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.
A typical "shake" contains water, flavoring, sugar and a small amount of a water-soluble polymer. This polymer causes the water solution to form a gel. This gel is rather like Jell-O but not as thick and it remains a gel even when warmed to room temperature. The polymers that are used to make this kind of gel are perfectly edible and are used in many other consumer products. For example, disposal diapers contain some of this polymer so the diaper will not leak.
As a passing note, you can still purchase old-fashioned milkshakes at ice cream parlors, but they are more expensive than the ones at fast food restaurants. Here is something to try: add about 1 teaspoon of salt to your fast food shake, stir well, and see what happens. Just be sure to try this after you have had all of the shake that you wanted to drink, since it won't taste very good with all that salt in it.
- How do you make a laser?
- Does gravity get stronger nearer to the ground? If so by how much?
- What causes a heat sensitive material, such as a mood ring, to change color when it's temperate is altered? What is this material made of, and where else might it be used?
- How do CDs Work?
- Where does static electricity come from? How does it get in my cat's fur? Why is it worse in winter? How do dryer sheets get static out of clothes?
- Specifically, we have paperwork that gives different names for several of the new elements: Db for number 105 instead of Ha and Bh for number 107 instead of Ns. Do we have names for 110, 111, or beyond? What is the last one that was made?
- How do you make a computer game?
- How does the atomic clock work? I know it has something to do with the element cesium, but how does it "know" the "right" time to the exact second?
- The laws of thermodynamics teach that things in nature go from order to disorder but the theory of evolution teaches that well ordered creatures evolved from disordered ones. How can both be true?
- How come deserts have sand instead of dirt and soil?