Ask a Scientist! Grossology Edition

Have a science related question? Ask away! We'll track down an answer from one of our OMSI scientists and post the answers.


Q: How long does it really take to digest gum? My second grade teacher said thirty days. -Savannah

A: It's a lot less than thirty days - more like thirty hours. After you chew the sugar out of gum, if you swallow it the gum passes through your body like any other indigestible fiber. Just like the fiber in lettuce, bread or any other food, gum will pass mostly unchanged through your intestines and come out the other end in one or two days.

A-TAC: OMSI’s Teen Maker Movement

Build. Break. Make. Indeed. OMSI and Multnomah County Library’s Awesome Teen Advisory Council (A-TAC) demoed their inventive hearts out at Portland’s first Mini Maker Faire.

The teens used MakerBot Replicators to 3D print mustache rings and space invaders, and an EggBot to personalize ping pong balls. Let’s just say visitors to the A-TAC table did not walk away unhappy. Over 5,000 visitors came to OMSI to view the many inventions on display.

Rising Stars Show Off… Demos!

As the toy car whooshes past at lightning speed, you realize that it’s hovering inches above the ground. The fan begins to spin and it moves faster than you thought possible! Is it magic? Is it using the force? No, it’s science!

Parents as Scientists: The Living Laboratory Project

If you’ve visited Science Playground on a recent Sunday morning, perhaps you are one of 185 visitors who have interacted with research scientists in OMSI’s Living Laboratory! A new partnership with Lewis and Clark College funded through a National Science Foundation grant is bringing cognitive development front and central in the museum.

Under My Thumb

At the January OMSI After Dark, more than 40 people gave us their thumbprints (and their bacteria) to help grow a bacterial lawn. A bacterial lawn describes the appearance of bacterial colonies when all the individual colonies on a petri-dish merge together to form a field or mat of bacteria. What we hope to see is a patchwork of the different types of bacteria and fungi.
 
Here is a picture of ours in a large dish.

Join us for National Engineering Week!

The Foundation’s signature program, Engineers Week, celebrates the positive contributions engineers make to society and is a catalyst for outreach across the country to kids and adults alike. Engineers Week is part of many corporate and government cultures and is celebrated on every U.S. engineering college campus. During this week, OMSI will be featuring an engineering themed demo per day in the Vernier Technology Lab:

  • Jitterbugs
  • Wire Towers
  • Computer Guts
  • Snap Circuits
  • Scanning Electron Microscope 

Ask a Scientist - February 2012

Have a science related question? Ask away! We'll track down an answer from one of our OMSI scientists and each month post the answers. 


Q: What is the scientific reason behind what happens when you put a cup of water in window sill and the water disappears? - Janet

A: Water evaporates over time - the water molecules change from a liquid into a gas. The water becomes part of the air you breathe. And it might condense onto the window on a cold day, turning back from a gas into a liquid!

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