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Ask us: things you want to know.(Great Slave Lake, emporor penguins, largest lobster)(Brief Article)
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THE ANSWER PLACE

Our Research Correspondence staff responds to questions from curious readers.

Q How did Great Slave Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories get its name?

A Great Slave Lake is named for a tribe of Native Americans who resided on its shores. They lived on fish and stayed close to home. To their aggressive neighbors, the Cree, they seemed servile and were called awonak, or slaves. Explorer Peter Pond traded with the Cree and followed their lead, using the label Slave Lake on his 1785 map, then Great Slave Lake on the 1790 version.

Q Why would male emperor penguins elect to stand on the outer ring of a huddle?

A Each penguin takes his turn on the outside of the huddle, but he doesn't have to brave the Antarctic winds for long. Males huddle to conserve heat during the 65 days it takes to incubate their eggs. (The females, meanwhile, are feeding far offshore.) When a penguin on the windward edge of the huddle gets cold, he peels off and moves to the leeward side of the mass, balancing his egg on his feet under a fold of skin. Eventually each penguin gets his chance to warm up in the center. Huddles can cut a penguin's heat loss in half.

Q How do smell and color affect the taste of food?

A Although the tongue's taste buds sense the basics--sweet, salt, sour, and bitter--our sense of smell, thousands of times more sensitive, brings in the subtleties. A blindfolded person with nostrils pinched will likely find it difficult to tell a sliver of apple from one of raw potato or even onion. Little scientific research has been done on color's effects, if any, on the taste of food, but according to restaurant designers, warm tints--oranges, reds--stimulate appetite, while the opposite is true for shades of blue.

Q What is the largest lobster ever caught?

A The biggest on record is an American lobster trapped off Nova Scotia, Canada, on February 11, 1977, that weighed 44 pounds 6 ounces and was three feet six inches long from the end of the tail fan to the tip of the large claw. It was sold to a New York restaurateur.

TELL US

Why is a sidewalk in Beijing, China, a good place for this man to practice calligraphy? Hint: His characters could be called into question.

Think you know the answer? Go online to nationalgeo graphic.com/ngm/tellus/ 0202 and test yourself, or read it here in next month's issue.

January answer The wall is made of hand-rolled Cuban cigars neatly stacked and ready to be packaged at a factory in Havana.

MORE INFORMATION

Send questions to Ask Us, National Geographic Magazine, PO Box 96095, Washington, DC 20090-6095 or via the Internet to ngsaskus@national geographic.com. Include name, address, and daytime phone number.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2002 National Geographic Society
Source Citation
"Ask us: things you want to know." National Geographic Feb. 2002: 1. Global Reference on the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources. Web. 18 June 2019.
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