Category Archives: Science

Why Do Other People’s Farts Smell Worse?


Dan K. asks: Why is it that other people’s farts smell worse than your own? In 2005, two researchers published a series of articles investigating the subject of other people’s smelliness. They examined how much disgust people would feel and show after smelling a variety of odors, including armpits, garbage and farts. Among the stinks examined, farts elicited the strongest […]

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What Determines “Party Cloudy” vs. “Mostly Sunny”? (And Other Weather Terms Explained)


Brett C. asks: How do they decide the cuttoff between partly cloudy and mostly sunny? If you ever thought it was difficult to tell the difference between “partly cloudy” and “mostly sunny,” you’re not alone. Established by the National Weather Service (NWS) according to a loose set of rules, the criteria used to describe different elements of your forecast can […]

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What Are Goose Bumps?


Justin R. asks: What is going on in our skin to create goose bumps? A holdover from an earlier stage in our evolution, goose bumps are a function of the autonomic nervous system reacting to a primal threat. Technically, the phenomenon is called the pilomotor reflex, and occurs when the arrector pili muscle, which runs between the base of a […]

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Saccadic Masking


Unknown to most, thousands of times each day we momentarily lose sight of the world around us. Known as saccadic masking, it is a function of the brain protecting us from suffering through blurred images that would otherwise be produced when our eyes move or shift. A saccade is a rapid eye movement between the places where the eye rests […]

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Slower Than a Turtle- The Speed of Electricity


Lindsey asks: How fast do electrons flow inside electrical cables? You may be surprised to learn that electrons flow through a typical copper wire much slower than a turtle walks. Each wire that conducts a flow of electrons, producing usable electric current, is composed of billions of atoms. To move along it, the electrons have to traverse these atoms, randomly […]

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Who Invented the Fahrenheit and Celsius Temperature Scales and What Zero Degrees Fahrenheit Signifies


B. Halpern asks: 0 degrees Celsius is the freezing point of water. So what is 0 degrees Fahrenheit? Who came up with Celsius and Fahrenheit? Firmly entrenched in American society, the seemingly capricious nature of the Fahrenheit temperature scale could lead one to think that its Dutch inventor, Daniel Fahrenheit, pulled the number for the freezing point (32°F) of water out […]

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