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Brian Charles Clark

Houses on the Arctic
Winter 2018

Days of future past

Rapid global cooling 13,000 years ago challenged early occupants of Alaska to adapt. People used to hunting mammoths and other megafauna with big stone tools suddenly found their weapons shattering in the cold. Access to the stone they used to make them got buried under snow.

As with any climactic change, the cold resulted in a shift in fauna, requiring new tools. Early Alaskans turned to microblade technology, a technique they’d kept alive for hundreds of years along with their dominant hunting tools. Microblades made efficient use of now-scarce toolstone and met the needs of a changing climate.

“Throughout the Holocene, the importance of microblade … » More …

Bags of donated food
Winter 2018

Hungry

At Rosario’s Place, food on the shelves comes and goes like a tide. When staff at the Women’s Center at Washington State University, which manages Rosario’s, puts out a call for donations, stock rises and then falls again as students take what they need to get by.

Rosario’s Place has a private entrance on the Pullman campus, and that simple fact, says Women’s Center director Amy Sharp, reduces stigma; no one asks who you are or what you are doing. You just come in, take what you need (or leave what you can). In addition to food, Rosario’s also stocks baby and toddler supplies … » More …

Superbug. Illustration Luciano Cosmo
Winter 2018

Superbugs

A woman lies dying in a hospital bed in an acute care facility in Nevada. She has a common infection induced by a common bacterium, Klebsiella pneumoniae. But she’s untreatable: her infection is resistant to all 26 of the antibacterial drugs available in the United States capable of treating the bacterium. The infection spreads further, which causes her blood pressure to drop precipitously until she finally succumbs to septic shock.

While death by “superbugs” is still fairly rare, the World Health Organization warns that, if bacteria keep evolving drug resistance at the rate they have been, such bugs will globally cause 10 million deaths per … » More …

Carolina Parada (Photo Raymond Yuen/Nvidia Corporation)
Winter 2018

Making artificial intelligence smart

It’s not a simple thing to get a car to see what we see.

“The world is very complex. That’s what makes vision for self-driving cars a challenge. There are millions of scenarios and millions of contexts,” says Carolina Parada (’04, ’06 MS Elec. Eng.) from her home in Boulder, Colorado.

A senior manager for Nvidia, a company probably best known in the video gaming community for its top-shelf graphics cards but with a strong presence in the machine learning market, Parada and her team are working on machine perception, a key piece of getting self-driving cars safely on the
» More …

Book cover of Complexity in a Ditch
Winter 2018

Complexity in a Ditch: Bringing Water to the Idaho Desert

Book cover of Complexity in a Ditch

Hugh T. Lovin ’56 MA History

WSU Press: 2017

 

Growing up on a farm near Inkom, Idaho, the young Hugh Lovin would engineer ways to divert water to the crops he produced for his livestock. Later in life, after years of writing histories of labor, Lovin turned his attention again to irrigation. In a number of articles, collected for the first time in this volume, he traced the history of the “dreamers, schemers, and doers” who brought water … » More …

Fall 2018

A river rolls on

After thousands of years of use for food, transportation, and trade, the Columbia River’s dynamics have changed, resulting in unforeseen consequences and deeply mixed emotions.

 

Once there were Five Sisters. Because they loved to eat salmon, the sisters kept a dam at the mouth of Big River to prevent the fish from swimming upstream. Every night they feasted on a wonderful, fat salmon. This didn’t suit Coyote, who thought that the salmon need the people and the people need the salmon. Or maybe he was jealous and wanted some of that fat salmon for himself. So Coyote tricked the sisters to get into their … » More …

Dave "Merf" Merfeld (Photo Kevin Cruff)
Fall 2018

Cornfields to vineyards

“I quit working in 1996,” says master winemaker David “Merf” Merfeld ’13. That was the year he got a job at Bert Grant’s Brewery in Yakima—one of the early craft breweries in the region.

Merf’s passion for fermentation started in his kitchen a few years earlier. He’d driven west to Seattle from the family farm in Iowa. “Thirty, thirty-one hours straight through,” he says, with maybe an “hour stop for a rain storm in South Dakota.” He was in the ’79 Park Avenue his dad gave him: “a great ride, and everything I owned fit in that car.” The first thing he and the buddy … » More …

Scripting Romance thumb
Fall 2018

Rescripting gender roles

Sex is everywhere, researchers Stacey Hust and Kathleen Rodgers point out, but, strangely, we get very nervous talking about it—especially with our adolescent children.

That’s a concern to the two Washington State University collaborators, who just published a book, Scripting Adolescent Romance: Adolescents Talk about Romantic Relationships and Media’s Sexual Scripts, that examines the power of media, so chock full of sex and violence, to shape the gender roles of children and adolescents in ways that last a lifetime.

Scripting Adolescent Romance book cover

So powerful are the … » More …

Illustration of baseball as atom nucleus
Summer 2018

Physics at the bat

Today’s baseball game, brought to you by Physics Unlimited, is a blockbuster contest between the famous Mathematical Physicists and Washington State University’s own Oblique Collisions.

As the Oblique Collisions take the field, Ernest Rutherford, the renowned English physicist, is first up for the Mathematical Physicists. Better known outside physics circles for his cricketing skills, Rutherford is quite the hitter, though usually of particles much smaller than baseballs.

Indeed, in describing the collision of an alpha particle—better known as the nucleus of a helium atom, two protons and two massive neutrons—with a gold atom, Rutherford had this to say: “It was as if you fired a … » More …

Fire threatens horses in pen during California fires. Photo Eric Thayer
Summer 2018

Bug out!

A scrawled note was stuck to the door of the clinic. “All animals left here have died,” it said. “We have buried them for you. I have no way of expressing my grief.” The note was signed by the vet whose clinic was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

That note is a sad reminder that being prepared for a disaster is key to surviving storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and whatever else might come crashing down upon us—and our animals.

That’s why Cynthia Faux says, “If I have 15 minutes to evacuate in front of a fast-moving fire, I don’t want to spend 10 of those looking … » More …