Why Do Meteor Showers Occur About the Same Time Every Year and Other Questions From Our Readers

In the latest edition of Ask Smithsonian, we sent your burning questions to the Institution’s curators

According to mineralogist Jeffrey E. Post, having the Hope Diamond is like having a black polished table in your living room—every bit of dust shows. (Daniel Guidera)
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We can’t alter his work, but to prolong its life we can reduce its exposure to light, which fades and degrades materials and adhesives; remove dust, so it doesn’t attract water molecules, which can corrode foils; and clean the Throne, to keep it shiny and true to the artist’s concept of a heavenly setting for salvation.
Helen Ingalls
Objects Conservator Smithsonian American Art Museum

Jazz from the 1920s sounds nothing like jazz today. Why do we use “jazz” for such different music? -- Patrick Leonard, Charlottesville, Virginia

In the past 90 years, jazz has changed tremendously, resulting in a myriad of styles: New Orleans, swing, bebop, cool, hard bop, modal, fusion, Latin jazz and others. The many disparate styles of jazz are linked by melodies with bent or “blue” notes, call-and-response patterns, off-beat and syncopated rhythms, and, finally, improvisation—each time a jazz band plays a piece, it sounds fresh.

John Edward Hasse
Curator of American Music National Museum of American History

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