UW Today


December 15, 1997

UW astronomer to show spectacular pictures of distant stars in the final stages of death

What do the “Siamese squid,” the “double Hubble,” the “blinking planetary” and the “Saturn nebula” have in common? All are distant, dying stars, whose images have been captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.


December 10, 1997

Asian industrial smog: it’s increasingly blowing in the wind across the U.S. West Coast

A new study indicates that about 10 percent of the ozone and other pollutants are arriving from the industrialized nations of East Asia.


December 9, 1997

Researchers puzzle over the source of mysterious, high-energy X-rays recorded above the Earth

What was found by three graduate students — Kirsten Lorentzen of the University of Washington and Robin Millan and Jason Foat of the University of California at Berkeley — has scientists scrambling for an explanation: an intense stream of X-rays, occurring in seven bursts, each separated by only a few minutes and lasting for a total of half an hour. The evidence was clear that the high energy bursts came not from outer space, but from the Earth’s upper atmosphere.


November 13, 1997

The Earth’s mysterious inner core is turning independently, but more slowly than previously thought

The proposition that the Earth’s little understood inner core is a frozen yet white hot globe of curiously laid out iron crystals, spinning independently of the rest of the planet, has been given a boost by a University of Washington researcher.


November 5, 1997

The world’s most detailed weather system gives forecasters a “dramatic” view of local conditions

First it was the Chinese, then the Egyptians who more than 3,000 years ago began studying and predicting the weather. Then in the 16th and 17th centuries meteorology became a science with the invention of instruments to measure the elements. Now a supercomputer is ushering in a new era of high-precision local weather forecasting.


October 29, 1997

Tree-ring study enables researchers to link massive American earthquake to Japanese tsunami in January 1700

Stumps of long-dead western red cedar trees are revealing new details of a cataclysmic earthquake along North America’s west coast more than 100 years before the arrival of the first European occupants.


October 13, 1997

Move over El Niño, a major new climate cycle has been discovered, and it lasts for decades

It looks like El Niño, it feels like El Niño, and if you are watching fish stocks, reservoir levels or farm production, you would say it is El Niño.


October 2, 1997

Top students graduate from an intensive summer of cloning, coatings and controlling mosquitoes

They spent their summer working in the lab instead of enjoying the sunshine, studying everything from cloning and protective coatings to mosquito control. On Friday, they will get their reward. At a reception at the University of Washington’s Kane Hall, 50 undergraduates will be honored for their summer research sponsored by the Washington Space Grant Consortium.


September 12, 1997

A new state of matter turns a solid world into a melting one

A new form of matter, clusters of atoms, has been oberved in recent years behaving in curious ways. Now research indicates that clusters have another, previously unsuspected property: they can melt at different temperatures from “solid” matter.


September 11, 1997

Discovery of a shiny marine fossil is latest evidence that British Columbia was once part of Baja California

Small sea creatures that have lain in pristine condition for eons have given a University of Washington researcher the clearest evidence yet that about 80 million years ago a southern landmass began migrating to the north. And what today are rainy British Columbia and chilly southern Alaska were once the sunny climes of Baja California.


A new state of matter turns a solid world into a melting one

A new form of matter, clusters of atoms, has been oberved in recent years behaving in curious ways. Now research indicates that clusters have another, previously unsuspected property: they can melt at different temperatures from “solid” matter.


Discovery of a shiny marine fossil is latest evidence that British Columbia was once part of Baja California

Small sea creatures that have lain in pristine condition for eons have given a University of Washington researcher the clearest evidence yet that about 80 million years ago a southern landmass began migrating to the north. And what today are rainy British Columbia and chilly southern Alaska were once the sunny climes of Baja California.


August 20, 1997

A ‘CAT scan’ of Mount Rainier provides the first look inside potential earthquake hazards in the volcano’s backyard

University of Washington researchers have made the first detailed study of the possible trigger for a devastating eruption.


June 18, 1997

A professor’s lost butterfly collection is replaced with young children’s gift of words, color and caring

Joel Kingsolver thought he had lost his butterflies: 10,000 carefully preserved wings, representing nearly two decades of work, all apparently destroyed in a disastrous fire at the University of Washington’s zoology department last March. But within weeks his butterflies had “returned” — the heartfelt gift of a host of young children who had set about replacing the lost wings with colorful, imaginative and sometimes poignant butterfly pictures.


May 27, 1997

Greenhouse warming puzzle deepens with finding that the main consitutent of atmospheric particles is carbon, not sulfate

The concept is known as the “sulfate paradigm.” Or to put it simply, the idea that industrial pollution in the atmosphere may actually keep the global temperature from soaring.


May 14, 1997

Beset by human competition, penguins have to take marathon food trips to avoid starvation, a UW researcher discover

Starvation is a major cause of death for newly hatched penguins, the result of dwindling marine food reserves. To feed their families, adult birds are forced to forage great distances from their breeding colonies, says Dee Boersma, professor of zoology at the University of Washington and one of the world’s leading authorities on temperate-zone penguins.


Beset by human competition, penguins have to take marathon food trips to avoid starvation, a UW researcher discovers

Starvation is a major cause of death for newly hatched penguins, the result of dwindling marine food reserves. To feed their families, adult birds are forced to forage great distances from their breeding colonies, says Dee Boersma, professor of zoology at the University of Washington .


April 29, 1997

The UW’s super-spanners set their sights on becoming the nation’s champion bridge builders

She’s only 22, but already Cheryl Burwell, a University of Washington senior, is a champion bridge builder. A month ago, Burwell and her team of nine other civil engineering seniors, showed their mettle, as well as their metal, with an upset victory at the regional bridge-building championships in Alaska.


The UW’s super-spanners set their sights on becoming the nation’s champion bridge builders

She’s only 22, but already Cheryl Burwell, a University of Washington senior, is a champion bridge builder. A month ago, Burwell and her team of nine other civil engineering seniors, showed their mettle, as well as their metal, with an upset victory at the regional bridge-building championships in Alaska.


April 18, 1997

The elusive neutrino may not be disappearing at all, but simply changing its “flavor”

Like the Cheshire cat, the elusive neutrino particle can appear and disappear, seemingly at will. And like the smile on the face of the Cheshire cat, the neutrino may be a mere wisp, or have actual substance.


April 10, 1997

Washington state’s new official insect is a little bizarre, but also darn marvelous, says UW professor

It begins life as a miniature underwater jet engine and ends its days as an aerial dive bomber gathering up its prey in a highly developed “cow catcher.” If that sounds more like the Empire striking back than nature, don’t be fooled. It’s the green darner dragonfly, and it has just been named the official insect of the state of Washington.


March 25, 1997

UW’s department of astronomy will host a public open house to provide a close-up view of Comet Hale-Bopp

That brilliant visitor to the Northwest sky, Comet Hale-Bopp, will be up close and personal at the University of Washington’s department of astronomy this week.


March 19, 1997

A partial lunar eclipse and a brilliant Comet Hale-Bopp could provide a celestial light show for Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday this year will be notable not only for its symbolism as the solemn opening to holy week. It will also be the day on which Earth, moon and Comet Hale-Bopp combine to provide what promises to be a celestial light show.


March 11, 1997

Four UW undergraduates take to the skies by doing research with one of the world’s most advanced telescopes

Katheryn (Katy) Foreman of Portland, Ore., started as a Spanish language major, and now plans a career in radio astronomy. Scott Sullivan of Tacoma began as an electrical engineering major, and now hopes astronomy will prepare him for entry into NASA’s astronaut-training program. Jeffrey (Jeff) Balsley of Issaquah, Wash., was a percussionist studying music, and now his aim is to teach astrophysics. And Marcus Wright of Stanwood, Wash., has traded in his ambition to become a computer scientist, for a future in astronomy.All of these undergraduates clearly have been influenced by their University of Washington education in astronomy. And today they will get a rare hands-on look at the life of a real astronomer.


February 21, 1997

A lush volcanic island in Indonesia provides clues about Mount St. Helens’ recovery from its moon-like state

On August 27, 1883, the volcano Krakatau in the Dutch East Indies erupted with the force of more than 10,000 Hiroshima-type hydrogen bombs, killing an estimated 30,000 people and leaving a wide swath of devastation. The recovery from that volcanic upheaval is providing scientists with glimpses of the renewal that can be expected after more recent eruptions, in particular that of Mount St. Helens in 1980.


February 6, 1997

An icy comet with a long, dusty tail is now speeding into view

For the next few weeks early-morning commuters throughout the Pacific Northwest will be given a preview of Comet Hale-Bopp. The comet is now brightening steadily and is visible to the naked eye in the eastern pre-dawn sky.


January 24, 1997

A supercomputer gives the Pacific Northwest a super-detailed view of its often-capricious weather

It was not entirely a victory for hostile elements when severe winter storms devasted the Pacific Northwest in late December. It was also a victory for the National Weather Service, the University of Washington and six local, state and federal agencies, whose weather-forecasting supercomputer is providing local details of the Northwest weather with an accuracy never before possible.


January 21, 1997

What are scientists seeing over the rainbow? The CIA would like to know

It sounds like the opening to a spy novel: The Central Intelligence Agency awards a $70,000 contract to a university for the study of Western rainbows. In reality, though, the CIA is recognizing more than two decades of pioneering work by a University of Washington computer image analysis group.


January 14, 1997

Hubble team reveals a stellar odd couple among thousands of suns in the Milky Way

Astronomers are shining new light on a stellar odd couple, one partner being “consumed” by the other, nestled among thousands of suns at the center of a star cluster in the Milky Way


Hubble team reveals a stellar odd couple among thousands of suns in the Milky Way

Astronomers are shining new light on a stellar odd couple, one partner being “consumed” by the other, nestled among thousands of suns at the center of a star cluster in the Milky Way. The strange pair are emitting intense radiation in both ultraviolet light and in X-rays.


December 23, 1996

Engineers celebrate a topping out with a shake, rattle and roll

It was shakes and congratulations all round this week when the University of Washington Structures Laboratory celebrated the topping out of a four-year building project.


December 10, 1996

Research crosses continents, disciplines and generations

It had been a frustrating computer search for Vicki Schroeder, a geophysics graduate student at the University of Washington.


December 9, 1996

Lightning research is charged with finding a rain gauge in space

Lightning research was once the stepchild of atmospheric science because of the belief that it had no connection with climate study. Now, thanks to new research at the University of Washington in Seattle, and to recent data from NASA’s space-based lightning detector, scientists believe that lightning frequency might be a reliable surrogate for tracking precipitation in those regions where direct, ground measurements are not possible.