About this Website
1. What are Dr. Baird's qualifications for providing answers to science questions?
For the past six years, Dr. Baird has been a physics professor at West Texas A&M University. In this capacity, he teaches numerous entry-level and upper-level university courses and carries out research on quantum devices. Dr. Baird recently won academic tenure and was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor of Physics at West Texas A&M University. Previous to coming to West Texas A&M University, he was an adjunct physics professor for ten years at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and senior research scientist at the Submillimeter-Wave Technology Laboratory. While at UMass Lowell, Dr. Baird taught electromagnetics courses to PhD students and supervised PhD student research in the laboratory.
Dr. Baird has authored several dozen academic research publications, including various internal reports for the military. Additionally, Dr. Baird has written 14 articles for AccessScience, 16 university physics laboratory class manuals, 340+ articles on this website, as well as articles and consulting notes for general-audience publications such as Popular Mechanics magazine, All About Space magazine, Live Science, and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. Dr. Baird's articles have been quoted by NASA, Space.com, Weather.com, EarthSky, The HuffPost, UK Express News, RealClearScience, and the Library of Congress. Furthermore, Dr. Baird has served as a peer reviewer for academic journals such as Applied Optics, Journal of Optics, Journal of Applied Physics, AIP Advances, Applied Physics Letters, Optics Letters, Optics Express, and IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation; as well as a reviewer of applications for NASA fellowships, a reviewer of grant proposals for Oak Ridge Associated Universities, and a reviewer of book proposals for CRC Publishing. Dr. Baird recently won the WT professional service award at the department level and at the college level. For four years Dr. Baird has served as the Registration and Access Coordinator for the entire Texas Physics Consortium, overseeing all upper-level university physics courses at nine universities. He has helped win a million dollar grant from National Science Foundation (NSF) and several multi-million dollar grants from the U.S. Department of Defence (DoD). Dr. Baird has served as a science judge at various local, regional, and national research conferences and competitions.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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 was never built into this website.
5. What is Dr. Baird's area of expertise?
Dr. Baird's research focuses on electromagnetic scattering, radar imaging, quantum cascade lasers, and quantum devices. Through his research, writing, and teaching, Dr. Baird has expertise in the areas of optics, photonics, electromagnetism, quantum physics, and relativity. Because Dr. Baird's overall area of expertise is physics, the posts on this website that deal with biology, chemistry, earth science, health, and space science rely heavily 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 answers in a public online location and then refer people to the posted answers, rather than personally repeat the answers 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 have homeschooled their six children and two foster children. They are involved in several homeschooling organizations. You can read a longer answer here.
9. Why has Dr. Baird posted so few articles to this website in the last few years?
Dr. Baird has written all of the articles on this "Science Questions with Surprising Answers" website as a personal hobby and as a service to the world. He has not been paid to write any of the articles on this website. Futhermore, writing these articles has not been a part of his official duties as a professor. As Dr. Baird's career has taken off during the last few years, he has had little time to write new articles for this website. Futhermore, he has written so many articles about surprising answers to science questions that there are few science answers left that are truly surprising that he has not already written about. With that said, Dr. Baird continues every day to personally answer via email the science questions submitted to him through this website. Over the last few years, Dr. Baird has answered on average 2.2 science questions per day, every day (including weekends and holidays). Just because Dr. Baird has not posted many articles to this website in the last few years does not mean that he will ignore your science question. He loves answering science questions! The answer that Dr. Baird emails back to you may be a few sentences long or several pages long, depending on how interesting and hard-to-explain the answer is.
10. Is there any type of question that I should not ask Dr. Baird?
Dr. Baird will respond to any sincerely-asked conceptual question in the areas of science, health, science literacy, and scientific aspects of history and society, no matter how simple or strange the question may be. Furthermore, Dr. Baird will attempt to answer, using his own educated opinion, questions related to the philosophy of science and the intersection of science and religion. Dr. Baird also loves feedback on typos that people find in his articles. Dr. Baird will not solve your homework problems for you, complete scientific calculations on your behalf, or tutor you on how to solve homework and test problems, so please do not ask. It is much more effective for students to receive help and tutoring on homework problems and practice tests from an in-person instructor such as a teacher, teaching assistant, homework help lab employee, or personal tutor. If Dr. Baird were to help a student solve homework and test problems over the internet, it would be less effective and may even constitute cheating in some cases. Additionally, Dr. Baird ignores insincerely-asked questions that are not really questions but are rather rants and/or promotion of pseudoscience. Please do not waste Dr. Baird's time with a rant about your personal opinion being right and mainstream science being wrong. You will not change his mind. Unscientific rants are neither clever nor original. If you feel passionate about your opinion that water dowsing really works better than random chance despite the scientific evidence to the contrary, please tell someone else.