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The Q? Blog

Smithsonian Science How?

Egyptian mummy and its X-ray at the National Museum of Natural History. Smithsonian image by Chip Clark.
by Devin Reese -- Apr 27, 2015

The most familiar mummies are the Egyptians, buried in elaborate...

The 2013 eruption of the Mount Etna in Italy sent materials skyward. Photo by gnuckx, public domain.
by Devin Reese -- Nov 14, 2017

Lava is the most famous hazard of volcanoes. It is featured in movies, and used to describe lamps, chocolate cakes, and mobile phone cases. But...

Skeleton parts from the Smithsonian's physical anthropology collection. Smithsonian photo by Jennifer Renteria.
by Devin Reese -- Jan 12, 2016

Did you know that you look the way you do because of the environment you grew up in? Of course, the genes you inherited from your parents play a...

Have you seen your cell phone lately? Photo by Devin Reese, Smithsonian.
by Devin Reese -- May 19, 2015

If you feel anxious when you don't have your phone nearby, you are not alone. With some 6 billion...

Front view of a trap-jaw spider head (family Mecysmaucheniidae) showing pinching mouthparts that snap shut to capture prey the same size or even larger than itself. Photo by Hannah Wood, Smithsonian.
by Devin Reese -- Dec 8, 2016

What sort of spider can capture its prey without a web? We think of spiders as web-makers, but about half of all known spider species do not make...

Blue beryl that crystallized as a 6-sided hexagonal crystal, not bus-sized but beautiful. Photo by Chip Clark, Smithsonian.
by Devin Reese -- Apr 1, 2015

In South Dakota miners found a crystal of a mineral called spodumene that was 42 feet long and weighed 90 tons. While it's an extreme example, the...

Museum mount of the last Passenger Pigeon, Martha, that died in 1914. Image 5.00467 by Carl Hansen, Smithsonian
by Devin Reese -- Nov 17, 2014

Pigeons today are so common that you’d think they are indestructible. Think again. The pigeon you find practically all over the world today is the...

Sea urchin (Araeosoma belli) with poison sacs on the end of its spines. Photo by Dave Pawson, Smithsonian.
by Devin Reese -- Oct 23, 2017

While this animal looks like a pincushion, you would not find it in a sewing kit. This venomous sea urchin, A. belli, lives on the ocean bottom as...

A robber fly, Microstylum morosu, with the facial bristles, or mytax (“moustache” in Greek), visible.  Photo by Eric Isley via iNaturalist, CC-BY-NC.
by Devin Reese -- Mar 16, 2017

What animal has been witnessed snatching a bee from mid-air, stabbing it with a sharp tool, and sucking out its insides? An assassin fly is the...

Leaf-cutter ant colony tending its fungus garden, presided over by the queen. Smithsonian photo by Karolyn Darrow.
by Devin Reese -- Nov 24, 2015

Ants have been farming for upwards of 55 million years. Humans started farming about 12,000 years ago. So, ants got a huge head start when it...


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