There’s nothing quite like making popcorn: the snapping kernels, the warm buttery smell, and the knowledge that a delicious snack will be ready in minutes. It gives you some good time to think and wonder: how did humans first start doing this?
When you look up at the night sky, it can feel like the universe is a big blanket of stars above you. But unlike a blanket, the universe doesn’t have corners and edges. Far beyond what humans can see, the universe keeps going. As far as humans know, it never stops. To learn more, I went straight to my friend Michael Allen. He is a senior instructor of physics and astronomy at WSU.
The universe is bigger than the biggest thing you’ve ever seen. It’s bigger than » More …
Sea turtles spend almost their entire lives in the ocean. Even as babies, sea turtles’ bodies have special traits for living at sea, helping them glide and paddle through the water. After emerging from their eggs, baby sea turtles (called “hatchlings”) scramble to the ocean to live the rest of their lives. Only female sea turtles return to land as adults, to lay eggs and begin the cycle again.
Humans come into the world crying, but that’s actually a good thing. In a way, babies start communicating from the moment they are born. Of course, it can be hard for their caregivers to know exactly what they mean with all those cries.
I learned a lot about how babies use emotion to communicate from my friend Masha Gartstein, a professor of psychology at Washington State University. She told me that crying is just one way babies communicate. After two or three months, babies » More …
Humans have hair on their heads, arms, and even the face. If you feel your face, you might feel some small, fuzzy hairs on your cheeks and forehead. But the hair of your eyebrows is usually a bit thicker.
I asked my friend Mark Mansperger why we have eyebrows. He’s an anthropologist at Washington State University Tri-Cities.
Eyebrows appear to serve two main purposes, he said. One of the purposes of eyebrows is to keep » More …
Humans have been experimenting with all kinds of sounds, lyrics, and instruments for thousands of years. There are hundreds of genres of music, so while you might like one kind, a friend might like something completely different. Or maybe you became friends because of your similar taste in music.
Ever since I was a kitten, I’ve loved picking up big maple leaves in the fall. I’d take them home, put them under a piece of paper, and rub the side of a crayon over the top. It makes a great print of the leaf.
Leaves actually get their color from things called pigments. While scientists can use chemicals to make different crayon colors, nature can use pigments to create its own colors. » More …
If you are anything like me, you probably like watching for shooting stars in the night sky. A shooting star, or a meteor, is usually a small rock that falls into Earth’s atmosphere.
When I went to visit my friend Michael Allen, a senior instructor of astronomy and physics at WSU, he told me a lot of shooting stars are no bigger than a pencil eraser.
“The earth is going to pass a random pebble once in a while and that will make a streak in the sky,” he said. » More …
Our moon is one of the brightest objects in the night sky. But unlike a lamp or our sun, the moon doesn’t produce its own light.
Light can travel in lots of different ways. Moonlight is actually sunlight that shines on the moon and bounces off. The light reflects off old volcanoes, craters, and lava flows on the moon’s surface.
That’s what I found out from my friend Julie Menard, a geologist and researcher at WSU who studies what makes up the rocky planets in our solar system. » More …
There is a lot of litter on our planet, but it hasn’t always been that way. For most of human history, people made stuff out of things they found in nature. They might make tools out of rocks or sticks. These things break down and become part of the soil again.
It wasn’t until the invention of new materials, like plastic, that we started creating more litter. In fact, along with the rise of these new materials came the word “litterbug.”