Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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September 18

"Glass apples" which you can see through

Someone in Scandinavia told me in their childhood, they search for "glass apples" in orchards. These were very occasionally underripe apples, translucent in such a way that if you held one up to the sun, you could still see (most of) the sun through it. Hence the name or phrase "glass apple". I can't find any online reference, but that's possibly as no matter how I search I get a million results consisting of glassware shaped like apples. Does such a thing, or concept, exist - and even better are there any online references to more information? Thanks.
posted by Wordshore at 8:07 AM - 9 answers

September 15

How are vaccines for children tested and approved?

I think I understand the process for approving vaccines for adults - the 3 phases and the purpose of each, and the fact that adults can consent to being in a trial. But it seems testing vaccines to be given to children has both substantial ethical issues (how do we ethically pick someone to go first?) and recruitment issues (can you really find parents willing to have their kids participate?). So how do vaccine researchers navigate this? [more inside]
posted by Tehhund at 8:46 AM - 6 answers

September 14

How screwed are we, really?

Since the pandemic, I've taken up a habit of doom scrolling, and it's currently focused on the climate crisis. I'm constantly searching for new media and information about this, but I find it hard to get a good grasp of what is actually going to happen, likely to happen, and what are worst case predictions that may not happen. An example is David Attenborough's recent warning, which comes with a dash of optimism at the end: "Sir Attenborough claims that all of the solutions are “within our grasp” and there are a number of “steps we can take and goals we must achieve to avert the coming catastrophe.” [more inside]
posted by EarnestDeer at 8:22 AM - 17 answers

September 8

Carpet beetles vs. sweaters

We found carpet beetles in my closet shortly before we moved, about 1.5 years ago. I discarded the most heavily damaged sweaters, but there were others that I hoped to save. To avoid unleashing destruction in our new place, I examined those others closely, then put them in a sealed plastic container. Now, I just unsealed the container outside, re-inspected everything, and found one dead bug. Am I home free, or is it time to choose between treating these sweaters or discarding them? [more inside]
posted by daisyace at 5:46 AM - 6 answers

Can I safely go outside?

I have limited experience with thunderstorms. I am now living in a place with regular thunderstorms. This is also a place with very strict parking rules, and I will get a ticket unless I move my car tonight. I really want to not get a ticket, and I want to go to bed as it is now past 2 AM. However, it is thundering outside and there is sheet lightning. Can I go get my car? [more inside]
posted by desert outpost at 12:20 AM - 28 answers

September 7

FTL travel but only between two specific points. What would happen?

Suppose a large portal opens up in our solar system tomorrow morning. Astronomical observations are consistent with the other end being 1000 light years away and at today's date. Physical objects can pass through the portal and return with no time elapsed in transit, and there seem to be no other effects caused by the portal's presence or travel through it. [more inside]
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:14 PM - 12 answers

SOB! (Save Our Birds)

We live in the mountains at 8500 feet. We have a major change in the weather coming tonight, from a high of 75 today to a high of 25 tomorrow and a low tomorrow night of 18. Oh yeah, and a foot of snow! Obviously, we are worried about some of our newer trees, and the aspens all still have leaves. I will need to go out and knock snow off of the branches and bring all of our potted plants in. However, what can I do for our neighborbood birds? [more inside]
posted by Don_K at 1:06 PM - 6 answers

September 4

Cold drinks, hot days

It's supposed to be hot outside this weekend, and I would like to have an iced beverage in the park with a friend. I have two insulated bottles (1 small, 1 large). Does it make a difference whether I pack the ice and liquid separately (ice in the small bottle, liquid in the large), or mix them together before filling both bottles?
posted by btfreek at 9:03 PM - 10 answers

Objects for scale in photos

What objects are used to show scale in photos (like putting a hailstone next to a coin)? I'm interested in examples that are standard for a given field of study -- e.g. in geology, a rock hammer -- and in unusual, extreme, clever or interesting examples.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:24 PM - 23 answers

Geology filter: How to use an interesting site to my kids' advantage?

My family happens to be staying for a few weeks right near the quarry where Tuckahoe marble came from. I've got a 11- and a 9-year old and would like to take advantage of the surroundings. What should I try to teach/show them? [more inside]
posted by cgs06 at 12:03 PM - 7 answers

September 1

Buy a hybrid?

Does it make sense for me to buy a hybrid if 95 percent of my driving is freeway driving? [more inside]
posted by gt2 at 6:10 AM - 26 answers

August 30

Can beneficial soil bacteria survive in powder/tablet form?

I'm looking at sourcing organic fertilizer tablets from a local dutch company. Their product listing describes the tablets as containing "2% beneficial root bacteria" . Can beneficial bacteria actually survive like this in a dry, tablet form, inside a plastic package? [more inside]
posted by PardonMyFrench at 7:51 AM - 6 answers

August 26

PurpleAir vs. government sensors?

I am noticing that the hourly numbers from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District have deviated from the equivalent numbers from the consumer sensors at PurpleAir. Any explanations? [more inside]
posted by wnissen at 12:58 PM - 4 answers

Asking for no reason in particular

I've seen a map or tool online noting the various climate impacts and extreme weather conditions likely to continue to worsen in different regions, but I can't find it now. I remember this giving a sense of what regions are likely to be 'least bad' as the climate deteriorates. Do you know of an online tool like the one I'm describing?
posted by latkes at 8:45 AM - 2 answers

August 25

How to polish up some fossilized mollusks

How best to polish up or dress up a pile of fossilized mollusks I dug out of limestone? [more inside]
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:44 AM - 6 answers

August 23

How can mosquitoes bite me through clothes and bedding?

I am creeping around my apartment like Elmer Fudd right now looking for the mosquitoes that have been eating me alive for the past few days. Earlier I realized I had some highly concentrated citrus oil in a toner I bought recently, so I've slathered that all over to ward off additional bites. The thing is that I have bites in places mosquitoes shouldn't be able to get to because they have been protected by clothing or bedding and even water. How is this possible??? [more inside]
posted by Kitchen Witch at 7:28 PM - 38 answers

August 22

The mysterious whistling tea strainer

Tonight while rinsing out our metal tea strainer under the faucet we discovered that if you hold it under the running water at a certain angle it makes a resonant ringing whistling sound. Example here. Not my video, but it is exactly the same as what happened for us. Can anyone here explain in simple terms the science of why this happens?
posted by fancyoats at 7:08 PM - 6 answers

August 21

Air flow vs. heat flow

Even with the windows and curtains closed, my house warms up during the day and cools off at night. How much of this is due to air exchange with the outside and how much is due to heat conduction? How could I go about estimating this? [more inside]
posted by aws17576 at 8:52 PM - 13 answers

Guide me through nature!

I want to learn more about my natural surroundings! Looking for some sort of book, app, curriculum, whatever (either analog or digital) that will guide me. [more inside]
posted by dusty potato at 12:53 PM - 10 answers

Websites or accounts that document the changing seasons

Are there any websites, Twitter accounts, etc that document what annual things are happening in the natural world daily / weekly / monthly / whatever? Things like different animals starting migration, different flowers blooming, etc. [more inside]
posted by Tehhund at 8:57 AM - 17 answers

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