How do things like butter and chocolate melt?

Question answered by Catherine Riddle, PhD, Radiochemist, Idaho National Laboratory Both chocolate and butter contain fat (triglycerides) which is why they melt differently than ice.  Most chocolates (especially milk-chocolate) tend to melt into this sticky (albeit delicious) mess at slightly above room temperature as does butter.  So why does this happen?  Since chocolate and butter…

Since deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter and their ability to perform photosynthesis, do they have to store food to stay alive?

Question answered by Kristin Kaser, Plant Ecologist, INL ESER Program Yes, deciduous trees must store food to stay alive in the winter. During the spring, deciduous trees begin creating food through photosynthesis; they are simultaneously preparing for their dormant period where they store extra nutrients as starches in underground structures like roots. As the growing…

Do badgers hibernate in the winter?

Question answered by Bryan Bybee, Biologist, INL ESER Program The simple answer is that badgers do not hibernate. Hibernation is a seasonal behavior pattern characterized by long periods of reduced body temperature, inactivity, lowered heart and breathing rates, and suppressed metabolism. Body temperatures may be reduced to nearly that of the surroundings. By this definition,…

Do hibernating squirrels and marmots have better resistance to cold than other mammals, even before they enter hibernation? It seems like they would be too cold to sleep all winter.

Question Answered by Greg Burak, Biologist, Fish and Wildlife Service,  Boise Office That is a great question!  During hibernation, ground squirrels, such as the northern Idaho ground squirrel, enter long periods of time when they are inactive and sleeping.  This is called torpor.  While in torpor, the body temperature of a ground squirrel is about…