Category Archives: Answers

What’s in Windshield Washer Fluid That Keeps It From Freezing?


Munawar asks: What do they put in windshield wiper fluid to keep it from freezing? Although there are other additives that are also sometimes used for the de-icing component in windshield washer fluid, the most commonly used ingredient is methanol, which combines with water, a dash of colored ink, and occasionally some form of detergent to make up windshield washer […]

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Why School Buses Are Yellow and Why They Don’t Typically Have Seatbelts


Today I found out why school buses are yellow. School buses are the primary mode of student transportation in North America. An estimated twenty-six million students in the United States alone are transported to school every school day via bus—over half the student population in the country. While school buses in countries outside of North America usually look like any […]

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On Naming Planes


Sara M asks: Why are Boeing planes so randomly numbered for their names? Although it may seem as if Boeing planes are randomly numbered, there actually is a method to their madness. Founded in July 1916 as the Pacific Aero Products Co, but changing into Boeing Airplane Company in 1917, Boeing was re-tooling and adapting to the end of World […]

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What Function Does Natural Aspirin Serve in Plants?


Blain F. asks: What function does natural aspirin serve in the plants that produce it? Salicylic acid is found in varying degrees in a wide range of plants including potatoes, tobacco, unripe fruits (including blackberries and blueberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, green pepper, tomato and olives), mushrooms, and, of course, willow. A phenolic compound, together with cytokinins, auxins, gibberellins, ethylene and abscisic […]

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Why Phone Keypads and Calculator/Keyboard Keypads are Arranged Differently

Prototype Push Button Phone (1948)

John T. asks Why do keyboard keypads number 7,8,9 on down and phone keypads number 1,2,3 on down? It’s not clear why numbering pads designed for calculation have 7-8-9 at the top, although the practice of placing the larger numbers above the smaller can be seen as far back as the late 19th century on early mechanical cash registers, often […]

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