Anyone who was old enough to pump gas 50 years ago will remember the shock wave that spread through the U.S. economy on Oct. 17, 1973.

Gas prices quadrupled overnight. Stations ran out of fuel, leaving drivers scrambling to find supplies and often waiting in long lines. The trigger was the Arab oil embargo, initiated by Middle Eastern countries in retaliation for U.S. support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War.

The economic and political trauma the oil embargo caused is legendary, as Rice University energy policy scholars Jim Krane and Mark Finley explain. U.S. companies lost control of Middle Eastern oil. The high prices continued for over a decade, affecting industries across the U.S. and other oil-importing nations.

The world has changed in some ways since then, but energy security fears are running high once again, as Krane and Finley explain.

This week we also liked articles describing a Georgia Tech engineering course where students get steeped in the arts, explaining why novelist Arundhati Roy faces prosecution in India and unpacking recent research about the itch-sensing neurons in your skin.

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Stacy Morford

Environment + Climate Editor

Cars lined up for gasoline in New Jersey in 1973 as supplies ran low and prices shot upward. Frederic Lewis/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Rising oil prices, surging inflation: The Arab embargo 50 years ago weaponized oil to inflict economic trauma – sound familiar?

Jim Krane, Rice University; Mark Finley, Rice University

Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine reprised the risks of energy weaponization, but the oil landscape today and energy security itself are changing.

Palestinian children play outside an UNRWA school following Israeli airstrikes on Oct. 12, 2023. Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images

Gaza depends on UN and other global aid groups for food, medicine and basic services – Israel-Hamas war means nothing is getting in

Topher L. McDougal, University of San Diego

Many people in Gaza are reliant on the United Nations and other international aid groups to meet their basic needs, like food and medical care. A scholar of peace and conflict economics explains why.

Thoughts become works of art in this engineering class. Ole Media/E+ via Getty Images

This engineering course has students use their brainwaves to create performing art

Francesco Fedele, Georgia Institute of Technology

Art and science combine in this engineering course to let students turn their brainwaves into creative works.

The Conversation Quiz 🧠

  • We've got a special Friday the 13th news quiz this week, written by University of South Carolina sociology professor and expert on superstition Barry Markovsky.

    Here’s the first question of this week’s edition:

    I’ve written for The Conversation about Friday the 13th. The day has a bad reputation because…

    1. A. More bad things happen than expected by chance
    2. B. Parents dread weekends with their 13-year-olds
    3. C. The day-date combination functions like a cultural “meme”
    4. D. Apollo 13 exploded on a Friday

    Test your knowledge