Recently I had the pleasure of going to the wedding celebration of my assistant at work — whom I count as a good friend — and her new husband. Theirs is an international marriage: the bride was born and raised in this country, the groom born and raised in China. The wedding celebration had elements of traditions from both the U.S. and China: the bride wore red, as is the custom in China, and the marriage was celebrated with a ring, as is the custom here.
Engagement and wedding rings interest geologists from a technical point of view. Long ago, I did geologic research related … » More …
What if there were a two-for-one sale on kilowatts? Your power bill would be cut in half — not a bad result for your monthly budget.
Energy drives everything we produce and consume, and global energy consumption continues to grow year after year. The two-for-one image came to mind as I talked with Professor Jeanne McHale of Washington State University. McHale is a chemist who researches an alternative approach to making solar cells that produce electricity.
“There’s no question we have a lot of solar energy that strikes the planet each day,” McHale told me. “It’s an often-quoted statistic that just one hour of sunlight … » More …
Like millions of Americans, my day starts by plugging in the coffeepot. In my case, it’s an old fashion percolator. It clears its throat and brews my coffee while I rub sleep out of my eyes and brush my teeth.
My habit of starting my day with coffee — and following that initial cup with doses of java in the mid-morning, the late morning and the early-afternoon — may be at least partially grounded in my genes.
Researchers have long believed that genetics influences a person’s daily coffee consumption. Early this fall, a new study fleshed out just how many variations in genes may be … » More …
When I take my elderly mother to the emergency room, the nurse asks how much pain she is in, on a scale of 1 to 10. There is a chart with pictures of little smiley faces, neutral faces, and grimacing faces to help a person — perhaps a child — determine a number. Pain management is an important part of human medicine.
Despite what the 17th century philosopher and naturalist René Descartes said about animals being merely organic machines, it’s clear to me they feel pain in a manner similar to us. But we can’t ask Fido or Felix to tell us what they are … » More …
I’m a geologist with broad interests across the sciences. I’d welcome questions or ideas from you about any aspects of what I’ve covered already and what should be done next.
The Rock Doc essays concern a variety of topics, including research work underway here at Washington State University, the scientific dimension of events in the national news, technical work that has economic significance, or some other aspect of science of particular interest to the public.
The Rock Doc columns are published as columns in newspapers. They must be brief and designed to appeal to the general public. The columns are a service of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences of Washington State University. Ideas about future coverage or complaints about what’s already been done can be addressed to me:
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College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences
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Recent Radio Recordings
Eggs from Near and Far
The Longevity of Dogs
Mirror Image of Japans Woes
Visiting Darwin’s Grave Ere I Die
The Downside of Good Fortune
The Great Crack in the Atlantic
Our Daily Bread in 2050
Victory over the Angel of Death
What a Drag
Fetching for a Living
Talking with Fido
Designing Better Asphalt
A Brisk Walking Pace is Better
Proposed Changes to Nutrition Labels
Keeping Warm with Gold Fever