What happens to my question after I submit it to this service?
Questions are received and filtered by the two system
operators of NEWTON. Acceptable questions are assigned
an appropriate category and are forwarded to the scientists
that have volunteered to consider questions from that
particular category. If one or more scientists address the
question, it is returned to a system operator. The question
and answers are returned to the person making the request
and a copy is placed into an appropriate web page and posted.
When may I expect an answer to my request?
Our volunteer scientists respond to acceptable questions
usually within a week after it is submitted; most within two
days or less.
Why have I not heard "anything" about the question I submitted?
There may be several reasons. First, many email addresses
submitted are incorrect or do not
exist. Second, about 10-15% of the questions that are sent to
our scientist corps are not answered. In either case, the requester
will not receive a response.
How many volunteer scientists are answering questions?
Our total scientist corps involves 82 scientists (Summer 2009), but
each category may have from 5 to 25 scientists
Which types of questions are generally not addressed by this
We do not send out questions to our scientist corps that are
already addressed in our 20,000+ article archives.
Questions that are looking for simple factual answers,
homework questions or questions that are better served with
the student using a library are rejected. We do not answer
medical related questions, non-science questions, topics
outside of our domain, requests that extend beyond the K-12
environment, commercial inquiries, and items that may cause
some safety hazard. Other reasons are found by visiting this link: Hints and Tips
Why am I unable to submit questions during certain periods of
time to this site?
NEWTON Ask A Scientist service receives in excess of 10 -12
million hits a month and between 200 and 500 requests per
day. Two system operators volunteer a great deal of time to keep
NEWTON operating smoothly, but this service becomes overwhelming at
times. Periodically, it is difficult to keep up with demand
as this service continues to see growth. Rather than become
hopelessly paralyzed, the submission page is closed in order to catch up.
How may I become a scientist volunteer?
NEWTON is willing to accept volunteer scientists who meet our qualifications.
Interested scientists should submit a brief description of themselves and their
education and we also need a means of verifying your identity. Contact us at :
Read more here!
If I find a mistake on one of the pages, how do I let you know about it?
Many error claims that we receive are actually not errors. We serve the K-12
educational community and often questions are being addressed to very young
students who may not be able to understand complex answers so omissions and
simplified answers are used. Look at the age of the person making the inquiry
on the page in question.
We recognize that some of our older archives are out-dated and may be in need of up-dating.
Users are encouraged to alert us of these particular entries.
If you feel there still is an issue, send the page link and any
Why do you want to know a person's grade level?
Students asking questions may be 5 to 18 years old. We want to try to address
their question in a way they may understand.
If this service is for teachers and students, who else might be in the "Other"
We accept any question that we feel may benefit individuals within the K-12
community. At our option, we occasionally submit questions because NEWTON may have a scientist
that is an expert in that particular subject.
Do you recommend vendors and vendor products?
No. We avoid all commercial endeavors. However, we reserve the right to assist
specific requests from teachers for a product or need
How can I interview one of your scientists?
Since our scientists are volunteers and we do not want to burden them, we assured
them with an agreement at the time they signed on to answer questions that we would
not share email addresses, mailing addresses, telephone numbers, etc or bother them
with requests like interviews.
How can I directly contact one of your scientists?
NEWTON will not provide any information to allow you to communicate directly with
any member of our scientist corps. Scientist volunteer their time and we wish to keep them
Why are images lacking from most of your pages?
In the past, NEWTON has not been able to incorporate pictures due to the age of our principal hardware. Now, this issue has been fixed. The articles that need illustrations usually provide a
link to a site that fills this need. Scientists can submit pictures, but it is few and far between.
Do you answer medical questions?
No. We do not wish to be viewed as an alternative to professional medical care.
What does K-12 mean?
In the United States, students attend public school between the ages of 5 or 6
years of age (Kindergarten) and finish at about the age of 18 in high school grade 12.
Grades K-3 (primary school), 4-5 or 6 (intermediate school), 6-8 or 9 (middle school
or junior high) and 9 or 10-12 (high school). There are indeed some individual differences
Can I have an animal (insect, bacteria, mold, plant) identified?
Since the World has millions of species of organisms, it is not realistic to address
identification requests. A local library has adequate books on particular identifications
and this means should be the principal source for this type of request.
Will you help us with our science contest?
In fairness to the purpose and goals of science fairs and other science
related contests, NEWTON Ask A Scientist service does not assist in creating
ideas, procedures, evaluating results or providing any information that would give
an individual student an unfair advantage in these contests.
How is NEWTON funded?
NEWTON's physical site and equipment/maintenance expenses is supported
by the U.S. Department of Energy and Argonne National Laboratory. NEWTON relies upon
volunteers to operate.
Since NEWTON has been in operation for almost since 1991, how can I tell if the article is current
or out dated?
Articles have a date posted on the web page if they have been posted during
the last five years or so. If the date is not visible, the date can be viewed at
the bottom of the html code with a display of the page's source using your browser.
Undated articles are usually older than 1999 and may be incorrect or may need up-dating.
Update: June 2012