Editor’s note: As we wrap up one year’s books and start a new year, Conversation editors look back at 2018 excerpts for them.
One of the best things about my job as a science editor is the crazy ideas I start to wonder about. Regardless of what I saw during my travels. current events in the news Or, best of all, a conversation with my kids. I can call a specialist and ask her or him to analyze it for me and you.
Our readers seem to like this kind of “I used to wonder…” type articles too. The story I read the most over the past year was by an entomologist who made a case against insect haters that killing spiders could make their homes more insect-friendly, which spiders would eat and get rid of.
Below are some of my favorites from 2018, but curiosity is not tied to the calendar. So this is the new year of everyday science.
1. Seven pet years equal one human year?
This comes from being a cat lover. Is my 12-year-old furry friend (7×12 fast math) really the equivalent of an 84-year-old woman? Fortunately, Jesse Grady of Mississippi State University was ready. Determining a pet’s ‘true’ age is really important as it allows veterinarians like me to recommend life-specific health care to our animal patients.”
2. Words you don’t know for the scents you make.
Walking home in the first drop of rain is where this article begins. Texas A&M atmospheric scientist Tim Logan guides the facts. “Rain is of course odorless,” he writes, “but just moments before a rain event, an ‘earthly’ smell known as petrichor wafts through the air.” He went on to describe the aromatic chemical compounds and their origins.
3. Personal questions about smells
Maybe this tells me a lot about the company I run. but often in my travels The topic of peeing asparagus pops up. Sarah Coseo Markt of Harvard’s School of Public Health honors the issue. explain that after you eat asparagus Your body breaks down one of the components into two components, which “when expelled from the body … form a foul-smelling gas. from your asparagus pee.” And in case you don’t know what we’re talking about, Sarah warns, “Just because you can’t smell it. That doesn’t mean you didn’t do it.”
4. Even blue blood readers have red blood.
This is an example of corrective journalism. Must be noted right after I read a book to my son that said that human blood is blue when it flows through your veins. “The blue color of the veins is just an illusion,” write University of Albany chemists Marisia Fikiet and Igor Lednev. They explain the basics of hemoglobin. This is an iron-rich molecule that carries oxygen throughout your body. And why does blood always have a distinctive red color in humans?
5. Please switch to airplane mode.
What air traveler doesn’t wonder if forgetting to turn off their phone will cause a plane to crash? Penn State engineer Sven Bilén explains why talking on your cell phone at 40,000 feet is more of a service issue than a safety these days.
And if there’s anything you’re curious about…let me know! I have academic experts across the country on speed dial and ready.