Commentaries

Washington State University

How do you catch and prosecute someone illegally trafficking nuclear materials? You could catch them uranium-handed… except that granite also contains traces of uranium. That’s the challenge of nuclear forensics: telling what’s evidence of nuclear material, and what’s just background noise. WSU’s Nathalie Wall is a chemist who handles nuclear forensics. The Rock Doc, Kirsten Peters, brings us her story.  

Smarter Than Your Average Bear

Oct 4, 2014
Washington State University

WSU is known for its smart Cougars. But soon it could have a reputation for something else – intelligent bears. Bears that use tools, like some primates and birds. Veterinary student Alex Waroff tested the bears’ intelligence, and found some surprising results. WSU’s Rock Doc, Kirsten Peters, has the story of WSU’s bright bears.

Alex Waroff had a fantastic summer job this year. The veterinary student at Washington State University worked with faculty members as they tested just how clever grizzly bears are. What’s at issue is the use of tools.

Washington State University

A team of scientists at Washington State University is working to develop new sources for chemicals that might aid in the development of biofuel startups.  One avenue of research: poplars.  Dr. Kirsten Peters, the “Rock Doc,” takes a look.

Washington State University

While I have been dinking around for months, trying to lose five pounds, two of my friends have gotten serious about weight loss. Each of them is down 50 pounds.

I’m pleased for them, of course, and truly impressed by their accomplishments. Successfully combating overweight and obesity is one of the best things people can do for their health. It can help everything from joint pain to heart function, from Type 2 diabetes to certain aspects of mental health.

News Nuggets: Froufrou

May 5, 2014

Language is a slippery thing.  Just when you think you have it pretty much in hand, it slithers away.   

At least it has been that way for more than 200 years.

or

At least it has been that way for over 200 years.

For a very long time language purists have insisted on using more than rather than over when referring to quantity. 

Fussy news editor: More than 20 people were arrested.

The hoi polloi: Over 20 people were arrested.

Northwest Public Radio

Nothing could be better—or healthier—than a walk through the countryside, right?  Wrong.  New research reveals that walking briskly could be better.  "Rock Doc"  Kirsten Peters explains.

My Labrador-mix from the pound, Buster Brown by name, loves to walk with me. On the weekends we often do a six-mile walk around town or along the Snake River where Buster can be off leash (as Mother Nature intends).

A semi-naked woman in a sequined Carnival costume. A veiled woman with only her eyes showing in a niqab. Two stereotypes of two vastly different regions — Latin America and the Middle East.

On the surface, these two images couldn't be more diametrically opposed. What could the two have in common, right? What a woman wears — or what she doesn't wear, in Brazil's case — is often interpreted as a sign of her emancipation. The veil, for many, is a symbol of female oppression; the right to wear a bikini, one of liberation.

Hitchster / flickr.com

Asphalt: It’s everywhere and it’s expensive.  And its production is tough on air quality.  But a researcher at Washington State University may have a better way: asphalt made from waste cooking oil. "Rock Doc"  Kirsten Peters explains.

Dr. Haifang Wen grew up in a rural area of Shandong province, in eastern China. In his youth there were not many paved highways in the Chinese countryside.

“Lots of the roads were gravel,” he told me recently. “They were muddy when it rained. I remember riding a cow on them, or going along in a wagon pulled by a donkey.”

Intro:  The revolt in Ukraine is reverberating through other countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. One of those is the tiny Republic of Georgia, about one-third the size of the state of Washington.  Lawrence Pintak, a veteran foreign correspondent and dean of The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, is there and filed this report.

He, She or...Ze?

Jan 8, 2014

Most people speaking the English language as recently at 1980 had no notion of what lay in store for the daily vernacular.  With the digital age came swarms of neologisms: bytes, bauds, dongles, exbibytes, favicons, greps, memes….whole herds and flocks of new words and usages thundering into our peaceful linguascape.

Stay tuned.  There are more on the way.  And the driver this time is not digital but sexual.  The latest changelings are pronouns.

From the Associated Press: Nov. 30, 2013 (and picked up by newspapers around the world):

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