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.
When an eagle dives for a fish, and heads directly for the fish he sees, he misses because the fish is lower than it appears to him. Try this: put a nickel at the bottom of a mug. Look into the mug at a low angle, such that the coin is just out of view. Pour in water slowly and watch the coin appear to rise from the bottom and be not only visible but also bigger. When you look at a 3 inch long fish in an aquarium, it will appear to be about 4 inches long.
Try this question: From our story above, our eagle has learned that the fish is actually lower than it appears, so he aims low. Now, some fish catch insects by squirting a jet of water at a bug just above the surface. Should he aim high or low?
- Why, when you breathe in helium, does your voice change?
- If the mantle can rise when weight has been lifted off of it (isostasy), then why are some islands sinking into the ocean?
- How do minerals and nutrients form? Why do some foods have metals in them?
- How do fuel cells work?
- What are MEMS and why are they an important scientific break through?
- What makes Band-Aids sticky?
- How does energy that is released as heat get reused?
- Why is a mirror left-right reversed, and not up-down backwards?
- Our textbook tells us the speed of the molecules that make up the air we breathe, but the speed it gives us is faster than the speed of sound. Why don't we hear sonic booms as when an airplane breaks the sound barrier? Are the particles just too small for us to hear the booms?
- How do magnets work?