Monthly Archives: September, 2012

Where does mercury come from?

Mercury is usually found in rust-colored rocks called cinnabar.  The ore is crushed, then heated to release the mercury. Mercury is perhaps the strangest of all metals.  It is the only metal that liquid at ordinary temperatures. In nature, mercury is most often found in rust-colored rocks called cinnabar, although pure mercury can be mined. …

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Why does a fireman’s helmet have a big brim?

The big brim is designed to shed water so it wont run down the fireman’s neck when he’s fighting a fire. Nothing causes quite so much excitement in our everyday lives as the wall of a fire-engine siren.  It screams a warning to people to get out of the way of a fire truck as …

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How is lumber made?

The chair you are sitting on was perhaps once part of a tree that grew in a forest.   Lumber, as we know, is the wood of trees that has been sawed into planks, boards, etc. Before tree can be sawed into lumber, it must be cut down and transported to the sawmill. The logs are …

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What is sago flour?

Sago flour is a starchy flour made from the pithy center of the sago palm.  It is used mainly in making soups and puddings. Have you ever eaten a palm tree?  You have, if you have ever eaten a soup or a pudding made with sago flour!  Sago (pronounced SAY goh) is a starch found …

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How is cotton woven into cloth?

The long cotton fibers are spun into strong treads which are then woven into cloth. Many of the towels, sheets, shirts and clothing we enjoy using and wearing are made of cotton.  The cotton plant at harvest time looks like it has a cluster of flurry snowballs made of silky white cotton fibers. After the …

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How did the idea of birthstones start?

Many people wear a birthstone to show which month they were born in. From very early times there have been superstitions about gems.  Ancient people thought that certain gems had magical powers and could protect them from harm and bring good luck. Some gems were supposed to have an influence on love and marriage.  Others …

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What is parchment?

Parchment is the dried skin of goats, sheep or other animals, treated so that it can be written on. If you had lived long ago, in medieval days, you might have read books whose pages were made of animal skins instead of paper. The first books made of pages bound together in a cover were …

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How does a siren work?

A siren is a kind of whistle which makes a loud noise as air is blown through holes in a spinning cylinder or disk.  It is a wailing noise When a fire truck roars through the streets, its loud siren warms people to get out of the way.  An ordinary air siren has two cylinders, …

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How is nylon made?

Nylon is a product of a chemical process in which carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen are united to form a strong, tough material. Nylon is a strong, long-lasting synthetic material.  Its uses range from such things as shear hosiery and fishing lines to toothbrush bristles and molded parts for machinery. Nylon is made from common …

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What is a doctorate degree?

A doctorate degree is the highest degree awarded to a person by a college or university. In the United States, a student who graduates after four years of study in a college or university normally receives a “bachelor’s degree” and usually specializes in a field of study called his major subject. Some students begin work …

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