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.
The United States has the highest occurrence of tornados because all three air masses can be in close proximity to one another. This region is located from Texas through Oklahoma and into Kansas. The cP air mass moves south from Canada, the mT air mass moves northward from the Gulf of Mexico and the cT air mass moves northeastward from northern Mexico.
Since the polar jet stream plays such an important role in the formation of tornados, the tornado season migrates with the polar jet stream. The peak period of April to June for the formation of tornadoes is due to the cT air mass, which forms during the winter months in the desert southwest area of the U.S. and northern Mexico. This air mass is moved northeastward by the polar jet stream during the spring and early summer. You might expect a similar peak in tornado development in the fall as the jet stream moves south for the winter. The reason there is no peak in the fall is the lack of the cT air mass, which has disappeared by July. The formation of tornadoes is complicated and is caused by many factors which we are trying to understand. With the aid of new instruments such as radar, satellites, and faster computers and new ideas, the mysteries of tornado formation will become clearer in the future.
- Is it possible that there is an asteroid bound for earth?
- What was the longest time a tornado touched the earth and when was it?
- Can you create protons? And if not, where did the hydrogen nuclei required to form a star come from?
- Why doesn't it rain inside a house?
- If the mantle can rise when weight has been lifted off of it (isostasy), then why are some islands sinking into the ocean?
- Won't the non-use of chlorofluro-carbon (CFC's) do more harm than good?
- Why does the earth revolve around the sun in an oval shaped orbit not in a round orbit?
- If we had to leave earth, what would be the best planet to move to? Which one would be most like Earth?
- If light travels in a straight line, why is lightning crooked?
- What causes the Earth to rotate?