Washington State Magazine

Winter 2002

Winter 2002

In This Issue...


Bridges to Prosperity :: When Ethiopian partisans blew up a bridge to stop the advance of Mussolini, they also split a region. Ken Frantz put it back together. by Teresa Wippel

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Bridges to prosperity :: Photographs of Ethiopia by Zoe Keone.}

A matter of survival :: One of the simplest truths of nature is that if a species is to survive, it must reproduce. faculty researchers explore reproduction's mysteries and threats. by Mary Aegerter

Friendly People :: William Hewitt built his dream on Blake Island. Hewitt is gone, but his dream lives on in Native tradition and the rich aroma of roasting salmon. by Pat Caraher

Taking the University to the people :: Cooperative Extension still offers advice on how to can your tomatoes or care for your chickens. But it also does much more, probing needs and providing solutions in every corner of the state. by Tim Steury

The Puyallup Fair :: Every year in late summer, more than a million people gather in Puyallup to eat cotton candy, endure the latest thrill rides--and watch 4-H-ers show their stuff. by Pat Caraher




Cover: Ken Frantz '71, right, founding executive director of Bridges to Prosperity, Inc., participates in a ribbon cutting ceremony with Ethiopian provincial officials and an Ethiopian orthodox priest. The ceremony marked the reopening of Second Portuguese Bridge, which spans the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia. Virtually impassable since World War II, the bridge had been repaired by Frantz and his crew of volunteers from Bridges to Prosperity, ending years of isolation for communities on both sides of the river. Read the story. Photo by Zoe Keone.


Don't panic yet

by | © Washington State University

An asteroid may be heading for a collision with earth, reports a group of researchers including Washington State University's Scott Hudson. Fortunately, the actual probability of a collision is only one-third of one percent, and we have 878 years to prepare.

In an article in the April 5 Science, scientists predict that Asteroid 1950 DA, about one kilometer in diameter, could hit earth in March 2880. Typically, it is very difficult to predict asteroid collisions this far into the future. However, by obtaining radar imagery of the asteroid, the researchers were able to model in detail the evolution of its orbit for the next several centuries.

Although Asteroid 1950 DA was discovered in 1950, researchers lost track of it, re-discovering it on New Year's Eve 2000. Its potentially nefarious nature was uncovered in the course of a recent radar experiment.

Hudson, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, has worked to better understand the exact shape and orientation of asteroids and to develop computer models that more accurately predict their orbits. He worked for 15 years to develop the computationally intensive computer software to look at scattering of radio waves, from which he can then determine the shape and orientation of asteroids. Such work has been made possible by advances in computing power in the past decade.

Hudson is quick to mention that no human being has ever been killed by an asteroid collision and that numerous other natural and manmade hazards are of more concern. Nevertheless, the possibility of a collision remains an intriguing question for scientists because of the potentially catastrophic effects. The work also is of interest because asteroids can provide valuable clues to the origin and evolution of our solar system.

Categories: Space sciences | Tags: Asteroids

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