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Tech & Science

Updated at 3:27 p.m. ET

After a brief security evacuation, U.S. telecom regulators have voted to repeal so-called net neutrality rules, which restrict the power of Internet service providers to influence loading speeds for specific websites or apps.

After weeks of heated controversy and protests, the Republican majority of the Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines on Thursday to loosen Obama-era regulations for Internet providers.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and state lawmakers say they'll take action to preserve net neutrality rules for internet providers. This in light of an expected Federal Communications Commission vote Thursday to roll back Obama-era regulations.

This week, the skywatchers will experience a flashy double feature: The Geminid meteor shower — one of the year's best — will coincide with an unusually close encounter by an asteroid.

That asteroid? It's called 3200 Phaethon, discovered by a NASA satellite in 1983. With a diameter of about 3 miles, it's the third-largest near-Earth asteroid classified by the space agency as "potentially hazardous."

A wide range of business groups and universities from Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are teaming up to nurture science and tech startups. Nearly 50 organizations involved in business development signed on to the new Cascadia Venture Acceleration Network.

If I spot a blade of interesting-looking grass, my first inclination isn't to wonder what it tastes like. But a group of researchers in Australia recently stumbled upon two new species of grass with a peculiar flavor that some liken to a favorite snacking combo: salt and vinegar chips.

You're in your car, heading for an intersection. The light turns yellow, so you decide to hit the gas. Then you see a police car.

Almost instantly, you know that stomping on the accelerator is a big mistake. But there's a good chance you'll do it anyway, says Susan Courtney, a professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University.

The price of bitcoin set another new all-time high Wednesday, shooting past $13,000. The meteoric rise in the value of bitcoin and lesser known virtual currencies is having a real world effect in the Pacific Northwest.

Entrepreneurs are bombarding the public utilities in Central Washington with requests for cheap hydropower to run bitcoin computers.

NASA, Scientists Want Help Measuring The Snow

Dec 5, 2017

Cities, farmers, and conservationists all need to know how much water is in each winter’s snowpack.

But there aren’t many weather stations that measure the snowpack, and “they tend to be at lower elevations,” says David Hill, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Oregon State University.

That’s why a team of Northwest scientists and NASA are looking for help. They’re asking snowshoers, snowmobilers, and skiers in Washington and Oregon to measure snow depth in the backcountry.

Courtesy of Kaeli Swift

Kaeli Swift specializes in corvid thanatology (translation: stuff crows do when they die). A PhD candidate at the University of Washington with a knack for photography, her blog captivated us. So we invited her to drop some knowledge about some of our most mythologized Seattle neighbors. 

Scientists appear to be self-censoring by omitting the term "climate change" in public grant summaries.

An NPR analysis of grants awarded by the National Science Foundation found a steadily decreasing number with the phrase "climate change" in the title or summary, resulting in a sharp drop in the term's use in 2017. At the same time, the use of alternative terms such as "extreme weather" appears to be rising slightly.

The delicate art of paper folding is playing a crucial role in designing robotic artificial muscles that are startlingly strong. In fact, the researchers say they can lift objects 1,000 times their own weight.

A team from the University of Washington has won a major award for artificial intelligence: the inaugural Alexa Prize from Amazon.

The $500,000 award was announced today at Amazon’s AWS re:Invent 2017 conference in Las Vegas.

This week, another big name in tech was toppled by accusations of sexual harassment — venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, an investor in Tesla and SpaceX who left his prominent Silicon Valley company.

The big-money world of Silicon Valley remains dominated by men and remains a hard place for women to speak out if they want to join the ranks of its richest. And some women think the best way to fight harassment is to tread carefully and get to the top.

Think "renewable energy" and the wind and sun come to mind, but someday it may be possible to add ocean energy to that list.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved its first digital drug: a pill embedded with a sensor that transmits whether someone has taken it.

Although the approval is a big step for digital medicine, there are concerns about privacy, convenience and cost.

The goal is simple: a drug that can relieve chronic pain without causing addiction.

But achieving that goal has proved difficult, says Edward Bilsky, a pharmacologist who serves as the provost and chief academic officer at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, Wash.

"We know a lot more about pain and addiction than we used to," says Bilsky, "But it's been hard to get a practical drug."

You scroll through your friend's Instagram feed and see the most beautiful setting, and think: "I want to go there." And so you do.

According to travel photographer Brent Knepper, you are part of the problem.

In The Outline's article "Instagram is Loving Nature to Death," Knepper says that thanks to the photo sharing app, some of the best-kept secrets of the natural world are drawing big crowds and literally altering the landscape.

There has been a lot of talk about potential Russian manipulation of the 2016 presidential election. Now there's concern about shadowy online electioneering filtering down to the state and local level. It comes in the aftermath of a high-stakes state Senate race in Western Washington.

Facebook
Flickr Photo/Franco Bouly (CC BY ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/6rk2Qf

Bill Radke talks to Anna Lauren Hoffmann, associate professor at the University of Washington's Information School, about the implications of Facebook's idea to stop revenge porn and nude pictures from circulating on their site. 

A little girl looks over her father's shoulder at a smartphone.
Flickr Photo/Lynn Friedman (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/s29eap

How do old parenting dilemmas adapt to new technologies? Parents: when you’re raising kids in the technological age, how much wiggle room with screen time do you give them? How has your own tech use changed in response to what you want them to be doing? And … is it really tech time if everyone is playing with a sensor-enabled ball, but you’re all outside?

In July 2016, the aftermath of a police shooting of an African-American man was broadcast live on Facebook. Instantly, Americans of all stripes used the platform to step up the race wars and attack each other.

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, and Manafort's business associate Rick Gates have pleaded not guilty to felony charges of conspiracy against the U.S. and other counts.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Tech giants testify before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Tuesday about Russian efforts to spread disinformation in the U.S.

Representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Google, along with two national security analysts, will speak with lawmakers about ways that Russia has used the social media platforms.

Earlier this month, the toy-giant Mattel announced it had pulled the plug on plans to sell an interactive gadget for children.

The device, called Aristotle, looked similar to a baby monitor with a camera. Critics called it creepy.

Powered by artificial intelligence, Aristotle could get to know your child — at least that was how the device was being pitched.

Right after the U.S. election last year, Mike Tippett saw an opportunity.

He'd been talking to his friends in Silicon Valley and they were nervous about the newly elected president's attitude toward immigration.

"Many of the start-ups and technology companies in the States and across the globe are made up of people who are not necessarily from that country," Tippett says.

Almost half of all American start-ups were actually founded by immigrants.

Last week in the Russia investigations: Washington, D.C., gears up for the big show; Trump campaign data firm's guru tried to link up with WikiLeaks; and Clinton, DNC helped pay for infamous dossier on Trump.

Get Ready For The Big Show

After weeks of buildups, letdowns, surprises, scoops and headlines, this is it: Three central players in the world of Big Tech are set to face off across the witness table this week from members of Congress.

Lines of code
Flickr Photo/markus spiske (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/XLGzE5


Thinking of making a career switch? Maybe you should consider coding.

No, really — it’s not as hard as you probably think. That’s according to Cheri Allen, a software engineer and educator at the University of Washington and Unloop.

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