As a contributing writer and true generalist freelancer, Julia researched and wrote more than 600 articles for HowStuffWorks on topics ranging from how polar bears work to how police interrogations work. Julia received her B.A. in English Literature from Duke University and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Miami.

Recent Contributions

Henry VIII was responsible for tens of thousands of executions in his 36-year reign. Only the most prestigious of his subjects met their ends on the block. Which queens, cardinals and top political minds made this list?

By Julia Layton

Hummingbirds almost never stop moving is and their legs are small and weak. So do hummingbirds do everything in midair -- even mate?

By Julia Layton

While the ostrich might look like an avian punch line, it's actually a nutritious source of red meat. Why do ostriches produce meat that's more like that of a cow than a chicken?

By Julia Layton

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Entertainment media has always made a great scapegoat for bad behavior and violence. But is it legitimate? Do violent video games really lead to real-life violence?

By Julia Layton

Cleaning glass, whether it's a window, a mirror or a coffee table, is more about the tools than the elbow grease. With the right stuff in your bucket, you can get your glass streak-free.

By Julia Layton & Alia Hoyt

It's all connected! Recent rodent research suggests that immune responses and social behavior may be more intertwined than we realized.

By Julia Layton

Eco-plastic seems like an oxymoron, and it very well may be. What exactly is eco-plastic, and does it really help the environment?

By Julia Layton

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In 1925, after an auto paint job gone wrong, a young research assistant was struck by the idea for adhesive tape. But how does tape actually stick, and how are we able to peel it off a roll?

By Julia Layton

Did you ever make a potato clock as a kid? If so, you already understand the basic principles that make a soil lamp work.

By Julia Layton

While rebates and tax credits have put solar power within reach for many homeowners, it's still an expensive undertaking. How do you make sure you get your money's worth?

By Julia Layton

A few decades ago, the pursuit of clean energy was "green." Now, it's a necessity. Not only is our power consumption propelling the human race toward a hot, watery, lonely end, but clean energy tends also to be renewable.

By Julia Layton

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How does a hybrid car improve your gas mileage? And more importantly, does it pollute less just because it gets better gas mileage? Learn how hybrids work, plus get tips on how to drive a hybrid car for maximum efficiency.

By Karim Nice, Julia Layton & Sascha Bos

A bunch of Yale physicists decided to give Schrodinger's cat not one but two boxes. And that, strangely enough, could eventually prove handy for quantum computing.

By Julia Layton

In 2007, Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey came under fire for refusing to classify water boarding as torture. What does water boarding entail? Does it work?

By Julia Layton

Since its inception in the late '50s, NASA has accomplished some amazing technical feats. But what are some of the agency's greatest moments?

By Julia Layton & Mark Mancini

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You may assume you know how to wash baby clothes, but for their skin and good health, it's worth taking this refresher course. Washing baby clothes isn't a complicated process, but it is a different process than washing your own load.

By Julia Layton

Faster, safer, and more energy efficient, induction cooking is finally making waves in North America. But what is an induction cooktop, exactly? Find out if it's worth the expense by exploring these benefits!

By Julia Layton

Solar energy is clean and plentiful. There's one big problem, though: The sun doesn't shine all the time. Is there a way to keep solar plants powered up through the night?

By Julia Layton

Stethoscopes started as a way for 19th-century doctors to put some distance between themselves and grubby patients. Today though, this simple listening tool is one of the best ways to diagnose a range of problems.

By Julia Layton

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Polar bears are facing a grim future as global warming melts their Arctic home. What problems are they up against and what's being done to save them?

By Julia Layton

Sure, your hair dryer or toaster sucks up a lot of kilowatt-hours during the short time it's on, but what are the truly big drains on your home energy budget?

By Julia Layton & Sascha Bos

Earth Day is the ideal time of the year to form new eco-oriented habits. Here are 10 things you can do to celebrate our planet all year long.

By Julia Layton & Sarah Gleim

When there's a suspect in a crime and the evidence includes a handwritten note, investigators may call in handwriting experts to see if there's a match. How exactly do experts go about analyzing someone's handwriting?

By Julia Layton

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Underground mining has come a long way from the days of men with pickaxes and canaries. It relies much more heavily on machinery that makes it much safer than in the past. Which techniques are used in mining today?

By Julia Layton

In 2023, the U.S. bottled water industry was worth $94 billion, even with the rise of popular reusable water bottle brands.

By Julia Layton