Can my cat or dog benefit my health?

As a matter of fact, yes! Researchers believe that regular contact with pets can reduce levels of stress and reduce blood pressure (the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps out blood).

Pets offer stability, comfort, security, affection, and intimacy. Owning a dog also provides a great opportunity to get exercise and fresh air, since it will need to go for a walk every day.

How does a bicycle work?

A bicycle is a simple device that increases the power that you have in the muscles of your legs, taking you faster and farther than you could ever run. When you push the pedals of your bike around once, the pedal sprocket—the wheel with teeth to which the pedals are attached—goes around once, too. But it pulls a chain along, one that is connected to a much smaller sprocket (with fewer teeth to grip each link of the chain) in the center of your bike’s rear wheel. This smaller sprocket moves around a number of times for each single turn of your pedals, moving your bike wheels a lot faster than you’re moving your feet! Some bicycles have several “speeds,” which means that they have a number of gears (called derailleurs) that vary the rate at which the wheels turn. These extra sprockets are located at the pedals and rear wheel of a bike, where levers move the driving chain sideways, from one to another.

A special spring system keeps the chain tight when it changes from a larger to a smaller sprocket. Although you might think that a rider would always want the wheels of his or her bike to move as fast as possible for each pedal turn, that is not always the case. When going uphill, for instance, a rider can get more force out of a wheel that turns fewer times, making the task easier.

Is poison ivy really poisonous?

A popular summer-camp rhyme is “Leaves of three, let it be.” Poison ivy, the threeleaved plant that grows wild in all regions of the United States, is aggravating to the skin, though not lethal if swallowed unless you are very allergic. After brushing up against the poison ivy plant, a red rash usually develops.

Rubbing the rash will not spread poison ivy to other parts of the body (or to another person) unless urushiol oil—the sticky, resin-like substance that causes the rash—has been left on your hands. Other plants that usually irritate the skin upon contact include cowhage, poison oak, poison sumac, rengas tree, and trumpet vine.

Where are the world’s rain forests?

The name “rain forest” comes from the fact that these lush areas of land receive a lot of rain—between 160 and 400 inches per year. They are located near the equator, Which means that their climate is warm. Rain forests cover only a small part of Earth’s surface, about 6 percent, yet they are home to over half the species of plants and animals in the world. For example, the jungles and mangrove swamps of Central America contain many plants and animals found nowhere else, including many types of parrots. The Amazon jungle in South America is the world’s largest tropical rain forest, and is home to one-fifth of the world’s plants and animals.

The forest covers the basin of the Amazon, the world’s second longest river. Central Africa has the world’s second largest rain forest. To the southeast, the large island of Madagascar is home to many unique animals. The rain forests of Asia stretch from India and Burma in the west to Malaysia and the islands of Java and Borneo in the east. Bangladesh has the largest area of mangrove forests in the world. Australia, too, has rain forests: undergrowth in this county’s tropical forests is dense and lush.

Are crocodiles living dinosaurs?

Crocodilians—scaly, carnivorous reptiles that include crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and gharials—are descendents of the archosaurs who lived on Earth with the dinosaurs 200 years ago.

Today’s modern crocodiles are semi-aquatic predators that have remained relatively unchanged since the Triassic period. Besides birds, they are the dinosaurs’ closest living relatives.

How did people communicate from their cars before cellular phones?

Before portable cellular phones, people like police officers or taxi drivers communicated from their cars using two-way radios. All of the radios in one city transmitted signals via a large, central antenna located on top of a tall building. With all callers sharing one antenna, the number of calls that could be made at any one time was very limited.

Consumers, like you and me, had an old type of cell phone that was permanently attached to the car and powered by its battery. The first transportable cellular phones had their own battery packs that allowed owners to detach them from the car and carry them in a pouch. However, most weighed about 5 pounds (2.25 kilograms) and were not very practical when used this way.

What is the Arctic tundra?

Known for its cold, desert-like conditions, Arctic tundra is located in the Northern Hemisphere, encircling the North Pole. The stark landscape is frozen for most of the year, and water is unavailable. Temperatures during the arctic winter can dip to –60 Fahrenheit (–51 Celsius).

In the summer the ground thaws for just a few weeks, and the region’s plants and animals—which include geese, sea birds, polar bears, caribou, and shrews—fight for survival. Because the tundra is not usually exposed to human activity it is most susceptible to change and damage from human use or pollution. Oil spills damage the plants, land, and animals that live along the coast.

How do helicopters fly?

Although a helicopter doesn’t have wings like an airplane, it uses the same principle of lift to rise and maneuver in the air. The blades of a helicopter’s propeller-like top rotor are shaped just like a plane’s wings—flat on the bottom and rounded on the top—and are likewise adjustable. Instead of rushing forward through the air like a plane does to gather enough lift to fly, a helicopter moves only its (three to six) rotor blades, which are attached to a central shaft driven by an engine.

The rotor blades slice through enough air—creating the changes in surrounding air pressure that produce lift—to achieve flight. Adjusting the angle at which the rotor blades are set helps control a helicopter’s lift and manner of flight. Because the angle of the rotor is adjustable, too, a helicopter has far greater maneuverability than an airplane: besides moving up, down, and forward, it can fly backward and hover in the air.

How does television work?

Television works through a series of complicated processes. It starts with a television camera, which takes pictures of scenes. Photo cells inside the camera change the pictures to electrical signals. At the same time, a microphone records sounds that are occurring during the scenes. A vibrating magnet in the microphone changes these sounds into electrical signals, too. Some television shows, like news reports, are recorded live, which means that they are broadcast to homes as they occur. But most of the television programs that we watch are recorded, which means that they are put on videotape and sent out later. The electrical signals of sound and pictures are stored as magnetic signals on videotape, which are converted back to electrical signals when played. Before a program is broadcast, its electrical picture and sound signals are run through a device called a television transmitter. With the help of strong magnets, the transformer turns the electrical signals into invisible bands of energy called radio waves (similar to visible light waves), which can travel great distances through the air. They can travel directly to outdoor television antennae, which catch the waves and send them to television sets that change them into pictures and sounds again.

Cable companies send electrical picture and sound signals through cables directly to homes. When broadcasting to distant places, communication satellites that orbit Earth are used to bounce or return the waves back to Earth, extending their travel distance. Satellites are necessary because radio waves move in straight lines and cannot bend around the world. When an antenna or satellite dish receives radio waves, it changes them back into electrical signals. A speaker in a television set changes some of the signals back into sound. The pictures are reproduced by special guns at the back of a television set that shoot electron beams at the screen, causing it to glow with tiny dots of different colors. Viewed together, the dots look like a regular picture. The individual pictures that make up a scene are broadcast and received, one after another, at a pace so quick that it looks like continuous action is occurring on the screen. The entire process happens very fast because television stations and broadcast towers are all around and because radio waves travel very quickly, at the speed of light. Radio programs broadcast talk and music across the airwaves using the same technology.

What is air made of?

Air is a mixture of gases that circle Earth, kept in place by gravity. Air makes up Earth’s atmosphere. The air we breathe is 78 percent nitrogen gas, 21 percent oxygen, 0.9 percent argon, and 0.03 percent carbon dioxide, along with water vapor (floating molecules of water).

Also present are traces of other gases and tiny bits of dust, pollen grains from plants, and other solid particles. As our atmosphere extends higher and higher above Earth, toward outer space, air becomes thinner and the combination of gases in the air changes.