Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Science/2008 June 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Science desk
< May 31 << May | June | Jul >> June 2 >
Welcome to the Wikipedia Science Reference Desk Archives
The page you are currently viewing is an archive page. While you can leave answers for any questions shown below, please ask new questions on one of the current reference desk pages.


June 1[edit]

Are scientists not telling us everything?[edit]

I've always had a suspicion that there are some scientists that know... THE TRUTH. The very unpleasant truth,- and aren't telling. For good reason. Dont wanna cause mass panic or anything. What I mean is-I'll bet there are some scientists that know, just know what's really going on.

Take the age old mystery of what happens after you die. Maybe it's very unpleasant. For EVERYONE. Maybe there is no Heaven or Hell. Just Hell. Or something like it. Doesn't matter if you've been a good person. Maybe that's just the way it is. For reasons we'll never understand. Bad things happen to undeserving people all the time, so why couldn't this "injustice" continue in the next realm?

How about where our thoughts come from. They appear at random all the time. Same for dreams. Would you really want to know that our minds are being programmed by aliens that don't necessarily have the best intentions? I doubt researchers would happily share this information with us.

I could go on but you probably don't want to get me started on mutating viruses, genetic slavery, and the insignificance of our existence. On second thought, maybe I dont want to know the answer.--Dr. Carefree (talk) 00:30, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Well, we tell people about global warming and the end of oil and the death of the oceans and the consequences of overpopulation, and nobody listens who matters... --BenBurch (talk) 00:59, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Science is one of those things that only rewards those who tell things—you get no points for keeping things secret, for good or ill. If I (a researcher, of a sort) knew aliens were programming our minds I'd definitely tell. If I thought I had evidence of anything massive and important I'd publish it, become famous, get a great job, write a book, be on Oprah, etc. Would I worry that people couldn't handle the truth? Not at all. Am I unique? No. There are scientists working right now, right now!, who, if they had new answers (based in science, not just speculation) to the questions of the afterlife, extraterrestrials, dreams, etc., they would rush, RUSH to publish it before somebody else did. That's not just Nobel Prize quality work, that's #1 Scientist of the Century sorts of stuff (what would Einstein's redefinition of spacetime have on something like that?). So no. I don't see it as likely. I'm sure many scientists have uninformed (from the point of view of scientific method) opinions on these issues, and they surely keep them to themselves. But actual access to the truth? That they're hiding away from us all? Systematic conspiracy? No way. Too much at stake for the individual. --98.217.8.46 (talk) 01:15, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Also, please note that those questions you are asking are outside of realm of science, because they are not verifiable. If you want answers to these things, you should look into religion, because no real scientist will give you authoritative answers on those, as it is outside of his/her specialty (and interest, in most cases). Samohyl Jan (talk) 01:21, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
I read an article in a journal recently about how popular culture has made scientists look more and more evil through time. See the "Popular culture" section of Frankenstein (this section cites the article I'm talking about.) It's natural in our day and age not to trust scientists, even if there isn't any logical reason for it. Wrad (talk) 01:28, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Hmm... minor quibble: understandable? Perhaps. Natural? No. – ClockworkSoul 05:07, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
To argue that religion answers what science does not is to argue for a god of the gaps. I think that science HAS provided definitive answers to the purpose of life and the state of death, and I don't believe there to be any realm of knowledge but what can be attained through the scientific method. Imagine Reason (talk) 21:47, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Thing is,- if a scientist ever tried to talk about anything I just mentioned (or worse) I think he'd be labeled a crackpot. I also believe that if he did have absolute proof of something that terrifying and tried to go public with it,he'd probably "disappear" long before being labeled a crackpot anyways, IMHO. I was just kinda hoping that some anonymously editing scientist (using an untraceable proxy, perhaps?) would have the bravery to say what's really happening!Dr. Carefree (talk) 01:32, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

To prove anything through scientific means including what you mentioned earlier, scientist would have give strong empirical proof that something like that happens or is happening. Without verifiable proof through repeatable experiments, there is no science and hence, no scientist (that's why they are called "crakpots"). Oh, and nobody has "absolute proof" of anything, only "pretty good proof" at best. Sjschen (talk) 02:17, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Can we imagine similar things that would "rock our world" that have been discovered, publicized, etc.? Sure. How about the fact that time and space are relative? That was pretty radical at one point. How about the fact that our brains have bits for religion hardwired into them (and they are the same parts of the brain that flash when epileptics have fits)? Big book money in that research. How about the fact that humans are descended from apes? Sure, it caused one scientist enough fear that he decided not to publish on it for a few decades—but then when it became clear that another scientist was going to make his own name on it, he rushed it into publication for posterity's sake. How about the fact that the splitting of atoms can create fantastic explosions? Yes, one scientist tried to keep others from publishing on the subject lest their common war enemy found out, but he also was more than willing to use that information where he thought it would have done good (and again, even if all of those scientists had stopped publishing completely, it would have gotten out eventually). All I'm saying is, we've had "world changing" research, examples of scientists being afraid or unwilling to publish, etc., and in the end, it all came out. It's also the case that you could remove any of the "top scientists" from history and someone else would eventually fall into place as the "discoverer" of this or that. Science is both dependent on the strivings of individual as well as independent of the work of any given individual. I don't see much possibility for real long-term coverup. Truth will out, as they say. --98.217.8.46 (talk) 04:00, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
The problem with such conspiracy theories is that they depend on governments, commercial organisations or other large groups of people keeping big secrets secret. Experience shows that people are just not that good at keeping secrets. On the other hand, if your conspiracy theory involves telepathic mind control by omnipotent aliens, it becomes much more credible ... Gandalf61 (talk) 09:55, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
The only way to keep a big secret is to limit the number of people who know about it. The CIA was caught completely off guard by the first Indian nuclear test in 1974 in part because they kept the number of staff super small—their top scientists were also their technicians, there were no more than a few dozen people involved directly. By contrast, the massive Manhattan Project, supposedly a well-kept secret, had numerous, numerous leaks, inadvertent releases, etc. not to mention the whole espionage thing; entirely predictable, given that there were thousands upon thousands of people involved. --98.217.8.46 (talk) 16:36, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
I disagree about death without consciousness being unpleasant (the idea of a bodiless floating soul is very discomforting for me), but I think people do realize on some level that science HAS provided the answers to questions about life and death, and that is why religionists seize upon Einstein's comment about science without religion. I also think theists are not wrong when some of them say that evolution is godless. Imagine Reason (talk) 21:43, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Dr. Carefree, you seem to be quite paranoid, perhaps you should read up on dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia (also related to paranoia and psychosis). Of course this theory is proposed by scientists.. the same ones the government are controlling ;-). --Mark PEA (talk) 23:43, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
The original question implicitly suggests that all of scientists are in collusion to prevent access to certain information. While there is a great deal of consensus regarding many facts in science, it is unlikely that anyone could make all scientists everywhere agree about this sort of censorship. Wikipedia's stance is pretty much the same - there is no cabal!. Nimur (talk) 16:31, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

I dont mean to imply that all scientists are in on hiding unpleasant information. What I mean is something along the lines of- Let's say a small group of , or even an individual scientist confirms that nature is indeed out to get us and will eventually get us in the long run. All good is an illusion, we're completely insignificant, we're all the the playtoy of sadistic extraterrestrials, and death is no escape. I highly doubt that any scientist would be allowed to go public with this information. First, he'd be discredited, and if that didn't work, he'd probably be found dead from a "suicide".

As a more practical example, do you think if it was discovered that a nearby star will explode tomorrow, killing us all (Eta Carinae?), there would be a big announcement about it? Supposedly the radiation from that star wont affect us. How about the front page news of a meteor hitting Earth in 30 years or so? Then, all of the sudden, the orbit was recalculated and, don't worry folks, it's gonna miss us. Somewhere, I see those scientists running around thier lab in a zigzag pattern, saying over and over again "Oh my God, oh my God what are we gonna do!!? It's 30 years away, Calm down!"

I'm not sure I'd want to to know the truth about any of this stuff anyways, but an interesting question, -no?Dr. Carefree (talk) 17:06, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

There was a brief scare that 99942 Apophis was (relatively) likely to impact Earth. And they published that almost instantly.
The primary motivation of research science is to publish. It's how you move up in your field and pay the bills. To suggest that a scientist is sitting on the biggest discovery in the world and hiding it, is like saying McDonalds has invented the tastiest hamburger in the world but is refusing to sell it. It doesn't make sense. Calories be damned, McDonalds would rush that burger to market so they could beat Burger King to the punch. Same with science, If researcher X hides information he loses out to researcher Y who publishes. APL (talk) 18:05, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

In the US, at least, many scientists aren't allowed to tell the public the truth because they work for the government or a company which wants the truth suppressed. Scientists working for the FDA aren't allowed to tell the public that a drug is dangerous, because that might reduce the pharmaceutical company profits. Scientists working for NASA aren't allowed to tell the public about proof of global warming because that might call into question the Bush Administration's rejection of the Kyoto Protocol. Scientists working for companies are expected to only publish data helpful to the company. If they discover anything that doesn't increase short-term profits (say that the MTBE gasoline additive contaminates groundwater, or that ethanol production from corn is counter-productive), they are expected to suppress it. StuRat (talk) 23:27, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

Need to see parts of a pig[edit]

Trying to figure out the different parts of pork. Is the Shoulder Roast the same as a Butt Roast? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.139.29.177 (talk) 02:05, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Well shoulder mean the pig's front leg and butt means the back, so, no. Franamax (talk) 02:09, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
[Here's a link to a diagram showing the cuts of pork. -- Flyguy649 talk 04:05, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Is the Shoulder Roast the same as a Butt Roast? Yes, check out the text and diagrams here . Pork#Cuts GameKeeper (talk) 05:20, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Shoulder roast the same as butt roast? Seems like butchers don't know their arse from their elbow ;-) Fribbler (talk) 23:21, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Non-quite-black snake in central Florida?[edit]

Today I fished a little "Black Racer" snake out of our pool; the poor thing was only about a foot long and couldn't lift himself far enough out of the water to climb the 6" tile lip, being all wet and slippery and all. It took me awhile, since he kept trying to get away from me, but I finally won that fight and gently deposited him in the grass where he could go back to eating flies, mosquitoes, fleas, and baby cockroaches like he's sposta. Only, as I was putting him down I realized he had a bright red ring around his neck. WTF? Grass snakes, in my experience, come in various flavors of green and black, but each individual snake is always the same color from nose to tail. Thus, I wonder if this might have been something I shouldn't have released again. I'm familiar with all the snakes up in Appalachia, but I ain't home no more, and I won't claim to be an expert on Florida snakes. I couldn't find anything on Google Images that looked right. The closest I've found is a color photo of a "Ringsnake" in the nonpoisonous section of Maynard Cox's "Protocol" handbook, but that shows a black body, yellow stripe, and red tail, so I don't think that's right. Any ideas? -SandyJax (talk) 02:41, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

I think it is indeed a ringneck snake. There are several subspecies, and the one you saw in the picture doesn't sound like the one you found. However, the top one on this page does look like it: [1]. StuRat (talk) 14:08, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
The top picture on your link looks exactly right, except that if it had a colored belly I didn't notice it, and it was wiggling around quite a bit, both in the pool and on the skimmer I finally used to pick it up. I probably would have seen any change in body color if the belly was different from the black head, body, and tail. Naturally, I had no camera with me when I went out to clean leaves and bugs out of the pool.... -SandyJax (talk) 22:22, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
This link [2] seems to reinforce your suggestion, and says that mine was full-grown. Huh. I guess I just missed whatever bright color was on the belly. I like the quote: "Ringnecks are the snakes that are most frequently found in Florida swimming pools — they crawl in to get a drink and then cannot climb out because they are too small to reach the lip of the pool. If you find one in your pool, lift it out with the leaf skimmer or a dipnet and turn it loose in the shrubs where it can get back to eating things you do not want in your garden." -SandyJax (talk) 22:37, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Not the brightest of animals to climb into a pool before checking to see if there's a way out, are they ? StuRat (talk) 08:27, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
Another comment: Unless you are an absolute expert on snakes I'd stay away from them, as some, especially those with bright colors on them, are poisonous. Or, at the very least, make sure there is somebody with you who can get you medical attention if you're bitten. StuRat (talk) 14:15, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
I respectfully disagree. No, you can't stay away from strange things in your own yard. That just leads to someone less capable of dealing with it getting surprised. I can ask the wife & kid to stay away, and try to keep the dogs inside until I take care of it, and put the cats out in hopes that they will get eaten, but I'm the guy who has to deal with the problem. I can't even ask for help from the neighbors. The 4 nearest houses I see from my front door all have old retired people in them; if there's a problem like this _they_ will come to _me_ for help. As above, I will claim to be an expert on Appalachian snakes, but certainly not everything around here that may have escaped from someone's pet cage. Why d'you think I have a copy of Maynard's "Protocol" handy, and then ask for help when I can't ID a snake? -SandyJax (talk) 22:22, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
I got the impression, though, that you handled an unidentified snake with your bare hands prior to looking it up in the book and posting your question here. That's the dangerous part. You should treat any unidentified snake as if it were poisonous. Using the pool skimmer is a good idea, so it can't bite you. I believe there is also a device sold for larger snakes that has a lasso on the end of a long pole; you can tighten the loop around the snake by pulling the other end (does anyone know the name of this device ?). If you need to transport the snake you then need to deposit it into a thick bag designed for this purpose. I believe it's also far more effective to capture snakes with an assistant, as one can distract it with a long stick while the other maneuvers behind it and drops the loop around it's neck. I certainly hope that if you get a 20 foot alligator in your pool some day you won't try to handle it yourself, as you could give him indigestion that way. :-) StuRat (talk) 08:27, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
Not a problem. If someone asks for help, you are certainly right to include all the safety tips you can think of; any that don't apply will be happily ignored. The surface of a pool is commonly skimmed using a device that looks like a tennis racket; it attaches to a variable-length pole for the central parts that you can't reach from the edge of the pool. Unfortunately, Mr Wiggle-worm wouldn't stay on the skimmer. I ended up using a handy 5' inflatable raft because I don't know what it is yet. It's about a foot long; I grew up with rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, water moccasins, and gar, so I'm not letting it within 2 feet of my dainty little toesies without ensuring I'm in charge. If I'd used my bare hands, I could not have used the adjective 'gently' originally, as holding it behind the neck firmly enough to ensure it could not bite me (hadn't ID'ed it yet, right?) probably would have killed it. 20' alligators are best skimmed with a tool from Smith and Wesson. -SandyJax (talk) 10:14, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
Agreed, although I wouldn't handle a snake with bare hands even if I was certain it's wasn't venomous, as a snake bite could still lead to a nasty infection. StuRat (talk) 10:31, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
Well since you are an expert, it's not an issue but I disagree that you not doing it leaves it to someone less capable to do it. The responsible thing to do when you find a snake in your backyard, particularly when you think it may be venemous is not to leave your kids/wife/neighbour/cats to deal with it, but call up people who are experts are dealing with it. A Google for this [3] came up with [4] which has a link to [5]. I presume in most other parts of the US as well, there there are pest control or wild life removal experts who can similarly remove unwanted snakes (or other creatures) for you, obviously for a fee. Nil Einne (talk) 14:34, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
One other comment: You might want to keep the pool covered when not in use. Aside from the obvious advantages of keeping leaves and snakes out, the more important reason is to keep small children out. A surprisingly large number of children manage to drown themselves each year by falling into an unattended pool, so much so that covering vacant pools is the law in many areas. I don't know how old your kid is, but all those elderly folks nearby might have grandchildren over occasionally who might wander off and fall into your pool. StuRat (talk) 15:50, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

Need Bird Expert[edit]

There are a pair of birds nesting in my yard that look like Eastern Phoebes. Except that the Eastern Phoebe supposedly separate when their babies are still eggs, and though the chicks of the pair in question have hatched long ago and already have feathers, they continue to guard the nest together. Is there some other species that looks like the Eastern Phoebe and has similar range that I could be mixing these birds up with?

(More detailed description of the birds: about the size of sparrows. Grey-brown color all over except for white throat and belly. Black beak. No markings around the eyes, and no distinct wing bars although there are some very very faint markings on wings. Frequently flicks tail. Call is short high chirping sounds. Exactly five chicks in nest. The parents always appear to be within view of the nest, frequently together, and both have been seen flying to nest and back often in quick succession of each other.)

In case my question isn't clear: I am looking either for an explanation as to why this pair didn't separate or help identifying them as a different species than the one I've been suspecting. 96.233.8.220 (talk) 05:48, 1 June 2008 (UTC)Phoebe

Sorry I'm no bird expert. But the black and white pattern on the wings, white chest and dark head is also found in some tits The bird kind. There are just an awful lot of varieties of those and I may be off entirely.--76.111.32.200 (talk) 09:21, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
I too am no bird expert, but I recall from the Boy Scout days of my youth that the eastern wood-peewee can be difficult to distinguish from the phoebe. I was taught this: If the bird continually bobs its tail up and down while perching, it's a phoebe; if it doesn't, it's a wood-peewee. Deor (talk) 11:33, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Here's the WP article on the wood-peewee. Note that it says that both parents raise the chicks. Your description of an all-black beak, tail flicking, and indistinct wing bars would seem to rule it out; but are you sure of your observations? Deor (talk) 11:42, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Assuming that your description of the behavior and appearance of the bird is correct (especially no wing bars and tail flipping), it must be an Eastern Phoebe. While it is true that phoebes tend to be loners, both parents do tend the nest according to this site [6] (and our article Eastern Phoebe). Continue your observations and let us know what happens. Remember that animal behavior can vary quite a bit, and what you read in books or on the Internet is just a summary of the behavior of many individuals.--Eriastrum (talk) 15:46, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Refererencing[edit]

"The CKTFS1B1 protein was shown to interact with YWHAH (or 14-3-3 eta) (4)⁠, a protein which blah blah blah..." - notice where it says (4) after '14-3-3 eta'. 14-3-3 eta is the alias of YWHAH whilst '4' is the reference number. Is it appropriate to leave '4' in brackets or should it be '(or 14-3-3 eta; 4)⁠' as one usually does when one has two sets of brackets adjacent to each other? I'd say that the purpose of the '4' in the second case is not clear. ----Seans Potato Business 11:41, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Generally having consecutive parentheses is awkward. If it were full referencing, your second solution works (14-3-3 eta; Widget et al., 2008). However, I've never seen that with parenthetic numerical referencing. Why not recast is as "... YWHAH, also called 14-3-3 eta (4), a protein..." or move the reference to the end of the sentence? -- Flyguy649 talk 14:13, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
I decided to recast the sentence (I couldn't put the reference at the end of the sentence because there lies another reference and I wanted to make it clear as to which morsel came from where). Thanks. ----Seans Potato Business 19:01, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Why does wintergreen oil dissolve plastic ?[edit]

It doesn't seem like nasty stuff, I can even put my hands in it with no ill effect (although it apparently can be lethal in large doses). So why did it dissolve the plastic case on my walkie-talkie ? StuRat (talk) 13:41, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

  • Wintergreen oil -- Methyl salicylate -- is a (fairly mild) solvent, as are many essential oils. That's why the lemon or orange in various cleaners; they do make a nice smell, but they're also functional. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 14:31, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Would you expect a mild solvent to dissolve plastic ? StuRat (talk) 14:56, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Sure. Depends of course on the plastic. Experiment! Try it on a water bottle (for example) and see what happens. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 15:51, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
"mild solvent" isn't particular meaningful. Different things dissolve in different things. Water is quite a powerful solvent for things like sodium chloride, it doesn't do much at all to dissolve plastic, though. --Tango (talk) 19:57, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
True. So what makes things like methyl salicylate work as solvents? I couldn't find much about it in that regard other than the mention that oils like this dissolve some of the plastic in water bottles and such. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 23:01, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Doesn't it have something to do with the miscibility of similar objects (ie. two non-polar like the oil and plastic or two polar like water and sodium chloride)? --71.117.35.118 (talk) 04:10, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
That may be part of it, but certainly not all polar substances dissolve each other and all non-polar substances don't dissolve each other, either, so something else is clearly going on here. StuRat (talk) 17:11, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
Of course, you have to be careful when you say "plastic", because not all plastics are created equal. Acetone chews straight through polystyrene cups but doesn't do much to HDPE. shoy 13:41, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Wintergreen (aka salicylic acid methyl ester, oil of wintergreen, betula oil, methyl-2-hydroxybenzoate) is more than just oil. I accidentally "etched" a clear plastic clock face, wiping it with lavender oil. Using olive oil would have been harmless to the plastic though it dissolves some label glues. Is the resident chemist able to tell what the property is that dissolves stuff? I mean, etches the surface? Julia Rossi (talk) 08:45, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
Several plant oils will dissolve hard plastics, polystyrene in particular (styrofoam cups, hard clear plastics). If you squeeze a lemon so that the oil from the peel gets on your fingers, and then handle a styrofoam cup, you'll dissolve part of the cup. Basil oil also contains a fairly effective solvent that eats right through a cup. And wintergreen oil also contains a solvent, as you observed. ~Amatulić (talk) 17:39, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

what do zebras and horses have in common?

Genetically speaking? 24.46.50.159 (talk) 14:06, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Probably, as they can interbreed, I think. Donkeys seem even closer to zebras than horses, though, in the stout build and braying sound they make. StuRat (talk) 14:18, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Interesting question. I'm not sure about genetics, but in terms of time, horses and zebras are closer. According to zebra, horses and zebras split off about 4 million years ago, according to hominini, "the [human/chimp] divergence was completed between 5.4 to 6.3 million years ago, after an unusual process of speciation that ranged over four million years." It's not a big difference and time is far from the only thing which affects evolution, but it gives you an idea. StuRat's point that horses and zebras can interbreed is a good one, although I don't know of any attempts to interbreed humans and chimps, so we can't be sure it's impossible! --Tango (talk) 14:27, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm no biologist, but isn't it worth comparing number of generations, instead of number of years? If zebras reproduce much more rapidly than primates, they would have had more generations, even in a shorter time, allowing for greater biological divergence. Our article says zebras may have a foal by age three. This suggests they've easily had far more generations in 4 million years than we primates have in the 6.3 million years since common ancestry. Nimur (talk) 16:38, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
That's a good point, but biological divergence isn't strictly proportional to number of generations, either. The evolutionary pressure on the two populations to change is important. With no pressure to change, two isolated populations may have nothing but minor changes even after millions of generations. And this assumes 100% isolation. If there is any opportunity, however limited, for interbreeding, this could easily counter random mutations in two populations with no evolutionary pressure to differentiate. StuRat (talk) 17:01, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
There have been attempts, none successful. See humanzee. --98.217.8.46 (talk) 16:42, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Although none of these refer to attempts to inseminate a human ovum/female with chimp sperm (at least from a brief search, there were plans but none were carried out). Since these AFAIK sometimes show apparent differences because of the gametes (i.e. unrelated to the problems the differences in the organisms may cause), these would provide a more complete picture, although I think we can say it's rather unlikely Nil Einne (talk) 18:23, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Shuttle SRB exhaust composition[edit]

What is the approximate composition of the exhaust from the APCP Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters? It looks like HCl was a large component of the output in 1991, although I've found a US government patent from around that time giving a method for reducing this. Angus Lepper(T, C, D) 14:15, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Ammonium perchlorate: NH4ClO4 is the both the fuel and the oxidiser here so ammonium is oxidised, and perchlorate is reduced. The products could be NO2, H2O and Cl2, these are probably the main components, but there might be, as you said HCl, maybe ClO, H2(this would be oxidised to water anyway) and probably other nitrogen oxides. (I haven't found a reference for this, I'm just assuming, it is only rocket science :D)--Shniken1 (talk) 04:17, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

Word jumble[edit]

Are dyslexia suferers actually better at solving word jumbles, being used to having to decipher jumbled letters ? Since we seem to lack an article on word jumbles, it's when words are presented with the letters mixed up, and you need to figure out the word, like CUKIQ for QUICK. StuRat (talk) 14:30, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

  • An anagram typically has meaning in the unscrambled form, unlike a word jumble. The Wikipedia article is apparently just called Jumble, which is confusing, as many things other than words can be jumbled. I will add a redirect from Word Jumble to Jumble. StuRat (talk) 15:05, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
I remember reading two different studies, one a couple years ago and another at least 15 years ago, that found a strong correlation between children who were taught phonics as a primary tool for spelling and children's ability to solve jumbles. Both assumed that the children don't attempt to rearrange random letters. They group the letters into phonics and rearrange those. -- kainaw 19:12, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

what is water resistance[edit]

give some examples —Preceding unsigned comment added by 92.0.151.133 (talk) 19:22, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Well, it's resistance caused by water. Anything moving through water will experience it, so I'm sure you can think of some examples. --Tango (talk) 19:52, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Wouldn't be a homework question would it? SpinningSpark 20:38, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Viscosity or Waterproofing? Julia Rossi (talk) 08:48, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
Water resistance = Kids hating to jump into the pool for swimming class the first thing in the morning, based primarily on the school being too cheap to keep the water any warmer than necessary (which they define as "just warm enough so the water is in a liquid state"). :-) StuRat (talk) 02:49, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Pholidota[edit]

What is the ethymological origin of the name of this taxon? Thanks. Leptictidium (mt) 20:43, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

According to the OED, it's from the Greek pholidotos, 'covered with scales'. Algebraist 20:51, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

What are the most distantly-related animals that have successfully been interbred?[edit]

Question as topic. I've read stories of cat/rabbit hybrids but (AFAIK) they were all either hoaxes or deformed kittens. --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 22:30, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

African elephant and Indian Elephant have hybridised, which is very surprising because the have different genera. See [7] & Motty. GameKeeper (talk) 22:59, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

There has been at least one hybrid between the Galah and the Cockatiel bred in aviary conditions. This is also an intergeneric hybrid - though as I understand it, the genetic relationship between cockatoo species is still very poorly understood and many of the placings within certain genera are hotly disputed. This may just be one of those "they were more closely related than we realized" cases. --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 23:54, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

In a discussion not long ago on this desk, it was said that different genera of macaw can interbreed ([8]). Anyone know of animals from different families that can interbreed? --Tango (talk) 23:40, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
To answer my own question, according to Hybrid (biology): "Extremely rare interfamilial hybrids have been known to occur (such as the guineafowl hybrids)". I haven't found any more information about them, but it seems they do exist. --Tango (talk) 00:04, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
Ok, Wikipedia really does have an article on everything: Gamebird hybrids. It doesn't contain much more information, though. --Tango (talk) 00:11, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm a little surprised no one joked about crossing beavers with ducks! --Wirbelwindヴィルヴェルヴィント (talk) 02:25, 2 June 2008 (UTC)


Lions and tigers interbred produce Ligers or Tigons, dependeng on the gender of the mom and pop. Edison (talk) 00:35, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

snakes in mt holly nc[edit]

we just found a black and white snake in our yard and we are not sure what kind it is. it has the look of a king snake but i'm not positive. what snakes are found in the area mt holly nc —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.33.243.17 (talk) 23:14, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Here's a nice web site with photos of snakes of North Carolina [9]. And here's a website on how to identify snakes in North Carolina [10]--Eriastrum (talk) 23:29, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Feline Behaviour[edit]

Whenever my cat rubs the side of his face along my palm or around my leg, what is he telling me? Is he saying I'm marking you as my territory, or is he saying I trust you, or is he just saying that he's content being around me? He doesn't seem afraid when he does it but I don't know what it means. Althought it usually happens when he's hungry :P --Hadseys 23:35, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

When cats rub against you, they're marking you with their scent (secreted by glands, some of them on the face), so yes they are marking you as their territory. Other times, he is just showing affection, or wants attention. --DrVornado (talk) 00:13, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

SO its the kitty equivalent of ass-licking, sometimes? --Hadseys 01:02, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

Or the equivalent of a dog urinating on your hand... SGGH speak! 14:45, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
Cats have no trouble communicating 2 different things at the same time. Just ask our tom who after we got back from a trip purred his head off while hissing intermittently, telling us he was miffed we left him alone (with a sitter) and was happy we were back. Young wild cats rub their cheeks against their mother's head to make her drop prey she brings home. So to answer your original question, probably all of the above. She's marking you as a member of her social group (sharing scent marks), acknowledges that you are the one with the can opener providing food and is making sure no one is going to lay claim to the food you'll drop in her bowl. There are no clear distinctions between social, sexual or territorial behavior as some would like to draw. (That doesn't even work for humans.) There's some debate as to whether saying an animal is happy is anthropomorphism. Cats that are secure in their social position and territory certainly seem to just enjoy hanging out, although they do get off on being petted at times. (Don't tell auntie she'd be scandalized!) We are not that far apart, though, because most people will answer a cat's advances when it rubs against their leg with petting it, asserting they are part of kitty's social group. (And isn't it nice we have other terms like "happiness" and "enjoyment" for human feelings when petting the cat.) ^ω^76.111.32.200 (talk) 15:15, 2 June 2008 (UTC)