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new internationalist
issue 255 - May 1994

...that have always intrigued you about the world will appear in this,
your section, and be answered by other readers. Please address
your answers and questions to ‘Curiosities’.

What are the pros and cons of microwaves?
Are they more or less environment-friendly than gas or electric stoves?

More microwaves, less flooding?


Microwave ovens use less electricity than do conventional ovens. Apart from saving on electricity bills this means less burning of fossil fuels and less flooding of valleys for big dam projects and hydroelectric schemes. Horror stories about leaks of microwave radiation belong to the world of urban myths. Microwave ovens are constructed to turn off automatically when opened.

JP Lethbridge
Birmingham, UK

Why do we knock glasses together before we drink?

Knocking it back in Singapore.


The first reason is connected with the senses. We can taste drinks and smell them. The clinking of glasses provides aural stimulation too.

The second reason is to do with safety. The knocking together of glasses can cause liquid to slop over from one glass to another. Any poison that had been put in one glass could therefore also enter the other, so the poisoner risks getting poisoned too.

H Foster
London, UK

Has anyone published a list of products and services that can be bought without doing harm to babies, animals, human rights and so on?

The Green Consumer Guide published by Victor Gollancz covers a wide range of products and contains an index of useful addresses of organizations to contact for further information.

Rhian McGill
Cleveland, UK

Awaiting your answers...

I’ve heard the hole in the ozone layer is getting smaller. Is this true?

Becky Arkwright
Vancouver, Canada

Is it true that during mating the male duck will sometimes drown – and kill – the female?

Rhona Mathews
Cardiff, Cymru, UK

Can anyone tell me where I can find information about a drug called ‘Filon’ which was withdrawn by the National Health Service in Britain around 1974/5?

D Mills
London, UK

Can anyone explain to me why we have managed to have women prime ministers in India and Pakistan and still have deplorable treatment of women?

Ashoni Arora
Queensland, Australia

Where is Judy Chicago’s installation The Dinner Party now?

Alison Reid
Whitehorse Yukon, Canada

Does anybody know in exactly which context the poet WB Yeats described the Anglo-American world and its culture as the ‘filthy modern tide’?

Nicholas Fernandez
Romford, UK

If you have any questions or answers please send them to Curiosities,
New Internationalist, 55 Rectory Road, Oxford OX4 1BW, UK,
or to your local NI office (click here for addresses).

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New Internationalist issue 255 magazine cover This article is from the May 1994 issue of New Internationalist.
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