Ask Smithsonian

Is the Earthworm Native to the United States and More Questions From Readers

You asked, we answered

When Did the Vice Presidency Stop Going to the 2nd Place Winner and More Questions From Our Readers

Also up for discussion—why are oceans seawater and not freshwater?

Ask Smithsonian: What Is a Freckle?

Those adorable and charming spots splayed across the nose and cheeks might also be an indicator of sun damage

Ask Smithsonian: How Do You Make a Mummy?

Mummification has been practiced for eons and the Egyptians are the best known, but not the only practioners


Ask Smithsonian: Is the World Due for Another Massive Plague Outbreak?

It is highly unlikely, experts say, but a plague-based bioterror assault is another matter

Why Do Astronauts on the International Space Station Float and More Questions From Our Readers

You asked, we answered

Ask Smithsonian: How Does Night Vision Work?

The ability to see in the dark is becoming more accurate and more portable

How Powerful Is a Volcanic Eruption and More Questions From Our Readers

You asked, we answered

How does skin heal? You'll never look at a scab the same way again.

Ask Smithsonian: How Does Skin Heal?

The skin is an organ system that is unique to each individual, so not everyone heals the same way

What Happens to Spiders That Get Sucked Into a Vacuum?

You asked, we answered

Ask Smithsonian: Why Do Flamingos Stand on One Leg?

Flamingos may be doing their one-legged tree pose to stay warm or just because it's comfortable


Ask Smithsonian: Why Do We Get Prune Fingers?

Some researchers say that, like tire treads, our fingers and toes could get better traction in wet conditions

Ask Smithsonian: What Makes Us a Righty or a Lefty?

Scientists are interested in studying why some of us are non-right-handers because it might offer insight into how the brain develops

Ask Smithsonian: Why Does Rain Have A Distinctive Smell?

Summertime humidity—and our own memories—help create the conditions for how we perceive the sharp, fresh odor of a rain storm

Ask Smithsonian: What Makes Skunk Spray Smell So Terrible?

When the omnivorous cat-size mammals take aim, the malodorous spray can hit with pin-point accuracy up to 20 feet away

Ask Smithsonian: What Happens When You Get a Concussion?

It's scary what we don't know about the lasting effects after a knock to the noggin

When Did Americans Lose Their British Accents And More Questions From Our Readers

You asked, we answered


Ask Smithsonian: How Many Rings Does Saturn Have?

The age, origin and purpose of Saturn's rings have mystified scientists since the days of Galileo

Ask Smithsonian: Are Cats Domesticated?

There is little genetic difference between a tabby and a wild cat, so scientists think the house cat is only domestic when it wants to be

What Are the Biggest Waves in Recorded History?

How do waves even get this big?

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