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.
Just as clothing and shade protect against sunburn in humans, the coats of animals such as dense hair and wool do the same. Animals with very little hair covering such as pigs and their relatives, hippopotamuses and warthogs are particularly at risk and they often coat themselves with mud to act as a sunscreen. Rhinoceroses use the same strategy and elephants give themselves dust-baths. Light-colored animals, newly shorn sheep and other animals that are clipped can suffer from sunburn and the parts of animals that normally lack hair cover can be sunburned. The problem can be worsened because animals may be exposed to certain substances from their feed, medications such as antibiotics, and spores of certain molds, that can photo-sensitize them, making them more likely to burn; extreme sunburn and sometimes large open skin wounds can result.
Chemical sunscreen lotions that contain PABA (paraaminobenzoic acid) work by absorbing UV-B, thereby reducing the amount that reaches the skin cells, and sunscreens are equally effective on animals that are at risk. If already sunburned, we obtain some relief with lotions containing extracts of the aloe plant and these also can ease discomfort in a sunburned pet. Prevention beats cure, so provide animals with adequate shade and they have enough good sense to avoid sunburn.
- What is it about the human eye that limits the types of wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum that can be seen as visible light? Why are other animals capable of interpreting infrared waves as well?
- How does Aspirin work?
- How does your body move? Does the brain send it messages?
- Can humans ever see in the dark with no night vision glasses or other aids?
- Why is it normal to move your arms when you walk or run?
- Why do people get seasick or carsick?
- What is the most common type of blood?
- Why do they say there are two sides of your brain?
- Can one of the professors write about some of the bacteria that are becoming immune to antibiotics? We are concerned when they are putting antibiotics in some meats now, and talking about antibacterial soaps having an effect on the immunity.
- Why can't we swallow our food whole like snakes?