Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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January 21

Sweet or Snow Peas?

Are these snow pea sprouts or sweet pea sprouts? [more inside]
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:58 AM - 3 answers

January 20

The Edge of Turbulence

I live near a shallow tidal lagoon. I often notice that part of the surface is turbulent, part is relatively calm, and there is a sharp boundary (as opposed to a smooth gradient) between these two areas. I don't think the boundary occurs in a consistent place from day to day. How can such a boundary form, and how is it sustained over time (i.e., why don't waves from the turbulent area spill across the boundary)?
posted by aws17576 at 11:12 PM - 3 answers

January 18

Plant that smells exactly like ripe apricots

Every so often I’ll be outside and smell apricots when there are no apricots in view. I believe some plant is giving off this smell — not an apricot tree, probably, but something with flowers or pollen that smells exactly like apricots. What might it be? [more inside]
posted by delight at 11:09 AM - 9 answers

January 14

Rebuilding the human population from 50,000 people.

Is it better for each pair to have many babies, or for each person to have many babies with different partners? [more inside]
posted by monkeyscouch at 3:35 AM - 6 answers

January 12

What is your favorite black hole book?

If you are interested in slightly better than a layman's knowledge of black holes, what was your favorite book? Some commonly read authors on this subject are Thorn, Hawking, Bartusiak, and Tyson. Who did the better job of explaining there existence and history of discovery? Any others you especially liked? Perhaps you liked a YouTube video? Black hole scholars and enthusiasts please weigh in!
posted by Rad_Boy at 9:37 AM - 8 answers

January 9

What is glowing green on my tree, in Chicago?

Tree in my backyard, don't know what kind, pretty tall -- definitely too tall for me to get up where the glowing is -- has maybe two dozen spots, spread throughout the canopy, that glow green after dark. They're BRIGHT! There are also a handful of spots on the nearby phone/power lines, fairly evenly spaced. If you go around the south side of the tree, there are also two red glowing spots. I'm in the Chicago suburbs. What in the heck am I seeing? [more inside]
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:54 PM - 22 answers

Science discussion topics (with experiments?) for a 5 year old?

I've been having discussions with my 5 year old about science and he loves it. What are some basic topics I can discuss with him, with simple 'experiments' to go along with them? [more inside]
posted by evadery at 8:45 AM - 26 answers

January 6

How can a mixed race baby have blue eyes?

If a mixed race child has blue eyes in infancy, does that mean both parents must absolutely have the blue eye gene? (One parent is full Asian.) [more inside]
posted by branparsons at 3:35 PM - 11 answers

January 5

Is there any other geographic region like the Great Lakes region?

Is there any other geographic region like the Great Lakes area of western Michigan and eastern Wisconsin? [more inside]
posted by ragtimepiano at 2:48 PM - 10 answers

January 3

Plant a tree donation

I'd like to give a gift to someone in the form of a tree or trees planted in their name but I'm having trouble finding the best charity/service to use. Does anyone have direct experience with this? [more inside]
posted by gwint at 6:44 AM - 8 answers

Are there short-term volunteering opportunities for wildlife programs?

I am interested in short term, say 4-6 weeks, volunteering opportunities with wildlife scientists in locations such as Africa, South America. Are there any such options? [more inside]
posted by theobserver at 3:34 AM - 8 answers

December 30, 2017

It's Just So Warm In There.

As someone who struggles mightily with getting out of the (outdoor) hot tub on a cold winter night, please tell me what would happen if.. I didn't. Obviously, this question is hypothetical and I realize that I cannot actually live in the hot tub from now until spring (for many reasons). [more inside]
posted by VioletU at 12:09 PM - 9 answers

December 27, 2017

Why not fuel rockets externally during liftoff?

Given the tyranny of the rocket equation, why not save mass by pumping fuel and oxidizer into the engines from an external source during liftoff? [more inside]
posted by jedicus at 1:21 PM - 9 answers

December 26, 2017

Fermi paradox & Drake equation 101

Looking for accessible readings or videos about the Fermi paradox and/or the Drake equation, geared toward an adult layperson, especially someone unfamiliar with either concept. Thank you!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:10 AM - 5 answers

December 16, 2017

Does a rainbow exist?

You'll often see/hear someone saying "Did you see the rainbow?" Or "Oh yeah I saw that same rainbow". But did they? [more inside]
posted by humboldt32 at 10:07 AM - 14 answers

December 11, 2017

ISS Solar Transit

It looks like ISS will transit the sun in Tuscaloosa, AL (33.206667, -87.534722) on Wednesday Dec. 13. The three tools that I've looked at show slightly different ideal locations and times for the transit. Who should I believe:
posted by gregr at 8:51 PM - 2 answers

December 10, 2017

Heat of fusion of high pressure water ice?

Is the specific enthalpy of fusion for each of the high density forms of water ice; ice III, ice V, and ice VI, lower than that of standard water ice Ih? [more inside]
posted by pjbw at 12:17 PM - 3 answers

December 9, 2017

Mixing potassium citrate and La Croix?

For a potassium source that's not too basic, I'm adding potassium citrate to La Croix sparkling water, which I'm assuming is acidic (carbonic acid?). What is happening when it starts fizzing? [more inside]
posted by zeek321 at 10:32 AM - 7 answers

December 8, 2017

Inspirational book for a future entomologist (with a spider focus) ?

A good and terribly brilliant friend is currently a college freshman with a life-long enthusiasm for the insect world, and an eye toward a career in entomology. Her passion: spiders. I'd like to find a book on spiders (or on the greater world of insects) for her as a Christmas gift, something special. [more inside]
posted by Auden at 2:10 PM - 14 answers

December 6, 2017

What did I see in the sky over the Monterey Bay last night?

Last night, I saw a bright light in the sky South of Santa Cruz, CA, which was predicted on the radio, but I missed what the object was. [more inside]
posted by subocoyne at 11:11 AM - 3 answers

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