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.
High-speed communication works the same way whether we use pulses of electrical current, radio waves or light. There is an internationally agreed upon code for what any short sequence of pulses mean. How fast and far you can communicate depends upon how short you can make the pulses and how far the pulses can travel and still be detected. If you send pulses of electrical current in wires, the two effects fight one another and the faster the pulses, the shorter they will go before they die away.
If you use radio waves, there are two problems. Anyone can detect them, and you can't pulse faster than the frequency of the waves. Infrared light of wavelength 1.6 microns oscillates at nearly two hundred thousand billion times per second, so you can pulse it way over a billion times per second with no problem.
An optical fiber is a thread of very pure glass which can carry this light for hundreds of miles and you can put over a hundred different colors of light in the same glass fiber all carrying different information. This much information capacity is critical to carry the data traffic of the internet, television, phone conversations and hundreds of other uses.
- Can a cellular phone work in space? How far into space can you go without losing communication?
- What was the gas mileage for the earliest cars made?
- Have you or will you ever try to weigh a red blood cell? If so, how would you?
- What is the history of coding?
- Is the Mars Rover powered solely by solar power? How long will the solar panels be able to power the rover?
- How does a copy machine work?
- How do you make a computer game?
- At what magnification on a microscope can you actually see animal cells and plant cells?
- 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 do graphic equalizers have so many bars? I could understand 2 bars for L and R channels, but I get puzzled every time I look at one. If I took the left or right channel plug out of my receiver, would half of the bars stop moving?