Water bugs manage to stand on the surface of a pond, because the pads of their feet resist contact with the water just like wax paper does. This allows the bug to rest on the thin film of surface tension that naturally covers the pond. This surface tension film is caused by the strong attraction the surface water molecules have toward each other, as well as toward the water beneath them. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
If your hair drier shrunk your head to the size of a grapefruit, you’d be astounded. If your wool pants shrank in the drier, you’d be angry but not amazed. How can clothing disobey the laws of common sense, and shrink in the laundry? Learn more on this Moment of Science.
You know the Beach Boys song “Good Vibrations”? You know that weird, eerie sound that floats through the song? That’s a theremin, or at least a synthesized version of one. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
Do birds use cognitive maps to get around similarly to humans? Lean more on this Moment of Science.
Eat too much and you might wind up obese. Eat the wrong things and watch your cholesterol shoot through the roof. As if that’s not enough, doctors have found that, taken together, conditions like high blood pressure and obesity are good predictors of illnesses including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
Did you know that many small animals that stay in cold environments during the winter go into a brief daily hibernation-like state? Scientists call it torpor. Torpor allows the animals to lower their body temperatures greatly, and their breathing and heart rate are so slow you can barely tell they’re alive. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
Your step the wrong way off a curb and sprain your ankle…or is it a strain? A strain is when you badly stretch or tear a muscle. A sprain is when you stretch or tear ligaments, or part of a ligament. A Moment of Science.
Close your eyes and imagine that you’re a Mormon cricket. Why, you ask? Well, Mormon crickets are interesting. Like desert locust, they sometimes form large bands that march across the landscape of northeastern Utah and northwestern Colorado, and basically eat everything in their way. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
It’s summertime, and you’re on vacation. You sit beside a quiet pond, fishing, trying to relax, trying to think about nothing at all. You watch the leaves stirring, the water rippling in the sunshine, and the water bugs standing on the surface of the water. Wait, how are those bugs standing on the surface!? Learn more on this Moment of Science.
Skydiving has become an increasingly popular sport, although most of us haven’t yet taken the plunge and only enjoy it from the sidelines. If you’ve seen video of skydivers in action, especially skydiving teams that link up to create formations, you might wonder how they do it. It’s a matter of elementary physics. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
To most, metaphors are easily understood, but to people with damage to the angular gyrus region of their brains, metaphors are confusing. That is, they have trouble interpreting the figurative meaning of metaphors. All they can figure is the literal meaning of what they hear and read. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
Toddlers and slightly older children are prone to chew on things that make adults react with alarm. However, for many children between the ages of two and three, compulsively eating non-food items is an eating disorder known as pica. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
Something mysterious happened in early January of 1997: rather abruptly, a multi-million dollar communications satellite that had been in perfect working order suddenly shut down, never to work again. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
It’s often said that a dog is a man’s best friend, although you can’t really carry on a conversation with them, ask to borrow money, or share a six pack with a dog. However, dogs are extremely useful when it comes to crime prevention. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
Imagine not being able to recognize faces. You could see faces, but you’d be entirely unable to distinguish one face from another. All faces would look more or less the same, with an amorphous assemblage of eyes, ears, noses, lips, and chins. To put it mildly, that would be strange. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
On last count, there were nine planets in our solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Soon, however, we might need to add a tenth planet to the solar lineup. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
We humans tend to favor animals that behave like we do, like dolphins. Scientists have discovered another reason for us to favor dolphins. Like chimps, dolphins use tools to look for food, but while chimps use sticks, a handful of dolphins in Australia’s Shark Bay use sea sponges.
The jeweler cradles it in his hand, scrutinizing it through his eyepiece. “Flawless,” he mutters, in a hushed, reverent voice. “A perfectly flawless crystalline structure.” He brings it to his face. He opens his mouth. He eats it. “Delicious!” Like a gem stone’s luster, a chocolate bar’s flavor depends largely on the crystalline structure of the chocolate’s chemicals. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
We’ve discussed before how endangered species are at risk from the increased likelihood of inbreeding, which leads to unhealthy offspring. There’s another danger to letting the numbers of animals in a given species become too low. It’s called genetic drift. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
“Squares” was the somewhat rude but good-natured term used for people who have consistent, if perhaps a little bland, emotional lives. A long-term study conducted from 1942 to the present suggests that squares have the last laugh. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
What causes some plants to flower in spring, while others bloom in summer, and still others in fall? Learn more on this Moment of Science.
Did you know that the virus that causes chicken pox, the varicella-zoster virus, never actually leaves your body? It lies dormant from the time you get the illness, in nerve cells alongside your spinal cord. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
Astronomers have recently discovered a planet 15,000 light years away, making it one of the farthest known planets outside our solar system. The planet is the second to be detected using a technique called gravitational microlensing. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
Can you imagine lasting an entire month without sleep? Believe it or not, newborn dolphins and killer whales have been observed to do just that. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
Obesity isn’t just a serious problem for the 66% of American adults who are overweight or obese, 32% of American children ages 6 to 19 are already overweight or obese. Are these kids at risk for developing the diseases that overweight and obese adults are at high risk for, like diabetes and heart disease? Learn more on this Moment of Science.
A surprising phenomenon sometimes occurs to people who have lost a hand. Soon after the hand is lost, they report that they can feel it again, this time when something touches the side of their face. A neurologist can lightly touch different areas on the cheek, for example, and the person will say it feels as if two spots were being touched simultaneously. One on their face, and one on their missing hand. Learn more on this Moment of Science.
On a previous show we discussed how, every 250,000 years or so, the north and south poles switch places. Not that the places themselves move, rather, the entire magnetic field of the earth flips around, resulting in the pole we now call north being on the southern tip of the planet, and vice versa. Why does this happen? Learn more on this Moment of Science.
So exactly how many calories do you burn in a day?
Your kid wants to lift weights. You want your kid to be physically active, but is weight lifting safe for kids?