Question of the Day


Exactly how long is a lunar month?

The Moon's synodic period (the length of a lunar month) is 29.53059 days -- or 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 2.8 seconds.

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Last 7 Days

What did tornadoes sound like before there were freight trains?

The freight train is the all-purpose simile. Old accounts likened the noise to "10 million bees" or "1,000 cannons." Perhaps listeners on the Great Plains were reminded of buffalo stampedes.

I heard on a radio program that you can keep your drainpipes open with a combination of baking soda and another ingredient that's a common household product. What is it, and what are the amounts you use?

It's vinegar. Pour a cup of baking soda into your clogged drain, then add a cup of hot vinegar. After a few minutes, flush the drain with a quart of boiling water.

Why do sundials slow down on April 30?

Sundials don't slow down on April 30. If what you are referring to is the equation of time, i.e. the accumulation of differences between mean time (clocks) and solar time (sundial) throughout the year, you can see there is a difference between clock and sun time on April 30, but there is such a difference on almost all other days, too. In fact, there are only four days that sundials are truly accurate: April 15, June 13, September 1, and December 25.

Have you ever heard of a wind egg?

Sure! It's also known as a weird egg. A wind egg is any soft-shelled hen's egg, laid before the harder shell is formed. In the Middle Ages, they were often called cock's eggs, and the influences of the planets, the vagaries of the weather, or ill winds were blamed for them. The eggs were considered barren and unfit to eat.

Where did the term gob referring to sailors come from?

There are two theories on this one. This term first showed up in regard to sailors around 1909 and may have come from the word gobble. Reportedly, some people thought that sailors gobbled their food. The term also may come from the word gob, which means to spit, something sailors also reportedly do often. English coastguardsmen were referred to as gobbies because of their spitting habits.

When is the next time we can see Halley's comet from Earth?

It's going to be a long wait -- 2061 is the year for the comet's next visit.

Can you tell me why the ring finger is sometimes called the medical finger?

We can tell you why, but the theory no longer holds water. For centuries, it was believed that the ring finger had a nerve running through it that was connected to the heart. The Romans and Greeks used the medical finger for stirring mixtures, especially in alchemy, with the belief that anything noxious would be immediately detected by way of some warning sign at the heart. This direct connection -- which years later was proved to be false -- was why it was chosen as the ring finger, marking the heart's sentiment. English superstition still holds that the ring finger should be used for applying ointments or salves or for scratching the skin.

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