Tech & Science

Dr. Christian Sidor, Burke Museum curator of vertebrate paleontology, right, holds Washington’s first dinosaur fossil to compare it with the cast of a femur of another theropod dinosaur held by  Brandon Peecook, University of Washington graduate student.
Burke Museum

A large bone from a two-legged, meat-eating dinosaur has been discovered in the San Juan Islands – the first dinosaur fossil ever found in Washington state.

Researchers found the fossil by accident. In 2012, they were in Sucia Island State Park collecting sea creature fossils when they stumbled on a bone that looked unusual for that area.

A month later they returned to the site with paleontologists. Initially, Professor Christian Sidor of the Burke Museum didn’t believe it belonged to a dinosaur.  

But one feature of the bone convinced Sidor, a professor of biology at the University of Washington and vertebrate curator at the Burke Museum: “The muscles that actually attach to the back of the leg and retract the femur attach here. So this structure, the shape of it, and how close it is to the head of the femur tell us that this is a carnivorous dinosaur. All dinosaurs have this feature.”  

The scientists don’t know what kind of dinosaur the bone comes from, however, because there’s only a third of the bone. Sidor said it’s likely a therapod, which includes Tyrannosaurus rex, birds and Velociraptors. And they are pretty sure it is from the Late Cretaceous period and is about 80 million years old.

The Federal Aviation Administration has recently granted clearance for takeoff to big batches of commercial drone operators.

During a commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy today, President Obama will cast climate change as posing an "immediate risk to our national security."

NPR's Scott Horsley reports Obama is expected to tell graduates that the Coast Guard itself will have to adjust to the effects of rising sea levels. Scott filed this report for our Newscast unit:

If you were to catch a salmon in Puget Sound, chances are you won’t be able to say exactly where that fish came from. That’s because salmon spawn in rivers and streams and then swim hundreds or even thousands of miles to the ocean to mature.

Some new research could help fisheries managers better protect salmon by studying their ear bones - that’s right, ear bones.

food delivery
Flickr Photo/Mark Turnauckas (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to Todd Bishop of Geekwire about their investigation into the practices of the online restaurant delivery service OrderAhead. 

The eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980 as seen from the east.
Flickr Photo/Washington DNR (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to Carolyn Driedger, a hydrologist and outreach coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey, about what volcanologists have learned since Mount St. Helen's erupted 35 years ago and what other risks we face from Northwest volcanos.

The challenge of strategizing the best route to work against the herd of other drivers can be as routine as the daily commute itself. A number of apps are out there to help shortcut one's route and evade traffic jams. But which ones are the most accurate? And how?

The All Tech Considered team put a few competing traffic apps to the test in Robert Siegel's usual short commute from Arlington, Va., to NPR's D.C. headquarters.

The Test Drive

This ride is about 15 minutes in no traffic. But it's now morning rush hour.

Dan Miller was driving north along Interstate 5 through Southwest Washington when Mount St. Helens blew its top 35 years ago.

“As I passed the Richfield exit on I-5, it just happens that there’s a beautiful clear view off to the northeast to Mount St. Helens,” he said. “I looked over there and it was a beautiful, bright sunny morning.”

Miller is a retired geologist who studied volcanoes with the U.S. Geological Survey. He was on his way up Mount St. Helens on the morning of May 18, 1980. He planned to work on the volcano that day.

When Sam Swiller used hearing aids, his musical tastes ran to AC/DC and Nirvana — loud bands with lots of drums and bass. But after Swiller got a cochlear implant in 2005, he found that sort of music less appealing.

"I was getting pushed away from sounds I used to love," he says, "but also being more attracted to sounds that I never appreciated before." So he began listening to folk and alternative music, including the Icelandic singer Bjork.

Ross Reynolds talks to Porter Erisman, a former vice president at Alibaba -- the biggest e-commerce site on the Web -- about his new book, "Alibaba's World: How A Remarkable Chinese Company is Changing the Face of Global Business."

Flickr Photo/Seattle.roamer (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Mycologist Paul Stamets calls fungi “the soil magicians of nature.” He says they were the first organisms to come to land 1.3 billion years ago.

Stamets has spent his career searching for ways to learn from nature’s secrets to heal humans and the planet. One focus of his research is Northwest mycelium. 

Jennifer Pahlka at the 2014 Code For America Summit
Flickr Photo/Carlos Moreno

In 2013, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act on the healthcare.gov website became a debacle for the Obama administration. Sen. Mitch McConnell said about it: "God only knows how much money they've spent and it's a failure … the government simply isn't going to be able to get this job done correctly."

One key safety feature was missing from the stretch of track where an Amtrak passenger train going more than 100 mph derailed and killed seven people.

Investigators say that if positive train control had been installed on that stretch, the technology could have automatically slowed the train and perhaps saved lives.

NPR's David Schaper tells our Newscast unit that Amtrak and other railroads are behind schedule in rolling out the technology.

He filed this report:

In recent years, Twitter has become the go-to destination for news junkies. Now, Facebook is entering a deal with nine news organizations, including The New York Times, NBC News and Buzzfeed, to run some of their in-depth articles, photos and videos inside Facebook. No need to leave the app!

The lion's mane jelly taken by KUOW reporter and diver Ann Dornfeld in 2010.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

Little fish are disappearing from much of Puget Sound, according to a new study.

These are the fish that orcas and salmon depend on, and they’re being replaced by ballooning populations of jellyfish, which most fish and seabirds don't eat.

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