My favorite animated GIFs are the ones with cats riding unicorns. I’m delighted to tell you about a real unicorn that lived a long time ago: the Siberian unicorn.
The Siberian unicorn was bulky and furry. It had a big hump on its back. Its horn was three feet long. That’s as big as a human preschooler!
This real-life unicorn was a kind of rhino from Eurasia. But it was bigger than modern rhinos and probably galloped like a horse.
Scientists have known about Siberian unicorns since 1808. For a long time, they thought the unicorns went extinct 200,000 years ago. Recently, that changed. Now they think the unicorns went extinct closer to 39,000 years ago.
Some people only like paper books. But I love the library app on my phone. It’s like having stacks of library books in my pocket.
To learn more about books, I talked with my friend Greg Matthews. He’s the rare books librarian at Washington State University. “The short answer would probably be the Romans,” Matthews said. “But Rome was a really vast empire. So, it could have been a Roman in North Spain. It could have been a Roman in Egypt.”
WSU’s campuses are on ceded land belonging to the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) Tribe and Palus people, traditional Cowlitz lands, traditional lands of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, and historical Spokane Tribe lands. This story was written on land belonging to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.
November is a great time to honor historical figures and Native American scientists changing the world right now.
I talked about this with Sara Mills, a Prevention Science graduate student at Washington State University. She’s a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes.
Mills’ research centers Native American student voices. She wants to figure out what makes those students feel like they belong.
“Representation is huge,” she said. “If you can see yourself in these spaces, then you're more willing to put yourself out there and be in those spaces. I met Native American faculty right away when I got to WSU. I don't know if I would have been able to visualize myself here if I hadn't.”
In the United States, pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and other coins are made through the U.S. Mint. It turns out, they’ve been making a lot more coins than usual during the global pandemic. But more on that in a moment.
It takes both science and art to make coins. Coins are made from metals that have been mixed together. We call these kinds of metals alloys. The very first coins in the world were made thousands of years ago in Turkey from electrum, an alloy of gold and silver. A penny is made from an alloy of copper and zinc.
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Our world is full of so many different places. They get their names in lots of different ways.
One way a place might get a name is from the person who explored it. The Americas are named after an Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci. But Amerigo wasn’t the first person to explore these continents.
There were already people living there when he arrived. Still, “America” was named after Amerigo. For the most part, people name things because they are claiming possession of a place. Because of that, sometimes the original names of places are lost or erased.
That’s what I found out from my friend Theresa Jordan, a history professor who teaches a geography course at Washington State University. Read More ...
We can learn a lot about animals of the past from fossils, the imprints or remains we find in rocks. One fossil found in the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming helped us learn about the oldest known horses.
These horses are called Sifrhippus (siff-RIP-us). They had four toes on each foot and were very small.
Believe it or not, these tiny horses weighed only about ten pounds. That’s just a bit heavier than your average house cat. According to the fossil records, Sifrhippus lived somewhere between 54 and 30 million years ago.
When I went to visit my friend Lane Wallett, she told me all about the history of horses. As a veterinarian and a paleontologist at Washington State University, she is very curious about both horses and fossils. Read More ...
Whether you say hello, ‘ello, hey ya’ll, toe-may-toe or toe-ma-toe, we all have a kind of accent that often comes from where we live or who lives around us.
That’s what I found out from my friend Nancy Bell, a Washington State University professor who is really curious about the way language works. She told me more about why we have accents and why we need them.
There are a lot of different accents. You might have friends who speak English but have a Scottish, Irish, Australian, or French accent.
Even in the U.S., there are many accents from the east to the west to the mid-west to the south. In those regions, people also speak many types of English such as Chicano English, African American English, or Indian English. Read More ...
Long before telephones, if you wanted to say “hi” to friend across the ocean you’d probably write them a letter and send it over on a ship.
But in the last hundred years or so, we’ve been able to connect across the ocean much faster. And yes, it often required thousands of miles of wires, or cables, deep in the sea.
That’s what I found out from my friend Bob Olsen, a professor of electrical engineering at Washington State University, who told me all about the telephone. Read More ...
We’ve had a lot of earthquakes on our planet this year. Maybe you’ve learned about them from the news or felt one shaking up your own neighborhood.
First, it is important to know a bit about the Earth’s outer layer, or crust. The crust is made of seven big pieces called “plates.” They are about 60 miles thick and sort of float on the molten rock beneath them. That’s what I found out from my friend Sean Long, a geology professor at Washington State University who knows a lot about earthquakes. Read More ...
It sure sounds like a nice idea. Print a bunch of money and everyone gets rich. We could buy anything we wanted. Ah, if only it were that easy. It turns out printing more money would have a much different outcome than we might like to imagine.
Imagine you are playing a game of soccer and your best friend is on the opposing team. The sun is out, you are having a great time, and you score the winning goal. You’d probably feel pretty happy and so would your team.
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.
Mollusks, from land snails and slugs to oysters and mussels in the sea, have a few things in common. They have a head. They have a soft middle part that holds their organs. Then, some have a muscle that’s known as a “foot.”
When I saw your question, I headed straight for the Magnetics Lab and met up with my friend John McCloy. I found out the word “magnet” comes from a Greek word for the region of modern-day Turkey we once called Magnesia. That’s where people found magnets in nature.
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.
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.
About 85-feet long (half a football field) and 65 tons (about 7 T-Rexes), the largest dinosaur scientists know about is Dreadnoughts. She was a plant-eater and with her 37-foot-long neck probably had no problem reaching the leaves at the top of trees.