A newt is a type of salamander in that it fulfills the basic requirements: its skin is thin, it breathes through gills until its lungs grow, and the adults can leave the water and walk among us as land-dwellers. The biggest difference from other salamanders is that adult newts have flatter tails than most. This […]
A regular, routine chest X ray gives you the equivalent of three days’ worth of background radiation, the levels of radiation you receive naturally from the sun, Earth, and other celestial bodies over the course of three days. A full-body CAT scan gives you the equivalent of four years of background radiation. This means that […]
The steam hammer was essentially a power hammer, as used today to shape forgings, but it was driven by a steam engine. It comprised a hammer-like piston within a cylinder positioned vertically in an iron frame. The central hammer piston was driven upwards by injecting high-pressure steam into the cylinder’s base, which was supplied by […]
It is, of course, entirely unnecessary to point out that salt is inherently nondenominational. While kosher salt comes from the sea and is certified at the factory as meeting the strict criteria of Jewish dietary laws, the rabbi’s blessing has no more effect on flavor than does the priest’s consecration of a communion wafer. Kosher […]
This is one of those loaded questions that can drive you crazy because the question itself is misleading. It starts with a mistaken assertion and asks us to carry on our reasoning from that point. But you can’t pursue the road to truth if somebody starts you off in the wrong direction. A mirror does […]
Yes, in some cases. Kidney transplants were pioneered by the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis and are now performed at some other veterinary colleges around the country. They can cost $3,000 or more. There are no other transplant programs for dogs or cats, though there was initial research on […]
The bacteria Clostridium botulnum is the deadliest toxin that occurs naturally. It’s the cause of botulism, the deadly food poisoning that is sometimes contracted from canned goods or meats. Strangely, it’s also a medication who have involuntary muscle spasms. In very small quantities, botulinal toxin causes local paralysis, easing painful and debilitating muscle contractions. A […]
Why Do Airplanes Have Such Small Windows and Why Are the Tiny Windows On Airliners Positioned So Low?
As with many things concerning the design of an aircraft, the final arrangement of various parts is based upon a series of compromises. An aircraft designer’s life would be so much easier if there were no windows at all, but so far the consensus seems to be that we should have them. Britain lost the […]
Not all corn kernels are equal. In order to pop, the kernel needs a water content of about 13.5 percent. Each popcorn kernel consists of soft, moist starch inside a hard outer shell. When heat is applied, the moisture expands and the starch is cooked. Eventually, the pressure gets so high that it bursts the […]
How Do People Get Electrocuted and Does Current or Voltage Kill a Person When They Get an Electric Shock?
It is the current through the heart and surrounding region that causes most deaths from electric shock. The effect depends on duration of exposure and also varies between individuals. The frequency of mains power, around 50 or 60 hertz, is very dangerous, and currents of only a few tens of milliamps at such a frequency […]
How Are Eggs With Two Yolks Formed, What Causes Double Yolked Eggs, and What Is the Best Way To Check an Egg?
Eggs with two yolks are a natural phenomenon over which we have no control. Double yolk eggs are larger than those laid by the majority of the flock and are set aside to be tested individually. Demand for double yolkers far outstrips supply and we need to be very sure that they do in fact […]
After New Jersey Monthly journalist Steven Levy asked this question back in the mid-1970s, he tracked Einstein’s brain down to a shelf in the study of Dr. Thomas Harvey, the doctor in Wichita, Kansas, who performed Einstein’s autopsy in 1955. The brain was separated into lobes and kept in two mason jars inside a cardboard […]
There are two groups of lizards commonly called chameleons, and they change colors in different ways. True chameleons belong to an Old World family called Chamaeleontidae, with two genuses and about eight-five species. They have a variety of colorations, which they can change, to a greater or lesser extent, by concentrating or spreading out the […]
Insects definitely see colors, smell and sometimes hear, but not the way people do. Our eyes see a we range of wavelengths, but many insects have vision tuned into a specific range to find resources like food and shelter. For example, because of filters in their eyes, quite a few insects see leaves as yellow, […]
Caffeine is not a direct stimulant; instead, it blocks the action of another chemical, naturally present in the human body, that has a calming effect on the activity of cells, especially those in the brain and spinal cord. Caffeine, found in tea, coffee, and cocoa, is one of a class of chemicals called methybcanthines that […]
Is There a Relationship Between Breast Size and Volume Of Lactation and How is Milk Production Controlled?
There is no relationship between breast size and volume of milk. The female breast contains fifteen to twenty lobes of milk-secreting glands embedded in various amounts of fatty tissue, which is not involved in milk production. Instead, it is controlled by hormones produced during and after pregnancy that stimulate the milk-secreting glands, and the nursing […]
Your question may sound silly to those who haven’t heard about it before, but chomping on those little candies really does make flashes of light. It may not help you at all to know that the phenomenon is called triboluminescence, but there, I’ve said it and done my duty as a scientist. Life Savers, it […]
In some cases, different species of animals can understand each other. In research on the complex signals gulls send to each other within the same species, scientists found that birds in mixed flocks can respond to each other’s alarm calls, and that this could be a matter of learned behavior or an inborn instinct. It […]
Plantains are tropical fruits closely related to bananas, both members of the genus Musa, but much starchier and containing much less sugar when ripe. They’re also known as cooking bananas, which is a clear tip-off that they’re not meant to be eaten raw. Plantains are a staple in Africa and especially in Latin America, where […]
One of the three best in-the-dark revelations of adolescence is that if you crack a Wint-O-Green Life Saver between your teeth, tiny blue and green sparks will flash in your mouth. If you’ve never seen it happen, pick up a pack of Wint-0-Greens and wait until after dark. Turn out the lights and crunch one […]
The Globe Theater was an Elizabethan era playhouse part-owned by the great playwright William Shakespeare. Built from the remains of an existing theater in Shoreditch, London, made by English actor and theater owner Richard Burbage and his brother Cuthbert, the Globe was constructed over just a few months in 1599. The playhouse became the home […]
What Was the Price of Free Thought When Giordano Bruno Taught the Copernican System Throughout Europe?
The immediate reaction to Nicolaus Copernicus’s book on heliocentric cosmology was minimal. It opened the eyes of some scientists, but most people continued to believe in the Ptolemaic system, probably because it made humans seem more important. By the end of the 1500s, an Italian scientist and philosopher named Giordano Bruno started to teach the […]
Halogen lightbulbs contain a gas called a halogen, which makes them brighter, whiter, more efficient and longer-lasting. And, of course, much more expensive. A halogen lamp is a variation on the standard incandescent, as opposed to fluorescent, lamp. An incandescent lamp contains a tungsten filament enclosed in a glass bulb filled with gas. An electric […]
In general, the yolks in double yolk eggs are smaller but the eggs overall are bigger. About 3 to 5 percent of hens’ eggs have two yolks. Some hens, driven by their genes and the conformation of their oviducts, seem to specialize in producing these twins. When you find a double yolker in an otherwise […]
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 […]
Why Is There a Simultaneous High Tide On Both Sides of the Earth and What Causes the Tide Generating Force?
In considering the origin of tides we must disregard the Earth’s daily rotation around its axis and concentrate only on the revolution of the Earth-Moon system. This revolution takes place around the system’s common centre of gravity, which is about halfway from the surface to the centre of the Earth, and causes every point in […]
There are four main developments in human evolution that led to today’s Homo sapiens: walking on two legs instead of four; a larger, more complex brain; the making of tools; and language. The development of all but language could be revealed by studying fossils of hominids, members of the family that include humans and apes. […]
Russian scientist Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleyev invented the periodic table in 1869. In gratitude, scientists named element 101 after him. mendelevium.
How Did the Discovery of Atomic Fission Lead To Nuclear Power After the Invention of the Atomic Bomb?
Once the war was over, scientists could concentrate on other uses for this new source of tremendous amounts of energy. Nuclear power plants were built to use fission to produce electricity. There are now over 400 nuclear power plants in the world. France and Sweden produce nearly half their electricity with nuclear power. There are […]
There are more grains of sand on earth than stars in the universe. The recently published data from Hubble Space Telescope images help confirm scientists long-held suspicion that the universe has many galaxies invisible to ground-based telescopes, so an increase from ten billion galaxies to fifty billion was not unexpected. Some estimates have gone even […]
Toadstools that force their way up through asphalt are probably ink-cap mushrooms (Coprinus) growing on buried plant debris. They are pushing upwards because their stalks function as vertical hydraulic jacks. The upward pressure comes from the turgor pressure of the individual cells making up the wall of the hollow stalk of the mushroom. Each individual […]
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 […]
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, […]
Why Do Toilets Flush Counterclockwise In the Northern Hemisphere and Clockwise In the Southern Hemisphere?
It’s just another one of those urban legends, probably started by an overenthusiastic physics teacher. But it’s based upon a grain of truth. Moving fluids such as air and water are slightly affected by Earth’s rotation. The phenomenon is called the Coriolis effect, after the French mathematician Gustave Gaspard Coriolis (1792–1843), who first realized that […]
How Do Flies and Mosquitoes Fly In Strong Winds and Where Do Flies Go When the Weather Stops Them From Flying?
Flies are often a nuisance while sitting on the hotel balcony when you’re on vacation. But when the winds pick up, the flies disappear. There is indeed a maximum wind speed above which they will not fly, but it also depends on temperature, humidity, and the sex and age of the fly, as well as […]
Which Other Astronomer Was Instrumental In Johannes Kepler’s Discoveries On the Laws of Planetary Motion?
When Kepler started his experiments, he knew he needed the most accurate measurements of the planets’ movements available. Tycho Brahe was a Danish astronomer who had his own observatory and the most advanced instruments of the time. He had giant sextants and quadrants and a tool called an equatorial armillary that measured the angles between […]