My fourth grade students and I want to know: What is wind?
-Ms. Flores, East Alton, IL
Dear Ms. Flores and 4th graders,
There’s wind in the Alton, Illinois, forecast this week, so it’s prime time for an answer. In fact, it looks like there’s wind all around Earth and even some gusts out on other planets. » More …
What are the cookies used on gadgets? -Lydia, 8, Essex, England
A cookie is a tiny file of text that gathers information about you as you browse the web. You might be familiar with cookies if your computer has ever asked if you wanted to turn them on or off. » More …
Why do people and animals get cancer more than they used to? -Michael, Ceres, CA
A hundred years ago, human beings only lived to be about 50 years old. Now people are living longer, so there’s more time for cancer to develop in their bodies. That’s what I learned from my friend David Liu who researches cancer at Washington State University. » More …
Why do we get jealousy? I can feel it sometimes, too, but I don’t know why. -Hailey, 10, London, Ontario
Cats love attention, but we don’t get jealous like humans do. It’s one of those emotions that set human beings apart from other creatures in the animal kingdom. But I can’t imagine it’s the most pleasant. The poet William Shakespeare once called jealousy a green-eyed monster. Still, it’s an emotion that can help you navigate the world. » More …
Why did people invent movies? -Danielle, Latrobe, Tasmania
Movies not only took the ideas and inventions of people, but also the work of a horse. Her name was Sallie Gardner and the debate of her day was whether or not horses ever had all four hooves off the ground during a gallop. » More …
Why do stars blink? -Xitan, Philippines
Look up to the twinkly stars and you’ll witness starlight traveling from deep space to your eyeballs. That twinkling you see is the light taking lots and lots of detours. » More …
How do I make a diary? -Nimra, Kitchener, Ontario
Oh, I mean…Dear Nimra,
Making a diary is like creating your own top-secret book. So, I headed straight for a Washington State University library where there are more than a million books.
My friend Linnea Nelson was working with some of the books from the special collections when I went to visit her in the lab. She is a conservator, so part of her job is to repair and re-build old books. It preserves their history.
Some of the books had an old smell that wafted up into my little nose. The smell comes from different chemical compounds that escape into the air, including one similar to vanilla. The compounds are in the ink, paper, and other materials used to keep the pages together. And one way to keep the pages together is to bind them with thread. » More …
Will electricity ever run out? -Zoe, WA
Scientists could see and feel electricity in nature long before they discovered how to make it. Maybe you’ve seen it during a powerful electrical storm or felt a little shock from static electricity.
It happens because of tiny parts of atoms. They’re called electrons and they are everywhere. » More …
I saw a caterpillar and a butterfly in the neighbor’s yard. So my question is, what exactly happens inside the little sack they’re in while they transform into a butterfly and HOW exactly do they do it? -Eston
Springtime sets the stage for one of the greatest transformations in the natural world.
“It’s the construction of a butterfly or moth from caterpillar soup,” said my friend David James, an entomologist at Washington State University. James studies the science behind metamorphosis, or how a creature transforms. » More …
Why are ripe fruits sweet and why is it so important? -Alexa, Schenzhen, China
My friend Kate Evans said the answer really depends on whether you want the perspective of a person, a plant, or even a cat. Evans is a plant scientist at Washington State University in Wenatchee, where she investigates fruit in the Apple Capital of the World.
She explained how long ago, wild apples actually grew in forests. Without farmers around to plant them in orchards, trees had to scatter their own seeds to survive.
For some trees, the key to survival is growing sweet, ripe fruit. » More …