science

Toddlers can throw their fair share of tantrums, especially when you don't yield to their will. But by age 3, it turns out, the little rug rats actually have a burgeoning sense of fairness and are inclined to right a wrong.

When they see someone being mistreated, children as young as 3 years old will intervene on behalf of others nearly as often as for themselves, a study published this month in Current Biology suggests. Just don't ask them to punish the perpetrator.

New images of Ceres are the clearest ever taken, but NASA's scientists still haven't figured out the enigmatic dwarf planet. The agency's latest photos of Ceres show multiple bright spots — and a "pyramid-shaped peak towering over a relatively flat landscape."

That's according to an update posted by the space agency, saying that Ceres and its bright spots "continue to mystify."

Computer scientist and author Ramez Naam
Courtesy of Ramez Naam

Ross Reynolds interviews Seattle computer scientist and science fiction writer Ramez Naam about the latest technology in human enhancement.  Naam is the author of the 2010 book, “More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement."

A virus is being blamed for killing millions of West Coast sea stars, but it's unclear why the disease is hitting so hard.
Katie Campbell

A couple of years ago, divers in Puget Sound began to notice something odd: Starfish were disappearing.

The sea creatures would get sores and then melt into piles of mush. Sea star wasting syndrome is a gruesome disease and it spread to starfish all along the West Coast. Scientists still don't know a lot about it.

Last November, the European Space Agency wasn't sure if it would ever hear from its Philae lander again after the probe's unfortunate landing spot on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko left it in the shadow of a cliff, starving its solar panels of the faint sunlight needed to produce power.

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Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In the NFL, something that behaves like Pluto's football-shaped moons might be called a wobbly duck. NASA simply calls them astonishing.

Instead of steadily rotating through their orbits, two of Pluto's moons "wobble unpredictably," the space agency says, citing new analysis of data from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Jiya Bavishi was born deaf. For five years, she couldn't hear and she couldn't speak at all. But when I first meet her, all she wants to do is say hello. The 6-year-old is bouncing around the room at her speech therapy session in Dallas. She's wearing a bright pink top; her tiny gold earrings flash as she waves her arms.

"Hi," she says, and then uses sign language to ask who I am and talk about the ice cream her father bought for her.

Earlier this spring, headlines around the world trumpeted an exciting bit of news that seemed too good to be true: "Eating chocolate ... can even help you LOSE weight!" as Britain's Daily Mail put it.

The nationwide weirdness that was the Windshield-Pitting Mystery began in the spring of 1954. Looking back at the events today may give us a window — OK, a windshield — on the makeup and the mindset of mid-20th-century America.

Dr. Christian Sidor, Burke Museum curator of vertebrate paleontology, right, holds Washington’s first dinosaur fossil to compare it with the cast of a femur of another theropod dinosaur held by  Brandon Peecook, University of Washington graduate student.
Burke Museum

A large bone from a two-legged, meat-eating dinosaur has been discovered in the San Juan Islands – the first dinosaur fossil ever found in Washington state.

Researchers found the fossil by accident. In 2012, they were in Sucia Island State Park collecting sea creature fossils when they stumbled on a bone that looked unusual for that area.

A month later they returned to the site with paleontologists. Initially, Professor Christian Sidor of the Burke Museum didn’t believe it belonged to a dinosaur.  

But one feature of the bone convinced Sidor, a professor of biology at the University of Washington and vertebrate curator at the Burke Museum: “The muscles that actually attach to the back of the leg and retract the femur attach here. So this structure, the shape of it, and how close it is to the head of the femur tell us that this is a carnivorous dinosaur. All dinosaurs have this feature.”  

The scientists don’t know what kind of dinosaur the bone comes from, however, because there’s only a third of the bone. Sidor said it’s likely a therapod, which includes Tyrannosaurus rex, birds and Velociraptors. And they are pretty sure it is from the Late Cretaceous period and is about 80 million years old.

During a commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy today, President Obama will cast climate change as posing an "immediate risk to our national security."

NPR's Scott Horsley reports Obama is expected to tell graduates that the Coast Guard itself will have to adjust to the effects of rising sea levels. Scott filed this report for our Newscast unit:

If you were to catch a salmon in Puget Sound, chances are you won’t be able to say exactly where that fish came from. That’s because salmon spawn in rivers and streams and then swim hundreds or even thousands of miles to the ocean to mature.

Some new research could help fisheries managers better protect salmon by studying their ear bones - that’s right, ear bones.

The eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980 as seen from the east.
Flickr Photo/Washington DNR (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to Carolyn Driedger, a hydrologist and outreach coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey, about what volcanologists have learned since Mount St. Helen's erupted 35 years ago and what other risks we face from Northwest volcanos.

Dan Miller was driving north along Interstate 5 through Southwest Washington when Mount St. Helens blew its top 35 years ago.

“As I passed the Richfield exit on I-5, it just happens that there’s a beautiful clear view off to the northeast to Mount St. Helens,” he said. “I looked over there and it was a beautiful, bright sunny morning.”

Miller is a retired geologist who studied volcanoes with the U.S. Geological Survey. He was on his way up Mount St. Helens on the morning of May 18, 1980. He planned to work on the volcano that day.

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