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A cable that's as long as six football fields has been launched into orbit — and when it's deployed, it'll test an idea to knock out orbital debris. Japan's space agency sent the electrodynamic tether into space along with supplies for the International Space Station.

An NPR listener (with what may be the best Twitter handle ever — Booky McReaderpants) inquired whether a home can be powered by bicycle-powered generator.

It's an interesting issue about energy and the modern world. And the short answer comes from just running the numbers.

Updated 5 p.m. ET

The first American to orbit the Earth has died. John Glenn was the last surviving member of the original Mercury astronauts. He would later have a long political career as a U.S. senator, but that didn't stop his pioneering ways.

Glenn made history a second time in 1998, when he flew aboard the shuttle Discovery to become the oldest person to fly in space.

Glenn was 95 when he died; he had been hospitalized in an Ohio State University medical center in Columbus since last week.

One of the fundamental ways scientists measure the well-being of a nation is tracking the rate at which its citizens die and how long they can be expected to live.

So the news out of the federal government Thursday is disturbing: The overall U.S. death rate has increased for the first time in a decade, according to an analysis of the latest data. And that led to a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993, particularly among people younger than 65.

Federal land managers are getting their scientific ducks in a row before updating the most important forest management plan in the Northwest.

The Northwest Forest Plan covers 24 million acres of public land run by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management. It went into effect 22 years ago.

“Since that time, there’s been a wealth of new science, a tremendous focus on new issues,” says Tom Spies of USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station in Corvallis.

In the quest to help the poor, it's difficult to know whose needs are the greatest. Without clear data, it's tough to know who to help first.

The traditional way to look for the poorest of the poor is with household surveys. That's the primary source of data for policy decisions, but it has drawbacks.

A single tornado can cause a lot of damage. But even worse are tornado outbreaks. Just this week, a cluster of at least 18 tornadoes struck the Southeast over two days.

Scientists are seeing bigger clusters in recent years, and they're struggling to figure out what's happening.

In 2011, when North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il died, the state news agency reported that Mount Paektu took on a supernatural glow, and that at its summit, Heaven Lake shook with cracking ice.

Those reports were pretty unscientific. But several years earlier, between 2002 and 2005, Mount Paektu had experienced a swarm of little earthquakes.

A nonprofit research group is giving scientists a new way to study the secret lives of human cells.

On Wednesday, the Allen Institute for Cell Science provided access to a collection of living stem cells that have been genetically altered to make internal structures like the nucleus and mitochondria glow.

Puget Sound with the Olympic Mountains.
Flickr Photo/Ryan Manuel (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/jCewEL

Bill Radke speaks with University of Washington oceanography professor LuAnne Thompson about a recent blog post she wrote  about why scientist need to be better at communicating their ideas outside of the academic world. She talks about how now after the election of Donald Trump, people need to understand the science behind climate change more than ever.

When it comes to assessing the possible risks and benefits of science and technology, who is the relevant authority?

University scientists? Industry scientists? Religious organizations?

R
NASA

A new report warns that current levels of Arctic ice melting could trigger key "tipping points" leading to catastrophic and uncontrollable climate change. If these tipping points are reached, the effects would become their own drivers of global warming, regardless of human attempts to reduce carbon emissions.

NASA is looking for some help making the solar system's most portable port-a-potty.

So if you think you know the best way to poop in a spacesuit, the agency is ready to hear it ... and you might make $30,000 for your trouble.

Biomedical research is going big-time: Megaprojects that collect vast stores of data are proliferating rapidly. But scientists' ability to make sense of all that information isn't keeping up.

This conundrum took center stage at a meeting of patient advocates, called Partnering For Cures, in New York City on Nov. 15.

On the one hand, there's an embarrassment of riches, as billions of dollars are spent on these megaprojects.

Kale Is About To Have An Identity Crisis

Nov 28, 2016

Kale is getting a makeover, and the very essence of kaliness may hang in the balance.

To develop a new variety of kale tailored to American palates, horticulture professor Philip Griffiths of Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Science and graduate student Hannah Swegarden are soliciting consumers' kale reflections — the good, the bad, and the ugly. The scientists face a philosophic question for the ages. Asks Swegarden:

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