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Every Day's a School Day

Detailed answers to five interesting questions.

By A B ForbesPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - February 2024

British spelling

The Universe is mind-boggling.


Question 1: What is our planet doing, and where is it going?


Question 2: Why is the lightest element, hydrogen, not used in party balloons?


Question 3: Why is Pluto no longer a planet?


Question 4: How short can a lifespan be?


Question 5: What makes a human being?


By NASA on Unsplash

Answer 1. If you're standing on the equator, the widest part of the Earth, you'd be speeding along at 1,600 kilometres per hour, due to the Earth spinning on its axis once every 24 hours.

On its yearly trip around the Sun, the Earth is racing along at 107,000 kilometres per hour.

The Earth and the other 7 planets follow the Sun on its journey around the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way. That orbit is called a galactic year, and it takes an estimated 230 million years to complete. As it travels around the galaxy, the Earth is speeding along at roughly 292,000 kilometres per hour.

To top it off, our galaxy with us on board is travelling through space at over 2 million kilometres per hour, and we don't even notice it.


Answer 2. Most of us will have received a helium-filled balloon at some point in our lives.

You would think that hydrogen (symbol H), the lightest element, would be the first choice, but hydrogen is flammable when mixed with air and can explode.

Helium, the second-lightest element (symbol He), is non-flammable; therefore, it is safe to use in party balloons.

Use enough helium balloons, and they will lift heavy weights. An average-sized helium balloon will lift 14 grams. I weigh around 80 kilogrammes (176 pounds); therefore, the number of balloons needed to lift me off the ground would be roughly 5,700.

Although helium is safe to use in a balloon, it should never be inhaled. The funny voice can be amusing, but it can lead to hypoxia (the lack of oxygen).


Answer 3. Pluto had its planet title taken away in 2006, leaving 8 planets in our solar system.

Pluto is now known as a dwarf planet, with a diameter of 2,370 kilometres, which makes it smaller than our Moon. It takes an incredible 248 Earth years to make one full journey around our local star, the Sun.

The space probe New Horizons had a close flyby of Pluto in 2015, giving us great images and a wealth of new information about this mysterious dwarf planet and its five moons.

What does it take to be a planet?

It must orbit a star.

It needs enough gravity to form a spherical shape.

It must be big enough to clear away other objects in its orbit around the sun.

Pluto failed because of the last requirement.


Answer 4. A mayfly is a small flying insect that lives around lakes, ponds, and streams in North America. An adult mayfly will live out its life in less than 24 hours.

Mice like the ones you see around your home have very short lives; living in the wild, their lifespan is roughly one year.

An average human lifespan is described as three score years and ten, which is 70. I am over that age, so I suppose every year now is a bonus for me.

Bowhead whales can live over 200 years.

One organism, the bristlecone pine tree, can live to an amazing age. An unnamed tree still alive today has an estimated age of roughly 5,000 years. It grows in the White Mountains of California.


Answer 5. An average-sized adult person consists of approximately seven octillion or 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms, and all of them are billions of years old.

The most abundant elements in our bodies are hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen. They account for more than 99% of the atoms that make up you and me.

An element is a pure substance that consists of the same type of atom.

During our lives, atoms are constantly leaving and joining our bodies. Two of the lightest atoms, hydrogen and helium, came into existence roughly 13.8 billion years ago - not long after the birth of the universe itself. The heavier atoms came much later, and they were manufactured in stars and supernova explosions.

Under normal conditions, atoms cannot be destroyed; they just keep on being recycled.

The end.


You may find my easy-to-understand stories about the universe and life interesting and educational.

If you subscribe to me for free, you will see my latest stories. Regards.

short storyScienceNatureHumanity

About the Creator

A B Forbes

Someone with a lifelong passion for that gargantuan area we call the universe. I also write stories about life itself. Enjoy

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (7)

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  • The Writer 12 days ago

    never stop learning

  • Anna 2 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳

  • Novel Allen3 months ago

    School days relived. Thanks for the look back at what we forget as we journey on. Congrats.

  • Phil Flannery3 months ago

    Wonderfully interesting.

  • Test3 months ago

    It's written well and packed with useful information.

  • Thank you for these interesting questions and their answers. Love your writing

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