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Brian Charles Clark

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 …

Protest on Trial cover
Summer 2018

Protest on Trial: The Seattle 7 Conspiracy

Protest on Trial cover

Kit Bakke

WSU Press: 2018

 

It’s December 1970, and surprise witness Horace “Red” Parker is mumbling his way through his testimony. The prosecutor has to keep telling the self-made activist infiltrator to speak up. The defense attorney keeps objecting to Parker’s constant inferrals of what the defendants must have been thinking as they organized the anti-Vietnam War protest they’re on trial for. Which, as Kit Bakke points out, is ironic, because … » More …

Wine glass splashing with smoke. Photo Dreamstime
Summer 2018

Smoke gets in your wine

Smoke truly gets under the skin of wine grapes.

As microscopic particles and liquid droplets ooze and eddy through the vineyard, grapes are coated with toxic chemicals. Worse, smoke from forest and range fires manages to get into the plant itself, wreaking havoc with the plant’s internal chemistry.

In self-defense, grape vines attempt to sequester toxic smoke particles that infiltrate berries and leaves by binding sugar molecules to the offending invaders. The plant can then metabolically shuffle the sugar-trapped particles into places where the smoke won’t be as harmful to the vines’ mission: produce grapes and reproduce.

Humans interfere with the vines’ mission when we … » More …

Man kissing mirror
Summer 2018

Fly on the Wall

 

Podcasts by Squeak Meisel

squeakmeisel.com

 

If you can’t come to the artist, the artist will come to you, thanks to a series of podcasts produced by Washington State University Fine Arts department chair Squeak Meisel.

Called Fly on the Wall, the artists interviewed on Meisel’s podcast have shown their work at some of the biggest venues in the world, such as the Venice Biennial. They come to the Pullman campus, teach for a few days, work one-on-one with undergraduate and graduate students, and give a public lecture.

But Meisel realizes that not everyone has time or ability to … » More …

Summer 2018

Finding identity and expression at WSU

Bob Dlugosh says that he and his roommate, Al, “were always chumming around Pullman together.” Best friends, Bob figured Al for straight, but he liked the guy so much he didn’t let it bother him. Bob did wonder if Al knew he was gay. In 1968, “gay” felt like a brand new word. So it probably wasn’t the one used on the sign Al and Bob found tacked to their Stephenson Hall door: “Bob and Al are gay.”

But that’s what Robert Dlugosh ’71 recalls decades later. The noun was probably something from the much crueler vernacular of the day: They were being called faggots, … » More …

Kara Rowe with camera and chickens
Summer 2018

From Wilbur to the world

Time for a pop quiz. Name at least one famous female farmer. If you’re coming up dry, you’re not alone—but Kara Rowe ’00 wants to change that. An executive producer at Emmy-award winning North by Northwest in Spokane, Rowe is a champion of all things agricultural—especially women farmers.

Rowe, together with NxNW partner Dave Tanner, and Audra Mulkern, a photographer, foodie, and founder of the Female Farmer Project, are raising funds for a documentary called Women’s Work: The Untold Story of America’s Female Farmers. The producers hope to correct a longstanding problem with the history of ag … » More …

Omar Cornejo and Joanna Kelley in their WSU lab
Spring 2018

It’s in the genes

When Omar Cornejo got his genomic analysis back from 23andMe, he and his wife, fellow population geneticist Joanna Kelley, were both a bit surprised and vindicated. Venezuelan, Cornejo expected to see the alleles, or variations of a gene, from Native American, western European, and North African populations. But he was unaware that his family’s deep history also included ancestors from sub-Saharan Africa.

That just goes to show the importance of broadly sampling the genome, says Kelley. “The lesson is that if you just look at the mitochondria, you’d assume this person is from Africa. But if you look at just the Y chromosome, you’d assume … » More …

Twitter bird illustration
Spring 2018

Truth or consequences

Fake news nearly started a war between Qatar and its neighbors in 2017. In Pakistan, a highly placed official bought into a fake news story warning that Israel was going to destroy Pakistan, and tweeted a warning at Israel that his country, too, was a nuclear power. And in Washington, D.C., an armed vigilante burst into a pizzeria and fired three shots, thinking he was bringing down a sex-slave ring.

While news has never been neutral, something has changed: Information has become weaponized. What’s changed, says Washington State University communications professor Doug Hindman, is that the marketplace of ideas has broken down under the … » More …

Illustration of paper with question mark
Spring 2018

How to become information literate?

It takes four moves and a habit

Michael Caulfield’s approach to information literacy is simple. He argues that we should teach students to be fact checkers instead of rhetoricians. In rhetoric, readers spend a great deal of time reading closely, analyzing syntax and word choice for tone. Fact checking, though, is quick, involving only “four moves and a habit,” Caulfield, director of networked and blended learning at WSU Vancouver, says. A recent Stanford University study supports the idea that a fact-checking strategy is superior to close reading.

Look for previous work. When fact-checking a particular claim, the quickest, simplest thing to do is to … » More …