Brochures for many years at Yellowstone National Park have awed visitors with natural wonders that simmered and steamed: geysers, hot springs, colorful mud. The text claims to show a primeval and volcanic landscape before human occupation. But, like most tales, there’s more going on.
Thousands of years before those brochures were printed, Native Americans lived and traveled around Yellowstone’s lakes and mountains. They saw the heated, sulfurous waters, and they mined and carved obsidian tools. Yet, what created that obsidian?
The deeper mysteries of Yellowstone’s subterranean history inspire Washington State University geologist Peter Larson, his students, and colleagues to examine remote stretches of the supervolcano’s reach. Larson’s study of the rocks altered by chemical-laden waters at Yellowstone help our understanding of its past and possible future.
The technological world also hides secrets, some of them quite sinister. As cybercrimes, ransomware, and other online chicanery increases, WSU is ramping up the education of students and professionals in cybersecurity.
Houses and office buildings have their own hidden costs. They contribute significantly to energy usage and emissions, so WSU researchers are looking at ways to make buildings more efficient, and then getting that knowledge out to the public. It’ll save people money, too.
Some things shouldn’t remain under wraps, like mental health issues. For far too long, the topic has been something that wasn’t talked about. Former Coug and NBA basketball star James Donaldson (’79 Socio.) acknowledges his own struggles with mental health, and his bravery and honesty provide a model for us.
We can also learn a great deal from the life of grizzly bears. WSU’s Bear Center is home to a number of captive grizzlies—and, during hibernation, there’s a lot more going on with those bears than meets the eye. The bears’ innate ability to gain weight without getting diabetes or high blood pressure, and sleep for months without losing muscle or bone strength, has implications for how we treat human maladies.
Resilient grizzlies emerge after winter from dens in Yellowstone, amid evidence of a deep volcanic stirring, and reveal much about ourselves and our planet.