Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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August 14

Cooked Mandrake Plant - What Would Happen Chemically?

Due to a mistaken ID of the plant, someone sauteed an entire mandrake plant ( Mandragora autumnalis) with garlic and oil and consumed - landing them in the ER. They survived. Now there are questions - for example - would the heat, oil and garlic alter or lessen the alkaloids and thereby the over-all effect on that person? Are there any studies done on heating the plant and ingesting?
posted by watercarrier at 7:07 AM - 11 answers

What is burying dead earthworms?

So it has been really really hot here for the past month or so, which caused tons of earth worms to come to the surface and then die. Recently I have noticed that many of the worm corpses are becoming half buried in little mounds. Well maybe buried is the wrong word. Little mounds of stuff surround the worm corpses like a wall. What is causing this? [more inside]
posted by Literaryhero at 1:39 AM - 7 answers

August 12

Plant whose identity seems to be too obscure for me to figure out...

What is the name of this plant and is it edible? Thanks [more inside]
posted by ptm at 4:25 PM - 3 answers

August 7

Where to watch the Perseid meteor shower near Garden City, Utah?

Where is a good spot to watch the Perseid meteor shower near Garden City, Utah? [more inside]
posted by Grither at 5:24 AM - 3 answers

August 4

how relatable is anxiety to people without anxiety?

If you have anxiety, could you read this Medium article and comment on how accurately it describes your experience? [more inside]
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 12:07 AM - 43 answers

August 3

What would cause an appliance to throw an error on a specific outlet?

I have a Breville Smart Oven. It's been great for two years and now it's throwing an error (E05) every time I use it in one specific outlet. If I use it in another outlet, it works. Why? [more inside]
posted by 10ch at 4:58 PM - 8 answers

July 30

What is this large bug?

This one. About 8cm long, found in Lyon area in France.
posted by rom1 at 12:45 PM - 3 answers

July 28

How creeped out should I be by this gadget outside my house?

This sound monitoring station was just installed on an electrical pole immediately outside the front door of my rowhouse. Should I be concerned, and what is it likely being used for? [more inside]
posted by sepviva at 7:25 PM - 8 answers

July 27

Real-life based math problem

On my daily commute back home, I drive past ~15 gas stations. In my country, gas prices change daily and vary a bit from one station to the next. So that got me thinking: What would be the best method to decide whether to fill your tank on the station you're currently in front of or lose the current price forever and take your chances on the remaining stations? Assume each station sets their daily price randomly (but they are all within a $1 range), and we start with the reference of the price we paid last time. Note: I can easily keep track of the lowest price on my way to work and then fill up on the way home, but I am more interested in the math problem than the practical issue.
posted by fjom at 7:10 AM - 9 answers

July 24

Did horses navigate on their own?

In a recent comment on HackerNews, someone asserted that the idea of self-driving car would have seemed fairly obvious to those who had used horse drawn carriages, because horses would traverse well-known routes more or less on their own. Is that true?
posted by phrontist at 11:05 AM - 26 answers

July 21

Love those humming birds, hate those ants.

I glass ball hummingbird feeder that hangs from filament off a 10 inch hook on the side of my house in front of my library window. Ants quickly figured out the path from the side of the house out the hook down the filament and into the feeder. I have nothing against them sharing, but apparently they're not good around water and within hours it's filled with putrid dead ants. As this old answer suggests, I've put vasaline on the filament to repel the ants, but when temperatures hit the low seventies, like they did last night, the vasoline hardens and boom, ant soup for breakfast. What should I do about keeping the ants out of the hummingbird feeder on cooler summer nights?
posted by Stanczyk at 4:45 AM - 10 answers

July 19

Looking for an oldish book on stopping smoking, maybe you saved it?

Once upon a time, when I was working on quitting smoking by going to lots of Smokers Anonymous meetings, I read a book I really appreciated. It was an ordinary paperback about the pros and cons of smoking. It had a several chapter long section on all the scientific reasons that smoking is pleasurable, the release of dopamine, etc. The second half of the book was about the negatives, though I remember none of that. This was probably in the 1980s and the book had an especially lengthy title. [more inside]
posted by sugarbx19 at 3:33 PM - 6 answers

July 18

Keto-Paleo-Etc. Success Due to Food Choice or Caloric Restriction?

Is it clear, using only science and not opinion, whether paleo, keto, etc. are successful because of the food choices, or because limiting to those foods ends up being caloric restriction?
posted by WCityMike at 5:53 PM - 17 answers

Is there anyplace with no house centipedes?

Is there anyplace in the US, Canada or Central America where house centipedes have never made it or if they have, don't survive or only grow to 1/4 inch long or so? Before you answer this question, please go to Wikipedia and look at a picture of a house centipede. I am not talking about millipedes or any similar creature with many legs. Neither am I talking about a footlong centipede with short legs that looks like a millipede. I am talking specifically and only about house centipedes (which grow to 1.5 inches at most). Please no links to sites with pictures of centipedes. And please no discussions of the wonders of house centipedes because I am a Never Centipeder to the degree of asking a question like this and am completely immune to reason or detached interest on the subject.
posted by anonymous at 12:36 PM - 76 answers

July 17

Physics/math problem - how to get from one position+velocity to another

I've got a problem I've been chewing on, and have it partly figured out, but haven't managed to distill it into a form I could, for example, code into a video game. Basically, if I have a starting position and velocity, and want to have a particular ending position and velocity after a given time, what movement accomplishes that with the smallest peak acceleration? I feel like this is probably a solved problem, but I don't know how to search for the topic effectively. [more inside]
posted by NMcCoy at 5:40 PM - 10 answers

July 12

Is this a bug bite? And if so, should I be concerned?

I just noticed what appears to be a bug bite on my daughter’s back. She’s a toddler. She doesn’t appear to notice it - no scratching, she’s in a great mood. What is this and is it something I should be worried about?
posted by fso at 5:51 PM - 13 answers

July 11

Let me not neglect that base rate....

Estimating base rates from small sample sizes -- how large a sample do I need to reliably (confidently?) establish the base rate? [more inside]
posted by bumpkin at 2:08 PM - 7 answers

Identify these fossils?

A question from a friend who works in landscaping - "I took a series of photos few weeks ago at a customer's house of some landscape blocks that had fossils embedded in them. It looks to be some sort of bird or maybe a group of birds or something. But what intrigues me is these rocks were quarried about 10 miles south of Green Lake, Wisconsin, deep in the Earth. I would love to know what this creature is!" Here's the photo album Anyone know what he might be looking at here? Thanks!
posted by brozek at 7:20 AM - 4 answers

July 9

Does cocamidopropyl betaine deposit on hair because of being amphoteric?

In an FAQ about a laundry detergent (ECOS), I found an assertion that cocamidopropyl betaine deposits on clothing (due to clothing's negative charge). Is this true? I know hair is negatively charged too, so if the above is true, I'm wondering if hair would also retain a residue of surfactant? I'm a little concerned at the idea of residual surfactant on either my hair or my clothes, as I have sensitive skin that probably shouldn't be in contact with surfactant. (See inside for a cut-and-paste of the assertion I found.) [more inside]
posted by tangerine_poppies at 6:30 AM - 3 answers

July 8

Need the definitive film on development of the fetus

Documentary, films, animation, series. Color. With as MUCH detail as possible. I mean everything possible. I am doing research and need this to be both exquisite in its beauty but also informative with literally no BS factors or politics. Just the genesis of human biology.
posted by watercarrier at 9:45 PM - 4 answers

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