Asked by Molly Breitenberg in Mental Health, Dementia
What is the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia?
The main difference is that, unlike Alzheimer’s, dementia is not a disease; it is a group of symptoms that impact memory, ability to communicate, and performance of daily tasks. It usually starts with simple forgetfulness and can progress to an inability to care for oneself. There is more than one type of dementia, and people can suffer from multiple types simultaneously. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. It gets worse with time and affects language, thought, and memory, and it’s currently incurable. No exact cause is known.
Asked by Al Leuschke in Male Puberty, Human Anatomy and Physiology
Why do boys' voices crack during puberty?
A child has a small larynx and thin vocal cords, which creates a higher pitched voice. When boys hit puberty, they have an increase in testosterone, which causes a lengthening of the larynx and a thickening of the vocal cords. And as children grow, the cavities in their noses and throats enlarge, allowing more space for sound to resonate. All these changes combined result in a lowered voice. The whole process takes place gradually, but when there is a period of rapid growth, the muscles involved can struggle to properly control the vocal cords. This causes some boys to experience a “crack” or “squeak” in their voices from time to time. It’s completely normal and usually only lasts a few months.
Why is there an "r" in "Mrs."?
Well, language changes over time, and “Mrs.” was originally an abbreviation for “mistress.” The pronunciation eventually became “missus,” of course, but the “r” stuck around. In early modern England, “mistress” was the direct equivalent to “master,” and while the word’s negative connotation eventually crept into the lexicon, it widely meant “a woman who governs; correlative to subject or servant.” The title didn’t even imply a woman was married, nor did its abbreviation—plenty of unmarried women were given the title “Mrs.” in tax lists, parish listings, and other documents of the time. By the end of the 18th century, speakers had shortened “mistress” to “missus”; the “r” in its abbreviation just never fell away. Around that same time, the term “miss” came to mean an unmarried woman, and it was then that “missus” (and its outdated abbreviation) came to mean a married woman.
Asked by Jude Beatty in Health, Dieting and Weight Loss, Nutrition
Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?
More research is needed to get a conclusive answer, but some studies have suggested that eating a nutritious meal in the morning does help to kickstart your metabolism. Nutritious is the keyword here, as there’s obviously a big difference between eggs and donuts when it comes to a beneficial breakfast. It’s also been shown that going without breakfast is associated with a higher Body Mass Index. The weight aspect aside, most experts seem to be in favor of a well-balanced breakfast that includes protein, whole grain, and a fruit or vegetable. However, the tagline "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" was actually coined by cereal companies as a marketing tactic, so it’s fair to be a little skeptical of breakfast’s supposed benefits. And what’s more, there’s some research to back up that skepticism—one recent review found no significant weight management benefits to eating breakfast. "The key message is that if a person likes to eat breakfast, that is fine. However, there is no evidence that we should be encouraging people to change their eating pattern to include breakfast in order to prevent weight gain or obesity," Flavia Cicuttini, senior author of the review, said.
How many presidents have been impeached, and who were they?
Three. The first was Andrew Johnson, then Bill Clinton, and most recently (as of Dec. 18, 2019), Donald Trump. To impeach a president, the House of Representatives must pass articles of impeachment (which are the set of charges against a president) by a simple majority, which is why Richard Nixon isn’t on this list—he resigned before articles of impeachment could be voted on. From there, the president is tried by the Senate. A removal from office requires a two-thirds majority vote.
What do roly polies taste like?
If prepared well, they taste similar to shrimp. And yes, they’re edible. Contrary to popular belief, roly polies (also known as pill bugs, doodle bugs, potato bugs, and by their scientific order name, Armadillidiidae) aren’t insects or arachnids. They’re land crustaceans, and as such, they’re more closely related to lobsters, crayfish, and shrimp. As a general disclaimer, you shouldn’t eat random crustaceans you find walking across your basement, but if you decide to eat roly polies, they’re apparently fairly easy to prepare. The blog Off Grid Homestead Prepper recommends boiling them to sterilize them, then frying them in the oil of your choice. “I regret not trying the sow bugs after boiling them but before frying them,” the writer notes. “I would like to know if there is a taste change because after frying with a little olive oil [because] all they tasted like was olive oil.” “I ate about half and will probably throw the rest into a salad where the taste will be hidden. They would be fine to throw into a stew or soup if you were just trying to boost your protein levels.” That doesn’t sound especially appetizing. Here’s another perspective. “From my experience, some of them do in fact taste similar to shrimp,” writes Joe for the sustainable food blog Eat the Planet. “Any bug should be cooked before eaten, but some people eat them raw. They make a great sauce, or they can be added to soup. There are a lot of other ways to cook them including mixed with dough, egg, or rice.” Joe notes that some pill bugs might be less edible than others, and he only recommends eating the wood lice that roll into little balls (since they’re less likely to be confused with non-edible bugs like pill millipedes). There’s no need to remove the shell. You’ll need quite a few of them to make a meal, but they’re not poisonous to humans. Don’t eat any that smell bad, and if you notice a bad taste, stop eating. If you ever find yourself in a dire situation in which pill bugs are your only source of sustenance, that could be important knowledge. And while roly polies aren’t technically insects, we should note that many insects are edible, and the United Nations has essentially advised people to eat more bugs in order to fight world hunger. The United States might be getting with it—the Seattle Mariners recently introduced fried grasshoppers as a concession at Safeco Field, and the dish quickly became one of the park’s most popular food options.
Asked by Leta Davis in Siblings, Psychology
Can twins read each other's minds?
Probably not. Many twins claim to exhibit ESP-like behavior, including finishing each other’s sentences and feeling phantom pain when the other is hurt. However, there is no conclusive scientific evidence that twins have extrasensory perception. Many psychologists agree that these instances of “twin telepathy” are the result of genetically influenced traits or simple closeness as opposed to something supernatural. One such instance that made news in 2009 involved 15-year-old twin sisters from the UK. One twin, Gemma, claimed that she “had a feeling” about her sister, Leanne, being in danger and went to check on her. She found Leanne submerged in the bathtub after losing consciousness, and her quick response was able to save Leanne’s life. Although this incident sounds pretty supernatural, it can be explained by mere coincidence and the fact that Leanne had suffered from similar “fits” before.
Asked by Tomasa Crooks in Cars & Vehicles, Brakes and Tires
Should I fill my car's tires to the max PSI on the tire or to my car manual's recommendations?
You should not fill your car’s tires to the maximum PSI listed on the tire—go with the numbers in your car manual. These numbers are also likely on a sticker in your driver-side door jamb. The maximum PSI, like the phrase would suggest, is the maximum pressure your tire can hold. It’s not, however, the recommended pressure for your vehicle. Overinflating tires can lead to uneven wear, poor handling, and even increased blowouts; underinflating them can lead to accelerated wear and, yep, increased blowouts. The recommended pressure is there to maximize long-term performance and safety. The information on your tire is still important, though. In addition to the maximum PSI, you can find things like the tire type, load index, speed rating, various measurements, and adorably enough, even the week your tire was born.
Asked by Iva Braun in Real Estate, Law & Legal Issues, Haunted Houses
Are realtors legally required to tell you when a home is haunted?
Asked by Keely Schneider in Head, Ears, and Nose, Air Travel
Why do your ears pop when you're on an airplane (and how can you stop it)?
Your ears pop because of the difference in pressure between the air inside your ear and the air outside. As you get higher up, the air is less dense, meaning there’s less air pressure pushing on your eardrum from the outside and more pressure on it from the inside. The ear regulates its internal pressure through structures called the eustachian tubes, and when these tubes open and allow outside air into the ear, we experience that as a pop. With that in mind, you don’t want to stop your ears from popping; rather, you want to encourage it. Tricks to avoid uncomfortable pressure on your eardrum include anything that encourages frequent swallowing, like chewing gum. Yawning also helps. Or, you could try something called the Valsalva maneuver, which entails holding your nose shut, closing your mouth, and gently blowing, as if you were blowing your nose.
Asked by Shanel Weimann in Art History, Heart, Human Anatomy and Physiology
Why doesn't the heart symbol look like an actual heart?
There are a couple different theories, but the oldest instance of the symbol can be traced back to ancient Rome. It appeared on coins from the Roman colony of Cyrene, mimicking the seed of an ancient plant called silphium. This plant was crucial to the Cyrene economy and was said to have medicinal properties. Additionally, in those days the silphium seed was used as a form of contraceptive, and thus became associated with love and intercourse. So, according to this theory, the shape wasn’t even supposed to represent a heart at first—thanks to autopsies, Romans were well aware of what the anatomical heart looked like. Over time, the heart came to be associated with depictions of silphium seeds because both were already separately associated with love. Another theory holds that the symbol originated from the philosopher Aristotle, who described the human heart as having three chambers with a dent in the middle. Some believe the shape came into existence as scientists and artists from the Middle Ages attempted to bring Aristotle’s description to life.
Asked by Devin Kling in Swiss Cheese, Dairy Products, Food Science
Why does Swiss cheese have holes in it?
Cheese (all cheese that is) is made by adding bacteria to milk, which produces lactic acid and helps give the cheese its taste. One specific bacteria added to Swiss cheese called Propionibacterium shermani produces carbon dioxide. Due to the density of the cheese, the carbon dioxide forms bubbles, which get larger and eventually burst, leaving the trademark holes. More recent research suggests that these bubbles form around microscopic debris in the milk, which compromises the structure of the cheese in those spots. Swiss cheese has gotten less holey over the years, and some scientists credit that to cleaner modern milking methods—fewer particles means fewer holes. Cheesemakers call these holes "eyes" and can control their size by adjusting the temperature, acidity, and curing time of the cheese.
Did Coca-Cola create the modern image of Santa Claus?
No, Santa’s image in the American imagination goes back way further than Coca-Cola’s iconic Christmas ads. Santa Claus came over to the United States with Dutch immigrants in the late 1700s. Although his image was constantly evolving, there are definitely instances of Santa depicted as a rotund, red-coat-wearing man with a long white beard that far predate Coke’s use of that image. The cola company started using Santa in its ads in the 1920s, and its most iconic representation comes from Haddon Sundblom’s hand-painted illustrations, which he did every Christmas season from 1931 to 1964. This version of Santa was based heavily on Clement Clark Moore's 1822 poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" (also known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"). Although Moore probably cribbed from other sources, his poem is thought to be mainly responsible for our modern idea of Santa as a jolly old elf. Much credit also goes to political cartoonist Thomas Nast—he depicted Santa Claus in a variety of ways in the late 19th century and served as a major inspiration for Sundblom’s paintings. So, no, it’s not accurate to say Coca-Cola “invented” our modern idea of Santa Claus, but it did help popularize that image.
Asked by Walter Carter in Video Games, Hobbies & Collectibles, Technology
What was your Game of the Year?
This one easily goes to Resident Evil 2: Remake. Devil May Cry V is a good contender, and of course Kojima's Death Stranding has to be recognized, but neither quite hooked me as RE2 did this year. Capcom's reimagining of the second chapter in the RE franchise provided me with a surprising amount of replayability from the second story features as well as a in-game timer to encourage speedrunning. I'm not one for Souls-type games, so sorry, Sekiro.
Asked by Stefanie Little in Sleep and Circadian Rhythm, Hormones
Why do I wake up five minutes before my alarm clock goes off?
Your body is so skilled at regulating when you’re supposed to be awake that, if you follow a consistent schedule, it gets pretty good at beating your alarm and letting you wake up more gradually. Certain stress hormones in your brain increase during the day and decrease at night. As the cruel alarm approaches, those hormones increase steadily from their nighttime levels to their daytime ones, waking you up slowly and naturally. If your alarm interrupts this process, the body learns to start increasing those hormones earlier so it doesn’t get jarred awake. Waking up a few minutes before your alarm goes off typically means you’re getting a good amount of sleep, and your circadian rhythm is doing a good job.
Why is Greta Thunberg TIME'S Person of the Year?
TIME’s former managing editor, Walter Isaacson, laid out the criteria for Person of the Year in 1998. The title goes to “the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year, for better or for worse.” While the results of online polls are considered, the magazine’s editorial staff makes the final selection. Greta Thunberg is a 16-year-old climate change activist from Stockholm, Sweden. In August 2018, she skipped school and camped out in front of Swedish Parliament to bring awareness to climate change. “In the 16 months since,” TIME wrote, “she has addressed heads of state at the U.N., met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history.” Through her activism, Thunberg has legitimately influenced policy. Following her words to British Parliament and demonstrations with environmental group Extinction Rebellion, the U.K. passed a law requiring it to eliminate its carbon footprint. “She is an ordinary teenage girl who, in summoning the courage to speak truth to power, became the icon of a generation,” TIME wrote.
Asked by Taya Moore in Cats (Felines), Animal Behavior
Why do cats headbutt you?
When cats headbutt you, they’re depositing facial pheromones. Vets call this behavior bunting. “Rather than territorial marking or ‘claiming’ someone, as is commonly thought, cats do this to mark something as safe—sort of like leaving a signal of comfort and safety. So you could think of it as a sign that they are trusting that person or environment,” Dr. Meghan E. Herron, clinical assistant professor of behavioral medicine in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Ohio State University, told Vetstreet.
Asked by Jesse Barrows in Volcanoes, Earth Sciences
Can volcanic eruptions be predicted?
There are precipitating factors that can be used to predict a volcanic eruption, including the volcano’s history, how long since its last eruption, and the usual amount of time between eruptions. Other signs include an increased number of earthquakes and a certain level of gas emissions which can be measured via satellite. However, similar to meteorology, there is an inherent level of uncertainty, and the time and severity of an eruption is very difficult to predict. In the case of the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption, the preemptive warnings included earthquakes and steam explosions in the months leading up to the blast, prompting the U.S. Forest Service to evacuate people from near the volcano. Although 57 people died, roughly 20,000 were more than likely saved by the evacuations, according to volcanologist William Rose. Alternatively, when the 2019 White Island eruption happened in New Zealand, there were few warning signs. Although a rise in volcanic tremors caused the alert level to be raised from 1 to 2 in the weeks before the eruption, this isn’t an unusual occurrence and usually doesn’t mean a devastating eruption is imminent. "We don't normally see these eruptions coming, no matter how much we would like to," stated Earth scientist Shane Cronin of the blast.