Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dear Dr. Science,
Humans often times swallow air while eating. Later they release that air in the form of a burp. Do fish swallow water and burp water?
from Rob King of "Harrodsburg, KY"

Well, here's another solution to one of life's great mysteries, courtesy of the world's foremost authoritarian, Dr. Science. If you've got a mystery, puzzle or general conundrum that's been keeping you up at night, send it to Dr. Science. He's working for all of us and is only too happy to clarify the complicated. Drop off your question at the Dr.'s question page and it may qualify for the Questionable Hall of Fame, a collection of the best questions submitted during the past few months. While you're there, check out the Dr.'s fabulous collection of scientific merchandise and official geegaws at no perceptible charge to you!
"They do, and it's one of the more common forms of fish locomotion. Of course, burping water propels the fish backwards. Fish flatulence, on the other hand, drives the fish forwards. By cleverly combining these two forms, fish can turn on a dime, zip away from the jaws of a bigger fish, and generally have as much fun as a fish can have, which I suspect isn't much fun at all. For fun you need variety, and from what I can determine, fish exist in a monotonous form of underwater tedium that pales in comparison to the happy-go-lucky frolics we see in Disney or Pixar animated films."

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