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Archive for September 2003

September 27, 2003

 

Is Your Dog Wimpier than Your Cat?

Have you ever noticed that while it’s pretty easy to tell your dog is sick, it’s much harder to know how your cat or bird are feeling? Well, before you start asking your dog why it can’t be more stoic like animals half its size, it’s probably worth considering each animal’s place in the food […]

September 27, 2003

 

Chameleons

We all thought we knew why chameleons change color, but most of us were probably wrong. Chameleons on today’s Moment of Science.

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

 

Animal Scandals

Females also mate with more than one partner. Apparently doing this enables females to find partners with better genes or who are better providers.

September 27, 2003

 

Are Humans and Fungi Distant Cousins?

The third kingdom contains all organisms whose cells have a nucleus, including plants, animals, algae, and even fungi. So evolutionarily speaking, humans and fungi are cousins.

September 27, 2003

 

The Deadliest Waves

Ordinary ocean waves are caused by the action of wind, like ripples on a wind-blown pond. Even the impressive surf of the Pacific got its start as wind blowing across the open water. The height of such waves depends on how fast the wind is blowing, and how much open water the wind travels across.

September 27, 2003

 

Dogs of the Orient

Until recently, scientists believed that domestic dogs originated in the Middle East. But reports suggest that almost all domestic dogs began in East Asia as the offspring of three lineages. Virtually all domesticated dogs in the United States descend from dogs brought over by ancient people that crossed the Bering land bridge from Asia to North America.

September 27, 2003

 

Sleeping Alone

There was indeed a connection. Everyone slept for about the same amount of time, but the volunteers who rated themselves as the loneliest were also the ones who were most likely to wake up during the night.

September 27, 2003

 

Tracing Our Ancestors

Of course, using DNA to identify race raises many difficult ethical questions. After all, in the past, pseudo-scientific racial divisions provided justification for atrocities like slavery and the Holocaust.

September 27, 2003

 

Why It Isn’t Easy Being Blue

Ever wonder if you can actually turn blue while holding your breath? Find out on this Moment of Science.

September 27, 2003

 

Vitamin C and Collagen

Vitamin C does a lot of good things for the body. It prevents diseases like scurvy, can lower the risk of certain forms of heart disease, and it is beneficial to people with anemia and iron deficiency.

September 27, 2003

 

Curds and whey in a pan

Miss Muffet And Her Curds And Whey

"Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey..." Have you ever eaten curds and whey?

September 27, 2003

 

How Cells Get Around

This means that instead of staying in one place, the cancer cells migrate from their original site to other parts of the body.

September 27, 2003

 

A Cottonwood, a Beaver, and a Beetle

When a beaver chews on a cottonwood, the tree does release these noxious chemicals as usual, but the bitter chemicals released into the tree’s new leaves actually attract a certain leaf-eating beetle.

September 27, 2003

 

Do Bugs Sleep?

Almost all mammals, in fact, have REM sleep; birds do too, although only in the early parts of their lives. It seems that sleep and REM are required by a particularly complex kind of brain.

September 27, 2003

 

Air Bags: Much Ado About Nothing

In most air bags, the sensor triggers chemical reactions that produce nitrogen gas from chemical tablets stored in the unit. The gas whooshes into the bag and inflates it in only a few milliseconds.

September 27, 2003

 

The Straight-up Tower of Pisa?

After doing some modeling, scientists tried using a special drill to extract soil from underneath the north side of the tower.

September 27, 2003

 

Holdover from the Icebox Days

Back when most folks relied on an icebox to cool food, a block of ice was a precious commodity.If you put hot food in the icebox the ice might melt, and by the time the ice truck came through the neighborhood again all your food may have spoiled.

September 27, 2003

 

Rocket Roach

There are few insects more reviled than the cockroach. Maybe we’re just jealous: cockroaches were around long before humans, and will continue to do their thing long after our species has gone the way of the woolly mammoth.

September 27, 2003

 

Bacteria that Fight Tooth Decay

Most tooth decay is caused by a strain of bacteria called Streptococcus mutans. It consumes sugar on the surface of the teeth and converts it into lactic acid, which is what eats away tooth enamel, causing decay.

September 27, 2003

 

Mothballs

Thanks to clothes moths and their fabric devouring larvae, your expensive Scottish wool sweater may one day resemble Swiss cheese.

September 27, 2003

 

Morning Sickness Is a Good Thing?

Is morning sickness actually a good thing for pregnant mothers? Learn more on this Moment of Science.

September 27, 2003

 

SuperHero Vision

Although this surgery might soon be available to the public, it’s worth wondering why we would want such enhanced vision. Most of us, like Clark Kent, don’t really need it. Unless, that is, you’re considering a career in the superhero business.

September 27, 2003

 

Maggots festing one of two possums in a creek

Maggot Therapy

Before modern antibiotics, doctors sometimes relied on an unusual, but effective therapy for keeping wounds from getting infected. Yep, you guessed it: maggots.

September 27, 2003

 

batspit

Bat Spit

Vampire bats may seem like a blood problem you may have to deal with. However, you should be worrying about having a stroke!

September 27, 2003

 

When the Sky Turns Green

If you look at the horizon at sunset–exactly as the last sliver of sun disappears–you might see a flash of brilliant green blaze across the sky.

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.”

September 27, 2003

 

Pickles and Ice Cream

Real life doesn’t come with a laugh track, but pregnancy does often involve food cravings. These cravings are not limited to foods like pickles and ice cream, of course; pregnant women have been known to crave all kinds of foods, from blueberries to hamburger to cookie dough.

September 27, 2003

 

Keeping Sunflowers in the Dark

Surprisingly, even though there is no light to catch, the sunflower will continue to bend every day just as it did when it was outside. This is a classic example of what scientists call a circadian rhythm — it’s a daily cycle of behavior that is internal to the organism, rather than being solely triggered by the environment.

September 27, 2003

 

Rocky Weather Forecasting

If you find yourself away from a city, spend an hour looking up on any clear, moonless night. You’re bound to see a few brilliant “shooting stars.” These actually have nothing to do with stars: They’re meteors, and if your viewing conditions are good, you can see about seven per hour on any given night.

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