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Understanding the Debt Limit

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After an extremely brief pause for the inauguration and some celebration, the United States Debt Limit is back in the news. Yet again, a Washington showdown looms in which Congress battles the President over...what? Something about money, clearly. But are we talking about a Fiscal Cliff, a Debtpocalypse, or a Taxmageddon here? Actually, it's just a detail of fiscal policy that makes for great TV.

In this brief (and admirably nonpartisan) video, C. G. P. Grey explains: What is the Debt Limit? And related sub-questions I'll add in, like "Why does this crazy situation exist?" and "Why is the nightly news so depressing and enraging?" Learn, and then write your Congressperson requesting that we stop hitting ourselves:

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Unboxing Dr. Seuss Toys (and Facts)!
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Dr. Seuss said if he were invited to a dinner party with his characters, "I wouldn't show up."

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Why a Howling Wind Sounds So Spooky, According to Science
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Halloween is swiftly approaching, meaning you'll likely soon hear creepy soundtracks—replete with screams, clanking chains, and howling winds—blaring from haunted houses and home displays. While the sound of human suffering is frightful for obvious reasons, what is it, exactly, about a brisk fall gust that sends shivers up our spines? In horror movie scenes and ghost stories, these spooky gales are always presented as blowing through dead trees. Do bare branches actually make the natural wailing noises louder, or is this detail added simply for atmospheric purposes?

As the SciShow's Hank Green explains in the video below, wind howls because it curves around obstacles like trees or buildings. When fast-moving air goes around, say, a tree, it splits up as it whips past, before coming back together on the other side. Due to factors such as natural randomness, air speed, and the tree's surface, one side's wind is going to be slightly stronger when the two currents rejoin, pushing the other side's gust out of the way. The two continue to interact back-and-forth in what could be likened to an invisible wrestling match, as high-pressure airwaves and whirlpools mix together and vibrate the air. If the wind is fast enough, this phenomenon will produce the eerie noise we've all come to recognize in horror films.

Leafy trees "will absorb some of the vibrations in the air and dull the sound, but without leaves—like if it's the middle of the winter or the entire forest is dead—the howling will travel a lot farther," Green explains. That's why a dead forest on a windy night sounds so much like the undead.

Learn more by watching SciShow's video below.

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