How It Works

BRAIN DUMP

Do planets made of metal exist?

Juan Hernandez

■ If the Earth was stripped of all the layers of rock, just leaving its nickel-iron core, it would be a metal planet itself. As it is, its composition is dominated by rock, and the same is true of most planets of a similar size. The closest to a ‘metal planet’ here in the Solar System is Mercury, which is 70 per cent iron by weight. At least one exoplanet – K2-229b – is known to have similar composition, but on a bigger scale. It’s comparable in size to Earth, and considerably denser due to its large quota of heavy metals. AM

Why does popcorn pop?

Rosa Blandford

■ Tiny water droplets inside popcorn kernels evaporate when heated up. The steam created ramps up the pressure so much so that the kernels burst open into a delicious treat. AG

Why isn’t all plastic

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