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Tech & Science

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHmcV6bzeCY 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. Reels aboard the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kounotori 6 craft will deploy the 700-meter (2,296 feet) tether, essentially unspooling a clothesline in space that could help...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbUxt2x4InE 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. A typical house in the U.S. uses about 1,000 kilowatt-hours of energy in a month. So — to Booky McReaderpants' question — could you generate that much power all by yourself on...

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...

The pink bacteria clinging to this Seattle bathmat is Serratia marcescens, which loves damp, soapy environments. It's mostly harmless.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

You see them when you slack on cleaning — mysterious pink rings and streaks that form in your toilets, sinks and bathtubs.

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. "This is a big deal,"...

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, theres been a wealth of new science, a tremendous focus on new issues, says Tom Spies of USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station in Corvallis. Among these emerging issues...

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. "Household surveys are expensive, and the coverage is not great," says Stefano Ermon , an assistant professor of computer science at Stanford University. So Ermon is heading up a new project to...

Amazon released an online ad for their convenience store, Amazon Go.
Screenshot from YouTube

Bill Radke speaks with Forbes staff writer Ryan Mac about Amazon's announcement that they'll open a convenience store with no checkout. Mac says to check your excitement and take the announcement with a grain of salt.

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube say they are creating a database to keep track of terrorist recruitment videos and other terror-related images that have been removed from their services. In a joint statement posted by Facebook on Monday, the company said: "Starting today, we commit to the creation of a shared industry database of 'hashes' — unique digital 'fingerprints' — for violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images that we have removed from our services. ...

For Tableau, a software company in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood, the bohemian neighborhood is part of the recruiting spiel.
Flickr Photo/Scott Lum (CC BY-NC 2.0) http://bit.ly/2h3woD4

On hot summer Fridays, workers from the software company Tableau gather at a dock and jump in the water.

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. When weather conditions are just right — lots of rising heat and moisture, and vertical wind shear — sometimes you get more than just a tornado. Mathematician Michael Tippett at Columbia University, who tracks these...

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. That wasn't a good sign, because the 9,000-foot mountain straddling the border with China is not merely the subject of paintings and patriotic songs — it...

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. "What makes these cells special is that they are normal, healthy cells that we can spy on and see what the cell does when it's left alone," says Susanne Rafelski, director of assay...

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