian marsupials are the only animals in the world known to poop in cubes. The National Geographic says scientists believe it could be a way of marking their territory…or extreme dehydration as there’s a lack of water where they live. Lack of water apparently equals hard, dry cubes. There’s your fun fact for the day.

It may also have a little something to do with diet. You are what you eat after all, and so is what comes out.

“Wombats are herbivores who like nothing better than to tuck into tough roots and grasses,” Alexander explains. “However, it also takes an uncomfortable 14 days to digest. Sitting in the tightly-packed stack of intestines for so long, the poop forms cubes to better fill the available space, and dry out to the point that when they, aherm, pop out the other end, their bums can’t shape them into nice, neat balls.”

Men are six times more likely to be struck by lightning

So close Olaf, but not quite. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says men are actually five times more likely to be hit by lightning than women. Don’t worry if you’re a guy as getting struck by lightning is pretty low odds in the first place. The odds are about one in 500,000 a year. If you still want to err on the side of caution, two thirds of all casualties happen between midday and 6pm, so maybe stay inside in the afternoon.

If you’re really worried though, there are a few safer places to stand in a lightning storm.

Turtles breathe through their butts

True! We love that Olaf got this one right. Well, for some species anyway. Before we all get carried away all turtles get air through their mouths and lungs, then the oxygen diffuses across the lung tissue and into the bloodstream. However, some turtles opt for a different method too.

Turtles relocated to Capisic Pond

Getty

The Australian white-throated snapping turtle, for example, absorbs oxygen in the water through the cloaca, that’s a backside tube that is also for laying eggs and excreting waste. Cutting through all the science, it’s essentially the turtle’s butt. The ability to breathe through their rear end does have a plus (we know you were wondering why, don’t lie) – it gives them an advantage when hiding from predators. Some turtles can get 20 per cent of their oxygen this way, others 70 per cent! Lungs are still the preferred option, turtles have standards too you know.

Original Article: Radio Times

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