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Innovation

Do you know how common everyday items, such as mirrors, fireworks or sunglasses work? This collection of Innovation articles explores the workings of objects you may come into contact with on a regular basis.

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Why do we experiment on animals?

Since we're trying to figure out what makes Ted tick (or makes Ted's ticker stop ticking), why not cut out the middle mouse? It's complicated.

Why do we experiment on guinea pigs?

About 86,000 rats and mice are used a year in research, while the twitchy-nosed guinea pig has only 1,300 mentions. But you can thank guinea pigs for ridding the world of scurvy pirates.

Why do we experiment on mice?

Mice are small and reproduce quickly, but they're more than just an animal of convenient size and libido. Mice have some truly special genetic gifts that it doesn't take a scientist to appreciate.

Are lab animals really calmer around women?

The plot of "The Scent of a Woman" has nothing to do with mice. But in a research lab, some say that very scent is like rodent Valium. Mouse myth or reality?

Are lab rats bred just for the lab?

Scientists like rats a lot more than the general population. But when they need a good bunch of them to test some hypotheses, they don't lurk in alleyways or around trashcans with a burlap sack.

Are lab rats really prone to cancer?

Few would argue that lab rats lead an easy life. Add to it the assertion that they are prone to cancer just by being lab rats, and we've found a whole new level of depressing. But is it true?

How can petri dish studies apply to humans?

The human body has around 100 trillion cells. What can you learn from studying these tiny organisms that you can't learn from studying the entire person?

Why are rodents such popular test subjects?

Compared to dogs, cats, guinea pigs and rabbits, rats and mice are by far voted Most Popular in research labs. (Dogs and cats are tied for Best Looking.) What's the attraction for scientists?

Do people really use radiators to make stills?

If history has taught us one thing, it's that moonshiners tend to be pretty resourceful when it comes to distilling liquor. But can car radiators really do the work of a still? Is that even safe to do?

Does beer make milk curdle?

Beer is quickly becoming a trendy mixer for more adventurous cocktail drinkers. However, this acidic ingredient doesn't always play well with others. Why can't beer and milk just get along?

Does Flat Beer Lose Its Alcohol Content?

The age of a beer can dramatically influence its flavor, and usually not for the better. But what about its alcohol content? Does a decade-old barley pop still pack the same wallop as one bottled the week before?

Why does beer form a head but soda doesn't?

A quickly poured beer or soda can create a layer of foam -- also known as a "head" -- toward the top of the glass. But while a soda head rapidly disappears, a beer head lingers even after you've begun to drink the beer. How can this be possible?

Why Does Beer Get Skunky?

There are perhaps few beer-related disappointments greater than drinking a skunky brew. Fortunately, such a fate is avoidable, provided that you know what to look for.

How Biohacking Works

These days, we're busy hacking everything from our lives to our brains. Why should our bodies or our biological information be any different?

10 Things We Thought Were True Before the Scientific Method

Before the scientific method came along, science dabbled in some pretty far-out ideas in its youth. Remember miasmas? And spontaneous generation? And the four elements?

Are Expired Foods Still Safe to Eat?

Surprisingly, the date stamped on your unopened can of tuna doesn't really have much to do with how safe it is to eat. So what does it mean, and how can you decide whether to eat it or chuck it?

10 Black Scientists You Should Know

You might have heard of George Washington Carver and Neil deGrasse Tyson. But what about Patricia Bath? Or Percy Julian? Meet 10 African-American scientists who have made the world a better place for all people.

10 Science Experiments to Do in the Snow

A snow day is the best. Everyone misses school, and you get to sleep in and spend the day in glorious, chilly nature. But then everyone gets sick of being cold, and suddenly the house seems extremely small. We can help.

10 Correlations That Are Not Causations

If you kiss your bowling ball, you'll bowl a strike. If you buy ice cream, you'll turn into a cold-blooded killer. What other correlations are not causations?

Top 10 Scientific Discoveries of 2013

The Lizard King got a lizard. The physics king got a particle. And a long-dead king got a DNA match. What else non-king-related happened in the realm of science in 2013?

10 Differences Between Moonshining and Homebrewing

After the success of craft breweries, it was perhaps inevitable that moonshine would get its own day in the sun. But while you can make both beer and whiskey at home, there are some major differences between them – starting with legality.

How can quadrotors change the future of engineering?

After the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011, quadrotors assessed buildings not far from Fukushima. And they did it without being harmed by the kind of nuclear radiation that damages us humans. Do they have more tricks under their wings?

How do search and rescue teams track weather in the field?

Search and rescue missions and extreme weather events often go hand in hand. Fortunately there's a wide range of technology that helps emergency service workers get a leg up in preparing for and handling the elements.

10 Technologies That Help Buildings Resist Earthquakes

Bend but don't break: That's the idea behind many of these temblor-thwarting technologies. They may even allow a building's inhabitants to walk out unharmed and start picking up the pieces after the earthquake subsides.

What technologies have made search and rescue easier?

Time is of the essence when trying to rescue people trapped at sea or in a crumbling building. But finding the victims can sometimes be difficult. Thankfully, cutting-edge technologies are taking the "search" out of search and rescue.

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