A Moment of Science

Archive for September 2003

September 27, 2003

 

Duct Tape and Warts

Have you ever used duct tape to tape a duct? Do you even know what a duct is? Maybe not. But you definitely know what duct tape is, and you’ve probably used it to fix everything from glasses to flashlights. Now, thanks to one study, we can officially add to the already long list of [...]

September 27, 2003

 

Something I Ate

While flu symptoms can include headaches, stomach cramps, and diarrhea, more often than not, flu symptoms tend to be muscle aches and sinus problems.

September 27, 2003

 

Flat Worms: The Earthworm Predators

Over the past few decades, the earthworm population has severely decreased. Since the New Zealand flatworm accidentally made its way to the British Isles in 1963, it has wreaked havoc on some of the land, devouring fields of earthworms.

September 27, 2003

 

The Miracle Water Diet

Water weight doesn’t mean that you’ve been drinking too much–it means that you haven’t been drinking enough and that your body has detected a water shortage and is retaining water.

September 27, 2003

 

Processing Moral Dilemmas

After all, as children we internalize the emotional reactions of those around us and store them in emotional brain circuits. Then, later, when we encounter a moral problem, these automatic gut feelings guide our decision- making.

September 27, 2003

 

Smoking and Women

Although tobacco companies advertise some cigarettes as “light,” this is just an advertising ploy to obscure the risks associated with smoking–smoking a light cigarette is just as risky as smoking a regular one.

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

 

Water Pistols & Super Soakers

When a group of neighborhood kids have a water fight, the amassed weaponry is truly astounding. An aquatic arms race has resulted in Super Soaker water guns that can blast streams of water fifty feet across the yard.

September 27, 2003

 

Fruit Flies Sleep

Ever wonder if fruit flies sleep? Find out on today's Moment of Science.

September 27, 2003

 

Soy and Your Kidneys

Soy milk, soy cheese, soy burgers, tofu–you’ve no doubt heard plenty about how good soy is for your body. It’s high in protein, fiber and healthy oils; and among other benefits, it reduces one’s risk of cardiovascular disease. But have you heard that soy can cause kidney stones?

September 27, 2003

 

Osmosis and Applesauce

This process is called osmosis; it dilutes the sugar-water inside the cells. But all the water coming in raises the pressure inside the cells so that eventually, the cell walls burst.

September 27, 2003

 

Falling Leaves

Why can’t leaves change colors, stay on their trees, and change back to green again when spring comes?

September 27, 2003

 

Ride the Sperm Train

The female wood mouse has multiple mates, so the sperm of this wood mouse may be competing with sperm from other males.

September 27, 2003

 

Cooked Tomatoes are Better than Raw Ones?

It’s commonly said that cooked fruits and vegetables are not as good for you as raw ones. Is this statement true? Find out on today’s Moment of Science.

September 27, 2003

 

Sunrise, Sunset

Now, at sunset, the lowest mile or so of the atmosphere is filled with things like vehicle exhaust, dust, smoke, and water vapor, and all these pollutants scatter light.

September 27, 2003

 

Caterpillars That Fool Ants

Ants are the recipients of a lot of pranks in the insect world. The particular hoax I have in mind, though, involves caterpillar larvae that fool ants into feeding and caring for them.

September 27, 2003

 

Tips for Predicting Baseball Scores

They discovered that baseball teams playing at home won over half the time. However, if the visiting team had just traveled eastward, say, from L.A. to New York, the home team scored more runs.

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

 

Mummies’ Curse

While the tombs of ancient Egyptian royalty do indeed bear curses calling down death and destruction on all who enter, tombs all over the world hold hidden perils for explorers, like Lord Carnarvon, who discovered King Tut’s tomb only to die suddenly shortly afterward.

September 27, 2003

 

A possum sits perched in a tree and eats a cracker.

Playing Possum

Playing dead doesn't seem like much of a strategy, but it works for the opossum, commonly known as the possum.

September 27, 2003

 

Dust Mites

If you're allergic to dust, chances are what's making you sick is dust mite fecal matter. Find out about dust mites on this Moment of Science.

September 27, 2003

 

Chewing Gum

If you chew gum with sugar in it, you need to chew for twenty minutes or more in order to produce enough saliva to wash away a significant amount of the sugar residue. Even then, it’s a good idea to brush your teeth afterward.

September 27, 2003

 

True Love and Garlic

Garlic-lovers, and the unfortunate people who love them, are well aware of the reeking breath that’s caused by the tiniest bit of garlic. So why don’t products like toothpaste and mouthwash help lessen the stench? What makes garlic so persistently stinky?

September 27, 2003

 

A large group of maggots devouring a dead possum

Maggots: an Investigator’s “Star Witness”

Grisly as it sounds, by surveying the insects in and around a corpse, forensic scientists can help determine how long ago a victim was murdered.

September 27, 2003

 

What’s That in the Sky?

In his book Cosmos, the late scientist Carl Sagan talks about the way in which the earth is regularly struck by material from outer space. These collisions with space debris can be minor–as in a shooting star on a summer night–or amazingly destructive, as in the collision that probably killed off the dinosaurs. Thankfully, the [...]

September 27, 2003

 

The Hottest of the Hot

Today’s Big and Bad File entry is the world’s hottest chili pepper. The hottest of all peppers is the Scotch Bonnet.

September 27, 2003

 

Fluff up the Down

The large ones we see when a bird stretches its wings are “flight feathers,” but they also have fluffy ones called “down feathers.”

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