Ask Ms. Scientist: Cell phones and moons

Where did the moon come from?

Edwin H.

The moon is thought to have been around for at least 4.6 billion years. While scientists aren’t completely certain how the moon formed, the most popular theory is the giant-impact hypothesis. Scientists hypothesize that back in the days of early Earth (which scientists call proto-Earth), about 60 million years after the formation of our solar system, a Mars-sized protoplanet (an early stage of a planet’s formation) called Theia hurdled toward and glanced off proto-Earth, breaking off a large amount of Earth material. While the theoretical Theia doesn’t appear to be with us any longer, some of the material that broke off Earth condensed into a sphere that we now call our moon. So in a way, moon rocks are really Earth rocks that have been separated from each other for a very long, long time.

Why is it hard to focus while using our cell phones?

Steve J.

Constant connection to our phones requires constant multitasking. Our brains are not talented multitaskers. Humans are typically able to multitask activities that use different parts of the brain fairly well, such as folding laundry and listening to the radio. However, using a cell phone activates many areas of the brain, making it nearly impossible to successfully multitask with electronics. There is a brain mechanism in the frontal lobe, the big part behind our foreheads, called the “stop system”. This helps us engage in multiple complicated tasks. This system kicks into overdrive when we use our cell phones while trying to accomplish another task. Instead of increasing productivity, you will have to slow down one task or risk making mistakes. Just like driving while using a cell is not productive, so is any other activity paired with electronics.

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