Category Archives: Answers

Does Canadian Beer Really Contain More Alcohol Than Beer Made in the United States?

canadian-beer

Paul E. asks: Is it true that Canadian beer has a lot more alcohol in it than American beer? Canadians boast longer lives, safer communities, free nationalized healthcare, a cleaner environment, the most gold medals in Olympic hockey, and, of course, poutine. But, contrary to popular belief, one thing they don’t do any different than their friends to the south […]

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The Origins of the Mathematical Convention of Using “X” as the Unknown

mathematics-symbols

Linda P. asks: Why do we always use “x” for everything in math? For hundreds of years, x has been the go-to symbol for the unknown quantity in mathematical equations. So who started this practice? Algebra was born in the Middle East, during the Golden Age of medieval Islamic civilization (750 to 1258 AD), and its early form can be […]

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Can You Really Bust a Gut from Eating Too Much at Once?

bursting-stomach

R. Lee asks: In Seven an obese man is made to stuff himself until his stomach bursts. Is this really possible? Wouldn’t you just naturally throw up? Although extremely rare, some people actually have ruptured their stomachs after eating too much, and, perhaps not surprisingly, many did not survive. When a stomach ruptures, the billions of bacteria that normally live […]

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How is Silk Made?

silk worm

Mark D. asks: How do they make real silk from worms? One of the softest fabrics on the planet, shiny, breathable and comfortable, silk has been a highly prized cloth since it was first harvested thousands of years ago. And despite advances in production methods and new possibilities for cultivation, still today the only reasonable way to glean the thread in […]

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What Happens to Your Social Security Number When You Die?

SSN

U. Grening asks: What happens to your social security number when you die? Does it get used again? Since 1935, the Social Security Administration has been issuing numbers to permanent residents of the United States.  Nine simple digits distinguish each American from his or her fellow residents.  Today, assigned randomly and never recycled, a social security number is as unique […]

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Why Don’t Vultures Get Sick When Eating Dead Things?

Vulture

Scott K. asks: Why don’t vultures get sick when eating dead things? How come humans can’t do the same? As an animal that is synonymous with death and disease, the vulture understandably has a poor reputation in many cultures across the globe, despite, ironically enough, being a huge boon to humans in terms of being able to reduce instances of […]

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The Fascinating Reason Witches are Commonly Depicted Flying on Broomsticks

witch-broomstick

Emily A. asks: Why do witches fly on broomsticks? We’ve heard this one. To get high, of course! But seriously, it’s thought the idea of witches flying around on broomsticks came from the practice of concocting “witches flying ointment” (read  hallucinogens) and then using a broomstick to administer the drug to certain sensitive regions, thereby bypassing some of the negative […]

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