Why Do the Rich and Famous Always Sunbathe Topless? Explainer Bafflers From 2012

Answers to your questions about the news.
Dec. 18 2012 9:15 AM

The Unanswered Questions, 2012 Edition

Why do the rich and famous always sunbathe topless? Plus other bafflers from the Explainer's year-end roundup.

A woman sunbathing topless near a pool.
Is this woman necessarily rich?

Photo by Hemera.

The Explainer has been busy as a bee in 2012, telling readers, first of all, whether bees are really all that busy to begin with. Another column reviewed the history of homework-eating dogs, and a third (this one may be cryptozoology) wondered if a wild leprechaun is scary, or is it cute? In the basement of the Explainatorium, our staff of Oompa-Loompas pored through dusty books and ran their zany algorithms, all to figure out why pizzerias bother with anchovies, and whether Band-Aids really work, and why the Central African Republic has such a boring name, and if people ever win that claw game at the carnival.

Daniel Engber Daniel Engber

Daniel Engber is a columnist for Slate

But the Oompa-Loompas have a meager constitution, and labor laws being what they are, not every question from our readers found its way into the column. The Explainer answered several hundred inquiries in 2012, while thousands more were left to slosh around untouched in holding tanks. Now we've pulled out some of these in deference to our year-end tradition and present you with a haul of topics that the Explainer felt unprepared (or perhaps unwilling) to address in 2012. As usual, we're hoping you'll let us know which of these imponderables is most deserving of an answer. The top vote-getter will be designated the Question of the Year, and a response will be posted in the coming weeks. (You can vote for only one option below, so click wisely.)

Previous Questions of the Year:

Advertisement

2011: Why are smart people usually ugly?

2010: Why do boys like sticks?

2009: If a Siamese twin commits murder, does his brother get punished, too?

2008: What is the most disloyal dog breed?

2007: Why don't we drop medical waste and nuclear waste into active volcanoes, the "ultimate high-temperature incinerators"?

2006: Can a bar of soap get dirty, or is it self-cleaning because it's soap?

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.