Tag Archives: Science

Why is CO2 added to carbonated water/soda and not other gasses? Why not add just air?

Originally beverages were carbonated via fermentation, which produces CO2 as the yeast. Some beverages still are done this way, such as beer. CO2 is still used because it’s cheap and adds the acidic flavour. Some of the CO2 in the drink forms carbonic acid.

Air couldn’t be used because it contains oxygen, which will allow for the beverage to spoil. Other gases can be used though. Guinness beer for example uses a mix of CO2 and nitrogen, giving it a more foamy head.

In general, for a gas to be used for “carbonation”, it would need to:

* not cause the food to spoil (which is pretty much just oxygen)

* not cause some sort of undesirable chemical reaction with the beverage. CO2 will make some carbonic acid which is fine, but others may make more of worse chemicals.

* not have any negative odour or taste. You wouldn’t want sulfur based gases that smell like rotten eggs.

* they would obviously need to readily dissolve in water. Helium for example would probably work fine, if you could actually get it to dissolve as well as CO2.

* not be flammable would be nice too, as even if methane (aka natural gas) or hydrogen could work, they would also be a little dangerous. 

* Also in the extreme, you wouldn’t want it being poisonous. We add a little chlorine to water to kill bacteria, but you wouldn’t want a rupture of chlorine coming out of a beverage or it will kill you. Lots of other toxic gases you wouldn’t want in there.

* Again in the extreme end, you wouldn’t want the gas to be a environmental issue. Something like SF6 may very well work, but you wouldn’t exactly want a lot of that getting into the atmosphere.

A lot of gases wouldn’t work for one of these reasons or another. I’m sure there’s some other gas out there other than CO2 and to a lesser extent N2, they however most likely wouldn’t be as cheap and easy.

How can a piece of paper folded 103 times be larger than the observable universe?

Exponential growth. Each fold doubles the thickness of the paper. If someone gave you 1 penny today, and promised to give you twice as much money tomorrow, and twice as much the day after, and so on and so on, on day 30 they would have given you over $5 million.

You can do the math on this. Open the calculator on your computer, and type in 0.0039 (the thickness of a piece of paper).  Press the Times button, and then the number 2, and press enter. Now press enter 102 more times. By the mid-50’s your calculator will actually reach a point where it has to start using exponents, and by 60 you’ll have surpassed the what the calculator is capable of.

Why do voices sound high pitched when sped up?

When you talk, there are “strings” (not actual strings, more like folds) in your neck called vocal cords that make the talking sound. The faster they move (or vibrate), the higher the sound they make. Children’s voices sound higher than adult voices because children’s vocal cords aren’t as big, so they’re able to vibrate faster and make a higher pitched sound.

The same thing happens if you take that sound and play it even faster. You’re artificially making the vibrations of the sound move faster so it sounds higher pitched.

This is true of any sound, not just voices.

You do the same thing when you take a recording and run it faster. You increase the frequency of the audiowave pattern, so the pitch gets shifted up.

So the “Explain it like I’m 18 and just haven’t taken physics for some reason” answer is that in audio, pitch = frequency, and frequency = wavespeed / wavelength. If you speed up the wavespeed without changing the wavelength, you get a higher frequency, which equals higher pitch.

Why does nail polish stay liquid in the bottle but quickly dries once applied to nails?

Nail polish is a pigment – the color – dissolved or suspended in a liquid – the solvent. It dries out when the solvent evaporates leaving the pigment behind.

When it’s in the bottle there’s not much of a surface for the solvent to evaporate from, because most of it is well under the surface. And if some does try to evaporate, it’s stopped by pressure building up from other solvent that already evaporated into the closed bottle, pushing down on it.

When you put it on your nail, there’s a thin film of liquid + pigment and it’s all exposed closely to the air, with nothing to stop it from evaporating, so the solvent does evaporate quickly leaving the pigment behind, and it’s dry.

Why does rain fall in a constant downfall instead of one giant burst dropping the water?

Water vapor is suspended in the air. Warm air can hold more water in it than cool air, so as the air cools it allows water to condense into small droplets of water which manifest as a thin mist or cloud. Water in vapor form is transparent and invisible to the naked eye.

Obviously once those tiny droplets start to collect together they cannot stay airborne for the time it would take a huge cloud to get all the water together to form one big droplet, so once they reach a critical size they fall. Also remember that cooler air can hold less water in it, not no water, and it takes time for the air to change temperature. So as the temperature falls the water gradually condenses out of the air and falls over a period of time rather than all at once.

How did E = mc² become a famous equation?

What is important to consider is that E = mc² is the culmination of decades of painstaking scientific research by many brilliant scientists. In the end it lead to the theories of Special and General Relativity: arguably the most profound development in our understanding of the universe of all time.

E = mc² is one of the conclusions Einstein was able to draw, after years of hard work and number crunching for conclusive, airtight proof of all of their findings. It is, in fact, an extremely condensed equation and a mathematical explanation of why this equation is true and the mass-energy equivalence is indeed what it is, would require many pages to explain.

Since us mere mortals couldn’t begin to understand all the theories and mathematics behind it all, E = mc² became General Relativity’s catchphrase as it were. Great marketing, really.

Why do electronic devices which have gotten wet, stop working even when they are completely dry?

Water conducts electricity, so if a device gets wet, it can short out and destroy some components.  It’s like wiring every component to every other component.  Bad news: Only one component in an important pathway has to die for the device to stop working.

In addition to the damage being done on contact (i.e. creating short circuits leading to immediate or near-immediate failure); tap water and rain/flood water contain a lot of impurities. The evaporated water leaves these behind which may create a delayed onset of corrosion, which can cause poor contact between components and connectors.

Distilled water is actually safe for most printed circuit boards (at least those with sealed components) as long as it is applied and completely dried before power is given to the device.

What is the difference between ketchup and tomato sauce?

Ketchup usually contains additional ingredients such as sugar, vinegar, seasonings (salt, garlic, pepper, cloves, etc.)

Although tomato sauce can have more ingredients, at its most basic form it is simply tomatoes cooked down with a bit of lemon juice, vinegar or salt.

Both forms require a long cooking time to reduce the tomato to a soft sauce-like form.

Ketchup is only ever ketchup: that sugary vinegary tomatoey red goop they sell in bottles at the store.

Tomato sauce could be used to describe a whole range of tomato based sauces.

Ketchup is a sauce made of tomatoes, so it is a tomato sauce, but there are other tomato sauces that are not ketchup.

What does it take to convert matter into energy, and would it cause an explosion?

The only currently known way to completely transform mass into energy is by annihiliting matter and anti-matter. This is very difficult to do, because (at least in our known surroundings) there is no anti-matter. It would be theoretically possible for entire different galaxies to be made of anti-matter, but many scientists argue that the likelihood for this is too small to be considered, we know for sure that our galaxy is pretty much just “normal” matter.

Anti-matter is present on the earth, it gets created by photons from the sun hitting the upper athmosphere, however that anti-matter instantly reacts with the surrouding air to nothing, and it is unlikely that we will ever be able to “farm” it.

We are able to create anti-matter in accelerators such as CERN, but it would take literally trillions of years to produce even a single gram of it, so not really an option, either.

It would defenetly create an explosion, because the energy density at whatever spot would be too high, however it is possible, as with any other explosion, to stop this from happening by simply finding a way to get the energy away from that location and spread out quickly enough. It is unlikely that we will ever find such a method that would work for anti-matter.

How does deodorant work, and why it stops working after a few hours?

Deodorant kills the bacteria that grow in the armpits so they don’t make the smell we associate with body odor, and usually also smells nice.

Antiperspirant, on the other hand, blocks the sweat glands so that they don’t extrude the sweat that the bacteria feed on to make body odor.

In both cases, they stop working when the active chemical isn’t present in a high enough concentration to keep working.