science

As you may be aware, there's a hot new space movie now in theaters — Interstellar. Here's the premise: It's just a little bit in the future, conditions have become pretty horrible on Earth and some astronauts head out in search of a new planet for humans to inhabit.

Woodland Park Zoo/Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

The veterinarians at the Woodland Park Zoo had grown increasingly alarmed.

Vip – known also as The Big Guy or Vippers – was an alpha male gorilla with a sinus infection. The vets had given him antibiotics for months, but he remained congested.

Hundreds of millions of miles from Earth, a man-made object was flung at a comet Wednesday — and now it's sticking to the rock as it hurtles through space.

"We are on the comet," Stephan Ulamec, Philae Lander Manager, announced Wednesday, marking a historic achievement.

Until about 600 million years ago, seeing colors didn't matter so much to Earth's inhabitants — nobody had eyes.

"Before the eye evolved, you just wouldn't have seen what was there," says Andrew Parker, a biologist at London's Natural History Museum who studies the evolution of color.

Humans have never landed anything on a comet's surface. That may change tomorrow.

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission is poised to send out a small probe to land on a comet known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta spent 10 years chasing the comet before arriving in August.

In a darkened lab in the north of England, a research associate is intensely focused on the microscope in front of her. She carefully maneuvers a long glass tube that she uses to manipulate early human embryos.

"It's like microsurgery," says Laura Irving of Newcastle University.

Irving is part of a team of scientists trying to replace defective DNA with healthy DNA. They hope this procedure could one day help women who are carrying genetic disorders have healthy children.

The hunt to find genes that cause autism has been a long slog, one hampered by a lack of technology and families willing to be tested.

But the effort is starting to pay off. On Tuesday, researchers at more than 50 laboratories said they had identified more than 100 genes that are mutated in children with autism, dozens more than were known before.

A careful examination of frozen caribou poop has turned up two never-before-seen viruses.

The viruses are hundreds of years old: One of them probably infected plants the caribous ate. The other may have infected insects that buzzed around the animals.

The findings prove viruses can survive for surprisingly long periods of time in a cold environment, according to Eric Delwart, a researcher at Blood Systems Research Institute in San Francisco.

Mary Guiden / UW

Marcie Sillman speaks with graduate student Elle O'Brien, who recently represented the University of Washington's Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering at the National Science Foundation's Perfect Pitch Competition, about making science comprehensible to everyone.

Flickr Photo/Lisa Parker (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to Dr. Parveen Bhatti, environmental epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, about how researchers determine causality.

Flickr Photo/Teresa Boardman (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Marcie Sillman talks with Steven Johnson, author of "How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World," about the technological innovations that led to widespread clean water in America, despite the E. coli in Mercer Island's drinking water this month.

A trio of scientists, two from Japan and one from the U.S., will share the Nobel Prize in physics for the invention of blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which led to a new, environmentally friendly light source.

Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Japan and U.S. scientist Shuji Nakamura were selected by the committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to share the 8 million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million) prize.

Nobelprize.org says:

Flickr Photo/Kris Krug (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to Jab Abumrad, creator and co-host of Radiolababout his work and creativity.

Steven Pinker's book "The Sense of Style."

Ross Reynolds speaks with cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, who is both a fan and critic of writing style guides. He’s now written his own: “The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century!” He says many authors of style guides don’t understand the cognitive biases that lead to us write poorly.

Everyone loves dolphins. They're adorable, playful and super-intelligent, often called the geniuses of the ocean.

But recently some researchers have begun to question that last notion. When it comes to brainpower, dolphins might not be as special as you might think.

In a recent piece for New Scientist, Caroline Williams rounds up some of the dissenting opinions.

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