A cute picture of Mr. Know-it-all

Mr. Know - It - All

Installment 3

Dear Mr. Know-it-all,
I have asked assorted Veterinarians and other like minded people this question:" Why do dogs have black lips" and there has not been one person who has been able to provide me with a printable answer. Do you have any clues on the subject? I know you probably couldn't care less but it is a valid question.
Perplexed Pub...Australia.

 ogs' lips are black because of pigmentation. Animal pigmentation is a fascinating field of study, sadly underappreciated by the lay public. For instance, if you were to shave a tiger, you would find that its stripes are not just in the fur, but in its very skin. I strongly advise against doing this yourself, since tigers do not like being bald and resist the proceedure most strenously. And your HMO might, like mine, have an exception to coverage due to shaving felines in their contract. So take my word for it and save yourself a painful disemboweling. Oh, pigmentation is just a fancy way of saying color, but the medical field loves fancy words for simple ideas.

Dog lips follow dog noses. If you look, you'll notice that dogs noses come mainly in black, but some other shades (brown on the Golden Retriever, for example) as well. Dog lip colors by and large match their nose colors, and for good reason. Noses and lips are both made of mucous membranes, and so are very anatomically similar. So next time you're sitting in the waiting room at the vet, start comparing lip and nose color and see what you find. Try not to let the other patrons catch you at this, though, or they will become agitated. Explaining that you are just carrying out a science experiment will only agitate them further, as they may misunderstand and think you are trying to decide whether their beloved pet is worth kidnapping for animal experimentation. I don't know how sympathetic the police are to that sort of thing in Australia, but I can tell you around these parts you can spend some time in the hoosegow before your lawyer can clear up the unfortunate misunderstanding.
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Dear Mr. Know-it-all,
I'm worried about my house being wiped out by a tornado. Some people have advised me to open a couple of windows a little bit in order to "equalize the pressure". Does this really work?
Judy Ragland, Abilene Kansas

 his idea won't work and is due to a misconception about where the pressure difference between a tornado and the inside of a house arises. Yes, there is a pressure difference between the air in the high winds of a tornado and the still air inside the house. But the pressure difference arises almost entirely from the wind speed of the tornado. Simply put, the only way to equalize the pressure is to equalize the wind speed inside and outside the house, and in this case the cure is likely to be worse than the disease.

Daniel Bernoulli discovered long ago that the pressure a fluid (such as air) exerts decreases with increasing speed, and this effect was not surpisingly named after him: The Bernoulli Principle. On a side note, when Einstein discovered that light could make current flow in certain materials, it wasn't named the Einstein Principle but the photoelectric effect, for which he won a Nobel prize. This just shows that the naming convention of physical laws etc. is as haphazard as the methodology of science is precise. Bernoulli was quite famous in his day, and came from a famous family, but he is quite forgotten now. A maker of removable drives discovered this when they named their drive system "Bernoulli". Sales were not what were hoped for (could be due to the company's own odd name, Iomega), and when they developed new technology they wisely named the new drives "Zip" and "Jaz". These names of course don't mean anything except possibly "fly off the shelves".

Anyway, the Bernoulli Principle is quite important in airflow, and is infact what allows a plane to fly as the air goes faster over the top of the wings than on the bottom, and so the air on the top has less pressure than the air on the bottom, and thus lift is generated by the air on the bottom pushing (the Anglo-Saxon word for pressure) up harder than the air on the top pushing down. So when you have a strong wind flowing by the side of a house or over the roof, the air inside the house will push outward more strongly than the air outside will push inward, whether you have your windows slightly opened or not. The wind that flows against the house does push inward, so when you have a strong wind, the two side walls and the roof want to fly outward and the walls in the path of the wind want to fly inward. Since the roof is usually larger than any single wall, and relies heavily on its own weight to stay attached to the rest of the house, it is often the first and sometimes the only major part of the house to fail during a wind storm.

So don't run around slightly opening windows (or all the way open, for that matter) when a tornado is coming, but take shelter in the basement or absent a basement in the interior of house on the ground floor with as many interior walls around you as possible.

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Dear Mr. Know-it-all,
I've dating a wonderful man for three years now. I want to get married but he keeps putting me off. He tells me he loves me and I believe him, so why won't he marry me?
Hallgerd Hoskuldsdottir, Hlidarend, Iceland

 any men find it harder to commit to marriage than many women because their conception of the ideal mate is different. Simply put, many men are looking for Ms. Perfect, while many women are looking for Mr. Right. And as I'm sure you understand, the qualifications for Right are easier to find than for Perfect.

The qualifications for Mr. Right usually include an area of improvement that his prospective mate feels she can help him with. It can't be a trivial area, and far too many women think they can help with some pretty glaring problems that anyone else knows just aren't going to get much better. This need for a man to be improved can provide some woman with the feeling that her man needs her, not just wants her. Sadly, while men do change with the passage of time, they learn far more from life's teachings than they do from their loving spouses instruction and so often change in ways their wife never intended and but leave the faults the wife has been trying to correct alone.

The qualifications for Mrs. Perfect are of course quite lofty, and can require lengthy periods of investigation. A common male worry is that if he goes ahead and does get married, a woman will come along later and be more perfect than his wife, thus demonstrating that he made the wrong decision. And where often the wife feels it is part of the marriage agreement that she be able mold her mate into a better man, her husband just as often feels that part of the agreement was that his wife never change, not even physically. Sadly, women change as they too learn from life (and age) and often this is mistaken by her mate as a sign of becoming non-perfect, since if she was perfect to begin with she shouldn't need to change.

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That concludes the third installment of Mr. Know-it-all. If you have any questions you would like to ask him, please email him at MrKnowitall@bigbrain.org and mention that you want to see the answer published in The Murphy NexusTM.

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This page last updated 16 May 1999

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