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Ten science questions kids ask - and adults can't answer


According to research done in the UK, most parents use gimmicks to evade small inquisitive minds.

There is a basic question most parents fear: How are babies born? Perhaps that is why many prepare to answer it years before the children are ready to answer it.

But that's just one of the thousands of questions that puzzle little ones. And when the questions are about science, technology, engineering and math, 83% of parents have no idea what to say, according to a survey by the UK Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) of over 1,000 people with children from 4 to 12 years old.

The questions these parents say they could not answer are not necessarily deep, but basic, such as "why the sky is blue" or "why do cats have tails and fish with lashes".

Unaware of the answer is only part of the problem: two-thirds of respondents acknowledged that they answered wrongly so as not to admit their ignorance of the topic.


Questioning by kids can be scary, but it's not that complex…

And 61 percent said they used trickery to dodge these inquisitive little minds.

The advice of Naomi Climer, president of the EIT, is that parents should admit what they do not know and seek the answer with the help of the child.

"Parents need to know that it is perfectly legitimate to say, 'I don't know, what a good question, let's see if we can find the answer.'"

Here are the ten most common questions that British parents said they can't answer - and the answers to them:

1. What is photosynthesis?

It is the process by which green plants and some organisms use sunlight to turn CO2 and water into sugars and oxygen.

2. How can the universe be infinite?

The universe may be infinite, but we can see only a finite part of it because of the speed of light. In other words, we can only see those parts whose light has had time to reach us since the beginning of the universe. That is to say, in theory we can see nothing more than a spherical universe with a radius of about 15 billion light years. What is farther than that has not come to us.

3. Why is the sun so big and there are no humans living there?

It is not so big: it is much smaller than most stars we can see in the sky. But live there? Impossible: We would die of heat.

4. Why does the sun shine?

The enormous pressure at its center causes hydrogen atoms to turn into helium, a process called nuclear fusion. This fusion occurs when lighter elements are forced together to become heavier elements. When this happens, a huge amount of energy is created.

5. How did the stars reach the sky?

They collapsed under their own gravity from the large clouds of gas left by the Big Bang.

6. Why doesn't the moon fall?

The truth is that it falls toward the earth because of the force of gravity. But because it does so continuously and its speed is very high, it can follow the curvature of the earth and thus never collides with our planet.

7. Why is the sky blue?

Light coming from the sun enters the atmosphere and scatters in all directions. Because it has a shorter wavelength, blue light scatters more than purple and yellow, giving the impression that it occupies the entire sky.

8. Who invented computers?

It's hard to say exactly. We could say it was Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace in the 19th century - a brass machine they created was almost, say, a calculator. Or we could say that it was Alan Turing and John von Neumann who created the first electronic machines. Anyway, it was a work of many people!

9. Are bricks made of man-made material?

The ingredient, clay, is natural, but brick is man-made.

10. How many types of dinosaur were there?

It is estimated that there were between 700 and 900 species of dinosaurs. But how paleontologists find new fossils all the time, it's hard to know. Perhaps there are still many to discover.

Source: g1.globo.com