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$1.7 million x-ray microscope to unleash WSU materials research

Aurora Clark
Aurora Clark

When it arrives on campus this October, a powerful new $1.7 million x-ray microscope will help Washington State University scientists develop specialized materials for technologies such as self-healing roads, printable batteries and super-efficient solar cells.

The unique microscope can create three-dimensional models of a material’s interior down to 50 nanometer resolution. Such precision will enable researchers across the university to design more efficient and powerful components for technologies ranging from batteries and solar cells to drug delivery methods that use nanoparticles to target cancerous tumors. It also will provide faculty a competitive advantage when applying for future research grants.

“In order to make high performance materials better or more versatile, you need to be able to characterize and control the arrangements of atoms inside them,” said Aurora Clark, professor of chemistry and principal investigator for the Xradia Ultra program. “Previously, WSU scientists had to go somewhere like the Argonne National Laboratory outside of Chicago to do the kind of imaging we will now be able to do in-house.”

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WSU News

 

African farmers’ kids conquer the marshmallow test

Barry Hewlett
Barry Hewlett

Children of Nso farmers in Cameroon know how to master the marshmallow test, which has tempted away the self-control of Western kids for decades. In a direct comparison on this delayed gratification task, Cameroonian youngsters leave middle-class German children in the dust when challenged to resist a reachable treat while waiting for another goodie, a new study finds.

While Nso values and parenting techniques generally characterize small-scale farming populations, especially in Africa, hunter-gatherers are another story, says anthropologist Barry Hewlett of Washington State University in Vancouver. Traditional hunter-gatherer groups value individual freedom and consider everyone to be relatively equal, regardless of age. Parents usually don’t tell their kids what to do, and children show little deference to parents and elders.

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Science News

Iron blood levels in Guatemala improve with WSU project

Washington State University students and faculty recently returned from a 10-day volunteer effort to help assess whether a health project designed to increase iron levels in the blood of rural Guatemalan people has been successful.

WSU participants worked hand in hand with Hearts in Motion (HIM), a nonprofit organization, on the medical service project.

“After my first year participating in HIM, I realized Guatemalan diets are primarily starch-based,” said Kathy Beerman, a WSU professor in the School of Biological Sciences and a veteran HIM volunteer. “This caused me to believe that many Guatemalans are probably faced with a lack of iron in their diets, and therefore at increased risk for iron deficiency anemia. That is when we started our research.”

Is the Moon House an American Stonehenge?

William Lipe
Lipe

Imagine that you live in isolation on a beautiful mesa with a small band of subsistence farmers. Your territory is rugged and difficult to traverse, with steep slopes, deep canyons, and sandstone cliffs, and is strewn with boulders, hoodoos, balanced rocks, and other obstacles. Even the flat places are uneven and covered with piñon, cedar, shrub oak, yucca, cactus, and scrubby dessert plants.

Such was life for the ancestral Puebloan people, often called the Anasazi, who inhabited southeastern Utah. Their cliff-dwelling stage lasted between 1150 and 1300. During this span, they built and decorated a complex on a plateau called Cedar Mesa. In the 1960s, archeologist Bill Lipe of Washington State University dubbed it the “Moon House”. The name stuck. Throughout the structure, its walls carry decorations that may indicate that those who lived there carefully watched the sky.

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Astronomy Magazine

Huffington Post

Quantum tractor beam could tug atoms, molecules

Philip Marston
Marston

The wavelike properties of quantum matter could lead to a scaled-down version of Star Trek technology. A new kind of tractor beam could use a beam of particles to reel in atoms or molecules, physicists propose in the May 5 Physical Review Letters.

“The idea is very reasonable,” says Philip Marston of Washington State University in Pullman. Although the results are still theoretical, “I think somebody will probably find some way to demonstrate this in the lab,” Marston says.

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Science News