Author Archives: Scott

Can Staying Awake Too Long Really Kill You?

sleepless-woman

Valerie C asks: Can staying awake too long really kill you? Every college student knows the eye-stinging pain of a caffeine-induced all-nighter.  It’s been well documented that prolonged sleep deprivation will lead to lower cognitive and motor function, as well as impaired memory; it might even give you the tired-giggles.  No one has ever definitively shown why sleep is necessary […]

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Why Does Hypothermia Help People Survive in Some Situations?

frozen-woman

Derek H. asks: Why does extreme lowering of body temperature sometimes help people survive when they’re otherwise dead for extended periods? We’ve all probably heard of a person being pulled from cold water after a seemingly unrevivable timeframe. Miraculously, they survive and more or less make full recoveries. A 7-year-old girl named Stella Berndtsson from Sweden currently holds the record […]

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Why Nuclear Bombs Create Mushroom Clouds

tsar-bomba1

Susan K. asks: Why do nuclear bombs make mushroom clouds? This phenomenon all comes down to a little something called the Rayleigh-Taylor instability, and by extension, convection. I’ll begin with the somewhat longer, but less geeky explanation before descending once again into extreme nerdery. It all starts with an explosion that creates a Pyrocumulus Cloud. This ball of burning hot […]

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