Can you scare off a shark by punching it in the nose?
Ari Margolis, St. Louis, MI
In a word, yes! “Hitting a shark in the tip of the snout is the best thing to do,” says Daniel R. Huber, a marine biologist at the University of Tampa. “All its sensory systems are focused there.” If you’re finding it hard to aim so precisely, try to smack the gills. “A blow in that area will scramble them up,” advises Huber. Can’t punch because it ate your hands? Ummm, try bleeding really hard in his eyes, because you, sir, are totally screwed.
Can I get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from playing Guitar Hero III?
Jim McManus, Brattleboro, VT
Detroit Tigers pitcher Joel Zumaya famously missed three games of the 2006 ALCS due to wrist and forearm inflammation. The purported cause? His obsession with best-selling video game Guitar Hero. Game reps are predictably mum on whether the insanely addictive GHIII can cause full-blown carpal tunnel syndrome (compression of the median nerve, leading to tingling and numbness in the hand), but marathon sessions can definitely give your mitts fits. Dr. Cordelia Carter, an orthopedic surgeon at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, warns, “Guitar Hero can certainly be associated with hand pain and tendinitis.” To prevent embarrassing injuries caused by tapping out solos on a tiny toy guitar, take a break every 40 minutes and ponder the emptiness of your life.
What is the spiciest, most stomach-destroying dish on the planet?
Josh Macintyre, Richmond, VA
We’ll defer to Dave DeWitt, coauthor of The Spicy Food Lover’s Bible. “You can make any meal the hottest in the world by adding an inordinate amount of chili pepper or hot sauce,” DeWitt says. “But the consistently spiciest entrée out there is vindaloo.” This traditional Indian gut-burner consists of chunks of lamb, beef, or pork slathered with a blend of chili peppers, cumin, mustard seed, and other spices. But who needs a whole meal when you can simply inhale a Bhut Jolokia pepper? With more than one million Scoville heat units (nearly twice as hot as the former champ, the Red Savina), it is the spiciest pepper in the world. Vindaloo made with Jolokia? An organ-melting hell feast we wouldn’t wish on an Al Qaeda rest stop.
What the hell do those car model number and letter prefixes mean?
Gregory Kinyota, Hoboken, NJ
Dude, are you trying to give us a headache? OK, here goes: Car companies use prefixes to convey information in a straightforward way, but there isn’t a single system for all cars, and there are often exceptions to a company’s own rules. With a BMW 530i, for example, the first number refers to model size (the 5 series), the last two to engine size (3.0-liter), and the “i” means “fuel injected.” However, the BMW 535 is a 5 series, but it actually has a 3.0-liter engine instead of a 3.5. Annoying, isn’t it? Letters may refer to a car feature (“LEV” means “low-emission vehicle”) or trumpet a specific brand (with the Jaguar XJ, “XJ” means “experimental Jaguar.”) And it only gets sillier from there. But don’t worry, Greg, you’ll be fine as long as you remember this essential code: Camaro = Pussymobile.