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Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

Jeannie Yandel talks to University of Washington associate professor Joe Janes about the Golden Records, a NASA project that compiled sounds and images from earth to send up with NASA's Voyager spacecraft in the hopes of it reaching extraterrestrial life.

Less than an hour after the Great American Eclipse completed its coast-to-coast show on Monday, people's fascination with the sun and the moon quickly turned to concern about their eyes.

We're hoping all you Shots readers heeded our words of caution and wore eclipse glasses or enjoyed the show indirectly.

The solar eclipse is in the books, but the scientific analysis goes on. Teams of high school and college students scrambled Monday afternoon to locate and recover cameras and experimental payloads they launched to the edge of space during the eclipse.

Museum goers test out their eclipse glasses on Monday, August 21, 2017, at the Pacific Science Center before the start of the solar eclipse, in Seattle. KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Jeannie Yandel talks to KUOW producer Matt Martin about his experience viewing the total solar eclipse in Oregon. We also hear from Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's chief scientist, about what it was like to view the eclipse from the air in a plane. 

Eclipse revelers whooped and hollered as the sun went black at a major encampment in the remote town of Durkee on the Burnt River Ranch in eastern Oregon.

As the sun slipped more and more behind the moon, the revelers whooped and screamed. A black shadow zoomed across the deep valley and people exclaimed as they took off their glasses.

Ayush Jakhotia, 7, left, watches the solar eclipse with his grandmother, Radha Jakhotia, right, on Monday, August 21, 2017, from Gas Works Park, in Seattle. KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Even the cynical couldn't resist the eclipse on Monday morning. 

The temperature dropped precipitously here in Seattle, and the light turned the colors rich and dark — like an Instagram filter IRL. 

The solar eclipse on May 21, 2012, Yokohama, Japan.
Flickr Photo/Jeff Lippold (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/c2xvgh

It is indeed dark during the day as a total solar eclipse makes its way from Oregon to South Carolina. Eleven states are in the path of total darkness. Follow the astronomical phenomenon's journey across America along with NPR journalists and others experiencing the eclipse.

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Hundreds of eclipse revelers from all over the nation have flocked to a remote ranch outside of Durkee in eastern Oregon. They’re camping in yurts, tents and RVs.

Spectators around the country are gearing up, eclipse glasses at the ready, for the solar eclipse on Monday. But another group — perhaps more anxious than eager — is preparing as well: the people who run California's electric grid.

California is home to almost half of all the solar power in the country. So even a partial loss of the sun will mean a major dip in the energy supply.

Flickr Photo/ Kevin Hale (CC BY-SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/5aVZD3

What will the eclipse be like for those in the Puget Sound region?  

phone listen headphones
Flickr Photo/Christoph Spiegl (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/99y97M

Smart devices like your phone or tablet could be used to track your movements. A group of computer science researchers at the University of Washington recently demonstrated this.

They turned smart devices into active sonar systems using a new computer code they created called CovertBand and a few pop songs.

On Aug. 21, a 70-mile-wide ribbon from Oregon to South Carolina called the "path of totality" will experience a total solar eclipse. Large swaths of farmland in the Great Plains and Midwest will be plunged into darkness for 2 1/2 minutes, and temperatures will drop about 10 degrees in the middle of the day.

But as millions of people look up at the sky, many Midwest scientists will turn their eyes and cameras toward the plants and animals on the ground. And they're not sure what will happen.

Hundreds of years before solar viewing glasses were readily available, scientists and casual spectators could still enjoy these rare celestial events without frying their eyeballs. They'd use a combination of pinholes and mirrors to redirect the sun's rays onto a screen.

As a substitute for coveted elephant ivory, mammoth tusks can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. A rush is underway to dig them out of the frozen earth in Siberia and sell them, mostly to China. The hunt is making millionaires of some men living in this impoverished region — but it's also illegal.

Photographer Amos Chapple followed a group of tusk hunters in Siberia on assignment for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He recalled his three-week journey with NPR's Ailsa Chang.

Anyone who gets to see the total solar eclipse on August 21 will be lucky — and humanity is lucky to live on a planet that even has this kind of celestial event.

Mercury and Venus, after all, don't even have moons. Mars has a couple, but they're too small to completely blot out the sun. Gas giants like Jupiter do have big moons, but they don't have solid surfaces where you could stand and enjoy an eclipse.

And, even with solid land and a moon, Earth only gets its gorgeous total solar eclipses because of a cosmic coincidence.

Helping the blind 'see' the solar eclipse

Aug 11, 2017
I
Carolyn Beeler/PRI

It sounds like the beginning of a riddle. How can someone who’s blind “see” the upcoming eclipse on Aug. 21?

It’s a question solar astrophysicist Henry “Trae” Winter started thinking about several months ago after a blind colleague asked him to describe what an eclipse was like.

“I was caught completely flat-footed,” Winter said. “I had no idea how to communicate what goes on during an eclipse to someone who has never seen before in their entire life.”

Think about the last time you were bored — seriously and persistently bored.

Maybe you had to carry out some mind-numbing repetitive task for hours on end, or maybe you were just trapped at the airport or train station, waiting out a lengthy delay without a good conversational partner, book, or movie. You look at a clock and it seems to move at a surreal, glacial pace.

Seventeen thousand years ago, a massive glacier the height of five Space Needles covered what is now Seattle and a large part of western Washington.
Courtesy of the Burke Museum

Seattle was carved by ice.

Gray wolf
Flickr Photo/USFWS Pacific Region (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bill Radke talks to Lynda Mapes, Seattle Times environment reporter, about Robert Wielgus, the Washington State University researcher whose work on cougars and wolves in Washington state angered lawmakers and ranchers and led to a loss of funding for his research and a lack of support from his employer.

The time is almost here. On the morning of Monday, Aug. 21, many in America will collectively raise their heads to the sky to witness the first total solar eclipse in the region in 38 years. This time around, Oregon is ground zero and the state is preparing for a phenomenon that has been embraced by people from all over the world. Here are some key things to know before the solar eclipse completely covers our lives.

This month's total solar eclipse might be the most-studied disappearance of the sun ever, thanks in part to legions of citizen scientists from the Northwest and beyond.

I admit it. I have a "mummy tummy," also known as "mommy pooch." You know, that soft jelly belly you retain after having a baby — it makes you look a few months pregnant.

I've tried to convince myself that the pooch is a valiant badge of motherhood, but who am I kidding? The pooch bothers me. And it turns out it has been causing back pain.

So when I hear that a fitness coach and doctor have come up with a technique that can flatten the pooch quickly and easily, I think, "Why not?"

It has become a rite of summer. Every year, a "dead zone" appears in the Gulf of Mexico. It's an area where water doesn't have enough oxygen for fish to survive. And every year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commissions scientists to venture out into the Gulf to measure it.

If you're lucky enough to be in the path of totality for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse over North America, you will get at best about 2 ½ minutes to view "totality" – when the moon almost completely covers the disc of the Sun.

Oregon State University researcher John Chapman is knee-deep in mud and sinking deeper by the minute. The mudflat surrounding him in Newport’s Yaquina Bay is pocked with holes – some snaking down more than 6 feet underground.

These are the burrows of the burrowing mud shrimp.

“This is the last, biggest population in the world," he said. "In San Francisco Bay, they’re extinct. In most of California, they’re extinct."

Why We All Scream When We Get Ice Cream Brain Freeze

Jul 31, 2017

Ah, the brain freeze — the signature pain of summer experienced by anyone who has eaten an ice cream cone with too much enthusiasm or slurped down a slushie a little too quickly.

But have you ever stopped mid-freeze to think about why our bodies react like this?

Well, researchers who study pain have, and some, like Dr. Kris Rau of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, say it's a good way to understand the basics of how we process damaging stimuli.

But first, a lesson in terminology.

If Northwest fish were stand-up comics, the salmon would be the headliner. And the fish that gets “no respect” would be the lamprey, an eel-like creature that has been plying the Northwest’s rivers for 400 million years. 

Courtesy of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Yes, you were promised a jet pack. Your disappointment around that may still sting, or you may be more concerned about global warming, or a robot taking your job, or finding affordable housing. Or you might be reasonably concerned that the digital revolution will leave you somewhere on the global trash heap of history.

A new book will help you find out what’s happening now and next in technology and maybe how to stay ahead of the curve.

Ellie and Emma are toddlers. They spend a lot of time with their dad Tim Billo in Seward Park, a fragment of old-growth forest on the edge of Lake Washington. Billo’s a lecturer at the University of Washington’s College of the Environment.

The grove Billo and his daughters are exploring today used to have sword ferns that had grown taller than Ellie and Emma. But, now, the ground is bare and dusty. There are no plants growing beneath the towering trees.

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