50 things we know now that we didn’t know last year

From Tampa Bay Online:

This time of year as we change calendars, it’s good to remind ourselves to stay at attention. Each year is full of new discoveries and revelations. They might not be the same kind of eye candy as Angelina Jolie in a slit-up-to-there Oscars dress, but they’re still plenty important. Here’s a passel of fresh new truths revealed during 2012:

1. Ancient microbes were found in Antarctica, 65 feet beneath the icy surface of a mostly-frozen lake that has no oxygen. The findings increase the knowledge of how life can sustain itself in extreme environments beyond our own planets.

2. Swimmers who want to move faster through the water should spread their fingers like a fork to give them more force

3. A simple orange scent introduced into a shopping environment prompted 400 customers to spend an average of 20 percent more money at a store.

4. The 280-mile Grand Canyon is far older than previously believed. A new process for measuring age says the canyon began forming 70 million years ago — not 5 to 6 million years ago, as was widely believed. Also, the gorge was formed by an earlier river flowing in the opposite direction, not by the Colorado River.

5. Sandy Island, which was assumed to be between Australia and New Caledonia, does not actually exist. The 16-mile-wide island was placed incorrectly on maps long ago through human error and was repeated without verification.

6. Rising amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to climate change could lead to larger sweet potatoes.

7. People who get out of bed before 7 a.m. are more likely to die naturally at around 11 a.m., while late risers are more likely to hold out until around 6 p.m.

8. Like humans, apes also appear to experience a midlife dip in happiness.

9. Man began attaching stone tips to spears 500,000 years ago, or about 200,000 years earlier than previously believed.

10. Meteorites from Mars that fell to earth show that water which once flowed across the surface of Mars was warm enough for alien life to survive.

11. A rogue planet believed to be between 50 and 120 million years old was found 100 light years away from Earth. It is not associated with any nearby star.

12. Already the leggiest creature on earth, a white millipede lllacme plenipes was discovered in northern California with 750 legs. It measures between 1 and 3 centimeters.

13. Unlike the receding sea ice in the Arctic, Antarctic sea ice cover has increased under the effects of climate change.

14. The medial prefrontal cortex, a region near the front of the human brain, makes snap judgments about physical attraction and whether the person is likely to be a compatible match all within milliseconds of seeing a new face.

15. Watching a horror movie may burn nearly 200 calories in 90 minutes,

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