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Eric Sorensen

Fall 2010

Live & Kickin’

wanderers

The Wanderers
Live & Kickin’, 2010

Bill Murlin ‘63 and Carl Allen ’60 created The Wanderers soon after they met in September, 1959, on the cusp of the Great Folk Scare of the 1960s. With Al Hansen on bass, the singer-guitarists performed regularly around Pullman for three years. Murlin and Allen continued after graduation with warm, unadorned harmonies and an unflinching folk repertoire of tunes by the Kingston Trio, Bill Staines, Pete Seeger, and … » More …

Fall 2010

We Are Not Alone

not-alone-cover

Dirk Schulze-Makuch and David Darling
Oneworld Publications, 2010

From Percival Lowell’s maps of Mars to 1938’s ill-fated “War of the Worlds” broadcast, claims of life in outer space have been tinged with whimsy and sensationalism. But in recent decades, more rigorous thinking and evidence-based science have been able to elbow their way into the discussion. As WSU astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch and author David Darling note, we now “have real data to work with.”

Using the … » More …

Fall 2010

Too much of a good thing

Science has been predicting and measuring our warming planet for more than a century now. But it was only in the last two decades that most Americans came to believe the earth’s temperature was indeed rising and that the main culprit is the growing amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

Now scientists are giving a lot of thought to another culprit: nitrogen. Like carbon dioxide, it’s seemingly benign—colorless, odorless, tasteless, and a foundation of life on our planet. Left alone, it tightly binds to itself in inert, two-atom molecules, or N2. It’s ridiculously commonplace, making up four-fifths of our atmosphere. It’s also a modern … » More …

Fall 2010

Cultivating new energy

With just a whiff of irony, let’s sing a song of praise for gasoline.

A single gallon contains more than 30,000 calories. You wouldn’t want to drink it, but in straight-up energy terms, that’s enough to power a human for about two weeks.

Gasoline is convenient, portable, and for the most part, cheap. For the purposes of this story, I used it to log more than 1,000 miles around Washington State and make appointments, easily, and always on time. Tank low? More than 2,000 filling stations were out there for me to fill her up and pay with a piece of plastic.

“The liquid fuel … » More …

Spring 2010

Of honor and friendship

One of the most successful partnerships in WSU history began in failure.

It was the spring of 1975, Kansas State University. Guy Palmer was given a piece of ore in an analytical chemistry class and told to figure out how much nickel was in it. He got it wrong, earning an F.

This happened to be in the highly competitive environment of undergraduates vying for veterinary school. About one in ten applicants would gain admission, so it was not exactly in students’ interest to help each other out. But Terry McElwain saw Palmer struggling to redo the assignment while working on a second one. He … » More …

Spring 2010

Libera

libera

Libera, Marco Bittelli ’98 MS, ’01 PhD
Pacific Coast Jazz, 2009

Some things you expect to find on the Palouse: tractors, football fans, a smattering of laboratories probing the molecular basis of life and the reaches of space. The rural alchemy of agriculture and academia would seem less likely to nurture the great urban art form of jazz, but somehow it does. Several nights a week, you can wander into a club like Rico’s and … » More …