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Grant to fund interactive, sculptural ‘art machine’

Thursday, January 29, 2015
Sena Clara Creston

Sena Clara Creston

Sena Clara Creston, clinical assistant professor in digital technology and culture and fine arts at WSU Tri-Cities, has received a grant from the state nonprofit Artist Trust to construct an “art machine” entitled “The Umbrella Ship.”

“The sculpture will provide the audience with the constructed reality and physical sensation of a childlike dreamscape,” Creston said.

The interactive installation will be a three-wheeled art machine propelled by wind hitting a large umbrella. The vehicle will transition from a bed to ship to bicycle and will be constructed from repurposed materials.

Learn more about this artistic project

Infant temperaments may reflect parents’ cultural values

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Marsha Gartstein

Marsha Gartstein

Dutch babies laugh, smile and like to cuddle more than their American counterparts.

A new study examining temperamental differences between U.S. and Dutch babies found infants born in the Netherlands are more likely to be happy and easier to soothe in the latter half of their first year. U.S. infants, on the other hand, were typically more active and vocal, said study co-author Maria Gartstein, a Washington State University associate professor of psychology.

The results of the study, published in the January 2015 print edition of the European Journal of Developmental Psychology, in many ways reflect American and Dutch parents’ unique cultural values, Gartstein said.

U.S. parents often emphasize the importance of stimulation, exposing their children to a wide variety of new experiences to promote independence, a cultural ideal. Parents in Holland are more likely to incorporate children into daily activities at home, placing strong value on the importance of rest and regularity.

A greater understanding of these values and the impact they have on an infant’s temperament will help psychologists fine-tune ways to prevent infant temperament issues from becoming behavioral problems later in life.

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WSU math teacher wins MIT puzzle competition

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Thomas Gazzola with the winning “Nautilodestone” coin from the MIT Mystery Hunt. Photo courtesy WSU Vancouver.

Thomas Gazzola with the winning “Nautilodestone” coin from the MIT Mystery Hunt. Photo courtesy WSU Vancouver.

A Washington State University Vancouver math instructor is celebrating his win in the “Super Bowl” of puzzle hunts.

Thomas Gazzola is part of a 40-member team of solvers who successfully deciphered the 2015 MIT Mystery Hunt, an annual puzzle competition held in Boston during the Martin Luther King Junior weekend.

The Mystery Hunt, created by an MIT graduate student in 1981, is widely regarded as one of the world’s oldest and most complex “puzzlehunts.” According to the MIT website the event draws about 1,000 people each year and has inspired similar competitions at universities, companies and in cities around the globe.

“There were about 180 puzzles in this year’s hunt,” said Gazzola, director of the WSU Vancouver math resource lab. “My crew managed to get through them all in just under 41 hours.”

Winning means his team has the dubious honor of designing the closely guarded theme and puzzles for the upcoming 2016 hunt.

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Researchers strive to solve dangerous distracted driving by cops

Friday, January 23, 2015
Bryan Vila

Bryan Vila

Police officers are often brave and heroic, and their jobs are harder than ever, frequently requiring them to talk on their cellphones and police radios and even type on computers as they drive. The results can be tragic.

Bryan Vila, WSU professor of criminal justice and criminology, is one of the world’s leading experts on distracted police driving. He put the Today’s Jeff Rossen behind the wheel in the driving simulator he uses to test officers’ eye movement and reaction time.

Rossen’s driving in the simulator was fine until Vila added a common police distraction: the onboard computer. After Rossen ran off the simulated road and spun out, review of his eye movement showed that his eyes were off the road, looking at the computer screen instead, for almost four seconds. “That’s enough to cause a hell of an accident,” Vila said.

There are “three easy solutions,” according to Vila.

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Study of ancient dogs in the Americas yields insights into human, dog migration

Friday, January 9, 2015
Brian Kemp, left, and Timothy Kohler

Brian Kemp, left, and Timothy Kohler

A new study conducted in part by Washington State University researchers Brian Kemp and Timothy Kohler suggests that dogs may have first successfully migrated to the Americas only about 10,000 years ago, thousands of years after the first human migrants crossed a land bridge from Siberia to North America.

The study looked at the genetic characteristics of 84 individual dogs from more than a dozen sites in North and South America, and is the largest analysis so far of ancient dogs in the Americas.

Unlike their wild wolf predecessors, ancient dogs learned to tolerate human company and generally benefited from the association: They gained access to new food sources, enjoyed the safety of human encampments and, eventually, traveled the world with their two-legged masters.

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