Here’s the sciencey bit

I love the sciencey bit. I don’t mean the stuff on face cream or toothpaste ads. I mean the bit that comes just after the point where you ask yourself “Ooh, how does that work?” when you’re reading or watching something.

I ask myself that question a lot, always have. And I love finding out, then knowing, the answer. I guess that’s why I became a scientist in the first place. I also love sharing that knowledge with people, which is why I then became a science communicator. I can’t help myself! I’m the sort of person who joins conversations at social gatherings with “Well, actually ….”. Let’s face it, I’m a nerd!

My favourite kind of science to talk about is, unsurprisingly, agricultural science. By that I mean the chemistry, biology, physics etc involved in producing food and fibre. Agriculture is just packed with science! After all, agriculture is just science you can eat. Luckily, most people like talking about food (and everybody eats!) so every now and then I get the chance to drop one of my “Well, actually …” sciencey bits into a conversation. Getting onto Twitter has also given me lots of opportunities to show my ‘ag science nerd pride’. But I want to do more which is, in part, the purpose of my blog.

So now that I’ve started to get into this blogging caper, I thought it was time for the sciencey bit. To kick things off, I thought I’d start with a few ag science factoids that I’m thinking of turning into posts. They would also be great dropped into a dinner conversation (well, in my opinion anyway).

– Pigs don’t sweat. That’s why they wallow. Only a slight increase in body temperature will be enough for them to stop eating.

– Teats on a bull can be useful, especially on dairy bulls, because it’s an indication of how well-placed their daughters’ teats will be.

– A tomato is a berry.

– Despite looking similar, lettuce and cabbage are not related. Lettuce is related to thistles and cabbage is related to mustard. However they are both known botanically as ‘terminal buds’. Basically, the stems just haven’t grown.

– Pigs have a corkscrew-shaped penis (as an audience of children during a show I was giving at the Royal Melbourne Show once found out).

– While humans have 1 set of paired chromosomes (bundles of DNA in our cells; half of each pair comes from each of our parents), bread wheat contains 3 sets.

– Narrow-leafed lupins, a crop grown mainly as animal feed, is one of the few commercial crops grown in Australia that was only domesticated in the 20th century.

– Humans rely on only about seven species of grass as staple foods.

And there’s plenty more where that came from, so stay tuned!

I’m sure the dinner invitations are going to just stream in.


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