How Did The Jojoba Plant Help Save The Sperm Whale?

Sperm whales are mercilessly hunted by Russian and Japanese whalers. These giant mammals provide a type of valuable oil. So many whales are killed to get this oil that the whales are in danger of extinction. However, a small plant that grows in the arid lands of the San Carlos Apaches in Arizona may put … Read more

How Is Amber Formed?

Amber is a gem that is made by trees. Amber is made of fossilized resin, a substance given off by certain trees. Usually yellow or brown, amber is a semiprecious stone, which means that it is valuable but not as valuable as a diamond, ruby, or emerald. Some of these amber gems were formed around … Read more

What Is The Tallest Mountain On Mars?

Mount Everest is five and a half miles high. Is there really a mountain somewhere that is fifteen miles high? Yes. This great mountain is called Olympus Mons, and it sits on the planet Mars. The mountain is a volcano, and the top of it is 45 miles across. How could a mountain ever get … Read more

Do Volcanos Emit Dangerous Gases?

Iceland’s Mount Laki is an active volcano, and it once emitted a gas called fluorine, which is a very slow-working poison. Months afterward, this gas caused the teeth of sheep to turn black and the tails of many horses to fall off. Stranger yet, many animals born after the blast of invisible gas had spiny … Read more

What Was The Worst Hailstorm In The World?

The storm that hit India on April 30, 1888, is considered to have been the world’s worst. Hailstones said to be the size of softballs killed 246 people. Some people died because they were hit and battered by the stones, but others were knocked unconscious, buried under mounds of hailstones, and later died from the … Read more

What Was the Most Damaging Hurricane in US History?

On September 8, 1900, a powerful hurricane rushed across the Galveston Bay in Texas and nearly destroyed the entire city of Galveston. More than half the homes in Galveston were completely destroyed. The official death toll was 6,000, but the storm came so suddenly that whole families were swept out to sea right inside their … Read more

How Do You Measure A Star’s Temperature?

Look at the skies at night and see all those bright stars. Is it possible that man could measure the temperature of just one of them? As strange as it may sound, we can take the temperature of a star. All we need is a jet airplane, a telescope, a heat detector, and a paper-thin … Read more

Are Iceland’s Sulfur Pools Toxic?

To many people, Iceland is a strange and eerie place. It sits in the North Atlantic on top of a range of ancient volcanoes that rise from the ocean floor. It also has, from time to time, strange and mysterious pools of death. An animal walking across a pasture will suddenly fall over and die. … Read more

How Cold Is The Stratosphere?

Very cold, minus 160 degrees F. to be exact. But temperatures in the stratosphere offer some surprises. The stratosphere ranges from 10 to 50 miles above sea level. At sea level, in what scientists call the troposphere, temperatures range from an average of 56 degrees F. at sea level to minus 60 degrees F. 10 … Read more

How Does The Saguaro Cactus Hold So Much Water?

There is a cactus that grows only in southern Arizona and northern Mexico that has a skin around its trunk that permits it to blow up to twice its normal size. It is the saguaro cactus, a giant desert plant. This cactus can soak up 200 gallons of water when it rains, enough to keep … Read more

Can Lightning Strike the Same Place Twice?

Lightning can definitely strike the same place twice. It is also true that lightning may strike the same place many times in a single storm. Lightning has been the basis for many superstitions. Certain people believe that lightning will never strike a barn in which swallows have nested. Others believe that fire caused by lightning … Read more

How Fast Does Bamboo Grow?

bamboo in the wild

Scientists in Kyoto, Japan, clocked the growth of a group of bamboo plants and watched as one of them set a world record. This plant grew 48 inches in 24 hours, two inches an hour. If you had been there, you could have watched it growing. In China, people used to listen to the bamboo … Read more

How Far Is Half a World Away?

The earth is 24,902 miles around at its widest point. The furthest apart any two points on earth can be is no more than half of that, 12,451 miles. There are no two cities on earth that are exactly that far apart, but some come close. The distance between Wellington, New Zealand, and Paris, France, … Read more

How Big Is an Atom?

Atoms are certainly not big. They are so small that until recently they couldn’t even be seen with the world’s most powerful microscope. An atom is so small that it is almost impossible to understand how small a single atom is. It is easier to think about how long a line of 1 million atoms … Read more

How Hot Is A Lightning Bolt?

In that millionth of a second in which a blinding flash of lightning explodes along its electrically charged path, the air in that path is heated to incredible temperatures, sometimes five times hotter than the heat at the surface of the sun. Lightning can travel at speeds of 130,000 mph, and can reach temperatures approaching … Read more

What Was The Biggest Hailstone In The World?

Most hailstones are about the size of a golf ball. If they are not round, then hailstones are about the size of an hen’s egg. Other stones have frequently been reported to be the size of a baseball or even a small grapefruit. How would you like to be hit by one of these? The … Read more

Can Plants Grow Oil?

According to scientists at the University of Toronto in Canada, plants produce not only electricity and hydrogen but they can produce oil. Plants are doing just that in special tanks at the university. Oil is produced by plants in two steps. In the first step, plants’ bacteria use photosynthesis to make food. A second set … Read more

Is the Lost Continent of Atlantis Fact or Fiction?

For thousands of years, people have looked, dreamed, and talked about this continent, which is said to have vanished off the face of the earth. Some experts believe that Atlantis is a myth. Others believe that it actually existed. Today, the one place that seems most likely to hold the answer to the mystery of … Read more

Do All Volcanos Make Noise When They Erupt?

People nine miles away from the explosion heard nothing at all. No noise. Not a whisper. Yet 200 miles away, the sound of the explosion of the volcano we call Mount Saint Helens was so loud it was almost deafening. Mysteriously, when the volcano exploded, it created a ring of silence 200 miles wide. Within … Read more

What Is the Biggest Freshwater Lake in The World?

The freshwater lake with the largest surface area is Lake Superior, one of the five Great Lakes, which lie on the border between the United States and Canada. These giant lakes are so big they have waves on them. They were formed by ice-age glaciers scooping out great valleys and lowlands as they moved back … Read more

How Does The Hydra Grow New Tentacles?

Not only does it have a harpoon, but the harpoon is filled with a deadly poison that quickly kills its prey. Is this another meat-eating plant? No, it just looks like a plant. A tiny cactus, to be exact. That is the camouflage of this organism called the Hydra, which lives in freshwater ponds, streams, … Read more

Are Raindrops Shaped Like Teardrops?

They aren’t shaped like drops at all. They are perfectly round. You may have just discovered this, but a man named William Watts heard about it way back at the end of the 1700s. He made a fortune with the knowledge. He had a high tower built, and from its very top he dropped small … Read more

When Was The Eruption of Mount St. Helens?

In the morning of May 18, 1980, Mount Saint Helens was the fifth highest mountain in the state of Washington. Then it erupted. It became a fierce, active volcano, and it blew 1,300 feet of its top right into the air. In the morning, it was 9,677 miles high, and by midnight it was only … Read more

Are There Sand Dunes in Alaska?

Far in the northwest portion of Alaska, there is an amazing valley. It is the valley of the Kobuk River. Here, 40 miles above the Arctic Circle, there are sand dunes, some of which are 100 feet high! The Kobuk River Valley looks like the Sahara Desert, with great stretches of endless sand. There is … Read more

How Much Water Flows From The Amazon River?

The power of the Amazon River is so great that its waters can be found, almost unchanged, 100 miles into the Atlantic. Dip a cup into the ocean anywhere else and try to drink the water. You can’t because it is too salty. But 100 miles off the coast of Brazil, where the Amazon flows … Read more

Is The Universe Expanding Faster Than The Speed Of Light?

Many scientists think that the universe is getting bigger and bigger. They believe that the galaxies are getting farther and farther apart and that space is becoming more and more empty. We know stars are always being born while others stars are dying. We know that new solar systems are being formed while others are … Read more

Which Is the Driest Continent In The World?

Antarctica gets less precipitation than any other continent on earth, and is the Driest Continent In the world. It averages less than ten inches of snow, the same as one inch of rain, a year. Its average winter temperature is minus 94 degrees F., and 100-mile-an-hour winds are an everyday occurrence. Two-hundred-mile-an-hour winds are frequent. … Read more

How Do Two Stars Become One?

Astronomers at the McDonald Observatory in Texas have found two very old stars that are so close together that the gravity of one is actually pulling the other apart. It is the smaller of the two stars that is being pulled apart. Some of its material is being added to the larger star, and some … Read more

What Is The Driest Place In The World?

The Atacama Desert in Chile is the Driest Place in the World. Weather bureau records show an average of three hundredths of an inch of rain per year. However, there are places farther inland, on the prairies, or pampas where not one single drop of rain has ever been recorded. There are some farms on … Read more

What Causes The Greenhouse Effect?

Many scientists think that sometime during the next century, the polar ice caps will melt, the oceans will rise, and many coastal cities and lands will be flooded. They call this big melt the “greenhouse effect.” They believe that man is turning earth into hothouses like the ones used to grow plants. The glass used … Read more

How Does Slime Mold Move?

Deep in the darkness it grows, feeding itself by sucking on the damp, rotting world around it. Then, at a signal from some mysterious clock, the blob creeps upward, finally emerging into the world of daylight. Again the mysterious clock signals, and the oozing mass pauses and changes itself into bunches of cotton candy, each … Read more

Why Is Johnstown Pennsylvania Known As Flood City?

When Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was hit by a disastrous flood in 1889, it earned the not-so-nice title of “Flood City.” Almost 100 years later, Johnstown is still having floods. In 1889, 2,200 people died in the flood. In 1936, another 30 people perished. And in 1977, 80 died when twelve inches of rain falling in just … Read more

How Do Plants Make Fuel And Energy?

Every year plants make and store ten times the energy people use. That’s why many scientists are looking at plants as a possible solution to the world’s energy problems. Energy from plants is available to us in some ways that most of us already know about, such as wood for heating our homes and corn … Read more

Why Did The Cuyahoga River In Cleveland Ohio Catch Fire?

The Cuyahoga River passes through much of the industrial area that surrounds Cleveland, Ohio. For decades, factories, cities, and towns got rid of their sewage and industrial waste, by dumping them into the river. From time to time, conservationists and other people worried about pollution complained. Indeed, many people complained. The river didn’t look as … Read more

Which Country Has The Worst Weather In the World?

The Aleutian Islands are said to have the worst weather in the world. They are far to the north and lie in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia. They are not so far north as to be in the Arctic. There are colder places, like the Antarctic, which holds the record for both one-time … Read more

What Is The Largest Forest In The World?

The Amazon Rain Forest is the Biggest Forest in the World. And because plants and trees supply our atmosphere with the oxygen all animals need to stay alive, this huge forest is very important to all of us. The Amazon rain forest supplies one-fifth of the world’s oxygen. It is often called the “Lungs of … Read more

What Is The Second Highest Mountain In The World?

It is called the “Savage Mountain,” and it is located in Pakistan, not far from Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. The real name of this mountain is Godwin Austen, but it is known as K2. While it is 778 feet less high than Everest, it has been climbed many times. Those who … Read more

How Did A Cow In Egypt Become A Mummy?

It happened in Egypt’s Sahara Desert. During the 1950’s, a cow was being trucked from one oasis to another. Unknown to the driver, the cow fell out of the truck and soon died from the intense heat. Its body did not decay and rot. This can only happen when there a microbes in the air, … Read more

How Hot Is the Sun?

Our sun is over 2.5 million miles around at its equator. If an airplane could stand the heat and fly close to its surface, it would take six months of flying day and night to travel around the sun. In fact, 109 earths could fit along the diameter of the sun. Our sun is really … Read more

What Does a Hurricane Watch Warning Mean?

A hurricane watch is a warning issued by meteorologists at the U. S. Weather Bureau. When a hurricane is headed toward a coastline, it is considered a threat to that area and the inland regions bordering it. A hurricane watch is then issued. This doesn’t mean that the area will definitely be hit by the … Read more

How Do Forests Disappear From The Earth?

Every single month, an area of tropical forest or jungle equal in size to Massachusetts disappears from the earth. Few countries take as good care of their forests as do Europe, Canada, and the United States. Many countries allow trees to be cut down for lumber without new ones being planted to take their place. … Read more

Which Desert Has Sand as White as Snow?

The sand at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico looks as though you could make snowballs out of it. It is as white and sparkling as a fresh snowfall. White Sands is the largest desert of its kind in the world. Its sand is made of fine grains of a mineral called gypsum, the … Read more

Could A Sandstorm Strip the Paint off Your Car?

You bet! There are desert sandstorms in the United States that can do that. In the great Sahara Desert of North Africa, the sand storms are even worse. Tales are told of whole caravans of men and camels disappearing forever in the thick swirling sands of a fierce desert storm. Sometimes a sandstorm can be … Read more

How Is The Continental Shelf Formed?

The continental shelf is part of each continent that is submerged under the sea beyond the coast line, and was part of the continent during the glacial periods. The three major oceans of the world can be very deep, in some places as deep as six miles! But near the coast of a continent, such … Read more

What Is the Most Powerful Geyser In the World?

Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park

Steamboat geyser, which can hurl its super hot water 300 feet in the air, is one of two geysers that seem to be tied for this title of most powerful geyser on earth. Steamboat geyser is located in Yellowstone National Park. The only trouble with Steamboat is that, unlike Old Faithful, which erupts on an … Read more

How Did Dead Men’s Fingers Get Their Name?

No. They can’t move. “Dead Men’s Fingers” are a form of coral that looks exactly like a hand with outstretched fingers. They may even be colored like a hand, although they can also be orange or white. The “fingers” are a form of soft coral that do not have the ability of stony coral to … Read more

Do All Trees Have Flowers?

If they did not have flowers, they would not be able to reproduce. If trees didn’t have flowers there would be no seeds, and if there were no seeds, new trees wouldn’t come up each year. And if new trees didn’t come up each year, there wouldn’t be forests. Every single tree in the world … Read more

When Did A Dust Storm Hit New York City?

Not snowdrifts, but dust storms and dustdrifts. They came as a result of the great dust storms that occurred between 1933 and 1937. The first huge storm arrived in the dry areas of the center of the United States in November of 1933. Though the storms started in the Midwest, so much dust was raised … Read more

Where Does Vanilla Come From?

Vanilla comes from a beautiful plant called the mexican orchid. This orchid is not grown for its beautiful, greenish-yellow flower. Few people give a hoot how pretty it is. This plant is grown because of the pod that appears after the flower dies. These pods taste so good, we put them in ice cream, cakes, … Read more

How Much Sand Is There in the Desert?

Many deserts have very little sand, or at least not what you’d expect. Most deserts are made up of dusty, crumbling earth, tiny pebbles, uncovered rock, and a little sand. Even the great Sahara Desert, which in the movies looks as though is consists of nothing but miles and miles of huge white sand dunes, … Read more

What Is Water Witching And Does It Really Work?

Water witching is what some people call the finding of underground water with the use of a divining rod. Water Witching is sometimes called Dowsing, divining, or doodlebugging. Certain people, including many scientists, do not believe in divining rods, but others are equally sure that they work. What happens is this. A person called a … Read more

What Is Cryolite Used For?

When the Vikings first visited the west coast of Greenland they found that the Eskimos who lived there used heavy stones to anchor their boats. The Vikings were amazed to see that when these stones were dropped in the water, they became nearly invisible. Today this mineral is called Cryolite. Greenland is the only place … Read more

Can Hurricanes Form Tornadoes?

Yes, they can. Besides the damage done by the powerful winds of a hurricane, these huge, terrifying storms can also cause damage in other ways. Hurricanes create waves that the strong winds drive to shore. Some of these waves can be as high as a four or five story building and are called “hurricane waves.” … Read more

How Did a Hurricane Stop a War In 1889?

In March, 1889, the United States, Germany, and England were on the brink of war. A German war ship had shelled the small town of Apia on the island of Western Samoa and destroyed American property. Three American warships sailed into the harbor, where they came face to face with three German warships and one … Read more

What Is Hard Water Made Of?

“Hard” water doesn’t feel any different from “soft” water. Water is called “hard” when it has certain minerals, calcium and magnesium salts, dissolved in it. If the water doesn’t contain these salts, it is said to be “soft.” People like soft water because it is better for doing laundry, doing the dishes, and even for … Read more

How Do You Change the Freezing Point of Fresh Water?

Yes. Water usually freezes at 32 degrees F. By keeping the water very, very still, it is possible to keep it from freezing until the temperature drops down to 24 degrees F. Of course, this never happens in nature, only in the scientist’s laboratory. Outside, water is always moving, even when it appears to be … Read more

How Do Fish Swim In A Frozen Lake?

When water changes to ice, it becomes lighter. It is the only substance on earth that is lighter as a solid than as a liquid. This means that when the water in a lake freezes, the ice floats to the top, and fish swim beneath it. It is very, very rare for a lake to … Read more

When Will The Sun Burn Out?

How long will the Sun Last? It will be a long time before the sun begins to burn out, at least 5 billion years. The sun is made of hydrogen and helium and radiates energy by nuclear fusion of the hydrogen into helium. When that does happen, the sun will get bigger and become a … Read more

Can Giant Ocean Waves Be Created By Hurricanes?

Yes. On September 26, 1935, ships of the Japanese navy in the Pacific Ocean were caught in a terrible hurricane. The fierce winds made some of the largest waves ever recorded. Many were 40, 50 and 60 feet high. Some monster waves were as high as 90 feet. Waves caused by the winds of a … Read more

Which Planet Is Farthest From The Sun?

The planet is Pluto was known as the farthest planet from the sun till 2006. It no longer has that title. Now called a dwarf planet, it is no longer classified as a planet. It is so far from the sun, our solar system’s source of heat, that even on a “summer” day Pluto is … Read more

Why Are The Beaches Of Florida Disappearing?

Yes. Many of the beaches on Florida’s east coast, which fronts on the Atlantic Ocean, are actually disappearing. They are being washed away by hurricane winds and waves. Not long ago, Miami had beautiful wide beaches all day long. Now, the only time Miami has beaches is when the tide is out, meaning at low … Read more

What Are Flash Floods And What Causes Them?

They are called flash floods because they happen very rapidly. Flash floods are caused by sudden rainstorms in hilly or mountainous areas. The water rushes down the hillsides and into valleys or gullies. Streams overflow, swamping roads and bridges. It all happens so fast that people are taken by surprise. That’s what happened in Heppner, … Read more

What Makes the Stars Twinkle?

Not only does the light from the stars appear to twinkle or jump about, it also appears to change color. When the light from the stars is traveling through space, there is no twinkling or changing of color. It is the earth’s atmosphere that makes the stars twinkle and change color. This is brought about … Read more

What Was The Worst Killer Tornado In The US?

It was an F5 tornado, and was the worst single tornado in history to hit any portion of the U.S.A. This one storm killed 689 people and injured another 3,000. Again and again it touched down, smashing 30 towns and cities. It completely destroyed six of these. In just five hours, it traveled an distance … Read more

How Hot Is The Moon Surface?

The surface of the Moon can get very hot indeed. Much hotter than it does on earth. On the daylight side of the moon, temperatures rise above the boiling point of water, 280 degrees F. Temperatures on the moon go up and down very fast with the coming and leaving of sunlight. In just one … Read more

What Are Moon Librations and What Causes Them?

Believe it or not, the moon nods both yes and no. The nods or movements are called librations. The slow nod “no” from side to side, which lets us see first one “cheek” of the moon and then the other, is called longitudinal libration. The nod “yes,” which shows us the “forehead” and then the … Read more

What Causes Singing Sand Dunes?

For thousands of years, desert travelers have heard the sounds of bells ringing in the desert. The sounds are usually triggered by wind passing over dunes or by walking on the sand. Many have thought they came from an ancient monastery’s bells, now buried by the constantly moving sands. Some even thought they were the … Read more

Where Are the Coldest and Hotest Spots on Earth?

The hottest continent on earth is Africa. It was on this continent, in the country of Libya, a desert nation on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, in which the highest temperatures on earth were recorded. The thermometer hit a record high of 136.4 degrees F. The United States comes in second in the race … Read more

What Are Jet Streams and How Are They Formed?

Jet streams are high-speed winds that circle the southern and Northern hemispheres. In order to find them, you have to climb to at least 10,000 feet or, perhaps, even 40,000 feet. Jet Streams occur at the tropopause and are caused by a combination of atmospheric heating and the earth’s rotation on its own axis. They … Read more

Can Arctic Ice Crush Ships?

Many ship captains throughout history have found that the answer to this question is yes. It wasn’t until the 20th century that men learned how to build ships that could resist the power of Arctic ice. One of the most famous cases of a ship being crushed was that of the Jeannette, a steamship that … Read more

Why Does Salt Melt Snow and Ice?

When you put salt on ice or snow, it begins to melt. This is because the salt lowers the freezing point of water. The more salt added, the more it melts. As the salt dissolves, it creates heat, melting more water and dissolving more salt. That’s why towns plow roads to clear them of snow … Read more

What Is the Unsolved Siberian Mystery of 1908?

Early in the morning on June 30, 1908, a burning mass of something hit central Siberia so hard that 300 miles away, men and horses were knocked off their feet to the ground. Indeed the shock was felt in England, 3,500 miles away. For years, scientists tried to find out what it was that hit … Read more

When Was Shale Oil Discovered?

Shale Oil is a sedimentary rock also known as oil shale. Humans have used oil shale as a fuel since prehistoric times, since it generally burns without any processing. In the Iron Age the Britons used to polish it and form it into ornaments. Industrial mining of oil shale fist started in 1837 in Autun, … Read more

How Do Radio Waves Travel Around The Earth?

Radio Waves follow the curve of the earth’s surface. You might think that such a radio signal would shoot straight up and into outer space. It would, were it not for the mirror-like effect of something called the ionosphere. The ionosphere makes up a large portion of the earth’s atmosphere starting at from 50 to … Read more

Why Does The Earth Have Two North Poles?

There Two North Poles, and there are also two South Poles. The “true” poles are the “top” and “bottom” of the earth when the Equator is figured as its center. A compass needle lines up with earth’s magnetic field and points to Magnetic North and Magnetic South. It is a long walk between the magnetic … Read more

How Much Does One Square Inch of Air Weigh?

You didn’t know that air weighed anything? Well, it does, and we call that weight air pressure. At sea level, the average air pressure, or weight of all the earth’s atmosphere pressing down on one square inch of ground, is 14.7 pounds. This pressure, or weight varies with time and weather. Fair weather is associated … Read more

How Does A Hurricane Create A Firefly Effect?

Every time a hurricane strikes land, there are reports of millions of fireflies being blown about by the wind. Actually, the tiny dots of light are not fireflies. They are sparks caused by the friction of grains of sand being blown about by the powerful winds. There is a name for all this “magic.” It … Read more

What Is The Hornet Spook Light?

The Hornet Spook Light, also called the Tri-State Spook Light, or Hornet Ghost Light, has been scaring people for more than 70 years. It is described as a luminous, shining spot that floats in mid-air. Some people say it looks like a bobbing lantern. Its hometown is Neosho, Missouri. No one has been able to … Read more

What Does a Tornado Sound Like?

Many people have described the sound of a tornado high in the air as similar to the “Buzzing of a Million Bees”. Still others describe it as a screaming, hissing sound. When a tornado is approaching, however, the sound changes, and many describe it as a giant blow torch or 1,000 trains rushing through a … Read more