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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.

If all goes to plan, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will beam new images of Saturn and its rings to Earth early Thursday, sharing data collected Wednesday from its first dive through the gap between the planet and its striped belt of ice and rock particles.

Today's dive also marks the start of the final phase in the craft's 13-year visit to Saturn. Days ago, it used the gravity of Saturn's moon Titan to bend its path toward its eventual destruction on the planet.

Baby humpback whales seem to whisper to their mothers, according to scientists who have captured the infant whales' quiet grunts and squeaks.

The recordings, described in the journal Functional Ecology, are the first ever made with devices attached directly to the calves.

People around the world use more than a trillion plastic bags every year. They're made of a notoriously resilient kind of plastic called polyethylene that can take decades to break down.

But the humble wax worm may hold the key to biodegrading them.

It was an accidental discovery. Scientist and beekeeper Federica Bertocchini was frustrated to find that her beehives were infested with the caterpillar larvae of Galleria mellonella, commonly known as a wax worm.

science march
KUOW Photo/David Hyde

It rained. 

Interstate 5 was shut down because of downed power lines. 

UW Professor David Montgomery says he'll march for science
Kvasir Society Photo/Joy Mathew

David Montgomery, a science professor and MacArthur Genius award winner at the University of Washington, told KUOW why he's marching for science on Saturday.

The March For Science in Washington, D.C., is happening this Saturday on Earth Day. Smaller science events are happening across the Northwest -- even in conservative southeast Washington.

University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce
David Hyde / KUOW Photos

University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce says the federal budget cuts being proposed by President Donald Trump would be devastating for science. 

So she's speaking up for science, and she told KUOW's David Hyde that scientists should, too:


Screenshot of a brain hat knitting tutorial by Studio Knit on YouTube
YouTube/Studio Knit

What to wear to a protest march for science?  It's a serious debate on the March for Science, Seattle Facebook page.

A rare total eclipse of the sun will cross the U.S. on the morning of August 21, 2017. It starts on the Oregon coast and then sweeps east. In Oregon, all of the reservable public campsites and most hotels in the so-called "path of totality" were booked up long ago.

Flickr Photo/Marius Strom (CC BY-NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/6cXw3o

Bill Radke talks to Nick Zentner, Central Washington University geologist, about how the Northwest landscape got so impressive and what geological wonders we can spot around us. 

Last year only 67 percent of toddlers in Washington state were fully vaccinated by age 3.
Flickr Photo/Gates Foundation (CC BY-NC-ND)

UW philosopher Michael Blake supports a march for science because, he says, basic scientific knowledge is under attack, especially from the right. But Blake told KUOW's David Hyde that liberals are partly to blame, and that the problem goes way beyond science: 


A quick glance around Lake Union and you can tell there’s a lot of science happening in our state. With the Trump administration threatening cuts to research funding, we examined how much money this could mean for Washington state.

First of all, it’s difficult to lasso all the federal dollars going to science. So we zeroed in on two big agencies to get an overview: the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, looking at their reports for the 2016 fiscal year.

Abigail Swann is a professor and climate scientist at the University of Washington
University of Washington / Quinn Russell Brown


University of Washington professor and climate researcher Abigail Swann tells politics reporter David Hyde about why she signed a protest letter directed at EPA chief Scott Pruitt. She also shares a story about the time a border official told her climate science is a hoax:  

Sarah Myhre’s a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Washington.
David Hyde / KUOW Photos

Nicole Baker is a research scientist at the University of Washington who studies the state of global fish stocks. It's not political work. In fact, she's never been an activist and has never participated in a political march in her life. 

But last year when Donald Trump ran for president, Baker got political for the first time. And she says in 2017, something snapped.


Genetic information from Kennewick Man shows the Bering Land Bridge may not have been the only route humans used to migrate to North America more than 10,000 years ago.





At a research lab on top of a forested hill overlooking Hong Kong, scientists are growing viruses. They first drill tiny holes into an egg before inoculating it with avian influenza to observe how the virus behaves.

When Kathleen Muldoon had her second child everything was going smoothly. The delivery was short, the baby's APGAR score was good and he was a healthy weight.

"Everyone said he was amazing," says Muldoon.

You want technology? Then pay for scientific research

Mar 23, 2017
You can't make a radio unless you understand how electromagnetic radiation travels through air. This is an animation of a half-wave dipole antenna radiating radio waves, showing the electric field lines.
Wikipedia Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal

Let's talk for a minute about how invention works in our world.

One way to divide the process of inventing is into 1) basic science research, and 2) technological application. The first helps us gain an understanding of how our world works and what it looks like. The second takes that knowledge, then figures out what we should do with it to gain some sort of advantage.

Dee Boersma snorkeling with penguin.
Dee Boersma/Courtesy of iGalapagos.org

Bill Radke talks to Dee Boersma, a University of Washington biology professor, about her new research on the feeding behavior of fledgling Galapagos penguins.  

A sculpture of the microorganisms that help treat wastwater at the West Point Treatment Plant at Seattle's Discovery Park.
Courtesy of Ellen Sollod

Workers continue their efforts to get the West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle up and running.

The plant was crippled by a flood last month and it continues to spew solid waste into the Puget Sound every day.

And restoring the plant's full treatment capacity relies on its tiniest workers – bugs: microorganisms that kill harmful bacteria and help in the treatment process. But there's a problem: These tiny little bugs are hibernating.

When it comes to facing the reality of climate change, the Republican Party, now led by the Trump Administration, has been slipping ever farther from its roots as a champion of American science.

Last week brought further evidence of this disconnect — but it also held out a glimmer of hope that the party's turn away from the U.S. effort in science is not universal.

The remotely operated underwater research vessel known as Boaty McBoatface is preparing for its first research mission — an expedition into "some of the deepest and coldest abyssal ocean waters on earth."

Boaty McBoatface, of course, was the moniker that emerged triumphant in an online poll meant to name the newest research ship in the U.K.'s Natural Environment Research Council fleet. But the council opted to overrule the will of the people, and named the ship the Royal Research Ship Sir David Attenborough instead.

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