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Tag Curiosities

Curiosities: Why are some crops planted in spring and others in fall?

May 9, 2011

Temperature sensitivity is the primary determinant in when crops can be planted, says horticulture professor Irwin Goldman. For most fruit and vegetable crops in…

Curiosities: What is the flattest thing in the world?

March 21, 2011

The answer depends on many factors, including how the measurement is made and the scale of interest. “A mountain can look very rough, but if…

Curiosities: How high can bugs fly?

February 15, 2011

“We can pick up insects at 5,000 or 6,000 feet,” says Phil Pellitteri of the UW–Madison insect diagnostic lab. “But wind is a big…

Curiosities: Why do I get a streak of images from LED taillights when I scan the road at night? Is this dangerous?

January 18, 2011

You are seeing positive afterimages, says James Ver Hoeve, a vision scientist at University of Wisconsin–Madison. “If you stare at a bright red line…

Curiosities: Why is Pluto not considered a planet?

November 15, 2010

Until 2006, astronomers had not carefully defined “planet,” says James Lattis, director of the UW Space Place. Asteroids were not considered planets because…

Curiosities: How do frogs, toads and other amphibians survive the Wisconsin winter?

November 10, 2010

Amphibians are at great risk during the winter but employ several strategies for getting through, says Scott Craven, professor of forest and wildlife…

Curiosities: Why do some planets have rings?

October 18, 2010

Saturn imaged by the Cassini Orbiter. Image: courtesy Jet Propulsion Lab Planetary ring systems are complicated, notes UW Space Place…

Curiosities: Why does bad driving provoke road rage in otherwise rational people?

October 4, 2010

Road rage, or aggressive driving, is usually rooted in feeling of powerlessness and helplessness, says Darald Hanusa, a senior lecturer in social work at the…

Curiosities: Are “baby” carrots really … baby carrots?

September 20, 2010

Sadly, not really. “There’s something very convenient about (baby carrots), and kids seem to enjoy it. It means more people eating vegetables, and I…

Curiosities: Why do sharks have to swim constantly?

August 30, 2010

For two reasons, says James Kitchell, professor of zoology at UW–Madison. First, sharks lack the swim bladder that most fish use to adjust their buoyancy.

Curiosities: Why are so many Hispanic names hyphenated?

August 23, 2010

The two surnames names are ancestral, with the father’s family name followed by the mother’s family name. In Colombia, for example, “Ernesto Escobar Vega” uses…

Curiosities: Is it safe to reuse plastic knives and forks?

August 9, 2010

Single-use kitchen plastics — such things as plastic eating utensils, cups and containers from cottage cheese, sour cream, chip dip, margarine, and milk — are…

Curiosities: What’s the difference between dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent and dish soap? Why aren’t they interchangeable?

July 26, 2010

All detergents — whether intended for hands, hair, clothes or dishes — work on the same principles: Break up oils and dirt and wash them…

Curiosities: Why do people sometimes develop late in life an allergy that never bothered them before?

July 26, 2010

Most allergies — especially to airborne allergens associated with runny noses and itchy eyes — come on in the teenage years or early twenties, according…

Curiosities: Why can birds eat hot peppers?

June 14, 2010

In the 1990s, scientists began to wonder why birds in the Southwest ate the hot-tasting fruits of a wild plant called the “bird pepper.”…