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Tag Curiosities

Curiosities: What will be the most likely fuel to replace gasoline?

July 31, 2008

“What are the major benefits of using cellulosic ethanol to fuel our cars? We reduce spending on importing energy, have the potential to do…

Curiosities: Which saves more gas: driving with windows closed, and the AC on, or AC off, and windows open?

July 30, 2008

That depends on conditions. “Today’s cars are designed to be very aerodynamic,” says Glenn Bower, a senior scientist at the Engine Research Center…

Curiosities: Why does it seem like mosquitoes are attracted to some people more than others?

June 30, 2008

“It’s true. There’s always one in every group,” says UW–Madison entomology professor and mosquito expert Susan Paskewitz. Photo: Jeff Miller That’s…

Curiosities: Are there years when dandelions are more plentiful?

May 27, 2008

Mark Renz, Extension weed scientist at UW–Madison’s Department of Agronomy, says that varying environmental conditions ensure that virtually all plants, including dandelions,…

Curiosities: Why do we dream?

March 12, 2008

Submitted by Rachel Furlow, 7th grade, Cherokee Middle School

Curiosities: How can a tornado occur in January?

January 21, 2008

Tornadoes can happen whenever atmospheric conditions are suitable, says Steve Ackerman, professor of atmospheric science at UW–Madison. Over the years, Wisconsin has had…

Curiosities: Is every snowflake unique?

December 17, 2007

One fact we know from childhood: every snowflake is unique. Isn’t it?   UW–Madison’s snowflake…

Why does orange or grapefruit juice taste so nasty after I brush my teeth?

November 20, 2007

It’s all about phospholipids, says John Moore, director of the Institute for Chemical Education at UW–Madison. Not a flavor guy…

Curiosities: What determines the colors of the sky at sunrise and sunset?

November 6, 2007

Photo: Jeff Miller The colors of the sunset result from a phenomenon called scattering, says Steven Ackerman,…

Curiosities: Why do leaves change color in the fall?

October 11, 2007

Submitted by Kaela, a sixth-grader at Cherokee Middle School

Curiosities: Is there any validity to the so-called 5-second rule?

September 26, 2007

If a piece of toast fell on the floor, would you pick it up and eat it? You probably would if you believe in…

Curiosities: Why is the ocean salty?

September 7, 2007

The saltiness of the sea comes from dissolved minerals, especially sodium, chlorine, sulfur, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, says Galen McKinley, a UW–Madison professor…

Curiosities: Why does the sky turn green before a tornado?

August 24, 2007

Scott Bachmeier, a research meteorologist at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies at UW–Madison, says that particles in the air scatter…

Curiosities: Why do flowers smell, and why do plants smell, too?

July 24, 2007

The luscious aroma of flowers attracts lovers, and the biological role of that smell is similar: to attract pollinators. “Plants need to attract insects,…

Curiosities: How well do dogs see at night?

July 18, 2007

A lot better than we do, says Paul Miller, clinical professor of comparative ophthalmology at University of Wisconsin–Madison. “Dogs have evolved…

Curiosities: What is the surface of the Sun like?

July 5, 2007

“Technically, there is no surface of the Sun,” says UW–Madison’s Sanjay Limaye. The senior scientist and educator with the Space…

Curiosities: After rains, why do worms crawl out onto the pavement and “commit suicide”?

June 29, 2007

After a strong rain, the corpses of worms strewn across the pavement are a disgusting sight – or a pathetic one, depending on your…

Curiosities: Why do we have fingernails?

May 21, 2007

Fingernails are essentially flattened versions of claws, and they evolved in all primates — including humans — to support broad fingertips, says UW–Madison anthropology…

Curiosities: If we think the continents were at some point all connected, how did they separate?

May 11, 2007

Question submitted by Abbie Stroup, seventh grader at Sennett Middle School.

Curiosities: What are teeth made of?

May 7, 2007

Built for crunching and chewing, teeth mostly consist of hard, inorganic minerals like calcium. But they also contain nerves, blood vessels and specialized cells…