They say a good scientist requires curiosity, first and foremost. When we are not hard at work, Altascientists (as we like to call ourselves) spend a lot of time questioning things that make you go hmm.
Here are a few examples…
Why do our fingers, palms, toes and soles wrinkle when we get wet?
Though we’re still not entirely sure, laboratory tests conducted in 2011 suggest wrinkly fingers improve our grip on wet objects. We also know the wrinkling is caused by a shrinkage of our blood vessels, an involuntary reaction by our nervous system, and not a result of water passing through our skin. Both these findings are consistent with the theory that wrinkly hands and feet are an evolutionary function that helped our ancestors gather foot, and keep their balance in wet conditions.[i]
Fun Fact: Macaque monkeys are the only other animal who share this phenomenon with us.
Why do some humans like sweet things?
Long before grocery stores and Uber Eats, humans had to source their own food, and sweetness was a sign that the fruit you foraged was safe to eat. In fact, scientists have yet to discover a sweet fruit that is also poisonous. Over time, our brains developed a reward pathway that made eating sweet foods pleasurable.[ii]
Why Do SOme people have curly hair?
We know hair texture is a genetic trait, but did you know that what you’re actually inheriting is the shape of your hair follicles? Symmetrical, round follicles produce straight hair, oval follicles produce wavy hair, and flat follicles produce curly hair. [iii]
Fun Fact: Curly hair is considered a dominant gene trait. Meaning if one parent has curly hair, and another has straight, you’re more likely to be born with curly hair!
Why does water make a grease fire worse?
We know that oil and water do not mix. But why does even a small amount of water have the potential to turn a grease fire into a full-blown explosion? It has to do with the boiling point and density of water. Since water is denser, and therefore heavier than oil, when poured over a grease fire, it sinks below the oil; and since water has a lower boiling point, it vaporizes into steam immediately, blowing the oil out from under, causing the oil to break out into tiny droplets.[iv]
Quick Tip: In the event of a grease fire, the best thing to do is turn off the heat and cover your pot with a lid to cut off the oxygen.
How Much Does a Cloud weigh?
If you had childhood dreams of floating on a weightless cloud, you’re not alone. However, despite their light and fluffy appearance, clouds are actually extremely heavy. According to scientists, the average 1-cubic-kilometer (km3) cloud contains 500,000,000 grams of water droplets, weighing in at a hefty 1.1 million pounds!
Fun Fact: The reason they are able to float so high is because they have a lesser density than dryer and more dense air below.[v]
So, does curiosity really kill the cat? As Altascientists, we think not!