The Straight Dope - Was Monopoly originally meant to teach people about the evils of capitalism? News Features
The Straight Dope - If you turn up the heat on a frog in water so slowly it doesn't notice, will it eventually boil alive? News Features
The Straight Dope - How much would I have to hollow out the earth to make the days longer? News Features
I'm taking a physics course, and we discussed how objects with hollow cores revolve slower. So I was wondering: Exactly how much dirt would I have to dig out of the ground and move to the surface before I'd notice the days getting longer?
— Mark D. Baragary, Ames, Iowa
Your question inspired my assistant Una to new heights of invention, Mark. She announced you'd given her an idea for an...| more...
The Straight Dope - Does castration = longer life? News Features
According to the Humane Society, you can extend your dog's life a couple of years by getting him neutered. Are testes really lethal? Does neutering your dog really extend his life? Would the same thing work for men?
— Dave Greenaway
You're not going to want to hear this, Dave. But according to one much-cited study, castrated men live nearly 14 years longer than their intact brethren,...| more...
The Straight Dope - Are shrinks nuts? News Features
Is it true that, as a class, psychotherapists and other mental health professionals are crazier than average? And that despite their training and experience, they can recognize their own issues less readily than the average nutcase?
I defer judgment on whether shrinks don't recognize their problems. On the contrary, there are indications some mental health professionals enter the...| more...
The Straight Dope - How many ice cubes would it take to put out the sun? News Features
I am 5, and have been wondering about this for almost half my life now: How many ice cubes would it take to put out the sun? My mum found your website and thought you must know the answer, since you know everything.
— Rei Mordue
You're one articulate 5-year-old, Rei, and plainly your mum is also no dummy. Your question has obliged us to rethink the basics, always a useful exercise. Plus...| more...
The Straight Dope - Does asteroid mining threaten the earth? News Features
Space companies looking to mine asteroids are thinking of bringing them into orbit for easier access. Wouldn't several of these asteroids eventually pull on the planet so much they would change the orbit of the earth or the moon? Is there a certain weight we need to reach before it's a problem?
What? Oh, sorry, Quinn, I was daydreaming. I was in the court of Ferdinand and Isabella in...| more...
The Straight Dope - Can we now transmute base substances into gold? News Features
So ... after all those decades of physics and chemistry, can science transmute base substances into gold?
?- Bill Johnson, Fort Mill, S.C.
Don't you think you're being a little unappreciative here, Bill? Decades of physics and chemistry have given us space stations and electronic intelligence, conquered disease and extended lives, and enabled us to download gigabytes of pornography at a...| more...
The Straight Dope - Are transsexuals mentally ill? News Features
The Straight Dope - How can water be wasted? Doesn't it automatically recycle? News Features
The Straight Dope - If evolution is all about survival of the fittest, why are we attracted to the cutest? News Features
The Straight Dope - Why is the letter Z associated with sleep? News Features
Why is the letter Z, specifically, associated with sleeping? It seems silly to have a letter correspond with sleep at all, but even sillier that we don't do this with any other action. You don't hear being awake referred to as "catching some A's."
— Ethan Reber
Sorry to go off on a tangent, Ethan, but you know what they call sleeping in the U.K.? Catching some zeds. I get this from my...| more...
The Straight Dope - Will Coke and asparagus cure kidney stones? News Features
The Straight Dope - Is Wikipedia more reliable than the Encyclopaedia Britannica? News Features
In a column a while back, you told your assistant Una to "quit with the Wikipedia" because "from the standpoint of reliability, Wikipedia might as well be written by gorillas." The weekly science journal Nature reports Wikipedia contains less erroneous material than the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Are you willing to withdraw your sensational claim?
Yes, I'll withdraw it. From a...| more...
The Straight Dope - Could an electromagnetic pulse disrupt civilization? News Features
Is it true an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) would stop cars and trucks, and they would not run until fixed? Would our stores be empty of food because trucks could not move food to them? Would water to our homes stop flowing because of EMP damage to electrical equipment? Why don't we hear more about this?
— Mark Terry, Honolulu
What do you mean, why don't we hear more? We've heard plenty. We...| more...
The Straight Dope - Can I avoid paying a tax bill by writing 'accepted for value' on it? News Features
The Straight Dope - Can alien beings listen in on TV and radio broadcasts from Earth? News Features
The Straight Dope - Is a cruise ship a cheap alternative to an old folks' home? News Features
The Straight Dope - Was Jesus copied from the Egyptian god Horus? News Features
I first heard the claim that Jesus was a copycat of the Egyptian god Horus when I watched the so-called documentary Religulous. Horus supposedly walked on water, was born from a virgin, healed the sick, etc. Naturally, I was skeptical and tried doing some research but found only biased opinions that weren't backed by much evidence. So what's the deal?
— Johnny Oregano
There's more of a puzzle...| more...
The Straight Dope - What's the likeliest doomsday scenario? News Features
The Straight Dope - Did the creator of the Schmidt Sting Pain Index volunteer to get stung by everything on earth? News Features
The Straight Dope - What purpose do allergies serve? News Features
Why do we have allergic reactions? What use do allergies serve? I can't imagine any Darwinian advantage. I can't see being a successful mastodon hunter with sneezing and hacking giving away your position. Don't get me started on trying to woo a female with things that are meant to be dry being moist and things that are meant to be moist being dry and itchy.
You ingrate. Sure, a runny...| more...
The Straight Dope - Is marijuana stronger than it used to be? News Features
Is pot stronger these days? Some folks state as fact that parents should realize "pot these days is stronger than when they smoked." Are you aware of any evidence for this?
— Dinsdale, via the Straight Dope Message Board
Yes, pot is stronger than in the old days. This is bad?
People have been warning about supposed high-potency pot since the early days of the Reagan administration's War on...| more...
The Straight Dope - Does Daylight Saving Time increase road kill? News Features
On my drive into work today, the first workday back since the Daylight Saving Time spring forward, I noticed a stark increase in road kill, specifically raccoons. Has anyone else noticed this? My theory is it has to do with more drivers on the street before sunrise because of the hour shift forward.
— Matthew Bates, Chicago
There are indications — but so far no proof — that the Daylight...| more...
The Straight Dope - Can a hard-hit baseball crush your skull (revisited)? News Features
I've heard of the occasional car in a baseball stadium parking lot being damaged by an out-of-the-park home run. I wonder: Have there ever been any skulls or other body parts crushed? Who would be liable for the hapless victim's misfortune?
— Victor, Santa Cruz
I first tackled this question in 1978. Things were different then. I pounded out columns on a mechanical device called a typewriter....| more...