Ask Ms. Scientist: exploding stomachs and stickers

Can your stomach explode from eating too much?

Lilia P.

The short answer: yes. The long answer: it takes a lot of effort and is very rare. Your stomach is most comfortable holding one to 1 1/2 liters on average. At most, your stomach can hold three liters. Your stomach has muscles that can expand with the food you eat. After your stomach muscles are stretched to the limit, the body has numerous built-in mechanisms to prevent stomach rupture. Some of these mechanisms include vomiting or feelings of nausea. In the few cases on record when a patient’s stomach has actually exploded, the incident was either due to intentional prevention of the natural built-in mechanisms or malfunction of the gut reflexes. The takeaway: feeling stuffed after a large Thanksgiving dinner is still far away from rupturing your stomach.

What makes stickers sticky?

Brooklyn M.

The sticky stuff on stickers is all because of the chemistry in it. The stick is caused by the bonds between different molecules. The sticky part, or the adhesive, is made up of long chains of molecules. When the adhesive comes into contact with a surface, the molecular chains on the adhesive form molecular bonds with the molecules on the surface. These molecular bonds are called ionic interactions. The more pores or spaces for the adhesive molecules to enter in, the better it sticks. Essentially, an ionic interaction is when a molecule with a plus charge comes in contact with a minus charge on another molecule, and the opposite charges allow these two molecules to interact and form a bond. It’s the same concept as how opposite poles on a magnet attract to each other. Stronger adhesives than regular stickers. such as duct tape, simply make stronger molecular bonds with the surface that they’re attached to, thus requiring more stress to pull apart.

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