Question

The nails in my deck have rusted and spotted the wood. How can I remove the rust spots?

Scrub the area with a wire brush, then bleach any remaining stain with oxalic acid, which is available in paint stores. You would probably need to restain the wood after this, but wait until the repaired area is thoroughly dry.

Last 7 Days

Where did the expression "the cat's pajamas" come from

Its origin is unknown, but by the turn of the 20th century in America, it was widely used to mean first-rate or attractive.

What are earth sweats?

Earth sweats occur when the humidity is on the rise and wood, porcelain, metal, and even stone may exude moisture. They have come to be seen as predictors of rain. Wooden beams and furniture, china dishes, stone, and brick all may sweat when rain is near. Oiled wood especially, such as a salad bowl or a weaving loom with linseed oil on it, sweats easily.

Are there any ancient cultures known to have had a Copernican model of the solar system?

We can't find any record of a culture that believed the Sun was the center of the universe, but Copernicus wasn't the first person to say this. Around 270 B.C., on Samos (an island off the coast of what is now Turkey), Aristarchus put forth a theory of a sun-centered universe, which included his belief that the Moon's light came from the Sun. He is sometimes referred to as the Copernicus of antiquity.

What will cure a plantar wart?

Since planter warts are caused by a persistent virus, you may think you have them under control by using some home remedy, only to have them crop up again. We recommend a visit to a doctor, who will most likely use liquid nitrogen to "freeze" off a wart and its roots and prevent it from recurring. Most warts are painless, but plantar warts hurt because they grow on the pressure points on the soles of the feet.

Inventions preceded patents, obviously, but can you name some inventions that weren't actually used for several years?

In some cases, inventions evolve over time. Certainly, that was the case with the zipper, which was invented in 1782 but didn't become popular until 1838, when it was connected to Goodrich's rubber galoshes and found its name. Antibiotics were invented in 1910, but they weren't widely used until about 1940. The heart pacemaker, developed in 1928, had to wait until about 1960 for advanced surgical techniques to make it practical. The helicopter was invented in 1904 but not considered useful until 1941, during world War II. Radar followed a similar course: It also was developed in 1904, but it wasn't generally used until about 1939. Oddly, the cigarette lighter was invented before matches, but because it required powdered platinum, it wasn't considered practical.

I've heard of calling on St. Anthony for inflammations and St. Lucy for toothaches, but are there other "saintly specialists" out there?

Here's a partial list to get you started. St. Agatha works against sore breasts; St. Blaise protects against bones sticking in the throat; St. Christopher and St. Mark ward off sudden death; St. Clara and St. Juliana relieve sore eyes; St. Job takes on venereal diseases; St. John works against epilepsy and poison; St. Liberius battles stones and fistulas; St. Margaret is a woman's friend in childbirth; St. Martin takes care of the itch; St. Petronella and St. Genevieve work against fevers; St. Romanus protects against devils; St. Valentine takes on epilepsy; and St. Wolfgang helps cure lameness. Now all you need is the saint for a long memory so that you can remember them all.

How can I remove a photograph that is partially stuck to the glass of a picture frame without ruining the photo?

Try wiping it very gently with a slightly dampened cotton cloth. When the photo has absorbed some of the moisture, pull it gently or scrape under it gently with a thin, flat-edged tool. Remove the photo very carefully. The key here is very little, but just enough, water.

Subscribe to Question of the Day