Thomas Edison’s invention of the lightbulb led to the creation of the Edison Power Company. He had a power plant in New York City, but it was huge and could only transmit power over one square mile through thick, dangerous cables. The problem was that Edison was using DC (direct current) power, a very inefficient […]
Before Aristotle, a Greek education included reading, writing, music, poetry, and athletics. Older students were also taught politics and citizenship. Teachers called Sophists would travel from city to city and lecture in public squares. Plato established the first permanent school in Athens with his Academy. Philosophy became an important course for students at the Academy. […]
Elementary science, my friend. Cold water is heavier, so it sinks to the bottom. The hot water rises to the top, which is also where you’ll find the outflow pipe, the one that goes to your hot water faucet. As a result, you’ll always be getting the hottest water in the heater. Most water heaters […]
Anything that’s lighter than air will float. A liter of air at sea level weighs about 1.25 grams; a liter of helium, though, is only .18 grams. Therefore the air sinks below the helium balloon, causing it to fly upward.
Like other important organs, teeth have nerves for sensation and protection. The diseased “nerve” removed in a root canal procedure is the common term for the combination of nerves and blood vessels that form pulp, the soft interior of the tooth. There is also a bundle of nerve fibers in the ligament that attaches the […]
Who Was Madame Curie and How Many Nobel Prizes Was Marie Curie Awarded For Her Contributions To Science?
Madame Curie had one of the most difficult lives of any of the amazing scientists that ever lived. Her mother died when she was just 10 years old. She was forced to leave her homeland because women were not allowed to attend college. She lived in poverty during her college years, often barely surviving on […]
Glowworms are lightning bugs (or fireflies, if you prefer) during their larval stage. Glowworms can be found in many parts of North America in the summer. The best time to see them is at night or in the evenings.
There isn’t much difference between a typhoon and a hurricane, beyond their names and locations, they’re both tropical cyclones. Typhoons are hurricanes that occur in the western part of the Pacific Ocean or over the Indian Ocean. Hurricanes always take place on the Atlantic Ocean or the Caribbean Sea. Hurricanes get their name from the […]
What Does Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Mean and How Did the Theory of Relativity Originate?
Much of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity is baffling even to other scientists. However, the more they studied it, particularly the mathematical equations he offered as proofs, the more they saw how accurate it was. Here are some of its basic points. Around 1900, the Dutch scientist Hendrik Lorentz worked out a formula showing that […]
Why Do I Always Stumble To the Left More Than To the Right When I Walk Home From the Pub After a Few Beers?
A similar situation arises when people wander in the forest or desert. Although they may intend to walk in a straight line, if they are lost and have no landmarks to guide them, most people will unconsciously walk slightly towards the left, making a big anticlockwise circle which brings them back to their starting point. […]
There are treatments for vitiligo that are at least partly effective in many cases, but its cause is still under study. A prominent theory is that an autoimmune reaction is involved. The condition may also be associated with certain ailments, including thyroid disorders, and may flare up after injury, stress, or severe sunburn. Patches occur […]
Contrary to what everybody says, the ice on your driveway doesn’t melt, any more than sugar melts in coffee or tea. People often confuse melting with dissolving. (“I don’t need an umbrella; I won’t melt in the rain.”) But melting, as you have already noted, requires heat. You can certainly melt ice or sugar by […]
In terms of weight in comparison to volume, flies don’t weigh much, so very little force is required to keep a fly from falling. That force is exerted by structures on the tarsi, the tips of the fly’s legs. First, there is a set of claws, which can be seen with a very good hand […]
In the pages of his published works, William Shakespeare used the words fruit or fruits 122 times. On the pages of the King James Bible, the words fruit or fruits appear 361 times. On the ethereal pages of today’s World Wide Web, the words pop up more than 600 million times. In metaphor, we speak […]
Why Do Light Bulbs Usually Blow When First Switched On and What Causes a Light Bulb Filament To Burn Out?
When a light bulb is switched on, its delicate filament is hit with a triple whammy. The resistance of the metal filament rises with its temperature. When it is switched on, its resistance is less than a tenth of its usual working level so an initial current more than 10 times the rated value surges […]
When Did Michael Faraday Discover Electromagnetic Induction Which Led To the Invention of the Electric Dynamo?
In 1820, the Danish scientist Hans Christian Orsted was conducting an experiment with an electrical circuit. He noticed that when he turned the circuit on and off, a nearby compass needle jumped. He concluded that electricity produces magnetism, and the science of electromagnetism was born. The finding was interesting, but one English scientist realized it […]
By capillary attraction, the wick leads melted wax up to where it can be vaporized and mix with oxygen in the air. A block of solid wax, or even a puddle of melted wax, won’t burn because the wax molecules can’t come in contact with enough oxygen molecules; only as vapors can they mix intimately, […]
Given the fuzzy pajamas that babies are wont to wear, we’ve often thought that panels of Velcro around the house would be a great way to get them off the floor and out of the way. Unfortunately, the good people at Child Protective Services had other opinions. But an adult? Let’s consider David Letterman as […]
Why Do Old Cast Iron Cannonballs Brought Up From the Sea Sometimes Explode and What Causes the Oxidization?
There are several phenomena involved when cast iron objects have been in the ocean for a while. One is that cast iron invariably contains small gas cavities or blowholes that are formed well beneath its surface. Another is that it has quite low ductility, and will fracture rather than deform. Thirdly, it is a very […]
In Darwin’s time, most people still believed in the theory of special creation. This theory stated that Earth and all its living things had been created a few thousand years before and that everything had remained in its original form. Nothing had changed since the moment of creation. Many religions were based on this belief. […]
Some types of rice are stickier than others. Bear with me and we’ll reveal an ancient Chinese secret, okay, a modern American one, for using chopsticks. There are tens of thousands of varieties of rice known today, but in the interests of sanity we can divide them into three categories: short-grain (less than 5 millimeters […]
Fear of dust is called Koniophobia. Not to be confused with amathophobia, which is the fear of sand. People who have a fear of dust sometimes have OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It could also mean you’re just very clean or a neat freak. Fear of sand could often result after your older brother buries […]
It really does get warmer when the snow begins to fall. Think of it this way: In order to melt a lot of ice or snow, you have to add heat to it. So when a lot of water freezes into ice or snow, which is the reverse process, that same amount of heat has […]
Also called grains, cereal grasses supply us with the starchy, edible seeds we treasure: wheat, rice, rye, oats, barley, and corn. Not only do these six plants sustain most of the world’s human population, but they feed the cattle and poultry who turn them into meat. Grains are the most ancient and still the most […]
It would have exactly twelve hours of daylight if this were an airless world with no atmosphere. However, Earth’s atmosphere acts like a lens and bends, or refracts, the Sun’s light above the horizon. When you see the disk of the Sun resting on the horizon at sunset, you are looking not at the Sun […]
A leaflet published by Health Scotland says the darker the color of the alcoholic drink, the worse the hangover would be. Most people consume alcoholic drinks for their ethanol content. However, many such drinks also contain amounts of other biologically active compounds known as congeners. Congeners include complex organic molecules such as polyphenols, other alcohols […]
Ordinary hiccups, resulting from things like overeating and stress, are usually benign. But hiccups can indicate a serious problem, and a prolonged, uncontrollable bout may lead to debilitating consequences like fatigue, weight loss, depression, problems with heart rhythm, esophageal reflux, and possibly exhaustion and death in a weakened patient. In a famous case, Pope Pius […]
Suppose that the Rockettes came on stage one at a time and did solos. You would agree that the intended effect would be lost, would you not? But that’s exactly how school science curricula are designed: the chemistry and physics teachers do solo acts on separate stages, and there’s no course in school called Putting […]
How Much Water Do Clouds Hold and How Does the Size and Color of a Cloud Affect How Much Water It Can Hold?
The amount of water inside a cloud is not different from the amount of water in the clear air around it. However, while the clear air contains water vapor, inside the cloud the air is saturated with water vapor and it has condensed out to produce the cloud. The difference between the two states is […]
One reason babies sleep so much is that human growth factor, made by the pituitary gland, is secreted during sleep in higher concentrations than when the baby is awake. How the body and brain coordinate the process is not fully known, but for the first few months of life, a baby sleeps most of the […]
The moon sometimes does turn red when it sets, and for the same reason the sun does. The light sent to earthly eyes, in the case of the moon, reflected sunlight, is seen filtered through a layer of polluted air, and the path through the dirty air is longest when the heavenly body is at […]
Why Do People In Movies Get Thrown Across the Room When They Get Electrocuted After Touching a Live Wire?
It doesn’t just happen in movies. When you are thrown horizontally across a room after touching a live electrical connection, the force comes from your own muscles. When a large electrical current runs through your body, your muscles are stimulated to contract powerfully, often much harder than they can be made to contract voluntarily. Normally […]
No matter how much high-impact channel surfing you might do with the remote control, you burn only 1 to 2 calories per minute when you watch TV. What you should do instead is get off your bum and get outside. Do something. Anything.
Kudzu, often called the vine that ate the South, is a Chinese and Japanese fodder and cover crop with an edible root. The original Japanese pronunciation was kuzu. The Latin name is Pueraria lobata, but it was called Pueraria thunbergiana until 1947. An American consul in Japan in the late nineteenth century, Thomas Hogg, exported […]
Scientists don’t know for sure, but the most likely explanation is that rats probably would not survive an encounter with an infected carnivore, and so would not be around to transmit the disease to people. It is also possible that rats may lack a means of transmitting the virus within the species, because of mouth […]
For years we’ve heard there’s a fixed quantity of water we should drink every day. It turns out it was just a marketing ploy by companies that sell bottled water. We guess it goes to show that if you can’t trust people who’ll sell you a plentiful, virtually free substance for a buck-fifty a bottle, […]