The experts at New Scientist magazine have compiled together the useful Question Everything to explain some of life's great mysteries. Here are a few of our favourites…
Do animals recognise themselves in the mirror?
Gordon Gallup did experiments in the 1970s; he anaesthetised chimpanzees, then marked their faces with blobs of non-toxic paint. When they woke up, they saw the blob in the mirror, touched it and cleaned it off. Apparently orang-utans can also do this, but it has so far not been recorded in gorillas, monkeys or any other animal apart from humans.
Why is beer packaged in brown bottles?
Nearly all beer contains hops, which contain insohumolones. When the UV light hits these compounds, they decompose and lead to a "skunky" flavour. To protect against this, manufacturers use brown bottles to block out the sun's rays.
Why do sausages curl when they cook?
Sausage skin is mostly collagen, which shrinks violently in cooking because it is degraded and dried by the heat. Most cooking equipment applies heat asymmetrically, causing uneven shrinkage, which creates a curl.
Why does your own snoring not wake you up?
You snore most loudly when deeply asleep and hardest to wake. We live in bodies so noisy that we are equipped to ignore our own noises, such as breathing. This ability to cancel sound allows us to sleep through our own snores. But even our own snoring awakens us if a grunt breaks its rhythm in a way that our "cancellation software" can't neutralise.
Question Everything is published by Profile Books. RRP £7.99.
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