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Predicting The End of the World With Science

Predicting The End of the World With Science

Hypothetically speaking, if a nearby star were to go supernova, it could eventually reach our blue planet and rip apart our atmosphere. Complex life would cease to exist. That scenario is unlikely says Dr. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, professor of astrobiology at Washington State University. That’s one of nine of possible ways Earth could meet its doom, and there’s only so much we can do about it.

His new book, “Megacatastrophes!”, co-written with David Darling, explores scientific realities we face and how we can simply be aware of them.

First and foremost, Schulze-Makuch and Darling are scientists. They ignore the pop culture paranoia of zombie apocalypse and the ominous Mayan calender. Schulze-Makuch even says that scenario is nonsense. The two writers discuss the realistic scenarios humans face from asteroid impacts, nano-technology to global pandemic.

“I’m not the prophet,” Schulze-Makuch said. “We look at different scenarios and we basically prioritize how dangerous it is and how disastrous it would be.”

Would the scenario result in a million dead or even a billion dead? Schulze-Makuch says a pandemic tops the list with diseases like the Spanish Flu or Black Death. With passenger flights crossing oceans and country borders, disease has no boundaries.

Department of Ecology Looking to Hire Teens For Litter Cleanup

Jobs are few for young people in Eastern Washington and Idaho. Their growing pains are worsened by the the terrible economy not producing enough jobs for them. The Spokesman-Review reported Monday that jobs traditionally filled by teens are now being filled by 50-somethings who take any job just to get a paycheck.

It’s bad out there, but there’s still an option for youth, ages 14 to 17. The Department of Ecology in Eastern Washington plans on hiring about 118 teens this summer to help clean up area roadsides, parks and recreation areas for their Ecology Youth Corps.

In past years, DOE has been able to hire more teens, but they’ve had to cut back about 100 teens statewide because of lower state revenues.

Funding for these jobs comes from a voter-approved tax. Teens can make $9.04/hour on these cleaning crews in Eastern Washington areas like Chewelah, Clarkston, Colville, Inchelium, Ephrata, Moses Lake, Othello, Pasco, Pullman, Republic, Ritzville, Spokane, Walla Walla and Wilbur.

City Of Moscow Trees Off-Limits To Syrup Tapping

City Of Moscow Trees Off-Limits To Syrup Tapping

A recent publication in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News has some residents ready to pump some "Palouse Maple Syrup". The article mentions a recent co-op started by Greg Hodapp that talks about how anyone can pull sap from a maple tree.

The article has the city of Moscow sending out a news release reminding citizens that all trees located within the street right-of-ways are off-limits.

The City of Moscow is reminding citizens that all trees, including maple trees, located within the street right-of ways are subject to City laws and protections [ord. 8-5 Sec 8-6(1&3)]. At this time, the City is not granting permission for the tapping of these trees.

According to the article, which is only accessible to paper subscribers, the sap tapping does not harm the trees, but the city says it can affect older and stressed trees. Trees on private property can only be tapped by owner's permission.

Tundra The Snowy Owl

A snowy owl hit by a car near the town of Davenport is being treated at the Washington State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital. A world-renowned snowy owl expert says the owl, named Tundra, is part of a phenomenon nationwide unlike anything ever recorded.  With hand-fed meals, a bowl of ice and a fan to keep him cool, the Arctic visitor just might call the Palouse his new home.

Washington Fish and Wildlife Officer Curt Wood found Tundra when someone reported the little guy hopping along the road near Davenport.  Wood says he considered killing Tundra when he noticed he had a broken wing, but says the bird's beauty convinced him not to.

"The owl was very beautiful, and it just looked at me with those big yellow eyes, blinking them from time to time," he said. "It seemed to be totally at ease with me, as if it knew that I was going to save it, so I didn't have the heart to put it down."

Will your region have a White Christmas?

Will your region have a White Christmas?

Consider this our holiday greeting card arriving just in time for the holiday weekend. It's a map displaying the probability of a white Christmas in areas around the United States using data from the National Climatic Data Center.

There's no way to zoom in, but if you look carefully at the Eastern Washington and North Idaho regions, our chances of a white Christmas range from 26-100 percent depending on where you're located.

Have a safe weekend and don't forget to email weather photos at news4@kxly.com.

Could the Palouse Become Bike-Friendly?

Could the Palouse Become Bike-Friendly?

Does the Palouse have a cyclist-friendly potential? It’s full of muscle grinding hills and a winter season that makes conditions icy and dangerous. Maybe things could be different.

Mia Birk, author of "Joyride: Pedaling Toward a Healthier Planet,” will be speaking at Washington State University next week to educate how Portland, Oregon was made into an active bicycling community.

Earlier this year, she told The Billings Gazette advice on how to change a community.

“Build it, tell people about it, get people to use it,” said Birk, who regularly bikes to work. “Plan big, car-free, fun, family events.”

City of Moscow plans to flush fire hydrants to reduce sediment

City of Moscow plans to flush fire hydrants to reduce sediment

Starting Sunday night, Moscow city crews will be out and about flushing your neighborhood fire hydrant.

It’s a state requirement that helps remove iron and manganese sediment. The city is doing this at night to minimize the public use of the red or dirty water. That’s the sediment that even with a filtering system, develops over time. It’s actually called ‘floc’ and looks like reddish-colored fluffy particles.

If you experience water discoloration, run your cold water for ten minutes or until it clears up. If your water remains dirty, you’re asked to call the city’s water department, because that means more localized flushing may be needed.

Residents are also advised to delay their laundry until after the water is clear.