As much of Canada swelters in a heat wave, we start this week with an item about hot dogs and uncool cats.
Susan Riley of Chelsea, Que., wants to know why, when it is 35 degrees upstairs in her house, her two cats and her dog don’t go down to the basement for relief from the heat.
For cats, the answer is simple: They are thought to originate from the Middle East and have a body adapted to living in hot, desert-like conditions, writes Marco Veenis, a veterinarian in Kelowna, B.C.
For example, he says, “a cat’s body is much better at preserving water than a human’s.” A cat’s kidneys can concentrate urine (and save water) better than ours can. Also, “cats have an uncanny knack of finding the most comfortable and warm spots in the house,” he writes. “In the winter, my cats like to roast themselves in front of my wood stove until their fur is too hot to touch.”
But what about the dog? To answer that, we need more information on her dog’s breed and age, Dr. Veenis says. “Dogs were bred for different purposes and climates. Some dog breeds are bred for cold, harsh climates, others for warmer climates. Malamutes and huskies are bred to withstand Arctic temperatures and will survive outdoors at temperatures of minus 40 degrees. Obviously, chihuahuas would not fare well under these circumstances.”
Finally, he says, animals become less tolerant of cold as they age.
Why are Roman numerals used for the copyright year in movies and videos rather than standard numbers, as with books or printed material? Patrick Tallon of Toronto wants to know.
“I have been a documentary filmmaker for nearly 40 years and a movie fan for somewhat longer,” Michael Lennick of Toronto writes, “and this one puzzled me from the beginning.”
Over the years, he says, he has asked distributors and film historians about this. While he has received different opinions, the following explanation is the most common and seems the most reasonable: “According to legend, the practice dates from the earliest days of cinema, but truly got rolling in the 1930s when films were shown in ‘road show’ packages throughout North America, sometimes years after they were first made or exhibited,” he writes. The use of Roman numerals made it more difficult for audiences to figure out how old the film was.
“When television came along a few years later, with its insatiable need for packaged entertainment, the use of Roman numerals to denote the copyright year actually increased. Same reasoning.”
A final word now (we promise) on airport identifier codes. We’ve talked about the three-letter codes assigned to Canadian airports by the International Air Transport Association, such as YYZ for Toronto and YVR for Vancouver. But there is another body that defines airport codes, writes Tim Allman of Guelph Ont. “The International Civil Aviation Organization has a system of four-letter codes used mainly in flight planning so the public seldom sees them.” In many cases, the ICAO code for an airport is the IATA code with a C (the country code for Canada) added at the beginning. “So, YVR becomes CYVR and YYZ becomes CYYZ.”
Tom Jarvis of Whistler, B.C., notes that many commercial airliners have wingtips that are turned up at the ends. Why?
What’s the most poisonous substance in the world? asks Jackie Phillips of Toronto.
Let’s hear from you: If you have the answer to one of these questions (or a question of your own) send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your location and a daytime phone number.