Science

mental health
12:43 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

Learning 'mental' first aid, before the next crisis

There's no first aid kit for mental health, but there are strategies.
renjith krishnan freedigitalphotos.net

In the wake of the recent murder spree at Café Racer, there have been questions about how to get help for someone whose mental health is deteriorating. Social service agencies are filling part of the gap, by training volunteers to provide what they call "mental health first aid."

The idea comes by comparison to CPR – a type of first aid any of us can learn. The mental health version is a 12-hour course for anyone who wants to be better equipped to help someone in a mental health crisis.

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NPR science
7:32 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

UW's new fetal genetics test: Less risk, more controversy

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 9:37 am

The full genetic code of a fetus has been cracked. The technique, used by scientists at the University of Washington, could offer parents safer and more comprehensive prenatal testing in the future. It also leaps into a debate over what information parents will eventually have — and use — to decide whether to have an abortion.

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fitness and nutrition
5:45 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

Weight loss for a big prize - is it a gimmick?

Overall, so far in this weight-loss contest, 1,400 contestants in Pierce County lost more than 15,000 pounds.
Allan Foster Flickr

If you’ve ever thought about losing weight, it helps to have a prize, as 1,400 people in Pierce County can tell you. They’re in a contest that ends this week – similar to TV’s Biggest Loser reality show – with winners getting a $10,000 prize.

It may seem like a gimmick. But scientists say it has a solid foundation.

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Washington volcanoes
3:23 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

When Rainier blows, volcanic mudflow could cost us $6 billion

Section of the map produced by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources showing lahar flows.

“It’s not a question of if, but when, the next volcanic event will occur”

When it blows, Mount Rainier might produce “Lahar,” or volcanic mudflow, that could cause property losses of up to $6 billion in the Puyallup Valley, a new study by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources shows.

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NPR Diversions
7:33 am
Tue June 5, 2012

Hairy, scary, biting spiders - and they travel in packs

A spider suspected to be a new species of tarantula is displayed
AP

Originally published on Tue June 5, 2012 6:37 am

Here's a nightmare come true: a group of Indian villagers were gathered for a festival last month when they were attacked by a swarm of large, biting spiders. They're hairy, have fangs, and apparently latch on when they sink their teeth into their prey.

Calling Peter Parker.

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earthquake research
12:13 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

Cruising the coast for signs of where 'the big one' will hit

The R/V Langseth will be studying the sea floor this summer off Washington's coast.
Columbia University/Earth Institute

One of the world’s most advanced research ships will be cruising along the Washington and Oregon coasts this month – to look for clues about giant earthquakes. 

A zone that runs parallel to the coast – but deep beneath the sea – is known to have unleashed mega-quakes in the past, similar to the one that caused the giant tsunami last year in Japan. The Cascadia fault zone runs about 700 miles alongside Vancouver Island, Washington and Oregon.

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NPR tech news
12:41 pm
Sat June 2, 2012

'Flame' Virus Fuels Political Heat Over Cyber Threats

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat June 2, 2012 10:51 am

New information about computer viruses shows how countries may be lining up to fight a cyberwar. The New York Times reported that former President George W. Bush and President Obama both authorized computer attacks against Iran, culminating in the Stuxnet virus, which targeted Iranian nuclear facilities.

Meanwhile, a United Nations agency raised alarms about another virus, dubbed "Flame," which may also have been designed for use against Iran.

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health insurance
5:50 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Want to pay less for medical care? ... find a better deal online

Not all MRIs cost the same -- and now some insurance companies help you compare costs and save.
The Bs Flickr

If you have high-deductible health insurance – possibly paying $2,000 or more out of pocket – the price of every test or procedure matters a lot. In theory, you should shop around.

But, that’s easier said than done, as Seattle real estate broker Steven Wayne discovered: He ran through his $3,800 deductible, pretty quickly, after a recent series of fainting spells.

Now, new online tools can help you compare real costs.

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Health
3:35 pm
Fri May 25, 2012

State audit finds unexplained gaps in children's mental health care

Oregon auditors have found that girls under age 13 and Hispanic youth are using using mental health services at a disproportionately low rate. Photo by HHS.gov

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 3:11 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon needs to do a better job at making sure that low-income children are getting the mental health services they’re eligible for. That's the finding of a new audit by the Oregon Secretary of State's office.

The report applauds the Oregon Health Authority for bringing tens of thousands of additional children into the Medicaid-funded Oregon Health Plan over the past three years.

But auditors found that some groups of children were using mental health services at a disproportionately low rate. They include girls under age 13, and Hispanic youth of all ages.

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Health news
7:54 am
Fri May 25, 2012

Dispatchers' CPR coaching saves lives when every minute counts

Becky Cole was eight months pregnant with her son Ryan when she passed out. Her husband performed CPR for six minutes with the help of a dispatcher before medics arrived.
Courtesy of Medic One Foundation

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 7:09 am

Your chances of surviving a sudden heart attack may depend on where you live; some American cities have survival rates five times higher than others. One difference can be 911 dispatchers.

If they coach someone over the phone to give CPR, the chance of surviving goes up. There's now a push to make it universal, but some cities are slow to implement the necessary training.

Becky Cole was eight months pregnant with her fourth child when she collapsed against the bathroom door. It was January 2011 in the Seattle suburb of Woodinville.

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Space flight
7:43 am
Fri May 25, 2012

SpaceX Craft Docks With Space Station; Commercial Era Begins

An image of the Dragon spacecraft, taken earlier today with a thermal camera aboard the International Space Station.
Twitter.com/SpaceX

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 10:48 am

The historic first docking of a commercial spacecraft at the International Space Station orbiting above Earth happened without a hitch today, as SpaceX's Dragon capsule arrived with supplies for the crew orbiting high above Earth.

Just before 10 a.m. ET, astronauts aboard the space station successfully grabbed the capsule with a robotic arm. A little after noon ET, the pulled the Dragon into its docking space.

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volcanoes
1:29 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

When will St. Helens blow again? Look to the crystals, scientists say

False color image of crystals used in analysis of Mount St. Helens' 1980 eruption.
Image courtesy of Kate Saunders

If you’re wondering when Mount St. Helens is due to erupt again, so are a lot of scientists, and they’re finding new ways to forecast when eruptions are likely.

The latest idea uses crystals that form deep beneath the surface.

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Science
10:08 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

WSU researchers patent longer battery life technology

WSU's Grant Norton says using tin in lithium ion batteries could keep many electronic devices running much longer. Photo courtesy WSU

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 5:05 pm

Researchers at Washington State University say they've found a way to keep lithium batteries charged three times longer. These are the batteries used in laptops, cell phones and electric vehicles.

The key ingredient in the new battery design is tin, as a replacement for carbon, which is more common.

The research is lead by engineering professor Grant Norton. He says the improvements could keep many electronic devices running much longer.

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Science
1:40 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Steven Hawking is one highlight at inaugural Seattle Science Festival

Professor Stephen Hawking shown in 2008 at George Washington University in Washington.
The Associated Press

Marking the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, the Emerald City will host its first-ever Seattle Science Festival next month.

The festival has landed a major celebrity as one of it’s so-called “Luminaries.”  Steven Hawking, the British physicist known for writing about the history of the universe, will speak on June 16th, at the Paramount Theater. 

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Endangered animals
1:18 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Rare pygmy rabbits reproducing in Washington sagebrush

This undated file photo provided by Washington State University shows an endangered pygmy rabbit in the wild in eastern Washington state.
The Associated Press

EPHRATA, Wash. — Biologists went to check on endangered pygmy rabbits in a remote area of Columbia Basin sagebrush near Ephrata and found they've been reproducing like rabbits.

State Fish and Wildlife biologists told The Wenatchee World they 80 baby pygmy rabbits they found last week in the Sage Brush Flat Wildlife Area is more than they expected.

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