science

Marcie Sillman talks to Luke Timmerman, founder and editor of the Timmerman Report, about Juno Therapeutics and other biotech startups like Just Biotherapeutics that came out of the closure of Amgen's Seattle offices last year. 

Over the years, scientists have mostly interpreted the world through what they can see. But in the past few decades, a culture of listening has blossomed, especially among biologists who seek to understand how animals communicate. This week Morning Edition embarks on a weekly summer series called Close Listening: Decoding Nature Through Sound. We begin with an innovation that transformed medicine by searching sounds for clues to illness and health.

The dramatic failure of a test flight by Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket last October cost the co-pilot his life and left the pilot severely injured. New data from investigators suggest that the pilot survived in part because the craft essentially came apart around him.

"I have a hard time saying this with a straight face, but I will: You can teleport a single atom from one place to another," says Chris Monroe, a biophysicist at the University of Maryland.

His lab's setup in a university basement looks nothing like the slick transporters that rearrange atoms and send them someplace else on Star Trek. Instead, a couple million dollars' worth of lasers, mirrors and lenses lay sprawled across a 20-foot table.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says a steel strut is the most likely cause of last month's explosion of an unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

"The preliminary conclusion is that the failure arose from a strut in the second stage liquid oxygen tank," Musk said Monday at a news conference.

He said one of the steel struts that held a helium bottle broke free during flight, likely causing the bottle to shoot to the top of the tank at high speed.

A seismogram of an earthquake off California.
U.S. Geological Survey

Ross Reynolds talks with Pacific Northwest Seismic Network director John Vidale about the challenges of creating an early warning system for earthquakes.

Pluto turns out to be pretty lively.

Not Las Vegas, perhaps, but more vivacious with geologic activity than we've ever known about, and for good reason: Pluto is currently almost 3 billion miles away from Earth, a dwarf planet spinning in the lonely last ring of our solar system.

Researchers in Switzerland say they've solved a nearly 100-year-old astronomical mystery by discovering what's in the wispy cloud of gas that floats in the space between the stars.

An earthquake in 1949 collapsed ancillary structure to commercial building in Seattle.
Flickr Photo/King County, WA (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Kim Malcolm talks to Seattle Times reporter Sandi Doughton about what to expect and how to prepare for when a big earthquake shakes the Northwest.

Scientists have unveiled the best photos of Pluto and its moons that humanity is likely to see for at least a generation. These images were taken Tuesday by NASA's New Horizons space probe as it hurtled past Pluto at more than 30,000 miles per hour.

Since its discovery in 1930, Pluto has revealed itself to be an oddball world. It's smaller than our own moon, and it orbits at an angle relative to the plane of the solar system. Because of its size and distance, even the Hubble Space Telescope could only make it out as a brown smudge, billions of miles away.

Battery problems on the Solar Impulse, the airplane that has been flying around the world using only the sun's power, have grounded the plane until next spring. The lithium-ion batteries overheated on a recent five-day trip from Japan to Hawaii.

"Irreversible damage to certain parts of the batteries will require repairs which will take several months," organizers said early Wednesday, ending hopes of finishing what would be a record-setting trip by late summer.

Engineer Calls Oregon Earthquake Investment 'A Start'

Jul 15, 2015

The Oregon Legislature made its largest-ever investment for earthquake improvements this past session, but experts say the state still has a long way to go.

This U.S. Geological survey map shows the hot zones for potential earthquakes in the U.S.
U.S. Geological Survey

KUOW's Deborah Wang produced this story as part of her 2010 series “On Shaky Ground.”

The rocks and mud of the Pacific Northwest tell the story of much larger earthquakes that have hit this region in the past – and that could hit us again in the future.

New images of Pluto have arrived from a NASA space probe, and they're already allowing scientists to update what we know about the dwarf planet — such as its size. NASA's New Horizons probe has traveled more than 3 billion miles to send photos and data about Pluto back to Earth.

Christian Cultee, a student at the Northwest Indian College, with a rocket that broke the sound barrier.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Chris Cultee will have a close-up view when NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flies past Pluto on Tuesday.

Cultee, who attends the Northwest Indian College on the Lummi Reservation near Bellingham, is an intern at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center this summer. He tweeted Monday about his experiences at @NASASunEarth with the hash tag #RaceOnTech. 

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