Would it hurt if a plant-eating dinosaur bit you?

Absolutely. Being bitten by a plant-eating dinosaur such as Brachiosaurus, with its 52 chisel-like teeth, would certainly hurt! The bite of a Parasaurolophus, with its interlocking rows of teeth, might take off your fingers. In the Iguanodon, numerous sharp teeth were set in rows in the upper and lower jaws, and at steep angles to each other.

When the teeth were pressed together, the upper jaw was forced outward, creating a grinding motion between the teeth and its meal of crushed plant tissue.

Why is Earth mostly crater-free compared to the pockmarked Moon?

Earth is more active, in terms of both geology and weather, which makes it hard for craters to remain. Even those craters scientists can see on the surface—which may be millions of years old—have been overgrown by vegetation, weathered by wind and rain, and changed by earthquakes and landslides. The Moon, meanwhile, is geologically quiet and has almost no weather, so its hundreds of thousands of craters are easy to see.

The craters are the result of both meteorites and volcanic activity. Interestingly, some of the oldest Earth rocks might be awaiting discovery on the Moon, having been blasted there billions of years ago by asteroid impacts that shook both worlds.

Why is the ocean salty?

Today, about 3.5 percent of ocean water is salt. When planet Earth was still young, its atmosphere contained a mix of hydrogen chloride, hydrogen bromide, and other gasses from volcanoes. Oceanographers (scientists who study the ocean) believe that some of these gases dissolved in the early ocean, making it salty.

Today, however, most of the salt in the oceans comes from rain. Rain falling on the land dissolves the salts in eroding rocks, and these salts are carried down the rivers and out to sea. The salts accumulate in the ocean as water evaporates to form clouds. The oceans are getting saltier every day, but the rate of increase is so slow that it hard to measure. If the oceans suddenly dried up, there would be enough salt to build a 180-mile- (290-kilometer) tall wall around the equator.

Who invented radio?

Guglielmo Marconi, of Bologna, Italy, was the first to prove that radio signals could be sent over long distances. Radio is the radiation and detection of signals spread through space as electromagnetic waves to convey information.

It was first called wireless telegraphy because it duplicated the effect of telegraphy without using wires. On December 21, 1901, Marconi successfully sent Morse code signals from Newfoundland to England.

What does my brain do, besides think?

The brain is the body’s command center; everything we do—eating, talking, walking, thinking, remembering, sleeping—is controlled and processed by the brain. As the most complex organ in the human body, the brain tells us what’s going on outside our bodies (whether we are cold or hot, for instance, or whether the person we see coming toward us is a friend or a stranger) as well as what’s going on inside our bodies (whether we have an infection or a broken bone, or whether we feel happy or sad).

The key to the body’s nervous system, the brain contains between 10 billion and 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons. Neurons combine to form the body’s nerves, thin cords that spread from head to toe and all parts in between. Neurons take in and send out electrical signals, called impulses, that control or respond to everything your body does and feels. The brain is like a very busy, high-speed post office, constantly receiving messages and sending them out all the time; it handles millions of nerve impulses every second.

What is a space shuttle?

NASA’s space shuttle, also called the Space Transportation System (STS), takes off from Earth like a rocket but lands like an aircraft. It cannot fly to the Moon, but is used to orbit Earth, where the crew can do scientific work, place satellites in orbit, and visit orbiting space stations. Usually five to seven crew members ride the space shuttles, which have all been launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Six shuttles have been built: the first orbiter, Enterprise, was built in 1974 for testing purposes. Five others have gone into space: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour.

The space shuttle Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds after launch in 1986, and Endeavour was built as a replacement. Columbia broke apart during re-entry in 2003. NASA announced that the space shuttle would no longer be used after 2010, and from 2014 on would be replaced by the Orion, a new space vehicle that is designed to take humans to the Moon and beyond.

Is it true that parts of Earth are always covered in ice?

About one-tenth of Earth’s surface is always under the cover of ice. And almost 90 percent of that ice is found in the continent of Antarctica. The remaining 10 percent is found on the mountains in the form of glaciers.

The ice sheet that covers Antarctica is almost one-and-a-half times the size of the United States.

How hot is the Sun?

The Sun is extremely hot. The surface of the Sun (or its outer visible layer, called the photosphere) is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,537 degrees Celsius)— about 50 times the temperature required to boil water.

The core of the Sun, where solar energy is created, reaches 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius). It is so intense that nuclear reactions take place there.

Why is nuclear power dangerous?

The good thing about fission-generated nuclear energy is that very little fuel is needed to produce huge amounts of energy. (Two pounds of nuclear fuel could produce as much energy as 6.5 million pounds of coal, for instance!) The challenging part is that the process must be very carefully controlled. (In a nuclear reactor, control rods that absorb neutrons are moved in and out of the core to control the process.) If it isn’t controlled, the result could be a build up of pressure within the reactor. If this continues, radioactive gases might be released along with steam. It was a situation like this that happened at the Chernobyl plant in the Soviet Union in 1986, resulting in radioactive pollution that still exists today. An uncontrolled nuclear reaction can cause harmful radioactive materials (such as iodine isotopes that can cause thyroid cancer) to be released into the environment. This by-product of nuclear fission is a problem connected with nuclear power. Nuclear reactors are encased in thick layers of steel and concrete to keep radiation from escaping.

And because leftover nuclear fuel is highly radioactive, it must be carefully stored far away from people for decades or even centuries before it is safe again. Transporting and disposing of dangerous waste is another challenge presented by nuclear power; at present, used fuel is sealed in safety containers and buried deep underground. The nuclear process that we get our power from is called fission, where atomic nuclei that break apart produce great energy and heat. But nuclear power can also be created by a process called fusion, where atomic nuclei join together. Scientists are still working on creating a satisfactory fusion reactor. The Sun produces its great energy and heat through the nuclear fusion of its hydrogen gases.

What was a “computer” before the electronic age?

The word computer first appeared in the seventeenth century as the job title of a person who did calculations as an occupation.

Although slide rules were sometimes called computers, it wasn’t until the 1940s, with the development of massive electronic data machines, that the human occupation of computing became obsolete. These mechanical devices became known as computers.