Potato chips, popcorn and pretzels

  The Grey Cup just ended, but the Rose, Cotton, Orange and Super Bowl are still to come. It therefore seems apt to delve into a subject with which I have a great-deal of hands-on experience: the Three Ps of snack food, potato chips, popcorn and pretzels. Potato chips were invented in a Saratoga, New …

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Headaches

Few afflictions are more common than headaches. Statistics (themselves the cause of many headaches) show that in the U.S., up to 50 million people go to the doctor for headaches annually. They’re continuing an ancient tradition. Around 5000 B.C. in China, acupuncture was the treatment of choice. About 160 B.C., the Greek physician Galen recommended …

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Bones

Our bones, being hidden away inside our skins, are not something that we normally think about much. But once you break one, it’s hard to think about anything else. I had an early introduction to the subject when I was seven years old and my big brother broke my arm. Not deliberately: we were rolling …

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Fossils

Most people think of fossils as neatly mounted skeletons displayed in cool, clean museums with nicely printed labels at their feet. Unfortunately, says Tim Tokaryk, assistant curator of paleontology at the Saskatchewan Museum of Natural History, they don’t occur that way in nature–though he wishes they did! Tokaryk became interested in paleontology as a volunteer …

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Radio

Go on any long trip with several other people, as I did over the weekend, and a major source of conflict is sure to arise: what to listen to on the radio. But amid the debate on the relative merits of country, jazz, Top-40 and oldies (not to mention loud and soft), it struck me …

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Telephones

It wowed audiences in 1964 at the New York World’s fair. It’s been “just around the corner” for decades. And now, at last, it’s here: the videophone has arrived. AT&T and MCI will both be selling these picture-sending telephones soon, for anywhere from $750 to $1,500 U.S., as the perfect way to show off new …

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Soap

As any child of the television age knows, among the most important decisions one faces in life is which kinds of soaps and detergents to use. The consequences of not having clothes that are cleaner than clean and brighter than bright, or of using the wrong brand of cleanser on your pearly skin, are too …

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Bicycles

I wouldn’t call myself a “serious” cyclist, since I don’t wear neon Spandex shorts and top, a colour-coordinated helmet, leather gloves or fancy cycling shoes. Heck, I don’t even have a water-bottle. But I do cycle a bit, and as I was puffing my way along the bike path the other day it seemed to …

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Baseball

I’m lousy at baseball. Fly balls fly right over me, line drives make me duck, and I can’t run the bases worth a darn–but that’s all right, since I seldom hit the ball. So to write this column about the science of pitching, I turned to an expert: Robert K. Adair, Sterling Professor of Physics …

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Kites

When Bob Dylan wrote about answers blowin’ in the wind, he must have had Saskatchewan in mind: here on the prairies, just about everything is blowin’ in the wind. (Whether that includes answers depends on how well the kids up the street held on to their homework, I suppose.) You can’t change this fact of …

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November 1993 science anniversaries

This month’s science anniversaries begin with a first that was also a last. November 4 marked the 20th anniversary of the launch of Mariner 10, the first interplanetary probe to visit Mercury — and the last of the Mariners. Mariner 10’s main purpose was to photograph Venus, which it did from 5,770 kilometres on February …

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Maps

A few years ago in Vienna, while touring with our university chorus, I and three companions, one male and two female, wanted to find our way from the edge of the city to Vienna’s famous giant wooden Ferris wheel. We men, of course, did the logical thing and began studying the subway map. The women …

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