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Washington State Magazine

First Words
Winter 2018

Patterns

Just the right combination of cold and moist conditions last winter blanketed the trees, buildings, and grounds of the WSU Pullman campus with a layer of hoarfrost. The tiny, icy spikes added a new and beautiful dimension, even drawing my eyes to a fresh look at the cougar statue outside the Lewis Alumni Centre. I walk past that leaping figure nearly every workday, and yet rarely look at it like I did that day.

Sometimes we need a new way to perceive the world around us, even those parts that are invisible. For example, cancerous tumors notoriously adapt and resist treatment as they invade our … » More …

Talk Back
Winter 2018

TalkBack for Winter 2018

Instrumental journey

The article written by Wenda Reed on the life of Gladys Jennings was excellent. I graduated in ’92, and had Gladys as an advisor in the Food Science & Human Nutrition Department. I transferred to WSU from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in the fall of ’89, and Gladys was instrumental in that process. After phone conversations and mailings, the transition from U of A to WSU was seamless. She would guide me in my course choices while in Alaska, and told me that these courses would directly transfer. She was instrumental in the success I had as a student at WSU.

» More …

First Words
Summer 2018

Express yourself

Nature or nurture? It seemed so simple a debate when I was younger and first learning biology. DNA and genes determined some of our traits, and the rest came from family, society, and other external factors.

There was certainly debate about the extent of what we could learn versus what we inherit as hard-coded genetic information. Well, that discussion is a lot more complicated now, as recent empirical research and discoveries show offspring can inherit traits developed by parents’ environment and experiences. Basically, what’s passed on to kids is not just in the genetic code.

One way that happens is through epigenetics, where heritable … » More …

Summer 2018

Evolution evolution

In a word, Michael Skinner is tenacious. Growing up on a ranch outside Pendleton, the former Eagle Scout and college wrestler learned early on that you don’t back down from a little head-butting or controversy. It’s all just part of the game.

The trait has served Skinner ’82 PhD well over the years and enabled him to persevere through the fallout of a chance discovery in his reproductive biology lab in the 1990s. The unexpected findings threw 200 years of scientific ideology into question and initiated a paradigm shift in the understanding of inheritance and evolution. They also sparked a wave of outrage and … » More …

Talk Back
Spring 2018

Talkback for Spring 2018

 

Yacht club

Is there still an active Cougar yacht club? My friends own the Elmore, which was featured in your magazine in the early 2000s. It’s for sale now, in great shape, and still owned by the Cougar fans. It would be a great boost for the yacht club and could possibly keep it in the Cougar family. She’s still painted Coug colors and was built in 1890!

Sarah Seltzer 
Seattle

 

Rocket man

I was in the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army’s satellite tracking station at Ft. Stewart, Georgia, from April 1958–March 1959. I was working telemetry the night Cape … » More …

First Words
Spring 2018

Forged by fire

The intricate mastery of Japanese swordmaking relies on a smith’s deep understanding of fire, metal, and techniques to control both. Each unique sword shimmers with thousands of layers from the folding of the metal, a work of art in steel. That steel, though, traditionally comes from an iron-rich sand full of impurities, pounded and blended by the smith. A smith then uses a secret mix of water, clay, ash, and other ingredients over the blade as they once again plunge the sword into fire to create a keen edge. Only when the blade glows a certain color is it quenched in water.

Humans have learned … » More …