Go Ask Your Father: ISS, Light Pollution, Traffic Lights, and Yogurt

Have you ever seen a gireep? I’d like to. I’d be willing to bet they’re spectacular creatures. Imagine what a gireep would look like. Long legs. Really long neck. Covered in fluffy wool. It’s what Bang would create if he mixed a giraffe and a sheep. Wouldn’t that be fun to sheer?

Now think of how dangerous a sharrot would be. A top level predator that can both fly and swim. Perhaps it has 3,000 teeth. Perhaps it has a beak for shredding. It would just depend on how Crash combined his shark and parrot.

That was one of yesterday’s ten questions I asked my kids. The questions really do show what they think of the world around them. They also their creativity skills. Plus it gives us a good laugh when Bang tell us he dreamt of a garbage can on a cat’s head.

If you have any fun, open ended questions for 4-8 year olds, feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Now to answer their questions…

1. How big is the International Space Station?

Too big to fit in the backyard, I’m afraid. How awesomeness would it be to visit the ISS? But, like Crash questioned last week, chances are good he’ll never get to go because of his heart condition. However, there are thousands of jobs required to get astronauts to space. Someone had to build it all here on Earth before it was assembled up there. Computers, rockets, solar panels, oh my! It took 115 flights alone to get all the ISS parts up there. It is now the size of a football field. It’s solar panels are 240 feet long. That’s longer than the wing span of a Boing 777. The station itself is 357 feet end to end and it’s larger than a six bedroom house.  Plus it zooms by at 5 miles per second. Per second! That’s 18,000 miles per hour. That’s almost as fast as I can eat a box of Thin Mints.

ISS

2. How do traffic lights know when to change?

Crash asked this question while stopped a red light. By the time it turned green Bang had an answer for him. Little people in the traffic light watch for when cars and they change the lights from inside. I’m not sure about these “little people”. They could be the Brownies (of the acclaimed Willow) or The Borrowers. Whoever they are I wouldn’t want their job. So if there isn’t little people in there, how do they work? Some work on timers. Usually found in areas of high traffic, these timed lights show red and green for equal amounts of time in all directions. However, when a timer isn’t required, vehicle actuation is used. This is simply a vehicle detection system mounted either on the signal itself or in the roadway. What I want is what emergency vehicles have… the ability to change the light. All I’d see is green!

3. How do lights pointing down light up the sky?

earthshine2_640-300x220This question arose one night while driving home. Crash could see some stars and he let me know so. I told him I’d like to get away from town and the lights so he could see a sky full of stars (and a moon and planets and galaxies and everything else that’s up there). Then he wondered how the street lights that are pointing down lit up the sky above. Light pollution would be part of the answer. Reflection would be another part. The Earth reflect light. That why we can sometimes see part of the moon that is not being lit by the sun. It’s called Earthshine.

All the lights on Earth have a similar effect. The light reflects off the ground, the street, the houses, the cars, etc… and back up into the sky. That’s why you can see more stars in the night time sky at the beach than you can in towns and cities. When the LA earthquake struck in ’89 people were amazed at the night time sky. Rumor has that some even thought what they were seeing up there was the cause of the quake.

4. How do they build yogurt?

Yogurt isn’t built so much as it’s made. But I get you’re asking, Bang. It’s your nightly “bedlunch” or bed time snack. 6:30 snack time. I know it’s dreaded because it’s the first step in getting ready for the dreaded bedtime. According to Dairy Goodness fresh milk  is fermented using lactic bacteria starters or “cultures”: Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Then the bacteria are added to heated, pasteurized, homogenized milk, and the milk is incubated at a specific temperature to maximize the activity of the bacteria.

The bacteria convert the lactose (milk sugar) to lactic acid, which thickens the milk and gives it the tangy taste characteristic of yogurt.

The yogurt is then cooled and can be flavoured with fruit, sugar, other sweeteners or flavorings.

Bacteria are grown in milk. Pretty simple. Don’t worry, you can’t taste that bacteria. God forbid the yogurt have chunks of fruit. Unacceptable. Hence, we by vanilla yogurt and put fruit in Crash’s.

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28 thoughts on “Go Ask Your Father: ISS, Light Pollution, Traffic Lights, and Yogurt

    • That’s their nanny’s name for it. It would be equivalent to a lunch if I let them eat all they wanted to at bedtime. Not sure where they’re putting it all! And they’re only 4 and 8. I’m fearful of their teen years.

      Liked by 1 person

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