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A Moment of Science

Archive for September 2003

September 27, 2003

 

It Pays to Be an Optimist

Research shows that whether a person is an optimist or a pessimist is related to their quality of life, including their physical health.

September 27, 2003

 

A Romantic Way to Say Shut Up

It’s not a blinding speed, but it’s enough to save you from a soaking. Afterward, the little fellows open up again and go back to catching sunbeams.

September 27, 2003

 

North Star

The North Star is the brightest star in the constellation known as the Little Dipper. It is called the North Star because of the special position it occupies relative to the earth’s axis. If you were to stay up all night gazing at the stars, you’d slowly see them revolve around a point in the sky known as the North Celestial Pole.

September 27, 2003

 

Gas Masks

Since the charcoal filter can’t absorb all chemicals, the last filter uses chemical reactions to clean the air. Say I’m breathing in chlorine-saturated air, like soldiers during World War I.

September 27, 2003

 

American Pi

Over 4,000 years ago, the Babylonians were the first to approximate pi, and ever since, mathematicians have come up with ways of figuring it more accurately.

September 27, 2003

 

When a Boy’s Voice Changes

As a boy goes through adolescence, his secondary sex characteristics develop. One of these characteristics is the rapid growth of the larynx and vocal cords. A boy’s voice deepens as his larynx develops because the bigger the vocal cords, the deeper the voice.

September 27, 2003

 

Ye Olde El Nino

Everybody is familiar with El Nino these days. So how come you only hear about it in our lifetimes? Where was El Nino in the Middle Ages?

September 27, 2003

 

Green Potatoes

The nutritious skin is where a lot of the vitamins are. Important nutrients such as fiber, calcium, iron, and vitamin C are found in the skin. However, you probably didn’t know that potato skins contain poison.

September 27, 2003

 

Changing Gears

In our high-tech world it’s easy to forget the simpler things. Take a bicycle, for instance. No engine, no computerized braking system, no fancy fuel injection: all you need is air in the tires and off you go. Simple, that is, until you take a closer look at bicycles with multiple speeds. How do all […]

September 27, 2003

 

Birds v. Squirrels

What do birds, squirrels, and chili peppers have to do with one another? Find out on this Moment of Science.

September 27, 2003

 

Lemmings Love Life

Do lemmings really follow each other off a cliff to their death? No, but there are mysteries surrounding the rodents. Over the years, there have been many tales of these Arctic rodents voluntarily jumping off cliffs and plummeting into the sea.

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

 

Kissing Cousins

Fans of classic movies will remember the famous dueling banjos scene in Deliverance, the story of four city friends who take an ill-fated boating trip down a backwoods Georgia river. As the friends set out, one of the friends challenges a local boy with a banjo to see who can play faster. At the end […]

September 27, 2003

 

Ancient Goodies

Ancient Goodies on today’s Moment of Science; Chocoholics might just not be a modern phenomenon.

September 27, 2003

 

Sweet and Sour

After digestion, glucose travels throughout the body in the blood stream. It enters all of our cells with the help of a hormone called insulin: insulin picks up the glucose and carries it into each cell, like a groom carrying a bride over the threshold.

September 27, 2003

 

To Sign or Not to Sign?

However, many scientists and psychologists are skeptical of the supposed benefits of putting infants through an intensive sign language program.

September 27, 2003

 

Black Boxes

Until recently, most black boxes worked like tape recorders, using magnetic tape to record voice and electronic data. Current manufacturers use solid state memory boards, like the kind used in personal computers.

September 27, 2003

 

The Muffin Maker’s Secret

Once flour is mixed with wet ingredients, strands of gluten protein in the flour stretch out and link up with other protein molecules.

September 27, 2003

 

Becoming Part of the Music

Unlike waves on a lake, sound waves don’t travel up and down. Instead they’re more like layers of high and low pressure traveling outward in all directions. Each wave consists of a layer of high pressure followed by a layer of low pressure.

September 27, 2003

 

Ghrelin

This might be why so many people gain the weight back after dieting. With higher levels of ghrelin in their blood, they wind up even hungrier than they were before, even when they stop dieting. Currently, drug companies are looking for safe ways to decrease the amount of gherlin in the blood.

September 27, 2003

 

Smoking Role Models

A study done by two researchers at Wake Forest University that looked at over 500 different random music videos found that at least ten percent of the videos on any channel showed people smoking.

September 27, 2003

 

Smoke on the Wildflower

Wildfires destroy enormous areas of forest every year. However, after forest fires, some plants manage to grow back at accelerated speeds.

September 27, 2003

 

A Different Chicken of the Sea

Menhaden aren’t very tasty; they’re small, bony, and oily. What’s more, you won’t find menhaden for sale at the fish counter. Nevertheless, they are the single most harvested fish in Atlantic and Gulf waters.

September 27, 2003

 

Fish Sense

This classic Jaws moment raises a question: how was the shark always able to know when a victim was in the water? Was it able to see the body, or perhaps hear splashing near the water’s surface?

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

 

Cinnabark

You probably didn’t know that cinnamon is actually made from tree bark. The cinnamon tree is in the laurel family, and is grown in Sri Lanka.

September 27, 2003

 

Is Microwaving Safe for Food?

Microwaves are low energy electromagnetic waves that have so little energy they can’t trigger chemical reactions in the molecules they encounter.

September 27, 2003

 

A-bomb

To create a bomb based on nuclear fission, the scientists working on the top secret Manhattan Project had to find fissionable fuel. They settled on enriched uranium.

September 27, 2003

 

To Immunize or Not to Immunize…

Vaccines consist of mild doses of disease-causing bacteria or virus that trigger the creation of antibodies that fight infection.

September 27, 2003

 

The Anatomy of a Flame

You can think of a flame as being like a kind of tent. Heat melts the candle’s waxy fuel, and turns it into a gas. This fuel gas floats away from the wick to fill the inside of the flame’s tent.

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