Sci­ence Stumpers

GW gives you the low­down on some of the world’s most mind-bog­gling mys­ter­ies!

Girls' World - - October Contents -

WHY CAN’T ASTRO­NAUTS BREATHE IN SPACE? — Jane, 10, FL

On Earth, hu­mans live in the tro­po­sphere where the air is thick and breath­able. But air gets thin­ner and thin­ner the higher up you go, and by the time astro­nauts break through the at­mos­phere and reach space, the air be­comes so thin that they aren’t able to breathe. But thank­fully, sci­en­tists and engi­neers have fig­ured out a way for astro­nauts to “breathe” in space: Wa­ter is brought up to the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion and then split into oxy­gen and hy­dro­gen. The oxy­gen from the wa­ter is then vented into the space cabin for astro­nauts to breathe in, while the un­breath­able hy­dro­gen is vented out!

IS SUGAR RE­ALLY SO BAD FOR MY TEETH? — Gwenny, 8, AZ

You’ve prob­a­bly been warned that eat­ing sug­ary sweets will “rot your teeth,” but it turns out that sugar it­self isn’t the real cul­prit be­hind tooth de­cay. Cav­i­ties are formed when bac­te­ria in the mouth digest de­bris left on your teeth af­ter you eat. Such de­bris might come from sugar-filled snacks like cook­ies and candy, but they can also come from healthy foods like whole grains, veg­eta­bles and fruits. If you don’t brush your teeth af­ter eat­ing, bac­te­ria in your mouth will pro­duce an acid that com­bines the de­bris with saliva to form plaque. It’s ac­tu­ally this plaque — not sugar — that rots your teeth. So as long as you brush your teeth af­ter eat­ing a sug­ary treat, your teeth should stay healthy!

HOW COME SOME PEO­PLE SNORT WHEN THEY LAUGH? — Bibi, 11, NC

Laugh-snort­ing oc­curs when air is ex­haled through the nose in­stead of through the mouth. It’s kind of like snor­ing: When air is re­stricted in your nose or your throat, it cre­ates some­thing called “air­flow tur­bu­lence.” As air quickly moves in or out, it causes vi­bra­tions in the sur­round­ing tis­sues that re­sult in the snort­ing sound! Open­ing your mouth when­ever you laugh is one way to re­di­rect the air and pre­vent snort­ing, but con­sciously chang­ing a laugh is harder than it might seem. So re­mem­ber: Peo­ple who snort when they laugh prob­a­bly can’t help it — and they don’t need to!

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