A while back, George DePasquale visited the ancient Italian city of Pompeii, not far from his ancestral home of Sorrento. Looking at a 2,000-year-old oven, DePasquale could easily imagine how its baker prepared and baked bread much as he does today at Seattle’s Essential Baking Company. He could feel he was part of a long, human continuum, “a river of history,” with “bazillions of people behind me, bazillions of people to come.”
But even the oldest rivers change, forming new channels, and sometimes doubling back on themselves.
By traditional baseball standards, Scott Hatteberg’s big league days were numbered.
He had been a Cougar standout, team captain, Most Valuable Player, and catcher for future All-Star Aaron Sele, with whom he went to the Red Sox in 1991. But in his fifth year in the majors he ruptured a nerve in his elbow. An operation left him unable to hold a baseball. In the words of Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, he was “a second string, washed up catcher.”
“I couldn’t throw as hard,” Hatteberg x’91 recalls. “My accuracy had gone. As a catcher, you lose … » More …
There’s the science most of us learned as kids. Then there’s the science that scientists actually do.
The K-12 variety is more like a cooking class, but with chemicals, goggles, an occasional Erlenmeyer flask, the unforgettable smell of formaldehyde, and nothing you would want to eat. There, the scientific method is reduced to the formula of a lab report: hypothesize, test, gather data, evaluate, conclude, generally along the lines the teacher told you to expect.
Outside the classroom, science has over the centuries spawned revolutionary advances in knowledge and well-being. But in the classroom it’s, what? Predictable. Formulaic. Boring. All of the above.
Seven billion people will soon become nine billion before the global
levels off. Can so many people be fed from a finite Earth? Yes, they
can, say WSU researchers. But the solutions will necessarily be many.
Bill Sharpsteen ’80 University of California Press, 2011
In my sailing days on Puget Sound, I got used to watching for the fast-moving container ships that could overtake my little boat in a matter of minutes. One day, I found their schedules on the Internet and saw the outline of a huge, economically powerful engine tying together goods from around the world.
In The Docks, Bill Sharpsteen ’80 shows us this world by peering … » More …
A century or so ago, late spring in Oregon’s Willamette Valley saw waves of delicate blue and brown butterflies across a million acres of prairie, lighting on equally delicate lupines to lay their eggs.
At least we can imagine it that way. The region has long since been settled and farmed, and the prairies were the first to go. With them went the vast number of Fender’s blue butterflies and their host plant, the Kincaid’s lupine. The butterfly appeared to the eye of science only briefly, first in 1929, and occasionally until 1937. Then it vanished. Scientists assumed it was extinct.
The rainbow trout has evolved over millions of years to survive in varied but
particular circumstances in the wild. The hatchery rainbow fl ourishes in its relatively
new, artificial surroundings, but its acquired skill set compromises its evolution.
The rainbow has so straddled the worlds of nature and nurture, says biologist Gary
Thorgaard, that it has become “a world fish.” » More ...
Sure, Darwin had to battle seasickness aboard the HMS Beagle, and he spent nearly five years getting to and from the Galapagos Islands, and it took another 23 years to incorporate his findings into his seminal work on evolutionary biology.
But at least he lived in a slow-motion world of ship travel and isolated, slowly evolving species. Today, a scientist, or an exotic parasite for that matter, can get from London to the Galapagos in 24 hours. The parasite can start changing the biology of a place almost overnight. The scientist will have trouble keeping up.
He was only 16 years old when it blew in 1980, and it would be another decade before he began crawling around the mountain as part of his doctoral studies.
“I was worried I missed all the action—‘Ten years, it’s all been studied,’” he recalls.
It turns out the dust, pumice, and other ejecta were only beginning to settle, and the mountain would continue to rumble, spit, and recover. In 1994, he found himself running from a mudflow, then watched as it moved fridge-sized boulders and shook the earth beneath his feet. Arriving at WSU Vancouver … » More …