read across america day

Read Across America Day is a yearly celebration of reading in the United States.

Each year, schools participate in the awareness holiday that motivates children in all communities to continue reading, learning, and challenging themselves with books - a tradition started in honour of Dr. Seuss’ birthday on 2 March.

This year, Guinness World Records has released a new book, Science & Stuff, to get children of all ages excited about the fascinating and record-breaking world of science! Whether it’s burping in space or the fundamentals of bionic arms, here are a few cool human body titles you can discover when you flip the pages of this mind-blowing read.

How fast can a human run?

This a question that researchers and writers have pondered for decades – and we answer it on page 68 of the book! Some experts have based their estimates on the known characteristics of great runners – particularly Usain Bolt, who has beaten the world record three times for the Fastest run 100 metres (male)

His best time was 9.58 seconds. He also has the record for Fastest run 200 metres (male) and Fastest 4 x 100 m relay (male), making many wonder if they will ever see someone beat his impressive standards.

How big is a fart?

Scientists who have studied farts (yes, that is something we cover in Science & Stuff) have found that the volume and frequency of farts vary hugely from one person to another. One landmark study involved people eating beans, sitting waist-deep in bathwater and farting into plastic beakers – in the name of science! 

They found that the volume for an individual poot varies from as little as 17 ml and as much as 375 ml which to be exact, ranges from a bottle of nail polish to the contents of a soda can… we also cover other fart-tastic facts, such as the world’s Oldest joke, which was written in Sumeria (present-day Iraq). 

Even 3,900 years ago – our ancestors also found breaking wind quite entertaining.

How do we age gracefully?

So you want to live as long as possible? Here’s some advice. 

The key parts are pretty obvious: you need to eat lots of fruit and vegetables and avoid fatty foods. Also, get lots of exercise, like record holder Jim Arrington, who is the world’s Oldest bodybuilder - male at 83! 

As you age, joint tissues get thinner, and bone density declines, but Jim makes no signs of slowing down any time soon. He recommends making friends, getting sleep, and don’t worry about things… like aging.

Why do bee stings hurt?

Bees will only sting as a last resort if they feel under threat. In some cases, it will be the last thing they ever do – but for all bees, it’s a highly dangerous ordeal. 

Fun fact – only female bees can sting. 

The stinger is in fact a weaponized form of “ovipositor” the organ used for laying eggs.

Once this sharp piece has pierced your skin, up to 0.1 mg of venom is injected, which fires up your body’s pain receptors. 

The reaction can vary from person to person – but if you get stung more than once, it can be quite toxic! The all time record for Most bee stings survived is 2,443 (ouch). Johannes Relleke from Sweden was the unlucky victim at the Kamativi tin mine in Zimbabwe in 1962. 

Although he survived, he was almost certainly in a tremendous amount of pain.

What makes the world’s spiciest pepper so hot?

For those wondering, the answer is Capsaicin – which creates a powerful burning sensation by binding to a protein called TrpV1, which is found in the walls of mammal nerve cells. 

TrpV1 is a temperature sensor that creates the sensation of burning pain when it gets too hot (also how you know when you’re burning yourself on something). 

Peppers evolved this weapon because it helps spread their seeds farther. 

Birds aren’t affected by this spicy trait, and will eat even the spiciest peppers, spreading their seeds, undamaged and unchewed, farther than mammals would. Humans however are a different story – in fact, Jason McNabb is perhaps one of the most tolerant record holders we have, holding the title for the fastest time to eat three Carolina Reaper chillies at 10.95 seconds.

For the record – we don’t recommend trying this at home!