Big Questions, Science

Why Do Some Elements Have Symbols That Aren’t in Their Names?

Matt Soniak

The chemical symbol for oxygen is O. Makes sense. Calcium gets repped by a Ca. Sounds good. Hydrogen? H. Cobalt? Co. Lithium? Li. With you so far. Lead? Pb. Stop the presses!

Why Does Garlic Make Your Breath Smell So Bad?

Matt Soniak

Garlic is tasty, but its flavor comes at the cost of alienating your dinner partners with a distinct odor on your breath—and even your skin—when the meal is done.

How Do Fireworks Get Their Colors?

Matt Soniak

It’s all about chemistry.

Why Do Seagulls Hang Out in Parking Lots?

Matt Soniak

I live in Philadelphia, which is a quick enough drive to the Jersey Shore when traffic is good, but still pretty far from the ocean.

What’s the Difference Between “Mostly Sunny” and “Partly Cloudy”?

Matt Soniak

A question from Marcus in Louisville.

What Are the Santa Ana Winds?

Matt Soniak

And why do they help create fire conditions?

What Makes Magic Shell So Magic?

Matt Soniak

Reader (and writer) Stacy asks, “What makes Magic Shell so magic?”

Why Do I Sometimes Scratch One Body Part and Feel It on Another?

Matt Soniak

How Much Pee in a Pool is Too Much Pee?

Matt Soniak

Last week, a study by Chinese and American scientists revealed another reason to not pee in pools, which had more to do with chemistry than good manners.

Do Cows Moo in Different Accents?

Matt Soniak

Reader Erica emailed to say, “I heard on Twitter, from one of those 'amazing facts' accounts, that cows moo in regional accents. Is that true?”

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