Tag Curiosities

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

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?

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?

“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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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.”…