CLOSE
Original image
Getty Images

What is Pine Tar Used for Outside of Baseball?

Original image
Getty Images

On Wednesday, Yankees starter Michael Pineda was ejected in the second inning of a game against the Red Sox for displaying a "foreign substance" that looked an awful lot like pine tar on his neck. Less than two weeks before, the internet had buzzed with outrage —and disdain that anyone would bother with outrage— after umpires cited ignorance in failing to take action against Pineda's pine tar on the wrist in another start against Boston. At the time, the general consensus was that a little sunscreen or hair gel or, yes, pine tar to give a pitcher better grip in chilly conditions is best ignored — despite Official Rule 8.02, which states: The pitcher shall not apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball. But Wednesday's transgression was just too flagrant to turn a blind eye and now Pineda faces a suspension that should have him miss at least two starts.

But all this got us wondering: When it's not slathered on the skin of Major League pitchers, what's the point of pine tar? In fact, what even is pine tar?

To the latter question first: pine tar is brownish, thick, sticky liquid produced by high-temperature distillation of pine wood. It originated in Scandinavia hundreds of years ago where it was used to weatherproof and preserve wooden ships and even ropes made of natural fibers. Maritime use spread from Sweden throughout Europe and eventually to the British Colonies in America. It is still used to this day to treat wooden furniture that may be exposed to the elements.

Pine tar has also developed several medicinal uses for both humans and animals. In a soap it is said to treat minor skin ailments — everything from eczema and psoriasis to rashes, poison ivy and insect bites (although a debate rages on in the natural soap community about the presence of carcinogenic creosote in pine tar). As an antiseptic, it can be used to treat minor scrapes and scratches but is more popular in a veterinary context, often applied to horses' hooves to fight infection and keep hooves from cracking.

Back to baseball, Rule 1.10 (b) permits the use of pine tar on the bat to allow players to get a better grip — up to 18 inches from the end, but no further, as the Yankees and Royals made clear on a fateful day in 1983. The limit is in place to prevent pine tar from getting on the ball while it is in play.

As the Pineda example makes clear, the same concessions for grip are not extended to pitchers, as it is thought to give them a competitive advantage in throwing tighter breaking balls.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
What Is the Difference Between Generic and Name Brand Ibuprofen?
Original image
iStock

What is the difference between generic ibuprofen vs. name brands?

Yali Friedman:

I just published a paper that answers this question: Are Generic Drugs Less Safe than their Branded Equivalents?

Here’s the tl;dr version:

Generic drugs are versions of drugs made by companies other than the company which originally developed the drug.

To gain FDA approval, a generic drug must:

  • Contain the same active ingredients as the innovator drug (inactive ingredients may vary)
  • Be identical in strength, dosage form, and route of administration
  • Have the same use indications
  • Be bioequivalent
  • Meet the same batch requirements for identity, strength, purity, and quality
  • Be manufactured under the same strict standards of FDA's good manufacturing practice regulations required for innovator products

I hope you found this answer useful. Feel free to reach out at www.thinkbiotech.com. For more on generic drugs, you can see our resources and whitepapers at Pharmaceutical strategic guidance and whitepapers

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
Do Cats Fart?
Original image
iStock

Certain philosophical questions can invade even the most disciplined of minds. Do aliens exist? Can a soul ever be measured? Do cats fart?

While the latter may not have weighed heavily on some of history’s great brains, it’s certainly no less deserving of an answer. And in contrast to existential queries, there’s a pretty definitive response: Yes, they do. We just don’t really hear it.

According to veterinarians who have realized their job sometimes involves answering inane questions about animals passing gas, cats have all the biological hardware necessary for a fart: a gastrointestinal system and an anus. When excess air builds up as a result of gulping breaths or gut bacteria, a pungent cloud will be released from their rear ends. Smell a kitten’s butt sometime and you’ll walk away convinced that cats fart.

The discretion, or lack of audible farts, is probably due to the fact that cats don’t gulp their food like dogs do, leading to less air accumulating in their digestive tract.

So, yes, cats do fart. But they do it with the same grace and stealth they use to approach everything else. Think about that the next time you blame the dog.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios