How does water – a very slippery thing – make sandcastles stand up? Answer: Sandcastles……those were the days. Anyway, that water miracle in sandcastles works in about the same way as the water miracle in trees  – that is, pulling itself 300 feet up into trees.  In fact, I’ll bet if we could put a…

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Do I really need to acclimate my new wood flooring material before I nail it down? Answer: Yes, but… Acclimate is the wrong word.  It implies a change to adjust to a new condition.  When wood flooring is moved from a hot kiln to a breezy warehouse then to a jobsite it acclimates, it adjusts…

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Why do the Brazil nuts always rise to the top of the mixed nuts jar? Answer: It depends. Turns out, this is one of those things that is not yet entirely understood.  There are reasonable explanations of why nuts, and other similar things, behave this way, but a jar is a limited case and doesn’t…

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Parallel lines have so much in common.  It’s a shame they never get to meet. How much excess water is still in a house at the end of the building process when you turn over the keys to the new homeowner? Dynamic problems – problems whose outcome changes as time progresses – are fun, but,…

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By Foster Lyons.  August 19, 2018 Asphalt, macadam, black-top?  Which one should I specify? And, is tarmac only for airport runways? First, it’s ass-fault, not ash-fault and, not az-fault.  Very humorous for sixth graders.  Ash-fault is for Canadians and paving contractors in Queens and some parts of Westchester County. Are those jimmies, sprinkles or shots?…

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Answer: Because, we like it, and, sometimes it has a functional purpose. Lots of stuff goes out of use but stays in fashion. There is a historical reason for this hood ornament[1], but, these days, the car would be perfectly functional without it. It just wouldn’t be a Rolls Royce. It’s sort of like the…

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This week’s question: Is there a preferred way to build and operate a meat aging room? Last week’s question: Why does my fireplace and chimney make that crazy howling sound on windy nights? Vitruvius was a well-known blogger during the Roman era and some of the things he wrote about are still interesting today. For…

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This week’s question: Why does my fireplace and chimney make that crazy howling sound on windy nights? Last week’s question: What’s going on in this photo? Answer: That’s an image of an infra-red electromagnetic wave reflection off the inside of a window. And the camera man is wearing a hard hat. According to Plutarch[1], old…

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Hey, I’ve got an idea. How about we reduce our carbon footprint just in case it helps with that global warming thing. I propose we take a tiny little bit of that foul crude oil and use it against itself – sort of like Darth Vader turning on the Rebel Alliance. We’ll process just a…

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