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earthAt what distance does the Earth no longer pull on an object?

Strictly speaking, the Earth’s gravity will always pull on an object, no matter how distant. Gravity is a force that obeys a ‘inverse square law’.So, for example,put an object twice as far away and it will feel a quarter of the force. put it four times further away and it will feel one-sixteenth the force. but,however far away the object is, it will always feel the pull of gravity, even though it might be vanishingly small.


butterflyHow do some butterflies know where to migrate?

Butterflies know by instinct. An extraordinary as this seems, they are able to travel thousands of kilometers to find food, warmth or a mate, without ever having made the journey before or having any opportunity to learn the route.

The famous Monarchs migrate annually between Mexico and Canada, each generation continuing the journey begun by their parents. So their ability to find the correct route north in summer and south in winter must be inherited. The Painted Lady, weighing less than a gramme, takes up to six generations to complete a 14,400 km (9,000 mile) round trip from tropical Africa to the Arctic Circle, passing through Britain on the way. By way of comparison, many birds and mammals make the same times in their lifetime. So migration species may learn the way from travelling in flocks or herds and from learning geographical features of mountains.


Increase your KnowledgeWhat’s the highest energy food?

The Ultimate Breakfast Platter, Burger King’s menu in the US, has 1450 calories and topped a recent poll that compared calories per dollar for 10 US fast-food chains.

However,for a single, unprocessed food it’s hard to top the almond. They are often cited as one of the highest-energy single foodstuffs.A report by the Institute of Food Technologists state that foods with smaller particle sizes are absorbed better, so almond butter ought to have the most calories per hundred grammes. In fact, it’s about the same as the peanut butter at 620kcal/100g, Ordinary butter is slightly higher (740kcal/100g), but pure sunflower oil beats both at 900kcal/100g.


snoringHow does an anti-snore pillow work?

Snoring is caused by the soft palate vibrating as it partially blocks the airway. Anti-Snoring pillows till the head backwards as you lie on your back. It’s similar to the way that you till the patient’s head during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), helping to hold the airway open.


beeAre humans the only species to commit suicide?

If we define suicide as deliberately taking an action that will kill you, then there are the plenty of examples. Bees will sting us even though it kills them; certain species of aphids will rupture themselves in a shower of sticky fluid that glues their body to a predatory ladybird lava – killing both. But these are examples of altruistic sacrifice to protect the colony. For it to count as suicide,the main motive of the animal should be simply to escape its own suffering, rather than to nobly assist some larger goal. That’s almost impossible for us to determine.

Rats that are infected with the bacterium Toxoplasma gondii lose their fear of predators and so are more likely to be eaten by cats. The bacterium has evolved this effect because cats are its primary host and it benefits by ending up in a cat’s intestine. To call the behavior of an infected rat suicidal appears to stretch the definition, because the rat isn’t acting entirely of its own free will. However,a study at the Imperial College, London, found that there may also be a link between T.gondii infection in humans and schizophrenia. If we accept that mentally ill humans can commit suicide, then why not rats?

Suicide can be difficult to distinguish from recklessness or accident, even in humans. But once we accept that some animals can suffer from depression and other mental illness, it seems reasonable to suppose that this could sometimes result in suicide.


pineappleHow do pineapples reproduce?

Each of the diamond-shaped scales on a pineapple is formed by a different flower. Up to 200 of them grow together in the middle of the plant. The fruits that each one produces swell and fuse together to form a pineapple.

Pineapple are pollinated by insects, hummingbirds and bats but they will produce fruit without being pollinated. In fact the seeds worsen the quality of the fruit, so commercial growers try to restrict pollination. Instead they are propagated using growths called “suckers” that grow from the base, or by planting out the crown after it has been cut off the top of the pineapple.


voiceWhy do voices change as we change?

For several reasons. During childhood our voices change gradually as the larynx (voice box) grows larger, making a stronger sound, and the vocal cords mature. Then in boys a dramatic change occurs with the puberty as changing hormones affect the size and shape of the larynx and the voice “breaks”.

Most voices then remain relatively stable for many decades until in later life our voice becomes weaker and more tremulous as our muscles begin to shrink, membranes thin, and fine control weakens. Men’s voices tend to rise in pitch while women’s voices drop. Despite all these changes, though,our own voice can remain recognizable by our family and friends throughout a whole lifetime.


spaceHow far into space have radio signals traveled?

We’ve been broadcasting our existence on Earth into deep space via radio “leakage” for around 100 years. Travelling at the speed of light, that encompasses a sphere 200 light-years across and dozens of planetary systems. But any aliens will need receiving antennae hundreds of kilometers across to pick up the signals.

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