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We see insulation all around us. Most mammals are covered in fur, which is one of nature's forms of insulation (blubber is another). When you go outside on a cold winter day, you put on a coat, which is fashionable insulation. As a general rule, the ...

You Asked:How does a helicopter move forward? --- E. K., Mechanicsville, Va.Marshall Brain Answers:The basic idea that lets a helicopter hover in the air is easy to understand. Basically you take a pair of For this to work you need to add one thing. ...

Sunglasses have various special coatings: Some are reflective, while others are scratch-resistant. In this episode, Marshall explains how these different coatings work.

The economy is tough right now. What if you want to start over, sort of like the homesteaders of the 1800s? You stake your claim to free land and create your life from scratch.It can be done today in two different ways. This article points out that t ...

In a previous episode, Marshall explained how 4-stroke, direct-injection engines work; In this one, he takes a look at 2-stroke engines that utilize direct injection technology.

You Asked:How do coal-fired power plant scrubbers work? --- Gil, Onancock, Va.Marshall Brain Answers:If coal were pure carbon, then the only thing we would have to worry about at coal-fired power plants is the carbon dioxide formed when coal burns. U ...

You Asked: How does a hydrogen generator work? --- Sepideh, Tehran, Iran Marshall Brain Answers...

You Asked: When I let a balloon go, how high can it go? --- Timothy, York, Pa. Marshall Brain Answers...

Instant cameras made it possible to see a photograph almost immediately after you'd taken it. But how? In this episode, Marshall explains the chemical processes behind regular and instant photographic film.

When thinking about the ancient city of Rome, and Roman engineering, one thing that is amazing even today is the aqueduct system they used to bring water into the city. Water might travel hundreds of miles through canals and tunnels to reach the city ...

You Asked: What is the working principle of a DC motor? --- Sireesha, Tirupathi, India Marshall Brain Answers...

This video shows a family effort in launching a balloon into the stratosphere, 17 miles up. The balloon carries a camera and an iPhone, which acts as a tracking device to aid recovery:If you would like to send up a balloon of your own, this month's i ...

Nor'easters are storm systems that frequently occur in the eastern United States during winter. In this episode, Marshall explains where Nor'easters get their name, how they work and why some Nor'easters are more powerful than others.

Here is the setup. Take a clear plastic (or glass) drinking glass. Fill it with cool tap water. Let it sit on the counter for a couple of hours. In some cases you will come back to find dozens of small bubbles clinging to the inside of the glass. why?

In this episode, Marshall explains the two technologies that are used to backlight LCD panels.

A sand rail (also sometimes known as a dune buggy*) is a car stripped down to the barest essentials, as you can see in this video:The video demonstrates how simple a sand rail really is. A sand rail consists of:The classic sand rail is powered by the ...

Probably because of all the history classes we all took in grades 1 through 12, many people have a impression of the railroads that comes from the 1800s. We imagine hundreds or thousands of men building railroad tracks using hand-carried wooden railroad ties and hammers. The following video has made the rounds since it was released, with well over half a million views. It is fascinating in a "How It's Made" sense, because it shows an amazing amount of automation now used in the process...

Jello is tasty, colorful and fun to eat, but what's in it? One of its ingredients, gelatin, comes from animals. Marshall Brain breaks down the chemistry of jello and gelatin in this episode.

Corrugated cardboard is one of those things that you never really think about, but chances are you see it every day. Look around you. As I am sitting here looking around my office, there is a cardboard box of printer paper, a cardboard box from a UPS package received yesterday, and a cardboard box containing one of the kids' toys. The garage and closets are filled with boxes. Empty cardboard boxes are so common at any retail store that there is usually a special compactor out back to handle all of them. Cardboard is everywhere...

Back in 2003, Aron Ralston became famous for cutting off his own arm. The arm had become wedged under a boulder in a remote area of Utah, and the only way to save himself was to cut it off and go for help...