The Reason Why Ships Are Often Painted Red on the Bottom

75tiks/iStock via Getty Images
75tiks/iStock via Getty Images

If you’ve ever salvaged a sea vessel, you might have noticed that ship hulls are often red. If you haven’t dealt with a shipwreck—and chances are you haven’t—you may have still seen a red hull in pictures or in partial view at a shipyard. Since that portion of the ship is below the waterline, it seems strange to opt for a specific color.

The reason is tradition. And worms.

In a piece for Jalopnik, Andrew P. Collins explains that early sailing ships protected themselves against barnacles and wood-eating worms by covering their hulls in a copper or copper oxide paint that acted as a biocide. The copper gave the paint a red tint. By reducing the muck that naturally collects on the hull, ships can maintain their structural integrity and avoid being weighed down by gunk like seaweed that would reduce drag.

These days, biocides can be mixed with virtually any color of paint. But the hulls are often painted red to maintain a nautical tradition. Collins also points out that the red may help observers gauge the load of a ship’s cargo. The more weight on board, the lower in the water it will be. That's why you often see numbers positioned vertically on the side of the hull.

No matter what’s covering the hull, it’s never going to completely eliminate growth. Often, ports will prohibit ship owners from scraping hulls while docked, since ships traveling in outside waters might have picked up a non-native species of weed that could prove problematic in a new environment.

[h/t Jalopnik]

The Reason Newborn Babies Don't Produce Tears

leungchopan/iStock via Getty Images
leungchopan/iStock via Getty Images

As anyone who has spent time with a newborn knows, babies are swaddled and be-diapered packages consisting of mucus, spittle, hiccups, and poop. With their ability to discharge seemingly any kind of liquid, it’s curious that they don’t actually produce tears when they cry.

According to Live Science, newborns can fuss and wail without making tears. To understand why, it helps to know why we make tears in the first place. Watery eye discharge appears when sadness, happiness, or other strong emotions provoke a fight-or-flight response, prompting our eyes to well up to better protect them from perceived harm. Tears also help us alleviate stress.

Infants' tear ducts are not fully operational at birth, however. They can cry and their eyes will get moist, but not enough tears are produced to result in noticeable dribbling. It’s not until three to four weeks after birth that babies are able to have full-fledged bawling sessions. In some babies, it can take up to two months.

You won’t be able to squeeze much sweat out of newborns, either. Eccrine glands that produce sweat on the body don’t gear up until shortly after birth, and for a period of time babies will produce sweat only on their foreheads.

Of course, babies can’t walk, talk, or digest solid foods, either. Getting them up to speed on human functions takes time. The only thing that seems fully operational from day one are their vocal cords.

[h/t Live Science]

The Reason Adults Are Never Visible in Charles Schulz's Peanuts Comic Strips

Roger Higgins, Library of Congress // Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Roger Higgins, Library of Congress // Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Under the stewardship of creator Charles Schulz, the Peanuts comic strip is a kid’s world. The stories of Charlie Brown and his cast of supporting characters are told entirely from their perspectives, with adults very rarely intruding on their adventures or existential conversations. Considering Charlie Brown’s recurrent malaise and social status of "blockhead," a therapist may have been the least Schulz could have done for him.

That never materialized. The reason, according to Schulz, was that grown-ups were simply not needed. Speaking about the kids' lack of parents in 1975, Schulz said:

“I usually say that [adults] do not appear because the daily strip is only an inch and a half high, and they wouldn’t have room to stand up. Actually, they have been left out because they would intrude in a world where they could only be uncomfortable. Adults are not needed in the Peanuts strip. In earlier days I experimented with off-stage voices, but soon abandoned this as it was not only impractical but actually clumsy. Instead, I have developed a cast of off-stage adults who are talked about but never seen or heard.”

In 1997, Schulz elaborated on his no-adults policy, citing concern over ruining the magic of the strip and the jarring juxtaposition of Snoopy and Woodstock behaving like humans around adults:

“Now, we can go [in] any direction with Snoopy. Woodstock, too. It’s absurd to think of this dog and this bird wandering through the woods going on hikes and camping out. So as soon as an adult is in the strip, bang, the whole thing collapses. Because the adults bring everything back to reality. And it just spoils it.”

While not having any adults was the general rule, some still made it into the strip. Aside from occasional off-panel comments in the early 1950s, Schulz drew a pair of adult legs in two 1954 strips set at a golf tournament. In another 1954 strip, two adults can be seen from a distance, though their faces are blurred. Other times, Schulz would depict adults in a more roundabout manner. In a 1964 strip, the reader sees a drawing of an adult composed by Linus. In a 1999 strip, Schulz depicted the Washington Crossing the Delaware painting by artist Emanuel Leutze. Photographs of Dwight D. Eisenhower and World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle have also run in the strip to commemorate D-Day and Veterans Day, respectively.

When Peanuts was adapted for a long-running series of animated specials beginning with 1965’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, adults took on a slightly more prominent role. While they did make occasional appearances, including 2000’s It’s the Pied Piper, Charlie Brown, they’re mostly heard but not seen, communicating in an unintelligible warble. Producer Lee Mendelson asked composer Vince Guaraldi to use a musical instrument as a substitute for their dialogue. Guaraldi used a trombone (“mwa-mwa”) and adults remained relegated to the margins of Peanuts.

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