Fact Of The Day

Fact of the day

We post three daily fun facts 365 days a year! Our facts of the day are random, interesting, and fun facts that we have sourced from all over the internet with a link to all the details and further reading if the fact whets your apatite to learn more on the subject. We invite you to head to our homepage to see our 11,000+ facts in the order they’ve been posted, or if you are just looking for random fun facts then head to our random fact generator page.

Without further ado, today’s facts:

  • WTF Fun Fact 12978 – How Does Temperature Affect the Color of Leaves?

    Have you noticed that autumn looks a bit different every year? Sometimes the leaves fall early. Other times they’re on the trees much longer to give a full display of color. A lot of this has to do with the temperature outside. But how does temperature affect the color of leaves?

    The temperature of fall and its effect on leaves

    As the nights get cooler in the northern hemisphere in September and October, we begin to see the trees change. If you’re lucky enough to live around a mixture of trees, you’ll begin to see bright red, orange, and yellow leaves appear.

    Without as much daily sunlight, trees don’t go through as much photosynthesis. This is aprocess that produces sugars, which trees use as energy to grow and flower.

    A reduction in photosynthesis leads to a reduction in chlorophyll as well, which is the pigment that makes leaves green. As they lose chlorophyll, they lose their green color and prepare to shed for the winter so trees can conserve their energy inside the branches and bark.

    How does temperature affect the color of leaves?

    But that still doesn’t explain the role of temperature.

    The weather leading up to shorter days is actually quite important when it comes to determining how fall plays out for leaves .

    We know that a reduction in chlorophyll leads to leaves being less green, but what makes some seasons produce more vibrant red leaves than others? Why does a tree turn bright orange one year and only a dull copper the next year?

    Well, it turns out that the pigments that begin to show up once chlorophyll is reduced are dependent on both temperature and moisture conditions right before days start getting shorter. For example, some weather conditions make a leaf turn red early. It also helps it stay on the tree longer, so it goes through its full range of colors before falling off.

    The role of weather in fall leaf displays

    According to scientists at Michigan State (cited below), lots of warm days and cool nights narrow the veins in leaves. This helps trap the sugars made during photosynthesis in those leaves. When this happens, the sugars produce more vivid pigments.

    “The most brilliant leaf displays follow a period of warm days filled with sunshine and cool nights. During this weather cycle, leaves produce an abundance of sugars during the sunny days. The cooler nights and gradual narrowing of leaf veins in the fall, means that a majority of the sugars produced are trapped in the leaf. An abundance of sugar and light in the leaf lead to the production of vivid anthocyanin pigments, which produce red, purple and crimson colors. Yellow and gold leaf colors are produced by carotenoid pigments, which are ever-present in the leaves and are therefore less dependent on the aforementioned conditions.”

    Other factors in fall leaves

    “Soil moisture also plays a role in the timing and brilliance of leaf color. The best displays are produced when the soil has been adequately moist throughout the year coupled with the aforementioned late summer weather. A late spring, or severe summer drought can delay the onset of color. A warm period during the fall can also decrease the intensity of fall colors by triggering early leaf drop before the colors have had a chance to develop.”

    Finally, MSU explains that other factors can play a role in individual trees:

    “Trees on the edge of low-lying areas, where cooler air collects at night, often display colors sooner than trees in an upland forested setting. Trees that are diseased or in decline may also display fall colors earlier than their healthy neighbors.

    And that’s why no two autumns will ever look the same.  WTF fun facts

    Source: “How weather affects fall colors” — Michigan State University Extension

  • WTF Fun Fact 12977 – Why Isn’t September the 7th Month?

    To us, the months of the calendar can mean lots of things. It can signal big changes (new school years, new fiscal years, birthday months, the beginning of Spring, harvest season, etc.). But historically, calendars were also instruments of power. That’s part of the explanation as to why September isn’t the 7th month of the year anymore.

    What does September mean?

    Our month of September comes from the ancient Roman calendar. The month named Septem literally meant “seven” – as in the 7th month of the year.

    For much of their ancient history, the Romans has a 10-month calendar. However, to be fair, emperors were always inserting new numbers of days or months named after themselves in there. In fact, the infamous emperor Commodus tried to rename all the months after himself (a measure that was repealed after his assassination).

    What did calendars really mean?

    People weren’t hanging their calendars on the walls back in the ancient world. They mostly went by the night sky and used the position of the sun and the seasons to figure out what needed to be done in the fields (nearly all society was agrarian at the time).

    Those in power – whether it was political or religious power (or both) – used calendars to try to make the world operate according to their whim. And while you can’t change the pace of the seasons or the lunar cycles just by sticking in a random month, you can change things like the time when taxes are due, which can really mess things up for the people around you. Politicians would even try to lose or gain a month to shorten someone’s tenure in power!

    So, why isn’t September the 7th month anymore?

    Recalling the entire history of the calendar would take a while. Let’s just say there have been plenty of disagreements over the centuries about how many months were needed, how many days would be in each month, when new days should be inserted to keep up with the astrological “calendar,” and what the months would be called.

    But the end of September’s literal meaning started in 451 BCE when January and February were added by the Roman ruler Numa Pompilius to create a 12-month year. He added them at the end of the old calendar (which began in March), then switched things around again, but the 12-month idea clearly made more sense because it lined up with the lunar cycles.

    The calendar went through many more changes, including the inclusion of the 27/28-day month called Mercedonius at one point. In 46 BC Julius Caesar had enough and reformed the calendar. That didn’t mean there weren’t tweaks here and there after that, but there’s a reason we refer to our current calendar as the Julian calendar.

    It’s just that no one really cared that poor September had lost its meaning along the way.  WTF fun facts

    Source: “September (Roman month)” — Wikipedia; “Roman republican calendar” — Britannica

  • WTF Fun Fact 12976 – Rubber Bands Last Longer When Refrigerated

    Rubber bands aren’t expensive, but they can be important to have around. And making sure you don’t use them recklessly could help keep rubber out of landfills. But did you know that there’s an easy way to prolong the life of your rubber bands? Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

    Why do rubber bands last longer when refrigerated?

    The rubber used to make rubber bands is unlike most other materials. In many cases, materials do better in warmer or room temperature environments places that don’t stress the bonds hold them together. But that’s not the case for rubber bands.

    Cold temperatures make the polymers in the rubber more relaxed. This prevents them from degrading or forming the dry rot that causes them to break just when you need them most.

    According to JFlex (cited below): “When a rubber band is stretched it causes its polymer chains to become very ordered and it expels thermal energy (heat), thus shortening its life. This is increased further when placed in higher temperature environments which increases the oxidisation rate. Also, the natural rubber that is used to make rubber bands crystallises over time, giving us what is commonly called ‘dry-rot’ – which is where the bands get dry, crumble and no longer have any elasticity.”

    Be careful when removing rubber bands from the fridge

    Now, if you do decide to refrigerate your rubber bands, make sure not to stretch them right away.

    “When a rubber band is in its relaxed state it is very unordered, and will cool when going from a structured state to a relaxed state. So when a rubber band is put in the refrigerator it makes the polymers even more relaxed due to the way they behave in the cold.

    Something to be careful of is immediately stretching the rubber band after being in the fridge, as this will cause it to weaken significantly because of the rapid change of temperature state.”

    Who knew?  WTF fun facts

    Source: “Why do rubber bands last longer when refrigerated?” — JFlex

That’s the end of our facts of the day! For more fun facts visit our homepage by clicking the button below!