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 recent application is to use glass fibers to transmit phone calls and to connect computer centers. There are many different kinds of glass and they are made in different manners.
However, the main ingredient is sand. An ancient Egyptian recipe to make glass is to mix sand, lime and soda. This mixture is heated until it becomes a liquid.
The Romans discovered in the first century BC that you can form thin bulbs of glass by gathering a blob of glass on the end of a long metal tube and then blowing into the tube, just like blowing bubble gum.
This discovery was a big step towards making glass windows. You still can see glass blowers at work when you visit the Corning Museum of Glass. They use this method to make beautiful vases, bowls, and glass sculptures.
When hot glass cools, it becomes stiffer and stiffer. In that regard, liquid glass is not like the liquids you know.
For example, water does not get noticeably stiffer when you cool it, but at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, suddenly turns to ice. Glass just continuously becomes more jelled.
At room temperature, glass is so stiff that it behaves in all applications like a very hard and brittle solid.
Tour guides in Europe like to tell the tourists that the old stained glass windows (and some are almost 1,000 years old) are thicker at the bottom edge because the glass has flowed a bit over the centuries.
But scientists, who have studied this issue, believe the glass was made that way originally.
- How come deserts have sand instead of dirt and soil?
- How do MRI's work? What are all the ticking and banging noises?
- How many types of rocks are there throughout the world?
- How are elements named?
- Why does light travel slower in different materials (glass, water, etc.)? Also, how have scientists slowed light to "walking speeds"?
- If plastic is made to be biodegradable, then won't the plastic forks and spoons we use dissolve in our mouth?
- How is rubber made?
- How does a fluorescent light bulb work?
- How do CDs Work?
- Do mountains ever fall?