CLOSE

How to Use Paper Towels

In this short talk, Oregonian paper towel expert* Joe Smith explains how to dry your hands using a single paper towel. He gives a series of demos, boiling down to two crucial steps: shake and fold. Now, I'm no paper towel scientist, but this sounds like a great way to save a lot of paper -- and I admit, I'm guilty of routinely grabbing two or three of those "tri-fold" towels, wastrel that I am.

Now let's save some trees, one paper towel at a time. Who's with me?

* = Smith is also former chair of the Oregon Democratic Party, though his technique works for anyone who gets his or her hands dirty.

See also: How to Use Toilet Paper and How to Tie Your Shoes.

Original image
iStock
Watch How to Make a Compass
Original image
iStock

Let's say the mega-earthquake comes and you're stranded with just some MacGyver-style bits and bobs. If you've got a magnet and a little knowledge, you can make a compass that reliably points north. Below, check out a vintage segment from Curiosity Show explaining how to do it—and a bit on the science of why compasses work.

In the clip below, presenter Deane Hutton shows three methods involving a mirror, cork, a pin, a drinking straw, and a circular magnet (in different combinations). There's something for everyone!

Incidentally, one of the key issues in making a compass is knowing which end of a magnet points north and which points south. One YouTuber asked how to determine this, if it's not already marked—as might be the case in a survival situation. Decades after the clip aired, Hutton chimed in via YouTube comments to answer:

Wait till the Sun is about to set. Stand with your right shoulder toward the setting Sun. You are now facing South. Suspend the magnet and let it swing freely. When the magnet stops swinging, the end pointing South is the South Pole of the magnet. Deane.

Science is cool. Anyway, enjoy:

Original image
iStock
Watch How To Make a Self-Starting Siphon Using Bendy Straws
Original image
iStock

In this vintage video segment from Curiosity Show, we learn about self-starting siphons. These things start a flow of water without the user having to squeeze a pump or suck on a tube, which is a distinct benefit.

In the segment, we also observe the limitations of self-starting siphons. Because the act of submersion starts the flow, we're limited to siphoning water out of very full vessels. But still, this could be useful for a home aquarium, which is one of a thousand scenarios in which you don't want to use a mouth-primed siphon.

The best part of the segment is when presenter Rob Morrison shows how to make your own self-starting siphon. File this under "Handy stuff you can do with bendy straws." Tune in and enjoy this simple physics demo:

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios