Anne Helmenstine


In addition to the prestige of winning an event at the Olympics, the victor receives a gold medal. At one time, Olympic gold medals were real solid gold. However, the last time a solid gold medal was awarded was at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. Modern Olympic gold medals are sterling […]

Are Olympic Gold Medals Real Gold?


Astronomers believe it's possible for a moon to have a moon of its own.
We all know planets orbit stars and moons orbit planets. Have you ever wondered whether a moon can have a moon of its own (a submoon)? Theoretically, the answer is yes, but there is a good reason why we haven’t discovered any submoons around moons in our own solar system. […]

Can a Moon Have a Moon?


The average distance between the Earth and the Sun is about 93 million miles. (NASA)
All of the planets, comets, and asteroids in the solar system orbit the Sun. The average distance between the Earth and the Sun is 92,955,807 miles (149,597,870 km). Most people just round it up to 93 million miles. This distance is called an astronomical unit or AU and is used […]

How Far Is the Sun From Earth?



Steel wool sparklers are ideal for creating light paintings. (Steve Halama)
Ignite steel wool to make a stunning spinning sparkler or to create incredible photographs and light paintings. All you need are a few common materials for this simple project. Make a Steel Wool Sparkler You probably have all the materials you need on hand, but if you don’t, they are […]

Spinning Steel Wool Sparkler



Termites (Scott Bauer, USDA ARS)
Termites are social insects that eat wood and other plant matter. Completely by accident, people discovered termites follow ink trails made by the black or blue ink from Bic and Papermate ballpoint pens. While they will follow a path made by other pens (85% of black ballpoints and 80% of […]

Why Do Termites Follow Ink Trails?