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Are we getting lazier?

Are we getting lazier? -Aaryan, 9, Timber Ridge

Dear Aaryan,

We cats have a reputation for being lazy. We sleep a lot. But the truth is when I got your question, I didn’t know much about laziness. So, I decided to talk about it with a couple of psychologists here at Washington State University.

My first stop was the Psychology of Physical Activity Lab. That’s where I met up with my friend, Professor Anne E. Cox. » More …

Why is yawning contagious?

Why is yawning contagious? -Grant, 10, Pullman, WA

Dear Grant,

When I got your question, I met up with my friend Hans Van Dongen, a scientist at Washington State University in Spokane. He works in a research lab where they study sleep. As a cat who appreciates naps, it’s one of my favorite places to visit. » More …

How do I have a bake sale?

Dr. Universe,

How do you have a bake sale?

-Aoife, 7, Omagh, Ireland

Dear Aoife,

It took more than a hundred bakers to pull off the biggest bake sale in history. They made 14,534 cakes, sold out their supply in eight hours, and made it into the Guinness World Records. » More …

Is the puffin a descendent of the dodo?

Dr. Universe: Is the puffin a descendent of the dodo?

-Samykutha, Chennai, India

Dear Samykutha,

The dodo bird isn’t with us anymore, but if you visit a city park you’ll likely see one of its very close relatives walking around. It might even be nibbling on a French fry. Dodos were a pigeon, said my friend Michael Webster. » More …

Why do we get jealous?

Why do we get jealousy? I can feel it sometimes, too, but I don’t know why.  -Hailey, 10, London, Ontario

Dear Hailey,

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 …

How do I make a diary?

How do I make a diary?  -Nimra, Kitchener, Ontario

Dear Diary,

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 …