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Research

Winter 2009

Stormwater central

There’s nothing mundane about the new parking lot at the WSU research and extension center in Puyallup. It is a state-of-the-art polluted water collection system. The 70-some parking spots are specially designed to drain the water from each space into separate collection cells.

The project, which broke ground last summer, is an early step in the station’s efforts to become a leader in Low Impact Development techniques, providing guidance for the rapidly developing community along the Puyallup River Valley. In this case, the station will look at how to capture and clean stormwater runoff so that it doesn’t contaminate waterways, damaging … » More …

Winter 2009

Is organic more nutritious?

This summer saw the publication of a study of the nutritional value of organic versus conventional foods by scientists with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Based on a review of 55 articles they judged of satisfactory quality, the scientists, led by Alan Dangour and funded by the governmental Food Safety Agency, concluded that “there is no evidence of a difference in nutrient quality between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs.”

Preston Andrews, WSU professor of horticulture and a prominent researcher of nutrient value of organically grown food, is irked by the report, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, both by its … » More …

Winter 2003

Blackouts: How often do we want them?

Living in a subdivision where the power lines are strung on poles in our back alleys, we have had more than our usual share of power outages this summer. This has been blamed on the rapid expansion of the neighborhood squirrel population because of the loud pop of the short-circuit that preceded every incident. On August 14, my wife wondered aloud how big the squirrel must have been to have popped everything from Detroit to New York City.

The blame game for the massive outage is just starting. We’ll hear about the operators who didn’t open circuit breakers in time, the engineers who didn’t design … » More …

Winter 2003

A new method for measuring heart risk

Almost 500,000 people in the U.S. die each year from coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease. Half of those people didn’t even know they were at risk or had any symptoms of the condition, according to the American Heart Association.

This could change, however, with the adoption of more accurate ways to identify who has the disease, instead of relying on less consistent risk factors like cholesterol levels.

During the past 10 years, more than 1,000 Washington State residents have participated in the Spokane Heart Study, which might do just that—change the way coronary artery disease is identified. Every two years, … » More …

Winter 2006

When trash reveals history

From October 2005 through March 2006, I worked with ephemera in one of the great libraries of the world, the Bodleian at the University of Oxford. A cheeky person might say that “ephemera” is just a fancy term for trash. However, given the passage of time, even trash can become terribly interesting.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ephemera as something that has a transitory existence. Printed ephemera may be items, such as broadsides, chapbooks, bus tickets, menus, playbills, and lists, to name just a few categories, that were not intended survive their immediate use. As most printed ephemera were not saved, what does remain can … » More …