Science

Total Eclipse Of the Moon
3:12 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Seattle-Area Skygazers May See Glimpse Of 'Blood Moon' — If They're Persistent

The "blood moon" glows reddish in the Earth's shadow.
Fred Espenak NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Puget Sound region won’t be the best place to take in the lunar eclipse in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. High clouds are likely to obscure the so-called “blood moon,” which flushes reddish in the shadow of the Earth.

University of Washington atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass says the northwest Washington coast might fare better. And cloud breaks might give even Seattle-area moon-gazers a glimpse — if they keep looking.  

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Gesture Recognition
3:01 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

UW Team Invents Gesture Recognition Technology That Pulls Power From Thin Air

University of Washington

A University of Washington research team has developed technology that could let people control devices with hand gestures. And the sensor doesn’t use battery power; it pulls electricity out of thin air.

Technology to read hand gestures already exists in devices like Microsoft’s Kinect. But most of it uses cameras or beams, which make it expensive and hungry for electricity.

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Voice Banking
2:04 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Losing Voice To ALS, Kent Man Recording All He'll Ever Want To Say

Carl Moore, a former helicopter mechanic, was diagnosed with ALS 20 years ago.
Justin Steyer KPLU

It's hard to imagine a more devastating diagnosis than ALS, also called Lou Gehrig's disease. For most people, it means their nervous system is going to deteriorate until their body is completely immobile. That also means they'll lose their ability to speak.

So Carl Moore of Kent worked with a speech pathologist to record his own voice to use later, when he can no longer talk on his own.

Brain Science
9:05 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Orphans' Lonely Beginnings Reveal How Parents Shape A Child's Brain

In the Institute for the Unsalvageable in Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania, shown here in 1992, children were left in cribs for days on end.
Tom Szalay

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 9:07 am

Parents do a lot more than make sure a child has food and shelter, researchers say. They play a critical role in brain development.

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Nutrient Supplements
4:18 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Seattle Scientists: Supplements Thought To Protect Against Cancer Increase Risk

vissago Flickr

Two nutrient supplements once thought to protect against cancer may actually increase the risk of prostate cancer, according to a study led by researchers at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study looked at 4,856 men taking large doses of vitamin E and selenium, either alone or together, or a placebo.

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Dark Matter
5:01 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Did UW Researchers Back The Right Horse In One Of Physics' Hottest Questions?

UW researchers assemble the complex ADMX detector, built to search for dark matter axions.
ADMX Collaboration

Think of the immense amount of stuff in the cosmos: stars, planets, interstellar dust and clusters of galaxies. Now consider this: all that stuff is probably only about one-sixth of the matter in the universe.

The rest is thought to be a mysterious invisible substance called dark matter — something scientists have been hunting for decades. Now an unexpected turn of events has put a low-key research team in Seattle right at the center of the dark matter search.

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Brain Training
5:07 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

10 Hours Of Brain Training Keeps Elderly Sharper Even 10 Years Later, Study Finds

istockphoto.com

Scientists have long known that brain training can help older adults stay sharp, but a new study co-authored by a Seattle scientist shows those benefits also have remarkable staying power.

The advantages from just a little bit of training — about 10 total hours — can last at least a full decade, according to a large national study called the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly, or ACTIVE study. 

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Brain Injuries
5:01 am
Thu January 2, 2014

NFL Money Will Fund Seattle Doctor's Concussion Research

Concussions often don't show up on brain scans.
Matthew Purdy Flickr

The National Football League is paying for a Seattle scientist to study head injuries in student athletes, testing a solution to the problem of how to diagnose and measure concussions.

With all the focus on sports and head trauma lately, it may come as a surprise that medicine actually doesn’t have great ways to measure common brain injuries. They don’t usually show up on brain scans, even though we know they can cause serious and lasting neurological problems.

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Project Violet
5:01 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Seattle Scientists Look To Make Drug Research More Like Fantasy Football

Steve Brooks shows his three-year old daughter Eliza a drug scaffold based on a Petunia protein.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Editor's Note: This is the second installment of a two-part series. Learn how scorpion vemon led local researchers to the brink of discovery of a new class of drugs in Part 1.

Consider the chemical elegance of a potato. Or a petunia. Or a horseshoe crab.

Somewhere in each of those organisms is a special little protein uniquely equipped to do what medicines do: barge in on biological processes and mess with them. With a little tweaking, it’s possible they could be trained to, say, keep cancer cells from spreading.

A few years ago, Dr. Jim Olson and his team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center had figured out how to make those proteins by the thousands, but they hadn’t yet figured out how to pay for it.

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Drug Discovery
5:01 am
Tue December 17, 2013

How A Scorpion's Sting Led Seattle Scientists To The Brink Of Discovery

Dr. Jim Olson is exploring a whole new class of drugs, based on his work with a scorpion toxin that helps fight cancer.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

The Deathstalker scorpion is about the size of your palm. It’s yellow and surly, its venom a seething cocktail of neurotoxins.

And somewhere in that poison soup is a very special little molecule, called chlorotoxin, designed to penetrate a prey animal’s brain. That effect happens to come in very handy: while it’s in there, it sticks to cancer cells while slipping right by healthy ones.

Jim Olson, a pediatric oncologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, put that toxin to work.

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Human-Animal Health
5:01 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Treating the Cow to Save the Kid: Where Human and Animal Health Intersect

Dr. Peter Rabinowitz will study how livestock and children affect each other's health.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Peter Rabinowitz speaks with KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer

People fighting hunger in the developing world have noticed a troubling mystery: malnourished children sometimes fail to get healthier even when given a lot of extra nutrients.

The key to helping them may be to focus not on the kids, but on their cows, according to a team led by a University of Washington professor.

The researchers from UW, Washington State University and CDC-Kenya just received a Gates Foundation grant to examine the values of a holistic approach—one that focuses on the intersection of human, animal and environmental health.

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Organic Food
2:00 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Organic Milk More Nutritious than Regular Milk, WSU Study Finds

Cows who graze on grass and pasture forage may give milk with healthier fats than conventionally raised cattle.
adstream Flickr

Organic dairy products may have a major nutritional advantage over conventional milk, Washington researchers have found in a study that could affect the ongoing debate about the health benefits of organics.

A Washington State University-led team studied about 400 samples of whole milk, both traditionally-produced and organic, and found a key difference in the balance of fatty acids. Organic milk seems to have a much higher proportion of omega-3s compared with omega-6s.

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biotechnology
2:07 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Research Groups Team Up to Fight Cancer with 'Ninja Warrior T-Cells'

File image
Gerry Broome AP Photo

Seattle researchers and investors are making a massive bet on a new cancer-fighting technology.

The new startup, called Juno Therapeutics, is working on ways to take T-cells out of a patient’s body and genetically engineer them to attack his or her specific tumor.

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Martian Chronicles
3:10 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Martian Mystery: How Water Could Have Flowed on Chilly Mars

A NASA photo shows gully channels on teh surface of Mars, thought to have been caused by flowing water.
NASA

A University of Washington researcher may have helped solve a Martian mystery by explaining how the chilly surface of Mars could have once flowed with water.

Pictures of Mars clearly show features that look like valleys and old lakebeds, suggesting liquid water once churned on the planet's surface. And yet that surface is really cold, at -80 degrees Fahrenheit, on average.

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Snow Science
5:01 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Strange Snow Finding Suggests Fewer Trees Mean More Water

UW reserahcres found that in temperate climates, snow melts faster under trees than in clearings.
Kael Martin University of Washington

Quick quiz: In springtime, does snow melt faster out in the open or in the shade? 

You might figure it melts faster in the sunshine, and that seems to be the case for cold climates. But in places with temperate winters, like the Pacific Northwest, it might be just the opposite.

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