Common Questions that you may not Know the Answer to.


Zofia Patel and Prerna Gopinath

       There are many questions in life that seem simple but we probably don’t know the answer to. Things we think we should know or things that seem simple enough like: What are marshmallows made of? Do carrots actually help your eyes? (spoiler alert the answer is no and the story behind it is quite interesting ). In this article we will answer a few of these questions about things you may have considered.


Why doesn’t sugar spoil or get moldy?

The odds are that you know what sugar is, that sweet powder that people put in everything. Well, have you ever wondered why it doesn’t mold or ever seem to spoil? People seem to have the same tin of sugar in their pantries for years and it never grows past use. You would assume that it would mold or spoil because virtually every living thing eats sugar. The reason sugar doesn’t mold is because it actually has an extremely low moisture content. The reason this affects the way sugar molds is because molding bacteria needs moisture to grow and because it doesn’t have the moisture to grow, it can’t grow. 


Why do ants tend to congregate on sidewalks?

Ants are pretty smart creatures, they know that people are going to drop food and trash on commonly used but, usually forgotten places like sidewalks. Ants can easily live on sidewalks with some added bonuses. Ants like hard surfaces and heat. Sidewalks provide both of those as they are of course, hard and they store heat. There is even a certain species of ants called ¨sidewalk ants¨ because they are always seen on sidewalks. But BEWARE!!! Ants are just easier to see on sidewalks than on other places where they live. Sidewalks are light. Ants are dark. You see them well. Just because you don’t see them does not mean that they aren’t  there. They could be in your shoes at this very moment…


 Why do you often see only 1 shoe on the side of the road?

Most of the places you go to you probably go on the highway. At least once you have most likely seen a random sneaker lying on the side. Many other people have seen the same thing as you so much so that a name has even been made for it: The Single Shoe Syndrome or SSS. Many possible theories have been made discussing this topic. One possible theory made by Elaine Viets, was that they are tossed out of cars as jokes or during fights. More reasonable explanations though include:  They fall out of garbage trucks as they drive on the highway. Another is that both shoes were initially abandoned but one shoe just got moved away by some natural force. What kind of shoes have you seen on the side of the road? Sparkly High Heels? Minnie Mouse Sneakers? Military Boots?


How do military cadets find their caps after tossing them in the air?

Have you ever seen or heard of events in which at the end hats get thrown every which direction? It happens at graduations of all sorts so you probably have, but have you ever wondered what happens to the hats when they are thrown? Do the original owners ever get them back? Or do they simply get forgotten and never returned? Well, I have an answer for you, specifically having to do with military graduations. Occasionally, when hats get thrown they are caught by family or media. The hats also have names written inside them, so theoretically they can be found and returned but they are usually not. Instead, they are given to the children. After the hats are thrown, the children join in a game of finders keepers and they scramble for the hats and get to keep whatever they find. Kids are often seen clutching their newfound treasures as they walk away from these actions. 


Why are firehouses always associated with Dalmatians, even though you never see them?

In cartoons or comics you’ve probably seen dalmatians in firehouses. Like in Paw Patrol where Marshall is a dalmatian and puts out fires.Dalmatians were used in fire houses to clear paths for fire carts, so that they could get through and to a fire quickly. They were chosen over other dogs because of their intelligence and excellent memories. Dalmatians also got along extremely well with horses that pulled the wagon and they could run for extended periods of time without tiring.But soon the world modernized and so did fire trucks. As motorized fire trucks began to get popular, dalmatians were no longer necessary, but they are still honored today for their work in the past.


If nothing sticks to Teflon, then how does Teflon stick to pans ?

If you have ever used a non-stick pan you know that it is, well, non-stick. Nothing sticks to it. But if nothing sticks to the non-stick part of the non-stick pan (Teflon), then how do they stick the Teflon to the pan? Well, it seems like it would be complicated, doesn’t it? Sticking something that doesn’t stick to anything, on to something. Well it’s not as complicated as it seems because Teflon, also known as Polytetrafluoroethylene, a synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene ,more commonly called PTFE, sticks to itself. So what happens is they stick layers of PTFE to each other. First, they grit blast the pan so that it is rough. Then they add one layer of PTFE that binds to the rough surface of the pan, it is baked and dried after it is sprayed on. They then put another layer of PTFE and bake and dry it. They repeat this process about 3 times before it is done. 


Sources: Why do Clocks run Clockwise and other Imponderables by David Feldman