Scientific answers to your kids most bizarre questions

December 2nd, 2007 - 4:50 pm ICT by admin  

London, Dec 2 (ANI): How many hairs do I have on my head? Why do we have eyebrows? Why is the sky blue? Why do my toes go wrinkly in the bath? Ever wondered the best way to answer such random, awkward backseat questions from your kids?

Well, stumped by his young sons bizarre inquisitiveness, Wendell Jamieson decided to deal with the problem by putting the most common queries to academic experts on a range of subjects, from mammalian evolution and medicine to ancient history and meteorology.

He then compiled the most fascinating and undoubtedly the most hilarious questions and their answers in a new book, Father Knows Less.

Two of the common bouncers asked by kids are How many hairs do I have on my head? and Why is the sky blue.

According to experts, the average adult has about 100,000 hairs or follicles - and children have the same amount. Redheads have fewer because their individual strands are thicker.

As for the sky, it is blue due to the air molecules in the atmosphere. Longer wavelengths for the most part travel straight through air molecules, while shorter ones are more scattered by them. So when the blue wavelengths hit the air molecules, they are scattered all over the sky - and that’s why the sky appears blue.

Another interesting backseat question is why do your hands and feet go wrinkly in the bath, but not the rest of you?

Scientists say that the outer layer of your skin, the epidermis, produces an oily substance called sebum that keeps water off our skins, but after a long period underwater, the sebum is washed off and the skin starts to absorb water, causing epidermis to expand and therefore have a greater surface area. Being attached to the tissue below, it wrinkles to compensate for the greater surface area.

Kids also often ask thoughtful questions like why do people “fall” in love?
Experts believe that the cupid strikes due to the chemicals released in our brain when we are drawn to someone. One of these, phenylethylamine, makes us feel very excited, and everything seems wonderful.

In the next stage of love, a hormone called oxytocin is released. This plays an important role throughout our lives: it is a “cuddle hormone” and acts as a kind of infatuation chemical. Childbirth and the noise of a baby crying also make it flow.

Kids also question history by asking why did ancient Egyptians build pyramids? Why not giant rectangles or some other shape?

Egyptologists say that in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis (the centre of the sun cult in Egypt) there was a monument called a benben stone. It could be that this sacred stone had the shape of a pyramid, and that the people who built the pyramids were trying to rebuild that, because the top piece of a pyramid is called a benben.

Enquiring about their own evolution and development, kids also ask do unborn babies know they’re in there?

Experts reckon that the foetus it not aware of being inside the womb. The say that as the foetus is growing, the frontal lobe of our brain, which gives us emotion and self-recognition, develops very slowly.

The most common question from kids at traffic signals is why does red mean stop?

According to experts, the 19th-century Scottish engineer Robert Stevenson, who was active in designing early lighthouses, looked for an alternative colour to white. Of the light sources and coloured glasses available at the time, he found that red was a particularly intense light, meaning it could be seen from the greatest distance.

So in maritime signalling, red became an alternative to white, and was later adopted by trains and cars to signal stop.

Another stumbling query from your kids could be why do we have eyebrows?

Scientists suggest that eyebrows are important for forming facial expressions that are more easily recognised by other individuals in one’s social group. They also serve the practical purpose of stopping sweat and rain running down your forehead into your eyes. (ANI)

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