By Sara Hoffmann
As some of my fellow bloggers have mentioned, one of the benefits of being an editor is that you’re always learning something new. I recently had the opportunity to help develop an upcoming Spring 2010 series called Is That a Fact? (cover pictured). This group of books explores whether there’s any truth to adages like these:
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Cats always land on their feet.
The things I learned while working on this series were fascinating—and, in many cases, also pretty useful. For example, did you know that:
• Chicken soup does help cure a cold, because it slows down neutrophils—special white blood cells that rush around inside our bodies when we’re sick. The neutrophils’ rushing is what makes our heads feel stuffy. So that’s why chicken soup can help unclog a plugged-up nose.
• You can tell what the outdoor temperature is by counting a cricket’s chirps. This trick works because crickets are cold-blooded. A warm cricket chirps more than a cold cricket, so the more a cricket chirps, the warmer it is outside. To use a cricket’s chirps to get the temperature, just count up the number of chirps in 15 seconds and add 39 to the total. The answer will be the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.
•It is possible to fly if you tie enough helium balloons to you. In fact, flying with helium balloons is a sport! It even has a name: cluster ballooning. (OK—this one’s more fun than useful. I wouldn’t suggest trying it at home!)
•Some people say that you can cure nighttime leg cramps by sleeping with a bar of soap under your sheets. Many scientists think this cure works mostly because people want it to, but plenty of leg-cramp sufferers swear by it.
Isn’t it amazing what you can learn by working on children’s books?