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Life always finds a way

Dirk Schulze-Makuch
Dirk Schulze-Makuch

For the first time, researchers have seen life rebounding in the world’s driest desert, demonstrating that it could also be lurking in the soils of Mars.

Led by Washington State University planetary scientist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, an international team studied the driest corner of South America’s Atacama Desert, where decades pass without any rain. Scientists have long wondered whether microbes in the soil of this hyperarid environment, the most similar place on Earth to the Martian surface, are permanent residents or merely dying vestiges of life, blown in by the weather.

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Schulze-Makuch and his collaborators reveal that even the hyper-arid Atacama Desert can provide a habitable environment for microorganisms.

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WSU News
Daily Star
Laboratory Equipment Magazine
Indian Express
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International Business Times
New Atlas
Science Alert
Outer Places
ZME Science
Financial Express
The World News
Yahoo News
The Register
Business Insider

The Archaeology of Wealth Inequality

Tim Kohler

When the last of the volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius settled over Pompeii in A.D. 79, it preserved a detailed portrait of life in the grand Roman city, from bristling military outposts to ingenious aqueducts. Now researchers say the eruption nearly 2,000 years ago also captured clues to one of today’s most pressing social problems.

Analyzing dwellings in Pompeii and 62 other archaeological sites dating back 11,200 years, a team of experts has ranked the distribution of wealth in those communities. Bottom line: economic disparities increased over the centuries and technology played a role.
The research is being published this month in Ten Thousand Years of Inequality, a book edited by Smith and Timothy Kohler of Washington State University.

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Smithsonian Magazine

Bringing the past into the future: Huna Heritage Foundation debuts online archive

It’s been the mission of the Huna Heritage Foundation (HHF) to perpetuate the Huna Tlingit culture and promote education for future generations, and it plans to do both of those things with the launch of its digital archive.

Kimberly Christen

One of the challenges HHF faced was finding a platform that met its needs. While it’s HHF’s goal to share pieces of culture and history, some information should only be accessible to certain people or groups, said HHF Executive Director Amelia Wilson. It’s HHF’s goal to not only host photos but to eventually have audio and video recordings as well, but some of that might be sensitive material — like clan songs, owned by a clan, which would only be made available to people inside that clan. HHF settled on the open source platform and content management system called Mukurtu. It was developed by Dr. Kimberly Christen of Washington State University to meet the archival needs of an indigenous group in Australia, Wilson said.

“This software is grassroots, community driven, and (a) customizable site that would allow us to draw upon our Hoonah cultural protocols to direct our access levels,” she said.

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Capital City Weekly

Juneau Empire

Opinion: What we need to talk about when we talk about mass shooters

A day after the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida, President Donald Trump blamed the incident that left 17 dead on shooter Nikolas Cruz’s mental health.

Melanie-Angela Neuilly

Dr. Melanie-Angela Neuilly, an associate professor at the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University, told the Daily Dot, “While mental health should always be taken into consideration, the emphasis on mental health as a source of violence is misleading as individuals suffering with mental health issues are actually less likely to be violent (overall) than individuals without mental health issues.”

What we really ought to question, Neuilly said, are the cultural values that could contribute to deadly shootings. Near the top of that list is toxic masculinity.

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The Daily Dot

Opinion: Billy Graham was on the wrong side of history

Racial tensions are rising, the earth is warming, and evangelicals are doing little to help. That may be Graham’s most significant, and saddest, legacy.

By Matthew Avery Sutton, Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professor of History

Matthew Avery Sutton

When Billy Graham stands before the judgment seat of God, he may finally realize how badly he failed his country, and perhaps his God. On civil rights and the environmental crisis, the most important issues of his lifetime, he championed the wrong policies.

Graham was on the wrong side of history.

The world’s most famous evangelist let his apocalyptic anticipation of the coming kingdom of God blind him to the realities of living in this world.

For Graham, the Bible had a clear message for Christians living in what he believed were humans’ last days on earth. Individuals alone can achieve salvation; governments cannot. Conversions change behaviors; federal policies do not.

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The Guardian