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Ask Maxim: Cocaine, Earth's Rotaion, and the Dow Jones

What happens when I snort cocaine?

George Vasquez, Tallahassee, FL

1. Once you sniff the devil’s dandruff, it’s absorbed through the lining of the nasal cavity into the bloodstream. The euphoric high is nearly instantaneous, but any coke fiend will tell you that chronic hoovering causes runny, bloody, and sore schnozzes. Tissue, please!

2. A few minutes later the cocaine hits your heart, making your ticker beat faster and stronger. You’ll experience an energy boost akin to drinking a Red Bull on, well, crack, as well as constricted arteries and blood vessels that can cause a heart attack or stroke.

3. Within 10 or 15 minutes the blow brings the party to your brain, targeting the ventral tegmental (VTA), a vital area in the chemical reward system. Generally, pleasurable exper­iences release the feel-good hormone dopamine. Coke dramatically boosts dopamine production, causing an intense high lasting anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Also! Inhaling several hundred milligrams or more of disco dust can cause extreme paranoia and nutty Martin Lawrence–like behavior.

3a. Normally this flood of dopamine would be absorbed by your brain’s receptors, killing the buzz. Coke blocks those receptors, causing you to want to listen to “Sister Christian” and light firecrackers in your living room. Unfortunately, a steady stream of dopamine can rewire your brain’s pleasure system and lead to addiction. So read a book instead!

Is the Earth's rotation really slowing down?

Karl Wanbacher, San Antonio, TX

“Absolutely,” confirms John Lowe, head of the Atomic Standards Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “In 140 million years we’ll have an extra hour per day.” We asked if this might be catastrophic, and Lowe eased our fears: “The Earth has been slowing down forever. Before the dinosaurs we used to have 22-hour days.” NASA’s Dr. Sten Odenwald explains the reasons for the slowdown thusly: “The solid mass around our molten core spins differently than the core itself.” To which we replied, “Dorkasaurussayswhat?” So he elaborated: “It’s like applying disk breaks to a tire.” Another factor is the billions of tons of snow that accumulate at the North and South Poles. We lose about 25 millionths of a second per year, but with decreases in snowfall, we’ve been slowing slightly less. See? Global warming is good for more than just extending bikini season.

Is it possible for the Dow Jones Industrial average to hit zero?

David Reed, White Plains, NY

“Technically, yes,” says Sybille Reitz of Dow Jones & Company, “but that means every big American business sector is bankrupt simultaneously, which is unlikely.” She goes on to explain the numbers of the Dow are “the total value of the 500 companies divided by a number meant to illustrate their past performance.” The index keeps a watchful eye on its businesses, and if any of them look like they’re going to drop faster than our pants after a Taco Bell binge, it will step in. Take the failure of insurance giant AIG. “We removed it from our list in September 2008 after it was nationalized, and we replaced it with Kraft because of the uncertain situation in the financial world,” Reitz explains. Brilliant move, Sybille. The classic Kraft single is tasty enough to survive any depression!