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Why Do Toes Wrinkle in the Bath?

The outermost layer of the skin swells when it absorbs water. Because it is tightly attached to the skin underneath, it compensates for the increased area by wrinkling.

Mary Cassatt, artist. “The Bath,” 1891 “The Kiss,” 1900

The answer to this and many other “Everyday Mysteries” can be found in the Library’s Web pages of the same name. Do you know how sunscreen works or whether a zebra can be domesticated? For the answers, you’ll have to go the “Everyday Mysteries pages.

This new Web presentation is brought to you by the Library’s Science, Technology and Business Division. This same division has been producing the so-called Science Tracer Bullets for many years. What’s a Tracer Bullet? The Tracer Bullet series contains research guides that help you locate information on science and technology subjects with brief introductions to the topics, lists of resources and strategies for finding more. Many of the resources listed in these guides can be found in your local library. From “Alzheimer’s Disease” to “Women in the Sciences,” the Tracer Bullets can save many hours of research time on a variety of scientific topics.

The Library’s Web site has thousands of films, manuscripts, photographs, drawings and other multimedia materials about technology and applied sciences, including architecture. Go to the American Memory Collection Finder page and click on the “Social Sciences” or “Technology and Applied Sciences” links under “Broad Topics” to discover what’s online.

For example, if architecture is important to you, you may want to view the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record Collection of more than 350,000 representations of some of America’s most important structures – not just buildings, but bridges, water turbines, elevated highways and even flagpoles. That collection is from American Memory, the Library’s extraordinary Web site of more than 8.5 million fascinating and educational items. In the Exhibitions Web site, there is “Frank Lloyd Wright: Designs for an American Landscape,” which features five far-reaching designs from this master of architecture that, for various reasons, were never constructed. Nonetheless, learning about such designs as the “Gordon Strong Automobile Objective” or the “Lake Tahoe Summer Colony” provides an insightful view of the mind of this American master.

Prolific inventor Thomas Edison is well represented in “Inventing Entertainment,” another presentation from American Memory. You can read about the “History of Edison Motion Pictures” in a special presentation or the “History of the Edison Cylinder Photograph.”. The novelty of motion pictures made it possible for Edison to capture the public’s attention with films of such prosaic events as a man sneezing (“Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze”) or a couple kissing (“The Kiss,” above).

You can search American Memory for any science topic you like at

A. Mary Cassatt, artist. “The Bath,” 1891. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZC4-1325 (color film copy transparency), LC-USZC2-77 (color film copy slide), LC-USZ62-44174 (b&w film copy neg.). Rights status not evaluated. For general information see "Copyright and Other Restrictions...".

B. Edison Manufacturing Co., “The Kiss,” 1900. Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Reproduction information: Call No.: FEB 9561 (ref print) LC 1051 (paper pos).

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