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The 12 days of Christmas

12 Dec, 2012

Wellcome Trust Christmas TreesHere at the Trust, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We’ve decked the halls, indulged in more than a few mince pies and are now waiting to see if we’ll get a white Christmas.

Today being 12/12/12, we thought it only appropriate to give you the 12 scientific days of Christmas.


On the twelfth day of Christmas, science gave to me…

Twelve Watts of brain power

Each day your brain uses about twelve watts of power, that’s about enough for two Christmas tree lights.

Eleven protons in sodium

Sodium is an important electrolyte we all need in the body. In a mince pie there is about 400 mg of sodium, 20 per cent of your daily allowance.

Ten Nobel prizes

The Nobel prize for physiology and medicine has been won by ten women, but 191 men have taken the prize. A fact I could easily have found in a Christmas cracker.

B-Nine (folic acid)

Vitamin B9 is important for fetal development and brain function, and brussels sprouts contain loads of it. Pass the sprouts, please!

Eight teeth per quadrant

The eighth tooth in each quarter of our mouths is a wisdom tooth. Perhaps the three wise men had more than the rest of us?

Seven-ty reindeer chromosomes

Reindeer have 70 chromosomes in each nucleus of their cells, whereas a robin has 80 and a little donkey has 62. We only have 46, maybe because we don’t have antlers, we can’t fly and we wouldn’t be able to carry a pregnant woman on our back all the way to Bethlehem.

Six points on snowflakes

Every snowflake that falls this winter will have six points, and a six-fold symmetry axis.

A five-membered ring

2-Deoxyribose is a sugar ring made up of five points: four carbon atoms and one oxygen atom. It forms the backbone of our DNA, found in every one of us, even Father Christmas.  

Four bovine stomachs

Cows have four stomachs. Think of all the Christmas pudding you could fit in….

Three per cent of my weight

Your brain takes up three per cent of your body mass. Although after all the festive treats over the next couple of weeks, the balance may be shifted slightly.

Two years ago

The 25 December 2010 was the last white Christmas, with snow on the ground at more than 83% of weather stations.

And a two-headed partridge in Mass.

In 1894 a two-headed partridge was found in Boston, Massachusetts. It is unknown whether it resided in a pear tree.

We hope you enjoyed our fun facts for the festive period. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Can you think of any better science lines for the 12 days of Christmas? Post your ideas below. 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter Angle permalink
    12 Dec, 2012 12:43 pm

    Nice article.

    Nice little Christmas song


  1. 12.12.12 « WalkieTalkieBookClub

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