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Plants: How do they hold dirt?

How do plants hold dirt? -Gordon, Pullman, WA

PlantsDear Gordon,

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. » More …

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 …

How do leaves make themselves?

How do leaves make themselves? -Francesco R.

Dear Francesco,

Last fall, my friend Lee Kalcsits and I went exploring in the apple orchards of Wenatchee. The apples were ripe and the leaves were changing from green to gold. We plucked a few leaves and took them back to his lab. » More …

Can you hear in space?

Hi, Dr. Universe, Can you hear in space? -a curious reader

Dear curious reader,

Your question reminds me of an experiment: You put a ringing alarm clock in a jar and use a hose to slowly suck out all the air. As the air escapes, the ringing gets quieter until there’s no sound at all.

The inside of the jar becomes what scientists call a vacuum. It’s empty. Just like space. » More …