Why are men hairy and women peachy?

Are your kids, your grandkids or your friends’ kids at that age where questions about life, the world and the universe come tumbling out at every opportunity (usually in the car when you’re concentrating hard on some horrible bit of English highway…)

Well here are some from ours that we’ve been compelled to answer – and didn’t know the answer ourselves..(shocking…should have listened more to that psychotic science teacher I had at school).

Here’s a classic from our 5 year old:

Why are men so hairy and women so peachy?

Where do kids find their words from? ‘Peachy’…brilliant…

Ok…well, all mammals have hair. Humans have the least hair amongst primates, presumably because they left the trees and then the cave for the semidetached with central heating – or something close to that. It’s thought that men still have more hair than women due to the higher levels of testosterone that they have.

Of course it also makes them more cuddly, which is a bit of evolutionary genius really. Andmaybe, hormones have something to do with why women are ‘peachy’ – perhaps it’s the oestrogen? Anyone else have any idea?!

How many stars are there and what is a galaxy?

(Gosh..more science…) Obvious and easy answer – about as many dollars as there in the US national debt. Hmmm, in truth – this is a more difficult question with no certain answer. A bit like – what came before the big bang? What’s the god particle etc?

Let’s give it a go:…stars are gathered into huge groups called galaxies. The sun and our earth are in a galaxy called the Milky Way:

Astronomers think there are 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way alone. There are thousand and millions of other galaxies in space too. So, perhaps there could be as many as a trillion (1012  1,000,000,000,000  ) and perhaps that many other galaxies, so there would be a trillion times a trillion…and er, things get silly then. To help give an idea of the number, here’s a list of the numbers after a trillion (and the list didn’t even go up to a trillion multiplied by a trillion…which means…

million: six zeroes: 1 000 000
billion: nine zeroes: 1 000 000 000
trillion: twelve zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000
quadrillion: fifteen zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000
quintillion: eighteen zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000
sextillion: twenty-one zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
septillion: twenty-four zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
octillion: twenty-seven zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
novillion: thirty zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
decillion: thirty-three zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
undecillion: thirty-six zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
duodecillion: thirty-nine zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
tredecillion: forty-two zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
quattuordecillion: forty-five zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
quindecillion: forty-eight zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
sexdecillion: fifty-one zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
septendecillion: fifty-four zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
octodecillion: fifty-seven zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
novemdecillion: sixty zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
vigintillion: sixty-three zeroes: 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000

Need something easier to show the kids – if you have an iphone, these apps are ace. (Maybe android users could let us know if these are available on other smartphones?)

Distant Suns 3D
Solar Walk 3D

 

 

 

 

What’s the difference between mist and fog?

Back down to earth…Well – It’s all down to visibility. If you can see less than a kilometre it’s fog, if more than that then it’s mist! That’s it!!

 

 

Why does Guernsey have such a large tidal range?

Courtesy Dave Clapp – click on images to see more!

Some background first: the average tidal range in an open ocean is about 2 feet. Closer to a coast it can get much bigger. The smallest tidal range can be found in the Mediterranean, Baltic and Caribbean seas, while the largest ranges (38 feet) are found in Eastern Canada. The exact tidal range depends on the amount of water near the coast in question and the geography of the basin that the water sits in.

Larger amounts of water have higher tidal ranges and the geography of the area can act as a funnel, amplifying or dispersing the tide. So, Guernsey sits in a fairly large body of water, but crucially –  the water must be funnelled through the relatively narrow English Channel, thereby amplifying the tides on the island. Just for interest, here are some tidal definitions for you;

  • Amphidromic Point – a point within a tidal system where the tidal range is almost zero.
  • Micromareal – when the tidal range is lower than 2 metres.
  • Mesomareal – when the tidal range is between 2 meters and 4 metres.
  • Macromareal – when the tidal range is higher than 4 metres.

Why is the sky blue?
Sunlight is made up of all colours of the spectrum. The atmosphere is made up of gas molecules. The sunlight must travel through the atmosphere to reach our eyes. The gas molecules scatter the high- energy/high frequency blue portion of the sunlight more than they scatter the low-energy/low frequency red portion of the sunlight – this is called Rayleigh scattering after the physicist Lord John Rayleigh. So, the sun appears yellowish and the sky surrounding the sun is coloured by the scattered blue waves while it’s high up in the sky. When the sun is going down or coming up, the light must travel through a thicker atmosphere than when its overhead. This means that even more light is scattered: blue, green, yellow and orange before the light reaches your eyes. This makes the sun look much redder and the sky less blue at sunset and sunrise.

Nice one! If you’ve had any questions of your own from kids let us know and we’ll post them up.

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