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Research

Fall 2006

The memories of a queen

Before there was Wisteria Lane, there was the French royal court at the Palais du Louvre in Paris. It was a place of forced marriages, lovers and infidelities, imprisonments and poisonings, sword fights and murders. And all that was just within the castle walls.

A little bit of that past is hidden in Washington State University’s archives, in a delicate book with a yellow leather cover. It is a firsthand account of life there with details of some of the greatest scandals and intrigues of French history.

The 378-year-old vellum-paged book holds the memoirs of Marguerite de Valois, also known as Queen Margot. She was … » More …

Fall 2006

All that glitters: The shimmering nano-alchemy of Lai-Sheng Wang

Lai-Sheng Wang places a tinker-toyish thing onto a visitor’s palm. Many such toys line the Washington State University physics professor’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory office in Richland. The object at hand—12 steel balls hinged to red plastic tubes twisted this way and that—form a perfectly symmetrical, 20-sided icosahedron.

Wang also displays a daughter-fashioned Father’s Day card that testifies to his paternal greatness. He spends time with the family, washes dishes, cooks, and is always kind. Mixed in there is a gilded item that truly separates Wang from all other pops on earth: he fathered the gold buckyball.

The word “buckyball” derives from “Buckminsterfullerene,” a hollow … » More …

Summer 2003

How do bonds break?

The underlying question that motivates my current work is,

What are the forces on atoms and ions associated with surfaces that result in these particles leaving or reattaching to the surface when stimulated with an outside agent?

These surfaces may be surrounded by very high vacuum or by an aqueous solution. The stimulation that assists the motion of the atoms or ions may be a laser or electron beam, or it might be a very sharp, hard tip pushing on the surface. In all cases, the rate of particle removal or attachment, the speeds or energies of the particles involved, and even the direction they … » More …

Summer 2007

Happy—and healthy—ever after

“In sickness or in health. . .”

That noble sentiment of the traditional marriage vow says your spouse promises to stick with you if you get sick. What it doesn’t say, and what a study by Washington State University psychologist John Ruiz (photo) and researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University now shows, is that your spouse’s personality can help you heal–or speed your demise.

And, in the happiest of endings, being satisfied with your partner, no matter what his or her personality, is like an inoculation against all the bad things wrought by depression and anxiety.

Drawing on a subject group … » More …

Summer 2007

Questioning the questions

A few years ago, when an academic publisher approached Dirk Schulze-Makuch about writing a book on the search for extraterrestrial life, the astrobiologist couldn’t resist.

“You’re not often getting asked to write a book about life in the universe,” he recalls. “It was just too tempting.”

Life in the Universe: Expectations and Constraints was published shortly before Schulze-Makuch joined Washington State University’s Department of Geology in 2005. Coauthored by Louis Irwin of the University of Texas-El Paso, the book takes a close look at what’s really necessary for life-not life as we know it here, but life as it might be on other worlds.

“We’re … » More …