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Ask Maxim: January 2012

Answering all the questions you never knew you had (and some you did).

Why do we have finger- and toenails? 
Eric Carter, via e-mail
You were born with built-in multitools, and you’re complaining? Think about it: What else can be used to fight off bears, open beers, and operate scratch ’n’ sniff stickers? According to Ellen Miller, an anthropologist at Wake Forest University, our ancestors used nails to pick up food, grasp trees, and basically not die. Today our nails still protect our digits, give them über-precision handling, and let us soulfully strum acoustics. And while you may not use your sock-blocked toenails for much, our ancestors used their feet like a second set of hands for tasks like peeling fruit and stripping bark. Fun fact: Our nails are made from the protein keratin—the same stuff that’s found in hooves and horns. So next time you give someone the finger, tell him you’re a unicorn!


Why can’t I drive a hovercraft around like a normal car?
Don Carbone, via e-mail
Because you need turn signals for it to be street-legal. And because it won’t last long on your town’s pot-holed roads. Hovercrafts work by floating on a cushion of high-pressure air, which is kept in place by a balloon-like “skirt,” says University of Virginia
physicist Louis Bloomfield. But while this air cushion tends to stay put grazing over even surfaces such as water, uneven roads give the trapped air escape routes and would cause your flying car to fall flat.


Is it possible to get permanently high?
Joel Lek, Salt Lake City, Utah
Nope! “The brain eventually adapts to the drug, and it loses its effect,” says Wilkie A. Wilson, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology at Duke University Medical Center and coauthor of Buzzed. “In fact, the brain tends to adapt to anything that is repetitive—which is why we seek novel experiences in our lives.” That’s not to say that substances can’t seriously mess up your mind. Stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine can cause long-term psychosis, which is less like being high and more like being shit-your-pants crazy.


How can I open a beer bottle with my teeth?
Richard Laermer, author of 2011: Trendspotting and an avid opener of beer bottles, tells us how it’s done.
Decide on a beer and grab some gum. Unwrap two sticks. 

Use one stick to cover the bottoms and insides of your front teeth like you would with a strip of that teeth-whitening crap.

Take the second piece and add gum coverage to the insides and tops of your bottom teeth. Be sure to coat as many of these biters as possible, since this is where the pressure will be.

Put the top of the bottle in your mouth, chomp down as hard as you can, and turn. Don’t pull—just turn. Keep at it for about a minute and the cap will pop out. Like a girl who ties the cherry stem, you will get quite a few fellas aroused.