giz asks
Can You Get a Disease From a Toilet Seat?

The world is filled with disgusting toilets. You might personally prefer toilets that smell okay and aren’t covered in filth, but try telling that to whichever organs are involved in making you really need to use the bathroom. It has happened before, and it will happen again: you’ll be at a public bus station, or a music festival, or the apartment of a man under the age of 26, and you’ll realise, suddenly, that you no longer have any choice. Read More >>

giz asks
Are Plants Conscious?

Animal rights activists have done stellar work in foregrounding the question of creature-consciousness: no meat-eater is now ignorant of the fact that their food once lived, breathed, maybe nuzzled its kin in a blood-soaked slaughterhouse. Environmentalists have a harder go of it. Fracking footage will always be less upsetting than your average fast food expose: Plants, after all, can’t wail frantically as they’re mowed down by the millions. But does that mean they’re not conscious? Is it sensible, or desirable, to start anthropomorphising crabgrass and dandelions, or are plants really as insensitive as we all instinctively assume? Read More >>

giz asks
Can You Vape to Death?

I never thought I’d see the day, but vaping—the bejewelled fedora of nicotine delivery methods—is starting to seem a lot less ridiculous. Or, at least, somewhat less ridiculous. Juuling teens are still reliably funny. But at the same time, there are real, credentialed doctors out there making a case for vaping as a viable alternative to conventional smoking. One doctor, speaking to the New Yorker, claimed that if 10 per cent of the cigarette smoking population switched over to e-cigs, 6.6 million lives would be saved. Of course, we’re still unclear on what the long-term risks might be—some studies have suggested that e-cig vapour can be carcinogenic, and contain arsenic and lead. So if we’re all going to switch over to vaping, it might be useful at least to know, in the short-term, if it could possibly kill you. Read More >>

giz asks
Why Do We Have Bums?

When separates us from the animals? Is it the burden of consciousness, the terror of knowing that one day we will die, along with everyone we’ve ever loved? Or is it our big weird arses? Read More >>

giz asks
Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails?

Cats are enigmatic little creatures. It’s hard to get a read on the species. Does your cat love you, or would it gladly stab you in your sleep, if only it had thumbs and a slightly larger brain? The cat never tells—it thrives on inscrutability. But it can’t help betraying certain signs of its inner life: it’s hard to play things totally cool when you have a large, ungainly tail sticking out of your back, swishing this way and that for no immediately clear reason. Do these movements actually mean anything? Or is this just the species’ way of distracting us from whatever it is they’re really feeling? Read More >>

giz asks
What Shapes Are Things in Outer Space?

It’s an orgy of geometry, here on Earth. You got all kinds of shapes: Squares, trapezoids, even the occasional rhombus. Apples, desk-chairs, and dandelions—just an abundance of shape-having stuff. Outer space, in contrast, is minimally decorated: asteroids, stars, planets, galaxies. Big-picture stuff. We know the Earth is round—or, at least, most of us do—but what about the other stuff? What shapes are twirling around up there, and why do they look like that? Read More >>

giz asks
Which Animal Kills the Most Humans?

Animals fatally maul, sting, trample, and chew about a million humans per year. Pretty nice of them, given the numbers on our side—the average of 950 million birds we kill in the UK every year for our consumption, for instance. In an ideal world, no one would ever get mauled by a bear, or contract rabies from a feral squirrel. But for this week’s Giz Asks, we’re asking which creatures are most desperate for our blood (or, in fairness to the animal kingdom, which are most likely to kill us by accident). Read More >>

giz asks
Is the VR Universe in Ready Player One Possible?

In 2018, nearly everything is in place for a descent into a Ready Player One-style dystopia. The way things are going, we should be destitute and beaten down by climate change long before the 2040s. All we’re missing, for now, is the technology. People are already more than happy to spend huge percentages of their lives hooked up to alternate realities (social media, MMO games, binged television) but these are all rudimentary compared to Ready Player One’s immersive, hyper-lifelike OASIS VR universe. Those looking to escape the grim, cash-squeezed drudgery of day-to-day life through fully-immersive VR will have to wait, for now, until someone invents a way to get 75% of the country’s population on the same platform. Read More >>

giz asks
Is Amazon Evil and Am I Evil for Using It?

1-Click ordering a massively discounted flat-screen TV, or seventy pounds of coarse-grained salt, it can be easy to forget, or temporarily repress, all those stories you’ve read about, say, working conditions in Amazon’s warehouses, or its propagation of the gig economy through contract labour. Read More >>

giz asks
Why Is My Face Changing Shape as I Get Older?

Two decades of healthy growth, followed by four to eight decades of slow-motion physical and mental collapse—that’s life, for most of us, despite the efforts of various deluded cranks and tech billionaires. Time spares nothing, and seems particularly to have it out for our faces, paying just as much attention to skin-level deformations (worry-lines, wrinkles, tumorous outgrowths) as it does to the large-scale hollowings and saggings which, over time, change the actual shape of our faces. Read More >>

giz asks
What’s the Filthiest Animal?

Ever since the 19th century, when disease was first linked to sewage-contaminated water, humans have gone to great lengths to escape their own filth. Meanwhile, animals have gone on revelling in the stuff—eating it, strategically dropping it, flinging it around just to pass the time, etc. Same goes for mud, piss, vomit, blood and rotting carcasses of every make and vintage. Most creatures just don’t have our hang-ups. Read More >>

giz asks
How Do You Hear Without ‘Ears’?

History’s littered with lost ears: Van Gogh’s, Evander Holyfield’s, that ear Kyle MacLachlan finds in a field in Blue Velvet, etc. Or maybe ears is the wrong word. The weird little flesh-whorls that jut out from the sides of most of our heads are just small components of a much larger, delicately interconnected system. Remove part of that system with a razor-blade upon learning that your brother is getting married, and you risk seriously compromising it. Read More >>

giz asks
Can Black Panther’s Vibranium Ever Be Real?

Vibranium’s the lifeblood of the Black Panther universe—the metal that helped propel Wakanda into a hyper-advanced technological society and granted Black Panther his superheroic abilities via a Vibranium-mutated heart-shaped herb. The Wakandan strain, sheared off a meteorite hundreds of years ago, has a number of useful properties—primarily, its ability to store more energy than any known terrestrial substance. As armour, it renders its wearer unstoppable; as footwear material, it can neutralise leaps from tall buildings. Read More >>

giz asks
Do Animals Have a Sense of Competition?

Humans do the wildest things to animals—stick them with experimental drugs, mash them into cheap nuggets, mount their severed heads on dining room walls. Against this backdrop of chaos and mass extermination the Puppy Bowl seems fairly benign, as do all those other events, like the Kentucky Derby, where animals are forced to play sports for our amusement. We know that humans like these games, especially when their bets pay off; but how do the animals feel? What’s, say, on a horse’s mind, when it finishes first in a race? Can an animal have some sense that it’s won something, or, for that matter, lost? Read More >>

giz asks
How Do Winter Olympians Stay Warm?

Nearly three thousand athletes have made their way to the Winter Olympics this month, and probably at least a couple are cursing the day they ever decided to become world-class bobsledders: Reports out of Pyeongchang list the temperature at or around a murderous subzero, putting this year’s games on track to be the coldest since 1994—with matters not much helped by the fact that, in their haste to get a stadium in shape, South Korea’s builders neglected to include a roof. Read More >>