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Curious Folks Ask: 162 Real Answers on Amazing Inventions, Fascinating Products, and Medical Mysteries

By Sherry Seethaler

Published by FT Press

Published Date: Feb 14, 2010

Description

“Dr. Seethaler has written an excellent book for any interested student of science. She answers great questions about the world around us in this fascinating book. As a high school science teacher, I encounter many of these from my own students. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who has pondered questions starting with ‘how,’ ‘what,’ or ‘why.’”

–Ernest James Lo, Science Teacher, Woodside High School, Woodside, CA

 

Prepare to Be Fascinated!

Why does the flu change every year?

       • What makes glue sticky?

       • What causes out-of-body experiences?

       • Are all brands of gas the same?

       • Will adult stem cells work as well as embryonic stem cells?

       • Is one “horsepower” really equal to the power of one horse?

       • Why can’t you sneeze with your eyes open?

       • How much does a cremated body weigh?

 

These are just a few of the fascinating science and health questions real people have asked top science writer and San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Sherry Seethaler. Curious Folks Ask brings together 162 of her best answers–all crystal-clear, accurate, quick, and a pleasure to read. Seethaler is one of this generation’s best science explainers, and it shows: Every answer is accurate, fun to read, and distilled to a single page or less! Want to know how canned air works…or nuclear bombs? What causes goose bumps, earwax, dandruff, headaches? Whether it’s healthy to crack your knuckles, drink decaf, eat chocolate? What it costs to run all those LED lights around your house? It’s all here–and a whole lot more!

  • Your body’s oddities: knees to knuckles, itches to sneezes
    Surprising facts about how your body grows and works
  • Our ingenious inventions
    The past, present, and future of our relentless human inventiveness
  • Pesky pathogens: viruses, bacteria, and prions
    How they keep outsmarting us, and why it’s so hard to stay healthy
  • Common chemical concoctions
    The science behind the everyday products that have transformed our lives
  • Uniquely human: how we got here, how we’re unique
    New lessons from genetics, archaeology, and evolutionary biology

Table of Contents

Preface . . . xv

Chapter 1 Ingenious inventions . . . 1

Iceless icebox . . . 1

Full of cold air . . . 1

May the Force be with you . . . 2

Sci-fi science . . . 3

Catching a wave . . . 4

Out, damned spot! . . . 5

Glass stretch marks . . . 6

Seeing double . . . 7

Say what? . . . 8

On the road again . . . 9

Kooky clocks . . . 10

Lost with digital . . . 11

Era arrangement . . . 12

Let there be light . . . 12

Temperature tales . . . 14

Spying on Martians . . . 15

Otherworldly . . . 15

Earthling outpost . . . 16

Man or machine . . . 18

Play ball . . . 19

Pharaoh’s secrets . . . 20

Dense edifice . . . 22

Tiny toys . . . 23

Twinkle, twinkle . . . 24

Curly cords . . . 25

Mr. Weasley’s collection . . . 25

Electric synchrony . . . 27

In chains . . . 28

Equine engine . . . 29

Man’s best friend v. 2.0 . . . 30

Taking to the sky . . . 31

Off-kilter . . . 33

Architecture by numbers . . . 33

Chapter 2 Chemical concoctions . . . 35

Sticky situations . . . 35

Strong bond . . . 37

Black gold . . . 37

What’s in a name? . . . 38

Auto alternatives . . . 40

Sugar high . . . 41

Water fire . . . 42

Periodic-table personalities . . . 44

Jolt-free beans . . . 45

Decaf danger? . . . 46

Gently down the stream . . . 47

Water, water everywhere . . . 48

Reticent rubber . . . 49

On top of Old Smoky . . . 50

Odor eater . . . 51

Exquisite earth . . . 51

Drug disintegration . . . 53

Lone nutrients . . . 54

Rub-a-dub-dub . . . 55

Chore tech . . . 56

Chapter 3 Body parts . . . 59

Toe the line . . . 59

Surgeons’ favorite organ . . . 61

Longer and longer . . . 62

Tough tips . . . 62

Ashes to ashes . . . 63

Holey lids . . . 64

Producing peepers . . . 64

Guardian lashes . . . 65

Stopping short . . . 66

Grating habit . . . 66

Local harvest . . . 68

Cell selection . . . 68

Whiter shade of pale . . . 70

Healing potion . . . 71

Replacement parts . . . 72

Not so wise . . . 73

Chapter 4 Bodily functions . . . 75

Music of maturity . . . 75

Prune people . . . 76

Blinky . . . 78

Twitchy . . . 79

Summertime blues . . . 79

Staying cool . . . 80

Low thermostat . . . 81

Sweaty gourmet . . . 82

Impulsive impulses . . . 83

American Lilliputians . . . 84

Hair-raising . . . 85

Puny puckers . . . 86

Earplugs . . . 86

Itchy and scratchy . . . 87

Heart-stopping . . . 88

Sneeze grimace . . . 88

Photon allergy . . . 89

Sleeping beauty . . . 90

Yawning maw . . . 92

Smells good . . . 94

Tip of the tongue . . . 96

Chapter 5 Pesky pathogens . . . 99

Bundle up . . . 99

Invader individuality . . . 100

Moving target . . . 102

Bug buddies . . . 104

Laid low . . . 105

Fever favor . . . 106

Healthy as a dog . . . 107

Keep off the grass . . . 108

Vexing virus . . . 110

Cure claims . . . 112

Food zapper . . . 114

Laboratory life . . . 116

Building organisms . . . 117

Tick bites . . . 118

Oh, no–mono . . . 119

Kitchen germs . . . 120

Downers . . . 120

Mad cows . . . 122

Chapter 6 Assorted ailments . . . 125

Two-faced warrior . . . 125

Pimple food . . . 126

Much ado about nothing . . . 128

Hiccups attacking . . . 129

Attacking hiccups . . . 130

Gulp . . . 131

Knee forecast . . . 132

Brain whittling . . . 134

Head bop . . . 135

Cappuccino compulsion . . . 136

Many malignancies . . . 137

New skin . . . 138

On the mend . . . 139

Flakiness . . . 141

Charley horse . . . 142

Throbbin’ noggin . . . 143

Heart hurt . . . 144

Knowing thyself . . . 145

Halo of stars . . . 146

Hot, hot, hot . . . 147

Chapter 7 Uniquely human . . . 149

Odd eats . . . 149

Sink like a stone . . . 151

Dino breath . . . 152

Modern man . . . 153

World tour . . . 154

Tree house . . . 156

Loners . . . 157

Living link? . . . 158

Tears for fears . . . 160

Blind dreams . . . 161

Hullabaloo . . . 162

Sentiment sites . . . 163

Feeling groovy . . . 165

Mad genius . . . 166

Out of body . . . 168

Musical mind . . . 169

Chapter 8 Health nuts . . . 171

Counting calories . . . 171

Fat carbs, skinny carbs . . . 172

Combo meal . . . 174

Chugalug . . . 175

Cocoa craze . . . 176

Go the distance . . . 178

Exercise regimen . . . 179

Pounding the pavement . . . 180

Totally radical . . . 182

It’s elemental . . . 183

Color me young . . . 184

Vitamin virtues . . . 185

Fuel economy . . . 186

Fit to be sweaty . . . 188

Red and white . . . 188

Hold the sunny side . . . 190

Grain of salt . . . 191

Quicksilver . . . 193

Index . . . 195

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ISBN-10: 0-13-263891-6

ISBN-13: 978-0-13-263891-3

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