QandA

Q&A Tabs

Phlegm is the mucous secretion of the respiratory passages. The cilia cells that line these passages are continually driving the phlegm upward to the throat, where it triggers the swallow reflex...

Lobsters and other shellfish have harmful bacteria naturally present in their flesh. Once the lobster is dead, these bacteria can rapidly multiply and release toxins that may not be destroyed by...

The back. The biggest source of heat in a fridge is the warm air that rushes in every time you open the door. Cold air sinks, so it collects at the bottom and, in a fridge freezer, the bottom...

This is because it isn’t the pudding or the liquor that is on fire: it is in fact the vapour associated with the alcohol that burns. The flame never actually reaches the pudding itself....

Floaters' are caused by tiny fragments of cell debris within the vitreous humour of the eye - that's the gelatinous substance between the retina and the lens. Despite the name, they do in fact...

All female mammals have a clitoris, the sole purpose of which is to react to sexual stimulation, and presumably this stimulation has evolved to be pleasurable for most species. But establishing...

To create a sound, we have to set matter - whether it's a gas like air, a liquid or even a solid material - in regular motion, creating a wave of specific frequencies, which we hear as a sound of...

Mirrors don’t reverse left and right either – that’s just our interpretation of what happens. Your reflection in the mirror is actually reversed front to back – if you have...

Discovered by an American student named Gary Flandro in the mid-1960s, the slingshot manoeuvre usually involves spacecraft briefly 'coat-tailing' a planet orbiting the Sun, extracting some of the...

The ice disappears because the wind blows away water molecules that have evaporated or 'sublimed' from the ice, so the ice slowly shrinks in size. The molecules that escape are those with the...

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Meteors are able to create sound waves. As they tear their way through the atmosphere they can create a sonic boom in the same way a fast-moving aeroplane does. However, since meteors are...

This is because it isn’t the pudding or the liquor that is on fire: it is in fact the vapour associated with the alcohol that burns. The flame never actually reaches the pudding itself....

Let us know what you think this is in the comments below. It features in our January issue's Q&A section. The answer will be revealed in the February issue.

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Drift velocity, the average speed at which electrons travel in a conductor when subjected to an electric field, is about 1mm per second. It’s the electromagnetic wave rippling through the...

Each language has its own name for our planet but they all have one thing in common. Each is derived from a word meaning ‘ground’ or ‘soil’ (or sometimes ‘universe...

No. At least, not in the popular sense that creative people are more ‘right-brained’ than logical or analytical people are: a study that scanned the brains of over 1,000 people found...

Butterflies and moths use their wings for many purposes: for flight, as mobile billboards to advertise how poisonous they are, and to create camouflage patterns. So you would expect them to be...

Deciduous trees shed their leaves as an active process that evolved to conserve resources and protect the tree from being blown over in the windier winter months. The process is controlled by the...

Most reports of the discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva in 2012 focused on its role in explaining the origin of mass. But for physicists, the real excitement lay in...

Yes, if a recent experiment is to be believed. In an attempt to locate the source of an epileptic patient’s seizures, doctors at George Washington University, USA, inserted electrodes into...

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