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Elon Musk is warning that artificial intelligence is a "fundamental existential risk for human civilization," and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is looking into how states can respond.

Workers and labor activists demonstrate outside the U.S. District Courthouse in support of the city's $15 an hour minimum wage
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

Bill Radke talks to Paul Basken, science policy reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education, about how we should consume news that reports on scientific research. 

It would be nice to believe that the reason humanity has taken next to no action to halt the destruction of the world's oceans is because we simply haven't seen the damage report. That argument held more water (sorry) back in 2004, when Davis Guggenheim and Al Gore made An Inconvenient Truth, a film that sought to raise awareness of man-made climate change in the hopes that a momentum would build to reverse the tide and slow the warming of the planet.

An update from the Wild Wild West of fake news technologies: A team of computer scientists have figured out how to make words come out of the mouth of former President Barack Obama — on video — by using artificial intelligence.

As recently as 10 years ago, humans were thought to be the only species with the ability to plan.

Recent studies on great apes showed the ability is not uniquely human. Now, scientists in Sweden have come to the surprising conclusion that ravens can also deliberately prepare for future events.

"It is conservative to conclude that ravens perform similarly to great apes and young children," the researchers write. However, monkeys have failed similar experiments.

Editor's note: This story is for mature bees only.

Seducing a honeybee drone – one of the males in a colony whose only job is to mate with the queen – is not too difficult. They don't have stingers, so you just pick one up. Apply a little pressure to the abdomen and the drone gets randy, blood rushing to his endophallus, bringing him to climax.

"They're really accommodating," says Susan Cobey, a honeybee breeder on Whidbey Island, Wash. "One ejaculate is about 1 microliter, and it takes 10 microliters to artificially inseminate a queen."

A massive iceberg the size of Delaware has broken free from Antarctica and is floating in the sea.

Earlier Wednesday, scientists announced that the 6,000-square-kilometer (about 2,300 square miles) iceberg had come loose, after satellites detected it had calved off the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Octavia Butler used to say she remembers exactly when she decided to become a science fiction writer. She was 9 years old and saw a 1954 B-movie called Devil Girl from Mars, and two things struck her. First: "Geez, I can write a better story than that!" And second: "Somebody got paid for writing that story!" If they could, she decided, then she could, too.

The battery-free cell phone is powered by ambient radio signals or light.
Mark Stone/University of Washington (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/Wk7pzy

It could be a game changer for future cell phones, and other battery power hogging devices: University of Washington engineers have invented a cell phone that doesn't need a battery.


Twenty years ago Tuesday, a plucky little probe named Pathfinder landed at Ares Vallis on the surface of Mars.

It didn't land in the traditional way, with retrorockets firing until it reached the surface. No, Pathfinder bounced down to its landing site, cushioned by giant air bags. It was a novel approach, and the successful maneuver paved the way for a similar system used by the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity in 2003.

Boaty McBoatface is back.

And according to the British Antarctic Survey, the world's most famous unmanned submersible returned from its inaugural voyage last week with a trove of "unprecedented data about some of the coldest abyssal ocean waters on earth."

The Apollo 11 command module, which took the first moonwalkers to lunar orbit and back in 1969, is undergoing a painstaking restoration, in preparation for an unusual national tour later this year.

Two years ago, Eqbal Dauqan was going to work in the morning as usual. She's a biochemistry professor. And was driving on the freeway, when suddenly: "I felt something hit my car, but I didn't know what it was because I was driving very fast," she says.

Dauqan reached the parking lot. Got out of the car and looked at the door. What she saw left her speechless.

"A bullet hit the car, just on the door," she says.

The door had stopped the bullet. And Dauqan was OK. She has no idea where the bullet came from. But it turned out to be an ominous sign of what was to come.

President Trump has often accused the news media of not covering terrorist attacks adequately. In a speech in February he said, "Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland as they did on 9/11, as they did from Boston to Orlando to San Bernardino [...] It's gotten to a point where it's not even being reported."

A one-paragraph letter, barely a hundred words long, unwittingly became a major contributor to today's opioid crisis, researchers say.

"This has recently been a matter of a lot of angst for me," Dr. Hershel Jick, co-author of that letter, told Morning Edition host David Greene recently. "We have published nearly 400 papers on drug safety, but never before have we had one that got into such a bizarre and unhealthy situation."

Two years ago, a mental health advocate named Steve McCaffrey stood at a lectern in the Indiana statehouse, testifying in favor of an addiction treatment bill. After years of rising overdose rates, lawmakers in the health committee were taking action to combat the opioid epidemic. And they often turned to McCaffrey, who leads Mental Health America of Indiana, to advise them.

His brief testimony appeared straightforward. "We rise in support, urge your adoption," said McCaffrey. He said the legislation would move the state "toward evidence-based treatment."

I am a man of science. Okay, perhaps not of science, but certainly near it. As a science journalist, I'm science-adjacent. But I consider myself to be bound by logic and facts.

Which is why it was weird when I took my infant son in for his first vaccines and started peppering his pediatrician with questions. I inspected the boxes, telling myself that I was concerned about a recent bad batch of vaccines in Chiapas, Mexico, that made a bunch of kids sick. But really, I was looking for a label that read "not the autism kind of vaccine."

When Ebola erupted in West Africa a few years ago, it was catastrophic.

But one good thing emerged from the outbreak: The development of an Ebola vaccine-- a powerful vaccine.

A Columbian mammoth molar estimated to be at least 19,000 years old was found in Sequim, Wash.
Lori Christie

A molar from a mammoth estimated to be at least 19,000 years old was found on a public beach in Sequim, Washington. 

Most anyone who has encountered a flamingo has probably been impressed by its signature ability to balance on a single long, spindly leg for remarkably long periods of time.

But actually, scientists have now shown that what appears to be a feat requires almost no muscle activity from the bird.

Bill Radke gets hooked up to the encephalophone.
KUOW Photo/Ann Kane

Bill Radke talks with Dr. Thomas Deuel, a musician, neuroscientist and inventor of the encephalophone, an instrument you play with your brainwaves. Deuel explains why he was inspired to create the instrument, how he feels it will help people with disabilities, and he even lets Bill strap it on. Listen until the end to hear Bill's brain play a solo.

Dozens of scientists recently glued fake green caterpillars onto plants around the world in an unusual study to see how the caterpillars' risk of getting eaten varied from pole to pole.

Any ant, slug, lizard, bird or beetle that attacked the soft clay caterpillars left telltale bite marks that were later analyzed by a lab in Finland.

Farmland near Ritzville, Washington.
Flickr Photo/John Westrock (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/GwCkwW

Ten years ago, University of Washington professor David Montgomery published his influential book “Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations.” One year later, he received a MacArthur Genius fellowship, and continued his research in geomorphology: “the branch of geology that is concerned with the structure, origin, and development of the topographical features of the earth's surface.”

It had been a timeless love story. A garden snail with a rare genetic condition can't mate with normal snails; scientists launch an international search for a mate; the snail becomes a media sensation; and miraculously not one but two possible mates are found.

That's where we left the tale of Jeremy, the rare left-coiling snail, last November.

The dark side of moderating Facebook

May 15, 2017

Bill Radke spoke with UCLA assistant professor Sarah Roberts about the psychological risks of moderating social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Roberts describes some of the personal issues moderators have faced by viewing objectionable material. She also describes ways in which such a difficult job could possibly be made better. 

Bears do it; bats do it. So do guinea pigs, dogs and humans. They all yawn. It's a common animal behavior, but one that is something of a mystery.

There's still no consensus on the purpose of a yawn, says Robert Provine, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Provine has studied what he calls "yawn science" since the early 1980s, and he's published dozens of research articles on it. He says the simple yawn is not so simple.

A screenshot from the U.S. Geological Survey earthquakes website shows the epicenter of a 3.4 earthquake near Bremerton, Wash., early Wednesday.
U.S. Geological Survey

A small earthquake centered near Bremerton shook the central Puget Sound area early Wednesday.

Georgia Tech

To the list of global problems the world’s oceans are facing, you can add another: They’re losing oxygen.

The Pacific Ocean off the U.S. West Coast, from central California to Alaska, is one of the hardest-hit areas.


Bill Nye, here signing books in New York, says he loves you, Vashon, but you're wrong.
Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP

Bill Nye is back. Netflix is now streaming episodes of “Bill Nye Saves the World,” starring everyone’s favorite bowtie-clad scientist. (And of course, we’re still a bit nostalgic for those olden times when Nye traded in his signature tie for exercise shorts and a cape, all for Seattle’s amusement.)


NASA's Cassini spacecraft is giving earthlings their closest-ever views of Saturn's swirled atmosphere and its massive hurricane, beaming a trove of images and data back to Earth after the craft made its first dive between Saturn and its rings Wednesday.

Cassini is "showing us new wonders and demonstrating where our curiosity can take us if we dare," said Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division.

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