QandA

Q&A Tabs

It’s not just humans that enjoy a smooch; lots of animals have courtship behaviours involving the mouth. Pigeons touch beaks, cats and dogs nuzzle each other, male fruit flies lick the...

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...

Trees release oxygen when they use energy from sunlight to make glucose from carbon dioxide and water. Like all plants, trees also use oxygen when they split glucose back down to release energy to...

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...

Not for long. The gruesome idea of nails and hair continuing to grow on a rotting corpse is fascinating. But it’s a myth – at least if you’re thinking of luscious locks and long...

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...

Recent Q&A...

It’s not just humans that enjoy a smooch; lots of animals have courtship behaviours involving the mouth. Pigeons touch beaks, cats and dogs nuzzle each other, male fruit flies lick the...

Yes, if you want to attract women, but only when beards are relatively rare. In Britain big beards are currently popular, but some say we have reached ‘peak beard’ and hairy chins will...

Arachnophobia, or fear of spiders, heads most Top 10 lists, although it’s impossible to be precise about the true order. Happily, most of us can avoid seeing spiders very often, and...

While a coin toss is regarded as random, it spins in a predictable way. In 2008, a team from the Technical University of Łódź, Poland, analysed the mechanics of a coin tumbling in the air. The...

Probably a bit like giraffes. We can’t be sure because reproductive organs don’t fossilise, and no fossils of dinosaurs caught in the act have ever been found. We don’t even know...

It is not entirely clear why Saturn possesses rings. Astronomers have developed three theories of their formation. They could have formed from material left over from the formation of the planet...

They may wish to fit in by imitating others, feel constrained by being observed, become excited by the noise and actions of the crowd, or may respond to local conditions and culture.

An odd...

Lots of insects hide in burrows and only emerge at night, or use camouflage to avoid detection. But, more than any other group of animals, insects are also masters of the opposite strategy called...

By changing the way we perceive the world. For example, in experiments in which people looked at smiley or sad face icons, the music they were listening to affected what they saw. Even a neutral...

This is because our estimates of time depend on how much we remember, and more memories are laid down in an emergency. Experiments have investigated this. In one case volunteers fell back into a...