You've just landed on the Red Planet and are looking for a fresh start. Sure, that job selling respirators at the local space-hardware store sounds cozy, but it's a dead-end career. Mars will be ripe with opportunity; you just have to figure out how to tap it. So here's the secret: Go into construction. You'll learn useful skills and be out on the surface, where the real action is. Explore the landscape on coffee breaks. All you need to do is stumble upon a nice deposit of precious material—like platinum or deuterium, a hydrogen isotope that could fuel fusion reactors—and you'll have it made.
There’s a little bit of water inside each kernel of popcorn, and if you can heat the kernel above 212°F, that water should boil, turn into high-pressure steam, and pop the kernel. But in orbit, things aren’t so simple. First off, the cold vacuum of space would suck all the water out of the kernel before it could pop the corn. So any ordinary kernels would drop, not pop. But let’s say we figured out a way to keep the kernel watertight. In that case, it all depends.
Picking barbecue-flavor potato chips over salt-and-vinegar can be tough enough without having to choose between brands made with "natural flavors" and ones that are "artificially flavored." Natural flavors, you might think, are derived from the pure essence of a food's flavor, and as such are more authentic. But the term "natural" is misleading.
Nearly every summer rainstorm comes with thunder and lightning. Yet during even the blusteriest blizzard, there's nary a spark in the air. It can occur (although snow lightning strikes just six times a year on average in the U.S.), but winter air doesn't make for prime lightning-forming conditions, says meteorologist Robin Tanamachi of the University of Oklahoma.
The number of school-age kids with peanut allergies has doubled in the past decade. Yet scientists can't quite put their finger on what makes the legume such a threat or why the allergy has become so prevalent.
Tune into a Colorado Rockies game, and you're bound to hear one of the announcers mention the team's most famous piece of lore: They keep their baseballs in a humidor. Cigar aficionados keep their cigars in a humidity-controlled environment to prevent the tobacco leaves from drying out, but the Rockies are more concerned about dried-out balls carrying farther and driving up scores. So far, it's worked, having quelled the offensive binges the park was known for when it first opened. But scientists still can't say exactly why it's so effective.
When the Apollo astronauts drove around on the moon, they had to settle for a little buggy. But if you want to tour the Sea of Tranquility in the family SUV or a Ferrari, well, you're looking at more than a few weekends under the hood.
You might guess that magma or tumbling rocks fill the void, but the truth is much more prosaic: water. Petroleum deposits, which are naturally mixed with water and gas, lie thousands of feet below the earth's surface in layers of porous rock, typically sandstone or limestone. (Contrary to what you might imagine, drilling for oil is more like sucking oil from a sponge with a straw than from a giant pool of liquid.)
If you put a steamy cup of coffee in the refrigerator, it wouldn’t immediately turn cold. Likewise, if the sun simply “turned off” (which is actually physically impossible), the Earth would stay warm—at least compared with the space surrounding it—for a few million years. But we surface dwellers would feel the chill much sooner than that.
We could all use an extra hour in the day, but clocks won't need to be extended anytime soon. The time the Earth takes to make a complete rotation on its axis varies by about a millionth of a second per day, says physicist Tom O'Brian of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. While some days are shorter than average, the planet's rotation shows a long-term slowing trend, ultimately leading to a longer day.