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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Universe

Ask Dr. Universe: How do mountains form?

Dr. Universe. A cartoon cat in a lab coatWhen you walk around on land, you are walking on top of Earth’s rocky crust. Below the crust is another thick layer of rock. These layers form Earth’s tectonic plates and when those plates collide with each other, they often form mountains.

To find out about how mountains form, I visited my friend Julie Menard, a professor at Washington State University who is very curious about geology. » More …

Dr. Universe: How do trees give us air to breathe?

Dr. UniverseOur planet is home to all kinds of different plants, and they help make a lot of the oxygen we breathe. To find out how plants make oxygen, I asked my friend Balasaheb Sonawane, a scientist at WSU who researches photosynthesis, or the ways plants use energy from the sun and make oxygen. He said that in a way, plants breathe, too. » More …

Dr. Universe: If snakes smell with their tongues, what do they do with their noses?

Dr. Universe: a cat in a lab coatSnakes have an amazing sense of smell. They can use their tongues to pick up on all kinds of scents in the air.

Whenever we smell something in the air, we are actually sniffing tiny building blocks called molecules. These molecules are what make up the scents of everything around us—things like baked bread, fresh-cut grass, and warm cookies. » More …

Dr. Universe: How does stained glass get its colors?

Dr. Universe: a cat in a lab coatEver since humans discovered they could use sand to make glass, they’ve been experimenting with it. They even learned how to control the colors.

My friend Dustin Regul is a stained glass artist and painter who teaches fine arts at Washington State University. He told me more about where glass gets its color. » More …