Kate Kershner has a degree in creative writing from Western Washington University and has written more than 400 articles for HowStuffWorks.

Recent Contributions

Are you a person who likes to be social but also values some alone time? You are? How did we guess without knowing you? Welcome to the Barnum effect.

By Kate Kershner

Is the world really connected by an intricate, invisible web of knowledge-expanding energy waves? Sure, it's called the Internet -- and you're channeling it right now! Oh, you were asking about the ley lines? We've got an answer for that too.

By Kate Kershner

If you hear thunder during the winter, should you get your snow shovel ready? Find out if thunder in winter means thunder snow is coming.

By Kate Kershner

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To paraphrase the band Queen, thunder and lightning are very, very frightening. Especially when you're stuck in a car in the middle of nowhere. But can your rubber tires protect you from a lightning strike?

By Kate Kershner

Whether in "King Kong," "Journey to the Center of the Earth" or "The Lost World," humankind has long held out hope of discovering a secret land filled with prehistoric beasts. But is that even possible? Are dinosaurs still alive?

By Kate Kershner & Austin Henderson

Can you shower during a thunderstorm? It's long been rumored that taking a nice, warm shower is a dangerous proposition when electricity is coursing through the sky.

By Kate Kershner & Austin Henderson

When reeling off dubious facts (like lemmings plunging off cliffs en masse), there's no better retort to a skeptical audience than calmly explaining that it's not just true — it's science...right?

By Kate Kershner & Sascha Bos

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North America certainly has many claims to fame. It's got the Great Lakes, the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls -- all pretty impressive stuff. But can it claim tornadoes as uniquely its own -- and if so, what's up with that?

By Kate Kershner

Simon and Garfunkel. Peanut butter and jelly. Thunder and lightning. Some things are just better when they roll in pairs. But while we know that '60s folk singers and classic foodstuffs can also roll solo, what about these stormy BFFs?

By Kate Kershner

Rainy, dreary, Seattle, right? Everyone says it's the rainiest city in the United States. However, Seattleites are keeping a secret from you. Find out if their rainy reputation is real — or if the rumor's all wet.

By Kate Kershner

Seven ounces a ray! No, that's a lie. Measuring the weight of light is not as straightforward as that. So what's the more complicated explanation?

By Kate Kershner & Yara Simón

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There's no denying it: "Anomaly" is a great word, full of danger and mystery. So when an underwater object is declared a bona fide anomaly, it's no surprise our ears perk up a bit. But is the Baltic Sea anomaly worth the hype or just a big old dud?

By Kate Kershner & Yara Simón

Of course we want to go to Mars. Until we figure it out though, roving robots with names like Spirit, Opportunity, Sojourner and Curiosity are our best bet for digging up dirt on our nearest planetary neighbor. Want to go along for the ride?

By Marshall Brain & Kate Kershner

Have you ever met someone with a unique first name, and then all of a sudden you hear the name everywhere you turn? That's the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon at work. How did it get that handle?

By Kate Kershner & Austin Henderson

Long before crop circles captured the world's imagination, a Peruvian culture called the Nazca went about creating a series of intricate lines -- sometimes in the shapes of animals -- on the desert floor. But how'd they do it -- and why?

By Kate Kershner

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Thousands of years ago, the Babylonians created the zodiac and dropped a constellation when it didn't quite fit into their schematic. Its name? Ophiuchus. Should it be part of our horoscope?

By Kate Kershner & Kathryn Whitbourne

Light travels pretty rapidly, but when it comes to faraway galaxies, that light takes a while to reach our telescopes. In fact, the light you see might actually be from billions of years ago.

By Kate Kershner

Have you ever watched a waterspout move over the ocean or a lake from what you thought was a safe distance? Don't get too comfortable next time. Waterspouts and tornadoes are closely related.

By Kate Kershner

Your bathtub is great for taking a soak, giving the kids a bath, or even washing the dog. But can it protect you during a tornado?

By Kate Kershner

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Cosmological redshift: sounds like the latest blockbuster coming to a theater near you, doesn't it? In reality, it has to do with how light itself travels -- and understanding how it works is essential to advanced space telescope technology.

By Kate Kershner

It sure would be handy to know what the weather is going to be like for the next year. Unfortunately, there's just one problem: Weather is notoriously difficult to predict. So is the Farmers' Almanac accurate, or is it just blowing hot air?

By Kate Kershner

From constructing bridges to blowing them up, combat engineers must have a head for spatial thinking and a heart that isn't faint. Ready to learn about these military enlistees who are as much action as they are equation?

By Kate Kershner

It bends to your will, it has nifty ridges, and it allows patients and little kids alike to slurp along with everyone else. How did the flexible straw begin its days?

By Kate Kershner

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As a zealous advocate for marginalized people in the LGBTQ community, Sylvia Rivera was a progressive and important figure in the movement.

By Kate Kershner

Turning saltwater into tasty, drinkable H20 at desalination plants is probably the biggest-selling point of reverse osmosis, but let's back up a minute. What's osmosis, and why — and how — is reversing it useful to us?

By Kate Kershner