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.

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.

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?

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?

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

NASA recycles too. The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) was originally launched to search for infrared radiation coming from distant objects like asteroids. Now it's been repurposed to look for near-Earth objects. And not a minute too soon.

The scene of a disaster isn't a place of order, at first glance. But it's not just EMTs, firefighters and police officers competing for space. In fact, those professionals would be at serious risk if there weren't also engineers on the scene.

Seven million (and counting) YouTube viewers can't be wrong. Nano quadrotors are tiny, autonomous flying machines that have the Internet buzzing.

Most loss of life in earthquakes comes from people being trapped inside crumbling buildings. And engineers have come up with many techniques to lessen the structural damage. But is there a way to make a building completely earthquake-proof?

The Hybrid Sports Bike, still in its prototype stage, is a three-in-one: a pedal-powered bicycle souped-up with both a gas engine and an electric motor. But how could a gas-powered bike be environmentally friendly?

It holds your Skivvies up, secures your ponytail and generally keeps athletes, rock stars and the general public outfitted in stretchy comfort. Ready to learn about the elastic fantastic?

When you think of sports drinks, chances are Gatorade comes to mind. But was it the first one? Or just the beneficiary of clever marketing?

Behold the humble spork! Made of the cheapest plastic and seen mostly at public school cafeterias and fast food chains, it doesn't have an inspiring pedigree. But it's been around for a long time.

Despite a ho-hum name, paper shredders have an extraordinary (and juicy) history featuring the likes of Oliver North, Enron and all sorts of spies. What story will thrust this commonplace technology back in the limelight next?

You probably listen to digitally encoded music on a regular basis, but have you ever wondered who pioneered the tech that allows you to carry thousands of songs in your pocket?

Ahhhh, the good old No. 2 pencil and its oft-used eraser. Have you ever wondered exactly what science is at work when that pink, rubbery lifesaver eradicates your blunders?

In 1925, after an auto paint job gone wrong, a young research assistant was struck by the idea for adhesive tape. But how does tape actually stick, and how are we able to peel it off a roll?

Stethoscopes started as a way for 19th-century doctors to put some distance between themselves and grubby patients. Today though, this simple listening tool is one of the best ways to diagnose a range of problems.

Next Thanksgiving when you find yourself sleeping on Aunt Martha's pullout sofa, it might cheer you up to know that the convertible bed has a long, illustrious history.

It's one of those age-old dilemmas – who goes through the revolving door first. It probably doesn't matter. Rumor has it that the inventor didn't want to hold a door open for anyone.

It bends to your will, it has nifty ridges, and it allows patients and little kids alike to slurp along with everyone else. How did the flexible straw begin its days?

It holds together straps, serves as a makeshift button or body art and even dresses up nicely as a friendship pin. Who do we have to thank for this simple wire workhorse?