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Tag Curiosities

Curiosities: How can a polar bear survive in a Wisconsin zoo?

January 15, 2010

“Wisconsin bears in zoos may not be in an environment as extreme as something like a tropical zoo,” says Kurt Sladky, assistant professor of…

Curiosities: Is it true that laughing is good for your health?

November 24, 2009

Indeed, says Robert McGrath, a clinical psychologist specializing in mind/body wellness at University Health Services at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and for many reasons. “Humor…

Curiosities: Is there a limit to how fast humans can be?

October 26, 2009

“In my opinion there are no limits,” says Tim Gattenby, a faculty associate in kinesiology at UW–Madison. “People said that no one could…

Curiosities: Are there more food recalls now? Why?

August 24, 2009

2009 has been a big year for food recalls, largely because salmonella-contaminated dried milk, pistachio nuts and peanut products affected thousands of items in a…

Curiosities: How big is space?

August 17, 2009

Space is probably infinite, but we can see only the part that contains stars or galaxies whose light has been able to reach us, says…

Curiosities: How long can bacteria live outside humans?

August 10, 2009

Bacteria have vastly different survival abilities, says Jeri Barak, an assistant professor of plant pathology at UW–Madison. Many species normally live in soil…

Curiosities: How many galaxies have humans discovered?

August 3, 2009

“We don’t know,” says Ed Churchwell, professor of astronomy. “We know it’s a very large number.” It’s in the hundreds of billions, Churchwell…

Curiosities: Does a dark-colored car heat up more in the sun than a light-colored car?

July 27, 2009

The external color does not significantly affect how much the inside of a car heats up in the sun, says Sanford Klein, director of…

Curiosities: Why do cats hate water?

July 27, 2009

Because we teach them to hate it. There are plenty of cats that love water, according to Sandi Sawchuk, a clinical instructor at the…

Curiosities: Why do onions make us cry when we cut them?

July 27, 2009

Chopping onions unleashes a “chemical defense that onion plants have to protect themselves against insects and microbes,” says UW–Madison horticulture professor Irwin Goldman. We’re…

Curiosities: Are there more geese in Wisconsin than there used to be?

July 27, 2009

The number of Canada geese in Wisconsin is very much on the rise, increasing exponentially since standardized bird counts began in 1966, according to…

Curiosities: What’s the difference between an economic recession and a depression?

February 9, 2009

The “official” arbiter of recessions is the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a private, nonprofit research organization, comprising a number of top economists,…

Curiosities: Are people attracted to people who look like them?

January 30, 2009

Yes, says Linda Roberts, a professor of human development and family studies at UW–Madison. Roberts, who studies couples, says evidence supports this folk…

Curiosities: How do birds migrate?

November 20, 2008

The essential skills of bird migration are orientation — knowing north from south, and east from west — and navigation, having some sort of “map”…

Curiosities: How do public health officials determine which strain of influenza to create vaccines for each year?

November 6, 2008

This year’s influenza vaccine in the United States contains three strains of the influenza virus. Last March, experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease…

Curiosities: Why do people like to scare themselves by watching horror movies or going on thrill rides?

October 30, 2008

First of all, it’s important to remember that many people don’t enjoy these experiences, said Jack Nitschke, a UW–Madison professor of psychiatry and psychology.

Curiosities: Why do apple slices turn brown?

October 20, 2008

The moment a knife slices through apple—spilling the contents of apple cells along the surface of the cut, and allowing everything to mix—a reaction begins.

Curiosities: How many people can the Earth support?

October 2, 2008

It depends on the kind of lifestyle those people enjoy, says Lisa Naughton, a UW–Madison professor of geography and environmental studies. The late 18th…

Curiosities: What’s behind the claims that the new particle accelerator in Europe may create black holes that could destroy the Earth? Should we be worried?

August 18, 2008

When the Large Hadron Collider starts running this summer near Geneva, Switzerland, some physicists have predicted that some of its high-energy proton collisions could…