Ipso Factoid: Daily Mail in Mildly Educational Shocker

The Daily Mail recently produced a list of questions commonly asked of parents by their naturally curious children about science and the world around them. Rather unsettlingly, the answers provided weren’t completely terrible. The questions ranged from the impressively complex: “What is a prime number?”, “What is infinity?” and “What is time?” (do children really wonder about these things?); to the classics: “How do planes fly in the sky” and “Where does the wind come from?”. I must say I was shocked to learn that wind was not caused by trees sneezing.

WHAT ARE BLACK HOLES?

A black hole is a region of space from which nothing, including light, can escape.
It is all due to gravity – the force which pulls objects towards each other. It keeps the Earth moving around the Sun, instead of flying off into space, and holds us all down on the surface of the Earth.

A black hole’s gravity is so strong that not even light can escape its pull. Because the light is dragged towards a black hole, it cannot shine and so looks completely black.

Dr Marek Kukula, Royal Observatory

WHERE DOES WATER COME FROM?

Most scientists think the Earth’s water came from water-rich asteroids (really tiny planets) and comets raining down on the planet when it was young.

Others think the oceans were home-grown – they may have formed because the young Earth had a thick blanket of a gas called hydrogen, which reacted with chemicals in the Earth’s surface to form lakes and seas.

Roger Highfield, Editor, New Scientist

It does get a bit shaky when The Daily Mail tries to answer some of the trickier questions. The Mail’s own advise columnist Bel Mooney has a crack at dealing with the existential angst of “What happens when we die?”. Apparently it’s all about plants melting, and living on in each others memories, or some such. And I must admit her description of sex (in response to the question “Where do babies come from?”) has left me wondering if I’ve been doing it wrong. “They give each other a massive cuddle because they love each other so much, and that amazing big hug is like two pieces of a jigsaw fitting together, or two bits of Lego”. Hmmm…

So, all-in-all not a bad effort from the Mail, particularly considering some of the stuff they churn out. Well done them. Maybe their journalist should continue writing articles pitched at a 6 year old level, they seem to be good at it.

See, we can be nice to the media sometimes…