Anyone who has ever spent the day at a beach will know that the sea is not static. Indeed, over 24 hours a shoreline can change dramatically as the gravitational interaction between Earth, the Moon and the Sun dictates the ocean tides. But are other large bodies of water on Earth subject to tides as […]
Not just in Mexico, it’s been raining frogs all over the world for a long time now, if you believe the reports. And not just frogs either, but fish, periwinkles, crabs, jellyfish, coins, worms, baby alligators, and even ears of corn. These are not just stories from the tabloids; some have even been reported in […]
The graying of the inner surfaces of incandescent bulbs is the result of gradual evaporation of tungsten from the filament while the light is on. This evaporation eventually makes the filament so thin it burns out. Various methods have been developed to reduce graying. Filaments of the first incandescent lamps burnt in a vacuum, but […]
It’s a good question. You’d think that a rocket’s exhaust has to push against something, like a paddle needs to push against water to propel a canoe. But in reality, a rocket doesn’t need to push against the atmosphere to fly. What it’s doing is essentially pushing against the inertia of the rocket exhaust. But […]
The Peruvian coastal plain in South America is home to a wonder of archaeology. The ground is scarred by images, or geoglyphs, known as the Nazca lines, thought to have been constructed by the people of Nazca between 500 BCE and 500 CE. The ancient artworks, most easily viewed from the air, were created by […]
In general, just putting your hand on or touching lead won’t hurt you. There are exceptions, like some cosmetics used in the Middle East that are absorbed through the skin, but mere skin contact is generally not a danger, unless you put your hands in your mouth or unless the lead touches something else and […]
Most gulls do not have feet that are adapted to perching in trees and clinging to tree branches. Most have slightly webbed feet that help them move about in the water, so when they are on land, they do better walking on rocks or soft surfaces like sand. Pure probability also puts gulls on the […]
Essential oil is an unfortunate name. An essential oil is not necessarily an oil in the chemical sense, and may not even feel oily at all. Nor is it “essential” in the sense of being indispensable. Aromatherapy and cosmetic flacks take advantage of this misunderstanding by touting the essential oils in their products as if […]
The stomach is not essential for human survival. Many people have survived and adjusted to total or partial surgical removal of the stomach because of diseases like stomach cancer. The stomach is essentially a reservoir that allows people to eat the quantity of food they want, emulsify it, and pass it gradually into the small […]
If you have a deep-seated fear of money, you’re suffering from chrematophobia. However, most people don’t have this fear, and love money. Some of us love money too much. When that happens, it’s called greed. Greed can occur in free market economies that have no monetary regulation and is often the result of a capitalist […]
The master cut of a vinyl record was usually made from a layer of lacquer on top of a flat aluminum plate. A machine with a piece that looks a lot like a record-player stylus and needle was fed sound vibrations. In turn, this apparatus cut grooves with dips and bumps that correlated to the […]
Yes, there are such plants, called halophytes. Some are natural species that grow well when the water they get has a high salt content. Others are species that scientists are tailoring for the purpose by selective breeding or crossbreeding for salt-tolerance genes. Halophytes include grasses, shrubs, and trees. Some are edible crops suitable for areas […]
What Was a Woman’s Role In the Ancient World and Who Was the First Female Scientist In Recorded History?
It was very unusual in the ancient world for a woman to receive the kind of education Hypatia received. It was even more unusual for a woman to become the equal of the greatest minds of the time as Hypatia did. Women had not been totally excluded from having scientific lives in ancient times. The […]
Just as an animal’s fur stands on end when cold, hair stands on end as a response to threatening noises or sights. This bristling is thought to occur to make the animal look larger, and therefore more formidable, to an opponent. Bristling fur as a response to cold keeps the animal warmer by increasing the […]
What Were Some of Antoine Lavoisier’s Other Discoveries and What Does the Word Hydrogen Mean In Greek?
Some of Antoine Lavoisier’s other discoveries were so far ahead of their time that his fellow scientists had trouble accepting them. He applied what he had learned about combustion and oxygen to the human body. As a result of his experiments, he knew that we take in oxygen through the air and exhale the waste […]
Here’s how it works: the oily extracts of the smells are placed inside really tiny bubbles of plastic, millions of microscopic bubbles. How do they do this? By emulsion, the mixing of oil and water. When they furiously mix the extracts with water, the oil is broken up into very tiny droplets, at which point […]
Yes, and though it is highly variable from species to species, research is leading to a higher estimation of birds’ smelling abilities. Sensitivity to odors varies among orders of birds with the size of the olfactory bulb in the brain relative to that of the cerebrum. The bulb tends to be small, but it is […]
Well, let us answer your question as you asked it and then answer what we think you’re really asking. Spontaneous combustion happens when heat-generating chemical reactions occur in an enclosed place. Usually heat from oily rags or mouldering vegetation escapes into the surrounding atmosphere, but if it’s stored in a place with poor ventilation, the […]
Sure, it happens all the time. The heart beats more than two and a half billion times in the average lifetime. In between each beat, the heart stops momentarily, meaning a total of twelve years of your life is spent with a stopped heart. Other than that, hearts can stop for a few minutes and […]
Joseph Priestley’s next door neighbor in Leeds was a brewery. He became fascinated by the gases that rose out of the beer vats and thought of Helmont’s desire to capture gases. Some scientists tried to capture gases using a bent pipe and an upside-down water-filled bottle. The gas was supposed to rise up through the […]
At California’s National Ignition Facility (NIF), 192 lasers are poised and ready to unleash four million joules of energy on their target: a pea-sized pellet of frozen hydrogen. Making up the world’s highest energy laser system, their goal is to create the intense pressures needed to initiate nuclear fusion – the reaction that powers the […]
How often you have to bathe or shower to stay clean is a judgment call that depends on what you mean by clean. Advertisements of soap and deodorant companies imply that you should bathe daily or even more frequently. In some parts of the world, it’s common practice to bathe only once a week or […]
Why Do Two People Start To Synchronize Their Steps When They Walk Together and How Is It Natural Instinct?
The reason that people start to walk like each other and synchronize their steps is that they have a subconscious need to show their companion that they agree with them and so fit in with them. This is also a signal to other people that “we are together, we are synchronized”. Other studies suggest that […]
Many studies have found a relationship between birth order and birth weight, with the later-born children in a family tending to be larger, and birth weight has some correlation with eventual height. For example, a 1988 study at the Children’s Hospital of the University of Kiel, Germany, investigated adult height in families with three or […]
How Did Louis Pasteur’s Germ Theory Originate and How Did He Discover the Process of Pasteurization?
How Did Louis Pasteur’s Germ Theory Originate and How Did He Discover the Process of Pasteurization? It was known in Pasteur’s time that yeast cells cause fermentation, but it was believed that it was their death and decomposition that caused the necessary chemical reaction. Pasteur had a new theory: fermentation is caused by the action […]
Can trees grow out of rocks with no soil and why were there no trees on the prairies of the Great Plains?
One important reason is that the complex ecology of the prairie environment is formed by a cycle of fires and regrowth of a succession of fire-tolerant plants, and trees do not survive the periodic fires. The other limiting factor is a dry climate, affecting trees more than grassland plants, which hoard water. The fires sustained […]
Why do infant girls have lower infant mortality than boys and what biological advantage causes this?
The advantages for girls begin even before birth, and like so many other differences between the sexes may be tied to hormones. For example, significantly more male fetuses are spontaneously aborted or stillborn. The reasons need more investigation, but they seem to include sex differences in chromosomal structures and possibly a slower maturing of boys’ […]
Standard procedure is for the octopus to squirt the ink, change its own color as camouflage, and simultaneously jet away under the inky murk’s cover. While the ink does do a good job of this, it also holds a secret weapon that further facilitates an octopus’s escape. The ink, even when diluted in the ocean, […]
The fog is exactly the same as any fog: a collection of tiny particles of liquid water that have been condensed out of the air by a cold temperature, but are too tiny to fall down like rain. They are kept suspended by being constantly bombarded by air molecules. They look white because they reflect […]
How Did Paul Ehrlich Create the First Synthetic Antibiotic Drug and Who Coined the Term Chemotherapy?
The human body’s immune response, using its own antibodies, was still not enough for many diseases. Common diseases like malaria, sleeping sickness, and syphilis are caused by bacteria and other infectious germs that the body’s “magic bullets” cannot destroy. Paul Ehrlich set out to create chemical “magic bullets” that would cure these kinds of diseases. […]
How Was Ernest Rutherford the First Alchemist To Convert Nitrogen Into Oxygen From a Nuclear Reaction?
In a way, Ernest Rutherford was the first successful alchemist. It started in 1901, when Rutherford noticed a strange property of the radioactive element thorium. As thorium gave off radiation, it also produced an invisible gas that was also radioactive. He studied the gas and devised a bold theory. Since radiation particles are coming from […]
A lot of people did think about adding an engine to a glider before the Wright brothers. For example, in 1843, William Samuel Henson wrote an article in Mechanics Magazine that proposed an “Aerial Steam Carriage” that would use a steam engine to drive a propeller in a fixed-wing aircraft. The problem wasn’t a lack […]
What Were Ptolemy’s Contributions To Geography and How Was Ptolemy Influential In the History of Cartography?
Ptolemy might rather be remembered for his contributions to geography than to astronomy. His maps of the world were so accurate for the time that they were used by scholars all over the world for centuries. Christopher Columbus based his theory of finding a westward route to India on Ptolemy’s maps. Ptolemy’s book Guide to […]
Before our solar system existed there was a cloud of gases, the leftover stuff of dead stars. Debris, bits and pieces of various elements from rocky sources swirled in the gassy cloud. Over time, this large cloud collapsed in on itself and compressed into a rather large spinning disk. The disk continued to spin, further […]
The pat answer to the everyday puzzle of why things float invariably goes like this: “According to Archimedes’ principle, a body immersed in a fluid is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced. And that’s why things float.” Perfectly correct, of course, but just about as illuminating as a […]
Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation darkens granules of the pigment melanin in the surface layers of the skin. Part of the radiation also stimulates pigment-producing cells, called melanocytes, in deeper layers of the skin, causing a delayed-reaction tan, about three days after exposure. When the top layers of skin wear off, so does the […]