Unanswered Questions

From Slate\’s "The Explainer" column, questions they didn\’t think they could answer.

Why don\’t humans have a mating season?

Because not having a mating season is one of the things that makes us human*.

The other that amused me is this:

I am 79 years old. I bring this up first to help explain my question. In the late 1930s or early 1940s, I was looking through an old stack of Life magazines, and there was a picture of an old couple sitting on the porch of a cabin (or shack) up in the mountains somewhere in Appalachia, with the notation: "The King and Queen of America?" The small article with the picture stated that if George Washington had become king of the U.S., these two would (under the usual custom) be our king and queen. I have thought of this from time to time, even doubted it. (It might have been part of the propaganda of the time, the Depression years, that we were all equal, etc.) I am dimly aware that George Washington had brothers, and that it is possible that the descent is known. As I remember, it was a lovely picture, the old couple looking out over a valley, with mist, and smoking their corncob pipes. Can you find the picture? Can you tell me whether there was truth in the assertion?

Answer here. Mr. Google is your friend.

* OK, trite, I know, but it is indeed one of the major differences between us and just about all the other animals.

7 thoughts on “Unanswered Questions”

  1. I read that the human female lacking an overtly detectable oestrus was an evolutionary strategy to maximise copulations (since the male can’t be sure whether the female is fertile, he nails it anyway). Works for me.

  2. In retrospect, it might have been better for the US if its Constitution had been amended to make Washington hereditary monarch – i.e. figurehead – after his two terms as President, and separated that office from President i.e. elected head of the executive.

  3. @David Gillies

    Or, because the male never knows when the female is going to be fertile, he hangs around to make sure no other male gets in there first when she is. Works for me! 😉

  4. @Mr P

    Certainly! Males are better kept busy nailing bits of wood together in their spare time than nailing other females.

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