ask a scientist



name: brattlett
query: how do you convince your mom to get you a dog???

Brattlett: A fine question; a noble purpose. The most important part of convincing your mom to get you a dog is to impress upon her that you intend to use the dog for the greater good. A dog is like any tool: its virtue depends wholly on who wields it. A dog confers substantial power, so just by having one a person of flyblown moral fiber can easily be bent toward acts of evil. Your mom just wants to know that by getting you a dog she's giving a gun to an honest cop, not handing an AK to a member of the Khmer Rouge; that she's providing a chemistry set to Louis Pasteur, not James McCullen Destro.


name: carlene
query: I am going to get braided extensions for the second time this year.I would like to know what kind of shampoo and conditioner i should use? I would just like to know how to keep my scalp clean and itch free if possible. Oh I am native american so I don't have some of the problems with braids that the African Americans do.I really don't know what those problems are. okay thanks
sincerily carlene

Carlene: We agree. What's the African Americans' problem with braids? Why must they hate all the time? Braids are great -- on the right person, braids are GREAT! And yet some people certainly do seem to have a problem with them. You know what we say about this? To those who would disrespect the braid, we either say "whatever", or we say "please just talk to my hand about this." Alternatively, when we're feeling particularly weary of the complaints, we'll say, "maybe you're right."

But none of that is either here or there; instead it's all neither here nor there, because you asked a question. Your question, if we cut and paste properly, was, "I would like to know what kind of shampoo and conditioner i should use?" Indeed you would, and so we'll tell you. You should use Prell, or Pert, or Pantene. Paul Mitchell is also good. The fact is that only shampoos that begin with the letter 'p' contain the natural moisturizers and gentle cleansers that your braids need to stay shiny and itch free, all day long. It probably goes without saying that the more 'p's the better, so Pert Plus and Pantene Pro-V are the best of the best, although some people don't like the way shampoos with a 'v' anywhere in their name smell, so the ne plus ultra is definitely Pert Plus. Take a look at this stuff in action:


name: tina murray
query: Who spawned Keith? I don't recognize him, and I am his earth mother - EXPLAIN!

Maybe the more apt question is: Who spurned Keith? We who know him well know that modern-day Keith can largely be traced to a single source : spurning. Getting spurned. The spurnings -- the awful, endless spurnings -- have had an effect on Keith so formative that, in comparison, who did or didn't bear him into this world is almost entirely irrelevant. So then, since you are his mother and deserve to know, we offer you the following hopelessly incomplete list of people who have spurned Keith merely during the course of the last week:

  • Lady Luck
  • The God of Punctuality
  • The Goddess of Respectful Speech
  • The Archduke of Cheap Airline Tickets
  • The Countess of Timely Arrival of One's Mail

Imagine, if you dare, stumbling through this life, reeling, always aware that you are constantly on the verge of being spurned by Fate, or Time, or the Bartender, or Mother Bonifant, patron saint of parking. What excruciation! What torment to know you live in a world which has turned its back on you! Which, even as it fawns over your neighbor, casts a cup of steaming coffee into your lap! You would -- we all would, wouldn't we? -- evolve a certain distance, secrete a shell between yourself and the world. And through it, you would appear to all who knew you in your carefree youth as somehow different, colder, removed, like a vibrant painting behind a sheet of vellum.

And if all that's not enough, you should be aware that Keith has been watching a lot of Little House on the Prairie lately -- he pinched pennies for the better part of a year to buy the deluxe Criterion box set of all 12 seasons on DVD -- and we'd be fools not to acknowledge the profound effect these viewings have had on our Keith. Imagine Keith as a mugfull of hot water -- you wouldn't be the first; now, in the form of Little House on the Prairie, add two, maybe three teabags. Let it sit for however long it takes to watch 12 seasons of LHotP. Not so suddenly, the liquid in that mug has lost its clarity, its purity of taste. It is now musky, spicy of scent, exceedingly potent to the tongue, so much so that the average taster of mugged beverages has a hard time not spitting it out. Yes, the mug's contents have changed. And yet a simple chemical test would reveal that their primary constituent, by an overwhelming margin, remains water. Crystal clear, most refreshing, highly agreeable water.


name: Joey Patoony
query: The old man that lives next door to me, Mr Meekham likes to touch me lots and I don't like it. How can I get him to stop touching me without risking the loss of sweeties he always gives me?

Joey, friend, it's time to grow up a notch. The fact is, life is a game of give and take, of this for that, of compromise. It's all as mindless, amoral, and perfect as an open economy. And you, Joey, friend, need to get used to it. Wise up, kid: If this Mr. Meekham breaks out a package of savories, and you want in, well then you'd better be prepared to break out what you got, and let him in. Does that make sense, Joey? Little Joey? Kiddo?

Hey, now that's all assuming that you're at least 18 years of age, by the way, Joey. And that Mr. Meekham is over 18, too. Or that you're both under 18, we think. Best to check the law in your state, just to be safe.


name: kalos with a k and no r
query: well i recently found a wart on my penis... and i have a wart on my hand... is there a connection?

Yes. One is a metaphor for the other.

Other people whose lives we've touched:
Oral law/Esterification/Religious belief/Peeing in public
Lied about being a virgin/Can short fat guy get a girl?
I need help with my penis/my hoes/directions/a girl...
How does one get over a girl with whom he was once involved?
I'm falling for a girl...
I'm 13 and have been asked to a boy-girl sleepover...
I write to seek your cooperation as my foreign partner...
Me and my sister are trying to convince my mom...
I am trying to find out what something is made of.
I just woke up from an awfully bizarre dream about you...
In less than 72 hours I will be on a plane for tanzania...
We are confused about Chinese Firedrill etiquette...
I've been having dreams featuring a particular member of the band...
I've been having dreams featuring a particular member of the band...
I'm a college student taking a science class...
I have a favor to ask...
I've been more or less completely miserable...
I am seeking celebrity opinions on a conundrum.



need advice?
ask a scientist!