Science

Puget Sound orcas
1:53 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Newborn orca calf reported in Puget Sound

The new calf, believed to have been born on Monday, is the first offspring of 11-year-old J37.
Center for Whale Research

BREMERTON, Wash. — A newborn orca calf has been reported off the west side of San Juan Island in the Puget Sound.

The Center for Whale Research reports the new calf was first spotted midday Monday among the adults of J pod, one of three killer whale pods that frequent Puget Sound.

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The Two-Way
4:18 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

NASA Releases First Full-Resolution Photographs From Mars Curiosity

This image taken by NASA's Curiosity shows what lies ahead for the rover — its main science target, Mount Sharp.
NASA's Curiosity

Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 5:44 pm

The Mars rover Curiosity safely landed on the Red Planet and NASA has received its first dispatches: A stunning full resolution look at Mount Sharp and a dramatic low-resolution video of its landing.

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Cancer
8:17 am
Mon August 6, 2012

Figuring out which cancer treatments work

Seattle’s a hub for cancer research, and usually that means scientists are looking for cures or new treatments. Now a new project will try to tell us if those treatments are worth the price-tag.

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npr science
6:24 am
Mon August 6, 2012

An Anthropologist Walks Into A Bar And Asks, 'Why Is This Joke Funny?'

Amateur comedian Robert Lynch takes the mic at the Metropolitan Room in New York City on July 21. Lynch is also an evolutionary anthropologist who is studying what laughter reveals about us.
Melanie Burford for NPR

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 1:26 pm

It's Saturday night at the Metropolitan Room, a comedy club in New York City. Host Jimmy Failla is warming up the crowd.

"Where you guys from?" he asks one group in the audience. "Boston? Home of the Red Sox. Personally, we'd prefer you rooted for the Taliban!"

There are 50 or 60 people in the audience, sipping cocktails. Failla has a system. He asks people where they're from. Most are locals. He then hits them with something they can relate to.

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npr science
11:38 pm
Sun August 5, 2012

Life on Mars? Try one of Saturn's moons instead

Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 3:46 pm

One of the things the Mars rover will look for is organic molecules that could at least indicate whether there was once life on the Red Planet. But if searching for life in outer space is the goal, many scientists now say we might have better luck elsewhere — specifically one of Saturn's moons, Enceladus.

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NPR science
10:46 pm
Sun August 5, 2012

Mars Rover Pulls Off High-Wire Landing

An artist's rendering shows a rocket-powered descent stage lowering the one-ton Curiosity rover to the Mars surface.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 3:26 am

The best place to stand in the entire solar system at 1:14 a.m. ET Monday was about 150 million miles away, at the bottom of Gale Crater near the equator of the Red Planet.

Looking west around mid-afternoon local time, a Martian bystander would have seen a rocket-powered alien spacecraft approach and then hover about 60 feet over the rock-strewn plain between the crater walls and the towering slopes of nearby Mount Sharp.

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NPR science
9:02 am
Sun August 5, 2012

Scientists look to Martian rocks for history of life

Mmm, nice rock! This rover's looking for secrets to the history of life on Mars.
Photo Illustration Courtesy NASA

Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 8:41 am

NASA has sent rovers to explore Mars before. But three words explain what makes this latest mission to Mars so different: location, location, location.

The rover Curiosity is slated to land late Sunday in Gale Crater, near the base of a 3-mile-high mountain with layers like the Grand Canyon. Scientists think those rocks could harbor secrets about the history of water — and life — on the Red Planet.

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Mars landing
7:25 am
Sat August 4, 2012

Red Planet, Green Thumb: How A NASA Scientist Engineers His Garden

Limoncello in the making.
Rachael Porter NPR

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 8:10 am

Most mornings, space engineer Adam Steltzner wakes up at about 3 a.m., and before he can coax his tired body back to sleep, his mind takes over. And he starts to worry.

Eventually Steltzner gives up on sleep and heads into his garden where, just as first light reveals the sky, all that thinking can turn into doing. And finally, a little peace.

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NPR science
8:02 am
Fri August 3, 2012

Crazy smart: When a rocker designs a Mars lander

NASA engineer Adam Steltzner led the team that designed a crazy new approach to landing on Mars.
Rachael Porter for NPR

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 3:43 pm

It's called the seven minutes of terror. In just seven minutes, NASA's latest mission to Mars, a new six-wheeled rover called Curiosity, must go from 13,000 mph as it enters the Martian atmosphere to a dead stop on the surface.

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health insurance
11:42 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Breast pumps for free, under new health law provisions

Many hospitals offer the Medela breast pump for rental

Breastfeeding is already a civil right in Seattle, and now it’s getting financial support everywhere. Under new health rules taking effect today, as part of President Obama’s health law, women will get a number of new "preventive" services covered for free (no co-pays). 

The most talked-about new benefit has been contraceptives – and how some Catholic groups prefer not to pay for birth control. 

But seven other provisions now must be covered by nearly all health insurance plans. One of them is breastfeeding supplies and counseling. 

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NPR health
6:33 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Distractions Come Naturally To Teenage Drivers

Drivers under 25 are more likely to send text messages and make calls behind the wheel. They're also less able to handle distractions while driving.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 5:58 am

Distracted driving is a problem for all drivers, but teens are at higher risk.

Yes, it's true that drivers under 25 are up to three times more likely to send text messages or emails while behind the wheel than older drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

But there's a deeper problem: Teenagers are also at a developmental stage where getting distracted is more problematic than it is for older drivers.

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NPR science
6:28 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Telescope targets black holes' binges and burps

The NuSTAR telescope, seen in this artist's illustration, will soon be sending back data that researchers will use to study black holes.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 4:45 am

NASA's newest space telescope will start searching the universe for black holes on Wednesday. Scientists hope the NuSTAR X-ray telescope, which launched about six weeks ago and is now flying about 350 miles above the Earth, will help shed some light on the mysteries of these space oddities.

Mission control for the telescope is a small room on the University of California, Berkeley, campus, where about a dozen people with headsets rarely look up from their screens.

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Brain Science
10:30 am
Mon July 30, 2012

How an experiment on blind mice could help blind humans see

The chemical compound - AAQ - that researchers say causes blind mice to behave as if they can see.

A potential new cure for blindness is showing promise in an experiment at the University of Washington and University of California. The study shows that losing your eyesight as you grow older may someday be reversible. 

The experiment used mice – blind mice.

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public health
12:52 pm
Fri July 20, 2012

New clue about whooping cough epidemic from CDC investigators

Young children and babies are the most at risk of serious harm from whooping cough
Hamilton Cty, NY Public Health

Federal health investigators say a new clue has emerged about the whooping cough epidemic in Washington.

The epidemic shows no signs of waning – and the U.S. is on track to have more whooping cough cases than any time in 53 years. Washington and Wisconsin have the biggest outbreaks this year, with 3,000 reported cases each.

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NPR Science
4:49 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Using Hubble, astronomers spot oldest spiral galaxy ever seen

An artist's rendering of galaxy BX442.
Joe Bergeron Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 3:29 pm

Astronomers made a surprising announcement today: They have found a spiral galaxy that existed very early in the universe — the oldest spiral galaxy ever seen.

The galaxy is special because such a well-formed spiral wasn't thought to have existed this early on, when the universe was tumultuous.

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