Science Questions with Surprising Answers
Answers provided by
Dr. Christopher S. Baird

About this Website

1. What are Dr. Baird’s qualifications for providing answers to science questions?
For the past eight years, Dr. Baird has been an adjunct physics professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The UMass Lowell physics department is one of the top in the nation. In 2012, UMass Lowell graduated more physics PhD’s than did 91% of the colleges and universities in the U.S. with degree-granting physics departments, according to the AIP. Furthermore, UMass Lowell’s physics department was ranked 52nd in research funding out of the 751 degree-granting physics departments in the nation, beating out Stanford, Brown, Arizona State, and Northeastern, among others, according to NSF 2012 data. For the past eight years, Dr. Baird has taught electromagnetics courses to PhD students at UMass Lowell and supervised PhD student research in the laboratory. Additionally, he has authored several dozen academic research publications, including various internal reports for the military. For the past several years, Dr. Baird has worked as a senior scientist at the Submillimeter-Wave Technology Laboratory, a laboratory that has earned several consecutive $30 million five-year contracts from the U.S. Army. Furthermore, Dr. Baird has served as a peer reviewer for academic journals such as Applied Physics Letters, Optics Express, and IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation; as well as a reviewer of applications for NASA fellowships and a reviewer of book proposals for CRC Publishing.

2. What is the purpose of this website?
The purpose of this website is to teach science principles that are commonly misunderstood, as well as to teach principles that are different from what you would expect if you were to make an educated guess. This purpose includes correcting science myths, misconceptions, and errors that exist in the general populace and in science textbooks. Unfortunately, science literature at the elementary-school level, middle-school level, high-school level, and even sometimes at the university level are written by non-experts and thus contain errors. An expert in a specific field of science is a person who has received a PhD in that field and is performing original, peer-reviewed, published research in that particular field. The main purpose of this website is not to teach basic science. Aside from the misconceptions addressed on this website, textbooks and popular science literature generally succeed in teaching basic science.

3. How can I submit a question I have?
If you have a science question you would like answered, email Dr. Baird at chrisbaird.ma@gmail.com. If your question fits the purpose of this website, it may be posted here for all to see. If the answer to your question is not particularly surprising, Dr. Baird will answer your question privately via email but will not post your question on this website. Feel free to ask any question you have. You can also also join the discussion and post comments at the official “Science Questions with Surprising Answers” Facebook page.

4. Why can’t I post comments on this website?
Generally, the discussion boards, forums, and comment threads attached to high-profile science websites are magnets for non-experts. As a result, they tend to be sources of misinformation, which runs counter to the very purpose of this website. For this reason, commenting on this website has been permanently turned off. To discuss an article on this website, head on over to our official Facebook page.

5. What is Dr. Baird’s area of expertise?
Dr. Baird’s PhD research focused on polarimetric electromagnetic scattering. He has also researched radar imaging, target recognition, and quantum cascade lasers. These research efforts pertain to the fields of electromagnetics, quantum theory, and solid state physics. Since Dr. Baird’s area of expertise is physics, the posts on this website that deal with chemistry, biology, astronomy, and geology rely more on academic journals, textbooks, and institutional websites.

6. What is Dr. Baird’s religion?
In order to carry out the scientific purpose of this website, it should be irrelevant what Dr. Baird’s religion is. When science is done honestly and methodically, the same results occur no matter what the personal beliefs of the scientists are. With that said, in order to answer the question, Dr. Baird is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

7. Why did Dr. Baird start this website?
Dr. Baird was bothered that so many science misconceptions are so widespread; from elementary-school textbooks to university students. In the interest of efficiency, Dr. Baird decided to post the correct answer in a public online location and then refer people to the posted answer, rather than personally repeat the answer in full to each misinformed person he encounters. This website has since grown into an educational outreach effort aimed at teaching little-known and poorly-understood science concepts to the entire world.

8. Does Dr. Baird have any experience with homeschooling?
Yes. Dr. Baird and his wife homeschool their five children and are involved in several homeschooling organizations. You can read a longer answer here.