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Tech & Science

In the neonatal intensive care unit of Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, a father is rocking a baby attached to a heart monitor. While doctors roam the halls trying to prevent infections, Chief Information Officer Theresa Meadows is worried about another kind of virus.

"The last thing anybody wants to happen in their organization is have all their heart monitors disabled or all of their IV pumps that provide medication to a patient disabled," Meadows says.

Crumbs may seem harmless here on Earth, but they can be a hazard in microgravity — they could get in an astronaut's eye, or get inhaled, causing someone to choke. Crumbs could even float into an electrical panel, burn up or cause a fire.

That's part of the reason why it was a very big deal in 1965 when John Young pulled a corned beef sandwich out of his pocket as he was orbiting the earth with Gus Grissom.

"Where did that come from?" Grissom asked Young.

"I brought it with me," Young said.

Even the most commonplace devices in our world had to be invented by someone.

Take the windshield wiper. It may seem hard to imagine a world without windshield wipers, but there was one, and Mary Anderson lived in that world.

In 1902, Anderson was visiting New York City.

Gina Mazany grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. And that's where she had her first fight.

"It was right after I turned 18," she recalls.

A local bar had a boxing ring, and Mazany decided to give it a shot. Her opponent was an older woman with a "mom haircut."

"She beat the crap out of me," Mazany says. "Like she didn't knock me out, she didn't finish me. But she just knocked me around for three rounds. And I remember, later that night I was very, very nauseous. I was throwing up that night."

It was her first concussion.

This summer, scientists in California are releasing 20 million mosquitoes in an effort to shrink the population of mosquitoes that can carry diseases.

It sounds counterintuitive. But the plan is to release millions of sterile male mosquitoes, which will then mate with wild female mosquitoes. The eggs the females lay won't hatch, researchers say.

Mathematical physicist and educator Robbert Dijkgraaf on the importance of the 'pursuit of useless knowledge' in both the sciences and the humanities.
Courtesy of Andrea Kane/Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ USA

In 1939 the influential American education reformer Abraham Flexner published an essay in Harper’s Magazine titled “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge.” In it he promoted the well-funded, free pursuit of scientific inquiry, arguing that great scientists were “driven not by the desire to be useful but merely the desire to satisfy their curiosity.”

The final scramble is on to see the total eclipse on Aug. 21 in the Northwest. Most hotels and campgrounds in the path of totality are booked.

But for those willing to do some research, or pay handsomely, there are still eclipse adventures to be had.

Mute button on an Amazon Echo
Flickr Photo/Rob Albright/(CC BY-NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/C6Ae3S

Bill Radke speaks with WIRED senior writer Emily Dreyfuss about her article that asks the question if Amazon's Echo should be able to call the police and what implications that could have on our privacy. 

Few inventions in modern history have been as successful as plastic. It's in vehicles and building materials and most of our electronic devices. We wrap stuff in it and even wear it.

Now a research team has tallied up how much plastic has been produced and where much of it has gone. Turns out, it's literally almost everywhere.

Elon Musk is warning that artificial intelligence is a "fundamental existential risk for human civilization," and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is looking into how states can respond.

Workers and labor activists demonstrate outside the U.S. District Courthouse in support of the city's $15 an hour minimum wage
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

Bill Radke talks to Paul Basken, science policy reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education, about how we should consume news that reports on scientific research. 

What will a post email world look like?

Jul 18, 2017
Then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, hugs his son Donald Trump Jr. during a rally at Ohio University Eastern Campus in St. Clairsville, Ohio, Tuesday, June 28, 2016.
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Bill Radke speaks with Farhad Manjoo, NY Times tech columnist, and Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute, about the frustrations and alternatives to emails.

They discuss how the blowback from Donald Trump Jr.'s recent email controversy highlights the problems with email. They also discuss what could replace email and how much (or little) people value the privacy of their digital communications. 

Texting or holding a phone to your ear while driving is already illegal in Washington state. But starting Sunday, Washington state troopers and local police will begin enforcing a toughened law against distracted driving.

It would be nice to believe that the reason humanity has taken next to no action to halt the destruction of the world's oceans is because we simply haven't seen the damage report. That argument held more water (sorry) back in 2004, when Davis Guggenheim and Al Gore made An Inconvenient Truth, a film that sought to raise awareness of man-made climate change in the hopes that a momentum would build to reverse the tide and slow the warming of the planet.

An update from the Wild Wild West of fake news technologies: A team of computer scientists have figured out how to make words come out of the mouth of former President Barack Obama — on video — by using artificial intelligence.

Microsoft aims to connect two million rural Americans to broadband Internet by 2022.
Flickr Photo/Steve Rhode (CC BY-NC-ND)

Washington is one of the states that could benefit from Microsoft's new plan to boost broadband Internet access to rural communities.

As recently as 10 years ago, humans were thought to be the only species with the ability to plan.

Recent studies on great apes showed the ability is not uniquely human. Now, scientists in Sweden have come to the surprising conclusion that ravens can also deliberately prepare for future events.

"It is conservative to conclude that ravens perform similarly to great apes and young children," the researchers write. However, monkeys have failed similar experiments.

Editor's note: This story is for mature bees only.

Seducing a honeybee drone – one of the males in a colony whose only job is to mate with the queen – is not too difficult. They don't have stingers, so you just pick one up. Apply a little pressure to the abdomen and the drone gets randy, blood rushing to his endophallus, bringing him to climax.

"They're really accommodating," says Susan Cobey, a honeybee breeder on Whidbey Island, Wash. "One ejaculate is about 1 microliter, and it takes 10 microliters to artificially inseminate a queen."

A massive iceberg the size of Delaware has broken free from Antarctica and is floating in the sea.

Earlier Wednesday, scientists announced that the 6,000-square-kilometer (about 2,300 square miles) iceberg had come loose, after satellites detected it had calved off the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula.

South Lake Union neighborhood, home to many Seattle tech companies
Flickr Photo/Tim Eytan (CC-BY-SA-2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9yHUyP

Emily Fox talks with immigration attorney Tahmina Watson about President Trump's decision to put an end to the International Entrepreneur Rule, which would have allowed some foreign business owners to build their companies in the U.S.

Microsoft is announcing a new effort to connect more people to the Internet. Not people far away, in the so-called emerging markets — where other American tech giants have built Internet balloons and drones. Instead, Microsoft is focusing right here at home, on the 23.4 million people in rural America without broadband access.

Octavia Butler used to say she remembers exactly when she decided to become a science fiction writer. She was 9 years old and saw a 1954 B-movie called Devil Girl from Mars, and two things struck her. First: "Geez, I can write a better story than that!" And second: "Somebody got paid for writing that story!" If they could, she decided, then she could, too.

The battery-free cell phone is powered by ambient radio signals or light.
Mark Stone/University of Washington (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/Wk7pzy

It could be a game changer for future cell phones, and other battery power hogging devices: University of Washington engineers have invented a cell phone that doesn't need a battery.


Other than vodka, the Russian product most familiar to Americans is probably the anti-virus software made by Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab.

Twenty years ago Tuesday, a plucky little probe named Pathfinder landed at Ares Vallis on the surface of Mars.

It didn't land in the traditional way, with retrorockets firing until it reached the surface. No, Pathfinder bounced down to its landing site, cushioned by giant air bags. It was a novel approach, and the successful maneuver paved the way for a similar system used by the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity in 2003.

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