There’s nothing like popcorn in progress: the snapping kernels, the warm buttery smell, and the knowledge that a delicious snack will be ready in minutes. It gives you some good time to think and wonder: how did humans first start doing this?
To find out where popcorn came from, I visited my friend Erin Thornton, an assistant professor of archaeology at Washington State University. Archaeologists study how humans lived in the past—including the things they ate.
To learn the story of popcorn, we have to trace the history of maize.
Long before maize, there was a plant called teosinte (tay-oh seen-tay). If you saw teosinte in person, you probably wouldn’t guess it’s the grandparent of your popcorn. “It doesn’t really look like modern maize at all because it lacks large cobs—instead it looks more like a weedy grass,” Thornton said.
We don’t know exactly who first discovered that popcorn can pop. But it’s a process that would have happened when people first started mixing dried kernels and heat.
A Pew Research Report was published online on Jan. 9 with findings on income inequality for the United States. There is what is called a Gini coefficient, which shows inequality. The higher the fraction, the higher the inequality.
The most current Gini coefficient for income in the U.S. from 2017 is 0.434. We are approaching India (0.495) at this time. We lead all G7 countries, with the closest being the United Kingdom at 0.392, the U.S. being 11% higher.
So what, you may wonder? The study conducted by 13 institutions and led by Dr. Tim Kohler, Anthropology professor from Washington State University, found troubling outcomes from civilizations with high Gini coefficients. The higher coefficients tend to suddenly fall at some point of time, always accompanied by violence and including revolution.
WSU’s Global Campus offers 20 undergraduate and 12 graduate degrees in many disciplines, as well as numerous minors and certificates. New degrees this year include a BA in Anthropology, BS in Biology, BA in English, BS in Earth and Environmental Sciences, and BA in Political Science. Additional degree programs are currently in development.
Bill Lipe is professor emeritus of anthropology at Washington State University. He has spent much of his more than 50 year career in Utah archaeology beginning with the archaeological salvage of Glen Canyon before the dam construction and on into Cedar Mesa where he became a leading scholar in the early Basketmaker agricultural societies of southeastern Utah. Dr. Lipe began his work at a time when there was little federal legislation protecting archaeology or guiding preservation efforts. He became a leader in the development of what we now know of as Cultural Resource Management archaeology. Because of his involvement in CRM and his work in Cedar Mesa, he remains one of archaeology’s main voices in the Bears Ears controversy.
Washington State University will celebrate the public launch of the Center for Arts and Humanities (CAH) with two workshops and a reception on Oct. 24. Joining the festivities will be Jon Parrish Peede, chairman for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“The center will serve as a ‘front door’ to the arts and humanities at WSU. Our goal is to nurture curiosity and encourage innovation that crosses traditional scholarly boundaries and supports the public good,” said Todd Butler, associate professor of English and CAH director.
The center will award its first two undergraduate scholarships at the reception and celebrate the work of the current cohort of eight CAH Faculty Fellows, who are pursuing projects ranging from an examination of the links between Ralph Waldo Emerson and Frank Lloyd Wright to collaborations with Native American singers to preserve recordings of traditional Nez Perce songs.
Formally approved by the Board of Regents in May 2019, the center is supported by a University-wide consortium that includes the Office of Research, College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School, WSU Libraries, and the Office of the President.