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Curious Questions from Curious Minds!

Here are a few curious questions. Click on the ‘View Answer’ button to find out the answer! If you want your (child’s) curious question answered and featured here, please email us the question at curiopedia@thehindu.co.in along with your child’s name, age, city and photograph!

Month Year

  • Cat Confusion

    Why do cats have whiskers?

    Tabassum Ainul , Mangaldai

    A cat's whiskers, or ‘vibrissae’, aren’t just ordinary fur or hair. They help the cat see in the dark and steer clear of danger. At the root of each whisker is a follicle loaded with nerves. By brushing its whiskers against an object, the cat can detect the precise location, size and texture of the object, even in the dark. Cats use their whiskers in the same way that we use our fingertips to feel our way around in the dark – whiskers are so sensitive that they can even detect the slightest directional change in a breeze. Did you know that cats also have whiskers on the back of their front legs?
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  • Hot and Cold

    Why is Mercury cooler than Venus even though it is closer to the Sun?

    R. Tanisha , Chennai

    That’s a great question, Tanisha! The answer to it lies in the fact that Venus has a very dense atmosphere mainly made of carbon dioxide – the gas that we breathe out. This carbon dioxide traps most of the heat from the Sun. The result is a ‘greenhouse effect’ that causes the planet’s temperature to soar to around 462°C, hot enough to melt lead! This does not happen on Mercury because it has a thin atmosphere with very little carbon dioxide. All said and done, the best way to look at Venus is from far away – it would make a terrible vacation spot!
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  • Spooky Eyes

    Why do the eyes of cats shine when we flash a light in the dark?

    Abhinav Dubey , Vijayawada

    Looks scary, doesn’t it? Cats have a thin layer of reflective cells called ‘tapetum lucidum’ just behind the retina, the area at the back of the eyeball that gathers up light. When light enters the eye, it is supposed to hit a photoreceptor that transmits the information to the brain. Sometimes the light does not hit the photoreceptor. The tapetum lucidum acts as a mirror, bouncing light back for a second chance. This feature helps animals see better in the dark. A large number of other animals have the tapetum lucidum as well, including deer, dogs, cats, cattle, horses and ferrets.
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  • Disk Dilemma

    Why are local disks in computers labelled with alphabets C, D, E and not with A and B?

    Siddharth Sankar , Karur

    Good question, Siddharth! Have you seen a floppy? Floppies were a type of disk storage used earlier, before the current system of storage came into existence. Floppy disk drives were named with the letters A and B. When hard disk drives became standard in most computers, they were logically labelled ‘C’ since the first two letters were already used for these floppy drives. Though floppy disk drives are no longer widely used, hard disks are still labelled from ‘C’ onwards.
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