Why Are Shirt Buttons On Different Sides For Men and Women?

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The seemingly arbitrary gendering of buttons on men’s and women’s clothing probably isn’t something you’ve considered unless, like me, you’ve taken the perfect gingham shirt into the dressing room at a thrift store, only to be completely confused upon trying to button up.

The history behind this peculiarity is somewhat shrouded in mystery, but it’s generally considered to be a relic from the days when clothing was a lot more complicated. In the Renaissance and through the Victorian era, women—particularly wealthy women—wore elaborate items and often enjoyed the luxury of being dressed by a servant. In that case, it was easier for the assistant to have the buttons on the right side (when facing the woman being dressed) with the assumption that the servant was right-handed, as most people were believed to be. Men usually dressed themselves, hence the buttons on the other side.

Of course there’s some question about whether this makes sense as a lasting convention if such a limited number of people could afford maids to dress them, but the nobility were the tastemakers when it came to fashion and it’s reasonable to think that those traditions trickled down and have stood the test of time only because no one bothered to change them.

Other possible explanations also cite the fashions of hundreds of years ago when men’s clothing often included weaponry. A right-handed man could pull his weapon out with his primary hand and unbutton with the secondary. The hand-in-waistcoat portraiture of the time somewhat supports this idea, with the right hand tucked into the open flap.

Another weapon-related theory: standard fighting position meant facing the enemy with your left side with the shield. A shirt with an overlap from left to right meant that a foe couldn’t aim a sword in you through an open slit.

On the flip side, maybe babies are the reason? Women usually hold a child on their left side to free up a dominant hand and a shirt that opens on the right makes breastfeeding easier.

Several other theories exist, including ones about horseback riding, Napoleon's Napoleon complex, church etiquette, and what might be the most unsettling of all—that the distinction was made during the standardization and early days of mass-produced clothing and was meant to reinforce sexist attitudes by forcing women to button with their "inferior" hand.

Most likely though, it’s because Marie Antoinette and the like needed help securing their bodices.

Why Are Sloths So Slow?

Sloths have little problem holding still for nature photographers.
Sloths have little problem holding still for nature photographers.
Geoview/iStock via Getty Images

When it comes to physical activity, few animals have as maligned a reputation as the sloth. The six sloth species, which call Brazil and Panama home, move with no urgency, having seemingly adapted to an existence that allows for a life lived in slow motion. But what makes sloths so sedate? And what horrible, poop-related price must they pay in order to maintain life in the slow lane?

According to HowStuffWorks, the sloth’s limited movements are primarily the result of their diet. Residing mainly in the canopy vines of Central and South American forests, sloths dine out on leaves, fruits, and buds. With virtually no fat or protein, sloths conserve energy by taking a leisurely approach to life. On average, a sloth will climb or travel roughly 125 feet per day. On land, it takes them roughly one minute to move just one foot.

A sloth’s digestive system matches their locomotion. After munching leaves using their lips—they have no incisors—it can take up to a month for their meals to be fully digested. And a sloth's metabolic rate is 40 to 45 percent slower than most mammals' to help compensate for their low caloric intake. With so little fuel to burn, a sloth makes the most of it.

Deliberate movement shouldn’t be confused for weakness, however. Sloths can hang from branches for hours, showing off some impressive stamina. And because they spend most of their time high up in trees, they have no need for rapid movement to evade predators.

There is, however, one major downside to the sloth's leisurely lifestyle. Owing to their meager diet, they typically only have to poop once per week. Like going in a public bathroom, this can be a stressful event, as it means going to the ground and risking detection by predators—which puts their lives on the line. Worse, that slow bowel motility means they’re trying to push out nearly one-third of their body weight in feces at a time. It's something to consider the next time you feel envious of their chill lifestyle.

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Are Any of the Scientific Instruments Left on the Moon By the Apollo Astronauts Still Functional?

Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong left the first footprint on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong left the first footprint on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Heritage Space/Heritage Images/Getty Images

C Stuart Hardwick:

The retroreflectors left as part of the Apollo Lunar Ranging Experiment are still fully functional, though their reflective efficiency has diminished over the years.

This deterioration is actually now delivering valuable data. The deterioration has multiple causes including micrometeorite impacts and dust deposition on the reflector surface, and chemical degradation of the mirror surface on the underside—among other things.

As technology has advanced, ground station sensitivity has been repeatedly upgraded faster than the reflectors have deteriorated. As a result, measurements have gotten better, not worse, and measurements of the degradation itself have, among other things, lent support to the idea that static electric charge gives the moon an ephemeral periodic near-surface pseudo-atmosphere of electrically levitating dust.

No other Apollo experiments on the moon remain functional. All the missions except the first included experiment packages powered by radiothermoelectric generators (RTGs), which operated until they were ordered to shut down on September 30, 1977. This was done to save money, but also because by then the RTGs could no longer power the transmitters or any instruments, and the control room used to maintain contact was needed for other purposes.

Because of fears that some problem might force Apollo 11 to abort back to orbit soon after landing, Apollo 11 deployed a simplified experiment package including a solar-powered seismometer which failed after 21 days.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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