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Q&A: How do plants hold dirt?

The other day, I wandered into a Washington State University greenhouse and ran into my friend Mechthild Tegeder, a professor and expert on plants.

She gently dug a small plant out of a pot so we could take a closer look. When she lifted it up, I pawed at the clumpy soil hanging from the bottom to reveal some stringy roots.

“They’re amazing, aren’t they?” Tegeder said. “The root system functions like a web, anchoring the plant and the soil.”

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Meet Dr. Universe

Hi, there. I’m Dr. Universe. Wendy Sue Universe, that is.

Ever since I was a kitten, I’ve been digging in the dirt, gazing at the stars, exploring new places, and searching for answers to all kinds of questions about our world.

Still, some people are surprised when they discover I’m a scientist. After all, it’s not every day you meet a cat in a lab coat.

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Why is the ocean salty? 

At first, I thought the answer to your question might take us deep into the ocean. But it turns out the source of our salty seas is actually on land.

My friend Professor Steve Katz and I took a walk along the shore of a nearby river to investigate.

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What is the Kuiper Belt? 

You might say the Kuiper Belt is the frozen frontier of our solar system. Out beyond Neptune’s chilly orbit, this saucer-shaped region is home to Pluto, billions of comets, and other icy worlds.

“The Kuiper Belt is really the edge of knowledge,” said my friend and astronomy professor Guy Worthey when we met up in the Washington State University planetarium.

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In the works