Preethikha (13) asked a question about planting corn seeds in clay.

Preethikha you asked your question on behalf of your friend  Johan who appeared to be having trouble in growing his corn seeds in clay. I asked my friends about this and these were the ideas that they arrived at. 

The roots of the corn plant are very complex like most plants and they NEED oxygen . Clay is an important soil, it is full of nutrients which are important in providing the growing plant with food , HOWEVER  it is very different from most of the soils that we meet in our gardens.

Soils are composed of three types of particles: sand, silt, and clay.

The size of the particles varies, with clay having the smallest size and sand the largest.Smaller sized particles pack more closely together and slow the flow of water through the soil.The composition of a soil can affect the permeability (flow) of water through it.

There is the possibility that your friends corn seeds produce roots which are then ‘drowned’ in the surrounding clay soil. Investigate your friends soil and compare it to other soils in your neighbourhood. My next question for you is how would you go about investigating it ?


Malina (13) asks – If blood has iron in it , is it magnetic?


Apologies accepted. Yes Malina, it was an interesting question.

What I need to ask you, is do you know about electrons? If you do then you will know that elements like iron are made up of atoms. Each atom of iron has a nucleus of protons (positively charged particles, 26) and neutrons (uncharged particles, 30) and surrounding the nucleus are the electrons (26 negatively charged  particles). It’s the way the electrons behave that makes thing interesting. In normal elements like carbon, silicon and sulphur all the electrons are ‘tied’ to the nucleus. They cannot leave the nucleus. In the metallic elements some of the electrons are ‘tied’ but the others are free to move away from the nucleus. This is why metals can conduct electricity (which is the movement of electrons along a metallic wire). It is the free electrons which dictate whether an element is magnetic or not.

Still with me? Hope so – if not you could ask another question.

The electrons themselves are like small magnets and some of them ‘pair up’ as magnets can do. For some elements who have an odd number of free electrons you end up with a lot of free electrons for the others you get complete pairing. See below  for a pairing image.


A metal is classified as ferromagnetic (very magnetic) if it has a lot of unpaired free electrons. iron and nickel are two examples.

When the iron atom begins to combine with other elements to form your hemoglobin there is further pairing of electrons between the iron atoms and the things it is combining with so it loses it’s magnetism.

That was a lot to understand. Hope you have managed.


Ernie(13) asks -“What is at the centre of a black hole? What would happen if you fell into one?”


We obviously know something about gravity. We know that it is a force that is generated by the mass of an object. The bigger the mass the bigger the force that it exerts on other objects. So we feel the force of Earth’s gravity on us and the Earth feels the force of the  Sun’s gravity on it. The Sun’s gravitational force keeps the Earth on an orbit around it. If it didn’t exist the Earth and all the other planets would start wandering in space.

Black holes are thought to be a source of a massive gravitational force, because of their mass , which is constantly increasing, and they don’t just pull other matter to them they pull light in as well …thus a black hole. No light – darkness.

So to your question.  I think you could now answer that yourself.

Apply asked “If the pressure on the surface of a gas is increased. What will happen to the inter particle force?

A fascinating question. I asked my friends to look at this and they came up with a couple of definitions which might dictate the way I try to answer this question.

Your question seems to be directed at intermolecular forces between similar particles/molecules 

In a past question I talked about the way water molecules are attracted to each other by things called ‘hydrogen bonds’. This aids the formation of liquid water at very high temperature and low pressures. The molecules ‘like’ being close together. Another molecule is that of carbon dioxide – these are not attracted to each other so strongly. To attract each other they need to be ‘pushed’ much closer together, only then will they form a liquid. For some molecules like butane you need really high pushes because the attraction between the molecules is so small. For some other molecules there is no force of attraction, this can almost be described as repulsion. The gases, Helium, Nitrogen and Hydrogen  are only liquefied under immense pressure (push) and low temperature (low temperature slow the individual molecules down) conditions.