Stupid science questions

Just a few random things I wonder about from time to time, but never seem to get around to solving:

  • Rain on the Windshield: Presuming the rate of rainfall to be constant, will there be a difference in how much rain strikes the windshield of any given car depending on whether it is stationary or moving?
  • Wet T-Shirt Contest: Why does a white cotton t-shirt become nearly transparent when it gets wet?
  • Kool-Aid: Why do different varieties of Kool-Aid juice mix dissolve at such different rates? I’m thinking here of why orange-flavored Kool-Aid appears grainy so much longer than fruit punch or grape.
  • Frozen Soda: Does the color of a liquid affect its freezing temperature? Or what properties contribute to orange soda freezing more easily than root beer or cola?

Minutiae, of course. But I think the T-shirt question would probably keep a high school student’s attention. Well, the guys, at least. The hetero boys, that is.

Never mind.

Ten days, and you’ve got to be kidding me

Oh … well … you know.

What a difference ten days makes. The New York Times ran yesterday a story about minutiae as news.

It’s been another busy few days for the Obama administration, which the news media has faithfully cataloged.

The Politico broke the story that the president’s aides sang “Happy Birthday” to the assistant press secretary, Nick Shapiro, and surprised him with a chocolate cake!

The Wall Street Journal scooped the nugget that the White House Office of Management and Budget chief, Peter R. Orszag, likes Diet Coke!

The Washington Examiner reported that the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was spotted “getting money at the SunTrust Bank in the Safeway on the corner 17th St. and Corcoran St. NW.”

Are any of these items newsworthy? (It’s not as if the country is facing two wars and an economic crisis or anything.) Well, yes, they are — a lot of Web sites, bloggers and Twitterers have deemed these developments so. While there has always been a hearty appetite for stories — and trivia — about the people in a new administration, today’s White House press corps (competing for up-to-the-second news) has elevated the most banal doings to a coveted “get.”

“It started as sort of a joke to treat official Washington as a celebrity culture,” said Ana Marie Cox, who helped create the genre in starting the Web site Wonkette five years ago.

“Now it seems that a lot of the irony has been lost and the joke has turned real,” adds Ms. Cox, who now blogs and Twitters about the White House for Air America.

The above, from Mark Leibovich, ran only ten days after Helene Cooper‘s front-page announcement:

Well, that didn’t take long. Just 44 days into the job, and President Obama is going gray.

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