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.
I don't think anyone really knows, but here are a few ideas.
1) If you hang from a rope and swing your legs as if you were walking your body will twist back and forth. When you walk, that twisting tendency is still there. Swinging your arms opposite to your legs, like most people do, twists you the opposite way so its easier to walk straight.
2) If you just relax your arms, they will swing because your shoulders move when you walk. It takes effort to stop them from swinging. People are lazy so they let their arms swing.
3) Swinging arms can help push you forward. Each time you swing your arm you throw your fist forward like a ball. At the end of the forward swing your fist pulls your body to catch up. Why doesn't the 'throwing' effect cancel the 'catching' effect? That's the kind of thing we are still trying to figure out.
- Why are cats so flexible?
- Is AIDS the only incurable disease?
- How does your body move? Does the brain send it messages?
- Why do your bones crack when you walk up or down stairs sometimes?
- Can humans ever see in the dark with no night vision glasses or other aids?
- What is it about the human eye that limits the types of wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum that can be seen as visible light? Why are other animals capable of interpreting infrared waves as well?
- Can the human eye be compared to a computer monitor? Does the view we see refresh itself or is it more like live feed? If something was moving too quickly, would it appear jumpy like a low frames/second?
- Why can't we hold our breath like the whales?
- Why does your tongue get stuck to metal in the winter?
- How does Aspirin work?