Do you have an eye for the unusual? Ever wondered what lies inside everyday objects and natural phenomena? Kids often get into trouble for playing around with things, taking apart household items to look at how they work. But actually that curiosity to mess around with gadgets and tinker with spare parts is a hallmark of highly creative, successful entrepreneurs like James Dyson and Ray Dolby.
Luckily, you no longer need your penknife handy. We’ve compiled a list of some of the strangest and coolest cross-section splices from high-tech systems to bizarre natural phenomena. Everything from fireworks and tanks to trees and flowers. Take a look below…
1. Cut Banana Tree Trunks
Maybe don’t look at this one if you have trypophobia (a fear of clusters of irregular small holes or bumps) but these banana tree stems are intricately layered leaves rolled one over the other. It’s not commonly considered a tree because of this structure, but rather a big herbaceous plant and an incredibly nutritious vegetable! Local to Southeast Asia, this leafy plant is used widely in soups and curries in Thai and Malaysian cooking.
2. The ‘Bloodwood’ Tree
Fans of Sleepy Hollow would be forgiven for mistaking this eerie cross-section for the tree of the dead! But no, that’s not blood (or even tomato sauce) but the bright red sap of the Pterocarpus, a deciduous tree native to southern Africa. Despite its spooky appearance, this tree is very highly valued by locals, who use its timber for building furniture and canoes.
3. Fukang Meteorite
This space rock was found in the mountains of Fukang, China. It’s stunning patterns are created by olivine crystals formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago. The meteorite is a pallasite, developing at the boundary between the core and mantle of an asteroid. The age of the Fukang meteorite makes it almost as old as Earth!
4. Firework Shell
This cross-section of a firework shell is credited to the Italian design of the 1830s. The Chinese first invented fireworks in the 9th century, but it was Italian pyrotechnicians who are responsible of the structural shells that give modern fireworks their patterns as they explode in the night sky. The ‘stars’ at the centre of the shell are what give aerial fireworks their artistic shapes in the sky.
5. Bowling Ball
You might expect a bowling ball cross-piece to look rather boring and well, ball-shaped. But think again! The weight-block at the centre of the ball is carefully balanced to give bowling ball the correct momentum to roll down the lane. The weight-block also adds to the skill of the game as players must counterbalance the weight to get the correct spin and angle of the ball. Different companies also design the weight-blocks slightly differently with some preferring a light-bulb shape.
6. CT Scanner
We all know that CT scanners work by emitting a series of narrow radiation beams through the body via a rotating structure. But have you ever stopped to consider how the mechanics actually fit together? CT (computerized tomography) scans have revolutionized medical imaging, allowing doctors to construct images of internal organs without having to perform surgery. As the radiation beams pass through the patient, the scanner uses computer-processing to combine the X-ray measurements from various angle to recreate a computer image of cross-sections of the brain, spinal and digestive systems to name a few.
7. Rattle Snake Rattle
If, like me, the hissing and rattle sound made by these North and South American snakes sends a shiver down your spine, it might help to ease your fear to find out what makes the sound so chilling. The rattle at the end of a rattle snake’s tail is a hollow structure made of keratin – the same substance that makes up human fingernails. When the snake tenses its tail and vibrates its muscles, the sections of the rattle collide, produce the rattling sound. So really, it’s just a twerking snake, nothing to be afraid of, right?!
8. Military Tank
Everyone is familiar with this heavily armored vehicle, but not many people realize it was actually first used by the British in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in September 1916. The inside looks a little too claustrophobic for my liking!
Yes, our dear little, nearly-impossible-to-kill plant babies! There are around 2000 different species of these spiky plants, differing in shape, size, color and habitat. Cactus spines prevent loss of water via transpiration which keeps them nicely hydrated in desert heat. The inside of the stem is either spongy or hollow, allowing them to store water in dry habitats.