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A Moment of Science

Archive for September 2003

September 27, 2003

 

Frozen Fish

Can fish and other aquatic creatures really survive in a state of suspended animation until spring?

September 27, 2003

 

Hemorrhoids

Nearly everyone gets hemorrhoids at some point in his or her life. So what exactly are hemorrhoids? Find out on this Moment of Science.

September 27, 2003

 

Getting Fatter All the Time

For the most part fat is stored in the fat cells that compose fatty tissue. Think of a fat cell as a tiny plastic bag filled with a drop of fat. Interestingly, fat cells do not multiply.

September 27, 2003

 

Baboons and Abstract Thought

It may come as a surprise if I told you that scientists have recently made discoveries that suggest baboons are capable of abstract thought. You probably thought that only apes, the actual evolutionary predecessors of humans, could think abstractly.

September 27, 2003

 

Math Memory

Complex arithmetic places special demands on what is known as your working memory, the place where you store the information you need in the short-term.

September 27, 2003

 

The Mystery of the Backwards Balloon

The same thing happens to the air in the car. When the car stops the air keeps moving forward. This results in more air, or higher air pressure, in the front of the passenger compartment.

September 27, 2003

 

The Math of Predator and Prey

For decades, mathematical ecologists struggling to formulate equations that accurately describe the relationship between predator and prey have come up against the following paradox: if the predators are too successful, the prey population dies out, and then the predators end up starving.

September 27, 2003

 

Chili or Mint

At the University of California , David Julius and his research team have been making some interesting discoveries involving tongue receptors and a substance contained in chili peppers. They found that this substance activates the same receptors that senses heat.

September 27, 2003

 

Gas

This time on A Moment of Science, we discuss a rather delicate subject–gas (and we don’t mean the kind you put in your car). It’s normal and healthy to let out a little belch here and there after a meal. It’s just one of the ways the body gets rid of gas. You probably know […]

September 27, 2003

 

Metal-loving Plants

Find out what metal-loving plants are on this Moment of Science.

September 27, 2003

 

A skateboarder jumping over (ollie) a stack of skateboards.

The Ollie

Though they make it look easy, skateboarders spend a tremendous amount of time practicing when it comes to perfecting the ollie.

September 27, 2003

 

Los Ant-geles

If you’ve ever driven in LA, you know that people don’t cooperate terribly well. Traffic jams, folks cutting folks off, people shouting at you out their windows . . . it’s a real headache. We’d all do a lot better–at least, we’d all move through congestion a lot faster–if we were ants. Why ants, you […]

September 27, 2003

 

Gecko Glue

Scientists have just recently uncovered the gecko’s gravity-defying secret. Gecko feet come specially equipped with tiny hairs, called seta.

September 27, 2003

 

Colliding Galaxies

Scientists explain the inevitable collision by speculating that the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are a bound pair, meaning that they are in orbit around each other.

September 27, 2003

 

Small Talk

Although ants usually communicate through smell, they also use sound to send distress calls and warnings about danger. Since they don’t have ears, scientists believe that they sense sound vibrations in their knees.

September 27, 2003

 

Spinning Our Planet

How fast anything spins is partly determined by how its weight is distributed. The closer an object’s weight is to its axis of rotation, the faster it spins. To picture this, imagine an ice skater doing a pirouette. When her arms are extended, she spins slowly.

September 27, 2003

 

Mosquitoes in Winter

First, it reduces ice formation within the mosquito’s cells, so that water hardens like glass but doesn’t form ice crystals that can then damage the cells.

September 27, 2003

 

Hole in the Earth

Also, earth’s core is a metal sphere 800 miles wide, but just pretend we’ve bored through it. What would be the result? For one thing, you could then travel to the other side of the world in under one hour.

September 27, 2003

 

Little People

Although dwarfism can result in some medical problems such as spinal stenosis, where the spinal column is too narrow to accommodate the spinal cord, many little people lead healthy, productive lives. A more common problem involves inaccessibility in public spaces.

September 27, 2003

 

Spandrel

“Spandrel” is a term from architecture. Imagine a dome that is held up by four arches, the way it’s done in cathedrals. When you do this you wind up with some leftover space between each arch. That’s a spandrel.

September 27, 2003

 

Is Cold Water Cleaner Than Warm Water?

Is cold water cleaner that warm water? Find out on this Moment of Science.

September 27, 2003

 

Birds of a Feather

The answer is diet. Those species with the most elaborate plumage also have the most diverse and reliable diet: a variety of insects, and fruits rich in complex nutrients. With this reliable food supply, females can raise the hatchlings without help from the males.

September 27, 2003

 

Double Joints

Can you bend your thumb backwards until it touches your wrist? If you join your hands behind your back, can you lift them over your head without letting go? If you can, you might be what some people call “double-jointed.” But, A Moment of Science wonders, how could anyone have double joints?

September 27, 2003

 

Males Rule in Costa Rican Wasp Species

In most species of social insects, such as wasps, bees, and ants, the females rule. The females are the workers.

September 27, 2003

 

Flying Snakes

Given the hundreds of thousands of different animals inhabiting our planet, the list of those that can fly is quite small. “Fly Snakes” on today’s Moment of Science.

September 27, 2003

 

Titanium

With 22 as its atomic number and ‘T-i” as its atomic symbol, titanium is the fourth most abundant metal on earth.

September 27, 2003

 

Tricking Your Ears

By temporarily altering the shape of the pinnas with plastic molds, researchers in the Netherlands found that indeed, people with new pinnas had a hard time locating sound sources.

September 27, 2003

 

Amazing Sea Monkeys

If kept dry, these cysts will remain viable for many years. Placed in salt water, the cysts rehydrate and the shrimp resume development.

September 27, 2003

 

Monoamniotic Twins

Fraternal is when two different eggs are fertilized by two separate sperm. And even though fraternal twins can look very much alike, on average they only share fifty percent of their genes, the same as any other siblings.

September 27, 2003

 

Ancient Performance Enhancers

Even the ancient Greeks used performance enhancers in the form of leaden and stone hand weights called halteres, which weighed between four and twenty pounds. The proof is plain to see on many ancient Greek urns depicting Olympic athletes clutching these objects as they compete in the long jump.

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