Questions From Readers (Part 9)

Questions From Readers (Part 9)
Questions From Readers (Part 9)

How the names of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans were invented, when people began to eat meat, which poison is the strongest, how the RNA molecule differs from the DNA molecule and other questions from our readers.

rick and the clones

There are different numbers, but how many citizens of the USSR died during the Great Patriotic War?

Igor Tolokonnikov, Rostov-on-Don

The official figure, determined as a result of a five-year (1988-1993) study by a group of military historians led by G. F. Krivosheev, is 26.6 million people. The same figure, but in rounded form (“almost 27 million people”), was announced at the meeting of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on May 8, 1990, which made it official. There is, of course, criticism of Krivosheev's statistical methods - for example, the results of the study were disputed by famous historians Lev Lopukhovsky and Viktor Zemskov. Some Western experts believe that 26.6 million is only the lower limit of the total number of deaths, and the upper limit is 42.7 million.

Where did the tradition of giving flowers to girls come from?

Maria L., Sevastopol

There is no exact answer to this question. Initially, flowers were used in religious ceremonies, then they began to decorate the premises with them, and only then they began to give bouquets to theater actresses. When exactly in history the gift of flowers to women became a tradition, it is impossible to say - it happened gradually. However, in the growing popularity of flowers, a certain role must have been played by the so-called tulip mania in Holland in the 18th century, when the value of flowers increased enormously due to the craze for tulips of all segments of the population.

What natural poisons are the most powerful?

Ivan Lebedev, Lipetsk

The most powerful poison of animal origin is diamphotoxin, which can be found in the hemolymph of the larvae of the South African beetle of the genus Diamphidia. On average, only 0.0000025 mg of this poison per 1 kg of body weight of an animal is enough to kill it.


This is followed by palytoxin from six-rayed coral polyps (for example, Palythoa toxica and P. Caribacorum) with a lethal toxicity of 0.0015 mg / kg, and then batrachotoxin (0.002 mg / kg) secreted by the skin of leaf-climbing frogs of the genus Phyllobates, which live in South America.

What are the origins of human aggression?

Maxim Ionin, Nizhny Novgorod

It is believed that the roots of aggressive behavior go deep into the animal past of man. The key point here was the need for dominance in order to obtain social status or a mating partner, to defend or capture territory. And now physical aggression towards a competitor when fighting for a female / male is quite common among humans. People also have to respond to aggression in the form, for example, of insults that humiliate (that is, lower their social status) with the same aggression, often physical.

The physiological basis of aggression is rather difficult to detect - it is too complex a psychological phenomenon for only one gene to be responsible for it. Studies, however, have repeatedly demonstrated that the nature of aggression is very close to the nature of the sexual (up to the activation of the same parts of the brain), and also that the level of aggression is associated with the susceptibility of brain receptors to the main male hormone testosterone. However, since aggression is common not only among men, but also among women, this, of course, an influential factor is hardly the only one.

Tell us about how the names of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans were coined

Valery U., Chita

In the writings of the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, the name "Atlantis" is first encountered.It refers to the myth of Atlanta holding the globe on its shoulders. Subsequently, the Atlantic Ocean, however, was called differently (Western Ocean, Outer Sea), and only by the middle of the 17th century the modern name became the most popular. As for the Pacific Ocean, such a name was given to him by Fernand Magellan, who crossed it in 1520-1521 and noted that for all 3 months and 20 days of travel he did not meet a single serious storm. The weather was calm, favorable for navigation, and Magellan called this ocean "Pacific". Later this name stuck.

Judging by the archaeological findings, when approximately did people start eating meat?

Galina M., Astana

Human ancestors began to eat meat at least 1.5 million years ago, as shown by archaeological excavations in Tanzania in 2012. Moreover, it is precisely the introduction to meat food (more precisely, its prey through hunting) that is associated with the development of human intelligence, which, of course, is unlikely to please vegetarians.

How many representatives of the species Homo sapiens are needed for humanity to survive if the number of people is sharply reduced?

Irina G., Moscow

In fact, nature only needs a few pairs of individuals to maintain a population. In the Pacific Islands of Pitcairn, for example, only one man and a few women were enough for the survival of the community. However, more or less favorable conditions are needed. For example, it is unlikely that it will be possible to revive humanity among radioactive ash, but in the tropics, far from nuclear craters, it is quite possible.

In how many years will Chernobyl cease to be a zone of radioactive contamination?

Alena Moskvina, Novosibirsk

According to many experts, re-settlement of the Chernobyl zone is possible already now - at least in its southern part. Radiation in areas remote from the reactor is already thousands of times more favorable for living than 20 years ago, judging by the rich flora and fauna. Since the 1990s, many so-called self-settlers have lived in the exclusion zone, who live and even work in these places without the approval of the authorities.


Some of them are the indigenous inhabitants of Pripyat and Chernobyl, who simply wanted to return home. As for the half-life of the main hazardous radionuclides in Chernobyl, in most of the territory a more or less favorable radiation situation will develop somewhere around 2040-2050. If we talk about the central part, which is located near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, then everything is not so cloudless. In particular, many toxic transuranic elements are found there, the half-life of which is thousands of years. It is unlikely that in the foreseeable future it is worth building houses and expanding agriculture near the epicenter of the tragedy.

How is an RNA molecule different from a DNA molecule?

Sergey N., Cheboksary

First of all, the chemical composition reflected in the name. RNA (ribonucleic acid) contains the sugar ribose, and the DNA molecule (deoxyribonucleic acid) contains another sugar, deoxyribose. They also differ in structure: DNA consists of the well-known double helix, which is two separate molecules at once. RNA is much shorter and usually consists of one strand. In addition to these differences, the nucleotide of the RNA molecule complementary to adenine is uracil (in DNA it is thymine).

What is the ink in pens made of?

Anton Reshetnikov, Chita

Any ink consists of three elements: a solvent (organic or inorganic; liquid or solid), a coloring matter (actually what gives the ink a certain color, for example, pigments) and various modifiers, the number and nature of which varies greatly from one manufacturer to another.

Inks for standard ballpoint pens are made in the form of thick pastes on various bases (for example, wax and fat).

Usually, such a paste contains a fat-soluble dye, sometimes a pigment suspension.These elements are in continuous contact with the ball, lubricating it with a mixture, and the ball, rotating under pressure, then leaves an ink trail on the paper. Due to the presence of a fatty base, this ink contains an extremely small amount of organic solvent.

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