Archives of Ask A Scientist!
About "Ask A Scientist!"
On September 17th, 1998 the Ithaca Journal ran its first "Ask A Scientist!" article in which Professor Neil Ashcroft , who was then the director of CCMR, answered the question "What is Jupiter made of?" Since then, we have received over 1,000 questions from students and adults from all over the world. Select questions are answered weekly and published in the Ithaca Journal and on our web site. "Ask A Scientist!" reaches more than 21,000 Central New York residents through the Ithaca Journal and countless others around the world throught the "Ask a Scientist!" web site.
Across disciplines and across the state, from Nobel Prize winning scientist David Lee to notable science education advocate Bill Nye, researchers and scientists have been called on to respond to these questions. For more than seven years, kids - and a few adults - have been submitting their queries to find out the answer to life's everyday questions.
In order to fly, an animal has to interact with air in a special way. The animal needs to have a structure that is wide and flat when looked at in one direction, and very thin when looked at in the other direction, kind of like your hand, but even wider and thinner, like a bird wing! When a bird is flying, their wings are flat so that the air flows easily around it in the direction the animal flies (like your hand cutting through the water or air). But something special and tricky happens here. As the air flows over the wing, the air flows faster over the top then the bottom, because the wing is slightly curved on top. This means there will be more air on the bottom side (because this air is moving more slowly). When there is more air on the bottom (a scientist would say there is higher "pressure") that leads to a push. And since the push happens against that wide flat part of the wing, this push lifts the animal. So a bird wing slices into the air in the forward direction, and gets pushed up from below; the net result is a flying bird!
- How do airplanes fly?
- How does a glow-stick work and how come neon glows?
- Why are computer chips written on silicon?
- If the electrons are attracted to the protons, why don't they come crashing into the nucleus?
- Is time travel possible?
- How do you make a rock into a metal or a crystal?
- Why does my milkshake stay thick even when it warms up? Shouldn't it get thinner as it melts?
- What causes lightbulbs to be so inefficient, and how is efficiency rated?
- What makes spider silk so strong?
- How is it that when powder is applied to a surface fingerprints appear?