Here's a riddle: What's one of the most entertaining ways to learn about how the universe works? Fun science riddles challenge you to answer questions about fascinating science topics many people may not understand.
Earth Science Bafflers
What gets cooler as it moves closer to its heat source and warmer when it travels further away? The Northern Hemisphere is farthest from the sun in July and closest to the sun in January. The planet's axis tilts in such a way that when summer reaches the Northern Hemisphere, that area receives more solar energy for longer time periods. When winter arrives, the Northern Hemisphere tilts away from the sun resulting in cooler weather. As this hemisphere experiences seasons, opposite seasons occur in the Southern Hemisphere.
Does it take the same amount of time to boil potatoes in Denver, Colorado, and Tucson, Arizona.? To cook a potato to softness, you must boil the water a little longer in Denver because it's higher in altitude than Tucson. Boiling point is the temperature at which a liquid's saturated vapor pressure equals the atmospheric pressure. Atmospheric pressure declines as altitude increases. Because Denver's 1,618-meter (5,309-feet) altitude exceeds Tucson's 728.5-meters (2,390-feet) altitude, water boils at a lower temperature in Denver, so you must boil water longer there to achieve the same degree of cooking.
What cannot see even though it has the largest eye in the world? When hurricane Katrina slammed onto Louisiana's shore in 2005, the storm's eye could not see, but wind and water devastated New Orleans. With an average width of 32.2 to 64.4 kilometers (20 to 40 miles), a hurricane’s eye is a remarkably tranquil place where light winds blow and skies are often clear. Outside the eye lies the hurricane's eye wall, where heavy rain and the most violent winds reside. If a hurricane's eye moves over you, the storm is not over yet, so remain alert. The other half of the hurricane will pass over you soon, bringing more dangerous weather.
What remains intact when you slice it in half? Cut a holographic image in half, and each half contains the entire image. A hologram is a three-dimensional picture created when two laser beams converge to form an interference pattern on a piece of film. Because the entire image exists on the hologram, when you cut it in half, each half contains the whole image. However, the quality of each image is not as good as that of the picture when it's intact.
What shrinks as it moves faster? When a stationary observer views any object in motion, its length along the motion path decreases. This phenomenon is more pronounced as an object approaches the speed of light. That's why you cannot see this happen with ordinary objects you observe in real life -- they're moving too slowly. Imagine that you could look up and see an alien spacecraft whizzing by at a high velocity. Not only would its length be smaller, but time aboard the craft would slow down too, in relation to your vantage point.
- The Library of Congress: Why is it hot in summer and cold in winter?
- NASA Science: Interplanetary Seasons
- United States Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Library: High Altitude Cooking, Baking - Some Tips for the Housewife
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Atmospheric Sciences: Hurricanes
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Q & A - How Holograms Are Made
- Standford University Gravity Probe B Testing Einstein's Universe: Do Objects Really Contract When They Travel Near The Speed Of Light?
- NASA: Greetings, Earthlings - Ed's Musings from Space
About the Author
After majoring in physics, Kevin Lee began writing professionally in 1989 when, as a software developer, he also created technical articles for the Johnson Space Center. Today this urban Texas cowboy continues to crank out high-quality software as well as non-technical articles covering a multitude of diverse topics ranging from gaming to current affairs.
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