D4K Top 10 Questions

After each D4K, we sort though all the calls and emails and pick out our top ten questions. Our guest experts then give us the answers. Did your question make the top ten?

When you're done with this year's, you can look back at questions and answers from previous seasons:


Season 14: 2013–2014

Bee on plant leaf

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Bees (September 2013)

Thanks to Dr. Ron Bitner, entomologist and vintner, Caldwell; and Kirk Tubbs, berry farmer and beekeeper, Twin Falls for their answers

* Why do bees sting?  Show answer arrow down

Honey bees are really small and they have to protect their winter food. Their stinger is their way of defending their food. They've evolved in a way to protect themselves against something big like a bear. Bees don't like to sting unless they have to because when they sting, they die. It's something they do only if they absolutely have to. When you step on a bee, it stings as it feels it's going to die. (From Ledger at Kamiah Elementary School in Kamiah)  Hide arrow right

* Why do bees pollinate flowers?  Show answer arrow down

The pollen is the protein source for the bees to lay their eggs on. It's a benefit to the flower because bees move pollen from flower to flower and this lets the seeds develop. (From John at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)  Hide arrow right

* Why is there a queen bee?  Show answer arrow down

The queen bee is the one that helps regulate the hive. She has her smell, her pheromones, that calm and regulate activity. She lays all of the eggs and without her, the hive would cease to function. The individual bee is not as important as the colony. Bees work together in a group and each bee is important to the group, but each bee, by itself, couldn't survive. (From Molly at Berkswich Primary School in Staffordshire, England)  Hide arrow right

* Why do bees have four wings?  Show answer arrow down

In the insect world, wings are used for flight. With bees, the four wings operate a bit like a helicopter. The wings allow them to go where they need to go. Up, down, sideways . . . they can explore the flowers, as they need to. (From Bridget at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)  Hide arrow right

* Do bees have a favorite food?  Show answer arrow down

Bees can tell how sweet something is when they taste it. If they find a fruit or flower with a nice nectar, they will go back and tell the rest about it. So, they tend to go to the richest nectar source, or whichever has the highest sugar concentration. (From Jasmine at Berkswich Primary School in Staffordshire, England)  Hide arrow right

* Why do bees live in hives?  Show answer arrow down

The hive is just a place to protect the bees. Bees live together in a colony, a big group. The hive is a place to protect them as they work together. (From Bogey at Kamiah Elementary School in Kamiah)  Hide arrow right

* Are bees intelligent and do they play?  Show answer arrow down

There are different forms of intelligence. We regard the honey bee as intelligent because of her behavior. She can learn a lot and her workers can learn a lot in addition to giving directions. They have their own language. With solitary bees, you have hard-working female bees pollinating the flowers, and the males are flying around and checking things out. Bees are very smart. They figure things out very quickly. (From Alex at Berkswich Primary School in Staffordshire, England)  Hide arrow right

* How many different types of bees are there in the world?  Show answer arrow down

In the world, there are 20,000 different kinds of bees. There are 10 different kinds of honey bees in the world, although we just have one kind here in the United States. There are around 4,000 different kinds of bees in the western states. In Idaho alone, we have several thousand different kinds of bees. (From Millie at Basin Elementary School in Idaho City)  Hide arrow right

* How do bees buzz?  Show answer arrow down

The buzz you hear is the sound of their wings. They vibrate their wings and we hear that sound as a buzz. Each insect and how they move their wings has a slightly different sound. (From Freya at Berkswich Primary Elementary School in Staffordshire, England)  Hide arrow right

* Why are bees covered in hair?  Show answer arrow down

The hair helps them collect pollen. The pollen sticks to the hair, and when they go from flower to flower it is transferred around. Hair also helps them to haul pollen back to the hive. (From McKenzie at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)  Hide arrow right


A circle of colored lightbulbs

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Light & Color (September 2013)

Thanks to Henry Charlier, associate professor of chemistry, Boise State University; and Kathryn Devine, associate professor of physics, College of Idaho for their answers

* Does anything move faster than light?  Show answer arrow down

No. The speed of light is kind of the cosmic speed limit as current physics explain it. So, to the best of our knowledge, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. (From Ivy at the Idaho Distance Education Academy)  Hide arrow right

* What is color?  Show answer arrow down

Color is mostly about the wavelength of light. When astronomers talk about color in a visible image, we are talking about the wavelength of a visible light. Astronomers also use false color images, where we use different wavelengths, and we put those through a computer and assign the shortest as blue and the longest as red. So, we can make a photograph that you may have seen as infrared images in magazines or newspapers. Those are interpretations of assigning colors to wavelengths your eye can't even see. (From Jacob at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)  Hide arrow right

* How can our eyes see different colors?  Show answer arrow down

Our eyes see different colors because we have special cells in our eyes called cone cells. Cone cells detect color. These cells are set up to see certain wavelengths of light. When certain wavelengths hit those cells, they trigger a message that is sent to our brain. Then our brain comes up with what we think that color is. This is what we see. (From McKenna at the Idaho Distance Education Academy)  Hide arrow right

* How many colors are there?  Show answer arrow down

There are an infinite number of colors. It depends on how sensitive your eyes are to see the difference. A light wave causes a color to be a color. Light travels as a wave and the distance, peak to peak, is the wavelength of the light. A light wave can have any numbers of wavelengths, but that one is what determines the color of the light. There is no limit. So, there are an infinite number of color possibilities. (From Miya at Cynthia Mann Elementary School in Boise)  Hide arrow right

* Is light a wave or a particle?  Show answer arrow down

This is a tricky question because it's both. Light does behave like a wave. However, a digital camera experiences light like a particle because the photon hits the screen and you capture it like you would a particle. So, light has wave- and particle-like behavior. (From Logan at Idaho Distance Education Academy)  Hide arrow right

* Why is it when you look at the sun you hurt your eyes?  Show answer arrow down

The sun has lots of types of light that shine down on the earth. Some of them fall in the category of visible light, but there is some light that you can't see. One of them would be ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light can cause a lot of damage when it shines on something like tissue. When the eyes absorb this kind of light, it can cause damage to your eyes. So, you could really hurt yourself looking at the sun. (From Jazmin at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)  Hide arrow right

* Are there types of colors we cannot see?  Show answer arrow down

Yes. There is light that our eyes cannot pick up on or differentiate. It's kind of invisible to us. Our eyes have the ability only to see a tiny bit of what could be possible to see. We have built telescopes that can see in the longer and shorter wavelengths that we cannot see with our eyes (infrared or ultraviolet light). These telescopes can make pictures in a way that's visible to your eye, so we can see what's going on. (From Sarah at Kamiah Elementary School in Kamiah)  Hide arrow right

* Are there different kinds of light?  Show answer arrow down

Light is not just the type of light we see with our eyes. Only visible light is what you can see. However, there are other types of light. X-rays, ultraviolet and infrared rays are all types of light. The shortest waves of light are gamma rays and radio waves are the longest wavelength of light. (From Ella at the Idaho Distance Education Academy)  Hide arrow right

* Why do computers make colors out of the colors red, blue and green?  Show answer arrow down

There are many different ways that we can describe color. Depending on the application, what we are using it for, we have different ways of expressing a specific type of color called primary colors. When a computer screen, or even an overhead light, shines different colors, they add in such a way that if you were to mix red, green and blue, you would actually get white light. If you were to mix red and green together and shine them down on each other, you would actually see yellow. (From Ethan at Cynthia Mann Elementary School in Boise)  Hide arrow right

* Why does the sea look blue from above, but clear if you scuba dive?  Show answer arrow down

If you are out on the beach on a beautiful day, the water looks blue because the water is reflecting the light from the sky. The sky looks blue because there is a lot of stuff in our atmosphere like dust and gas. As white light from our sun comes into the atmosphere, it gets scattered. Blue light scatters more than the longer wavelengths of red, and that turns the sky blue. The water then reflects the sky so the ocean looks blue. When you scuba dive, it looks clear near the surface, but if you go deep enough, the blue light goes away and you see things mostly in red. The blue light gets scattered away and you are only left with red, the longest wavelengths of light. (From Justice at the Idaho Distance Education Academy)  Hide arrow right


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