Author Archives: Melissa

Blue and Green Pigments Don’t Exist in the Human Iris, So How Do Some People Have Blue and Green Eyes?

Terran N. asks: Why do some people have different colored eyes? The Basics of Eye Color Eye color is a function of pigmentation both at the back of the iris (iris pigment epithelium) and in its stroma (the front of the iris), as well as the density of the cells in the stroma. In most cases these factors, and hence […]

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Dan Aykroyd’s Fascination with the Paranormal and How It Inspired Ghostbusters

The great-grandson of a spiritualist who regularly conducted séances at the family home (where Aykroyd grew up and resides today), Dan Aykroyd cut his teeth on stories and personal experiences of the paranormal. Shortly after Aykroyd was born, according to family lore he was visited by his deceased great-grandparents: My mother speaks about a time when she was nursing me […]

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Why Fruits Change Color and Flavor as They Ripen

Jay G. asks: Why do fruits change colour and flavour when they ripen? Fruits and vegetables (see: The Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables) come in a wide array of colors that change throughout their ripening process, with the brightest colors often occurring when the fruit is optimally ripened.  But why do fruits change color at all? There are two ways […]

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Why Is Comfortable Air Temperature So Much Lower Than Body Temperature?

Jared U. asks: Why isn’t normal body temperature the temperature that humans are most comfortable in? Each summer as temperatures approach 98° Fahrenheit (about 37° Celsius), we hear news stories about people suffering (and sometimes even dying) from overheating. Yet these temperatures are essentially the same as normal body heat. So why isn’t this a comfortable temperature for us? Our […]

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The Lost Continent That Never Existed: Mu

Thousands of years younger than the tales of its fabled cousin, Atlantis, the lost continent of Mu was first proposed in the mid-19th century to explain the phenomenon of similar symbols, architecture and myths found in otherwise disparate, ancient cultures around the world. Unfortunately for adherents to the idea, there is no empirical evidence to support its existence or the […]

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How Anti-Fog Spray Keeps Glasses from Fogging Up

Roman S. asks: How does spitting in swimming goggles keep them from fogging up? The “fog” you may sometimes experience on your glasses or goggles occurs when atmospheric humidity near the lens condenses; this happens due to a relatively significant discrepancy between the temperature of the lens and the surrounding air. As the surface attempts to reach an equilibrium between […]

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What are Sea-Monkeys?

Karen C. asks: What exactly were sea monkey creatures and how did they survive in their packaging for so long? The product of a collaboration between a marketer and inventor and a marine biologist, Sea-Monkeys are a hybrid of several species of brine shrimp (Artemia), bred to have a particularly long dormant period, as well as to foster a large […]

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The Origin of the Expression “Guess what? Chicken Butt!”

Mark R. asks: Where did the whole kids thing of saying “Guess what?” and answering with “chicken butt!” come from? An appropriate response to nearly any rhetorical playground question from “What’s up?” to “Guess what?”, “chicken butt” has been an important part of the childish lexicon for many decades. The retort’s origins are usually speculated to have come from a […]

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The Not-So-Holy Order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe

Established in West Wycombe by Sir Francis Dashwood in 1749, the Brotherhood of St. Francis of Wycombe was anything but saintly. Devoted to wicked fun and debauchery, for the next two decades, many notable individuals in England counted themselves members, such as the 4th Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, Baron George Dodington, member of Parliament Thomas Potter, and, while not […]

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From Sorcerer to Clergyman to Pirate to Admiral, the Remarkable Life of Eustace The Monk

At the turn of the 13th century, Eustace Busket fought, raided, killed, embezzled, betrayed, revenged, impersonated and prayed his way across France, Spain and England. Although better known as Eustace the Monk, this younger son of a county lord spent little time in a monastery, choosing instead to live the life of a steward, mercenary and pirate. Born in 1170 […]

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Why Clocks Run Clockwise

Nathan B. asks: Why is the standard to have handed clocks turn clockwise? Pretty much everyone knows that if you’re asked to pass something clockwise around a table, you hand it to the person on your left because that is the same direction that the hands of a clock move. But what you may not know is that this standard […]

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Why Do We Say Someone is “In Cahoots”?

Mark K. asks: Why do we say someone is in cahoots? What is a cahoot? Meaning alternately companions, confederates, partners and/or conspirators, in cahoots is a phrase used to describe a situation where people are working together, often on an illegal, immoral, secret and/or unethical scheme. As for the word “cahoot” itself, it is defined as a “partnership, league.” The […]

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How the Phrase “Red Herring” Came to Mean Something That is Misleading

Nori K. asks: Where did the phrase red herring come from? Meaning a distraction or false trail, the expression “red herring” has been relatively commonly used for the last two centuries, and its origins do, in fact, begin with a rust-colored fish. However, until quite recently, the accepted origins of red herring were themselves a false trail. The literal sense […]

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