Ask Dr. Science. He knows more than you do.

Hey all. Time for a great new Blog service. Yep. I’m going to put that 15 years of graduate school to work for you. Got a question about something in the sciences or technology? shoot me a question (submit a comment), and I’ll apply all that great academic knowledge and ivory tower experience to answer your question. Remember: We’re trained professionals. Don’t try this at home. Objects in mirror are closer than they appear. Time to get another Timmy.

So whadaya waiting for? Send me a question already!

–Dr. Science

31 Responses to “Ask Dr. Science. He knows more than you do.”

  1. mrschili Says:

    Okay – I’ll bite:

    Tell me the deal with identical twins. I’m married to one, and I can tell you for sure that they LOOK different – they sound different on the phone, and they behave differently (well, most of the time). What, exactly, is identical about them?

    I mean, I get that they have the same blood type and that they’re DNA matches to one another, but are their fingerprints the same? Why does Bruder Chili need glasses and Mr. Chili doesn’t? Could Bruder Chili make a scientific claim to be the father of Mr. Chili’s children? Would Bruder Chili’s kids be more than cousins, genetically, to Mr. Chili’s kids? Would they, essentially, share the same genetic father?

    Inquiring minds want to know…

  2. sphyrnatude Says:

    Thanks mrschili. Take a look at:

  3. Weed Woman Says:

    Here’s a question my husband and I have pondered for years, How do they make toothpicks? The nice round ones? They are too small for a lathe. The idea of whittling gnomes has been batted around but seems improbable. Help Dr. Science!

  4. sphyrnatude Says:

    Hey Weed Woman, here’s how to make toothpicks:

  5. twoblueday Says:

    So, I hear about this increase in the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere, allegedly caused by us humans. What I want to know is: since plants like carbon dioxide, is the earth’s plant life (the portion we don’t whack down) going to enjoy a period of vigorous and happy growth beyond what we have been used to? (I actually read an article last summer saying poison ivy was going to be very happy with the new conditions–is it alone?). The obvious corollary question is: will the plants exhale more oxygen, thus keeping things nice?

  6. sphyrnatude Says:

    twoblueday asks about CO2 levels and global warming type stuff. See
    -Dr. Science

  7. mrschili Says:

    I want to know why turtles are so slow, and whether or not that has anything to do with their longevity, please…..

  8. sphyrnatude Says:

    Here ya go: The poop on slow turtles:

  9. mrschili Says:

    I’ve got another question:

    Let’s say that I get up in the morning, take a shower, then apply a moisturizer with sunscreen – spf 15, say. Then, later, I go to the beach and, because I am the whitest white person I know and am averse to pain, I apply more sunscreen – say I bought me some spf 30 this time. Am I now up to spf 45? Is sunscreen cumulative?

    White people want to know…

  10. sphyrnatude Says:

    Hey mrschili, take a look at:

    and get the answers! (And figure out what sunscreen you really need)!
    Dr. Science

  11. Organic Mama Says:

    Ok, how can a seed that has been around for thousands of years – like those found at Masada – live long enough to be able toengender life? Are they dormant? Isn’t it astronomically unlikely?

  12. sphyrnatude Says:

    Hey Organic Mama!
    Wanns read about Really old seeds? Take a peak at:

    –Dr. Science

  13. Organic Mama Says:

    Why are stem cells such a big deal that THAT MAN in office feels personally threatened and then stomps all over any laws supporting the research? Are stem cells that miraculous? “Splainy, please.

  14. sphyrnatude Says:

    Organic Mama, for a bunch of info about stem cells, take a look at:

    it’s a bit long, but that was a whopper of a question!
    Dr. Science

  15. sphyrnatude Says:

    Read more about stem cells and medicine at:

    –Dr. Science

  16. illa morales Says:

    Dearest Santa,
    If someone is genetically predisposed to Multiple Sclerosis, do you think toxins, environmental or poor diet, could be the trigger that “turns on” that predisposition? If affirmative, could more damage be averted by organic living and eating? With your Neuro background do you have any recommendations for demyelination?

  17. illa morales Says:

    P.S. I know a person who was poisoned with pesticides(organophosphates) and the symptoms are quite similar to my MS.

  18. sphyrnatude Says:

    Anyone with a gentic predisposition to any condition can have an effect on the likelihood of having symptoms by controlling environmental factors. Exactly what factors would contribute to a particular genetic condition would depend on the details of the condition, and in most cases, we don’t really know what the triggers are.

    As to “organic living”, that is a very broad term, and means different things to different people. I would think that avoiding ecposure to any toxins might be beneficial, but keep mind mind that just because somethig is organic doesn’t mean that it is good for you.

    Demyleination is something that you really need to talk to your neurologist about. there are many different causes of it, and it is something that is treated by cause rather than symptom.

  19. joe Says:

    why are seeds able to wait for the proper condition to germinate?

  20. jenna Says:

    What has more enrgy, an unburned log or the ashes of the log once it has been burned>

  21. Joe Says:

    Is a vehicle going 55 mph downhill going faster than a vehicle going 55 on flat land? I just wonder because people seem to slow down going downhill in the mountains as compared to traveling on relatively flat land. Which then begs the question… heaven forbid… if a person were involved in an accident traveling 55 downhill would the forces exerted at impact be greater than traveling at 55 on flat land. I’m reminded of a mashed potato analogy in astronomy class 30 some odd years ago dealing with mass.

  22. Al Pierce Says:

    Is our blood the color blue before oxygen hits it?

  23. erika Says:

    ok im in 7th grade i bet you cant find even close to a cure for hidrosufilus and if you find the answer your smarter then barack

  24. sphyrnatude Says:

    Hi Erika,
    I think what you are looking fro is hydrocephalus. This is a problem that can occur in tow main ways. The first is developmental – while a baby is still in the mothers womb. A variety of things can cause increased pressure inside the skull, resulting in an abnormally large head, and a number of neurological problems. As far as I know, there is not ‘cure’ for this type of hydrocephalus.
    There is another form that is treatable. You need to know a little bit about anatomy to understand this, so here goes:
    there is a fluid called cerebrospinal fluid that circulates around and in the brain and spinal cord. It does a whole bunch of different things, but it is enough to know that it is Really Important for it to be there, and to circulate properly. Sometimes, as a result of disease or injury, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) can be obstructed – blocked or slowed down, or your body may make too much of it. When this happens, the pressure in the skull increases. This increases the pressure on the brain, and Bad Things can happen, including brain damage and/or death. Fortunately, this type is treatable. If the problem is a blockage or obstruction in the normal circulation of the CSF, a surgeon can place a “shunt” to go around the blockage – basically a tube that goes around the blockage. If the problem is that your body is making too much CSF, a drain can be put in that will actually drain away the extra fluid.
    It is important to note that fixing the source of the problem may not fix any damage that was caused by it. If a person has experience brain damage, skull enlargement, or other effects of hydrocephaly, they may be permanent. The outcome will depend on individual circumstances, and you;d have to speak to the doctors treating the individual patient to understand the details of their case.

  25. bharat Says:

    Is there a way to reactivate the saturated charcoal for reuse?

    • sphyrnatude Says:

      I’m not sure what you mean by “saturated” charcoal. If you mean activated charcoal that has been “used up”, you could “reactivate” it, but it would take a lot of work, and cost a lot more than just buying some new.
      Basically, “activated” charcoal is charcoal that has been processed to have a whole lot of little tiny holes (pores) in it. These don’t do anything except increase the surface area of the charcoal. This is important because the charcoal absorbs stuff – that’s why we use it. The more surface area it has, the faster it can absorb things, and the more it can absorb.
      Eventually, one of two things happen: Either the charcoal fills up with whatever it is absorbing (is this what you mean by saturated?), or the pores get clogged up, and the reduced surface area slows the absorption down enough that the charcoal can no longer do whatever it is we wanted it to do.
      In either case, cleaning it out – either unclogging the pores or washing out the charcoal – would require chemical scrubbing (in most cases), or at the very least extreme heat. Save yourself a lot of time and effort, and buy a new box.

  26. bharat Says:

    Yes, you understood my question right and answered too to my satisfaction. Thank you very much.

  27. Candice Says:

    Why does my cat love fruit so much?!? Melon, berries, everything but citrus. Even snow peas and cucumber! She drinks plenty of water, which made me wonder, should I be worried about diabetes?

    • sphyrnatude Says:

      There really isn’t a single answer to this. There could be some physiological reason – like diabetes – but the only way to know would be to run a series of tests to determine if something is off. You vet would be the place to go if you think this is the case.
      Another possibility is that your cat just likes fruit. Different individuals like different things – even among animals. The idea that a ‘carnivore’ only eats meat is incorrect – carnivores will eat MOSTLY meat, but will also eat other things. A common example is dogs or cats eating houseplants or grass.
      Yet another possibility is that your cat has some deficiency in a trace vitamin or mineral, and the fruit provides it.
      In general, if your cat seems healthy and happy, I wouldn’t worry too much. If it shows other symptoms, a trip to the vet will allow for a realistic evaluation of your cats specific situation/
      Good luck!

  28. s l hop Says:

    Okay so super random question coming your way! I am currently writing a novel and have come to a point in my story where science is definitely needed. Basically my question is this; Is it possible for someone’s head to implode with the use of a device implanted in someones skull, to either create a vacuum or to manipulate the pressure in some way shape or form? Also, I definitely mean implode not explode 🙂 I just need to know whether science says it’s possible or not because science is king!

    • sphyrnatude Says:

      Little Miss Aussie Pride wants to know if there is some way to make a head implode….
      I don’t think there would in the real world. You’d have to find some way to generate enough negative pressure to collapse the skull. The Skull is pretty full – other that the sinuses, there isn’t really any empty space, so you’d have to find some way to make whats int here go away.
      For a sci-fi approach, I guess you could somehow create a pocket black hole in someone’s head. That wouldn’t really implode it, it would suck it all into the black hole, but it would be close…..

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