Think About It Thursday: How do Cats Always Land on their Feet?

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Since today is #NationalCatDay, lets take a look at the science behind cats always landing on their feet!

More often then not cats will actually land on their feet after some gravity defying stunts. BUT there are times where they don’t always nail the landing. A cat’s innate ability to reorient its body during a fall is called the righting reflex. This reflex is observable in kittens as young as 3 weeks old and by 7 weeks, the righting reflex is fully developed.

The righting reflex is made possible because cats have a highly-tuned sense of balance and a very flexible backbone, which allows them to twist their bodies around to right themselves when they fall. Cats have something called a vestibular apparatus located in their inner ear that acts as a balance system to allow them to determine up from down when falling. Light bone structure and thick fur also help aid them in softening their landings. Some cats will “flatten” out their bodies in order to decrease terminal velocity and create more resistance to air to make them fall more slowly. A BBC article from earlier this year explains that cats don’t weigh much in comparison to their surface area, which means that they reach terminal velocity at slower speeds than a human would. A typical cat might hit terminal velocity at 60 mph, while an adult human would fall about twice as quickly.

This terminal velocity slows a cat down enough to give it the time it needs to twist their spine to reorient itself and land right side up!

, via Wikimedia Commons”] 

Think About It Thursday: Can Spicy Food Really Give You Nightmares?

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Recently, after experiencing some restless nights and some nightmarish dreams, I wondered…Did the spicy jalapenos and salsa I put on my food cause these intensely vivid dreams?

 Dr. Charles Bae, MD, a sleep medicine doctor at Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic explains that really “eating anything too close to bedtime can trigger more dreams, because the late night snacks increase the body’s metabolism and temperature. Heightened metabolism and temperature can lead to more brain activity, prompting more action during rapid eye movement sleep, or REM.”

Maybe the active ingredient in spicy foods, capsaicin, is to blame? Not only is the human tongue the strongest muscle in the human body relative to its size, but it is also home to the millions of microscopic receptors that make our sense of taste possible. Your tongue contains thousands of pain receptors, called VR1 receptors. When the receptors are activated by capsaicin, the sensation we experience is indelibly linked to the perception of temperature, to the feeling of eating something near the boiling point of water.  What ensues is a burning sensation, signaled by the brain, however no physical harm is done.

“It is … possible that spicy foods—or other foods such as dairy or greasy fast foods—at least occasionally induce nightmares or other bizarre dreams. It might be that some people are sensitive to the chemical composition of certain foods,” writes Tore Nielsen, director of the dream and nightmare laboratory at Sacré-Coeur Hospital in Montreal, Canada.

What do you think? Are spicy foods to blame for your intensely strange dreams?!


Think About It Thursday: What Does Thunder Look Like?

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This weeks Think About It Thursday we will discover what thunder, not lightning, actually looks like!! 

In a recent article published by USA Today, scientists reveal that they have actually “seen” thunder. “We all know what lightning looks like, and all hear the thunder that comes out from the lightning strike,” said Maher Dayeh, a research scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. These first images of thunder allow us to see what we hear, he said. “While we understand the general mechanics of thunder generation, it’s not particularly clear which physical processes of the lightning discharge contribute to the thunder we hear,”  Dayeh said.

Since thunder and lightning are unpredictable, Dayeh and his team artificially triggered lightning strikes at an outdoor laboratory in central Florida last summer. Scientists fired off a small rocket into the thunderclouds. Like fish biting a baited hook, lightning was attracted to a copper wire attached to the rocket.

Dayeh put out a sophisticated array of 15 microphones to study the thunder. The microphones were lined up 103 yards from the rocket launch pad where the triggered lightning hit.

It turned out that the loudest thunder was near the ground, not up in the clouds. “That’s where the lightning channel is attaching into the ground,” Dayeh said.

To check out the rocket experiment watch this video below:


Think About It Thursday: What Actually Happens When You “Crack” Your Knuckles?


I’m sure we all have that one friend or family member that likes to “crack” his knuckles. But have you ever given thought to what is actually happening in their hands to make that “cracking” sound? Let’s find out!

According to, “In the 1970s, most experts thought it had to do with the collapse of air bubbles in the synovial fluid that lubricates joints.” But apparently there has been new evidence found today that the exact opposite is happening. The sound is is actually caused by the formation of a gas-filled cavity when the bones in joints stretch apart. The cavity or “bubble” of gas forms and then collapses. That is what makes the “popping” sound.

Check out the latest MRI taken of a man who cracks his knuckles!

Think About It Thursday: How Do Allergies Work?

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“Ah-choo!” It is said that approximately 50 million people in the United States suffer from some form of nasal allergy every year. Usually when outdoor molds release their spores, and trees, grasses, and weeds release tiny pollen particles into the air to fertilize other plants. So how exactly do allergies actually work?

Your body’s immune system is able to identify and destroy many foreign invaders. Allergies are the result of a hypersensitive immune system. The allergic immune system misidentifies an otherwise inoffensive substance as harmful, and then attacks the substance with ferocity.

In an attempt to protect the body, the immune system starts a chain reaction that prompts some of the body’s cells to release histamine and other chemicals into the bloodstream. The histamine then causes a person’s eyes, nose, throat, lungs, skin, or gastrointestinal tract to react, causing allergy symptoms. Antihistamine medications are suppose these help to fight symptoms caused by the release of histamine during an allergic reaction. There is no real cure for seasonal allergies, but it is possible to relieve symptoms. Start by reducing or eliminating exposure to allergens. During allergy season, keep windows closed, use air conditioning if possible, and stay indoors when pollen counts are high.


Think About It Thursday: How Strong is An Egg?

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Though it seems fragile, an eggshell is actually really strong because its dome shape. If you have seen the way eggs are sold in the market, you would have noticed that they are kept with their ends pointing up and are never left lying horizontally. Hens, too, incubate their eggs the same way, with the narrower end pointing upwards. What the dome shape of the egg essentially does is that it distributes the weight and the pressure applied on the top evenly to the entire structure, making it one tough nut to crack. Put pressure on the middle part of the egg and it will crack right open.

Check out this experiment done by Imagination Station when a 30lbs cement block is held up by …eggs!

Think About It Thursday: How Do Potholes Form?

Potholes are holes in the roadway that vary in size and shape. They are caused by the expansion and contraction of ground water after the water has entered into the ground under the pavement. . If it has a chance to freeze, it will take up more space under the pavement, and the pavement will expand, bend, and crack, which weakens the pavement. Then when ice melts, the pavement contracts and leaves gaps in the surface under the pavement, where water can get in and be trapped. If the water freezes and thaws over and over, the pavement will weaken and continue cracking.

As the weight of cars and trucks pass over the weak spot in the road, pieces of the roadway material weaken, which will cause the material to be displaced or broken down from the weight, creating the pothole.

Why are potholes such a nuisance? A pothole can do a number of bad things to the wheels and tires on your car! This can be costly to fix or replace! So beware during the Spring time months for forming potholes along your drives!




Think About it Thursday: Are Yawns Really Contagious?

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Most of our lives we have thought that a yawn was a sign that we are either tired or bored. However, just recently there has been new studydone on the topic and researchers have found that sleepiness and boredom are not the cause of our yawns!

Yawning—a stretching of the jaw, gaping of the mouth and long deep inhalation, followed by a shallow exhalation—may serve as a thermoregulatory mechanism, says Andrew Gallup, a psychology professor at SUNY College at Oneonta. In a 2007 study, Gallup found that holding hot or cold packs to the forehead influenced how often people yawned when they saw videos of others doing it. When participants held a warm pack to their forehead, they yawned 41 percent of the time. When they held a cold pack, the incidence of yawning dropped to 9 percent.

“Before we fall asleep, our brain and body temperatures are at their highest point during the course of our circadian rhythm,” Gallup says. As we fall asleep, these temperatures steadily decline, aided in part by yawning. But, he added, “Once we wake up, our brain and body temperatures are rising more rapidly than at any other point during the day.”

So now we know WHY we yawn, but why are yawns so contagious?! Well we know that much of yawning is due to suggestibility — it’s infectious. Contagious yawning gets at the subconscious roots of empathy and social bonding according to new studies done in the field of psychology. You don’t need to actually see a person yawn to involuntarily yawn yourself; hearing someone yawn or even reading about yawning can cause the same reaction. Chances are you’ll most likely yawn at least once while reading this Think About It Thursday post!

 If you’d like to test your susceptibility to contagious yawning, watch this “Yawn-O-Meter” video. How long did you last before yawning?

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Think About It Thursday: Are Firenado’s Real?


A ‘firenado’ or fire whirl is a whirlwind induced by a fire. Fire whirls may occur when intense rising heat and turbulent wind conditions combine to form whirling eddies of air. These eddies can contract into a tornado-like structure that sucks in burning debris and combustible gases. Combustible, carbon-rich gases released by burning vegetation on the ground are fuel for most fire whirls.

Real-world fire whirls usually move fairly slowly. They can set objects in their paths ablaze and can hurl burning debris out into their surroundings. The winds generated by a fire whirl can also be dangerous. Large fire whirls can create wind speeds of more than 100 mph- strong enough to knock down trees. They can also last for an up to an hour or more, and they cannot be extinguished directly.

Check out this video of a “firenado” in Australia shot by Chris Tangey  in 2012


Think About it Thursday: Why Does Your Voice Sound Different When Recorded?


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Have you ever had someone video tape you and then went to watch said video and wondered is that  ACTUALLY  how my voice sounds? I think we have all had that same thought and hoped that it wasn’t true! Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it is exactly how your voice sounds to other people. Here’s why!

While you are speaking, there are vibrations in your skull that are set off by your vocal cords. These vibrations travel to your ear drums and send them vibrating. The virbations as they travel to your eardrums spread out inside your skull and  tend to lower in pitch. This lowering in pitch gives you a false sense of bass, which makes you think that your voice is actually deeper than it really is. When you listen to the recording of your voice sounds a lot higher in pitch. And usually the higher tone makes many people cringe! But don’t worry, it happens to everyone!

Check out this video by  Head Squeeze for more info on this topic!