What makes the edges of a glass table green?

glass edge

Picture Credit: Kenneth Lehtinen

Question: “What makes the edges of a glass table green? – from an 8 year old in Ontario

Answer: To answer this great question, we turned to a few glass manufacturers for the insights. One such manufacturer, Consolidated Glass Corporation provided this explanation.

The green colour we often see when looking at the edge of glass coffee or dining tables is a result of the iron in the glass. Believe it or not, the iron becomes an ingredient of the glass to act as a lubricant. The iron level in the glass varies from manufacturer to manufacturer depending upon their recipe for their glass.

Tuscon Table Tops also outlines this phenomenon. Affordable clear glass actually has a pale green tint as a result of its iron content. The thicker the glass, the deeper the green color!

Now you know!

Why do we spring forward every year?


Picture Credit: Kenneth Lehtinen

Question: “Why do we spring forward every year?” – from a 5 year old in British Columbia

Answer: According to the experts at Time and Date, springing forward, and falling back, also referred to as Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a way of making better use of the natural daylight by setting our clocks forward one hour during the summer months, and back again in the fall. Many countries use DST to make better use of the natural daylight in the evenings. There are many other countries that do not follow daylight savings.

Based on an article produced by the CBC, daylight time was first enacted in Germany in 1915 (for energy conservation reasons). Britain and much of Europe and Canada then quickly adopted the practice.

In Canada, each province gets to decide whether to use daylight time, and not all do. Most — but not all — provinces and states in Canada and the U.S. have been moving clocks ahead by one hour on the second Sunday in March and back by one hour on the first Sunday in November.


How do helium balloons float?


 Picture Credit: Kenneth Lehtinen

 Question: “How do helium balloons float?” – from a 6 year old in Ontario

Answer: For the answer to this question, we turned to the research team at Discovery Kids and some really smart students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

According to the science experts, the helium found in the balloon is lighter than air.

“A liter (about a quart) of air weighs about 1.25 grams (much less than an ounce) — that’s not very much. But a liter of helium weighs even less — only 0.18 grams (a tiny fraction of an ounce). A balloon that’s 1 foot (30 centimeters) in diameter holds about half a cubic foot of helium, which is the same as 14 liters. This means the balloon will weigh about half an ounce (14 grams) less than the same sized balloon filled with air”.

A phenomenon known as buoyancy (an upward force exerted by helium (of fluid) that opposes the weight of an object) then kicks in, and the balloon floats upward.

For a great visual overview of the science behind helium balloons, click on the video below from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).




What happens if I swallow a watermelon seed?


Picture Credit: Kenneth Lehtinen

 Question: “What happens if I swallow a watermelon seed?” – from a 5 year old in British Columbia

Answer: Many people in Canada have heard the story if you swallow a watermelon seed, a watermelon will actually grow inside of your body. While the source of this age old story is scarce, many kids have grown up in fear of watermelon seeds.

According to the experts at What About Watermelon, watermelons seeds are safe for consumption! A reporter with MSN Health and Wellness in Australia even partnered with a doctor to explore what happens to a watermelon seed in the stomach and intestines. Bottom line, the seed cannot germinate in the stomach nor intestines because it would need to oxygen to grow and there is no O2 in these parts of the body.

Now that a couple of sources have provided some clarity about watermelon seed consumption, let’s turn our attention to the benefits of watermelon in general. Based on an article written in National Geographic, many health benefits have been associated with watermelons. Some of these benefits include:

  1. It can soothe sore muscles. Watermelon is rich in an amino acid called L-citrulline, which the body converts to L-arginine, an essential amino acid that helps relax blood vessels and improve circulation.
  2. It can help heart health. Postmenopausal women experienced improved cardiovascular health after six weeks of taking commercially available watermelon extract supplements containing citrulline and arginine, according to a study published earlier this year by Florida State University physiologist Arturo Figueroa.
  3. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, but low in calories. A 10-ounce (300-mL) wedge of watermelon packs in about one-third of the recommended daily value of vitamins A and C, as well as a modest amount of potassium (9 percent of the daily value).
  4. It may aid in an overall healthy diet approach to prevent cancer. Watermelon is among the best dietary sources of lycopene, an antioxidant linked to both the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer, although scientists are still investigating the details of that connection.

Why is an orange called an orange?


Picture Credit: Kenneth Lehtinen

Question: “Why is an orange called an orange?” – from a 5 year old in Alberta

Answer: Believe it or not…the color was named after the fruit! According to The Huffington Post and The Guardian, the first instance of the word orange in the English language (pume orange) dates back to the 13th century. This term was adapted from old French pomme d’orenge. The first use of the word orange to describe the color is first noted in the 16th century. Orange is the only color of the spectrum whose name was taken from the popular fruit – the orange. The popular color also represents sunsets, fire, vegetables, flowers,  and many other fruits. Orange can also symbolize energy, vitality, cheer, excitement, adventure, warmth, and good health.

How do bees make honey?


Picture Credit: Kenneth Lehtinen

Question: “How do bees make honey?” – from a 5 year old in British Columbia 

Answer: For an in-depth look at how honey bees make honey, we turned to the great resources of Buzz About Bees, the Ontario Bee Keepers Association and the Canadian Honey Council.

As many of you know, bees play an exceptionally important role in the on-going health of our everyday food production. According to the Canadian Honey Councilhoney bees pollinate about a third of Canadian food crops and also contribute substantially to Canada’s agricultural sector as producers of honey and other hive products such as beeswax and bee pollen”. In addition to their ability to produce honey, bees are essential for the production of many fruits and vegetables. The Canadian Honey Council explains that “without honey bee pollination, we would have very few blueberries, apples, raspberries, cranberries, tomatoes, peppers, kiwis, pumpkins, squashes, strawberries, almonds and blackberries.”

In Canada alone, more than 500,000 (that’s a lot!) honey bee colonies, each with over 60,000 bees, are tended by almost 6,000 bee keepers: there are about 30 billion honey bees in Canada – that’s almost 1,000 honey bees per Canadian!

The team at Buzz About Bees explains the how bees make honey.

“Honey production starts with foraging worker bees – and flowers, of course. As the weather begins to warm up, the bees will begin collecting nectar from flowers within a radius of around 4 miles. The male honey bees (drones), do not forage for the hive, and nor does the queen honey bee. The bees have glands which secrete an enzyme. When the bees collect the nectar, it is then mixed with the enzyme in the bee’s mouth. The nectar is then taken back to the bee hive or nest, where it is dropped into the honeycomb. These are hexagonal shaped cells, which in the wild, the bees make themselves out of wax. Once the nectar solution has become more concentrated, at this point, the bees will cap the cells. This is when beekeepers know the honey is ready to be harvested!”

For a great resource that further explains the process of how bees make honey, see the amazing video by a very talented artist Ashley v. Feeney below.

For those of you interested in learning more about bees, beekeeping or other honey related matters, click on the great resources below.

Canadian Honey Council – http://www.honeycouncil.ca/index.php

Buzz About Bees – http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/

Ontario Bee Keepers Association – http://www.ontariobee.com/

How is maple syrup made?

Question: “How is maple syrup made?” – from a 4 year old in Ontario

Answer: Given that Canada is known worldwide for its incredible maple syrup product (Canada produces 71% of the world’s maple syrup supply), we turned to the experts at Pure Canadian Maple Syrup to help us answer this great question.

Phase I – Mother Nature at Work

The maple syrup production process gets its start from none other than Mother Nature herself in the months of February to April.  When the nights are still cold, water from the soil is absorbed into the maple tree. During the day, the warmer temperature creates pressure that pushes the water back down to the bottom of the tree and causing naturally occurring maple sap to flow.

Phase II – Gathering the Sap

In order to gather the precious sap produced by the maple trees, the trees are “tapped”. This means little spouts are tapped into the tree and a bucket hung from each tap. The sap pours out of the tap (or spout) into a bucket, or travels through many lines of clear tubing to a central sap repository. The sap is gathered over 12 to 20 days, usually between early March and late April, according to the region. Each maple harvest season, the sugar trees are tapped in a slightly different area than the previous year, preserving the health and enforcing the sustainable growth of the trees. Sap tapped at the beginning of the harvest season is generally clearer and lighter in taste. As the season advances, maple syrup becomes darker and more caramelized in flavor. Maple syrup is categorized and graded (Grade A, Grade B) according to color, clarity, density and strength of maple flavor.

Phase III – Boiling Sap to Make Syrup

After harvesting in the maple woods, the sap is transported to a sugar house where it boils down to become real maple syrup. During cooking, storage tank pipes feed sap to a long and narrow ridged pan called an evaporator. As it boils, water evaporates and becomes denser and sweeter. Sap boils until it reaches the density of maple syrup. After evaporation, the finished products get bottled or canned, and are shipped to their final destinations.

For more fun facts about maple syrup including great recipes, visit the Pure Canadian Maple Syrup site at the link below.