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Ask Dr. Universe: What color are our stars?

George Newman
George Newman

Just the other night, I grabbed my binoculars and looked up to the starry sky. At first the stars looked white, but when I looked closer I noticed some appeared more blue and red.

I was curious to find out exactly what color they were, so I visited my friend George Newman. He’s a physics and astronomy instructor at Washington State University.

He said that a star mostly emits the kinds of light that our eyes see as red or blue.

“The thing that determines which color they give off most is their temperature,” he said.

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Dr. Universe

Researcher: Turkeys a major part of ancestral Pueblo life

William Lipe
William Lipe

While the popular notion of the American Thanksgiving is less than 400 years old, the turkey has been part of American lives for more than 2,000 years. But for much of that time, the bird was more revered than eaten.

Washington State University archaeologists over the years have repeatedly seen evidence, from bones to blankets to DNA extracted from ancient poop, suggesting that the Pueblo people of the Southwest bred turkeys as far back as 200 B.C.

“Turkeys were an important bird symbolically and in practical ways as a source of feathers that kept people warm in the winter,” said Bill Lipe, a WSU professor emeritus of anthropology with decades of experience in the area. “And they were also important as a food source, probably primarily at periodic feasts and ritual gatherings.”

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WSU News

WSUV researchers develop much faster way to model aquatic vegetation

With half the world’s population—more than 3.5 billion people, according to an United Nations estimate—living less than 40 miles away from coastlines, scientists want to know how effectively coastal plants buffer inland areas from rising seas and extreme weather events. But doing the research was an arduous and limited task until three Washington State University Vancouver scientists got involved.

Lienard
Lienard
Nik Strigul
Strigul
Stephen Henderson
Henderson

WSUV environmental scientist Stephen Henderson worked with Nikolay Strigul, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics, and Jean Liénard, a mathematics postdoctoral researcher, to develop a computer model that uses photographs to re-create the complex geometry of the plants to be used in a workable computer model.

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The Columbian

Rapture Me Up, Daddy: Trump, the End of the World, and Me

More than 40 percent of Americans believe that the Second Coming will take place by the year 2050, with that number rising to 58 percent among white evangelicals.

Matthew Sutton
Matthew Sutton

“Among lay people it’s just a given that the Rapture’s going to happen,” says Matthew Avery Sutton, history professor at Washington State University and author of American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism, in an interview with VICE. “Most evangelical churches would be shocked to find out that this is a 150-year-old concept and not a 2,000-year-old Biblical concept.”

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VICE

Ask Dr. Universe: Why do we find some things scary?

While our fears might be different, we all get scared sometimes. Perhaps for you it’s spiders, the dark, or the thought of monsters under your bed.

Michael Delahoyde
Delahoyde

My friend Michael Delahoyde is really curious about what freaks us out. As an English professor at Washington State University, he’s even taught a course about monsters.

Delahoyde explained that our brains like to categorize information to help us make sense of our world. But monsters sort of live between different categories.

“We are comfortable with animals. We are comfortable with humans. We’ve got the distinctions down,” Delahoyde said. “But when you have a monster, like a werewolf who is somewhere in the middle, then it freaks us out.”

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Dr. Universe