science

Recently returned from a groundbreaking 340-day space mission, astronaut Scott Kelly announced Friday he will retire from NASA on April 1, but still continue to participate in research related to his space travel.

Blue Origin team members Bretton Alexander and Jeff Ashby, founder Jeff Bezos, NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver, and team members Rob Meyerson and Robert Millman at the company’s headquarters in Kent in 2011.
Flickr Photo/NASA HQ Photo (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/aSA5N4

Bill Radke interviews reporter Alan Boyle about his recent tour of Blue Origin -- the Jeff Bezos' space tourism and rocket factory that opened its doors to reporters for the first time this week.  

Plastic makes great food packaging. It's waterproof and flexible. And best of all, it's impervious to all known bacteria — until now. Researchers have found a bacterium in the debris fields around a recycling plant in Japan that can feed off a common type of plastic used in clothing, plastic bottles and food packaging.

Tuesday's solar eclipse as seen from Alaska Airlines flight 870
Courtesy of American Astronomical Society/Mike Kentrianakis

The view of a lifetime: That's what passengers on board Alaska Airlines flight 870 got on Tuesday.

A group of astronomers convinced the airline to change the flight plan for a plane headed from Anchorage to Honolulu. Why, you ask? So they could get a perfect view of a solar eclipse in progress. 

Miss Manners and skilled prep cooks should be pleased: Our early human ancestors likely mastered the art of chopping and slicing more than 2 million years ago. Not only did this yield daintier pieces of meat and vegetables that were much easier to digest raw, with less chewing — it also helped us along the road to becoming modern humans, researchers reported Wednesday.

And our ancestors picked up these skills at least 1.5 million years before cooking took off as a common way to prepare food, the researchers say.

In the ocean near Hawaii, more than 2 1/2 miles underwater, scientists have discovered a small, delicate-looking and ghostlike little octopod — possibly a new species.

The animal was discovered by Deep Discoverer, a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV — picture a small, unmanned submarine equipped with cameras and a robotic arm — that was working to collect geological samples.

We know we should put the cigarettes away or make use of that gym membership, but in the moment, we just don't do it. There is a cluster of neurons in our brain critical for motivation, though. What if you could hack them to motivate yourself?

These neurons are located in the middle of the brain, in a region called the ventral tegmental area. A paper published Thursday in the journal Neuron suggests that we can activate the region with a little bit of training.

Retired soccer player Brandi Chastain, who became a superstar when she scored the game-winning goal for the U.S. in the 1999 World Cup final against China, says she will donate her brain to science.

Have you ever wondered about life in the deepest depths of the ocean? Oregon-based oceanographers did, so they dropped a microphone seven miles down. What they heard came as a surprise.

When a whooping crane stands up, you notice. At 5 feet in height, it's America's tallest bird. Its wingspan is more than 7 feet, its body snowy white, its wingtips jet black.

By the 1940s, the birds had nearly gone extinct. Biologists have worked hard to bring them back, by breeding whoopers in captivity and releasing them in the wild. There are now several small wild populations in the U.S.

Author Isaac Asimov once wrote, "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but, 'That's funny ... ' "

Good scientists search for the significance of surprises, coincidences and mistakes. With a little curiosity and perseverance, they can turn unexpected incidents into new insights.

Spawning salmon
Flickr Photo/BLM Oregon (CC BY 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1ib9a9C

Bill Radke speaks with Joel Baker, science director of the Center for Urban Waters at the University of Washington Tacoma, about a recent study that shows a laundry list of ​pharmaceutical drugs are showing up in fish in Puget Sound. 

Earlier this week, officials at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore announced they had received approval to begin conducting the first organ transplants from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive recipients. This comes after a 2013 change in the law that lifted a ban in place since 1988.

Surgeons at Johns Hopkins say that they are ready to begin performing liver and kidney transplants as soon as the appropriate candidates are available.

Thursday a group of scientists announced that after decades of research they’d detected massive gravitational waves in spacetime. And after work last night, dozens of physicists and scientists from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory celebrated their discovery in Richland, Washington.

Scientists announced Thursday they have found gravitational waves in the fabric of spacetime. One man who leads work at what’s called the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory -- or LIGO -- station on the Hanford site, has been working on this singular project for nearly 30 years.

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