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Stories tagged: Ask Dr. Universe


Ask Dr. Universe: Venom is a mixture of different proteins that can be very toxic to animals

Venom tries to disrupt the systems in our body that help keep us alive.


Ask Dr. Universe: The history of humans, allergies

On the way to discovering allergies, scientists first had to learn about the immune system, which helps protect the body from invaders, or things like bacteria and viruses. These invaders …


Ask Dr. Universe: A hard whack on the elbow really hits a nerve

When you hit your funny bone, you are actually hitting part of a whitish bundle of fibers called a nerve. Your nerves help send messages from different parts of your …


Ask Dr. Universe: What would happen if we had three hearts and one of them stopped?

It’s hard to say exactly what would happen if you had three hearts and one of them stopped. Humans have just one heart, so we have no experience with this. …


Ask Dr. Universe: Why do we have eyelashes?

The lashes are just thick enough to keep things like small particles of dust away from their eyeballs. But there are some animals with even thicker lashes.


Ask Dr. Universe: Why are french fries so good?

A good french fry starts with the right potato. My friend Rick Knowles is a potato researcher at Washington State University and told me all about the spuds.


Ask Dr. Universe: Can the sound of rain help us sleep?

All around the world, people fall asleep to different sounds. Maybe you hear a snoring dog, whooshing waves, noisy traffic, chirping crickets, a soft lullaby, or raindrops.


Ask Dr. Universe: Why do cats like lasers?

“Cats like lasers because they are predators and like to chase or hunt anything that moves fast around them,” WSU veterinarian Leticia Fanucchi said.


Ask Dr. Universe: How did people in ancient times filter water from rain?

Every day people around the world get their water in different ways. Some get water from a well, others turn on a tap, go to the store, and some walk …


Ask Dr. Universe: How does land affect the weather?

We get different weather patterns depending on a few conditions, such as how much sun the land gets, if the land is near mountains or ocean, and how air circulates …


Ask Dr. Universe: Did dinosaurs actually roar?

Mammals such as lions and bears roar. But it’s likely that dinosaurs, which were not mammals, had other ways of communicating.


Ask Dr. Universe: How do some trees survive after being burned in a wildfire?

While it might seem like wildfires only cause destruction, they are actually a natural and important part of keeping forests healthy.


Ask Dr. Universe: Even bees need to catch their ZZZs

Sleep is important for lots of the animals on our planet. Just like you need a good rest, so do bees. But, bee sleep is different than human sleep.


Ask Dr. Universe: Frisson’s cause remains unknown

It turns out that the experience of getting chills when we listen to music actually has a scientific name: frisson. That’s what I found out when I met up with …


Ask Dr. Universe: Why does music give us chills?

The truth is I really wasn’t sure why music gives us chills, but I was determined to find out. My first stop was the Washington State University School of Music. …


Ask Dr. Universe: What food is sweet and good to eat?

It’s also good to remember that it’s not just sweet foods that have sugars. They’re in a lot of the foods we eat, like sliced bread, salad dressing, and ketchup, …


Ask Dr. Universe: What happens when we sleepwalk?

WSU sleep researcher Hans Van Dongen and his team observe lots of different sleep behaviors at the Sleep and Performance Research Center. He said there are really two main types …


Ask Dr. Universe: Why do lizards lose their tails?

The main reason a lizard loses its tail is to defend itself. When a lizard detaches its tail, the tail whips around and wiggles on the ground.


Ask Dr. Universe: Why do stink bugs stink?

Stink bugs use smell as a defense against predators.


Ask Dr. Universe: Why do dogs have wet noses?

Dog noses come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and pretty much all of them are wet. Most often a wet nose is a good sign that they are healthy, …


Ask Dr. Universe: How do cacti survive in such hot and dry environments?

Instead of stomata that open during the day, cacti have stomata that open at night. This helps them survive in extreme conditions. Cacti can still get the carbon dioxide they …


Ask Dr. Universe: Why do worms come out when it rains?

Worms come to the surface to move around, but exactly why they do it or where they are headed remains a bit of a mystery. Still, scientists have some interesting …


Ask Dr. Universe: Clothing offers its own recycling challenges

WSU researcher Hang Liu imagines a different future for our used clothes. In her lab, she and her team are coming up with creative ways to recycle cotton into a …


Ask Dr. Universe: What happens to our trash?

The average human who lives in the U.S. creates about 4.83 pounds of trash each day. Many people don’t really see much of it, though.


Ask Dr. Universe: Where did the first nerves come from?

While the human body has many parts made up of lots cells, some living things are actually just one little cell – an amoeba or a bacteria, for example.


Ask Dr. Universe: How come broccoli is good for you?

When we chew or cut broccoli, we damage the plant tissues and a new compound forms. It’s actually this compound in broccoli that gives off that, well, unique broccoli smell. …


Ask Dr. Universe: Cows have different moos for different situations

Ask Dr. Universe column for Feb. 26, 2018.


Ask Dr. Universe: Video games can help us learn

Ask Dr. Universe column for Monday, Feb. 19, 2018.


Ask Dr. Universe: Why does hair turn gray?

Ever since you were born, different cells have been working on your hair. Each hair sprouts from a follicle, a sort of little hair-making factory under your skin. Here, some …


Ask Dr. Universe: Animals live in groups for different reasons

Ask Dr. Universe column for Monday, Jan. 22.